The changes continue in AFL season 2020, with a number of clubs facing last-minute fixture swaps for Round 5. How will they cope with it?

Carlton v St Kilda @ Marvel Stadium

Thursday 2nd July, 19:40 (AEST)

CarltonSt Kilda
L.Plowman, L.Jones, T.WilliamsonBB.Paton, C.Wilkie, J.Carlisle
HBS.Docherty, J.Weitering, S.Petrevski-SetonHBB.Long, D.Howard, J.Geary
CJ.Newnes, P.Cripps, S.WalshCB.Hill, H.Clark, S.Ross
HFM.McGovern, L.Casboult, J.MartinHFD.Butler, M.King, J.Billings
FE.Betts, H.McKay, M.GibbonsFD.Kent, T.Membrey, J.Battle
FOLM.Pittonet, D.Cunningham, E.CurnowFOLR.Marshall, J.Steele, J.Gresham
I/CK.Simpson, M.Murphy, W.Setterfield, Z.FisherI/CD.Hannebery, N.Coffield, J.Lonie, J.Marsh

Played 221: Carlton 163 v St Kilda 56 (2 draws)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 22, 2019: Carlton 11.12 (78) def St Kilda 10.8 (68)

Final Thoughts: After a fixture swap to accomodate Queensland’s new COVID-19 restrictions, the Blues now face the Saints two days earlier than expected. Both teams finished their Round 4 fixtures on Saturday evening, so will face a quick five-day turnaround. For Blues fans, they’re simply praying for an encounter that’s less demanding on their collective heart-rate. Since the season re-start, all three of their games have been decided by two points or less. David Teague’s side would have preferred the changed fixture was at the MCG, where his side appear more confident, but will have to make do at Marvel.

For the Saints, who were blisteringly good against Richmond in Round 4, it’s a question of which side will turn up. At their best, their run-and-carry will test most sides in the competition. But when that’s nullified, they are significantly hampered. This should be a cracking clash between two clubs with aspirations of squeezing into the top 8.

Tip: Margin: St Kilda by 1-39 @ $2.00

Collingwood v Essendon @ MCG

Friday 3rd July, 19:50 (AEST)

Crisp, Roughead, ScharenbergBGleeson, Hooker, Saad
HBMaynard, Moore, VarcoeHBZaharakis, Hurley, Ridley
CDaicos, Pendlebury, Hoskin-ElliottCHam, McGrath, Langford
HFStephenson, Mihocek, PhillipsHFFantasia, McKernan, McDonald-Tipungwuti
FDe Goey, Cox, ElliottFSnelling, Stringer, Townsend
FOLGrundy, Adams, TreloarFOLPhillips, Parish, Shiel
I/CMayne, Wills, T.Brown, C.BrownI/CSmith, Hibberd, Redman, Laverde

Played 239: Collingwood 132 v Essendon 103 (4 draws)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 23, 2019: Collingwood 10.16 (76) def Essendon 10.5 (65)

Final Thoughts: A faux Anzac Day clash, with no fans, means things are very different compared with how these two usually face off. But that doesn’t mean there’s any less on the line. The Bombers could welcome back Connor McKenna, who served his one-match suspension last week, but will miss Zach Merrett for a much-scrutinised jab on Jack Silvagni. Collingwood, on the other hand, have their own issues to deal with. Steele Sidebottom, one of the Pies’ best so far in 2020, is set to face four weeks on the sidelines after breaching COVID guidelines.

Essendon hasn’t defeated Collingwood since Anzac Day 2017. And in two of the last three games between these storied rivals, the Dons have been either ahead or equal with the Pies at the final change, yet go on to lose. For that reason, I’ll be using the game saver token in this one.

