Digby Beacham’s AFL Preview: Round 8


Port Adelaide v Western Bulldogs, Adelaide Oval, 5.30pm

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley insists the ghosts of last year’s preliminary final defeat to the Western Bulldogs are no more. He could well be right, but the outside world won’t know for sure until the final siren sounds to end this contest.

What isn’t up for debate is the seriousness of Port’s plight. Unless the Power find a way to win again and improve to 3-5, finals will be beyond them. The Bulldogs aren’t exactly humming though and have some personnel issues which are proving somewhat problematic.

Dogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli’s absence shapes as the game-changer here. Already without Lachie Hunter and with Mitch Wallis to miss again, the Bulldogs are minus key components through the midfield and also forward of the ball.

VERDICT: Port Adelaide by 1-39 points

Fremantle v North Melbourne, Optus Stadium, 6.40pm

If you needed further proof how far Fremantle had come this year, last weekend’s display down in Geelong surely sealed the deal. The Dockers are finals bound, with the only query being how high on the ladder they finish.

Even taking into account their COVID-19 cluster that has inconvenienced Justin Longmuir and his match committee, this game against an underachieving Kangaroos outfit is well within reach.

The ability of Fremantle to defend and move the ball with speed remains a feature and will no doubt be assisted by the return of rebounding defensive duo Hayden Young and Heath Chapman. Dockers fans are also excited at getting a chance to see Jye Amiss being unveiled.

VERDICT: Fremantle by 1-39 points


Richmond v Collingwood, MCG, 11.45am

Welcome back Dustin Martin. One of the genuine superstars of the competition, Martin’s availability is a huge boost for the Tigers as they look to notch back-to-back wins for the first time in nearly 12 months.

The Tigers didn’t beat a great deal last round, but the manner in which they accomplished it was impressive. Ditto to Collingwood, who overcame a short break post-Anzac Day and went to town on Gold Coast.

The Magpies, as they were in the lead-up to round seven, have had a slightly disjointed preparation due to a virus impacting several players. It’s not an ideal scenario.

VERDICT: Richmond by 1-39 points

Sydney v Gold Coast, SCG, 11.45am

A first-up win over West Coast at Optus Stadium and a statement soon after at home opposed to Carlton was supposed to be the platform from which Gold Coast could launch a finals push.

Instead, here we are wondering whether the Suns have actually improved at all. There have been signs, but unless Stuart Dew can find a formula that trips up Sydney at home, the Glitter Strip crew will be 2-6 and again out of the September conversation.

The Swans couldn’t contain Brisbane last Sunday, but this is a far more suitable assignment, especially when you factor in the return from concussion of Logan McDonald and Paddy McCartin.

VERDICT: Sydney by 24+ points

GWS v Geelong, Manuka Oval, 2.35pm

A week after losing a match most expected they would handle comfortably, Geelong are facing an assignment that could very well shape their season. Few would have envisaged a contest with GWS would provide such a test.

The Giants went to South Australia last weekend and absolutely obliterated Adelaide. It was a performance that unsurprisingly came off the back of Toby Greene running amok from early on.

It was further proof that Greene is the barometer and once he has his tail up, is arguably the hardest player to harness in the competition. Patrick Dangerfield’s return from a calf issue comes at a great time for Geelong.


Essendon v Hawthorn, Marvel Stadium, 5.25pm

Sam Mitchell is just seven games into his senior coaching career. Something tells me that he would like nothing more than to extend Essendon’s horrible season.

Mitchell, like so many at Hawthorn before him, despises the Bombers. The feeling is mutual from Essendon’s perspective, ensuring this match will have its share of spice.

The Hawks have ridden a rollercoaster during the course of games under Mitchell, but they have shown an ability to hit the scoreboard when momentum swings their way. The same doesn’t apply to the Bombers, who are in a real rut.

VERDICT: Hawthorn -8.5 (Line)

Brisbane v West Coast, Gabba, 5.25pm

Unless you are a sadist, there has be to a level of empathy for what West Coast are going through. Injuries and COVID-19 have conspired to trash their campaign well before the halfway mark of the season.

If the Eagles, under interim coach Matthew Knights, leave Queensland having lost by less than 10 goals, they have done a remarkable job. Brisbane are an offensive juggernaut and now get back home after a couple of weeks on the road.

West Coast fans would love to see considerably more spirit displayed by their team and that level of competitiveness starts in the centre square. It is imperative the midfielders find a way to stem the flow. If they don’t, this gets really ugly.

VERDICT: Brisbane to Win and Under 174.5 points


Melbourne v St Kilda, MCG, 11.10am

Each week Melbourne are asked a question or two. For their past 14 matches, both last year and in 2022, they have had the answer. And bookmakers are expecting that to be the case once more this weekend.

The Demons were installed as favourites earlier this week and it’s easy to see why considering they welcome back the likes of Luke Jackson, Kysaiah Pickett, Tom Sparrow, Alex Neal-Bullen and Harrison Petty.

That’s not to say the Saints cannot stretch the necks of Melbourne. They have been boosted by the availability of Rowan Marshall and Zak Jones and could well be entering this clash on a six-game winning streak save for some poor finishing in front of goal against Port Adelaide.

VERDICT: Melbourne by 1-39 points

Carlton v Adelaide, Marvel Stadium, Marvel Stadium, 2.40pm

Adelaide had built a lot of goodwill in the first six rounds of the season. However, much of it was undone by a particularly poor performance at home last weekend against GWS.

Matthew Nicks knows a response is required and will be hoping it is immediate. Carlton counterpart Michael Voss will stress the importance to his players of not having a “Crows moment”. The Blues are tracking nicely, but this task is going to be far harder than beating up on North Melbourne.

Adelaide will need to match motors midfield with Carlton because if they surrender inside, the tall targets in attack for Carlton have the potential to wreak havoc.

VERDICT: Carlton by 24+ points

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