Richmond and Collingwood take a break in Round 16, but six clubs return from the bye in another action-packed round of football.
Plenty of intrigue surrounds Melbourne after its surprise loss to Sydney, while the Western Bulldogs are given every chance of upsetting a wounded West Coast.
Read on for our full Round 16 AFL preview!
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AFL Tipping – Saturday, September 5
North Melbourne v Port Adelaide
Metricon Stadium | 7:40 PM (AEST)
North Melbourne Kangaroos: It is hard seeing the Kangaroos being competitive in this, given the club’s dreadful run of form. North Melbourne has lost 11 of its last 12 matches, with five of its last seven defeats being by five goals or more. North’s injury list is massive, with a host of players sidelined for the rest of the season, including spearhead Ben Brown, so a match against the table-toppers is a huge challenge. North ended an unwanted streak in Round 22 last year, snapping a five-match losing run to the Power in style. Brown kicked 10 goals on that occasion as North ran out 86-point winners. How quickly things can change. Port is destined for finals and probably a top-four berth, while the Kangaroos are already looking to 2021. The return of skipper Jack Ziebell and ex-Power man Jared Polec may help a little, but the Kangaroos won’t be getting close to their opponents here.
Port Adelaide Power: One look at the AFL ladder tells you how important this match is for Port Adelaide. Port’s percentage is better than all bar one of its top-four rivals, Geelong, and a big win here could end up being the difference in the battle to finish first. A big win is certainly possible, too, but Port Adelaide will need to play better than they did against Sydney last week. The Power led the Swans by 32 points at the main break but took the foot off the pedal and won by just 26. A similar fade-out won’t be accepted by coach Ken Hinkley. Key forward Charlie Dixon and Sam Powell-Pepper signed three-year contract extensions this week for the Power, who have lost just once to North Melbourne since 2014. Four of the last five clashes between the two sides have been decided by 28 points or more and a similar result is on the cards, meaning Port by 25 points or more looks a great bet.
AFL Tipping – Sunday, September 6
St Kilda v Hawthorn
Metricon Stadium | 1:05 PM (AEST)
St Kilda Saints: The jury is still out on the Saints, who have won just one of their last four matches. The bye came at a good time for the Saints, allowing them to re-stock and re-group ahead of this very winnable game against a dreadfully out-of-form Hawthorn. St Kilda sits seventh on the ladder and will enter this clash knowing that a slip-up could ultimately cost them a finals berth. The Saints have not played finals football since 2011, so the stakes are high. St Kilda has won just two of its last 10 against Hawthorn, but Alastair Clarkson’s men are not the same side they once were. Midfielder Seb Ross averages 30.8 disposals in his last five matches against Hawthorn. Intrigued to see how Brad Hill performs against his old side. The Saints should win this without many problems.
Hawthorn Hawks: The season cannot end quick enough for Hawthorn, who, on Tuesday, became the first side to lose to Adelaide since St Kilda did in August 2019. The Hawks started brightly but have fallen from 3-1 to 4-10 and clearly need to look to the future and enter some form of a re-building phase. A host of experienced senior players came back into the side for the Crows match but it made no difference, Hawthorn smashed around the ball again. The 35-point margin was actually kind on Hawthorn and this looks like an easy kill for the Saints. Three of the last five matches between the Saints and the Hawks have been decided by five points or less. Tom Mitchell, the 2018 Brownlow Medallist, averages 37.6 disposals in his last three matches against the Saints.
Geelong Cats v Essendon
Gabba | 3:35 PM (AEST)
Geelong Cats: This could be a tricky assignment for the Cats, who have won five in a row and sit in the top four on percentage. Geelong enters the match off a bye and has a dreadful post-bye record, losing its last eight matches after a break. Despite that record, the Cats will enter this clash as big favourites, with a host of players in outstanding form. Key forward Tom Hawkins is just one of those, the Coleman Medal favourite having booted 24 goals in his last seven matches. Hawkins has kicked at least two in nine of his last 10 games, too, and has a good record against the Bombers. He could be the difference here. The Cats have won seven of their last nine against the Bombers and won last year’s meeting by 32 points. Watch for updates on Joel Selwood’s fitness. The midfielder is in doubt with a knee injury, while ruckman Rhys Stanley (groin) could also miss out.
