Digby Beacham’s AFL Preview: Round 2


St Kilda v Collingwood, MCG, 4.30pm

There are sides you just don’t want to play when you’re the reigning premiers and have started 0-2. One of those would be a Ross Lyon-coached St Kilda, who Collingwood encounter to launch this weekend’s round.

The Saints under Lyon rarely fail to turn up. They don’t win all the time, indeed they lost to Geelong at GMHBA Stadium last Saturday night, but they don’t beat themselves. Opposition sides need to do the majority of things right to prevail.

Therein lies the issue for the Magpies, who were comprehensively outpointed by Sydney last Friday night. The hunger, cohesion and strike-power forward of centre were sadly lacking. It has to be rectified quickly by Craig McRae to get his men back on track.

VERDICT: Collingwood to win


Adelaide v Geelong, Adelaide Oval, 4.40pm

The age-old adage that football sides start their next game the way they finished the previous week should ensure Adelaide win this clash convincingly. We know that isn’t the case, but there is no denying Adelaide stomped home to just miss against Gold Coast around the same time Geelong were nearly overrun at home by St Kilda.

The Cats have to travel interstate to take on a Crows side that is tipped to be boosted by the availability of Taylor Walker. The veteran Crows spearhead is coming off an excellent 2023 and if he again operates at a high standard, Adelaide will remain in the September conversation for a prolonged period.

Geelong were powered by some usual suspects against St Kilda, notably skipper Patrick Dangerfield, but young gun Ollie Dempsey, Tanner Bruhn and Jhye Clark also created an impression.

VERDICT: Adelaide by 1-39 points


North Melbourne v Fremantle, Marvel Stadium, 10.45am

Having started the season in a blaze of glory, Fremantle face a game that has a banana skin feel about it.

The Dockers tackle North Melbourne in an early Saturday contest after finishing the win over Brisbane late last Sunday. Throw in a flight and the loss of Brennan Cox (hamstring) and Oscar McDonald (knee), and it would be a surprise if Justin Longmuir and his coaching staff aren’t on red alert.

North Melbourne will be strengthened by the return of Jy Simpkin, adding depth to a midfield group that does have its share of talent. It will need to be at its best though considering how influential Caleb Serong, Hayden Young, Andy Brayshaw and Nat Fyfe were against Brisbane.

VERDICT: Fremantle to win by 24 points or less

Hawthorn v Melbourne, MCG, 1.35pm

Hawthorn received some unexpected good news at the AFL Tribunal this week when captain James Sicily was able to overturn a one-match suspension. If the Hawks were to have any chance of causing a boilover, Sicily needed to be available.

Even with the firebrand present in the backline, Melbourne will fancy their chances. And so they should. They are fresh off another dismantling of the Western Bulldogs, with the midfield led by Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca in excellent nick, the defence at its normal miserly self and attack showing signs of versatility.

Hawthorn had a look against Essendon, yet still walked away empty-handed. The Demons won’t be as generous as the Bombers.

VERDICT: Melbourne to win

Sydney v Essendon, SCG, 4.30pm

Sydney clearly don’t agree with the script that was written by many pundits leading into the season … that GWS was the best side in New South Wales.

The Swans have been superb against Melbourne and Collingwood, their use by foot against the Magpies at a level that was simply breathtaking. Errol Gulden remains the man Sydney want to give the football the most and it’s impossible to argue against the ploy.

Isaac Heeney has also produced at a high level since being injected into the midfield on a full-time basis. Essendon must find a way to break even in the centre of the ground and in Todd Goldstein, have a ruckman who has the ability to give his runners first access.

VERDICT: Sydney by 1-39 points


Western Bulldogs v Gold Coast, Mars Stadium, 10am

This is a free swing for Gold Coast. They have made a perfect 2-0 start to life under Damien Hardwick and look as well placed as they have been in their history to play finals football. A loss here won’t be catastrophic.

The same doesn’t apply to the Western Bulldogs. The same issues which have been prevalent for a little while now were again to the fore in their opening-match defeat at the hands of Melbourne.

Luke Beveridge remains on the watch list because of that and how he engineers a turnaround sooner rather than later will be fascinating. This looms as your perfect “venue” match.

VERDICT: Western Bulldogs to win

Richmond v Port Adelaide, MCG, 1pm

Without being disrespectful, it appeared Port Adelaide were handed a soft opening to their home-and-away fixture. Having eclipsed West Coast on home soil last Sunday, the Power now hop across the border for a match against a wounded Richmond knowing full well that nothing other than a win will suffice.

The Power amassed 40 scoring shots against the Eagles and while it might be a stretch to think a similar number of shots on goal is achievable against the Tigers, Adem Yze’s side has so far struggled to slow down both Gold Coast and Carlton.

The loss of Dion Prestia diminishes Richmond’s firepower in an area of the ground they can ill-afford to be when you factor in the likes of Conor Rozzee, Zak Butters and Ollie Wines.

VERDICT: Port Adelaide by 1-39 points

West Coast v GWS, Optus Stadium, 3.50pm

West Coast had hoped the injury woes that contributed to a wretched past two seasons were a thing of the past. Sadly, it seems, they are not.

The news this week that co-captain Oscar Allen would miss at least two months with a knee injury was a savage blow to Adam Simpson and his charges ahead of a daunting assignment against a GWS outfit that heads to Perth off the back of two emphatic victories.

In a worrying sign for the Eagles, GWS skipper Toby Greene has been somewhat subdued against Collingwood and North Melbourne and is surely getting very close to a trademark performance. If it comes here, the margin could be significant.

VERDICT: GWS to win by 40 points or more

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