Russell Barwick’s AFL Round 3 Preview: Buddy Primed For Big Game Against Pies


Sydney v Collingwood | Friday, April 7, 7.50pm (AEDT), SCG

Both sides are still chasing their first win of the season but Sydney needs it more because they made the Grand Final last year.

Sydney hardly ever lose at home and they have Buddy. Most people want or expect Collingwood to be below average. Not Sydney, so yes they need the win more.

The SCG is a great fit for the Swans because the bigger ANZ is a stinky ground when you have small hard mids like Hannebery, Parker, Jack, McVeigh and co.

Pies defender Ben Reid could be matched-up on Buddy but this will pan out with Buddy kicking about six goals and Reid getting moved off Buddy about half way through the second quarter and Tyson Goldsack assuming that spot.

Ben Reid will be told to go mark his brother, Sam.

KEY BATTLE: Scott Pendlebury v Josh Kennedy

Pendles and Joey, the two best leaders in the game.

The Verdict 

Swans by 40 plus, Collingwood are not that good. Sydney are.

Smart play is Swans to lead at every change.

Unibet Odds: Sydney 1.32 Collingwood 3.50

Tip: Sydney 

North Melbourne v GWS | Saturday, April 8, 1.45pm (AEDT), Blundstone Arena

North Melbourne have forgotten how to win.

It’s a shame because when they won so many last year, but I personally think they may have turned the corner.

Toby Greene is important to the Giants but no more than Smith, Kelly, Wilson, Williams, Ward, blah blah blah.

They’ve got a million of them.

KEY BATTLE: Ben Brown v Phil Davis

Davis (pictured above) was good last week against Lynch. Maybe he is better than most of us think.

The Verdict

GWS, but not by as much as everyone thinks.

Smart play is North to lead at quarter time and the Giants to win. 

Unibet Odds: North Melbourne 5.25 GWS 1.17

Tip: GWS 

Richmond v West Coast | Saturday, April 8, 2.10pm (AEDT), MCG

This match won’t define the Tiger’s season, it will just dictate where they are at the end of the round. 

Dustin Martin’s fractured cheekbone will affect the heck out of him.

He kicks goals, makes tackles, sets thing up, pretty much does everything, so how could it not be affecting him? How will he respond is the big question. 

Eagles are the no.1 ranked scoring team so far and Josh Kennedy (pictured below) is the most underrated full forward for years.

He kicks 80-100 goals a year and never gets a vote. Throw in the man with the best kicking style since Jonathon Brown in Jack Darling and you have a potent forward line. 

KEY BATTLE: Josh Kennedy v Alex Rance

For the reason mentioned above.

The Verdict 

West Coast by some but not a lot. Take the start with Richmond. Winning form is good form until you lose. 

Unibet Odds: Richmond 2.60 West Coast 1.50

Tip: West Coast 

Geelong v Melbourne | Saturday, April 8, 4.35pm (AEDT), Etihad Stadium

The Cats were the Cats in their come-from-behind victory against the Roos last week.

Any team who thinks Geelong is a walkover, think again.

Joel Selwood and Patrick Dangerfield were amazing and unstoppable in that final quarter and by the time North worked it out, the rest of the team had jumped on the bandwagon.

Other teams take note, when you’re in front against Geelong, you’re never home and hosed.

How much will the Demons miss suspended pair Jordan Lewis and Jesse Hogan?

As much as the Cats would miss the above two players. You can’t replace two gun players unless the replacements are two guns.

Ninety nine times out of a 100, they’re fringe seniors players getting a start, and they’re not Jordan Lewis or Jesse Hogan (pictured below).

The Verdict

Cats will steamroll the Dees, sorry Melbourne fans.

Geelong by 40 plus and they’ll hit the ground running and kick 6-8 goals in the opening quarter. Smart play is Geelong at the minus.

Unibet Odds: Geelong 1.38 Melbourne 3.10

Tip: Geelong

Port Adelaide v Adelaide | Saturday, April 8, 7.10pm (AEDT), Adelaide Oval

I love the showdown. Adelaide isn’t a big place but it’s amazing how the two sides dislike each other so much.