Essendon Bombers: He might have kicked 0.3 against West Coast, but the Bombers look a different side with Joe Daniher involved. He straightens them up and encourages quick ball use, and Essendon were competitive against West Coast in Round 15, losing by just 15 points. That performance will give them some hope here, even if Andrew McGrath (ankle) is likely to miss the rest of the season. Daniher could be rested, too, so keep an eye on the selections. Anthony McDonald-Tipungwiti kicked four goals against the Eagles, while Zach Merrett and Dylan Shiel won plenty of the football. The Cats might be due for a slip-up and Essendon has the talent to win this. Can they string it together for four quarters?
Western Bulldogs v West Coast Eagles
Metricon Stadium | 6:10 PM (AEST)
Western Bulldogs: Everyone at the Western Bulldogs had plenty to stew over during the bye after Luke Beveridge’s men coughed up a six-goal lead to lose to Geelong in Round 15. Beveridge was encouraged by the showing, though, and saw plenty of good signs in an ultimately unsuccessful effort. That performance – and some good lead-up form – suggests the Bulldogs are on the improve and they are every chance of claiming an upset win here. Lachie Hunter and Jack Macrae are consistent ball-winners, but it is the likes of Bailey Smith, Marcus Bontempelli and Caleb Daniel who can really worry the Eagles here. The Bulldogs need a big performance from one of their key forwards, Aaron Naughton and Josh Bruce, and for Tim English to stand up in the ruck. But the Eagles are a little wounded and the Bulldogs will be fresher and full of determination here. This might just be the upset of Round 16.
West Coast Eagles: West Coast hit back from its loss to Richmond with a 15-point win over Essendon in Round 15. The win came at a cost, though, with Luke Shuey (hamstring) now likely to be sidelined until finals. Elliot Yeo (groin) will also miss this clash, so the fitness of key forward Josh Kennedy (concussion) could be critical in the outcome of this. The Eagles may leave it until the last minute to make a call on his involvement. West Coast has won its past five matches against the Bulldogs and its last three wins have been by 51 points or more. Jack Darling has always worried the Bulldogs and has kicked at least two goals in his last seven matches against them. He will need to step up again here, especially if the Eagles are Kennedy-less. This should be a great game, with two excellent midfields going to head-to-head. Can’t wait for it.
AFL Tipping – Monday, September 7
Melbourne v Fremantle
Cazaly’s Stadium | 7:10 PM (AEST)
Melbourne Demons: Wrote last week about how punters can’t trust Melbourne and we saw exactly why in Round 15, as the Demons kicked just three goals in the first three quarters and suffered a 21-point loss to Sydney. It was typical Melbourne, losing a game they should win after a week of hype, and has put their finals hopes in question. Melbourne ends the season with an ‘easy’ run on paper but that’s the problem for the Demons – matches are played on grass, not paper! Could not back them with any confidence here, even if Michael Hibberd (ankle) may return, and the fact Melbourne has won three of its last four against Fremantle. Clayton Oliver averages 29.6 disposals in matches against the Dockers and needs to lead by example here.
Fremantle Dockers: Was impressed by the Dockers against Richmond in Round 15, Fremantle stifling the premiers’ run and carry and their attack, too. Fremantle was within a goal of the Tigers at three-quarter time but ultimately went down by 27 points – no disgrace against such a quality side. This is far more winnable and Fremantle, bar a sloppy showing against the Giants last weekend, has been pretty good for the last month. The Dockers have beaten Collingwood, Hawthorn and Sydney in that time, and were only beaten by Carlton after the siren. Loving the work of Rising Star favourite Caleb Serong, who won 22 disposals against Fremantle. The Dockers will make this difficult for the Demons in what should be a low-scoring clash, and although Melbourne still should win, other games are far more appealing from a betting perspective.
