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The Roar’s AFL expert tips and predictions: Round 14

Two down, one to go!

We’re nearly through the bye rounds, with just a few more days before we’re back to a full nine-week week.

Making it even sweeter, Melbourne’s bye means I no longer have to worry about them ruining my chances of a perfect week, having seen them dash my hopes and dreams for two rounds running. Thanks, guys.

But congratulations are in order for Liam Salter, who went with his gut, tipped Collingwood, and was instantly rewarded. Personally, I couldn’t be more thrilled for him.

If there’s a week where some ground can be made by backing in a roughie or two, it might be this one: I’d say there are four matches with a fair to decent chance of an upset. Starting to lag behind the back in your tipping competition, or willing to take a risk to extend a lead? Here’s your chance.

Tim Miller (last week: 5)

Carlton, St Kilda, Sydney, Geelong, Western Bulldogs, Gold Coast

With this the last week of six games, it might be my last hope for the season to fulfil my dream of a perfect week.

It’s not going to be easy, though, and Thursday night’s clash might be the toughest of the bunch. The injury-hit Carlton face an in-form Richmond outfit that welcomes back Tom Lynch. With no Jacob Weitering, will it prove decisive?

I’m all in on the Blues, though; they bullied the Tigers in midfield last time they played, and have the forward firepower to trouble anyone in the competition. They’re also the masters of the close finish these days, so the Tigers might have to blow them out of the water early to cause an upset.

We get Essendon on Friday night again (yay?) without the emotional boost of a club milestone to get them going. St Kilda copped a bunch of injuries in a painful loss to Brisbane, so would be vulnerable against most sides, but the Bombers most certainly are not that this year.

Port Adelaide hosting Sydney promises to be another ripper: the Power aren’t at their 2021 best but make every side work hard to beat them, while the Swans must be high on confidence following their pre-bye win over Melbourne.

I’m backing the Swans to notch up a win on the road, purely because their key forwards in Lance Franklin, Logan McDonald and Sam Reid are all in great nick and the Power’s record against the big blokes this year isn’t great.

West Coast should be better from here, with several stars about to return and having had the chance to regroup over the byes; still, Geelong will beat them by a must as they choose to.

That leads into, if not the match of the round, then possibly the most crucial. The Western Bulldogs are holding onto finals hopes by the skin of their teeth, given Richmond and Collingwood are both in excellent form and they are, well, not.

A loss here to a resurgent GWS, and last year’s runner-up will be two games outside the eight. With a nightmare draw ahead, they simply cannot afford to lose here – I’ll back in my boys expecting to get my heart broken. C’est la vie.

This week’s Sunday standalone game might be better than last week, but only because North Melbourne isn’t involved. Gold Coast have been tremendous this year, especially at home, and are just plain better than Adelaide. Win this, and they’ll be just a game outside the eight, with a juicy run home. Could they?

Matthew Rowell of the Suns celebrates a goal

Matthew Rowell of the Suns celebrates a goal (Photo by Jono Searle/AFL Photos/via Getty Images )

Dem Panopoulos (last week: 5)

Richmond, Essendon, Sydney, Geelong, Western Bulldogs, Gold Coast

Night footy at the MCG in June is, as Jean-Ralphio Saperstein would say, the wooooorst.

It doesn’t seem like a massive coincidence that Port Adelaide has played in two of the worst-quality games for the entire year while wearing that grey jumper, but at least they didn’t have a goalless last quarter against Richmond (*cough cough Carlton* which meant all attendees got to have an early night and avoid late-night traffic.

Congratulations on your re-debut Sam Durdin; hopefully the SANFL treated you well. Tom Lynch is back for the Tigers, and it’ll be fascinating to see how the former Kangaroo has developed in recent seasons up against him.

Both teams are missing key players and the forecast looks to be wet. These second-half fadeaway are truly concerning for the Blues. If they play as they did against Essendon, the Tigers will run over the top of them.

While there will continue to be complaints about the Bombers and their 2-10 standing, the increase in tackles and overall pressure has to be commended and was a step in the right direction.

The Saints suffered a few injuries against Brisbane but managed to stay reasonable competitive, despite being annihilated statistically. But if I’m looking at where the upset may be this week, this could be the match.

Sydney has lost their last five to Port Adelaide, which was an unexpected record to come across. Their record at Adelaide Oval isn’t overly flashy either, but this is a genuine, finals quality team we’re talking about.

I’m not convinced in this 50/50 contest, but I’ll stick with the Swans.

Geelong gets to play West Coast, which should be uneventful. I think business is about to pick up at the Cats as they become a genuine flag contender.

