Digby Beacham’s AFL Preview: Round 12


Port Adelaide v Carlton, Adelaide Oval, 5.30pm

The best of these two sides to launch round 12 is intoxicating. Contested beasts, daring and capable of kicking goals in clumps  at a rapid rate. There is so much to like.

It is why Port Adelaide and Carlton were considered locks for finals football, with the Blues even mentioned in dispatches as premiers. They’re a little way off that at present, but a victory interstate as underdogs at a ground that hasn’t been overly kind would provide enormous self-belief.

Port are entitled to be favourites at home, yet cannot call on Connor Rozee (ankle) and Willie Rioli (calf). The Blues look like they have the engine room to match motors with Port and have weapons in attack that will ask a lot of questions.

VERDICT: Carlton to win


Collingwood v Western Bulldogs, Marvel Stadium, 5.40pm

Has the tipping point arrived at Collingwood? You would think so given Scott Pendlebury, Mason Cox, Joe Richards and Brody Mihocek were this week ruled out after featuring in the draw opposed to Fremantle.

Their unavailability only adds to an already extensive injury list featuring some headline acts. The Bulldogs aren’t exactly reporting to Whitten Oval with a clean bill of health though. Ed Richards, Anthony Scott and Aaron Naughton were wounded in the brave defeat to Sydney.

But Luke Beveridge’s side looks like it has readymade replacements for the above trio. Does the same apply for Collingwood, even taking into account the influence Craig Macrae continues to have in his third season as coach?

VERDICT: Western Bulldogs to win


Hawthorn v Adelaide, MCG, 11.45am

It took longer than Sam Mitchell had hoped but Hawthorn have finally warmed to their work. There has been so much to be enthused about over the past month.

And it is why the Hawks need to be respected here. Adelaide venture to the MCG off a mauling of West Coast knowing the last time they were interstate, lost a heartbreaker to Collingwood. Izak Rankine was a star on that occasion … he is currently hamstrung and will miss.

The Hawks have been transformed with the availability of Will Day and are proving hard to score against. Adelaide would much prefer to get involved in an up-tempo affair. It would be a shock if that luxury is afforded to them.

VERDICT: Hawthorn to win

West Coast v St Kilda, Optus Stadium, 2.35pm

Adam Simpson conceded post-match last weekend that he thought West Coast had moved past the type of performance on the road that was dished up in the humiliation at the hands of Adelaide.

Clearly he was wrong. The Eagles donn’t get the chance to redeem themselves in that space for a little while. They do however have a great opportunity to chalk up another victory before their fans at Optus Stadium.

St Kilda venture west low on goals, low on inspiration and low on the ladder. Their poor ball use has become a factor, nearly as big as their inability to convert once they move the ball into their forward half.

VERDICT: West Coast to win

Geelong v Richmond, GMHBA Stadium, 5.30pm

How the mighty have fallen. Less than a month ago, Geelong had stormed to a 7-0 start and were considered as genuine premiership contenders. They have since dropped four on the bounce and now desperately need to stop the rot.

Fortunately, they have been dealt Richmond on their home track. Even in the absence of key personnel through injury and suspension, it is an assignment the Cats simply must pass … and they will.

The Tigers, energised by Dustin Martin winding back the clock, stretched Essendon at the MCG. But they still came up short and journey down the highway for the first time in seven years against an opponent that boasts a high benchmark when all is going well.

VERDICT: Geelong by 40 points or more


Melbourne v Fremantle, Traeger Park, 11am

What would Justin Longmuir give to win yet another vital mid-season clash with Melbourne? A fair bit when you consider where Fremantle sit approaching their bye off a draw against Collingwood.

Longmuir and Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin are like-minded and the ability of Fremantle to stand their ground midfield against the Demons and implement a sturdy defensive strategy has resulted in back-to-back MCG wins over the Demons the past two years.

No Jake Lever opens the door for the Dockers, but Adam Tomlinson was terrific in his absence. Fremantle desperately need Jye Amiss to rediscover his radar in front of goal.

VERDICT: Melbourne by 1-39 points

Gold Coast v Essendon, People First Stadium, 2pm

Umpires being criticised, injuries wreaking havoc on contenders’ prospects and Gold Coast proving an extremely tough nut to crack at home.

The first two have been constants for years. The latter is now very much going to be an undeniable narrative in the future, if not now. The Suns are yet to drop a match at home and while this represents their toughest test to date in 2024, they appear capable of continuing the trend.

Essendon had to work hard to get past Richmond, but looked so much better with Jordan Ridley in defence. He is a bona fide star and will only get better as his relationship with recruit Ben McKay evolves.

VERDICT: Gold Coast to win

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