A host of questions will be answered in a mouth-watering Round 7 of AFL action, with the likes of Geelong, Brisbane and Essendon all facing stern tests of their credentials.
There are big challenges for Hawthorn and Fremantle, too, with the Hawks aiming to bounce back from a week of criticism and the Dockers out to break a run of long losses in the Western Derby.
Read on for our full preview of all the Round 7 matches!
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AFL Tipping – Thursday July 16
Geelong Cats v Collingwood Magpies
Venue: Optus Stadium | Start: 8:10 PM (AEST)
Geelong Cats – The Cats were super impressive against Brisbane in Round 6, coming from 22 points down to win by 27 at the SCG. It was a win full of character and grit, and one of the club’s best in recent years. Sam Simpson won plenty of the football on his return to the side, while Patrick Dangerfield, Sam Menegola and Gary Ablett all caught the eye. The Cats are the highest-scoring team in the competition and have won three in a row. Can they continue that run against the AFL’s best defensive side?
Collingwood Magpies – The Magpies beat the Cats by 10 points in a qualifying final last year despite not scoring in the final quarter but it was Collingwood’s only win in its last four against Geelong. The Magpies returned to form against the Hawks in Round 6, recording a comfortable triumph. The most impressive aspect? The defence. Hawthorn was kept to just three goals in a one-sided match. Jordan de Goey returns for this clash, expected to be played in the wet.
AFL Tipping – Friday July 17
Essendon Bombers vs Western Bulldogs
Venue: Metricon Stadium | Start: 7:50 PM AEST
Essendon Bombers – Will the Bombers win their first final since 2004 this year? They are 4-1 and would be undefeated if Jacob Townsend’s late shot on goal travelled just a couple of metres further against the Blues in Round 3. Dylan Shiel’s absence through suspension will hurt, though, and he will join the likes of Jake Stringer and Joe Daniher on the sidelines. Andrew McGrath, Devon Smith and Darcy Parish will need to play well again for the Bombers to win this.
Western Bulldogs – The Bulldogs were disappointing in Round 6, with their three-game winning streak ended emphatically by Carlton. The Bulldogs have some important names sidelined, like Aaron Naughton and Josh Dunkley, but they are better than what they dished up against the Blues and a return to winning form would not surprise here. The Bulldogs have a great record against Essendon, winning their last five against the Bombers by an average of 56.4 points. Last year’s meeting ended in a 104-point win to the Dogs.
AFL Tipping – Saturday July 18
Greater Western Sydney Giants vs Brisbane Lions
Venue: Giants Stadium | Start: 1:45 PM AEST
Greater Western Sydney Giants – It is very difficult to get a read on the Giants in 2020, with Leon Cameron’s side sitting 10th on the ladder with a 3-3 win-loss record. Fascinatingly, the Giants have lost the inside 50 battle in every match they have played this year. That does not make pretty reading for a side stacked with so many top-line players, but the Giants can take heart from the fact they edged the Lions by three points in a semi-final last year. Callan Ward (knee) has been ruled out, but the Giants can respond here on their home deck, and the inclusion of Tim Taranto from injury will make a difference.
Brisbane Lions – All four of Brisbane’s wins this season have come at the Gabba and they failed a big litmus test against the Cats last week. That match was there for the taking and this is another big test of the character of the Lions. Charlie Cameron has not had his usual impact in recent weeks, while big men Eric Hipwood and Daniel McStay kicked just one goal between them in Round 6. If that trio can fire, the Lions could pinch this.
Sydney Swans vs Gold Coast Suns
Venue: SCG | Start: 4:35 PM AEST
Sydney Swans – The Swans played their part in a Round 6 stinker that saw just seven goals kicked against Richmond. Tom Papley kicked two of them and Sydney have not booted more than six goals in its last three matches – all losses. The Swans have a great record against the Suns, winning nine of 10 matches, but this looks very tough for John Longmire’s men, with Isaac Heeney (ankle) ruled out for the season this week and Josh Kennedy (knee) also set for a stint on the sidelines.
Gold Coast Suns – Izak Rankine produced one of the most stunning AFL debuts in recent times in Round 6, kicking three goals in an eye-catching display that saw him win the AFL Rising Star nomination. The Suns still went down to Melbourne, lacking polish in the big moments, but they showed enough to suggest they won’t fall away like they did last year, in 2020. A return to winning form looks likely here.
