Digby Beacham’s AFL Preview: Round 15


Carlton v Geelong, MCG, 5.40pm

Who can forget the epic battle between these two teams earlier in the season? Patrick Dangerfield was at his explosive best in the first half to help Geelong flex their muscles and establish a three-goal buffer at the long break.

He was injured soon after half-time and Carlton surged, only to just miss. Importantly for the Cats, Dangerfield returns from his hamstring tear and boosts a midfield that still needs his influence.

The Blues right now can lay claim to being Sydney’s biggest flag threat … yes, Collingwood says hello. Michael Voss’ outfit has weapons all over the ground and can play a powerful brand when up and going. How does Chris Scott and his coaching staff quell it?

VERDICT: Carlton to win


Port Adelaide v Brisbane, Adelaide Oval, 11.45am

Port Adelaide had a win at the AFL Tribunal during the week when Zak Butters successfully challenged his one-match suspension for striking. The win the Power desperately need though is on-field.

Despite sitting inside the top eight, many have doubts over Port’s legitimacy. Those same concerns can be held towards Brisbane, especially when you factor in their start to the season, but they give the impression they are building. The win a fortnight ago against the Western Bulldogs was a powerful reminder of their talent.

The market has had a hard time separating these two teams. There will be a stage, more likely earlier than later, where Port will push hard. If the Lions withstand the Power surge, they can leave town with four points and remain in the finals mix.

VERDICT: Brisbane to win

GWS v Sydney, ENGIE Stadium, 2.35pm

It goes without saying that when you are facing up to the ladder leaders and premiership favourites, you would love access to your premier players.

Sadly for GWS that isn’t the case. Sam Taylor is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery to repair a ruptured testicle, his absence coming at the most inopportune time. Joel Amartey kicked a nine-goal bag against Adelaide and fills a key role in a forward line that will be hard to contain.

Whilst on the topic of containing, it will be fascinating to see how the Giants go about putting the slows on Sydney’s dynamic midfield, chiefly Chad Warner, Isaac Heeney and Errol Gulden.

VERDICT: Sydney by 1-39 points

Melbourne v North Melbourne, MCG, 5.30pm

Only a fortnight ago, this match looked a fait accompli. Melbourne would waltz into the MCG and do as they pleased against a North Melbourne side minus any wins and seemingly any idea on how to achieve one.

Not anymore. The Kangaroos, perhaps inspired by their effort against West Coast, were admirable in defeat opposed to Collingwood last Sunday and are entitled to think the wheel has turned, the light at the end of the tunnel is no longer an oncoming road train.

Melbourne needed the bye after the King’s Birthday disaster against Collingwood. Desperately. Life for 2024 without Christian Petracca starts here. The football world is watching.

VERDICT: Melbourne by 1-39 points


Essendon v West Coast, Marvel Stadium, 11am

West Coast will be undeniably stronger against Essendon than they were prior to the mid-season bye when upstaged at home by North Melbourne.

Just because co-captain Oscar Allen makes his long-awaited return, it doesn’t guarantee an Eagles victory. Essendon at Marvel Stadium is a daunting assignment for an interstate rival, even factoring in the Eagles have well and truly stretched the neck of the Bombers at their past two meetings.

The Bombers’ defensive stocks are improving all the time and that represents a huge challenge for West Coast.

VERDICT: Essendon by 24 points or more

Fremantle v Gold Coast, Optus Stadium, 2pm

Talk about putting yourself under pressure. Fremantle invited the headlines, none of them pleasing, with their putrid display against the Western Bulldogs.

It has raised the stakes big time for this clash at home against Gold Coast, who are hellbent on chalking up victory No.1 away from the Glitter Strip. The Dockers will need to make do without Michael Walters (hamstring), but are set to welcome back Heath Chapman, who provides some much-needed starch.

The Suns will ask questions of Fremantle midfield and will look to take the contest on whereas Fremantle this week surely place greater emphasis on defence.

VERDICT: Fremantle by 1-39 points

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