AFL tipsters’ guide: Port to face Tiger tall timber

May 22, 2015
Ben Griffiths (left) celebrates with Jack Riewoldt during a 2014 match.

Ben Griffiths (left) celebrates with Jack Riewoldt during a 2014 match.

For the first time this season, Richmond will have the option of playing its three go-to tall forwards in Sunday’s Adelaide Oval clash against Port Adelaide.

It’s a must-win game for the Power, who will be farewelling 300-game veteran Kane Cornes, and coach Ken Hinkley has made some strong inclusions into the squad including powerful midfielder Ollie Wines, defender Alipate Carlile and top SANFL performers  Paul Stewart and Sam Gray.

The Tigers have regained Shane Edwards from a minor calf problem and Matt Arnot comes in for his first game of the year.

Towering forward Ben Griffiths has been named alongside Ty Vickery and Jack Riewoldt. If Griffiths makes the final cull, it will be the first time the three have played together since round 12 last year.

On Saturday, Adelaide travel to Sydney to face the in-form GWS Giants.

GWS has recalled former Crow defender Phil Davis, and has also named Josh Kelly.

Adelaide will have to recast its backline after losing Brodie Smith (concussion) and Matthew Jaensch to a season-ending knee injury. Back-up forward/ruckman Josh Jenkins and exciting young midfielder Cam Ellis-Yolmen return from injury.

Meanwhile, Hawthorn have summoned three premiership stars including backman Brian Lake for Saturday’s AFL grand final rematch against Sydney.

Lake will play his first match since straining knee ligaments a month ago while teammates Isaac Smith and Jordan Lewis also return for the MCG blockbuster.

The proven performers replace dropped trio Angus Litherland, Jonathan Simpkin and Taylor Duryea while Sydney made just one change, recalling Harry Cunningham at expense of Dean Towers, who was omitted.

Like Hawthorn, Geelong also called on three flag-winners for their Friday night fixture against struggling Carlton.

The Cats named Tom Hawkins, James Kelly and Andrew Mackie for the Etihad Stadium encounter against the Blues, who swung the selection axe on four players.

Carlton, winners just once this season, dumped Matthew Dick, Matthew Watson, Kristian Jaksch and David Ellard in favour of Kade Simpson, Dylan Buckley, Liam Jones and Patrick Cripps.

St Kilda and West Coast both lost frontliners for their Saturday afternoon clash at Etihad Stadium.

The Saints lost captain Nick Riewoldt to concussion while emerging Eagle Dom Sheed is out with a hand injury, replaced by Scott Selwood, who will play his first game since round one.

And Collingwood were strengthened for their Saturday twilight clash against the Suns on the Gold Coast by the return of Steele Sidebottom and Alex Fasolo, replacing Alex Toovey (knee) and Patrick Karnezis (omitted).

Suns coach Rodney Eade dumped three players – Matt Shaw, Zac Smith and Greg Broughton – while recalling Adam Saad, Tom Lynch and Luke Russell.

Fremantle were bolstered for Saturday’s other game, against North Melbourne in Perth, with the return of key defender Luke McPharlin while the Roos were unable to consider captain Andrew Swallow (hand) and Ben Brown (knee).

While Sunday’s squads will be trimmed, Melbourne included Jack Watts, who dropped himself for last week’s loss to Hawthorn, but lost forward Chris Dawes to a calf injury for their clash against the Western Bulldogs.

Essendon host Brisbane, and Port Adelaide host Richmond, in Sunday’s other games.

FRIDAY, May 22

Geelong v Carlton at Etihad Stadium 7.50pm

Head to Head: Cats 97 Blues 116 drawn 2

Last clash: Round 21 2014 – Cats 11.16 (82) bt Blues 11.10 (76) at Etihad Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Cats $1.20 Blues $4.60

William Hill: Cats $1.20 Blues $4.60

The bad news keeps coming for the bottom-placed Blues, who now face a string of matches against genuine finals contenders – including Geelong and Sydney on successive Friday nights. Carlton have made four unforced changes to their side to face Geelong, who faded badly late in last weekend’s loss to the Swans and will be keen to bounce back hard and fast. The Cats have historically saved some of their very best footy for their matches under the roof at Etihad Stadium and summoned three premiership winners in Tom Hawkins, Andrew Mackie and James Kelly.

