Late fixture changes and states shutting their borders have added to the feeling of chaos in the AFL world this week, with the week 5 matches a welcome distraction.
Read on below for full match previews, tips and analysis!
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AFL Tipping – Thursday July 2
Carlton v St Kilda
Venue: Marvel Stadium | Start: 7:40 PM
Carlton Blues – Thrilling wins over Geelong and Essendon have Carlton at 2-2 and back in the mix. This match was originally scheduled at the MCG and that would have suited Carlton more, with the Saints a tough team to beat at Docklands under new coach Brett Ratten. Ratten was a star for Carlton as a player and led the club to the finals in 2009, 2010 and 2011 before losing his job in 2012. Levi Casboult is in good form up forward and it was pleasing to see Sam Docherty win so much football in Round 4 after he missed both of the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
St Kilda Saints – Loved what the Saints dished up against the Tigers in Round 4. They were tougher than the premiers and had contributors all over the ground. Tim Membrey booted three goals against Richmond and averages 2.7 majors per game against Carlton, with the Saints winning five of their last six against the Blues. Another stat in St Kilda’s favour – it has won six of its last seven clashes at Docklands. Midfielder Zak Jones could miss with a hamstring, but the Saints look just a little too good here.
AFL Tipping – Friday July 3
Collingwood v Essendon
Venue: MCG | Start: 7:50 PM
Collingwood Magpies – There’s no shame in losing to Greater Western Sydney on the road and the Magpies look well-placed to respond strongly here, even if defender Jeremy Howe is set for an extended stint on the sidelines with a knee injury. The Magpies have won their last four against Essendon and are fifth on the ladder thanks to a stern defence that has conceded just 25 goals in four matches. The ‘Pies simply bat too deep in the midfield for Essendon and even if Steele Sidebottom misses a game due to a reported transgression of the AFL’s COVID-19 rules, Nathan Buckley’s men should claim victory.
Essendon Bombers – The Bombers are hard to watch at the moment, persisting with a perplexing game plan that sees them continually kick long to small forwards. A 2-1 win-loss record looks kind to them and they will have to improve significantly to topple the Magpies here. All three of the club’s matches this season have been decided by a goal or less but missing the suspended Zach Merrett, it is hard to see Essendon getting close in this one.
AFL Tipping – Saturday July 4
West Coast v Sydney
Venue: Metricon Stadium | Start: 1:45 PM
West Coast Eagles – Seasons can swing on little things – will West Coast’s late change of opponent finally kickstart the club’s momentum? The Eagles were due to play premiers Richmond in Round 5 in a Thursday night clash between two sides with just one win each to their name this season. The Tigers are not in great form, but Sydney is an easier match on paper. The Eagles still have some credits in the bank but they are getting low and you could not back them with much confidence this week. They should win, still, with defender Jeremy McGovern set to return from an ankle problem.
Sydney Swans – Sydney’s home record is becoming a major cause for concern, John Longmire’s men now having lost 12 of their past 18 at the SCG. They may welcome another road trip due to that record but Sydney look a fairly middle-of-the-road side in 2020, especially with Lance Franklin sidelined due to injury. They are competitive and should make the Eagles work for this, but a Sydney win would surprise.
Geelong v Gold Coast
Venue: GMHBA Stadium | Start: 4:35 PM
Geelong Cats – Is there a team in the AFL that is harder to read than Geelong? The Cats have not won twice in a row in over a year and were lucky to avoid defeat against Melbourne in Round 4. That win was not impressive at all and Gold Coast should prove tougher opposition here. Maybe the milestone factor will help? Gary Ablett plays game 350 in this clash, against his former club, while Joel Selwood plays his 300th match. Both have been fine servants to Geelong and the Cats’ home ground advantage will probably prove the difference here.
Gold Coast Suns – The Suns continue to impress but the same question keeps getting asked – Who have they beaten? The scalp of Geelong at Geelong would really silence any sceptics. Matt Rowell has played just four games but the midfielder is the talk of the league and it would be brilliant to see him go head-to-head against one of Geelong’s stars. The bubble might be about to burst, but a competitive showing would give Gold Coast fans more reasons to be optimistic.
