Football and Sports News

AFL tipping Round 18 2022

Collingwood is looking to win its eighth-straight game for the first time since 2012 — but is it running out of puff?

Plus the Gold Coast Suns will hope Noah Anderson’s heroics last week charges their finals tilt.

Every club’s burning question ahead of Round 18, as well as the commentators for every Fox Footy game in our ultimate weekly preview: The Blowtorch!

Stream every match of every round of the 2022 Toyota AFL Premiership Season Live & Ad-Break Free In-Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >

AFL ROUND 18 FIXTURE (All times AEST)

WESTERN BULLDOGS v ST KILDA

Friday, July 15, 7:50pm at Marvel Stadium

How to watch on Fox Footy: Channel 504 from 7pm, with Sarah Jones, Jason Dunstall, David King, Leigh Montagna, Brad Johnson and Drew Jones, followed by Fox Footy Live with Ben Dixon, Cameron Mooney and Nick Dal Santo.

Bulldogs’ burning question: Has the “pointy end” of the competition really gone past them?

More than a few eyebrows were raised when coach Luke Beveridge said that the teams at the “pointy end” of the competition had gone past the Bulldogs following their disappointing loss to Sydney last round. The 53-point defeat capped off a shocking fortnight for the Dogs who also lost their previous game to Brisbane by 41 points. If what Beveridge said is correct, and it certainly looks that way, then it marks a dramatic fall from grace for the team that found themselves 19 points up in the third quarter of last year’s grand final. But we’ll certainly get a clearer idea if the Dogs are just an also-ran in 2022 this week when they face fellow mid-table team St Kilda in what looms as a potential elimination final. If the Bulldogs can’t beat the Saints, then Beveridge’s assessment would be hard to disagree with. One area they need to fix is their first quarters. They’ve been way too inconsistent in the way they’ve started games recently, finding themselves 33, 19 and 37 points down at quarter-time against Geelong, Hawthorn and Sydney respectively in three of their last five games.

Big Dog back for Saints clash | 00:28

Saints’ burning question: Can they make their hard work count?

For all intents and purposes, St Kilda should’ve been three or four goals up at halftime against the Dockers last week. They dominated play in the first half, smashing Fremantle in centre clearances 9-2 and enjoying a whopping advantage of 16 in contested possessions. Yet for all their great work further afield, instead of opening up a potentially matchwinning lead, they had to settle for a meagre eight-point buffer at the major break. Unfortunately for the Saints, they were let down by their forward inefficiency and were made to pay a hefty price by the barnstorming Dockers who ran all over them in the second half, kicking 11 goals to three to win by 41 points. It goes without saying that Brett Ratten’s men must make every post a winner on Friday night because if they achieve early statistical dominance again, but fail to translate it onto the scoreboard, the Bulldogs, with their backs against the wall and Bailey Smith back in the side desperate to make amends for his four-week suspension, won’t need a second invitation to do to the Saints what Freo did.

ADELAIDE v COLLINGWOOD

Saturday, July 16, 1:45pm at Adelaide Oval

How to watch on Fox Footy: Channel 504 from1pm, with Anthony Hudson, Kelli Underwood, Nathan Buckley, Jonathan Brown and Mark Ricciuto.

Crows’ burning question: How do they respond to first-quarter woes?

Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks described his team’s opening-term efforts against Hawthorn — where it conceded six goals — as the “most disappointing” aspect of the 32-point loss. Outside of that, the Crows essentially matched the Hawks, and even looked the more dominant side in stages of the second half despite not putting it on the scoreboard in what was a winnable game for Nicks’ side on paper. So you sense Adelaide will come out with much more intensity this week while it also has the carrot of ending the Pies’ seven-game winning streak in front of its home fans at Adelaide Oval and spoiling Scott Pendlebury’s milestone 350th match. It’d also mark the Crows’ first victory over Collingwood since 2016 and thus since Nicks has been in the job. Such a win could really spark this young Adelaide side down the stretch of the season and build belief as it looks to take confidence into 2023.

Magpies’ burning question: Are they starting to run out of puff?

