2021 Rounds 17 – 23

Round 17 preview:
It’s Wednesday night and the fixture is hopefully final for this round

Port AdelaidevMelbourneAdelaide OvalJul 8 (Thu 7:40pm)
EssendonvAdelaideDocklandsJul 9 (Fri 7:50pm)
HawthornvFremantleLaunceston StadiumJul 10 (Sat 1:45pm)
CarltonvGeelongMCGJul 10 (Sat 4:35pm)
GWS GiantsvGold CoastBallarat – Eureka StadiumJul 11 (Sun 12:40pm)
Western BulldogsvSydneyDocklandsJul 11 (Sun 3:20pm)
RichmondvCollingwoodMCGJul 11 (Sun 4:10pm)
West CoastvNorth MelbournePerth StadiumJul 12 (Mon 7:40pm)

Oops; forgot Brisbane vs St Kilda at the Gold Coast Stadium 7.25pm Sat 10 July

As I said in summarising round 16, I’m on special assignment this week, so it will be quick.

My tips:
Melbourne to defeat Port Adelaide by 8 points
Essendon to defeat Adelaide by 24 points
Hawthorn to defeat Fremantle by 11 points
Geelong to defeat Carlton by 16 points
Brisbane to defeat St Kilda by 29 points
GWS Giants to defeat Gold Coast Suns by 19 points and EXTREME variance
Western Bulldogs to defeat Sydney Swans by 20 points
Richmond to defeat Collingwood by 14 points and EXTREME variance
West Coast Eagles to defeat North Melbourne by 24 points

In summary, some tricks in this round; I have tipped two slight outsiders in the Dees and Hawks; my certs this week are Lions, Giants (slightly risky) and Eagles (surely they’ll find something at home this week with a home crowd)

I expect at least 3 of these to occur (all about 30% chance alone)
Dees to win by over a goal (correct)
Hawks to win by over a goal (incorrect)
Lions to win by over 6 goals (incorrect)
Giants to win by over 6 goals (incorrect)
Eagles to win by over 7 goals

Okay; it’s Monday lunchtime and I have finished special assignment work. My lack of analysis time cost me big time last week; but I now have some time to preview the Eagles / Roos game. The crowd is back! That’s huge for the Eagles. 2020 and 2021 seems to indicate that West Coast has been very fragile when things don’t go their way in terms of Covid. Now things are back on their terms.

Also, I note that, although the effort against the Swans last week was abysmal, there were some excuses. Three players are out injured this week and their SC scores last week were: Alex Witherden 32, Jack redden 26 and Jamaine Jones 25; when you add this to the fact that they had the slightly underdone Luke Shuey playing and he only played 70% game time, it was a recipe for disaster.

With things more favourable now and, despite the 3 outs through injury, a shorter injury list than a month ago, they should be ready to fire. A wet track is expected – with 15-25mm of rain (about 10mm has fallen this morning already); but Perth grounds tend to be sandy and drain well – so the ball skids rather than plonking in a glue pot.

Eagles still certs and by 46 points.

Round 17 review

Port Adelaide-55lost toMelbourne-86
Hawthorn-46lost toFremantle-108
Carlton-44lost toGeelong-70
Brisbane Lions-63lost toSt Kilda-95
GWS Giants-64lost toGold Coast-65
Western Bulldogs-60lost toSydney-79
Richmond-71lost toCollingwood-87
West Coast -60 lost toNorth Melbourne -70

It was a tough round for tipsters with 6 favourites going down. I tipped a modest 3/9 – tipping the Dees as slight outsiders correctly, then bombing on the Hawks as slight outsiders.

I tipped 2 games to be EXTREME variance:
Giants vs Suns – incorrect
Tigers vs Pies – correct.

Games I didn’t tip as EXTREME variance, but were EXTREME:
Bombers vs Crows
Hawks vs Dockers
Lions vs Saints
Dogs vs Swans
The Roos and Eagles game was borderline EXTREME

My cert for the round (Eagles) lost as well!
Yuck! very poor.

If you tipped poorly last week, don’t fret too much; you probably haven’t lost ground on the leaders!

