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Who will win and why? The tips and predictions for AFL Round 6


An intriguing weekend of footy awaits with almost every game tough to pick.

The round starts with the 2-3 Saints playing the 2-3 Dogs before four games in a row between finals challengers take place on Saturday.

Saturday night's Derby between Freo and the Eagles looms as the most lopsided affair, but even West Coast have improved drastically in recent weeks.

Sunday has just the two games again, but both fixtures could have some serious implications for the losers.

With that in mind, see our tips and predictions for Round 6 below.

St Kilda v Western Bulldogs

Thursday - 7:30pm AEST – Marvel Stadium

Two teams that probably shouldn’t be 2-3, and two teams that can’t afford to be 2-4.

That’s the situation that presents itself when St Kilda hosts the Western Bulldogs in its first home game at Marvel Stadium in 2024.

Ross Lyon’s Saints have copped their three defeats by a combined 13 points, most recently by just a point to the ladder-leading Giants.

St Kilda ranks third in the competition for points against with ‘Ross Ball’ proving as defensively strong as ever. But it’s down the other end where the problems arise. The Saints have only kicked over 80 points once in 2024, against the reigning premiers nonetheless, and it’s a figure that just won’t cut it against the Dogs.

As disappointing as Luke Beveridge’s side has been, particularly in recent weeks, they’ve kicked 90+ points three times already this year. And most positively, it’s been in different ways.

Cody Weightman continues to break out, Sam Darcy is poised to become a genuine star and Aaron Naughton is playing a more impactful role up the ground. Even Marcus Bontempelli has booted three goals in a game this year. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is perhaps the one player the Bulldogs most needed on Thursday night, but the 22-year-old will miss for personal reasons.

Alas, there are plenty of attacking weapons for the Saints to contain. But their opportunity lies in the midfield.

St Kilda ranks well in contested footy this year – better than the Dogs, who are missing Tom Liberatore this week with the concussion protocols.

‘Libba’ is by far and away the Dogs’ best contested player and the last time he missed a game, Beveridge’s men were belted in contested footy and went on to lose centre clearances badly. Can Jack Steele and co. take advantage or will they have to defend for their lives against a talented, yet underperforming Bulldogs 23?

Whoever loses, watch out for a big week on media street.

Tip: Western Bulldogs by 8 points.

Seb Mottram

Adelaide v Essendon

Friday - 7:40pm AEST – Adelaide Oval

Adelaide returns home after a smash and grab job against Carlton where they stormed home to win by two points.

Essendon is also in winning form, dominating the Western Bulldogs to get up by 29 points.

Both clubs were being pilloried in the wake of their Round 4 defeats to Melbourne and Port Adelaide respectively.

What a difference a week makes with both the Crows and Bombers lauded during the week as they head into Round 6 on the back of victories.

The Crows will be without their previously best available key defender Jordon Butts (hamstring) which further weakens them in the backline.

They’ll now have to set up against the likes of Kyle Langford, Jake Stringer and Harry Jones with a largely inexperienced defence made up of Max Michalanney (27 games), Josh Worrell (22 games), Mark Keane (14 games) and Luke Nankervis (6 games).

Langford has kicked two or more goals in 11 of his last 14 outings, including three against the Crows last year, while Stringer has booted 13 in 2024.

But perhaps Matthew Nicks worked out a better midfield mix last week by giving Izak Rankine increased minutes around the ball. It worked a treat as he finished with 23 disposals and three goals.

Throw in Jake Soligo, who loves taking the game on, and Sam Berry, who should replace the suspended Matt Crouch, and there is a different feel about their midfield.

That doubled with Taylor Walker’s return to form (four goals and 10 marks) and there is just enough to like about the Crows at home.

The Dons have won their last six over the Crows, including Adelaide Oval wins in 2019 and 2020, but the last time at that venue they were towelled up by the Power by 69 points in Round 4.

That recent result doesn’t necessarily mean anything regarding this particular match-up but we’ll side with the Crows in a genuine 50-50.

Tip: Adelaide by 13 points.

Andrew Slevison

Collingwood v Port Adelaide

Saturday - 1:45pm AEST – MCG

Are the Pies truly back into the contending picture? We’ll find out on Saturday afternoon!