Let’s be clear, Collingwood’s run of victories has been incredible – seven on the trot for the first time since 2019, and aiming for eight in a row for the first time since 2012 this weekend. However, there have clearly been signs in their last three wins that suggest they could be headed for their sixth loss of the season very soon. Last week they were absolutely bossed around for three quarters by North Melbourne who have been as bad as Fitzroy in their final year in 1996, if not worse. The week before that, they were staring down the barrel of defeat against Gold Coast before they got out of jail with three late goals. And in Round 15 they almost gave up a six-goal lead to struggling GWS. To the Magpies’ credit, they’ve developed a reputation as kings of the close ones with five of their last six wins decided by 11 points or fewer. They simply find a way to get it done every time they’re challenged. And fortunately for them, they face another bottom-four team in the Crows this weekend, but if the hapless Kangaroos are capable of giving the Pies a massive fright, Craig McRae’s men aren’t in a position to rest on their laurels.

‘Do we want Brody Grundie here? Yes’ | 02:19

GWS GIANTS v BRISBANE

Saturday, July 16, 1:45pm at Manuka Oval

How to watch on Fox Footy: Channel 503 from 1.30pm with Brenton Speed, Dermott Brereton and Alastair Lynch.

Giants’ burning question: Can McVeigh spike as top coaching candidate?

A second senior coaching vacancy opened up this week, with the Kangaroos parting ways with David Noble. So while Mark McVeigh has at large been auditioning for the Giants’ role since taking over from Leon Cameron in May, he now gets the opportunity to showcase his talents to two clubs, starting with Saturday’s clash with Brisbane. There’s several other contenders for both jobs including Alastair Clarkson, who’s surely at the top of both of their wish lists, as well as promising assistants Adam Yze, Ashley Hansen and Daniel Giansiracusa. But McVeigh is in the unique position where he can quite literally show his worth based on the form of GWS on the run home. The Giants interim coach has a 3-4 record since stepping in from Round 10, and has shown a willingness to throw the magnets around and allow his team to play with more freedom. But you sense McVeigh needs to claim a few more wins down the home stretch — and perhaps a scalp such as Brisbane — to really stand out as a top candidate.

Lions’ burning question: Can their engine room respond to last week’s mauling?

Brisbane certainly had their issues last week against Essendon, making no fewer than nine changes as injury and COVID ravaged their squad, but their first-choice midfield was still intact, which made their performance at centre bounce even more confounding. The Lions gave up a whopping 38 points from that score source against the bottom-four Bombers, and if they produce a repeat performance this week against the Giants, they could quite easily find themselves out of the top four by the end of the weekend. “The centre bounce work was just horrible,” triple premiership Brisbane forward Jonathan Brown told On The Couch. “That’s the one area of the ground you didn’t have an out. Now Dayne Zorko wasn’t there but he hasn’t been playing there as much this year and neither was (Essendon’s Darcy) Parish so Brisbane had their best players, their full complement of stars, in the middle of the ground, including Lachie Neale, and they didn’t get it done – 38 points scored against from centre bounce. The previous three weeks, they only had nine points scored against them from centre bounce so that was a really disappointing effort. So many times I saw the sweeper not in position so that’s not a tactical thing but that’s just lapses by the midfielders so they’ve only got themselves to blame.”

Lions to rest injured trio | 01:52

NORTH MELBOURNE v RICHMOND

Saturday, July 16, 4:35pm at Marvel Stadium

How to watch on Fox Footy: Channel 504 from 4.30pm, with Kath Loughnan, Dwayne Russell, Brad Johnson and Leigh Montagna.

Kangaroos’ burning question: Will the “new coach bounce” inspire an upset?

It’s unclear where exactly it came from last week, but for the first time since Round 4, North Melbourne displayed sustained competitive spirit, and almost pulled off the boilover of the season against Collingwood. Gone was the side that had lost its previous 13 games by an average of 63 points, and led by the likes of Luke Davies-Uniacke, Nick Larkey, Todd Goldstein and Ben McKay, the Kangaroos finally looked like an AFL-standard team. They were dominating proceedings for the first three quarters and heading into the final term, North had sizeable advantages in contested possessions 96-78, clearances 28-17 and inside 50s 43-32 and, most importantly, a 26-point lead. But they just didn’t have enough left in them to finish off the job. Now that their coach David Noble has departed, will that new-found freedom and pressure release, that so often reinvigorates teams under a caretaker coach, push them over the edge and register an unlikely win this week? With Richmond missing Tom Lynch (hamstring), Dustin Martin (hamstring), Kane Lambert (achilles/hip) and Ivan Soldo (thumb) to injury, and queries over Toby Nankervis’ (knee) fitness, North won’t mind their chances.