Round 18 preview (bold and underlined = late change of venue / time)

FremantlevGeelongPerth StadiumJul 15 (Thu 8:10pm)
RichmondvBrisbane LionsGold Coast StadiumJul 16 (Fri 7:50pm)
GWS GiantsvSydney SwansGold Coast StadiumJul 17 (Sun 6.10pm)
Gold CoastvWestern BulldogsGold Coast StadiumJul 17 (Sat 4:35pm)
MelbournevHawthornMCGJul 17 (Sat 7:25pm)
St KildavPort AdelaideDocklandsJul 17 (Sat 1:45pm)
North MelbournevEssendonDocklandsJul 18 (Sun 12:35pm)
CollingwoodvCarltonMCGJul 18 (Sun 3:20pm)
Adelaide CrowsvWest CoastPerth StadiumJul 18 (Sun 4:40pm)

Please note that the above fixture is from the AFL website Monday night; Covid-related changes are possible.

I want to have another look at last’s week’s games and WHY!!! there were a total of 6 teams who put in absolute shockers (ie 6 goals or worse than expected):
Port – favoured by 5 points and lost by 31 = variance -36 points (well, this is borderline – and I tipped the Dees and my variance for Port was -23 only

Adelaide Crows – outsiders by 22 points and lost by 63 – variance -41 points

Hawthorn – outsiders by 5 points and lost by 62 – variance -57 points

Brisbane – favourites by 27 points and lost by 32 – variance -59 points
Dogs – favourites by 21 points and lost by 19 – variance -39 points
Eagles – favourites by 29 points and lost by 10 – variance -39 points

The variances all fall into the range of 36 to 59 points worse than expected. Teams have had byes in either rounds 12, 13 or 14.
Four of these teams – Brisbane, Hawthorn, Port and the Dogs – all had byes in rounds 12 or 13 and were playing teams that had byes in round 14. Not so the other two.

Why would the ‘earlier bye being bad” theory hold some water? It’s a guess, but this season is longer (in terms of games played and minutes per game) than last year and the teams which had byes in round 14 may be fresher.

In the three game with EXTREME variance:
A: GCS and GWS both had round 12 byes
B: Carlton – bye round 13 – slightly underperformed against Geelong – bye round 12
C: Richmond – bye round 13 – underperformed by 23 points against Collingwood – bye round 14 (this one MOST goes against the trend)

Other factors can come into play for the 6 “shocker” teams – Hawthorn coach swap news; Richmond’s growing injury list and maybe playing players they would prefer to rest.

Wednesday evening. Today W. A. shut the border with Vic, but the Geelong players are in W. A. and will go through certain protocols in order for the game to proceed. This is nothing unusual – been done before.

We have teams for game 1 only; all other previews done prior to team announcements

Geelong to defeat Fremantle by 15 points
1 – 3 mm of rain should all fall well before game time, says the bureau

This is a tough game 1 in a tough round; there are 5 teams favoured by less than 2 goals.

In a long season, this is a 5 day break for both teams and yet ANOTHER reason NOT to have Thursday night footy

The Cats breaks are 8, 8 and then 5 days from the last 3 matches; it’s 7, 7 and 5 for the Dockers.
This is a big help for Geelong and it makes me more bullish about them than most experts; they rested Joel Selwood last week and he is back; same for Luke Dahlhaus – but he hasn’t been in great form; but it’s another reason to be keen on the Cats.

Having said that, Freo’s injury list is shrinking and they have a genuine chance at home and they will have a home crowd watching.

Other tips quick (added 7.40pm Thursday – sorry for lateness)
Brisbane by 12 points
Sydney Swans by 13 and EXTREME variance
Dogs by 23
Dees by 41
Port by 4 and EXTREME variance
bombers by 22
Pies by 5
Eagles by 11and EXTREME variance

Dees only certs
Best outsiders: Giants and Crows (Freo / Cats; Saints / Port and Pies / Blues games considered 50/50 games, so no real outsiders)

Brisbane to defeat Richmond by 24 points and almost certs
Note that this was originally a game in Vic, so I’m upping my margin in this one; Lions by 22 points now.
having seen the teams, it concerns me a little that the Lions lose Marcus Adams to injury as well as the one we knew about – Eric Hipwood.

The Tigers get back Kane Lambert and Toby Nankervis – and introduce new recruit Matt Parker. I was expecting maybe Shane Edwards would be back as well, but not yet it seems.

