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The Roar’s AFL expert tips and predictions: Round 22

Two rounds to go. Five tips behind the leaders.

There’s really only one clip I can use at this point.

With the finals race heating up, ladder spots everywhere up for grabs in the eight and virtually all roads leading to the final Sunday of the home-and-away season, here’s hoping I can somehow force a similarly thrilling finish to this tipping competition.

Call me an optimist, but hey, where there’s life, there’s hope.

Tim Miller (last week: 5)

St Kilda, Western Bulldogs, Adelaide, Geelong, Melbourne, Fremantle, Richmond, Collingwood, Port Adelaide

According to my tireless number-crunching, I’m now five tips behind The Crowd in this little competition (this is a massive yikes for me), and four ahead of Cameron Rose in third spot.

On the one hand, it’s crisis point: but on the other, that’s just another word for opportunity. So I’m going to be backing in three outsiders to get me home, and determine whether I’m close enough to go for a comeback win in the final round or try and settle for a silver medal.

The first of those is on Friday night: I genuinely think St Kilda are a major chance in this one against a Brisbane outfit with a tendency to lapse. That the Saints are still in the finals mix should give them plenty of energy to pull off an upset, even if they remain the least likely of the four teams vying for seventh and eighth.

Having said that, would I be tipping them if I didn’t more or less have to? No.

A Toby Greene-less GWS is surely ripe for the picking against a Bulldogs outfit that must win both their winnable last two games to make finals. For all their failures this season, the Dogs have generally handled the sides beneath them relatively comfortable (save for Adelaide in Ballarat), so it’s an easy choice to stick fat.

Ben Cunnington’s return against Adelaide on Saturday is the story of the weekend; really, he’s going to be the winner out of this match. But the Crows spoiled Josh Kennedy’s party last week, and so will probably spoil North Melbourne’s too.

Shame on them – ruining JJK’s farewell was definitely the worst thing anyone associated with the Crows has done in the last decade. *ba dum tish*

I still can’t shake the feeling the Cats will drop a game before the season’s end, and surely they’d prefer it to be a largely meaningless away game to Gold Coast rather than a cutthroat final like normal.

Still, I’m not brave enough even with a five-tip deficit to back against Geelong at the moment. Prove me wrong, Suns! Prove me wrong!

Saturday night’s Derby might be one of the few times I’m grateful that game is a Fox-only one. Surely no one wants to see Freo beat up on an Eagles outfit that most likely played their grand final trying to send Kennedy out a winner last week? Unless, of course, you’re a Freo fan, in which case enjoy sowing what Eagles fans have been reaping across the last half a decade.

Even with Patrick Cripps playing, I would still back Melbourne in to knock over Carlton and further jeopardise the Blues’ finals hopes. For one thing, Matthew Kennedy and George Hewett are still out; and for another, this is a Demons outfit that will be keen to dismantle a team like they did to Brisbane a month ago.

Come Sunday, Richmond should handle Hawthorn comfortably at the ‘G, with Mitch Lewis an even bigger out for the Hawks than Nick Vlastuin is for the Tigers. In the other match, I’ll back Port to get the job done over Essendon even on the road, mostly because they’re one of my three rough outsiders for the round but also partly because I can’t for the life of me figure out who’s playing on Charlie Dixon.

Wedged in the middle is an old-fashioned blockbuster; Sydney versus Collingwood (how this game got the Sunday arvo treatment even with a floating fixture I’ll never know) at a sold-out SCG.

The head says Sydney, with a flu outbreak probably knocking the Pies out a bit, and the surely inevitable loss that must come at this point.

The heart? Well, to be honest, that’s also saying the Swans, but the ego wanting me to have a crack at winning this comp is saying go Collingwood, and that’s the impulse I’ll be listening to here.

Cam Rayner

Cameron Rayner of the Lions high fives fans after winning the round 14 AFL match between the St Kilda Saints and the Brisbane Lions at Marvel Stadium on June 22, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Dem Panopoulos (last week: 6)

Brisbane, Western Bulldogs, North Melbourne, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Fremantle, Richmond, Collingwood, Port Adelaide

It’s business time for the AFL and for tipping.

There’s only a fortnight left, which means men’s footy is coming to an end soon – fortunately, the AFLW soon kicks off, so there’s no empty bye week to suffer through.

Some are billing Friday night as a do-or-die clash for the Saints but realistically, the 2022 dream is over regardless of this result. One would suspect the Lions are keen to make a statement in Victoria, and while it’s not at the MCG, they’d want to win this game

On the flip side to the Saints, things have opened up nicely for the Bulldogs to swoop into the eight, provided they make no mistakes. They face their fake rivals GWS this week and should win – another good performance from Sam Darcy would go down well too.

The second early afternoon game on Saturday isn’t really about either Adeliade or North. Ben Cunnington is making his AFL return after stiff-arming cancer, and I am certainly not the only one who sees him as an inspirational figure.

For that reason alone, I’ll be tipping the Kangas.

Regular readers know I like to go left field – what’s the fun in tipping the same as everyone else? The Suns’ form has petered off significantly, but they play the style of footy that beats top teams.

Finals aren’t a goal for them anymore, but it has been a historical season for Gold Coast all the same, and they could
easily knock off the Cats here.

I think the Demons beat the Blues regardless of Patrick Cripps’ remarkable escape from suspension; but Carlton’s chances have undoubtedly improved now that the skipper is locked in.

A Saturday night Derby would’ve been a nice way to send Josh Kennedy off, but there’s nothing wrong with an eight-goal performance to wrap it up. The Dockers win by plenty, though – that the Eagles couldn’t knock off Adelaide at home last week despite their spearhead slamming through eight isn’t a great sign.