Tigers’ burning question: Was last week’s capitulation the exception or the new rule?

For the last couple of months, Richmond have been touted as a premiership smoky. After a 2-4 start, they beat six of their next seven opponents, including Carlton and Collingwood, to send fear into the hearts of their 17 rivals. The most ominous aspect of that purple patch of form was that their turnover game was back to its premiership-winning best. And they lost few admirers losing to Geelong by three points in one of the games of the year in Round 15. But their stunning after-the-siren loss to Gold Coast last week brought back memories of the bad old days, most notably the infamous Karmichael Hunt game against the Suns back in 2012. Former Melbourne champion Garry Lyon described the performance, which saw them give up a 40-point lead, as “un-Richmond-like”, and St Kilda legend Nick Riewoldt was equally surprised by how the Tigers finished the game. “The first half they were awesome and Shai Bolton was on fire, we were talking about how amazing they were, and then about four goals behind Gold Coast with not long left on the clock and you think, ‘Gold Coast are going to have to be perfect from here’, but they didn’t have to be perfect because the Tigers were so uncharacteristically sloppy.” Jason Castagna had a shot on goal from 10m out directly in front smothered, Jake Aarts also missed a sitter, Jayden Short gave away a silly 50m penalty when he knocked the ball out of Matt Rowell’s hands on the wing, gifting the former No. 1 pick a goal, and their defence failed to kill the ball at the front of the pack which allowed Mabior Chol to get out of the back and kick a goal. Richmond looked anything but premiership material in the final crucial stages of the game, and with a decent injury list to contend with now, appear to have a fight on their hands just to stay in the top eight.

Hardwick confident in Dusty staying put | 02:05

CARLTON v GEELONG

Saturday, July 16, 7:25pm at MCG

How to watch on Fox Footy: Channel 504 from 7.20pm, with Mark Howard, Jonathan Brown, Nathan Buckley, Nick Riewoldt and Kath Loughnan, followed by Best on Ground.

Blues’ burning question: Are they one of the heavyweights?

Carlton have had a fantastic season under first-year coach Michael Voss and are well on course to break their nine-year finals drought. But they still have some obstacles in their way, namely securing a spot in the top four (they’re currently fifth on percentage). And despite looking like potential grand finalists in patches this year, they are still a level below legitimate premiership contender status. They’ve had good wins over Fremantle, Sydney and Richmond in 2022, but they’re yet to be tested against the sharpest end of the talent pool. That gauntlet of heavyweights commences this week when they face top-of-the-ladder Geelong. In their final six games, the Blues take on the Cats, Demons and Lions, as well as the Magpies in a return game after losing to them earlier in the year. If Voss’ men manage to pull off a victory against a Geelong outfit fresh from downing premiership favourites Melbourne, then they will certainly deserve to start being looked at as an authentic flag fancy and earn a seat at the table as one of the big boys.

Cats’ burning question: Can they finally win that elusive flag?

It’s been an agonising decade full of near-misses for Geelong since their last premiership in 2011 – a losing grand final in 2020, five preliminary final defeats and a straight-sets exit in 2014. But after their huge win over premiership favourites Melbourne last week, Riewoldt was convinced they finally have what it takes to clinch their 10th flag. And they don’t have to wait long to showcase their premiership bona fides again with another huge clash against a top-four aspirant in Carlton this weekend. “This is a different Geelong, for a number of reasons,” Riewoldt said. “They’re defending as well as they ever have, being a bit more aggressive with the footy, which is a great balance to try and find, and the personnel is different as well now – (Tom) Atkins into the middle has added a lot to them, we know (Sam) De Koning, they’ve found one there, (Tyson) Stengle, Jeremy Cameron is playing a different level of footy and then the other one is the roles within there too, and the (Mark) Blicavs role in particular. They’re incredibly versatile, aren’t they? With all of their players. Love what they’re doing with (Mitch) Duncan and with (Cam) Guthrie, (Zach) Tuohy off halfback, wing, inside at times.” Lyon added: “The Atkins move has been one of the best moves of the last 10 weeks.” And Brown believes Patrick Dangerfield could become the “trump card” after the way the club has managed him over the last two months.