Do the Giants and the Bulldogs have a real rivalry? No, is the answer: there’s been one game decided by less than 39 points in the last six between these two teams.

The sentiment is that GWS will improve in the second half of the season and I think a good run of games will see them have a winning record for the period, it just won’t start here.

Man, the Suns are fun to watch. I wouldn’t discount the Crows’ ability to do some damage in the run home, but Gold Coast has a genuine chance to have its best-ever season. Don’t drop the ball, Suns.

Sam Walsh of the Blues in action ahead of Shai Bolton

Sam Walsh and Shai Bolton. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Cameron Rose (last week: 5)

Carlton, St Kilda, Port Adelaide, Geelong, Western Bulldogs, Gold Coast

We’re into the desperate winter months now. The games are scrappier, tougher, and arguably worth more than the four points on offer.

Carlton had the measure of Richmond in Round 1, and were simply too powerful through the middle over four quarters. It’s hard to see what has changed enough for the Tigers to combat them, and how they are going to combat both of Harry McKay and Charlie Curnow, given Josh Gibcus is down on confidence and Robbie Tarrant isn’t good enough.

St Kilda were worthy losers at the Gabba against Brisbane, and now face an easier assignment on Friday night against the Bombers. If they don’t get it done, though, there’ll be alarm bells ringing.

On Saturday, Port are hanging in the finals race by a thread and simply have to beat Sydney to stay in the race. The Swans are hard to beat though, and this shapes as a tough one to pick. I reckon the Power can get it done at home.

A rejuvenated GWS hosts the Western Bulldogs, who also just have to get going. They can’t afford to slip off the pace any further, and coming off a bye against a bitter rival might be the spark required to keep their fading finals hopes alive.

Gold Coast are also supposed to be finals contenders, and against Adelaide they just have to bank four points if they want to keep staying in that conversation. They will, though, especially given it’s played at Metricon Stadium, where the Suns have been terrific all season.

Toby Greene

(Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Liam Salter (last week: 6)

Carlton, St Kilda, Sydney, Geelong, GWS, Gold Coast

Six outta six.

Thank you, Collingwood – from a tipping perspective, the Pies win allowed my upset tip of the week to eventuate; from a Freo fan perspective, their win over the Dees really opens up the race for top spot.

It’s only in the bye rounds, though, where we won’t see any team battling for first – none of the Demons, Lions or Dockers (or the now top-eight Pies themselves) are playing this week. Pity.

We will, however, see Essendon in the second of an inexplicable three consecutive Friday night games. On their 150th anniversary last week, they put in another disappointing performance against the Blues. They face the Saints this week, who are coming off a loss to Brisbane.

The 2022 Saints are thoroughly better in every sense than the 2022 Dons and – without spending too much more time on this –  will get the chocolates in this clash.

Much more deserving of a marquee time slot is Thursday night’s fixture: Carlton v Richmond. The Blues are fourth (but unlikely to progress upwards even with a win), while Richmond know they can jump back into the eight with a win in this clash, given Collingwood don’t play this weekend.

Honestly, this is seriously hard to tip, so I’m going to rely purely on gut instinct, not logic: the Blues to gain a vital win before a seriously hard remaining fixture.

Port Adelaide host Sydney on Saturday arvo; the Swans are back post-bye and post-beating the reigning premiers. Port’s clearly a better side than earlier in the year and have a fantastic recent history against the Swans, but have failed to compete against any top-eight team – bar the Saints’ in the most unnatural footballing conditions in Cairns.

The Swans are stuck in no man’s land – not full premiership contenders but doing enough to be safe-ish in the eight – but should snap a losing streak against the South Australians. 

Charlie Dixon

Charlie Dixon (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

In Saturday twilight’s clash, Geelong will comfortably best the Eagles before attention turns to the Doggies v Giants rivalry. One bugbear: so much talk has been about the close, thrilling games these two have played, but the closest result in the last five matches has been 24 points – and the results more often than not turn into blowouts.

The Giants may be at home, but a majority of their wins have come against bottom four teams, while the Dogs have shown they’re capable of strong yet deeply inconsistent football. I have zero clue which way to go; the Giants I feel are a prime tipping mistake in the making, but I’ll back ‘em regardless. 

It’s rare for Gold Coast to be gunning for their fifth win in six matches, but they’re favourites headed into their Sunday clash with Adelaide.

I don’t think the Crows aren’t capable of winning this – they absolutely are – but the Suns might just be turning into this year’s surprise packet. They’ll win. 

Round 13 Tim Dem Cam Liam Crowd
ROLLING SCORE 78 67 68 74 77

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