The last time these two teams met at the MCG on a Saturday afternoon, Collingwood smacked the Power by 71 points.

It came in Round 2 of last year so who knows what to read into it, but the Magpies also beat them in Adelaide later in the year.

This one will be a fascinating midfield matchup given the emergence of Jason Horne-Francis alongside Zak Butters and Connor Rozee, plus Willem Drew’s improvement.

Can the Pies quell their midfield influence? Coming off their bye, their veterans – who have struggled to start the season – will hopefully be fresh.

Port Adelaide has been in outstanding form to start the season and have scored 100 more points than the Pies and conceding nearly 100 less.

But at the MCG, with the Collingwood Army in attendance, and coming off two wins and a bye, this feels like the week order restores and the Pies get back on track.

Tip: Collingwood by 9 points

Nic Negrepontis

Carlton v GWS

Saturday - 4:35pm AEST – Marvel Stadium

Is this an early game-of-the-year contender? There’s every chance that the winner emerges as the early number-one seed for this year’s premiership.

Sadly, this won’t be an undefeated battle though, with Carlton now 4-1 after finally falling in a close one to Adelaide in Round 5.

As for the Giants, they were on the other side of a tight encounter just holding off the Saints to go 5-0.

In that game they lost Sam Taylor to concussion, meaning the superstar defender won’t be available to take on Charlie Curnow in a battle that was highly anticipated as soon as the fixture was released.

Carlton is going to need Curnow to take full advantage of his new matchup as there’s no doubt they haven’t been playing quite as well as the Giants have despite their 4-1 record through five games.

GWS have been firing on all cylinders so far with stars on every line. Jesse Hogan even leads the Coleman race ahead of Curnow.

Will the loss of Taylor throw out their structure? Or will this machine keep churning out wins?

That’s probably the big question in this game as their best is better than Carlton’s from what we’ve seen early this campaign.

If they’re off though, there’s no doubt the Blues are right in this and will probably take full advantage if their opposition is even slightly off.

Looking at the matchup as whole, even though it’s at Marvel, it’s just too hard to tip against the Giants until proven otherwise.

Tip: GWS by 11 points.

Lachlan Geleit

Brisbane v Geelong

Saturday - 7:30pm AEST – Gabba

The toughest test for Geelong’s undefeated streak yet, they’ll head up north to take on a Brisbane side that is back on the rise.

Chris Scott couldn’t have asked for a better beginning to 2024 from his squad, taking advantage of a relatively soft fixture to leap straight back into finals contention, a far cry from their 0-3 start in 2023.

The Lions have had almost the exact opposite start to Geelong this season, being left scrambling after dropping their first three games.

Yet a monster win over the Kangaroos and an impressive display against the Demons has Brisbane back on track and eager to make their climb up the ladder.

It’s arguably the most intriguing clash of the round, with both squads matching up with relatively similar profiles, each pairing potent offences with a staunch ability to defend transition.

The Lions are yet to truly explode on the scoresheet this season, having had trouble with their connection going inside 50, and this isn’t likely to change when taking on the Cats’ well-drilled defensive system.

Typically, a trip up to the Gabba to face the Lions is a daunting task, yet Brisbane’s home turf isn’t quite the fortress it has been in previous years, having dropped both games there this season.

Heading into 2024 it would have been unfathomable that the Lions go winless through their first three home games, but with the Cats looking the best they have since their 2022 premiership season, it could very well become reality.

Tip: Geelong by 8 points.

Jack Makeham

West Coast v Fremantle

Saturday - 8:10pm AEST – Optus Stadium

The 58th edition of the Western Derby takes place this Saturday night, and while it seems like an easy pick, there is a lot that can be taken from the matchup.

West Coast landed their first victory of the season against an injury-riddled Richmond side, comfortably dismantling the Tigers by 39 points - their biggest win since their 42-point win over Adelaide in July 2021.

The win was great, but the result only confirmed one thing: Harley Reid has arrived. 27 touches and a goal in his first career win, taking home the Rising Star nomination for Round 5. The highly touted Pick 1 has already answered the hype, but can he carry on his strong recent performances against the young Dockers core?

