Round 6 of the AFL season is here!
Who will win and why this weekend?
We’ve made our tips for all nine games.
Here are our tips:
GWS v Western Bulldogs
Friday - Manuka Oval
It’s fight night in Canberra on Friday as one of the great modern-day rivalries ignites once more.
While it’s likely to be near zero degrees in the nation’s capital, the action will be hot in one of the most anticipated clashes of the round.
The Dogs are one of the best sides in the competition right now, winning all five of their matches so far this season, while the Giants have won two games on the bounce despite injuries to a raft of their senior players.
As with a lot of Western Bulldogs games, this one will be won or lost at the source, with arguably the competition’s best midfielders squaring off against the likes of Tim Taranto and Josh Kelly for the Giants.
These two sides played in Round 3 last year, with the Dogs winning a low-scoring match at Marvel Stadium.
Western Bulldogs have to be favourites heading into this one, but don’t discount GWS, who are playing good football right now despite an indifferent start to the season.
Tip: Western Bulldogs by 14 points.
Geelong v West Coast
Saturday - GMHBA Stadium
West Coast travels down to Geelong looking to snap a 15-year hoodoo at Kardinia Park.
The Eagles’ last triumph at the venue was an epic three-point win in 2006 after trailing by as much as 54 points in one of the club’s finest home and away wins.
Both flag fancies recorded victories last time out to sit inside the eight after five rounds.
It’s been a far from convincing start from Geelong who can count themselves lucky to be 3-2.
Chris Scott’s side is yet to click into gear, but the return of boom recruit Jeremy Cameron could spark last year’s Grand Finalists into action, if he is named.
West Coast has been supreme at home but flaky on their travels, losing both games in Victoria to the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda.
It’s been a largely inconsistent start for Adam Simpson’s charges who are currently without captain Luke Shuey (hamstring), Elliot Yeo (groin), Shannon Hurn (calf) and Liam Ryan (shin).
In a further blow for the Eagles, dual Coleman Medallist Josh Kennedy will also miss with an ankle injury.
Geelong to continue their home dominance over the Eagles in a close one.
Tip: Geelong by 6 points.
Gold Coast v Sydney
Saturday - Metricon Stadium
Sydney heads to Metricon Stadium on Saturday where they’ll look to improve to 5-1 against a struggling Gold Coast outfit.
The Suns were dismal last week against a strong Bulldogs side, kicking only one first-half goal as they had no answers for the Dogs’ electric ball movement.
While they’re injury riddled at the moment, Stuart Dew would have been dismayed with the lack of ability to gain any momentum in a game where they were simply blown away.
Sydney is also coming off a loss after the Giants beat them at the death last week.
While it was the first time the Swans didn’t take four points from a game this year, their last fortnight hasn’t been as scintillating as their opening three weeks.
The question begs for Sydney now if we’ll get what we’ve seen over the last two weeks or if they’ll return to their stunning form to start the year.
This game against the Suns presents a great opportunity for John Longmire’s side to reassert themselves.
Gold Coast is lacking talls across the field and shouldn’t be able to go with the Swans in aerial contests.
While Lance Franklin will miss with injury, Sydney should have enough firepower up forward and be sound enough defensively to beat the Suns.
Tip: Sydney by 29 points.
Carlton v Brisbane
Saturday - Marvel Stadium
Saturday evening has the Blues hosting the Lions at Marvel Stadium with both sides sharing a win-loss record of 2-3.
Carlton had won two on the trot before they were brushed aside by Port Adelaide last weekend while Brisbane punished Essendon in the wet in a nice little tune up for this.
David Teague’s side have mixed their form so far in 2021 and they would want to avoid having an off night, especially if Chris Fagan’s Lions are in a hungry mood.
The Lions can kick goals rapidly and although the Blues’ lapses are becoming less frequent, they can still give up goals at will, just as they did when conceding six in the third quarter last weekend which saw the Power break the game open.
That is something they will want to get right so they can stay in the game for longer periods against a superior opponent.
Brisbane don’t mind playing the Blues, winning seven of the past 10 meetings, and really should be winning this if they are serious about contending in 2021.
Carlton will be in it for a while, but the overall quality of the Lions will carry them through.
Tip: Brisbane by 17 points.
Melbourne v Richmond
Saturday night - MCG
It’s the most highly-anticipated game of the season so far. The undefeated Demons test their mettle against the yardstick Richmond.
The Tigers have won their last five over Melbourne, owning them across their premiership era. As pointed out by former assistant coach Justin Leppitsch earlier in the week, Richmond tends to kill Melbourne on the outside of stoppages and pick off their kicks inside 50 as their forwards push too high up the ground.
Leppitsch added on SEN’s Whateley that Melbourne has improved in both of those areas this year, which will provide the reigning premiers with more of a challenge.
The Demons will be hoping to get Steven May back in their backline to go head to head with former co-captain and teammate Tom Lynch.
