Russell Barwick’s AFL Round 4 Preview: Eagles To Exploit Leaky Swans Defence


West Coast v Sydney | Thursday, April 13, 8.10pm (AEDT), Domain Stadium

West Coast’s inaccuracy last week was a one off, but if they thought the pressure was good from Richmond, wait until the Swans turn up.

Sydney have gone over to Perth earlier than normal because of the short turnaround and they would have been grilled after last Friday night’s loss to the Pies.

The Swans are seriously under the pump. They have the Eagles this week and GWS next, and I’ve predicted they would be 0-5 and that’s not being harsh, that’s being realistic.

The young players on the Swans’ list are going okay, but it’s the second and third year guys that are disappointing.

Mills, Lloyd and Jones are getting their hands on the footy but their turnover rate is off the charts. 

Poor kicking and poor choices have led to so many turnovers and so many scoring opportunities for the opposition.

Collingwood should have won by five goals last week and we all know that.

KEY BATTLE: Buddy Franklin v Eagles defence

Again it revolves around Buddy (pictured above) for the Swans. Two weeks ago four goals, last week 0.

He kicks five and they have a chance, he doesn’t and they don’t win.

The Verdict 

The Eagles will win and unless the Swans’ defence can shoulder up and work together, they’ll win easily by five goals or more.

Unibet Odds: West Coast 1.37 Sydney 3.15

Tip: West Coast 

North Melbourne v Western Bulldogs | Friday, April 14, 4.20pm (AEDT), Etihad Stadium

I honestly don’t know which players can lead North out of their slump, and let’s face it, it’s a serious slump.

Since mid-season 2016, they have gone three wins from 13 games.

The same blokes are all there that are the supposed new wave of leaders and they just got rid of the old fellas.

The worst thing to happen was the Bulldogs being beaten by Freo, which would’ve got Bevo fired up for this.

No panic for the Dogs. They’ve had a wonderful run and were due for a loss and their last one was round 20 last year!

KEY BATTLE: Jack Ziebell v Marcus Bontempelli 

Jack Ziebell (pictured above) or Zeibell as the cheer squad would have you think needs to lift and I mean really really really lift.

He is hard at the footy but doesn’t do enough with it.

On the flip side, the Bont does.

The Verdict

Bulldogs will win and heap more misery of the Roos, I predict an easy 40 point win.

Unibet Odds: North Melbourne 3.70 Western Bulldogs 1.29

Tip: Western Bulldogs 

Melbourne v Fremantle | Saturday, April 15, 1.45pm (AEDT), MCG

Bad news with big Max Gawn (pictured above) out injured and that has ended Melbourne’s hopes of making a significant push to the finals.

A big call, but Melbourne fans know how well he went in a beaten team last year and this year they are much better, so it’s a huge loss.

The only good news is they’re playing the Dockers who pulled a rabbit out of the hat last week to beat the Dogs at home.

Amazing when a coach wields the axe how it effects some players who are next in line.

And good luck to Ross Lyon for doing it, he probably should’ve done it six months ago.

Not sure who wins the match-ups but obviously, Fyfe will be worth watching.

Melbourne are missing Lewis and this might be a costly game for them.

The Verdict

Tipping a point either way in a close one.

Unibet Odds: Melbourne 1.32 Fremantle 3.40

Tip: Fremantle 

GWS v Port | Saturday, April 15, 4.35pm (AEDT), UNSW

I’m gonna give myself a wrap and say that last year before a goal was kicked I said Stevie Johnson (pictured above) would be the best trade/buy of the year.

In terms of what the Giants paid and gave up (next to nothing,) they’ve got enormous value for Stevie and he loves Sydney.

He’s in the best five smallish forwards in the game still. 

Port were gallant last week and I still think they’re premiership contenders.

How will they respond to last week’s bruising affair will be interesting, as the Giants will make them earn everything again.

Josh Kelly is fast becoming the most dynamic player in the competition. Every week he racks up more and more possessions, increasing his value more and more.

I suspect someone like Ebert (pictured below) might need to hang around him for a while to slow him down.

The Verdict

If GWS get going early this could be ugly.

But if Port can start like they did against Adelaide and Sydney, then they can go toe-to-toe with them, but GWS in the end by a few goals. 

Unibet Odds: GWS 1.31 Port 3.55

Tip: GWS

Carlton v Gold Coast | Saturday, April 15, 9.25pm (AEDT), Etihad Stadium

Two teams who had gutsy wins in different ways come together, but the the Suns were more impressive in their win as nobody expected it. Some of us actually tipped Carlton.

