Digby Beacham’s AFL Preview: Round 8


Adelaide v Port Adelaide, Adelaide Oval, 5.30pm

Not a great deal separated these teams in betting earlier in the week. Once it was announced that Port Adelaide skipper Connor Rozee had passed a fitness test on a hamstring he appeared to tweak against St Kilda, the Power’s price dissipated.

It doesn’t mean Port are over the line by any stretch. Adelaide, despite boasting a 2-5 win/loss record, are looking more and more like the side we saw in and around the top eight for most of 2023. Their midfield is more explosive, they are moving the ball from defence with greater efficiency and the scoreboard is being hit regularly.

Factor in the emotion surrounding Rory Sloane’s retirement during the week and it wouldn’t be a huge shock if Adelaide were to win a third straight Showdown.

VERDICT: Adelaide to win


Carlton v Collingwood, MCG, 5.40pm

The premiership defence of Collingwood has not yet showed any real flow. There have been moments in the course of games, from week to week, where we’ve seen glimpses of their very best. Be it personnel or hunger, these Magpies aren’t what we witnessed for just about all of 2023.

And their frailties could very well be exposed by fierce rivals Carlton, stinging after losing a rollicking encounter to Geelong. The Blues were left to lament poor defending and goalfront inaccuracy, with Michael Voss making his feelings known publicly soon after the final siren.

Collingwood will be without decorated duo Jordan De Goey (groin) and Tom Mitchell (foot), robbing Craig McRae of key weapons in an area of the ground where the Blues could rightly lay claim to being the competition’s best.

VERDICT: Carlton to win


Sydney v GWS, SCG, 11.45am

A sold-out SCG for a mouthwatering encounter between Sydney and GWS. It is a promoter’s dream and a result all at AFL House would be thrilled with.

The Swans and Giants occupy second and third spot on the ladder respectively, with their offensive-minded approach delivering a great deal of joy to most. It would be a shock however if the scoreboard is ticking over regularly here given the bleak forecast.

So who does the wet weather suit more? It’s hard to mount a case for either to be advantaged more so than the other, but we do know the Swans are an elite kicking side and good skills are critically important when rain is falling. As for GWS, they have few deficiencies and are boosted by the return of Toby Greene and Sam Taylor. A venue game, this one.

VERDICT: Sydney to win

St Kilda v North Melbourne, Marvel Stadium, 2.35pm

So many circled this fixture after the events of the pre-season when Jimmy Webster received a seven-week suspension for his crude bump on Jy Simpkin. The anticipation has waned considerably since, however.

St Kilda have been cruelled by injuries and will now enter this clash without the suspended Jack Higgins, while North Melbourne are so far off the pace, it’s not funny. Even if Webster is recalled, this match matters little to those without an attachment to the Saints or Kangaroos.

Ross Lyon would love to call on more midfield talent than he has at his disposal, but it won’t matter here. The Saints chalk up win No.3 for the campaign.

VERDICT: St Kilda by 1-39 points

Melbourne v Geelong, MCG, 5.30pm

All good things must come to an end. That’s what they say. If the old adage is accurate, Geelong are getting close to a defeat.

We felt that way heading into round six when the Cats ventured to the Gabba to play Brisbane. They won. We felt that way heading into round seven when they ventured to the MCG to play Carlton. They won. Over to you, Melbourne.

On form alone, the Cats are deserving favourites. It’s just whether they have their first “dodgy” one of the campaign and if they do, are Melbourne capable of capitalising. Off what we have seen, Geelong’s best is better than Melbourne’s. 

VERDICT: Geelong to win

West Coast v Essendon, Optus Stadium, 6.10pm

Essendon are two hours away from being declared legitimate by those who have (quite rightly) doubted their credentials for some time now. It sounds silly considering this weekend’s opponents are West Coast, but the Eagles at home are now a stern test.

If the rested Bombers can venture west, do their business and depart with a fifth win for the season, they are well within their rights to have designs on a finals berth. It won’t be easy.

West Coast weren’t disgraced when losing to Gold Coast and welcome back Tom Barrass from suspension and teen phenom Harley Reid after he was rested for the trip to the Glitter Strip.

VERDICT: Essendon by 1-39 points


Richmond v Fremantle, MCG, 11am

Richmond at the MCG are a tough nut to crack, especially for interstate sides. We have already seen them this season cut down Sydney. That performance though was an outlier, as evidenced by their one win from seven outings.

Jacob Hopper’s hamstring injury on Anzac eve was a huge setback for the Tigers, who are already being forced to make do without Tim Taranto and Dion Prestia. Their absence could be exposed by Fremantle’s midfield, which was superbly led by Nat Fyfe, Caleb Serong and Andy Brayshaw against the Western Bulldogs.

Adem Yze’s men are having a crack, but they lack overall class and polish with ball in hand. By no means are Fremantle the finished article, but their body of work this year has been predominantly sound.

VERDICT: Fremantle to win

Western Bulldogs v Hawthorn, Marvel Stadium, 2pm

The Western Bulldogs weren’t horrible against Fremantle last weekend considering Jamara Ugle-Hagan didn’t take his place for a second straight week and Tom Liberatore was a late withdrawal through illness.

They can’t afford  to come up short here though. Hawthorn’s only win this year came against North Melbourne in round six and their shortcomings were brutally exposed by Sydney at the MCG. Unsurprisingly, the pressure is building on third-year coach Sam Mitchell.

He’s not alone. The football world continues to monitor Luke Beveridge closely due to his inability to extract high-quality displays from his team on a regular basis.

VERDICT: Western Bulldogs by 16 points or more

Brisbane v Gold Coast, Gabba, 5.10pm

How long do you stay loyal to a team that has been so very good for the past five seasons without achieving the ultimate? It’s a question that applies to both Brisbane coach Chris Fagan and the hundreds of thousands of football tipsters.

Fagan made it known soon after the shellacking from GWS that he was all-in with his players and wouldn’t be throwing them under the bus. Bookmakers have a similar view … we wait to see how this match lands from a tipsters perspective.

Gold Coast have a wonderful chance to illustrate their top-eight credentials and know full well that if they are able to put speed on the ball, Brisbane could be in bother.

VERDICT: Brisbane to win

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