Sunday’s footy is certainly interesting. The Tigers have a bit to overcome against Hawthorn, who match up well on them. I’m not fully convinced of a Richmond win, but they’d be keen to secure that finals spot this week.

I’m not tipping against Collingwood in any format for the rest of 2022, which means by default I must be selecting them for the flag. Let’s see how that goes.

Finally, in the most irrelevant game of all time, Essendon plays Port Adelaide. Let’s go with Port, because why not at this point.

Marcus Bontempelli of the Bulldogs celebrates a goal.

(Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Cameron Rose (last week: 5)

Brisbane, Western Bulldogs, Adelaide, Geelong, Melbourne, Fremantle, Richmond, Sydney, Essendon

Two rounds to go, and plenty of finals permutations still on the table.

The Saints almost certainly have to win both their matches to make the eight, while Brisbane faces the same challenge if they want to finish top four. Both sides have been inconsistent in their way, but the Lions have a stronger form line.

Into Saturday’s games; the Dogs should beat GWS, but both sides have been disappointing this year. Adelaide gets a win against North – if they could smash them in Tasmania earlier this year, they’ll do it again on home soil.

Geelong might be better off dropping their game at Metricon rather than carrying the weight of a long winning streak into finals – don’t be surprised if they put in a flat one and the Suns test them. But you couldn’t tip against a team on an 11-win hot streak, could you?

Melbourne must surely beat a flailing Carlton, who are seriously facing the ignominy of being in the eight for every round but the final one. In the other Saturday night game, Fremantle to account for West Coast in one of the more uninteresting Derbies of recent memory – unless of course the Eagles can spring a surprise.

Richmond must keep winning to keep the wolves at bay, but the Hawks are tricky opposition. Expect a shoot-out, especially with no Dylan Grimes or Nick Vlastuin in defence for the Tigers.

Will Collingwood’s charmed run ever end?! I’ll keep tipping it to! Sydney to put a bullet in their streak on home soil and end the run at 11.

To finish off the round, Essendon and Port, both finalists last year but not this, square off at Marvel. You’d have to back the Dons in for this one at home.

Justin McInerney

(Photo by Matt King/AFL Photos/Getty Images)

Liam Salter (last week: 3)

Brisbane, Western Bulldogs, Adelaide, Geelong, Melbourne, Fremantle, Richmond, Collingwood, Essendon

There would be barely a hint of exaggeration in my voice if I were to tell you that this is going to be an absolutely huge two weeks of footy.

The top eight isn’t settled, top four remains a wildcard and even the wooden spoon is far from certain. Let’s get into it.

So good earlier in the season, on present form the Saints need more or less miracle to make the eight. And that miracle needs to start at Marvel tonight against the Lions.

Brisbane would be reasonably happy with their win against the Blues last weekend, and should be able to trouble the Saints enough to earn the win here, especially knowing top-four becomes all but impossible if they use. 

Let’s move to Saturday. More likely than the Saints to make finals – yet remaining ultimately unlikely to get there – the Dogs should be strong enough to at least beat the Giants.

The Giants’ expansion team counterparts, Gold Coast, are out of finals contention, but will be happy enough playing spoilers to close out the season. Unfortunately, I doubt – even at home – they’ll be able to defeat the absolutely brilliant Cats, who are near enough to clinching the minor premiership.

The Crows have won two on the bounce and are seemingly ending the season on a high, which makes me suspicious that they’ll drop this one against the Kangas (but not suspicious enough to tip against them). 

I’m also deeply suspicious that Freo will drop this Derby against the Eagles, but they seem to have rediscovered some of their early-season form in their win against the Dogs, and know top four is still a viable possibility. Surely they get it done.

Carlton are a five-alarm fire right now, but have had a boon with thei appeal of Patrick Cripps’ (justifiable) suspension proving successful.

I’m not sure whether even Cripps remaining in the side will be able to nullify the ferocity I presume the Demons will show, especially after a loss, and especially knowing how poor the Blues have been around the ball in the past few weeks.

Sunday’s – and the round’s – main event is the sold-out Swans v Magpies match-up. But sandwiching that are two intriguing clashes: the first being Richmond hosting the Hawks.

With Hawthorn well out of finals contention yet winning four of their last five AND coming fresh off killing the Suns’ finals hopes, it’ll be the Tigers who understand a loss here would be deeply damaging. But the Tigers are a stronger side and haven beaten the Hawks at this ground in May, so I’m relatively comfortable backing a yellow and black win, though I will say I’ve underrated Sam Mitchell’s side at times this year.

In the other clash, Port are ostensibly favourites headed into this clash against Essendon, but I need to let the impulsive tipster side of me emerge at least once per round, and that impulsivity leads me to the Dons.  

Swans v Magpies, though. What a clash this shall be. Collingwood have been astonishing in the past month or three, overcoming every obstacle they’ve encountered and pulling out wins fanciful enough to make even their greatest critics blush.

And that’s not even to say they’ve been playing perfectly; they haven’t, and their wins defy their weaknesses.

The Swans have halved the Pies’ winning ledger, winning five on the go (instead of eleven) but have the advantage of their strength at the SCG and the fact they’re a more ‘traditional’ flag fancy.

The Swans are arguably the sensible favourites, but to hell with logic: the Pies are just too irresistible right now, and will shake up the premiership race.


Patrick Cripps runs with the ball.

Patrick Cripps runs with the ball during the AFL AAMI Community Series match between Carlton and Melbourne. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Round 22 Tim Dem Cam Liam Crowd
ROLLING SCORE 121 111 117 111 126

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