AFL Tips & Preview – Round 4

Two AFL Finals fancies are staring down the barrel of a disastrous 0-4 start, both desperately needing a spark in Round 4.

Thursday 7th April, 19:40 (AEST)

Port Adelaide Melbourne
Pos Player Pos Player

B

B
HB HB
C C
HF HF
F F
FOL FOL
I/C I/C


History:
Played 36: Port Adelaide 22 v Melbourne 14

Last Meeting: AFL R17 2021: Port Adelaide 8.7 (55) lost to Melbourne 12.14 (86)

Final Thoughts: A blockbuster to start Round 4, and a clash of enormous importance for Ken Hinkley. Should Port Adelaide lose they will slump to 0-4, a position that just two clubs in the last 60 years (Sydney in 2017 and North Melbourne in 1975) have made the finals from. It’s hard to comprehend just how much the wheels have fallen off early for Port Adelaide, a side that finished first and second in 2020 and 2021 respectively. The $10 premiership hopes before Round 1 have already ballooned out to $18 with Palmerbet, and they need to get themselves into gear quick smart. Except to do so, they’ll have to overcome the competition’s most complete side. Unsurprisingly, they start as outsiders despite playing at home.

For Melbourne, there are few such worries. The Dees could well regain premiership defenders Lever and Petty this week, while Ben Brown could also return after missing the Round 2 win due to COVID protocols. 

Tip: Line, Port Adelaide +15.5 @ $1.90

Friday 8th April, 19:50 (AEST)

Geelong Brisbane
Pos Player Pos Player

B

B
HB HB
C C
HF HF
F F
FOL FOL
I/C I/C


History:
Played 53: Geelong 32 v Brisbane 20 (1 draw)

Last Meeting: AFL R15 2021: Brisbane Lions 13.16 (94) dftd Geelong 7.8 (50)

Final Thoughts: If this isn’t the game of the round then it’s a mighty close second, and a really tough one to pick. Both are coming off impressive wins, for varying reasons; Brisbane for their 108-point hammering of North Melbourne, and Geelong for their stirring comeback over the Pies.

Like it is for many clubs, GHMBA is a fortress that the Lions have failed to overcome in a very, very long time. In fact, you almost have to go back two decades (in 2003) that Brisbane have last won down the highway in Geelong. Chris Fagan’s men won there in 2019 but last season should have had the four points when a blatant holding the ball decision went against them in a dying stages of a one-point loss last year. If this one nears that one in intensity, we’re set for a beauty, and an early indicator of how these two clubs truly shape up in 2022.

Tip: Margin, Geelong 1-39 @ $2.30

Saturday 9th April, 14:40 (AEST)

Sydney North Melbourne
Pos Player Pos Player

B

B
HB HB
C C
HF HF
F F
FOL FOL
I/C I/C


History:
Played 165: Sydney 90 v North Melbourne 74 (1 draw)

Last Meeting: AFL R22 2021: North Melbourne 12.5 (77) lost to Sydney 13.13 (91)

Final Thoughts: The Bloods were emotionally flat in Round 3 after the drama of Buddy’s 1000th goal in Round 2, but there were few genuinely poor signs from John Longmire’s men, who competed hard against grand finalists the Western Bulldogs. The loss of Tom Hickey will hurt Sydney for at least the next month, but perhaps underlines just how important the off-season signing of Peter Ladhams (from Port Adelaide) was, who comes in for his Swans debut.

North Melbourne are coming off an 108-point drubbing that coach David Noble said in no uncertain terms was ‘embarrassing’. Few expect an upset here, but it’s important the Kangaroos compete — something they didn’t do at the Gabba last Saturday night. They’ll have to get their hands dirty, too; Sydney is expected to cop a deluge of rain in the days leading up to (and on) Saturday, which could also turn punters’ attention to the Total Points line.

Tip: Total Points, Under 152.5 @ $1.90

Saturday 9th April, 16:35 (AEST)

Collingwood West Coast
Pos Player Pos Player

B

B
HB HB
C C
HF HF
F F
FOL FOL
I/C I/C

 

History: Played 58: Collingwood 27 v West Coast 30 (1 draw)

Last Meeting: AFL R20 2021: Collingwood 14.6 (90) dftd West Coast 6.9 (45)

Final Thoughts: Another busy week at the selection table looms for the Eagles after their chaotic start to the season. Captain Luke Shuey, Liam Duggan and Willie Rioli are all expected back after a COVID-enforced break, plus Tom Barrass from injury. But the turmoil placed on the Eagles early season, in addition to the fact Elliot Yeo and Tim Kelly both remain out AND the Pies are playing some strong footy, makes the prospect of an underdog win here difficult for Adam Simpson. One saving grace is that Pies star Jordan De Goey misses (suspension), but otherwise they’ll need something special from their senior core to snatch a win at Marvel.

Tip: To score two or more goals, Liam Ryan (WCE) @ $2.30

Saturday 9th April, 19:25 (AEST)

Richmond Western Bulldogs
Pos Player Pos Player

B

B
HB HB
C C
HF HF
F F
FOL FOL
I/C I/C


History:
Played 157: Richmond 81 v Western Bulldogs 74 (2 draws)

Last Meeting: AFL R7 2021: Richmond 11.11 (77) dftd Western Bulldogs 7.13 (55)

Final Thoughts: Both sitting at 1-2, this clash is huge for two clubs that have finals ambitions in 2022. The Dogs certainly go in with more momentum; their pressure, hunting game was back in Round 3 with an impressive win against the Swans — perhaps the best win of the weekend.