Key: It’s not hard to make a case for a big Geelong win – even more so with the return of powerhouse forward Hawkins from injury.

Tip: Cats by 58 points


St Kilda v West Coast at Etihad Stadium 1.45pm

Head to Head: Saints 17 Eagles 24 drawn 1

Last clash: Round 14 2014 – Eagles 15.13 (103) bt Saints 10.10 (70) at Etihad Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Saints $4.60 Eagles $1.20

William Hill: Saints $4.25 Eagles $1.22

The injury-ravaged Eagles have exceeded all expectations to date in 2015, so much so that they are short-priced favourites on the road against a St Kilda team who have shown plenty of encouraging signs. The biggest surprise for the Saints this year has been Josh Bruce, currently in fourth spot on the Coleman Medal standings. Bruce will be asked to carry some load, with Nick Riewoldt (concussion) missing against the Eagles, who lost Dom Sheed to a hand injury but recalled Scott Selwood and Jeremy McGovern.

Key: No-one queries the quality of Nic Naitanui’s highlights reel, but valid questions have been asked in recent weeks about the lack of marks he takes around the ground. This would be as good a time as any for Nic Nat to put those queries to rest.

Tip: Eagles by 12 points

Greater Western Sydney v Adelaide at Spotless Stadium 2.10pm

Head to Head: Giants 0 Crows 5

Last clash: Round 16 2014 – Crows 20.20 (140) bt Giants 9.18 (72) at Spotless Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Giants $1.55 Crows $2.45

William Hill: Giants $1.55 Crows $2.45

You just know that Leon Cameron will be wheeling out the “one game at a time mantra” if his GWS team wins this one, but there’s no getting past the fact that nearly every team which wins six of their first eight games goes on to play finals. The Giants have called up Phil Davis, who will return from injury against his former side. The Crows also boast a 5-2 record and have never dropped a match to the Giants. The ruck battle between Shane Mumford and Sam Jacobs shapes as an epic but Adelaide must cover the losses of half-backs Matthew Jaensch (knee) and Brodie Smith (concussion).

Key: The GWS defence have claimed some pretty big scalps already this year, but they will have to step up to another level against Adelaide’s one-two punch of Eddie Betts (26 goals) and Taylor Walker (21).

Tip: Crows by 20 points

Gold Coast v Collingwood at Metricon Stadium 4.35pm

Head to Head: Suns 2 Magpies 2

Last clash: Round 16 2014 – Suns 11.14 (80) bt Magpies 10.15 (75) at Metricon Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Suns $3.15 Magpies $1.36

William Hill: Suns $3.20 Magpies $1.35

Gold Coast take a two-match winning run against the Magpies into the Metricon Stadium encounter, but will need plenty to go right if they are to make it three on the trot. Collingwood are coming off a narrow loss in an entertaining encounter against Richmond, but will take heart from the efforts of big guns Dane Swan, Jamie Elliott and Travis Cloke. Interesting to see if Nathan Buckley’s plea for Cloke to get a better run from the umpires gets any traction here.

Key: Personnel. Collingwood’s injury list has some important names on it, but it pales in comparison to the Suns who are without a host of their very best players including Gary Ablett, David Swallow, Tom Lynch, Jaegar O’Meara and Nick Malceski.

Tip: Magpies by 30 points

Hawthorn v Sydney at MCG 7.20pm

Head to Head: Hawks 88 Swans 68 drawn 2

Last clash: Grand Final 2014 – Hawks 21.11 (137) bt Swans 11.8 (74) at MCG

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Tab Sportsbet: Hawks $1.55 Swans $2.45

William Hill: Hawks $1.55 Swans $2.45

Jordan Lewis may well have been lucky to only get a two-match ban for his high hit on North’s Todd Goldstein, but the Hawks will be thrilled he is available again for the grand final rematch, especially with skipper and fellow hard nut Luke Hodge sidelined for another week. Hard-running Isaac Smith is another big inclusion for the Hawks against the multi-pronged Swans’ midfield.