The INS for the Tigers and OUTS for the Lions just makes me not tip the Lions as certs

Western Bulldogs to defeat Gold Coast Suns by 23 points
The Suns pulled off an upset last week and are back at home now; this gives them a slim chance against the Dogs. The Dogs lost as firm favourites last weekend and I expect them to bounce back and regain second place on the ladder. 4.35pm is a good time to play in QLD for the Dogs; if it’s going to be humid, the worst of it is after 8pm as a rule

Melbourne to defeat Hawthorn by 41 points and certs
Rain is forecast
The Hawks got some shock news before their game against the Dockers (when they were shockers). It was the handover plan from Alistair Clarkson to Sam Mitchell. Did it affect their effort? Clarko said “no” in the post match presser, but I’m not so sure. The question is, “will it have an impact this week?” – perhaps. But the Hawks aren’t good enough anyway and the Dees ae less injured. The only risk I see is that the Dees played Thursday and may have relaced nicely last weekend. Even so, they should wake from any slumber early enough to beat the Hawks.

If I knew that they would be at their ruthless best, I’d pick them by 50 points plus

Port Adelaide to defeat St Kilda by 2 points and EXTREME variance
Rain is forecast, but they might shut the roof – since no crowd will be there.
Port was favoured to beat the Dees last week and now everyone has forgotten about them. They have been good at beating up un middle of the road teams, but now they are lacking small forwards.

If I knew that Port could manage without their small forwards (see injury report), I’d be reasonably confident; the there is the 9 day break between games! And I’m still trying to work out if the recent St Kilda run of form can continue. they were fantastic against the Lions last week.

I can see one team (which?) getting an early break and going on with the job in this one

Essendon to defeat North Melbourne by 21 points
What a great win by the Roos last week in the West! Meanwhile, the Bombers bounced back with a good win over the Crows. I like the 8 day break for Essendon vs the 6 day break back from Perth for the Roos; and they have rested Ben Cunnington.

I have not made the Bombers certs, because of the recent improvement in form by North.

Collingwood to defeat Carlton by 6 points
I’m slightly more sold on the Pies than the Blues; I’m just trying to work out if the Q4 by Collingwood is their true form and that they can play it for a whole game.

The Blues were competitive against Geelong last week, but kicked themselves out of it; to me, they seem to be a tam that finds a way to lose. don’t like the game all that much

West Coast Eagles to defeat Adelaide Crows by 14 points and EXTREME variance
Small chance of showers!
Both teams were dreadful last week and its hard to trust either of them. Taylor Walker and Tom Lynch come back in for the Crows, but the Eagles are a far better team if they can play up to their potential. but have they tossed in the towel on the season?

Sydney Swans to defeat GWS Giants by 12 points
The Swans are flying at the moment and there is no reason to tip against them. So I won’t; but this is the grand final for the Giants and they might find something. I like their INS of Stephen Coniglio and maybe Matt de Boer. Mummy is out injured and the Giants will need the IN Matt Flynn to be better than last time he played; that might be the key to the Giants having a chance

In summary (done Friday AFTER the Freo / Cats game):
I expect a least 2 of these three somewhat unlikely events to occur:
The St Kilda / Port game to be decided by more than 5 goals (incorrect)
Pies to win by over 3 goals (incorrect)
Eagles to win by over 4 goals (correct)

Round 18 review

Fremantle-31lost toGeelong-100
Richmond-106dftdBrisbane Lions-86
GWS Giants-72lost toSydney-98
Gold Coast-79lost toWestern Bulldogs-90
St Kilda-61lost toPort Adelaide-74
North Melbourne-74lost toEssendon-92
Collingwood-62lost toCarlton-91
Adelaide-56lost toWest Coast-98

I tipped 6 1/2 winners – which was slightly above average

I tipped EXTREME variance for Port / Saints (incorrect), Crows / Eagles (incorrect); for Giants / Swans, I tipped it as EXTREME early but not late; however, when the late changes came due to Covid, I definitely had it as an EXTREME game and this was a correct call.