AFL Tipping – Tuesday, September 8
Adelaide Crows v GWS Giants
Adelaide Oval | 5.40pm (AEST)
Adelaide Crows: The Crows enter this match with their tails up, following a drought-breaking victory against the Hawks in Round 15. Another home match is a nice boost and it does come against an inconsistent Giants side. The problem for Adelaide is GWS have seemingly clicked into gear over the last couple of weeks, and this looks too difficult as a result. Matt Crouch averages 30.2 disposals in seven career matches against the Giants and it would not surprise to see him win plenty of the ball in midfield again. Livewire forward Tyson Stengle was excellent against the Hawks, while youngsters Chayce Jones, Harry Schoenberg and Darcy Fogarty – in addition to veteran Taylor Walker – all kicked multiple goals. A similar contribution could see the Crows push the Giants here.
Greater Western Sydney Giants: The Giants are just doing enough at the moment, coming from behind to beat Carlton with a four-goal-to-none last quarter on Thursday. Young forward Jake Riccardi was huge in that win, stepping up to kick two big last-quarter goals. Riccardi has booted eight majors in three career matches and looks a real find for the Giants, who went tall and selected the youngster alongside Jeremy Cameron, Harry Himmelberg and Jeremy Finlayson against Carlton. A similarly tall forward line would really test Adelaide. Expect the likes of Stephen Coniglio and Lachie Whitfield to improve on uncharacteristically quiet showings against the Blues in this clash.
Carlton Blues v Sydney Swans
Metricon Stadium | 8.10pm (AEST)
Carlton Blues: Carlton’s finals hopes are seemingly shot after a second successive last-quarter fade-out. Coach David Teague and Blues fans are frustrated, because the signs are there, but Carlton just can’t put together four-quarter performances. They should bounce back with a win here against a Sydney, a side they have struggled against in recent years. Carlton has beaten Sydney just twice since 2011. Four of the past six clashes between the Blues and the Swans have been decided by 19 points or less. Key forward Harry McKay is threatening to tear a game apart but has been inaccurate in front of goal in recent weeks. Look for McKay to kick a bag in this and Carlton to get back on the winners list.
Sydney Swans: The Swans are definitely on the improve, with impressive wins over Greater Western Sydney and Melbourne in the last month filling supporters with confidence about the future. Reliable stars Josh Kennedy, Luke Parker and Jake Lloyd were all important in the upset triumph over the Demons, but youngsters Ryan Clarke, Jordan Dawson and Nick Blakey also put their hand up. The problem with Sydney in 2020 has been consistency – John Longmire’s men have not won back-to-back games. Stirring wins have been followed by losses and that is a trend that will probably continue here.
AFL Tipping – Wednesday, September 9
Brisbane Lions v Gold Coast Suns
Gabba | 7.10pm (AEST)
Brisbane Lions: Brisbane is building a habit of winning close matches – something that could hold them in good stead in the finals. Four of Brisbane’s last six wins have been by eight points or less, and an ability to get home in the close ones is vital. It is a good sign and while coach Chris Fagan will admit his side have not been at their fluent best, a clash against Gold Coast in the Q-Clash could be the time to rectify that. Brisbane is likely to be without star defender Harris Andrews (hamstring), but the Lions – led by Lachie Neale, Jarryd Lyons and Jarrod Berry – should win the midfield battle. Brisbane has won its last three matches against the Suns, and Charlie Cameron has kicked 10 goals in those matches.
Gold Coast Suns: A 63-point thrashing of North Melbourne, followed by the bye, has the Suns cherry ripe for this much-anticipated clash. Gold Coast had 31 scoring shots in that shellacking of the Kangaroos, with Ben Ainsworth racking up 15 score involvements from 23 disposals. It was a performance that will fill the Suns with confidence and the bye will be a big boost to some tired, younger bodies. The Suns have beaten Brisbane just once since 2016, though, and will need to play to their best to win this. Shutting down Lachie Neale would be a great start. Three of the last six meetings between the Lions and the Suns have been decided by five points or less. Another close one would be a treat for footy fans.