The Eagles put on a clinic in the middle of the ground, taking the clearance count 48 to 25, 15-8 from the centre. Coming up against the third best clearance team in the competition in Fremantle, it looks set up to be a fascinating battle in the guts.

The last two weeks for the Dockers have been two to forget. An extremely unfortunate loss against the Blues, followed by a heartbreaker against the Power. While one result may have been slightly out of their hands, the late concessions and final term faults will have only built frustration.

Despite the losses, Fremantle’s defensive setup has been superb. Averaging just 64 points against per game - the lowest in the competition - the Dockers are more than likely to hold the Eagles to a similar figure, who average just 66 points per game.

While the derby always produces a phenomenal atmosphere, Fremantle have dominated recent history, winning every battle since their COVID-19 lockdown battle which saw the Eagles win by 59 points. That was in May of 2021, in front of an empty Optus Stadium.

The Eagles will look to carry their strong form into the derby, but it’s hard to tip against the Dockers.

Tip: Fremantle by 56 points.

Jaiden Sciberras

Sydney v Gold Coast

Sunday - 1:05pm AEST – SCG

After an extended leave of absence from Sydney, the Swans return to the SCG to take on their bogey side in the Gold Coast Suns.

The Swans are coming off the bye in Round 5 but their form has not been sparkling in the past fortnight with a poor loss to Richmond and an almighty scare from West Coast in Gather Round. Despite their shaky form, the Swans are still one of the clear frontrunners in the competition and have another chance to flex their credentials against a less experienced team.

Isaac Heeney is certainly leading the Brownlow Medal count after five rounds and the recent contract extension to Errol Gulden further solidifies Sydney’s strong and youthful core. James Rowbottom continues to lead the tackle count (47) and their tall forward trio of Logan McDonald, Joel Amartey and Hayden McLean have booted 24 goals between them.

The Suns bizarrely have a strong record at the SCG with a 44% winning record at the venue. That's a stronger record than their winning record at home (38.6%). Under new coach Damien Hardwick, there is a renewed sense of optimism at the Gold Coast which is reflective of their 3-2 record.

Hardwick has gone away with the older heads at the club and chosen to blood some young stars including key defender Mac Andrew who has had a phenomenal two weeks and is ranked elite for intercept marks in 2024.

It should be a tight contest at the SCG but the talent across the park for the Swans should be enough to see them over the line.

Tip: Sydney by 23 points.

Charles Goodsir

North Melbourne v Hawthorn

Sunday - 4:05pm AEST – Marvel Stadium

A bottom of the table clash which sees Clarko take on his apprentice Sam Mitchell for only the second time in his coaching career in the direst of circumstances.

Both teams are 0-5 to start the season, marking Hawthorn’s poorest start since 1970, mandating victory against the Kangaroos who have unquestionably been the weakest link in the competition thus far.

This largely derives from their defence, where their 611 points conceded to start the year is by far in a way the worst in the league, yet Hawks lacklustre offence may struggle with question marks over Mabior Chol’s abilities as a stand-alone key forward.

Despite Hawthorn’s 53-point loss to Gold Coast last week, Finn Manginess’s may have found his role within the Hawks side up forward, kicking 3.1 and will face the worst defence in the league this weekend.

Yet the real question that this game poses is the midfield battle, with both sides struggling immensely to power up the midfield cog. Facing off against North offers the Hawks' midfielders a chance at redemption, especially after last week's lacklustre performance where James Worpel, Conor Nash, and Jai Newcombe collectively managed a horrid 36 disposals.

On the flip side, North Melbourne has demonstrated strides in midfield prowess, highlighted by the emergence of talents like Tom Powell and Bailey Scott as formidable AFL competitors.

Despite these improvements, the team's scoring woes persist, exacerbated by superstar forward Nick Larkey's slow start to the season, having only notched ten goals in the opening games.

The last time these two teams faced we saw Luke Bruest and Mitch Lewis slot three goals apiece, yet with both potentially missing this match-up, Hawthorn will struggle to put a big number on the scoresheet.

Expect a low scoring game on Sunday afternoon at Marvel Stadium in which we’ll tip the Hawks however, expect all hell to break loose if Sam Mitchell’s men don’t come out victorious.

Tip: Hawthorn by 19 points.

Harry Attiwill

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