Games I didn’t tip as EXTREME, but were EXTREME were:
Dockers / Cats (with Cats winning big, but at least I was more bullish on the Cats than the experts – and the Dockers got injuries during the game)
Lions / Tigers was borderline
Dees / Hawks was EXTREME variance
Pies / Blues was EXTREME variance

So I did pretty poorly on the EXTREME scale and my SUMMARY tips scored only 1/3

Notes on games: injuries to Freo blew out the margin, but I still think the Extra rest worked wonders for the Cats

I was keen on the Lions bar for their OUTS and Richmond’s INS; as it turns out, the inclusion of Toby Nankervis was the difference (And Jack Riewoldt kicked 6 in is 300th game – which helped); also, with Eric Hipwood out, Joe Daniher became the main target up forward, but he played like a flanker – not helpful; maybe the Lions can sort this out during the week

I tipped the Dees as certs (sorry), but their problem was the long break before an “easy kill” game. The Hawks probably responded to their poor effort the previous week vs Freo (and not that the Hawks outperformed expectations by 40 points, while the Dockers underperformed by 67 points the following week!), but I put this more down to the Dees over-confidence.

The Blues overran the Pies, but now up to 4 Magpies might miss round 19 due to injury. So I have mixed feelings about how to analyse this game.

Round 19 – I won’t add yet as there has just been a Covid shutdown in Adelaide
Okay; here it is late Tuesday night (then changed Wed)

Port AdelaidevCollingwoodDocklandsJul 23 (Fri 7:10pm)
CarltonvNorth MelbourneDocklandsJul 18 (Sat 1:45pm)
Brisbane LionsvGold CoastGabbaJul 18 (Sat 3:20pm)
West CoastvSt KildaPerth StadiumJul 18 (Sat 4:35pm)
MelbournevWestern BulldogsMCGJul 18 (Sat 7:25pm)
Adelaide CrowsvHawthornDocklandsJul 18 (Sat 7:40pm)
Sydney SwansvFremantleGold Coast StadiumJul 19 (Sun 12:30pm)
GeelongvRichmondMCGJul 19 (Sun 3:20pm)
EssendonvGWS GiantsGold Coast StadiumJul 19 (Sun 6:10pm)

My early tips:
Port Adelaide
West Coast Eagles (keen on them)
Dogs (just)
Sydney Swans
Essendon (just)

Port Adelaide to defeat Collingwood by 30 points and EXTREME variance
This was to be in Adelaide and in front of a big crowd, but now it’s going to be at the empty MCG. Provided that Port can cope with that, I can see a comfortable win. They have been good at beating middle to lower ranked teams in recent years. My main concern is that they are bringing back 3 players from injury all at once; but Xavier Duursma had had a game in the SANFL, while Connor Rozee missed 1 game only. The issue is more with them playing similar type roles and getting the chemistry back; I think they can do it, but it’s a bit of a risk

The Pies have Callum L. Brown, Chris Mayne, Josh Thomas and Will Hoskin-Elliott all out injured. And in comes the inexperienced Finlay Macrae plus debutantes Anton Tohill and Jack Ginnivan. Pie fans were hoping to have Jack Macrae in instead!! (on reading this, Mal Propp, who is learning French, said “quel fromage”)

As well as this, there are small doubts about Taylor Adams and Brody Mihocek. Maybe the Pies can find something huge and win (only if Port has troubles of their own), but I see a huge possibility that the Pies could lose big. One reason NOT to be too down on them, however, is that they probably conceded the game late last week against the Blues due to the short turnaround upcoming (Sunday to Friday).

But that brings up another point – Port has an extra 18 hours break; if you look at the past two weeks, Port’s breaks have been 9 days then 6, while its 7 and 5 for the Pies.

So my main reason for the EXTREME variance call is that the Pies might get slaughtered. I will mark Port as certs for my own tipping comp, but remember that I am on a small run of certs at present; I wouldn’t do it if I were on a run of >10 certs.

for those who have to tip a cert each week, Port is the best one.

Carlton to defeat North Melbourne by 16 points
The Blues were terrific last week vs Collingwood late. But the Pies had injuries on the day, so I am struggling to get a good read on how good Carlton’s win was. One thing to note is that Brody Mihocek was hurt is the final minute or so of the game, so we can eliminate his injury as a reason for the Pies dropping off late. the other factor is that the Pies may have chucked in the sponge – given that the were playing Sunday prior to a Friday night game.

