John Harms On AFL Round 5

Four rounds in and the form is starting to reveal itself. The Cats are the surprise. The Swans have had a soft draw. The Hawks only bogey is when they lose confidence – they remain legitimate flag favourites despite losing to Geelong. Essendon is the query team. But they meet another contender, Collingwood, in a game which may tell us quite a bit.

Essendon v Collingwood - The Pies  are a tough, professional outfit. But there are days when they rely on Travis Cloke. Quite a few days, in fact. The Bombers are undefeated and it’s hard to line them up against the best sides. But they move the ball impressively and have numerous avenues to goal. The Bombers also have Jake Carlisle whom good judges are saying is a champ in the making. He’s fixed a few key forwards up already this year. He has a huge job to do on Cloke. Meanwhile the leadership and intelligence of Jobe Watson are pitted against the street-smarts of Dane Swan and the creativity of Scott Pendlebury. If the Bombers can win a few clearances (which they will) their talls should be a factor. On the big day, the emerging Bombers to break their drought against the Pies. Essendon by 15 points.

St Kilda v Sydney Swans - Who’d have thought the Lakeside premiership would, one day, be played in New Zealand? That’s a long way from South Melbourne. But if footy is going to take over the world it has to first conquer New Zealand. St Kilda  is in no fit state to conquer anything. And if the weather is the usual squall windy Wellington misery the Swans  will be suited even more. Sydney is the reigning premiers for a reason and they will have too much firepower all around the ground for the Saints. I can hardly think of a potential St Kilda one-on-one winner. Sydney by 30 points.

Fremantle v Richmond - It was a long way to Launceston for the Dockers  last week. It was a longer way home, especially after a fair-old touch up from the flag favourites. They were no good. I saw the Tigers  live at the MCG against Collingwood and they were no good either. They used the ball appallingly at times, if they could actually get possession of it. So this may be the battle of the no goods (at the moment). At least Freo are at home, which will be enough. The Dockers by 21 points.

GWS v Gold Coast - I’ve almost had the Suns  right all year, but I haven’t, which is why I am in the 300,000s in the nation’s tipping comp. So, a fixture as tough as this one has me more bamboozled than usual. Both teams play in patches and while the Suns patches have stretched a little further than the Giants  patches, the Manuka advantage may be enough for Sheeds’ mob. But maybe not either. This is a toss of the coin. I’ll go with the Gold Coast by 8 points.

Carlton v Adelaide Crows - How footy changes! The Baggers didn’t have a chance in Perth last week which is why some punters have bags full of legal tender – the price was very good. That also means the Blues  have improved somewhat, or that the Eagles are flat right now. Probably a bit of both. So, there’s been a general recalibration of the pick-o-meter. Chris Yarran was something to behold in the west, and there’s no reason a player of his genuine class can’t have a significant impact again. Meanwhile the Crows  had little trouble in the wet at AAMI Stadium. While I like the Crows structure against the Blues, and their ruckman Sauce Jacobs, I reckon the Blues will be swarming around the footy with more intensity. Carlton by 20 points.

Western Bulldogs v Geelong - Geelong’s  old rams were solid last week and their lambs gambolled. It was a magnificent performance in tough old Sydney town. The Doggies  are in deep do. This should be a slaughter, especially under the roof. The Cats by 60 points.

Port Adelaide v West Coast Eagles - Apart from ANZAC Day’s traditional clash, this is the game of the round. (Who’d have thought it?) Ken Hinkley has his charges committed to fast, play-on footy. They are moving the ball exceptionally well with overlaps out wide, yet a preparedness to come through the corridor as well. And this will only improve. AAMI Stadium suits them. The Eagles  are plodding by comparison and if ever Power  had a chance to pull off the surprise of the century by being 5-0, this is it. Port by 8 points.

Brisbane Lions v Melbourne - Can one quarter of footy make anyone believe? Supporters? Players? Punters? The Dees  kick 12 goals in a quarter – their greatest final quarter of all time - after a month of misery. Explain that. However, they’re not up against a tiring youth squad like GWS, they’ll be taking on some harder nuts. The Lions  season dies a little if they don’t make a go of this one. They have to win. Lions by 9 points.

Hawthorn v North Melbourne - This was a slaughter last year with Buddy going absolutely crazy to the tune of 13 goals. North  is not in great winning form, but their form is not horrible either. They seem to have brain-fades for about 20 minutes during which time they throw the game away. Keeping Buddy and Cyril quiet is the key, but also they need to start well and create pressure on the Hawks . The further complication for the Roos is that Hawthorn play York Park very well and, as ridiculous as it sounds, there is a home ground advantage there. Hawthorn will have too much class. The Hawks by 24 points.

Click here to bet on AFL Round 5 matches