Key: Buddy Franklin is the central figure pretty much every time he steps out onto the field, never more so than against his former club. Close mate Josh Gibson shapes as his likely opponent but fellow backman Brian Lake been named to return from injury.

Tip: Hawks by 10 points

Fremantle v North Melbourne at Domain Stadium 7.40pm

Head to Head: Dockers 9 Kangaroos 15

Last clash: Round 6 2014 – Kangaroos 10.14 (74) bt Dockers 8.13 (61) at Domain Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Dockers $1.21 Kangaroos $4.50

William Hill: Dockers $1.20 Kangaroos $4.60

North’s best small forward Lindsay Thomas has been under the spotlight this week, accused of regularly ducking his head to obtain free kicks. Being the target for the ire of opposition fans is also the regular fate of his Fremantle equivalent Hayden Ballantyne. But no-one can doubt the effectiveness of either player. Fremantle own the league’s only unbeaten record this year and have summoned key defender Luke McPharlin to replace Alex Pearce, while the Roos lost two players: captain Andrew Swallow (hand) and forward Ben Brown (knee).

Key: The ruck duel between North’s Todd Goldstein and Fremantle man mountain Aaron Sandilands will go a long way to deciding which team takes home the four points.

Tip: Dockers by 32 points

SUNDAY, May 24

Essendon v Brisbane Lions at Etihad Stadium 1.10pm

Head to Head: Bombers 23 Lions 16 drawn 1

Last clash: Round 8 2014 – Bombers 9.11 (65) bt Lions 8.9 (57) at Gabba

Tab Sportsbet: Bombers $1.22 Lions $4.35

William Hill: Bombers $1.25 Lions $4.00

To the surprise of just about everyone who watched their lame efforts over the first five weeks, the Lions take a two-match winning streak into this clash against the flagging Bombers, who have dropped their past two. Dayne Beams has been excellent for Brisbane and fellow recruits Allen Christensen and Mitch Robinson are now following his lead.

Key: Essendon’s struggling tall forwards Joe Daniher and Jake Carlisle will never get a better chance to regain goalscoring form than against the undersized Lions key backs.

Tip: Bombers by 22 points

Melbourne v Western Bulldogs at MCG 3.20pm

Head to Head: Demons 84 Bulldogs 76 drawn 1

Last clash: Round 15 2014 – Bulldogs 14.7 (91) bt Demons 13.7 (85) at Etihad Stadium

Tab Sportsbet: Demons $3.30 Bulldogs $1.34

William Hill: Demons $3.10 Bulldogs $1.37

Having dropped himself for last week’s clash with Hawthorn, Jack Watts is back in the seniors again. The Demons were awful against the Hawks, although Cam Pedersen did show something as a key forward in the absence of Jesse Hogan, who has been named to return this week to help cover the absence of fellow key forward Chris Dawes (calf). The Bulldogs did plenty right in their round-seven loss to the unbeaten Dockers, but paid the price for some sloppiness in the final few minutes.

Key: Although it will probably not decide the game, it will be fascinating to watch and compare Jesse Hogan and Tom Boyd – two of the most exciting young spearheads in the competition.

Tip: Bulldogs by 40 points

Port Adelaide v Richmond at Adelaide Oval 4.40pm

Head to Head: Power 15 Tigers 9 drawn 1

Last clash: Finals Week 1 2014 – Power 20.12 (132) bt Tigers 11.9 (75) at Adelaide Oval

Tab Sportsbet: Power $1.28 Tigers $3.75

William Hill: Power $1.30 Tigers $3.50

What a difference a week makes. The Power will still start this match as hot favourites, but their round-seven form was anything but sizzling in a lame loss to Brisbane. On the other hand, Richmond were buoyed by a surprise win over Collingwood. The Tigers return to the scene of last year’s elimination-final humiliation desperate to put in a much better showing against a Port side strengthened by the return of midfielder Ollie Wines and backman Alipate Carlile from injury.

Key: Richmond coach Damien Hardwick admitted even his wife thought it was a mistake to start his best defender Alex Rance in the midfield against the Magpies. This time, expect to see Rance go straight to the side of former Tiger Jay Schulz.

Tip: Power by 20 points

– with AAP

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