Tip: Line: Essendon +13.5 @ $1.87

West Coast v Sydney @ Metricon Stadium

Saturday 4th July, 13:45 (AEST)

West CoastSydney
Hurn, Barrass, DugganBMills, Rampe, Melican
HBNelson, McGovern, SheppardHBLloyd, Aliir, Dawson
CGaff, Kelly, SheedCCunningham, Parker, Florent
HFCripps, Darling, ReddenHFHeeney, Blakey, Hayward
FRyan, Kennedy, Ah CheeFRonke, Papley, Gray
FOLNaitanui, Yeo, ShueyFOLMcLean, Kennedy, Rowbottom
I/CWaterman, Allen, Cole, JonesI/CO’Riordan, Hewett, McInerney, Clarke

Played 51: West Coast 21 v Sydney 30

Last Meeting: AFL Round 12, 2019: Sydney 18.8 (116) def West Coast 10.11 (71)

Final Thoughts: Another fixture change for this one, as the Swans – who were gearing up to face Melbourne on their home turf – instead travel north to face the Eagles on the Gold Coast. Both sides are coming off the back of hugely disappointing efforts in Round 4. Adam Simpson’s side were expected to bounce back and show some fight against Port Adelaide but were instead beaten in all facets of the game. While the side remains, on paper, one of the competition’s best, the fact is that the efforts simply isn’t there. And it’s reflected in the markets. The Eagles have slipped out to $15 (from $6 at the season restart) in Palmerbet’s flag market.

The Swans were equally poor last week, with just two individual goal-kickers against the Dogs. While their record (2-2) represents a pass mark at this stage of the season, the fact is that John Longmire needs more consistent output from his young charges. And with another devastating knee injury to Sam Naismith, they’ll again rely on Callum Sinclair for the rest of 2020. Pleasingly for the Bloods, they’ve won their last three games against the Eagles

Tip: Margin: West Coast by 1-39 @ $1.91

Geelong v Gold Coast @ GMHBA Stadium

Saturday 4th July, 16:35 (AEST)

GeelongGold Coast
Kolodjashnij, Blicavs, HenryBBudarick, Collins, Lukosius
HBO’Connor, Taylor, BewsHBHanley, Ballard, Harbrow
CParfitt, Dangerfield, SelwoodCWeller, Greenwood, Anderson
HFTuohy, Rohan, DuncanHFPowell, Day, Ellis
FRatugolea, Hawkins, DahlhausFSexton, King, Ainsworth
FOLFort, Ablett, StevenFOLWitts, Swallow, Rowell
I/CC.Guthrie, Narkle, Menegola, MiersI/CBowes, Miller, Holman, MacPherson


History: Played 11: Geelong 9 v Gold Coast 2

Last Meeting: AFL Round 10, 2019: Gold Coast 9.10 (64) def by Geelong 13.13 (91)

Final Thoughts: The talk of the AFL since the re-start has been number one draft pick Matt Rowell, who has lit the competition alight. Already an unbackable $1.01 Rising Star favourite, Rowell has moved from $81 into $8 in Palmerbet’s Brownlow market. Chris Scott confirmed that on Saturday afternoon he would put the hard tag on Rowell, who he already rates highly. “My mind does go back a little bit to Chris Judd and Joel Selwood when they started in the competition,” he said. “As a first-year player, albeit the number one draft pick, to come into a side and be your team’s number one midfielder right from the word go is a remarkable achievement.” The Suns, sitting at 3-1, have moved from $19 finals hopes into $2.

The Cats have been unimpressive in the last two weeks, with a narrow loss to Carlton and a narrow win over the Dees. But with club legends Gary Ablett and Joel Selwood celebrating their 350th and 300th game respectively, expect them to start strongly.

Tip: Line: Gold Coast +19.5 @ $1.90

Western Bulldogs v North Melbourne @ Marvel Stadium

Saturday 4th July, 19:40 (AEST)

Western BulldogsNorth Melbourne
Williams, Keath, DanielBMcDonald, Tarrant, Atley
HBJohannisen, Cordy, CrozierHBPittard, Walker, Williams
CRichards, Bontempelli, MacraeCPolec, Cunnington, Hall
HFDale, Schache, McLeanHFAnderson, Zurhaar, Taylor
FWallis, Bruce, WestFThomas, Brown, Xerri
FOLEnglish, Liberatore, SmithFOLGoldstein, Higgins, Simpkin
I/CWood, Vandermeer, Lipinski, JongI/CDumont, Macmillan, Mahony, Hayden

