Digby Beacham’s AFL Preview: Round 6


St Kilda v Western Bulldogs, Marvel Stadium, 5.30pm

The Western Bulldogs have lived in the spotlight this week following an insipid loss to Essendon. It is a scenario Luke Beveridge would rather not have confronted, but there is a part of him is relishing  the challenge of bouncing back.

However, that assignment won’t be easy. No Tom Liberatore at the coalface against a St Kilda side that, despite its extensive personnel issues (Max King will miss this clash), has proven tough to play against. King missed the corresponding match last season along with Tim Membrey and the Saints still accounted for the Bulldogs.

Marcus Bontempelli had a rare quiet night in round five and it’s fanciful to think he won’t be leading from the front. Will he have sufficient support though to overcome the Saints?

VERDICT: St Kilda to win


Adelaide v Essendon, Adelaide Oval, 5.40pm

Adelaide’s season was on life support just over a week ago. Isn’t it amazing what a pulsating, on-the-road triumph against a premiership fancy in Carlton can do to morale?

And to be fair, Matthew Nicks deserves credit. He wasn’t afraid to tinker with his midfield mix and the injection of Izak Rankine in and around the ball proved decisive. The disposal efficiency of the Crows, an area of concern in the opening month of the year, was sublime also.

Essendon had their way with the Western Bulldogs, the ability of Sam Durham to nut Marcus Bontempelli and still find plenty of the ball himself surely putting him on the radar of other clubs.

VERDICT: Adelaide by 1-39 points


Collingwood v Port Adelaide, MCG, 11.45am

Is the real Collingwood about to emerge from their premiership slumber and signal they are not yet ready to hand over the crown? There is no better stage or opponent for the Magpies to prove they remain the real deal.

Refreshed after a bye, Collingwood host Port Adelaide, who have dropped just the solitary match in 2024, in what constitutes an “eight-point game”. Such a label so early in a season is rare, but if the Magpies continue their good recent run against the Power, the competition will sit up and take notice.

Scott Pendlebury is in line to be available after sustaining broken ribs in the thrilling win over Hawthorn. That formline is suspect here, but you could argue Port only fell over the line against Fremantle courtesy of being at home. No such comforts exist against Collingwood in Melbourne.

VERDICT: Collingwood to win

Carlton v GWS, Marvel Stadium, 2.35pm

If there was one player GWS could ill afford to be without when fronting up to Carlton in Victoria, it is the best key defender in the competition … Sam Taylor. Yet that is exactly the hand Adam Kingsley has been dealt after the West Australian was concussed in round five.

Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay should see the unavailability of Taylor as a gilt-edged opportunity to flex their muscles and ensure the Blues rebound after snatching defeat from the jaws of victory against Adelaide.

Stephen Coniglio (knee) will also be missing for the Giants, but Carlton have their own injury issues with hamstrung trio Adam Saad (hamstring), Adam Cerra and Mitch McGovern set to watch from the stands.

VERDICT: Carlton to win 

Brisbane v Geelong, Gabba, 5.30pm

Chris Scott and his players, coupled with everyone that has an attachment to Geelong, have every right to be filthy at the AFL Tribunal for overturning Charlie Cameron’s one-match suspension on Tuesday night.

The “good bloke” cause was invoked and as such, Cameron now gets to build on a season-best performance against Melbourne last round before his own fans. And don’t for one minute understate the emotion the goalsneak can generate on home soil, especially following a major.

The Cats did as they pleased against North Melbourne and look set to be boosted by the return of Patrick Dangerfield, Tom Hawkins and Joel Kolodjashnij for what promises to be the match of the round. Strap yourself in.

VERDICT: Brisbane to win

West Coast v Fremantle, Optus Stadium, 6.10pm

How good is that winning feeling? Pretty bloody good, if you were to ask a West Coast supporter. The Eagles stood Richmond a four-goal head start and won running away before their own fans last Sunday.

You would think most of those on hand will be back again as the Eagles chase a rare occurrence of late — back-to-back victories. It goes without saying that the order this week is far taller than last.

Fremantle have dropped their past two (Carlton and Port Adelaide) but could quite easily be unbeaten. They are proving hard to play against, hard to score against. The midfield battle shapes as a beauty.

VERDICT: Fremantle by 1-39 points


Sydney v Gold Coast, SCG, 11.05am

Sydney looked very much like a side in need of a breather post-Gather Round. Let’s hope they used the week off to rest their minds and bodies because they are going to be asked a lot of questions by Gold Coast.

It’s early in the Damien Hardwick era at the Suns, but you would need to be visually impaired not to see the future is bright. They are unbeaten at home in three games this year and head to the Harbour City off a mauling of Hawthorn.

Sydney at the SCG is a tough test for any outfit, even one with prodigious young talent that Gold Coast possess.

VERDICT: Sydney by 1-39 points

North Melbourne v Hawthorn, Marvel Stadium, 2.05pm

Two winless teams coached by the master and the apprentice who aren’t on the best of terms … to put it mildly. The fracture of Alastair Clarkson and Sam Mitchell is juicy, but the real story here is on-field.

Hawthorn were dreadful against Gold Coast last round and the same label can be assigned to North Melbourne down in Geelong. They show flashes, but are out of games far too early for Clarkson’s liking.

Can he arrest it here? The Kangaroos must be harder to score against. Unless that area of their game is addressed, they will continue to come up short — even against Hawthorn, who aren’t exactly an offensive juggernaut.

VERDICT: Hawthorn by 1-39 points

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