This is the 20th anniversary, so watch out. They’re always tight games (save the odd one) because more than bragging rights are at stake.

Don’t underestimate Port. They’ve been sensational and while Adelaide are favourites, I see this as an even money game.

There’s too much at stake for one team to be a favourite based on two games so far.

Who could star in the showdown? Eddie or Powell-Pepper could but Robbie Gray might upstage both of them. 

KEY BATTLE: Taylor Walker v Charlie Dixon 

Tex v Charlie. Whoever gets the most goals wins the game for his team.

We know what Tex can do, it’s about time Charlie showed us he can do the same

The Verdict

Smart play is Port with the start.

Unibet Odds: Port Adelaide 2.60 Adelaide 1.51

Tip: Port

Fremantle v Western Bulldogs | Saturday, April 8, 7.10pm (AEDT), Domain Stadium

Dockers’ football is what you’d see at the under-18s level. They wouldn’t beat the Suns at home. That’s how bad they are.

Nobody at the dockers has impressed me except for their long-suffering supporters.

KEY BATTLE: Nat Fyfe v TBA 

Fyfe is their barometer. If he has touches they score, if he doesn’t they don’t.

Equally, if the Dogs can shut him down, Fremantle might not get to 40 points.

The Verdict

Bulldogs by as far as you can kick your hat, and then some.

Smart play is Bulldogs at the line, to lead all the way, to win by 10 goals plus, take your pick.

Unibet Odds: Fremantle 5.25 Western Bulldogs 1.17

Tip: Western Bulldogs 

St Kilda v Brisbane | Sunday, April 9, 1.10pm (AEDT), Etihad Stadium

Saints went close to beating the Eagles in Perth but in the end, what cost them, why weren’t they able to get the job done?

Just a little bit of immaturity, but it’s not far away.

Teams that go close against big guns can invariably put the same effort together for weeks on end and against a weaker line-up like Brisbane, they can really put a score on them.

This might be the week.

I’ve been impressed with the Lions' ability to control the footy, not panic and not turn it over.

That’s the crucial error in footy. Turnovers equals goals and if you keep the footy then the other mob find it very hard to score.

The Lions will cause some havoc against some teams, but not this week.

The Verdict  

Saints to win easily. Smart play is for St Kilda to lead at every quarter. 

Unibet Odds: St Kilda 1.16 Brisbane 5.30

Tip: St Kilda 

Carlton v Essendon | Sunday, April 9, 3.20pm (AEDT), MCG

I saw some good signs from the Blues last week, but again, like other teams in the comp, they struggle to finish teams off. 

St Kilda and North are also in the same boat. 

Bombers midfielder Zach Merrett (pictured below) is more than promising. He’s a bonafide gun.

He needs to get some help from his mates and he can be a Selwood, Hannebery, Priddis type player. Thirty possessions a game says it all. 

Merrett needs to be slowed down to 20 possessions.

When the above-mentioned three players get sat on and have under 20 disposals, the teams they play for invariably lose. Same for Essendon and Merrett.

The Verdict

Close one but I’m sticking my neck out and saying Carlton. Smart play is Blues with the start. 

Unibet Odds: Carlton 4.50 Essendon 1.21

Tip: Carlton 

Gold Coast v Hawthorn | Sunday, April 9, 4.40pm (AEDT), Metricon Stadium

Both teams need a win but Hawks will win this as the Suns are terrible. 

The midfield for the Suns is not a midfield, it’s a rabble.

The Hawks still have good players who need to lift and realise Lewis and Sam Mitchell aren’t there. 

Ablett has had 30 plus possessions every time he has played Hawthorn in the last 11 games.

I watched him last week and he looked disinterested and his teammates were not interested in kicking to him. Don’t know what to make of that, but he needs another big game.

The Verdict

Hawthorn will win and if the Suns don’t show something, expect the blowtorch on Rodney Eade to step up to a new temperature.

Smart play is to sit and watch and don’t bet on this one. 

Best multi play of the weekend…North to lead at any quarter break, into Port Adelaide with the start into Western Bulldogs to win by 40.

Unibet Odds: Gold Coast 3.30 Hawthorn 1.34

Tip: Hawthorn 

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