Digby Beacham’s AFL Preview: Round 14


Brisbane v St Kilda, Gabba, 5.40pm

Brisbane served a timely reminder last round that their best is still very good. How consistently they are able to showcase peak performances will dictate whether they are active during September.

St Kilda played finals last year and even though they have fallen over the line opposed to West Coast and Gold Coast in the past fortnight, won’t be returning to the post-season in 2024. Ross Lyon can spin it however he likes, but their game style won’t allow them to compete with the competition’s elite.

The Saints remain in matches for long periods because they defend well. Brisbane are also proving stout behind the ball and do have weapons forward of centre, with Eric Hipwood’s six-goal haul against the Western Bulldogs a career-best display.

VERDICT: Brisbane by 1-39 points


Western Bulldogs v Fremantle, Marvel Stadium, 11.45am

Having recalled Cody Weightman and Ed Richards, along with Anthony Scott, the Western Bulldogs are in much better shape than they were last Friday night against Brisbane.

They need to be. Fremantle hit town for their first assignment post-bye, buoyed by the fact they annihilated Melbourne in Alice Springs prior to their break and are extremely healthy.

The Dockers are renowned for their defensive capabilities, which leaves the Bulldogs’ forward line, missing Aaron Naughton and Sam Darcy, a tall order to boot a winning total. It becomes more daunting if Justin Longmuir’s men are able to hit the scoreboard like they did against Melbourne.

VERDICT: Fremantle to win

Richmond v Hawthorn, MCG, 2.35pm

As Hawthorn regenerate under Sam Mitchell and endeavour to build a squad capable of playing regular finals football sooner rather than later, this is a perfect assignment.

A huge MCG crowd will be on hand to witness Dustin Martin’s 300th appearance and while there will be thousands and thousands of Hawthorn supporters, the Tiger Army will be out in force and doing everything they can to make life hell for the Hawks.

Hawthorn have won six of their past eight matches to be one of the form teams in the competition. It is a body of work which suggests what they have is sustainable … irrespective of the occasion and opponent.

VERDICT: Hawthorn to win

Adelaide v Sydney, Adelaide Oval, 5.30pm

Is there ever a good time to be under the microscope as an AFL coach? The short answer is no. But the spotlight seems to shine even brighter when you are in a two-team town as Matthew Nicks is finding out.

Adelaide haven’t been horrible this year. The same could be said about them in 2023. However, the simple fact is they are losing matches they shouldn’t and as such, finals appear out of reach for yet another season.

The Crows desperately need a win, but as fate would have it, they now encounter the hottest team in the land fuelled by three bona fide A-grade midfielders in Isaac Heeney, Chad Warner and Errol Gulden. Sydney’s best has overpowered better sides than Adelaide.

VERDICT: Sydney by 1-39 points


North Melbourne v Collingwood, Marvel Stadium, 11am

North Melbourne coaches and players breathed out this past week after chalking up win No.1 for the season. Without being disrespectful, let’s hope they enjoyed that victory as they’re not recording back-to-back wins.

Collingwood continue to make light of an extensive injury list, with their King’s Birthday demolition of Melbourne a display that reeked of class and an edge of ruthlessness that simply cannot be ignored.

The Magpies’ pressure at its peak remains the benchmark. If they want to show off here, they can well and truly put the Kangaroos back in their box.

VERDICT: Collingwood by 24 points or more

GWS v Port Adelaide, ENGIE Stadium, 2pm

The jury is out on both GWS and Port Adelaide. It seems a strange observation considering they are inside the top eight as we move past the halfway mark of the home-and-away campaign.

The Giants have had issues with their personnel and while the Power have also battled injuries to key players, there is a deep-seated feeling that their problems are more structure-based, particularly behind the ball.

GWS can be a fearsome unit when allowed to peel from their defensive half unchecked. How much work Ken Hinkley puts in to take away the host’s strengths will be fascinating to see.


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