Digby Beacham’s AFL Preview: Round 7


Richmond v Melbourne, MCG, 5.25pm

It is not a large sample size with which we are working, but it appears the bye is extremely beneficial for teams the week after their break. Melbourne and Richmond find themselves refreshed for what is a massive occasion they have made their own in recent times.

And the Demons have owned this stage of late, a scenario that looks set to continue. Even with Jacob Hopper and Dylan Grimes returning from injury, Richmond have an extensive injury list featuring key personnel.

Opposition midfields have run up big numbers in the past few seasons when coming up against Richmond and that hasn’t changed under Adem Yze. This could be an encounter where the likes of Christian Petracca, Jack Viney and Clayton Oliver go big.

VERDICT: Melbourne to win by 16 points or more


Essendon v Collingwood, MCG, 1.20pm

You could see the anguish on Craig McRae’s face midway through the second term last weekend when Collingwood trailed by more than five goals against Port Adelaide.

The Magpies aren’t the reigning premiers for no reason, however. They got to work, ramping up their intent without the ball and then hurting the Power with an avalanche of goals. It was the closest thing we have seen in 2024 to what carried Collingwood to the summit last year.

They’ll need to again bring their A-game to this clash because there is growing evidence that Essendon are coming out the other side. They have won their past two against the Western Bulldogs and Adelaide and are proving harder to score against.

VERDICT: Collingwood to win

GWS v Brisbane, Manuka Oval, 5.35pm

The market for this match has been a topsy turvy affair … which is completely understandable. The AFL Tribunal’s decision to clear Jesse Hogan, yet uphold Toby Greene’s one-match ban saw the Giants reclaim favouritism from Brisbane, who fluffed their lines at home in round six.

The Lions now need to venture into the nation’s capital for a showdown with GWS, who are also out for redemption after sliding to a first defeat for 2024 at the hands of Carlton.

The Giants could not stop the Blues from bossing them in and around the contest and that will no doubt be a focus for Adam Kingsley. It remains Brisbane’s strength which in turn allows them to feed a forward line that has genuine weapons.



Port Adelaide v St Kilda, Adelaide Oval, 5.40pm

St Kilda coach Ross Lyon loves to control the narrative. Has done ever since he assumed control of St Kilda for the first time nearly two decades ago. Therefore it wasn’t a shock to see him quickly put on the agenda the Saints’ tough schedule following the spanking from the Western Bulldogs.

He was right though, as he was when he said it was a performance that was the exception, not the norm, under his tenure this time around. We await the response.

And not just from the Saints. Port Adelaide were again exposed by Collingwood at the MCG. The Power looked lethargic after a sprightly first term and Ken Hinkley will be demanding a far more complete display before their home fans.

VERDICT: Port Adelaide by 1-39 points


North Melbourne v Adelaide, Blundstone Arena, 11.45am

If North Melbourne aren’t a club in turmoil, you are well within your rights to ask the following question — what does a club in turmoil actually look like?

The news this week that young gun Luke Davies-Uniacke was parking contract discussions sent shivers through the Kangaroos supporter base. If LDU doesn’t see a future at the club which has made an artform of losing, one wonders where to next for Alastair Clarkson and the hierarchy.

Adelaide aren’t exactly humming. Indeed, they have won just one match for the season (one more than North) and continue to find ways to lose games that are tight, save for the Carlton comeback in round five. They need to be victorious here. Anything less is completely unacceptable.

VERDICT: Adelaide by 1-39 points

Geelong v Carlton, MCG, 2.35pm

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past six weeks, you would know that you have to bring your very, very best and be extremely well organised to take down Geelong.

Brisbane became the latest side to learn first-hand the efficiency that Geelong boast in 2024. Now it is up to Carlton to step up to the plate and become the maiden outfit this year to emerge victorious over Chris Scott’s side.

There are reasons why the Blues would feel such a task is achievable. They are coming off their best display of the season — a win over GWS — and get the Cats without Tom Stewart (concussion).

VERDICT: Carlton to win 

Fremantle v Western Bulldogs, Optus Stadium, 5.40pm

Aside from Geelong, every side has had at least one match where it has performed below expectation this year. Fremantle had their “unacceptable” outing last weekend, but it just so happened to occur in a western derby.

Dockers fans will be wanting to see a response. So too will Justin Longmuir and his coaching staff. The expected availability of Hayden Young, Sam Switkowski and Michael Frederick is invaluable.

But the Bulldogs, fresh off their mauling of St Kilda, are also expected to be boosted by the return from concussion of Tom Liberatore. His addition to a midfield group which at its best is extremely effective, cannot be understated.

VERDICT: Fremantle to win


Gold Coast v West Coast, People First Stadium, 11am

It’s impossible not to be happy for West Coast’s players over the past two weeks. They have been able to not only beat Richmond and Fremantle, but express themselves in doing so.

The next challenge is to prove the recent uptick in form is not a WA phenomenon. Gold Coast will certainly be determined to assert themselves here and give their own fans a reason to rejoice.

The Suns are 3-0 at home under Damien Hardwick and will be thinking this represents a wonderful chance to keep their unbeaten record intact. The tussle between the respective midfields, even in the expected absence of Harley Reid, is juicy.

VERDICT: Gold Coast to win by 16 points or more 

Hawthorn v Sydney, MCG, 2pm

Hawthorn ticked the “must-win” box last round opposed to North Melbourne to allow players and coaches to exhale. Now they need to build on that performance and somehow find a way to disarm the ball movement of a side has slipped up only once in 2024.

Sydney were challenged by Gold Coast before pulling clear in a timely reminder of their efficiency. Errol Gulden, Isaac Heeney and co. worked brilliantly at the feet of Brodie Grundy in his milestone match, enabling the Swans to pile on 12 goals to five after half-time.

Hawthorn’s midfield awoke from its slumber against North Melbourne and the likes of Jai Newcombe, Conor Nash and Connor Macdonald are going to have to replicate their efforts if the Hawks are to have a chance.

VERDICT: Sydney by 1-39 points

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