Digby Beacham’s AFL Preview: Round 4


Adelaide v Melbourne, Adelaide Oval, 4.40pm

Adelaide extended the tenure of coach Matthew Nicks last month in order to quell any outside noise surrounding his position. Understandable at the time, the Crows now find themselves winless ahead of a daunting match-up at home to launch Gather Round.

And as fate would have it, Adelaide enter the contest minus Wayne Milera (knee) and Lachlan Murphy (knee). Their absence stretches an already thinning squad against Melbourne, fresh off a huge win over Port Adelaide and boosted by the return of Steven May.

The Crows battled to hit the scoreboard in the loss to Fremantle and that is a genuine concern factoring in how efficient the Demons’ defence can be at full strength.

VERDICT: Melbourne to win


Brisbane v North Melbourne, Norwood, 2.10pm

The Brisbane we are witnessing from week to week is a far cry from the Lions outfit that went agonisingly close to winning last year’s flag. It’s hard to believe they are still winless, like their opponents here in North Melbourne.

Chris Fagan’s men don’t need to be told how urgent the situation has become. They must start banking victories and have come up with a suitable assignment … the last two matches between these sides have resulted in 108-point and 75-point wins to Chris Fagan’s charges.

North have the talent to trade out of their predicament, but it’s still a few years away. Conversely, the Lions are built for the now.

VERDICT: Brisbane by 25 points or more

Port Adelaide v Essendon, Adelaide Oval, 5.10pm

Ken Hinkley is never far from the thoughts of many Port Adelaide supporters. Unfortunately for the Power coach though, most of those said fans are of the view he is not the man to take the club to the promised land.

Certainly losses like last weekend’s to Melbourne only fan the flames. It was a game Port were expected to win, but they fell victim to a slick, manic Demons team that took its chances in front of goal.

Essendon found themselves on the brink early against St Kilda, but hung in and got rewarded for their tenacity. It’s early, but the signs are good for the Bombers in year two of Brad Scott’s tenure. Another victory here would be huge for their finals ambitions.

VERDICT: Port Adelaide by 1-39 points


West Coast v Sydney, Mount Barker, 10.30am

Unless you bleed blue and gold, it is impossible to make a case for West Coast. Impossible. The Eagles have booted just eight goals in their past two matches and have failed to win any of their 12 quarters in 2024.

Sydney hadn’t put a foot wrong until last Sunday when ambushed by Richmond. It served as a wake-up call for the Swans and will lead to a suitable response from a team with designs on a top-four berth.

An already deep midfield is set to be boosted by the club debut of Taylor Adams after a solid outing at VFL level. The only meeting between these sides last year resulted in a 171-point victory to Sydney. A similar scoreline would surprise, but a percentage-boosting victory would not.

VERDICT: Sydney by 40 points or more

Fremantle v Carlton, Adelaide Oval, 1.20pm

Justin Longmuir can disarm some of the league’s best teams with his defensive strategies. Think Geelong in Geelong, Melbourne at the MCG and Sydney at the SCG in the past couple of seasons where the Dockers have prevailed.

He will again lean on that defensive in a bid to keep Fremantle unbeaten. With Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay lurking inside Carlton’s attacking 50m, the Dockers must break even at worst in the midfield.

The presence and form of Nat Fyfe at the stoppages will assist in that and his battle, however fleeting it may be, with Carlton skipper and fellow Brownlow medallist Patrick Cripps promises to be box office.

VERDICT: Carlton to win

Western Bulldogs v Geelong, Adelaide Oval, 5.10pm

After a couple of pleasing performances against inferior opposition, the Western Bulldogs now face a litmus test in the form of Geelong.

The Cats are on a quick turnaround having beaten Hawthorn on Easter Monday in a game that went far longer than expected due to the last-quarter lightning delay. Does that have an impact here or do we back in the fact the Cats are still an experienced group that knows it can get the job done in South Australia as we saw last month?

The Bulldogs’ have filled their boots against Gold Coast and West Coast, but getting a similar return in front of goal against this Tom Stewart-led Cats backline is another matter entirely.

VERDICT: Geelong to win


Gold Coast v GWS, Mount Barker, 10.30am

Damien Hardwick would love nothing more than for his young side to make a statement early in his reign as Gold Coast coach. Back-to-back wins at home preceded a poor effort opposed to the Western Bulldogs.

Taking the scalp of GWS would constitute a “statement”, but it would seem a bridge too far. The Giants have won 11 of their past 12 meetings against Gold Coast stretching over a decade and are unbeaten to start 2024.

Lachie Whitfield is enjoying a brilliant start to the season off half-back, alongside Mr Dependable, WA key defender Sam Taylor. There is so much to like the way GWS are going about their business and they should be winning again.

VERDICT: GWS by 1-39 points

Richmond v St Kilda, Norwood, 1.20pm

The glow of Adem Yze’s first win at the helm of Richmond was tempered by serious injuries to big boppers Tom Lynch (hamstring) and Noah Balta (knee). If that wasn’t enough, Liam Baker was suspended for one week, a sanction that was upheld at the AFL Tribunal.

On the flip side, Dustin Martin and Dylan Grimes are in line to play. Their experience will prove invaluable for an interstate assignment against a St Kilda team that also has its challenges on the personnel front, with the suspension of Marcus Windhager untimely to put it mildly.

Max King returns from suspension however and will no doubt be eager to prove a threat in attack and help square away the Saints season at 2-2.

VERDICT: St Kilda to win 

Collingwood v Hawthorn, Adelaide Oval, 3.10pm

All eyes will be on Jack Ginnivan as he encounters his premiership teammates for the first time since his departure from Collingwood soon after the 2023 season ended.

And it’s not solely because there is no real love lost between Ginnivan and his one-time allies. Rather because he was umpired harshly (and incorrectly) in the Hawks’ Easter Monday loss to Geelong.

Collingwood breathed life into their season with the win over Brisbane and now get a golden opportunity to start climbing the ladder. Sadly for Hawthorn, the predictions of a lowly finish appear on the money. No Mitch Lewis (hamstring) is a hammer blow for the Hawks.

VERDICT: Collingwood by 1-39 points

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