Dogs and Saints Gunning for Upsets in AFL Round 4

AFL Round 4 is a crossroads round for a lot of teams. Some sides got off to slower starts than they desired and need to pick up the pace, while others look to continue their early momentum. Here is your full round preview.

Adelaide vs. Collingwood (Friday at the Adelaide Oval)

Last year the Crows and Pies played one of the games of the season, and fans will be hoping for more of the same. Adelaide at home is always a big ask for any team, but Collingwood can’t stay healthy as Taylor Adams is an out (and Jordan De Goey returns). Adelaide brings back Darcy Fogarty for Lachlan Murphy and will be hoping for another big showing from their forwards Tex Walker, Eddie Betts, and Josh Jenkins. If the Pies midfield rise and Brodie Grundy can edge Sam Jacobs in the ruck they could have a shot, but the better team should prevail at home. Crows by 26

GWS Giants vs. Fremantle (Saturday in Canberra)

Freo had a good homestand but they return to interstate play as underdogs against GWS, having lost three straight against the Giants. Rory Lobb, Harry Perryman, and Josh Kelly are key outs for GWS (though Toby Greene returns, joined by Ryan Griffen and ruckman Dawson Simpson), enhancing Freo chances, but containing the Giants attack will be a challenge. Nat Fyfe and Michael Walters will need to step up, but perhaps the greatest spotlight will shine on the Freo backline. Luke Ryan, Nathan Wilson, and potential all-Australian key defender Alex Pearce have played well to start the season, but this is a tough test. Freo will compete but fall short in the end. Giants by 13

Richmond vs. Brisbane (Saturday at the MCG)

Richmond had dominated Brisbane lately, and at home they are heavy favorites. Josh Caddy and Dion Prestia return to strengthen the yellow and black, while the Lions debut Zac Bailey and return Dayne Beams. Look for another spirited showing for Brisbane, but it’s hard to see it ending with a W. Tigers by 31

Western Bulldogs vs. Sydney (Saturday at Etihad Stadium)

The Dogs have been solid against the Swans in recent years and they’d love to keep up their momentum at home against a tough opponent. Shane Biggs comes in for Zaine Cordy, while the Swans swap Aliir Aliir, Zak Jones, and Nic Newman in for Lewis Melican, Sam Reid, and Gary Rohan. The Swans forward line is suffering a bit, but they still have Buddy Franklin. I’m not sure how the Dogs match unless Lachie Hunter and Jack Macrae combine for magic again. Swans by 24

North Melbourne vs. Carlton (Saturday in Tasmania)

North Melbourne is in their Tassie fortress against a struggling Blues side that looks sapped of confidence after a strong effort in round 1. Neither side looks finals relevant but the Roos have Ben Brown, and they get Robbie Tarrant back. Caleb Marchbank is a key out for Carlton (replaced by Cam O’Shea) and unless their effort rises in a major way they’ll be up against it here. Kangaroos by 16

West Coast Eagles vs. Gold Coast Suns (Saturday at Optus Stadium)

Both teams are 2-1 but the Eagles are at home and have looked really good in their last couple of outings. For the Suns Jack Bowes swaps for an injured Pearce Hanley, while the Eagles lose Liam Ryan but get their star forward Josh Kennedy back. The Eagles have more talent and Nic Nat is playing his 150th. Look for the early surprise team of the year to notch a solid win. Eagles by 38

Essendon vs. Port Adelaide (Sunday at Etihad Stadium)

A struggling side with promise on their list against the early leaders in Port, this game is the match of the round in my estimation. The Bombers need to show a lot more effort in all the phases of the game, while Port loses Sam Powell-Pepper and will need to adjust to being the hunted, rather than the hunters. Essendon’s forwards are still a question mark, and they are up against a strong backline in this one. Look for Port to storm into Etihad and walk out with a solid win. Power by 13

Hawthorn vs. Melbourne (Sunday at the MCG)

It’s Brownlow contenders Tom Mitchell and Clayton Oliver facing off in this one. The Dees are solid and the Hawthorn backline is shaky, but I’ll go with the Hawks in a shootout. Their non-Mitchell mids (Jaeger O’Meara and Isaac Smith) will need to rise, but look for Jarryd Roughead to outmatch Jesse Hogan in this one. Hawks by 8

Geelong vs. St. Kilda (Sunday in Geelong)

Gary Ablett, Nakia Cockatoo, and Cam Guthrie are all out for the banged up Cats. They do get Mitch Duncan back, and will try to adjust their ruck troubles with Zac Smith and Rhys Stanley both likely to be named. The Saints are in deep trouble early on thanks to poor disposal and weak forward play. Jack Steele does return, with Josh Bruce a possible out. The Saints won’t get crushed in this one, but the Cats are simply better off right now and I’m not sure how St. Kilda scores or wins the midfield contested possessions. Cats by 31

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