Sydney v Collingwood
Lance Franklin’s 250th game was spoiled, as Collingwood, for the second year in a row, achieved a one-point win early in the year to ease the pressure on Nathan Buckley. Except for one minute in the fourth quarter, Sydney never led, and are 0-3 for the first time since 1999. New players Hayward, Fox, Florent, and Newman kicked six goals between them. Collingwood 11.14 (80) d Sydney 11.13 (79).
N Melbourne v GWS Giants
The Giants could have, and arguably should have, won this game by a lot more than they did. They had 29 inside 50s in the second quarter, and kicked just three goals from it. Steve Johnson kicked his 500th career goal, Braydon Preuss impressed in his third game as ruckman, and GWS started on their minor ground road trip (Canberra next week). GWS Giants 15.19 (109) d N Melbourne 10.7 (67)
Richmond v West Coast
The Tigers are alive, and Richmond supporters’ annual optimism that everything will be alright could be well-founded for 2017. Carlton and Collingwood couldn’t be described as tough opponents, but beating West Coast, outside premiership contenders, in torrential rain shows that Richmond might win a final for the first time in my life. Inaccurate kicking from West Coast (8.17) may have cost them. Richmond 11.10 (76) d West Coast 8.17 (65)
Geelong v Melbourne
This match demonstrates why accurate kicking is a must. Melbourne had six more scoring shots than Geelong, but Geelong’s straight-arrow 20.6 (14.2 to three quarter time) gave them the upper hand, with Nathan Jones (0.3) one of the offenders for Melbourne. The Demons had a two goal lead late in the third quarter. 73 touches and four goals between Dangerfield and Selwood. Geelong 20.6 (126) d Melbourne 13.19 (127)
Pt Adelaide v Adelaide
As much as racists tried to ruin it, this Showdown was certainly worthy of the occasion. The Power kicked the first three goals of the game, then Adelaide kicked ten of the next thirteen to take a 27-point lead. Port Adelaide got within a kick, but the Crows kicked back again to stay top of the ladder. Sloane won the Showdown Medal. Adelaide 15.10 (100) d Pt Adelaide 12.11 (83)
Fremantle v W Bulldogs
Fremantle haven’t lost to the Bulldogs at home since 2009, and they kept that record up with an upset 16-point victory. Spurred on by the six changes from Round 2, the Dockers scored 4.2 before the Dogs got anything. Inaccurate kicking in an otherwise dominant third term ruined it for the Bulldogs, as they kicked just one point in the final quarter. Fremantle 13.11 (89) d W Bulldogs 10.13 (73)
St Kilda v Brisbane
This will by no means go down as a good game. Despite having twice the number of scoring shots for the game, St Kilda only won by five goals, and were actually behind in the third quarter after having led by six goals at one point. Bruce, Membrey, and Gresham kicked 4.10 between them. Leigh Montagna wasted time and upset a commentator. St Kilda 14.23 (107) d Brisbane 11.10 (76)
Carlton v Essendon
Carlton’s lowest winning score since 1989 was achieved on a bitterly wet afternoon against traditional rivals Essendon. With just four, three, four, and two goals scored in each quarter, the combined score of 99 was the seventh lowest of the 2010s. Marc Murphy was best on ground, racking up 32 possessions and two goals. Essendon’s no longer undefeated, but they played well. Carlton 7.15 (57) d Essendon 6.6 (42)
Gold Coast v Hawthorn
For the first time since 2010, Hawthorn have lost five games in a row. Gary Ablett had 36 touches after a tough week, Brandon Matera kicked six goals, Gold Coast had the best week-to-week turnaround since 2000, Hawthorn lost the disposals by more than 150, and are bottom of the ladder for the first time since Round 1, 2007. A dismal day. Gold Coast 21.13 (139) d Hawthorn 7.11 (53)
I got four right last week, which isn’t that good. It takes me to a total of 16.
West Coast v Sydney
There are several strikes against both these teams – West Coast has had to come off a five day break, have the worst contested ball figures in the competition, and have beaten Sydney once since 2008. The Swans, however, are winless, and despite competing against the Bulldogs and Collingwood, have looked some way off the pace this year. West Coast should comfortably win. West Coast by 25.
N Melbourne v W Bulldogs
The AFL have scheduled a Good Friday game, which my dad is not impressed by at all. This game is between North Melbourne, who are 0-3 compared to last year’s 3-0; and the Bulldogs, who haven’t lost to a team other than Fremantle in 258 days. Despite losing last week, the Bulldogs have had better performances than North Melbourne, and should win. W Bulldogs by 32.
Melbourne v Fremantle
It’s not often the Demons find themselves favourites for games against the Dockers, but they get this here. Melbourne’s only loss for the year has been against a Geelong side that they pushed, and Fremantle were terrible for two weeks before upsetting the Bulldogs. There’s no sign of Fremantle stopping their poor form from last year, and Melbourne’s heading up the ladder. Melbourne by 19.
GWS Giants v Pt Adelaide
At the ground sponsored by the University of New South Wales – despite it not actually being in NSW – two teams right near each other on the ladder go head to head for a spot in the top four. This should be a high scoring match (both average over 110 per game this year), but I’m tipping the Giants from last year’s form. GWS Giants by 16.
Carlton v Gold Coast
Both teams broke their ducks for the year last week, with Gold Coast doing it in a much more impressive fashion than Carlton – they won by more than Carlton scored. With Gary Ablett about to play his 100th Suns game, the club might want to start playing excellently if they want him to play many more. Last week’s form edges it out: Gold Coast by 6.
Adelaide v Essendon
In 2015, Adelaide beat Essendon by so much they sacked James Hird. While we won’t get the same result here, we might get something similar. Adelaide’s on top of the ladder and at their home ground, and Essendon is coming off a disappointing loss to Carlton, with concerns that that performance might reflect their season to come. Adelaide should win this easily. Adelaide by 34.
Collingwood v St Kilda
This match looks as if it could be pretty interesting. St Kilda’s had a disappointing loss, a well-played loss, and a disappointing win, while Collingwood has had three decent performances, but only a one point win to show from it. St Kilda upset Collingwood in the match for the 50th anniversary of their 1966 premiership last year, but there’ll be no repeat. Collingwood by 22.
Brisbane v Richmond
Richmond, if they win this, will have gone 4-0 for the first time since 1995 – meaning that non-Richmond fans will have to agree they could be the real deal. Brisbane have performed better than they did last year, but they’ve had a problem of going missing for significant periods of time. I’m tipping Richmond to win this, which I don’t do often. Richmond by 23.
Hawthorn v Geelong
The now traditional Easter Monday clash between Hawthorn and Geelong has an additional edge this year: Hawthorn are sitting at the bottom of the ladder, winless, with the second worst accuracy in the AFL, against a team that’s undefeated and has the best accuracy. A team that loses to Gold Coast by 86 points is not going to beat Geelong this year. Geelong by 33.
FADR agreed with me on all games last week, getting four right for a tally of sixteen.
GWS has a very slightly higher rating.