Eve with all that doubt, I’m still tipping the Blues. The Roos have been much better lately and do get Ben Cunnington and Jed Anderson back. That gives them a genuine chance to ruin Carlton’s mathematical chance of playing finals.

Brisbane to defeat Gold Coast Suns by 26 points and EXTREME variance

the Lions would’ve been certs had this game been played 6 weeks ago. Since they beat the Cats, Brisbane has been just so-so. They took care of the Crows, then got overrun by both the Saints, then Richmond at the Gold Coast. At least they get back to the Gabba now.

The Suns lost to the Roos in round 15, but then beat Richmond and the Giants – then lost at home to the Dogs by 11 points (a very honourable loss)

West Coast Eagles to defeat St Kilda by 23 points

The Saints have been doing pretty well with both Paddy Ryder and Rowan Marshall in the team (maybe because they are nos 18 ad 19). Sadly, for Saints fans, Marshall is now in ISO.

Although it’s 3 forced outs for both teams this week, Marshall is the bit ticket item. One could argue a case for the injury to Luke Shuey is bad for the Eagles, but he hasn’t been at his absolute best in the past 4 weeks when he played anyway.

I’m tipping the Eagles as certs in, but only because Melbourne wiped my streak last week.

Hawthorn to defeat Adelaide Crows by 17 points

Do we believe the Hawks of round 18 (draw with Melbourne) or round 17 (thrashed by the Dockers in Tassie)? Hopefully, the answer is somewhere in between.

Unless the coaching issue is affecting the players, it’s pretty hard to make a case for the Crows. I just don’t want to get too carried away with the Hawks because of their ladder position and the coaching news.

Western Bulldogs to defeat Melbourne by 8 points

This is a crucial one for tipsters up near the top. Dees are on top and Dogs 2nd, but they’ve both been just average recently.

For mine, the Dogs have bee just a bit more convincing. The winner goes a long way towards locking up a top 2 spot (with Geelong just behind the Dogs on percentage), so there’s plenty of motivation as well as bragging rights.

The concern about the Dogs is that Max Gawn could dominate – with Stef Martin still out. I honestly don’t like the game that much ad would prefer to ignore it if I could!!

Sydney Swans to defeat Fremantle by 23 points and EXTREME variance

After all the covid dramas with the Sydney teams, they will be EXTREME variance games this week. There was so much emotion after last week’s win, I almost expect the Swans to be flat this week.

But the Dockers lost badly on a Thursday last round and then have this too long a wait for the game. I have some doubts about Sean Darcy playing; watch for late changes.

Geelong to defeat Richmond by 15 points

The injuries for the Tigers make it easy to pick the Cats, so I will. But I am a bit concerned that the Cats have had a nice win and then a too long break until this game.

Also, the Tigers now know that the 2021 flag is gone, so they could see this match as their grand final and lift (yes, I know they won last week, but this would be a sweeter win – even if it isn’t Jack Riewoldt’s 300th).

The problem for the Tigers is that they had an emotional win last week after losing Dusty about half time; and teams in this spot often find it hard to come up the following week.

Putting all this together, I thin the experts have it about right and it’s the Cats – but not certs

Essendon to defeat GWS Giants by 3 points and EXTREME variance

See Swans preview above re EXTREME variance. Bomber fans were complaining bitterly this week about the game going to QLD. I hope the players don’t think similarly – else it could be a “West Coast Eagles 2020” type effort.

The Giants were blown away late last week – with Matthew Flynn injured. Now Mummy comes back with Lachie Whitfield, so this gives them a hope. But I don’t like them too much without Toby Greene (in iso).

Another game I’d like to avoid, but it’s the Bombers for me.

In summary, I expect at least 2 of these 3 to occur (all somewhat unlikely)
Port to win by over 5 goals (just missed)
The Eagles to win by over 4 goals (incorrect)
The margin in the Bombers / Giants game to be over 5 goals (incorrect)

Round 19 review

Port Adelaide-97dftdCollingwood-69
Carlton-77lost toNorth Melbourne-116
Brisbane Lions-120dftdGold Coast-71
West Coast-94dftdSt Kilda-86
Melbourne-65lost toWestern Bulldogs-85
Essendon-53lost toGWS Giants-66

I tipped a so-so 6 out of 9 winners

I tipped EXTREME variance in the following games:
Port vs Collingwood – I was incorrect
Brisbane vs Suns – I was VERY correct
Swans vs Freo – I was correct (but injuries to Freo helped a bit)
Bombers vs Giants – this was a borderline case

The Blues / Roos game was EXTREME variance and I didn’t tip it; I saw this as a type of dour struggle game with the Roos a sneaky chance. Looking back, I probably over-estimated the Blues based on their win over Collingwood. And teams fighting for a possible finals berth often drop a game against a lowly opponent late in the season

The Crows surprised me a little, but never get too excited about one lowly team (Hawthorn) beating another lowly team – even with the home state advantage.

