The AFL returns to Darwin in Round 13, with two matches played in the Northern Territory across a big weekend of football.
Reigning premiers Richmond will play Essendon on Saturday night in the annual ‘Dreamtime’ fixture, while Brisbane face St Kilda and West Coast host Greater Western Sydney in an intriguing Sunday line-up.
Read on for our full Round 13 preview!
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AFL Tipping – Friday August 21
Gold Coast Suns v Carlton
TIO Stadium | 7:50 PM (AEST)
Gold Coast Suns – The Suns are much-improved in 2020 but the facts are they have won just one of their last eight matches. Stuart Dew’s men challenged an undermanned Richmond on Monday evening but fell short – a theme that is becoming familiar this season. It is only natural for a team with so many younger players to tire a little at this stage of a campaign, and the jam-packed nature of the fixture probably hasn’t helped. A win would do wonders for the Suns, though, and they have the ability to push the Blues here. Gold Coast has won four of its past seven against the Blues, too. David Swallow and Jarrod Harbrow were managed for the loss to the Tigers and will return, giving Gold Coast a boost here. Jack Lukosius was terrific against Richmond and another competitive Suns effort would not surprise.
Carlton Blues – The Blues will be full of self-belief after Jack Newnes’ incredible after-the-siren goal gave them a famous win against Fremantle. Wins like that can transform a season and Carlton has self-belief it has not had in years. With two days of extra rest, they are primed to make it back-to-back wins here for just the second time this season. Ed Curnow won a stack of footy against the Dockers, and Patrick Cripps, Marc Murphy and Sam Walsh all enjoyed good games. Jack Martin and Marc Pittonet are back in for this and the Blues love a close game – six of their 12 matches this season have been decided by seven points or less. Just one of Gold Coast’s losses – way back in Round 1 – has been by over 39 points, making Carlton 1-39 the best bet in Darwin.
AFL Tipping – Saturday August 22
Western Bulldogs v Melbourne
Metricon Stadium | 1:45 PM (AEST)
Western Bulldogs – Trying not to read too much into the Bulldogs’ demolition of the hapless Adelaide last week, especially given the Crows’ second-half capitulation. Before that, the Dogs had lost three in a row, albeit against quality opposition. Luke Beveridge’s side clearly fall a rung below the likes of Richmond, Port Adelaide and Brisbane, but they are good enough to win this. The 2016 premiers have been crying out for a focal point all season and Aaron Naughton, back in the side after an injury-enforced layoff, proved his worth with six goals from just seven kicks against the Crows. Lachie Hunter’s return is important, too, and Jason Johannisen could get back after an ankle issue for this. This shapes a crucial game for the top-eight aspirations of both clubs.
Melbourne Demons – The Demons are up and about, with three successive wins by over 50 points lifting Simon Goodwin’s men inside the top eight. The first two of those triumphs came against strugglers Adelaide and North Melbourne, but a 56-point belting of Collingwood was far more impressive. Christian Petracca is enjoying a career-best season, averaging 24.3 disposals per game and also chipping in with nine goals from 11 matches. It is not just his numbers, though – it is his impact on the game. Keep an eye out for the fitness of star Melbourne ruckman Max Gawn, who is battling knee and shoulder issues and could miss out again. Six of the past seven matches between the Bulldogs and the Demons have been decided by 32 points or more, but a repeat seems unlikely. The Dogs in a thriller.
Port Adelaide v Hawthorn
Adelaide Oval | 4:35 PM (AEST)
Port Adelaide Power – The Power will be raring to go this week after being on the receiving end of a 60-point hiding in Round 12. Ken Hinkley’s men were shown up by the Cats in a big reality check. The good news for Port? They return home to face an out-of-form and wounded Hawthorn. History is not on Port’s side, given the Power have beaten the Hawks just once since 2015. This year is very different, though, and Port might bring back Brad Ebert (concussion) to face the Hawks, especially given Peter Ladhams and Dan Houston are suspended after breaching COVID-19 rules. Port Adelaide remain on top of the ladder on percentage and should have no issues in this, with this fixture coming at the right time to restore momentum. Keen to see how big forward Charlie Dixon responds from a three-possession, goalless outing against Geelong.
