Round 4 Preview
Fair to say we got Round 3 completely wrong. The only thing we knew was that there were going to be a few upsets. The problem was, we picked them to be West Coast (poor against the Lions), Adelaide (just didn't show up...again) and Melbourne (who may have won, but never got the chance to play).
So we are licking our wounds and heading back to the drawing board for Round 4. What a cracking round of footy it promises to be...
Sydney v Western Bulldogs
Never thought the Swans would be outscoring the Bulldogs over the first three rounds, but here we are. Sydney are a tough team to get a read on given they've been involved in three games decided by less than two goals, including a 3-point win against a Crows team now proven to be in serious trouble.
Would have loved to have had more confidence in the Bulldogs in this one, but the loss of Dunkley and the reliance on their top three or four players (the exact make-up of those three or four is debatable) means this one could go either way.
If the Dogs bottled the confidence they gained from last week's win they can get the job done, but anything could happen here.
Pick: Bulldogs by 5
GWS v Collingwood
The Giants get their stars back (Greene and Kelly, plus Whitfield playing a full game again) in an absolute must-win for them. Collingwood have depth everywhere, so it will be interesting to see the selected teams tonight.
I'm going to keep picking Collingwood unless they give me a reason not to. You just hope they are peaking at the right end of the season as well as the start...
Pick: Collingwood by 15
Port Adelaide v West Coast
Port have beaten three teams likely to land in the bottom six (and may have found the recently impressive Gold Coast on an off day all the way back in Round 1), so the talk of them being a genuine flag threat at this stage is perhaps a bit premature.
West Coast, on the other hand, are crying out for a dry day and they should get it here. On paper it looks like a battle between a couple of really potent forward lines, with the Eagles forwards under enormous pressure to start performing.
A West Coast win wouldn't shock.
Pick: West Coast by 1
St Kilda v Richmond
The expected score numbers pointed to a Richmond victory against the Hawks last week, but the Tigers were as wasteful as the Hawks were efficient. It probably hides the fact that while they were soundly beaten, it might not take many tweaks to get the Richmond game style going again.
Quite like them back under a roof against a slick St Kilda team who just had no answer for all of Collingwood's scoring power last week. They're a bit stiff to come up against an angry Richmond here.
Pick: Richmond by 22
Essendon v Carlton
You have to love these fierce rivals meeting in the kind of game that could produce anything. Will the Bombers start flat after an unexpected break? And which Carlton will we get in the first quarter?
There is literally no scoreline that would surprise. Flip a coin.
Pick: Essendon by 1 point
Gold Coast v Fremantle
Had a feeling that the Suns might have been vulnerable as a young side with a couple of nice wins in a row. Yet they meet a Fremantle side who have really struggled to find a way to score (they weren't helped by the wet last week but may have lost by more given how well the Power key forwards were looking).
A lot rests on the shoulders of Jesse Hogan - they weren't his conditions last week and he'll be better for the run. He will need to kick three or four for the Dockers to be any chance here. Another side who relies on their stars (Fyfe and Walters mainly) to carry the rest of the team.
Pick: Gold Coast by 18
Brisbane v Adelaide
This could be a perfect game for the Lions to continue to build their momentum. If they play with speed then the Crows will be no match given their issues with a lack of pace themselves.
Wary of a team with their backs to the wall as much as Adelaide and don't expect them to be a total pushover, but hard to see how they win here.
Pick: Brisbane by 33
Melbourne v Geelong
A fascinating game - how important is this first quarter?!?!? The Demons will need to start as well as they did in Round 2, and its hard to predict what impact the week off will have had on their ability to do that.
Geelong were jumped last week themselves and face Max Gawn without their first choice ruckman. This might force them to be ultra defensive in the middle and turn the game into a bit of an arm wrestle.
Have to see the teams to make a bit more of an informed decision, but the Cats might have the edge at the 'G...
Pick: Geelong by 8
Hawthorn v North Melbourne
Fitting that these teams meet in the last game of the round after the passing of John Kennedy senior this week. What an absolute legend of the game who will no doubt be given a great tribute by both sides on Sunday night.
The Roos like Marvel Stadium, while the Hawks lack a bit of pace and could get exposed if their midfield can't dictate terms like they did last week.
But Cunnington's absence really hurt North Melbourne against the Swans, so if he returns and can go head to head with the likes of O'Meara and Mitchell to earn their fair share of stoppages, then I don't mind picking an upset here.
Pick: North Melbourne by 11
Round 4 Burning Question:
Is the weekly knee-jerk reaction to a team that loses the most predictable part of an unpredictable season?
We saw everyone right off the Hawks after a poor half against Geelong, and now the Tigers are apparently "gone" following a five goal loss. Particularly this year we should be used to some fluctuations in form (compare Geelong's first half with the second last week) and need a much bigger sample size than two consecutive rounds of footy to declare anyone out of the race.
This week it's the Giants and Tigers we need to watch. Can't wait.