Round 20
St KildavCarltonDocklandsJul 30 (Fri 7:50pm)
Western BulldogsvAdelaide CrowsBallarat – Eureka StadiumJul 31 (Sat 12:20pm)
North MelbournevGeelongHobartJul 31 (Sat 1:15pm)
Gold CoastvMelbourneGold Coast StadiumJul 31 (Sat 3:10pm)
CollingwoodvWest CoastMCGJul 31 (Sat 4:15pm)
EssendonvSydney SwansGabbaJul 31 (Sat 7:40pm)
HawthornvBrisbane LionsLaunceston StadiumAug 01 (Sun 2:10pm)
GWS GiantsvPort AdelaideGold Coast StadiumAug 01 (Sun 3:10pm)
FremantlevRichmondPerth StadiumAug 01 (Sun 5:10pm)

The fixture wasn’t finalised until late in the week – at least we have no stupid Thursday night game to muddy the waters

St Kilda to defeat Carlton by 16 points
Windy, the small chance of a shower and the roof will probably be open
The Blues are given no hope to play finals now (after losing to the Roos last weekend) – while the Saints have a feint hope after an honourable loss to the Eagles in Perth. with Rowan Marshall coming back in, the Saints should be hard to beat, so I’m tipping them with slightly more confidence than most.

Charlie Curnow is finally back for the Blues; that’s good to see for his sake and for the Carlton fans. But I suspect he will be a bit underdone.

The biggest danger I see for the Saints is twofold:
A: the Blues got hammered by their own supporters in talkback this week and they could respond; and
B: the Saints could have a letdown after the big effort in the west last weekend.

The biggest danger for the Blues is that the coach might have already had his papers stamped; if so, it will be hard for the players to excel.

Western Bulldogs to defeat Adelaide Crows by 45 points and certs
Wet and windy
With the Cats and Dees breathing down their neck, this is a must-win game
for the Dogs; I’m sure they will do it against a lowly Crows team. The Crows were terrific last week, but I suspect that was more to do with the Hawks being poor. Josh Dunkley is back for the Dogs, too!

Geelong to defeat North Melbourne by 26 points and almost certs
Possible showers and windy
It was tempting to expect another over-achievement by the Roos this week after disposing of the Blues; and it may happen. They’re expected to lost by about 5 goals, according to the experts. But they lose Ben Cunnington, Cam Zurhaar and Tarryn Thomas to injury all at once. This is enough to downplay the excitement about the Roos.

Balancing off that pessimism is the fact that the Cats just rolled the Tigers in grand final rematch number 2 (if that makes any sense – they already played each other earlier in the season). the Cats might be a bit flat after that and I can see them grinding out a win without looking like flag certs this weekend.

Melbourne to defeat Gold Coast Suns by 27points and certs just
Sunny and a bit breezy
The Dees are beginning to remind me of St Kilda 2004 – unbeatable early in the season – hit a flat spot mid-year and never quite recovered. I haven’t totally given up on them yet, but it’s a concern. The Suns were going well until half time last week (up 27 points against Brisbane) but then capitulated to lose by 49 points.

Until last week, the Dees had been great at beating top teams, but vulnerable against lower ranked sides. Their losses have been against the Crows (15th), Pies (16th) , Giants (8th) and they drew with Hawthorn (17th).

Last week vs the Dogs was their first loss against a highly ranked team. I expect them to bounce back enough here to win. and the Suns have lost a few experienced players in recent weeks.

Collingwood to defeat West Coast Eagles by 3 points and EXTREME variance
Wet and windy
I regard both sides as a bit unreliable at present – hence the EXTREME variance call. The Pies have an interim coach with a 1-4 record (with the sole win against the reigning premiers!) and have just lost Pendles for the year.