Hawthorn Hawks – Hawthorn has won just one of its last seven matches and the club’s most recent defeat, at the hands of the high-flying West Coast, was soured by the news that James Sicily has ruptured his ACL and requires a knee reconstruction. Sicily will miss 12 months of football, while Jaeger O’Meara’s involvement for the rest of the season is in doubt after it was revealed he broke his hand against the Eagles. O’Meara is definitely out of this clash, giving Alastair Clarkson more opportunities to blood youth. The Hawks last had a top-10 draft pick in 2006 and desperately need an injection of top-quality youngsters. Winning this is out of the question.
Essendon v Richmond
TIO Stadium | 7:45 PM (AEST)
Essendon Bombers – The heat is on the Bombers, who have won just one of their past six matches, a three-point success against winless Adelaide. Essendon was never in the hunt during a 35-point loss to St Kilda and there are calls for the club’s transition period – involving coaches John Worsfold and Ben Rutten – to be axed, which would see the ex-Crow take on the head coach role immediately. Essendon has not won a final since 2004 and will not have it easy against the Tigers, who it last beat in 2014. Cale Hooker (calf) could return for this clash, usually played at the MCG under the lights as the annual ‘Dreamtime at the G’ fixture. In fact, this is the first time the sides have met away from the MCG since a 1994 clash at Princes Park in Carlton. On that day, 41 goals were kicked, a statistic that seems out of this world, given the scraps on show in 2020. Essendon also won that day by 46 points. That won’t be happening, either.
Richmond Tigers – The Tigers were off the pace against Gold Coast but did enough to win, a trait of good sides. Richmond knows it does not need to be playing its best football in Round 13 and it is a method that has served it well in recent years. The Tigers love it against Essendon and have won nine in a row against the red and black. Dustin Martin is consistently a thorn in Essendon’s side and averages 33.3 disposals and 1.3 goals in his last six against the Bombers. Ex-Bomber Bachar Houli could return from quarantine to feature in this clash, while ruckman Toby Nankervis (ankle) is in the mix. Richmond should win this comfortably.
Fremantle v Sydney Swans
Optus Stadium | 8:10 PM (AEST)
Fremantle Dockers – The Dockers were seconds away from three home wins in a row and were desperately unlucky to see Carlton’s Jack Newnes slot an incredible goal from the boundary line after the siren. That result will not deter the improving Dockers, though, and the fact Michael Walters got through the game unscathed will please head coach Justin Longmuir. There is a lot to like about Fremantle in 2020 as the likes of Andrew Brayshaw, Adam Cerra and Caleb Serong announce themselves to the football world. No.9 draft pick Liam Henry will make his debut in this, too, and Fremantle can bounce back with another victory here. The Dockers won this by one point in Round 18 last year but should be a little more comfortable on this occasion.
Sydney Swans – John Longmire’s side were terrific in Round 12, stunning rivals Greater Western Sydney by 41 points. The Giants were kept to just three goals but star defender Dane Rampe (broken hand) will not play again in 2020, a huge blow to the Swans. Young forward Elijah Taylor is banned for the rest of the season, too, after breaching the AFL’s COVID-19 rules. Sydney has won three of its last four against Fremantle, with those victories coming at an average margin of 84.3 points! Putting that figure into context, Sydney has not kicked a score in the 80’s – or higher – for the entire season. The Swans are a different beast now, though, firmly in the re-building stage. Winning this might be a little tough but watch for Jake Lloyd to have a big game across the half-back line. Lloyd has had 42 and 41 disposals in his last two meetings against the Dockers.
AFL Tipping – Sunday August 23
Adelaide Crows v Geelong Cats
Adelaide Oval | 1:05 PM (AEST)
Adelaide Crows – Adelaide has a 0-12 record in 2020 and is fresh off its fifth defeat of 50 points or more. Matthew Nicks’ side returns home but faces a red-hot Geelong who has won their last two – against top-four fancies in St Kilda and Port Adelaide – by a combined winning margin of 119 points. Put simply, Adelaide are no chance here, even if it has won three of its past four against Geelong at Adelaide Oval. The only interest in this game will be playing exotics. Adelaide lost both meetings to the Cats in 2019, too, by 24 and 27 points respectively. Expect a bigger margin here.
Geelong Cats – Super impressed with Geelong’s recent form and the shellackings of the Saints and the Power has the Cats in premiership discussions. Tom Hawkins is dominating up forward and his six-goal haul against the Power was the complete game for a big man inside 50. Hawkins has kicked 19 goals in his last five and another big bag would not surprise here. Ex-Crow Patrick Dangerfield loves it against his old side and averages 29.7 disposals and 1.2 goals per game when he comes up against Adelaide. He looks a nice price to kick a goal in this. A nine-day break means Geelong won’t need to rest any players, but Jack Steven (managed) could feature.