Played 162: Western Bulldogs 80 v North Melbourne 79 (3 draws)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 10, 2019: Western Bulldogs 13.12 (90) def by North Melbourne 18.7 (115)

Final Thoughts: After a rough start to the season where many were questioning their supposed finals credentials, a flick has been switched at Whitten Oval. The Dogs have been brilliant in the last two weeks, with  strong wins over both Sydney-based sides. Skipper Marcus Bontempelli was brilliant in both, and is proving he is up to the leadership task. But all of a sudden they have an issue up forward. Josh Bruce is yet to fire, and Aaron Naughton is set for a long stint on the sidelines.

Save for the last quarter against Hawthorn, North have been lacklustre for the past fortnight. And they’ll now have to deal with an in-form Dogs side without skipper Jack Ziebell. Roos fans will be desperate to see Ben Cunnington back in the midfield, who has been a late withdrawal for the last two weeks.

Tip: Margin: Western Bulldogs by 1-39 @ $2.00

Brisbane v Port Adelaide @ Gabba

Saturday 4th July, 19:40 (AEST)

BrisbanePort Adelaide
Lester, Andrews, GardinerBMcKenzie, Clurey, Houston
HBRich, Birchall, Ah CheeHBHartlett, Jonas, Byrne-Jones
CRobinson, J.Berry, McCluggageCWesthoff, Wines, Amon
HFMcCarthy, Hipwood, RaynerHFEbert, Marshall, Rozee
FBailey, McStay, CameronFButters, Dixon, Gray
FOLMcInerney, Lyons, NealeFOLLycett, Powell-Pepper, Boak
I/CMartin, T.Berry, Ellis-Yolmen, StarcevichI/CMotlop, Rockliff, Bonner, Farrell


History: Played 37: Brisbane 17 v Port Adelaide 18 (2 draws)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 17, 2019: Port Adelaide 6.13 (49) def by Brisbane 14.13 (97)

Final Thoughts: It’s third v first and without a doubt the game of the round, featuring the two of the AFL’s most in-form sides. The Power are already strong frontrunners this season; not just the only side to be 4-0, but boasting a percentage of 236.3 — far and away ahead of the next best (Collingwood on 154.3). If Ken Hinkley’s side are to win, though, they’ll likely rely on big man Charlie Dixon playing a starring role. The forward has bagged 11 goals in the first four rounds to lead the Coleman Medal. He’s shortened from $34 into $4.50 with Palmerbet.

Chris Fagan’s Lions side start as marginal favourites despite missing skipper Dayne Zorko, who’ll miss the next few weeks after sustaining a calf injury against Adelaide. They have the recent wood over Port Adelaide, though, after prevailing in both games against the Power in 2019.

Tip: Line/Total Points Double: Brisbane -1.5 / Over 127.5 @ $3.40

Adelaide v Fremantle @ Metricon Stadium

Sunday 5th July, 13:05 (AEST)

Kelly, Talia, BrownBHill, Logue, Conca
HBLaird, Smith, DoedeeHBWilson, Ryan, Hughes
CCrocker, Jones, LynchCCerra, Brayshaw, Aish
HFMurphy, B.Crouch, WalkerHFColyer, Taberner, Bewley
FFrampton, McAdam, McHenryFLobb, Hogan, Walters
FOLO’Brien, Sloane, KeaysFOLDarcy, Mundy, Tucker
I/C (from)M.Crouch, Poholke, Hartigan, Hamill, Himmelberg, McAsey, McPherson, DavisI/C (from)Blakely, Matera, Serong, Young, Banfield, Duman, Schultz, Sturt

Played 39: Adelaide 23 v Fremantle 16

Last Meeting: AFL Round 7, 2019: Adelaide 7.9 (51) def Fremantle 5.4 (34)

Final Thoughts: If the Lions v Power is the match of the round then this clash is, well, not that. Adelaide and Fremantle remain the only two winless sides this season and remain rooted to the bottom of the ladder. The loser of this will become the only side at 0-5; motivation enough to bag the four points. While there was some encouraging signs from both during Round 4, the fact is that neither are close to producing a four-quarter effort and quite simply, lacking the skills and pressure across the ground.

