ANZAC Games between Melbourne Sides Highlight the AFL’s Longest Round

The AFL’s round 5 is the longest round of the season with games on Friday through Wednesday (but no game on Monday). The round is highlighted with two clashes between Melbourne sides late in the round. The ANZAC day eve contest between flag favorites Richmond and a Melbourne side that needs a response after a rough round 4. The round closes with the ANZAC day game between Collingwood and Essendon, sides coming off big wins in the previous round. Your full round preview awaits.

Sydney vs. Adelaide (Friday at the SCG)

Sydney is at home, they have a 3-1 record, and have dominated Adelaide winning six of their past seven against the Crows. To make matters worse the Crows lose Eddie Betts, David Mackay, and Rory Sloane this week as the injury list is mounting. The Swans swap Gary Rohan and Harry Marsh in for Aliir Aliir and Nic Newman. Adelaide’s midfield has been subpar this year and their forwards inconsistent. Luke Parker and Buddy Franklin lead the Swansm but their strong backline deserves credit, and Callum Sinclair faces an interesting challenge opposite Sam Jacobs in the ruck. The 2018 season has been defined by parity so far, but the Swans are better right now. Swans by 36

St. Kilda vs. GWS Giants (Saturday at Etihad Stadium)

Despite the Saints winning last year, these teams are in opposite places in terms of expectations right now. The 3-1 Giants are top of the ladder and hope to stay there for the rest of the year. The Saints are 1-3 and simply hoping to steady themselves right now. Dylan Roberton and Rowan Marshall are out due to health issues for the Saints, Hunter Clark, Mav Weller, and Tim Membrey return. The Saints have struggled throughout the ground, but in particular their forwards and contested possession have been absent. GWS still doesn’t have Josh Kelly but they have enough talent to deal wit that. Ryan Griffen and Brett Deledio stood up last week, and the Giants should continue to stand tall to earn the win. Giants by 42

Carlton vs. West Coast (Saturday at the MCG)

West Coast isn’t known to travel well but the Eagles have won their last 3 against the Blues, and the Blues look ragged right now compared to the high flying Eagles. Marc Murphy, Jacob Weitering, Matthew Kennedy, and perhaps most importantly Matthew Kreuzer are key outs this week, while the Eagles swap an injured Daniel Venables for Mark Hutchings. Josh J. Kennedy and the Eagles midfield should feast on Carlton in this one, Blues fans should be scared of the looming result. Eagles by 65 

Port Adelaide vs. Geelong (Saturday at Adelaide Oval)

Port is at home after having their undefeated streak snapped in round 4. The Cats have split results so far 2-2, but injuries are a concern with Cory Gregson out this week on top of who was already out (James Parsons and Jackson Thurlow are in). The Power do lose Tom Rockliff this week due to injury, but Rockliff has been poor this year. Playing at home I’d expect Port to respond best this week with the Gray’s, Jared Polec, Jack Watts, and Ollie Wines among the best performers. The Power backline will need to shut down Daniel Menzel for that to happen though. Power by 17

Fremantle vs. Western Bulldogs (Saturday at Optus Stadium)

A great opportunity for either side to seize and get a win. Freo has won their last 2 against the Dogs and could move above .500 with a home win. The Dogs had their first good game of the season in round 4 and would be feeling much better at 2-3 than 1-4. Taylin Duman will debut for Freo this week, while Tom Boyd makes a return at forward for the Dogs, with Shane Biggs, Bailey Williams, Lachie Hunter, and Jack Redpath key outs. Nat Fyfe and the rest of the Dockers play better at Optus and Hunter being absent will hurt the Dogs. Look for Freo to grab a hard fought win. Dockers by 28 

North Melbourne vs. Hawthorn (Sunday at Etihad Stadium)

At 2-2 North Melbourne has overachieved compared to the expectations of most. Hawthorn at 3-1 has soared though, and they have been stronger in their last 4 games against the Roos. The injury caused outs of Cyril Rioli and Paul Puopolo will hurt the Hawks ability to provide forward pressure, but Ryan Burton returns and the Hawks clearly believe in themselves this year. North may miss Shaun Higgins due to the imminent birth of his child, and unless Ben Brown shows out, the Hawks mids and a strong backline should be enough. Hawks by 24

Brisbane Lions vs. Gold Coast Suns (Sunday at the Gabba)

The Q Clash is an interesting one with both teams in poor form and needing a confidence boost. The Lions didn’t expect to play finals this year but they’re 0-4 with an awful percentage. Gold Coast was swept on their trip to the West and back in their home state they need to regain form. If the Lions stars play their best they will win, but I don’t see Dayne Zorko and co. all firing at once. The Suns should return to pressure footy with Tom Lynch and Jarryd Lyons combining to lead them to a win. Suns by 22

Melbourne vs. Richmond (Tuesday at the MCG)

The Demons are 2-2 but last week put the pressure on them to compete hard in this one, and in the least, don’t let Richmond go on a run and pull away from them. The 3-1 Tigers are tough to face at the MCG though and Dustin Martin is making a case as the best forward in the comp. Unless the Dees play better zonal defence and start winning center clearances, I’m not sure how they win this one. Tigers by 44

Collingwood vs. Essendon (Wednesday at the MCG)

The ANZAC day rivalry between Essendon and Collingwood features a pair of 2-2 sides this season with finals hopes, but also plenty of pitfalls that await. Brodie Grundy and Steele Sidebottom led Collingwood last week, and despite their injury woes, they seem to have found belief. The Bombers have been inconsistent. They have the talent, but the likes of Jake Stringer, Devon Smith, and Zach Merrett will need to up their level. Collingwood wins the ruck battle and in the midfield, but Michael Hurley, plus their overall forward line should be enough to get them over the top. Bombers by 8

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