Brisbane Lions v St Kilda
Gabba | 3:35 PM (AEST)
Brisbane Lions – Chris Fagan’s old-fashioned half-time spray against North Melbourne sent a message to his Lions and another lacklustre performance here would see Brisbane turned over on home turf here. That one-point triumph against the Kangaroos may lead to some big decisions at the selection table, and the situation around Charlie Cameron remains intriguing. The small forward was not himself against North Melbourne as he battles a knee complaint and it will be interesting to see if he is selected for this. Brett Ratten will hope not, as Cameron averages four goals per game against St Kilda as a Lion. Brisbane thrashed the Saints by 56 points last year, ending a run of four straight St Kilda wins in this fixture. This year’s match should be much closer.
St Kilda Saints – The Saints hit back nicely against Essendon, responding to a big loss against Geelong with a routine 35-point success. Key forwards Max King and Tim Membrey worked well together, combining for five goals, while Brad Hill’s ball use stood out against the Bombers. St Kilda need to keep giving the ball to Hill, who is an outstanding kick. Zak Jones also found plenty of the football against Essendon after a rest and he adds another element of speed to the Saints side. A win here would see the Saints return to the top four and they certainly are capable. Brisbane’s home-ground advantage tips this in its favour, though.
West Coast Eagles v GWS Giants
Optus Stadium | 6:10 PM (AEST)
West Coast Eagles – The Eagles made it seven wins in a row against the Hawks in Round 12 and were not troubled in their 32-point win. Of those seven wins, six have been by 22 points or more, and on their home deck, you can’t tip against the Eagles in this. West Coast has won the past three meetings against the Giants by an average winning margin of 29.3 points and has form for shutting down GWS star Jeremy Cameron. Cameron has kicked just 12 career goals when he faces the Eagles, his lowest against any AFL side. West Coast is flying and should have no problems here.
GWS Giants – GWS has copped a week of media scrutiny after an effort coach Leon Cameron described as “tripe” against Sydney in Round 12. The Giants lost to their rivals by 41 points and kicked just three goals, with defeat leaving them outside the top eight. A repeat trip to the Grand Final looks a very long way off this year and Cameron desperately needs Toby Greene (hamstring) to be declared fit for this. The Giants are a different side with Greene involved. GWS are a frustrating side and could even win this – if all the club’s top-line talent fire on the same day. The Eagles will not let that happen, though, and West Coast’s excellent defensive unit should keep the Giants forwards frustrated.
AFL Tipping – Monday August 24
Collingwood v North Melbourne
Gabba | 7:10 PM (AEST)
Collingwood Magpies – The injuries just keep stacking up for the Magpies, who have had an awful run of luck in recent weeks. Nathan Buckley’s men have won just two of their last five, unconvincing wins against struggling Sydney and Adelaide, and were deservedly thumped by Melbourne in Round 12. Collingwood’s struggles forward of centre are very evident and the Magpies have not kicked more than 10 goals in a match since Round 3. Ben Reid (hamstring) will miss this and Brody Mihocek (concussion) is in doubt, further weakening Collingwood’s forward line. Those injuries may lead to a recall for Mason Cox. The Magpies are lucky to face a North Melbourne side who are even more decimated by injuries. Scott Pendlebury thrives against the Kangaroos, with his career average of 28.6 disposals against North Melbourne, his best against any team. His class – and contributions from the likes of Steele Sidebottom and Taylor Adams should be enough here. Just.
North Melbourne Kangaroos – North Melbourne has won just one of its last 10 but hopes to welcome back Robbie Tarrant (calf) for this fixture. Ben Brown (knee) is a chance to return, too. Rhyce Shaw backed his younger players in Round 12 against the Brisbane Lions, with Jy Simpkin, Jed Anderson and Trent Dumont all spending big chunks of the game on the ball. The Kangaroos pushed Brisbane all the way, too, losing by just one point against the second-placed Lions. It was a performance that suggested all is not lost at North Melbourne, and that Shaw has some quality at his disposal. The Kangaroos can push Collingwood here and shocked the Magpies by 44 points in Round 15 last year.