Richmond Tigers vs North Melbourne Kangaroos
Venue: Metricon Stadium | Start: 7:40 PM AEST
Richmond Tigers – Richmond’s forward line is not firing on all cylinders but two successive victories have the Tigers sixth on the ladder. The club’s injury list is still a major concern, with Trent Cotchin (hamstring), David Astbury (knee), Dion Prestia and Toby Nankervis (both ankle) all sidelined, while Bachar Houli and Shane Edwards did not travel to the club’s Queensland hub for personal reasons. That could catch up with the Tigers at any point but a match against an out-of-form Kangaroos looks like ending in another Richmond victory.
North Melbourne Kangaroos – Rhyce Shaw’s men burst out of the blocks with two successive wins – including a win at GWS – but four losses in a row have the Kangaroos down in 16th. That form slump is concerning, and key forward Ben Brown has kicked just seven goals this year. North need much more from Brown if they are to feature in the finals and this looks a little tough for them. The Kangaroos have a good record against Richmond in recent years, winning three of the last five, including a 2015 elimination final.
AFL Tipping – Sunday July 19
Carlton Blues vs Port Adelaide Power
Venue: Gabba | Start: 1:05 PM AEST
Carlton Blues – The Blues are in the top eight for the first time since 2013 but staying there will not be easy with a Round 7 clash against the ladder leaders. Carlton was terrific against the Bulldogs last week, though, and most pleasingly, the win was achieved without a huge contribution from Patrick Cripps. Eddie Betts kicked four goals against the Dogs, while Harry McKay and Mitch McGovern also impressed in a side who played with a very attacking mindset. Carlton’s last three wins against the Power have been by four points or less.
Port Adelaide Power – The Power bounced back well from a loss to Brisbane, defeating the Giants in Round 6. Port has won five from six this season, but the club’s only loss of the season did come at the Gabba. Port Adelaide has won its last three against Carlton and five of the last seven and should prove too good for the Blues here, although don’t be surprised if the Blues put up a big fight.
Hawthorn Hawks vs Melbourne Demons
Venue: Giants Stadium | Start: 3:35 PM AEST
Hawthorn Hawks – The Hawks have been under the pump all week after another disappointing defeat. The club’s list is on the older side and Hawthorn’s cohesion forward of centre is way off, but you would be a fool to write the Hawks off in 2020, particularly given they are 3-3 and have had a tough fixture. Things should get easier from this point and Alastair Clarkson will have his side fired up and ready to go in this clash. They are more than good enough to win this and look a nice price to do so.
Melbourne Demons – Melbourne bounced back against the Suns in Round 6, winning by 17 points to breathe life into the club’s season. Christian Petracca is in career-best form and is impacting games both in the middle and up forward, and Jack Viney and Clayton Oliver lifted against Gold Coast. Melbourne has won its past two against the Hawks.
Fremantle Dockers vs West Coast Eagles
Venue: Optus Stadium | Start: 6:35 PM AEST
Fremantle Dockers – Fremantle’s Round 6 win over St Kilda was full of guts, the Dockers coming from 37 points down to triumph by a goal. It made it back-to-back wins for the Dockers following four straight losses to start the season and Freo’s ability to stay in games this season has been impressive. Having said all that, this looks too tough for them, with West Coast showing some nice signs in recent weeks.
West Coast Eagles – Two wins in a row for the Eagles have them primed to win this Western Derby and history is on their side, too. West Coast has won its last nine against the Dockers and thumped its cross-town rivals by 91 points in Round 16 last year, restricting Fremantle to just two goals. Andrew Gaff has had at least 32 disposals in his last six matches against the Dockers and he should help his side to victory here.
AFL Tipping – Monday July 20
Adelaide Crows vs St Kilda Saints
Venue: Adelaide Oval | Start: 7:40 PM AEST
Adelaide Crows – Still winless in 2020, the Crows will be delighted to return to South Australia in a bid to break their drought. Adelaide has a great record against the Saints, too, winning the last 10 matches, with seven of those triumphs being by 40 points or more. Things are very different this year, though, and Adelaide have the competition’s worst defence. It is hard to see them winning this.
St Kilda Saints – Expect a few changes at the selection table and a fired-up Saints this week. Brett Ratten’s men will be desperate to atone for a perplexing performance against Fremantle, a fade-out that really put the spotlight on St Kilda. Are they only a good side when everything is going their way? Tipping they will respond here but punters will be wary of St Kilda for the next few weeks, at least.