The Crows pulled a selection shock last week and dropped Matt Crouch but he will likely return. Matthew Nicks also has the experience of Paul Seedsman, Kyle Hartigan and David Mackay to pick from should he choose. The Dockers are without star Nat Fyfe with a hamstring, but could welcome in Sean Darcy and Connor Blakely, who reportedly impressed in a recent scratch match.

Tip: Margin: Fremantle by 1-39 @ $1.91

Melbourne v Richmond @ MCG

Sunday 5th July, 15:35 (AEST)

Smith, May, HibberdBVlastuin, Grimes, Balta
HBHarmes, Lever, SalemHBHouli, Broad, Short
CLangdon, Oliver, TomlinsonCMcIntosh, Prestia, Caddy
HFHannan, T.McDonald, BrayshawHFHiggins, Edwards, Castagna
FPickett, Petracca, FritschFMartin, Lynch, Riewoldt
FOLGawn, Melksham, VineyFOLNankervis, Cotchin, Lambert
I/C (from)Jackson, Spargo, vandenBerg, Rivers, O.McDonald, Hunt, Brown, LockhartI/C (from)Pickett, Rioli, Bolton, Baker, Graham, Aarts, Garthwaite, Chol

Played 191: Melbourne 82 v Richmond 107 (2 draws)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 20, 2019: Melbourne 9.6 (60) def by Richmond 13.15 (93)

Final Thoughts: Richmond are navigating both a form slump and a last-minute fixture swap. They’re also seemingly adjusting to not having crowd to spur them on; the Tiger army often credited with being a 19th man in Richmond wins. “We aren’t quite used to having no noise in the stadium. You have to create your own energy,” skipper Trent Cotchin said this week. Crowd or not, they’ll need to address their issues quick; Damien Hardwick’s side have slipped from $4.60 to $8.50 in Palmerbet’s flag market. And they’ll have to do so without premiership defender David Astbury, who is set to miss the next 4-5 weeks with a knee injury.

The Dees were oh-so-close in coming back against the Cats but couldn’t bag the four points. Pleasingly for Simon Goodwin, his side won the clearances, contested possessions and inside-50s. But after kicking just six goals in a dour contest, Goodwin and co will need to be sharper to pierce through what is usually a well-marshalled Tiger backline.

Tip:  Line: Richmond -10.5 @ $1.90

Greater Western Sydney v Hawthorn @ Giants Stadium

Sunday 5th July, 18:10 (AEST)

Shaw, Davis, CorrBHardwick, Frawley, Frost
HBWhitfield, Haynes, AshHBGunston, McEvoy, Stratton
CKelly, Coniglio, PerrymanCHenderson, Burgoyne, Scully
HFWard, Cameron, GreeneHFSicily, O’Brien, Smith
FDaniels, Himmelberg, FinlaysonFO’Meara, Lewis, Wingard
FOLMumford, Hopper, de BoerFOLCeglar, Worpel, Mitchell
I/C (from)Keeffe, Hately, Green, Lloyd, Sheridan, Jacobs, Caldwell, BuntineI/C (from)Scrimshaw, Cousins, Patton, Puopolo, Morrison, Shiels, Hanrahan, Jones

Played 9: GWS 3 v Hawthorn 5 (1 draw)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 21, 2019: GWS 4.5 (29) def by Hawthorn 13.7 (85)

Final Thoughts: Both these sides are coming off a win, but neither in the most convincing of fashion. For the Giants though, the win against Collingwood has gone some way to quelling the rising criticism of whether they were up to the task in 2020. Many sides humbled in grand finals have struggled the following season, and its yet to be seen whether that will be the Giants’ fate this year. For this week, they may need some backline cover: Zac Williams if out for a month while Phil Davis is nursing a hamstring injury.

The loss of Williams is tempered by the fact that dangerous Hawthorn forward Luke Breust will also miss (broken jaw). Otherwise, Jonathan Patton and Paul Puopolo are both available for Alastair Clarkson

Tip: Total Points: Over 123.5 @1.88