GWS v St Kilda, Manuka Oval, 5.50pm
Toby Greene makes his much-anticipated return for GWS in the nation’s capital. The Giants are understandably delighted. But they should also be a touch aggrieved because their 1-4 start has come while their volatile goalkicker has sat in the stands through suspension.
Greene knows full well he owes his team and a major statement from him wouldn’t be a shock. That said, it would need to be a telling contribution for GWS to overcome St Kilda. The Giants’ inability to score has left them at the mercy of other sides when the switch has been flicked.
The Saints have shown a capacity to score heavily in 2022 and their pressure on the opposition has also been particularly pleasing.
VERDICT: St Kilda 1-39 @ $2.20
Western Bulldogs v Adelaide, MARS Stadium, Ballarat, 11.45am
Logic says the Western Bulldogs take care of business here. But Adelaide would love to once again defy logic, just as they did last week against a Richmond side that had seemingly rediscovered its mojo.
The Crows absorbed a couple of early body shots from the Tigers before countering with some heavy punches themselves, ultimately delivering a knockout blow that gave Matthew Nicks and his men enormous confidence about what is possible.
The Bulldogs did a number on North Melbourne early and cruised to a victory that improved them to 2-3. Even with Lachie Hunter and Mitch Wallis unavailable because of personal reasons, they look to have the weapons to well and truly stretch the Crows.
VERDICT: Western Bulldogs 24+ @ $2.08
Port Adelaide v West Coast, Adelaide Oval, 2.35pm
Fans of both sides would take a win here, regardless of how ugly it is. Ken Hinkley and Adam Simpson are no different. But with the stakes so high considering where both sit on the ladder, it wouldn’t be a shock if there are some nervous players, especially early.
If the old adage “you start the next week how you finished the previous week” holds true, then Port Adelaide will establish a buffer early and then be in the box seat. However, it would be a shock if West Coast are as listless initially as they were against Sydney.
The Eagles need to hold their ground midfield and work far harder without the ball. If the Power get a sniff, they do have the firepower to trouble West Coast, even in the absence of Charlie Dixon.
VERDICT: Port Adelaide 1-39 @ $2.02
Fremantle v Carlton, Optus Stadium, 5.40pm
The head and the heart says Fremantle can improve to 5-1. It has been that way since last weekend when the Dockers lit up Essendon after half-time and Carlton wobbled late in their clash with Port Adelaide only hours earlier.
Then came the news that COVID-19 was starting to inch towards the four walls of Cockburn, ruling out young defenders Hayden Young and Heath Chapman, and leaving doubts on others ahead of bouncedown at Optus Stadium.
The expectation that Carlton captain Patrick Cripps takes his place in the line-up is a huge boost for the visitors, bolstering a midfield that feeds twin towers Harry McKay and Charlie Curnow. We will learn a great deal about theses sides in what promises to be a cracker.
VERDICT: Fremantle 1-24 @ $3.15
North Melbourne v Geelong, Blundstone Arena, 11.10am
North Melbourne coach David Noble insists the Kangaroos’ rebuild is on track. Others have a differing view. What would help sway those non-believers would be an upset of note in this encounter.
Yet that is easier said than done, even taking into account North are well rested and playing at a ground they enjoy good success at. The Cats faded badly against Hawthorn on Easter Monday and must rebound to stay in touch with other top-four aspirants.
Geelong’s midfield is yet to really crank up and this presents as an opportunity for it to do so. And if that does occur, then the likes of Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron could be on the end of some silver service.
VERDICT: Geelong win … North Melbourne +29.5 @ $1.90
Gold Coast v Brisbane, Metricon Stadium, 2.10pm
Healthy, hungry and happy. That is what Brisbane appear to be as they continue their march towards a fourth successive finals campaign under Chris Fagan. For Gold Coast and Stuart Dew, any post-season activity would be a blessing.
A feature of the Lions’ 4-1 start to the season has been the form of Joe Daniher in attack. Equally quirky and immensely talented, Daniher has booted 16 goals to share top billing with Max King and Tom Hawkins in the Coleman Medal race. He is not foolproof in front of the big sticks, but is considerably better than years gone by.
The Suns, like they seem to do each season, have got out of the blocks well. The challenge for Dew and his players is to sustain that and nothing would suggest they have learnt their lessons than a statement victory over Brisbane.
VERDICT: Brisbane 1-24 @ $3.15
Richmond v Melbourne, MCG, 5.25pm
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick bemoaned his team’s inability to win contests in defence during the loss to Adelaide last weekend. Let’s hope he and his coaching staff have got to work this week.
If they haven’t, this could get really ugly. No side clocks up the miles in the course of a game more than Melbourne and as we saw against GWS last Saturday night, they keep asking questions until you run out of answers. The floodgates then open.
The Tigers at their peak were a fearsome sight. They are no longer formidable. That tag applies to Melbourne, who have taken the baton and run with it.
VERDICT: Melbourne 24+ @ $2.04
Hawthorn v Sydney, UTAS Stadium, 10.30am
Much was made of Hawthorn’s Easter Monday victory over Geelong. And that is fair enough. It was a terrific response from the Hawks and further underlined the fact that they have got a ripping young coach in Sam Mitchell.
But one has to wonder whether too much has been made of Hawthorn’s winning prospects here. Sydney are well rested after annihilating West Coast and take on a Hawthorn line-up missing ruckman Ned Reeves (shoulder) and key forward Mitch Lewis (hamstring).
If Peter Ladhams, who was impressive in his Sydney debut last round, turns up and proves the influential big man he was at stoppages and around the ground, the Hawks defence might be in for a busy afternoon.
VERDICT: Sydney -8.5 @ $1.90
Essendon v Collingwood, MCG, 1.20pm
The spotlight has been shining brightly in the direction of Essendon for most of this season. It only intensified after the insipid second half against Fremantle and will no doubt continue to be focused on them should they come up short in this traditional clash.
On face value, it’s hard to see how they take down a Collingwood side that is fresh off a spirited display against Brisbane at the Gabba. The ability of the Magpies to hit the scoreboard has been a feature of Craig McRae’s reign and given the issues the Bombers have defensively, that promises to be a trump card.
Jordan De Goey has been linked to Essendon beyond this year, the final season of his existing contract. What better way to enhance your potential asking price than a standout performance on such a momentous day?
VERDICT: Collingwood 1-39 @ $2.15Market Market