AFL 2017 Round 5 Preview: Essendon-Collingwood ANZAC Day Clash Highlights Slate

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Essendon and Collingwood both badly need a win and will clash on ANZAC day in the final game of round 5 in the AFL. Other games in this weekend’s slate include the Sydney derby between the Swans and GWS, and Richmond looking to stay undefeated against Melbourne at the MCG. Here is your full preview with tips.

Port Adelaide vs. Carlton (Friday at Adelaide Oval)

The long weekend begins with the Port Adelaide Power seeking to snap a two match losing streak and get back on track against the struggling Carlton Blues. Despite their 1-3 record, the Blues have been competitive, and a hungry, young list is striving for an upset practically every week as they fight to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon. Carlton has also won the last two meetings between these sides. With Paddy Ryder back in the ruck, the usual suspects, Ollie Wines, Robbie Gray, Chad Wingard, and Robbie Gray look set to get Port back to a winning record. Carlton will lean on their Sam Docherty lead back line to step up, while hoping young guns like Zac Fisher, Jacob Weitering, and Jack Silvagni step up as well. The young Blues added yet another young contributor to their list this week, in the form of Cameron Polson. Port has more zip in their side and I can’t tip against them. Power by 16

Western Bulldogs vs. Brisbane Lions (Saturday at Etihad Stadium)

The feisty defending premiers are favorites in this one for a reason, as the Lions have now dropped three straight, while the Bulldogs are 3-1 and simply have more talent on their list. Playing at home in Melbourne, the big absence for the Bulldogs is forward Travis Cloke, but having a hopefully healthy Liam Picken and Tom Boyd in, while key goalkickers Lachie Hunter, Luke Dahlhaus, and Jack Macrae have increased their output, should shore up this side. The Lions are missing Tom Cutler, and despite plenty of young talent are probably going to have a tough time putting it together assuming the Bulldogs can pressure. Look for Bulldogs captain Bob Murphy to win his 300th game. Bulldogs by 39

Gold Coast Suns vs. Adelaide Crows (Saturday at Metricon Stadium)

This is hardly a make or break game for the Suns season, but it feels like it. Now at 2-2, they’ve rebounded into fringe contention, but we still can’t be sure if the Suns will be shining bright, or shrouded by clouds on a given game day. The Crows meanwhile are best on ground right now, at 4-0 they have been firing on all cylinders, and adding to their confidence will be the fact they have never lost to the Suns. The Crows bring back Brad Crouch this week, while Jake Kelly is injured, and will look for more solid performances from Taylor Walker, Eddie Betts, and Rory Sloane. The Suns hopes lie in the boots of Tom Lynch and Brandon Matera, who have been their key goal kickers in victory. With co-captain Steven May out of their side, the Suns underdog hopes dip even further, the Crows could lose focus and bottle this but it’s unlikely. Crows by 29

Sydney Swans vs. GWS Giants (Saturday at the SCG)

The Sydney derby matters for both teams, but for the senior Sydney side, the Swans, it’s uniquely pivotal. At 0-4, the Swans are desperate for a win to kick start their season. GWS has now won three straight and would love to make their fourth straight win a big win over their rival. Veteran Steve Johnson is back for GWS, while the Swans have brought in four reinforcements, including Kurt Tippett and Isaac Heeney. They badly need offensive production if they are to win this, but I don’t see it happening as long as Josh Kelly, Tom Scully, and the rest of the Giants remain more consistent their counterparts. Giants by 20

Fremantle Dockers vs. North Melbourne (Saturday at Domain Stadium)

This contest is unlikely to be between finals teams, but it’s still an intriguing one that is hard to predict. The Dockers have won two straight and now get a home again against a winless North side that is just a couple of kicks away from having two wins of their own. In many ways this contest will drive the perception of both teams in the coming weeks. The Dockers who stepped up last week, including Nat Fyfe, Cam McCarthy, and especially Lachie Neale, will be counted on again, while Shaun Higgins and North Melbourne will look to finish a game off strong, rather than the late struggles they have had this season. List reboot or not, the Kangaroos need a win, but given the Dockers are playing at home they should stretch the contest out in the end. Dockers by 14

St. Kilda vs. Geelong Cats (Sunday at Etihad Stadium)

The Saints remain a peculiar side that’s right in the middle of the AFL pack at 2-2. The Cats by contrast are one of the early frontrunners, sitting pretty at 4-0 despite having played far from perfect footy. If St. Kilda fires on all cylinders they’ll notch an upset, but with Jack Steven just coming off injury and David Armitage out, I don’t feel comfortable tipping it. Patrick Dangerfield’s health remains somewhat of a concern in my mind, and the Cats are missing both James parsons and Sam Menegola due to suspension. Chris Scott still can depend on Steven Motlop, Daniel Menzel, Mitch Duncan, and potentially Tom Hawkins as well to produce though, and the Cats should edge this one out, perhaps late in the final quarter. Cats by 9

Hawthorn vs. West Coast Eagles (Sunday at the MCG)

The winless Hawks will host the Eagles at the MCG, without their former star Tom Mitchell, now injured, and thus omitted this week, on the Eagles best 22. The Eagles sit comfortably at 3-1, but have struggled at the MCG, where they suffered their lone defeat this season. That said, the Hawks have struggled to get the ball inside 50, and have looked slow on the ground all season. Now devoid of confidence and enthusiasm, I can’t expect a total turnaround from the last 4 weeks. The likes of Elliot Yeo, and Luke Shuey have been stepping for West Coast, and I firmly believe they’ll get the Eagles over the top in this one. Eagles by 24

Richmond vs. Melbourne (Monday at the MCG)

Melbourne has won the last three against the Tigers, but this year’s Tiger side is 4-0 and has looked fantastic this early part of the season. The Demons sit at 2-2 and need to stop a two game losing skid in its tracks. The Demons like to control the ball but have been wasteful with it in their losses. An aggressive Richmond side may be without star Dustin Martin, but even if that’s the case the likes of Dion Prestia and Jason Castagna should be able to take up some of the extra load. With star ruckman Max Gawn and veteran presence Jordan Lewis still missing this week for Melbourne, the return of Jesse Hogan from suspension shouldn’t be enough to help them get a fourth successive win against the Tigers. Look for Richmond to make better use of their scoring opportunities and press forward in a more productive manner. Richmond by 13

Essendon vs. Collingwood (Tuesday at the MCG)

The traditional ANZAC day clash pits the 2-2 Bombers, having lost two straight, against the 1-3 Magpies, who badly need a win of their own. it may not be the highest caliber footy Tuesday at the MCG, but it will be desperate and gritty between these Victorian rivals, something we can all enjoy. While lineups haven’t been announced, a struggling Magpies forward half may get a boost from the addition of veteran Daniel Wells, back from injury. Both teams need to produce goals, not behinds, with Joe Daniher and Orazio Fantasia critical for Essendon, while Darcy Moore, Alex Fasolo, and company need to put on a complete team performance for the Pies. I don’t expect a ton of scoring, and consider this the toughest game to tip this week. All of that said I feel like Essendon’s level has dropped more in recent weeks than where the Pies are at, and I have Collingwood edging it. Magpies by 11

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