Western Bulldogs v Nth Melbourne
Venue: Marvel Stadium | Start: 7:40 PM
Western Bulldogs – The Doggies look to have found their mojo again but face another test in the form of a competitive Kangaroos outfit. Forwards Aaron Naughton and Sam Lloyd will both miss through injury, forcing another re-shuffle. Victory here would see the Bulldogs move to 3-2 – a strong response from a 0-2 start. Four of the last five matches between the Bulldogs and the Kangaroos have been decided by seven points or less and another close clash would not surprise.
North Melbourne Kangaroos – Another week, another defeat despite a fast finish. Like they did in Round 3, the Kangaroos took too long to get going in Round 4, going down by four points against Hawthorn despite kicking the last four goals of the match. North had multiple opportunities to win that, too, and should welcome Ben Cunnington back into the side. From 2-0, North are 2-2, and could be without skipper Jack Ziebell. This match could be season-defining for Rhyce Shaw’s men.
Brisbane v Port Adelaide
Venue: Gabba | Start: 7:40 PM
Brisbane Lions – The Lions are 3-0 since the competition’s re-start but face their strongest test of the season here. Chris Fagan’s side should have beaten Adelaide by far more than 37 points on Sunday but only had themselves to blame, kicking 10.23 (83). It followed an effort of 10.14 (74) in a Round 3 win over West Coast and the Lions may not get as many shots on goal in this clash. Midfielder Lachie Neale is in outstanding form and must be stopped by the Power.
Port Adelaide Power – This match will tell us a lot about Port Adelaide, who sit on top of the ladder with a 4-0 record. The club’s last three wins have come against the bottom three sides, though, and this will be far more of a test. Port’s midfield depth is strong, with Travis Boak, Tom Rockliff, Ollie Wines, Hamish Hartlett and Steven Motlop all boasting plenty of experience. The x-factor of young kids Connor Rozee and Zak Butters give the Power another dimension, and key forward Charlie Dixon is in form, fresh off a six-goal haul against West Coast. Expect them to push the Lions very close here.
AFL Tipping – Sunday July 5
Adelaide v Fremantle
Venue: Metricon Stadium | Start: 1:05 PM
Adelaide Crows – This game comes at the right time for the bottom-placed Crows, who are 0-4 but face another winless team who are missing two-time Brownlow Medallist Nat Fyfe. The Crows have now lost seven matches in a row and have the competition’s worst defence in 2020 which is forcing many to re-assess the club’s list. Adelaide still seem to have enough good players to be competitive, but defeat here would heap the pressure on new coach Matthew Nicks. This one is very difficult to call.
Fremantle Dockers – Would be tipping the Dockers if Fyfe was playing and think they are playing some decent football at times. Three of the club’s four losses have been by 13 points or less but they have lacked the composure and polish to register a win. The gap between Fremantle’s good players and youngsters is simply too big and Justin Longmuir – another new coach – is also searching for his first win. If this was a soccer match, 0-0 would look appealing … hard to be confident about either of these two sides.
Melbourne v Richmond
Venue: MCG | Start: 3:35 PM
Melbourne Demons – Ready to strike a line through Melbourne in 2020 if they come up short again here. The Demons more than played their part in a dreadful first half against Geelong last week and a lack of genuine forward options means Melbourne struggle to kick a winning score. Simon Goodwin’s men have not kicked more than eight goals in a match this season and a repeat will seem them defeated here.
Richmond Tigers – Worried about the Tigers after successive losses but they still should be far too good here. Returning to the MCG helps and the Tigers have won their last four against Melbourne, with three of those triumphs being by 33 points or more. This fixture is much more favourable than West Coast on the Gold Coast, as initially planned, and the Tigers should take advantage.
GWS v Hawthorn
Venue: Giants Stadium | Start: 6:10 PM
Greater Western Sydney Giants – There was plenty to like about the Giants in their win over Collingwood in Round 4 – a much-needed triumph after successive losses to North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs. GWS have a 3-0 record against the Hawks at Giants Stadium but did lose both matches to Alastair Clarkson’s side last season. Jeremy Cameron has not enjoyed his usual dominance against Hawthorn throughout his career, averaging just 1.1 goals per match against the club.
Hawthorn Hawks – A win doesn’t feel like a win when you fall over the line like the Hawks did in Round 4 against North Melbourne. Hawthorn went to sleep in the last 15 minutes and were so close to being caught out, a worrying sign ahead of a tough trip to New South Wales. Hawthorn’s forward set up has not clicked in 2020, but Chad Wingard has caught the eye with nine goals in four matches. The Hawks will need him to fire to really test the Giants.