Expect Melbourne to control the inside of stoppages with Clayton Oliver, Christian Petracca and Jack Viney giving them first use, but the question will be whether they can maximise that advantage.
If Leppitsch’s assessment remains true, Richmond will intercept and attack from half back before setting up the ground defensively to their liking.
This will be a heavyweight bout on the big stage of Anzac Day Eve. You would imagine the game means more for Melbourne, who could stamp their legitimacy with a win.
Richmond meanwhile has mastered fine tuning their season at the pointy end of the year. For that reason, the Demons might just want this one a little more.
Then again, the Tigers might just put them back in their box.
Tip: Richmond by 6 points.
Fremantle v North Melbourne
Saturday night - Optus Stadium
Fremantle will be looking for their second straight win when they host North Melbourne at Optus Stadium on Saturday night.
The Dockers have won four of their last five against the Kangaroos, including in 2020 by 64 points.
North Melbourne is comfortably the lowest scoring team in the league, averaging 51.6 points per game.
Fremantle meanwhile averages 77.8 points per game and have been able to hit the scoreboard, albeit inaccurately.
For the Roos to win, they will need Todd Goldstein to dominate the ruck, Ben Cunnington to be on top in the midfield and a few young players to bob up with goals inside 50.
Though, it’s hard to see North Melbourne scoring on Justin Longmuir’s defensive structures.
It might not be a high scoring game, but expect the Dockers to win comfortably.
Tip: Fremantle by 27 points.
Hawthorn v Adelaide
Sunday - UTAS Stadium
The AFL returns to the Apple aisle for the first time since 2019 as Hawthorn and Adelaide do battle and both sides will fancy their chances.
Hawthorn was competitive for much of last Sunday’s match against Melbourne, but were ultimately overpowered in the final term.
The Crows meanwhile would have been disappointed to drop a game at home to Fremantle, who have been impressive in Perth, but been patchy away from Optus Stadium.
Alastair Clarkson’s side has played solid football this year, but only has one win to show for it, making games like this pivotal.
The Crows are one of the surprise packets of the year, sitting inside the top eight after five rounds and exceeding expectations.
Who Hawthorn chooses to send to the in-form Taylor Walker is the game’s most pivotal match-up, with former Crow Kyle Hartigan the likely favourite to be given the task.
Despite being in Launceston, Hawthorn’s favoured venue, the Crows should be favourites for this one.
Tip: Adelaide by 11 points.
Collingwood v Essendon
Sunday - MCG
Collingwood and Essendon will add another chapter to their storied rivalry in Sunday’s Anzac Day blockbuster at the MCG.
Both clubs are sitting 1-4 and in desperate need of a win to reignite their stuttering seasons.
The Magpies are on a run of three consecutive defeats, going down to West Coast by 27 points last time out, with the trip to Perth further soured with Jeremy Howe (hamstring) and Jordan De Goey (nose and concussion) picking up injuries.
It adds to Collingwood’s injury woes with Taylor Adams (knee) and Jamie Elliott (leg) already sidelined.
The Bombers were swept aside by Brisbane to the tune of 57 points, their second straight defeat, and lost key defender Jordan Ridley to concussion in the process.
Ridley, a vital cog in Essendon’s defence, will be sidelined for 12 days under the AFL’s concussion protocols.
Fans will flock to this year’s event after the 2020 match was cancelled due to COVID-19 with the MCG capped at 85 per cent capacity.
Collingwood has the upper hand in Anzac Day clashes, winning 15 of 25 matches, including the previous meeting by four points in 2019.
The class and experience of Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom – both Anzac Day Medallists – could prove the difference in the biggest home and away game of the season.
Magpies captain Pendlebury has won the Anzac Day Medal on three occasions.
Tip: Collingwood by 10 points.
Port Adelaide v St Kilda
Sunday - Adelaide Oval
Two sides at opposite ends of the form table meet at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday evening to wrap up Round 6.
Following a narrow win over Richmond in Round 4, Port Adelaide saw off Carlton in a very professional manner last weekend and head into this clash with St Kilda in fairly promising nick.
The Saints were humiliated by the Tigers after coming from the clouds to edge West Coast the weekend before, and have now copped two 75-plus point defeats in the past three weeks.
The effort and intent of Brett Ratten’s side has been questioned of late and if they are to get anywhere near the Power, those aspects of their game must improve out of sight.
St Kilda owns a 2-3 record, which is reasonable, but their percentage of 71.4 is paltry and the second worst in the competition leading into this round of footy. If they want to contend they must start fighting back now and it starts against the Power.
Last year, the Saints landed their first win over Port since 2012, and return to the scene of the crime as they strive to go back-to-back in this fixture.
However, Ken Hinkley’s Power outfit is ticking along nicely and should have enough in reserve to see off any Saints challenge and improve their record to 5-1 with a comfortable victory.
Tip: Port Adelaide by 28 points.