AFL Round 21 Preview: Tiger Time

17 August 2012

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Last week, sports editor Josh Jeans tipped 8/9, deciding to tip against his Eagles at home against Geelong in his Round 20 Preview. Silly mistake.

In fact, the Cats were favourite, and he called them his ‘smoky.’ It’s a rookie error for someone who knows better than most: don’t tip against West Coast at home.

Anyway, hopefully I can give all your footy pundits out there some good advice, with my Smoky, Sure Thing, Shock and Smashing.

Smoky: GWS Vs Melbourne

2:10pm Saturday AEST at Manuka Oval

Only the Gold Coast Suns separate the Demons from the Giants on the bottom of the ladder, but bookies have installed the Melbourne as outright favourites to beat Sheedy’s boys.

Yet the Giants will not be satisfied with just two wins in their debut season, and one could guess that they penciled this game in a long time ago as a possible victory.

And why wouldn’t you? Melbourne has been a basket case, while GWS has been competitive for most of the season, especially at home. And although this game isn’t at Blacktown, the Giants will enjoy the home-state advantage and notch their third win for the year.

GWS by 12 points.

Sure thing: Collingwood Vs North Melbourne

7:40pm Saturday AEST at Etihad Stadium

The Roos have been brilliant; Petrie has kicked bags, the young kids have stood up and Boomer is back to his best. But the loss of both Wells and Adams means the Kangaroos won’t be able to match the Magpies.

Collingwood’s midfield stood up last Saturday and Dayne Beams was the one to lead it, after current Brownlow medallist Dane Swan was out with a club suspension, and Dale Thomas was subbed off early in the second term with a corked quad.

The Pies held off top-of-the-table Sydney, and even though the Magpies have the wood on the Swans, defeating Sydney on its turf is always a tough task.

Collingwood’s depth is now unmatched, and the club still waits for key forwards Cloke and Dawes to hit their straps. Either way, the Kangaroos won’t challenge the final result.

Collingwood by 28 points.

Shock: Fremantle Vs Richmond

4:40pm Saturday AEST at Patterson’s Stadium

Playing finals is still a mathematical chance for both sides…well, it will be at the first bounce; it will be lights out for the losing team by the end of the match.

Fremantle sit in ninth position on the ladder, just outside the Bombers on percentage, while the Tigers lope in twelfth place and will need to rely on other results to fall their way to break their top-eight drought.

Yet Hardwick will tell his men to ‘control the controllables.’  For any of the uninitiated, that means that they must keep winning to keep the hopes alive.

The Tigers have the cattle to win: a skillful midfield, a dominant ruckman and a power forward, all they need is the belief.

Richmond by 6 points.

Smashing: Port Adelaide Vs West Coast

1:10pm Sunday AEST at AAMI Stadium

The Power was gallant for three quarters against the Hawks last weekend, but once the floodgates opened, the goals flowed.

‘Buddha’ got a taste in the head coach’s seat, and was able to inspire a more attractive and harder brand of football. Yet Port Adelaide’s season is done and dusted, and the players know it.

West Coast on the other hand showed what it is really made of when it held off Geelong on Friday night. The Eagles seem to be out of their hard training block now, and will, for the next few weeks, start to play unrelenting, punishing football.

This will get ugly.

West Coast by 95 points.

Also this week:

Geelong Vs St Kilda

7:50pm Friday AEST at Etihad Stadium

We’re sure to hear ‘2009 Grand Final replay’ splashed around in the media this week, even though both sides are vastly different since then. The Cats sit seventh and the Saints sit 10th; a loss to the Saints will end their finals hopes.

The Cats were gallant in their loss to West Coast last week, and the loss of Tom Hawkins hurt them big time. Across to the MCG and the Saints won comfortably against the Demons, despite Melbourne winning the last quarter.

With Nick Riewoldt ruled out with an injured knee, and Tom Hawkins given the all-clear to play, the Cats’ forward line pose to much fire power for the Saints.

Geelong by 30 points.

Essendon Vs Carlton

1:45pm Saturday AEST at the MCG

It’s a must-win game for both teams (how many times have we heard that before?) The Blues must win to keep September hopes alive, while Essendon will come back to the field with a loss.

In fact, Essendon probably have the most to lose out of any team this weekend, especially if Fremantle win at home on Saturday, it could see the bombers out of the eight. Their loss to North Melbourne last week probably shouldn’t have been as close as it was.

As impressive as Carlton was against Brisbane last weekend, it faces a whole new battle against the Bombers. But if the Blues string it together for four quarters, they will beat Essendon.

These games always come down to the wire, and often ladder positions mean nothing. In fact, usually the lower-placed team gets up.

Carlton by 5 points.

Brisbane Vs Adelaide

7:40pm Saturday AEST at the Gabba

Not much interest in this game from either side. In fact, Adelaide have three of these games heading into the finals, which should ultimately give them top spot on the ladder.

Brisbane’s season is finished, but it can take hope out of the fact it got some good game time into some of their youngsters this season.

The Crows will be expecting to win comfortably, and boost their percentage so they can catch the Swans. It may take a quarter or two to break away, but they should run out easy victors.

Adelaide by 45 points.

Western Bulldogs Vs Sydney

3:15pm Sunday AEST at Etihad Stadium

Expect a lack-luster game that won’t fill half of Etihad Stadium. Channel Seven will be shattered they’ve got this game, although Sunday’s fixture looks fairly one-sided.

The Bulldogs were disappointing at best last weekend against the Tigers, and are really missing the run that Dahlhaus and Liberatore provide when they’re in the side.

The Swans couldn’t catch the Magpies last weekend, but top four sides never lose two games in a row.

However it won’t just happen for the Swans; they need to put their heads down and bums up, otherwise they could be in for a rude shock. I won’t tip it though.

Sydney by 38 points.

Hawthorn Vs Gold Coast

4:40pm Sunday AEST at the MCG

Bookies will give your money back if you tip the Hawks to win on Sunday. In reality, they can’t lose.

Gold Coast has been solid this season considering the experience of its playing list, but is no match for Hawthorn at the MCG.

If you want another smoky, take the Suns to be leading at quarter-time. After that, the Hawks will kick into gear.

They kicked 13 goals in the last quarter against Port Adelaide last weekend, and no team can turn it on quicker that Hawthorn. Just when they decide to hit the gas button this week is anyone’s guess.

Hawthorn by 105 points.

Damien Ractliffe is a third-year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University and part of upstart‘s editorial team. You can follow him on Twitter: @DamienRactliffe