The Eagles lost 3 straight after the bye and then easily beat the Crows in Adelaide before falling over the line against the Saints in Perth.

For mine, the tip all comes down to Collingwood’s INS – Jeremy Howe, Will Hoskin-Elliott, Chris Mayne and Josh Thomas. That’s 4 reasonable INS and just barely sways the tip to the Pies. How well they play is another story. Howe hasn’t played since round 5 and is the biggest risk.

I’d be tipping the Eagles if I had more confidence in them (or of the game were at the Docklands). They are 7th on the ladder and face an away first final at best. A loss this weekend and they could miss finals altogether.

Since the 2018 grand final (when Collingwood was robbed blind, according to Ann Aerobic) it’s 2-2 head to head in Pert, but their only games in Melbourne was a win to the Eagles in the 2019 grand final rematch.

Sydney Swans to defeat Essendon by 3 points and a big danger game for the Swans and EXTREME variance
Light winds
The Swans have had back to back come-from-behind wins. The first one was very emotional due to the temporary loss of players and staff to isolation; the second was helped by a plethora of injuries to the Dockers.

Last week, the Bombers had their Docklands game moved to the Gold coast and got overrun by the Giants. With a week in QLD, they may be in a better frame of mind to face Sydney.

I rate the Swans higher, but the Swans have “EXTREME variance” written all over them at present.

Although I have tipped the Swans, I might change to the Bombers if it gives me a chance at the office tipping weekly prize.

Brisbane to defeat Hawthorn by 21 points and EXTREME variance
Possible shower and a bit breezy
Breaking news: Alistair Clarkson will depart Hawthorn at the end of 2021 or sooner. This is on the AGE, Fox and AFL websites. so Carolyn Wilson was correct. The moral of the story: these succession plans only work if the incumbent coach comes up with the idea (think Paul Roos at the Swans).

How will this news – coming on a Friday – affect the players on Sunday? Who even knows if Clarkson will coach come Sunday? That’s why this has now become an EXTREME variance game.

Port Adelaide to defeat GWS Giants by 9 points
Sunny and a bit breezy
This is a toughie to tip, but I am relying on Port’s great ability to defeat teams lower than them on the ladder. It’s just a good guide to tip with – like picking Geelong since 2007 when in doubt.

The other plus is that Port got 3 handy players back last week and they have a run under their belts.

The Giants were impressive in overrunning the Bombers last week and, therefore, must be give a genuine chance. but it’s Port for me

Richmond to defeat Fremantle by 13 points
Wet and windy
It’s a good guide to tip against injured teams outside the top 8 late n the year. the most most injured are the Suns, Blues, Dockers and Tigers. So we have two injured teams playing each other.

Richmond will be mightily ticked off have twice been soundly beaten in “grand final rematches” this year. I expect them to fid enough to win in Perth over the Dockers. And getting Dion Prestia back is a help.

The Dockers have the Debry in round 22, but might also want to lift to knock off the reigning premiers. It’s a possibility, but just a slight one.

There are only 8 geniuses / genii / genium left in the Gauntlet. Well done all of you; you all should get a prize. Hope you still have the Dogs left as a tipping option!

In summary:
Certs are the Dogs (definitely) and Dees (just)
best outsiders: Collingwood and Essendon

I expect at least 2 of these three slightly unlikely outcomes to occur:
Dogs to win by over 48 points
Collingwood to win
Richmond to win by over 3 goals

Late Sunday morning update:
3 games moved from QLD to Vic after a chaotic Saturday; I won’t go and change everything above, except to say that this change suits the Dees (now having home state advantage); and Bombers for the same reason. It makes the Bombers / Swans game a 50/50 type contest. I’ll probably stick with the Swans at this stage.

Also, what about EXTRREME variance? I won’t change anything, but nothing too much would surprise me.

The Sunday format is now: (thanks to Foxsports for an easy copy and paste option):
12.10pm: Gold Coast Suns v Melbourne (Docklands)
2.10pm: Hawthorn v Brisbane Lions (Launceston)
3.10pm: Essendon v Sydney Swans (MCG)
5.10pm: Fremantle v Richmond (Perth Stadium)
6.10pm: GWS Giants v Port Adelaide (Docklands)