But there’s genuine concerns for the Tigers, who have been blown away in the final term in both of their losses (to Carlton and St Kilda). And the criticism has come thick and fast. Matthew Lloyd has said Richmond’s season is ‘over’ with a loss in this clash, while Garry Lyon believes the Tigers dynasty is done. “There’s been a race to try and say that they’re over but yeah, it looks like their premiership winning time may have come to an end,” he said this week. Dion Prestia (hamstring) and Jack Riewoldt (thumb) could both return, however, in what would be massive ins.

Tip: Line, Western Bulldogs -10.5 @ $1.90

Saturday 9th April, 19:25 (AEST)

Fremantle GWS
Pos Player Pos Player

B

B
HB HB
C C
HF HF
F F
FOL FOL
I/C  I/C

 

History: Played 11: Fremantle 6 v GWS 5

Last Meeting: AFL R2 2021: Fremantle 11.21 (87) dftd GWS Giants 7.14 (56)

Final Thoughts: Another clash that’s expected to be a really tight Round 4 encounter, something that’s reflected in the early markets. The Giants were clinical in their dismantling of a poor Suns outfit last weekend, while the Dockers enjoyed a rare Derby thumping of a depleted Eagles outfit. At 1-2, and considered by many to still be a finals-quality side, these are the tricky away fixtures the Giants simply must bank if they’re to be a force in 2022.

The Dockers are bolstered by the expected return of David Mundy (Covid protocols) and Sean Darcy (ankle), and Justin Longmuir will take heart in the fact they’ve beaten the Giants on two of the last three occasions, including last season comprehensive 31-point win where they managed 31 scoring shots.

Tip: Margin, GWS 1-39 @ $2.40

Sunday 10th April, 13:10 (AEST)

Essendon Adelaide
Pos Player Pos Player

B

B
HB HB
C C
HF HF
F F
FOL FOL
I/C (from) I/C (from)

 

History: Played 41: Essendon 22 v Adelaide 19

Last Meeting: AFL R17 2021: Essendon 11.18 (84) dftd Adelaide 2.9 (21)

Final Thoughts: Like Port Adelaide, Essendon are staring down the barrel of a 0-4 start however Ben Rutten’s men should register four points here. The Dons were impressive in Round 3, albeit overrun, by a Melbourne outfit that have a habit of drawing away late. There was enough there to suggest the Bombers can still be a force in 2022.

The big news heading into this one is that the Crows have announced Taylor Walker will return from a racism ban. Despite coming off a Showdown win, plus Walker having had zero match practice in 2022, he will return at the expense of Darcy Fogarty. With Rory Sloane also a chance, it could constitute two big ins for the Crows, although they rightly start this one as outsiders.

Tip: Line, Essendon -14.5 @ $1.90

Sunday 10th April, 15:20 (AEST)

Hawthorn St Kilda
Pos Player Pos Player

B

B
HB HB
C C
HF HF
F F
FOL FOL
I/C (from) I/C (from)

 

History: Played 159: Hawthorn 82 v St Kilda 75 (2 draws)

Last Meeting: AFL R7 2021: St Kilda 19.14 (128) dftd Hawthorn 9.5 (59)

Final Thoughts: Yet another tough game to split in Round 4. St Kilda’s rampant final quarter against the Tigers last weekend suggested they could be hitting their stride after a slow start. Brett Ratten’s men have a good recent record against the Hawks, having won the last three including a 69-point thumping in Round 7 last season.

The Hawks will still be hurting from the one-point loss against Carlton that appeared theirs after retaking the lead in stunning fashion. The biggest question for Sam Mitchell heading into this one is who might match up on Max King, who was dominant last week. Similarly, the Saints need to find a matchup for Jack Gunston who looks back to his best. How each nullifies respective forward lines could well decide the clash.

Tip: Margin, St Kilda 1-39 @ $2.37

Sunday 10th April, 16:10 (AEST)

Gold Coast Carlton
Pos Player Pos Player

B

B
HB HB
C C
HF HF
F F
FOL FOL
I/C (from) I/C (from)

 

History: Played 15: Gold Coast 6 v Carlton 9

Last Meeting: AFL R21 2021: Carlton 8.9 (57) lost to Gold Coast 11.10 (76)

Final Thoughts: While Melbourne fans conservatively kept the lid on for a large chunk of last season despite a dominant home-and-away season, it’s already been ripped off from Baggers fans. And why not? They’re playing exciting footy, and while their one-point thrilling win over Hawthorn in Round 3 suggests they’ve still got a way to go, the reality is that they’re looking every bit a finals side. History tells us that, since the introduction of the Top 8 system, 63 of 75 clubs that have started the season at 3-0 go on to make the finals. Which means, statistically at least, Michael Voss’ men are a huge chance to return to the Top 8 for the first time since 2013. A 4-0 start is there for the taking.

The Suns desperately need to show something after a dismal performance in Round 3 against the Giants. After a solid first-up win and solid outing against Melbourne, they let themselves down yet again in a poor effort. Consistency has been lacking throughout Stuart Dew’s reign, and if it doesn’t improve there’s only one way that coaching tenure is headed.

Tip: Line, Carlton -10.5 @ $1.90