Digby Beacham’s AFL Preview: Round 15


Melbourne v Brisbane, MCG, 5.20pm

Simon Goodwin and his Melbourne players know full well the football world will be watching intently in this match, their first since a third successive loss on the Queen’s Birthday weekend.

Even with inspirational skipper and ruckman Max Gawn missing, Melbourne simply must stop the rot. A third defeat at the MCG to an interstate side would cast serious doubt on whether the Demons are capable of defending their premiership.

As for Brisbane, this isn’t so much a free swing, but a 120-minute audition at the home of football. If the Lions bring their best and  match Melbourne in the contest, they might just have the firepower to counter the return of Steven May in Melbourne’s back half.

VERDICT: Melbourne by 1-39 points


Western Bulldogs v Hawthorn, Marvel Stadium, 5pm

Fresh off a “don’t forget about us” performance against GWS, the Western Bulldogs return to their Marvel Stadium home ground chasing another display befitting a finals-bound outfit.

The mid-season bye looked to work wonders for both Marcus Bontempelli and Aaron Naughton, with that pair likely to consume much of Hawks coach Sam Mitchell’s thinking entering this match. His hand has been strengthened by the return from injury of key forward Mitchell Lewis.

But he isn’t going to fill a midfield role and even in the absence of Tim English (concussion), that is where the Bulldogs appear to have a decided advantage.

VERDICT: Western Bulldogs by 1-39 points

West Coast v Essendon, Optus Stadium, 6.40pm

A display off the back of the emotion of the 1992 premiership celebration or an indication the tide has turned and the light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming truck?

Those are the two scenarios West Coast fans have weighed up after their side’s improved performance against Geelong last weekend. We will learn more about how the Eagles are travelling in this clash with Essendon, themselves up and about after eclipsing St Kilda in round 14.

Essendon played with far greater intent opposed to the Saints than we have seen for the seen for the bulk of the season. If they are able to replicate that, the back half to 2022 will be more palatable for Bombers supporters.

VERDICT: Essendon by 1-24 points


Carlton v Fremantle, Marvel Stadium, 11.45am

You know you are cursed somewhat when the man you select in the mid-season draft to fill a gaping hole in the club’s key defensive stocks is injured in his first game as a Blue.

So it was for Carlton and Sam Durdin, who will miss here with a medial ligament issue, leaving the hosts vulnerable behind the ball against a Fremantle side that has genuine weapons in attack and will appreciate the sterile surrounds of Marvel Stadium.

The Dockers hit their mid-season bye in winning form, but weren’t at the level against Hawthorn that we saw opposed to Melbourne and Brisbane. The opportunity to freshen up will surely be a help, while Nat Fyfe should be better again in his second match back.

VERDICT: Fremantle by 1-39 points

Geelong v Richmond, MCG, 2.35pm

A great deal has been made about Richmond’s surge after a sloppy 2-4 start to the season. Understandably so. They have shown previously what their best is capable of delivering.

Nobody needs to inform Geelong of that, given the Cats’ 2019 preliminary final and 2020 grand final losses at the hands of the Tigers. While Richmond have hardly put a foot wrong over the past two months, it is also hard to poke holes in the form of the Cats.

Geelong are defending extremely well and have weapons in form in attack through Jeremy Cameron, Tom Hawkins and Tyson Stengle. The return of Patrick Dangerfield (calf) has been delayed, which leaves this match delicately poised.

VERDICT: Geelong by 1-24 points

Sydney v St Kilda, SCG, 5.25pm

Sydney and St Kilda are situated in the bottom rungs of the top eight after coughing up games last weekend they were expected to win against Port Adelaide and Essendon respectively.

As a result, there is no need to stress the importance of this match-up in the Harbour City. The Swans failed to handle the heat against the Power, an area that has been problematic for John Longmire for several weeks now.

St Kilda are confident Jack Steele will be good to go after recovering from a shoulder injury. As he goes, so too do the Saints. It would be a shock if there was a great deal in this.

VERDICT: Sydney by 1-24 points


North Melbourne v Adelaide, Blundstone Arena, 11.10am

To say the first half of the year was a massive let-down is an understatement. And we’re not just talking about North Melbourne.

For the second season in succession, Adelaide have squandered a bright beginning and are now having to go about their business under the spotlight. The focus intensified this week after their poor end to last weekend’s match against Gold Coast.

The Kangaroos haven’t exactly set the world on fire and will host the Crows down in Hobart minus the suspended Jason Horne-Francis. Without his grunt around the contest, Adelaide should be able to chalk up a much-needed victory.

VERDICT: Adelaide by 1-39 points

Collingwood v GWS, MCG, 1.20pm

Collingwood players love Jordan De Goey. They love his personality, swagger and undeniable ability. But they also get frustrated at his ongoing inability to read the temperature of the room.

Fortunately for the Magpies, the controversy surrounding the Alpha Male in the Pies’ changeroom is nothing new. They have lived this before and should be well placed to overcome the upheaval of his Bali antics and continue their finals push with a win over GWS.

The Giants are a far more attractive team to watch under Mark McVeigh than Leon Cameron, but it must be remembered his two wins at the helm have come against North Melbourne and West Coast.

VERDICT: Collingwood by 1-24 points

Port Adelaide v Gold Coast, Adelaide Oval, 2.10pm

In years gone by, tipsters have looked at this match-up and quickly clicked on Port Adelaide, irrespective of the venue. That could well be the case again in 2022, but doing so is fraught with danger.

The Suns are a very good football side, one which does everything right a large percentage of the time. However, the injuries are starting to mount. Serious leg injuries to rebounding defenders Lachie Weller and Wil Powell are cruel blows for Stuart Dew’s side.

The Power remained in the finals conversation with a wonderful response against Sydney after conceding the game’s first three goals. That was achieved without Travis Boak, who returns here.

VERDICT: Port Adelaide to win

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