‘Taking the piss’ – King unloads on rule | 01:35

FREMANTLE v SYDNEY

Saturday, July 16, 7:30pm at Optus Stadium

How to watch on Fox Footy: Channel 503 from 7.30pm, with Adam Papalia, Jason Dunstall, Jordan Lewis and Matthew Pavlich.

Dockers’ burning question: Is Brayshaw Brownlow bound?

Andy Brayshaw’s blistering performance in last week’s win over St Kilda — racking up 36 disposals and 10 tackles and booting a goal — saw the Dockers star charge into outright first in Brownlow Medal favouritism ahead of the likes of Lachie Neale and Clayton Oliver. You sense that it’d be tight at the top of the Brownlow leaderboard right now between such names, meaning whoever has the best run home may just take out ‘Charlie.’ If recent form is anything to go by, Brayshaw is set for a bumper finish to the season, averaging 33.2 disposals and 7.2 tackles from his last five matches. Brayshaw has been so dominant that opposition may even look to put more work into the 22-year old as the clear standout in Freo’s midfield. More attention is maybe the only thing that can stop Brayshaw from claiming football’s top individual in 2022.

Swans’ burning question: Which team will turn up this week?

Being a Sydney supporter this season must be an extremely challenging and frustrating experience. On some occasions their team have looked like absolute world beaters with their wins over Melbourne at the MCG, Geelong and Richmond. And then on other occasions they look like a bang average side – especially in their losses to Gold Coast, Port Adelaide and Essendon. Their 2022 rollercoaster has been encapsulated perfectly in their last five games – a win over the Demons, followed by a loss to the Power, followed by a big win against the Saints, followed by a deflating defeat to the Bombers, followed by another comprehensive win over the Bulldogs. It’s enough to make any dyed-in-the-wool Blood pull their hair out. Unfortunately for the Jekyll-and-Hyde Swans, that pattern suggests this week will be a loss to the Dockers. The challenge for John Longmire’s men, especially with a finals berth at stake, is to buck the trend and produce a memorable victory over in Perth against one of the best teams in the competition.

Is Buddy worth $750k? | 01:14

HAWTHORN v WEST COAST

Sunday, July 17, 1:10pm at MCG

How to watch on Fox Footy: Channel 504 from1pm, with Kath Loughnan, Anthony Hudson, Jack Riewoldt, Dermott Brereton, Cameron Mooney and Drew Jones.

Hawks’ burning question: Was last week a blip on the radar — and is young star a future Coleman contender?

Hawthorn came out firing on all cylinders last week against Adelaide, booting six goals in the first quarter en route to a comfortable win for Sam Mitchell’s men. With it the Hawks snapped a five-game losing streak to end what’d been a disappointing stretch of the season for the rebuilding club. This week it gets the chance to prove last week was no blip on the radar against another team sitting in a similar position on the ladder in West Coast, who’s shown improved form in recent weeks after getting key players back from injury. Emerging Hawks star Mitch Lewis is blossoming before the football world’s eyes, kicking all five of his goals last week in the first half. Lewis has now booted 36 goals from 12 games at an average of three per contest, with only Coleman Medal leader Charlie Curnow averaging more majors per contest. Had Lewis not missed games through injury, he could well be up in there in the Coleman race in a key bright spot for the Hawks in 2022.

Eagles’ burning question: Can Adam Simpson get the balance right?

West Coast are in a rebuilding phase, but still want results on the board to have something to show for 2022. So finding the balance between playing the kids and remaining competitive is a tough one to find for coach Adam Simpson. Nic Naitanui remains in doubt after struggling with soreness – but is the answer to push on with the veteran or bring back young Callum Jamieson? Patrick Naish and Zac Langdon, new recruits to the club, remain in the WAFL. With six games remaining, is it time to put more games into the kids?

MELBOURNE v PORT ADELAIDE

Sunday, July 17, 2:20pm at TIO Traeger Park

How to watch on Fox Footy: Channel 503 from 3pm, with Kelli Underwood, David King, Nick Dal Santo and Drew Jones.