Gold Coast also nearly put 100 on the previously invincible Hawks.

Can they repeat the dose? Probably not, but they are at least finding form which is good for footy.

KEY BATTLE: Mark Murphy v Gary Ablett Jr

Mark Murphy led from the front after an extended lay-off last season and he’s still amongst the game’s best midfielders.

Remember he doesn’t have the help of some other teams who have four or five gun mids.

Equally Gary Ablett Jr (pictured above) silenced a lot of critics last week, so it will be interesting to watch the pair again. 

The Verdict

Carlton can win two in a row and beat the Suns by a dozen or more.

Unibet Odds: Carlton 2.12 Gold Coast 1.74

Tip: Carlton

Adelaide v Essendon | Saturday, April 15, 7.40pm (AEDT), Adelaide Oval

Crows star Rory Sloane (pictured above) won the Showdown Medal and deservedly so.

He’s an absolute bonafide star. Not only as a midfield player but also as a marking forward, sweeping defender and gut running winger. I love him.

The Verdict

Bombers won’t have an easy day trying to beat the Crows who are pumped after winning the showdown.

Is there a chance they will get a head of themselves? No. The Crows will win and win big. 

Eddie (pictured above) will turn it on and kick five or more and the Crows will win by 10 goals.

Unibet Odds: Adelaide 1.15 Essendon 5.60

Tip: Adelaide 

Collingwood v St Kilda | Sunday, April 16, 5.20pm (AEDT), Etihad Stadium

Pies’ defensive pressure against the Swans was super impressive.

You had to be impressed as a Pies fan and depressed as a Swans fan. 

The Swans were terrible and as I said earlier, the young guns were shooting blanks.

Collingwood’s pressure was fantastic and the normally infallible Swans cracked under pressure. 

Even at the back end of his career, Nick Riewoldt (pictured above) is still one of the best classic forwards in the game and forever will be.

St Kilda no longer require him to be the focal point and that’s why they are evolving as a footy club.

Tim Membrey is a terrific player and the small forwards they have are going really well. 

If Henry Schade can keep the Saints key forward Riewoldt in check, that will help the Pies a lot.

He might not go to Riewoldt, but that will be an interesting scenario.

The Verdict

My heads says Collingwood after last weekend, but the heart is going for the Saints to win by 10.

Unibet Odds: Collingwood 1.81 St Kilda 2.02

Tip: Collingwood 

Brisbane v Richmond | Sunday, April 16, 4.40pm (AEDT), Gabba

When the game was in the balance, the Lions couldn’t get the job done but Richmond won’t give them the same chance this weekend. 

They have the belief and as I said last week, winning form is good form until you lose and Richmond haven’t lost.

I’m not surprised they are where they are, in fact they have been my good things the first three weeks (they are again this week).

I couldn’t believe they were outsiders against the Eagles and if Dusty Martin keeps it going, then Brisbane don’t have the manpower to stop him or them.

The Verdict 

I don’t know who goes to Martin (pictured above), but good luck whoever you are, you’re gonna need it.

Richmond by 30 points.

Unibet Odds: Brisbane 3.10 Richmond 1.38

Tip: Richmond 

Hawthorn v Geelong | Monday, April 17, 3.20pm (AEDT), MCG

This used to be the match we all looked forward to no matter if you didn’t barrack for either of them, but this time around it looks like a walk in the park for Geelong.

Hawthorn were woeful and unless Alistair Clarkson can pull a ‘Rossy' out his bag of tricks, then Hawthorn are in for a dirty Easter Monday.

The Cats may have been a bit lucky but that’s why they are who they are.

They fight and scrap till the final siren and they win games they shouldn’t. Every supporter loves that, but only the Cats have it this year.

It’s not the matches I’m looking for, it’s the way some of Hawthorn’s players will respond. 

Rioli, Gunston, Roughead gave them donuts last week and will need to give them a Krispy Kreme shop to back it up this time around.

Geelong will win by plenty. 

Happy Easter Clarko.

Unibet Odds: Hawthorn 2.85 Geelong 1.44

Tip: Geelong 

Best for the weekend, Richmond to easily beat Brisbane.

Rusty’s magnificent multi: West Coast, Adelaide, Richmond and Hawthorn all to cover the starts.

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