Demons’ burning question: Can Max Gawn, Luke Jackson get back to their best combo?

The Cats exposed a weakness in Melbourne’s star ruck combo, by drawing Max Gawn away from his prime intercept position and making him accountable. Mark Blicavs and Rhys Stanley ensured they ran Gawn and Jackson up and down the ground. “I thought they set up beautifully,” Fox Footy’s Jonathan Brown said. The response is sure to come from Gawn and Jackson who once again will take on a dual ruck side in Port. Facing Jeremy Finlayson and Charlie Dixon, the Demons duo are tipped to find form. “It’s always a problem when those two players (Gawn and Jackson) overwhelm you,” Brown said. “They are the best ruck combination.” The match against Geelong was Gawn and Jackson’s first game back together after the skipper was sidelined by injury.

Oliver fails in comeback bid | 01:03

Power’s burning question: Can Port’s finals hopes become real with ultimate statement?

The Power kept their finals chances alive last week by ousting the Giants, with Ken Hinkley’s side sitting in 12th position and a game behind the eighth-placed Tigers amid a logjam of teams competing for finals. Of course, this is a Port outfit that’s gone 8-3 since Round 5 and is coming off consecutive preliminary finals appearances over the last two seasons, so both its form and general stature can’t be underestimated. What better way to make a genuine statement and prove they’re seriously in the finals hunt than by knocking off the reigning premiers, who have been vulnerable in recent times with four losses from their last six outings. So while St Kilda, the Western Bulldogs and Gold Coast have been talked up most as fancies to sneak into the top eight, Port could start garnering serious recognition if it can knock off Melbourne

ESSENDON v GOLD COAST

Sunday, July 17, 4:40pm at Marvel Stadium

How to watch on Fox Footy: Channel 504 from 4pm, with Sarah Jones, Dwayne Russell, Brad Johnson, Gerard Healy, Eddie Betts and Drew Jones, followed by Bounce and First Crack with Anthony Hudson, David King and Leigh Montagna.

Bombers’ burning question: Have they found their new go-to tagger?

Heading into the Brisbane game last week, the magnet with Lachie Neale’s name on it would have received more attention than any other opposition magnet on the Essendon whiteboard. The 2020 Brownlow medallist had murdered the Bombers in his previous four games against them, averaging 38 disposals and kicking six goals. Finally, after much reluctance in the past, the Essendon coaching staff decided to apply significant attention to Neale, and, lo and behold, it worked. Jye Caldwell was the man they used for the job, and not only did the former Giant restrict the Lions star to a season low 21 touches, but he helped himself to a career-high 26 disposals, including a goal, to be one of the best players on the ground. Two-way taggers who not only stop their direct opponent, but have an impact the other way, aren’t very common these days. Caldwell might just become an effective exponent of that role in the years to come, and, in saying that, it would be surprising if he didn’t get the job on Suns inside bull Touk Miller this week.

Suns’ burning question: Do Suns pass ‘ultimate maturity test?’

Could Noah Anderson’s heroics against Richmond charge the Suns to an inaugural finals berth? It was scenes of pure jubilation in the Suns camp after Anderson nailed the game-winning goal after the siren to complete epic comeback from 40 points down. The confidence a team can build from such a win can’t be undecimated as the Suns look finish the season strong and push into the top eight for the first time in club history. It starts with a clash against Essendon that Gold Coast, on paper, should win given the Bombers’ struggles this season despite turning their form around in recent weeks.

“I’m not sure there’s been a bigger moments in the club’s history,” Saints great Nick Riewoldt said of the Suns on Fox Footy’s AFL 360 Plus. “The scenes in the rooms after the game — I’m not sure they’ve had scenes like that those before. And the fact that it was the kids at the forefront, the future of the club.

“This now becomes the ultimate test of maturity, because there was so much fanfare, noise and celebration after the game. They would’ve had smiles on their faces throughout the week, but they’ve got to go out and get the job done against a resurgent Bombers, but it’s still a game that given the footy they’ve been playing, they would expect to win this one.”

Four-time premiership Hawk Jordan Lewis added: “How much time does Stuart Dew give his players to enjoy the moment, but also try and bring them back down? Because their season is alive and they haven’t been in this position for a long time.”

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