The Roar’s AFL expert tips and predictions, Round 2: Huzzah, full footy weekends are back!


And lo! the footy world did rejoice, for the nine-game weekend did return unto them, and order was restored.

After having to deal with just four games in Opening Round – and a full Sunday with nothing to do but *shudders* watch the NRL, having a full slate of matches this weekend is just what the doctor ordered for us fans.

And now blessed with some information under our belts on the eight teams that featured last weekend, we’ve never been better placed to leave Round 1 (the proper Round 1, at least) with a big tipping score.

Often, it’s here where the frontrunners in our tipping comps already establish themselves; in the toughest round of all to tip, a big 7 or 8 to start the season can be a decisive advantage even with 23 rounds to go.

So how to get there? Well, let’s see how our experts think this weekend will go, and leave it up to you to decide who’s wrong, who’s right, and who’s plain daft. (The Bulldogs to knock over Melbourne? Really, Liam?)

Tim Miller

Last week: 2

Carlton, Collingwood, Hawthorn, GWS, Geelong, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Port Adelaide, Brisbane

It could have been better and it could have been worse – but I’ll take my 2/4 from Opening Round and hope the return to nine games this weekend brings a much higher score.

Let’s get the easy ones out of the way first – Carlton should have no trouble accounting for Richmond despite the return of Toby Nankervis, Dustin Martin and Tom Lynch, though that does give the Tigers a sniff; Port Adelaide will be smashing West Coast like guitars if they’re serious; GWS were far too slick for Collingwood and should be an even higher notch in class against North Melbourne this week; and even though it’s in Perth, Brisbane will have a point to prove against Fremantle and are just a better side.

McCluggage rises to the challenge ????#AFLFreoLions

— AFL (@AFL) August 6, 2023

The big blockbuster of the week is Friday night between a wounded Magpies and a Sydney outfit with confidence sky high after an Opening Round win. Picking against the Pies at the MCG is fraught with danger, and after getting done by the Giants, you’d expect Craig McRae to have his troops firing on all cylinders.

Two sneaky blockbusters take place on Saturday night, with Geelong hosting St Kilda at the Cattery and Gold Coast doing likewise against Adelaide. I’ve backed the Cats as my big riser in 2024, and I suppose we’ll find out whether that’s accurate against a Saints team capable of causing an upset on the road; while I have a sneaky suspicion both home ground advantage and the extra edge of having a game under their belts already will get the Suns over the line against the Crows for a 2-0 start under Damien Hardwick.

It’s sacrilege to pick against your team, but I’m doing just that on Sunday; Melbourne match up well on my Bulldogs all around the ground, have a proper hit-out under their belt already, and should be better for the run against a side that often struggles to start seasons well, especially against the Dees.

My big upset for the round is Hawthorn to knock over Essendon – the Hawks are my bolter for the top eight this season, despite their injuries, and with no Darcy Parish, Jordan Ridley, Sam Draper and several others for the Bombers, plus a pretty disappointing pre-season, I reckon they’re a chance to cop a hefty loss and a week of media scrutiny.

Tom Lynch of the Tigers marks the ball. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Dem Panopoulos

Last week: 1

Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, GWS, Geelong, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Port Adelaide, Brisbane

While it’s still the first half of March and it’s grand final week for those local cricketers who’ve made it this far, getting almost all the tips wrong in Opening Round has acted as that reality check to confirm one thing for me – footy’s back.

Personally, there are a handful of huge games this weekend that I’m looking forward to over-analysing on replay.

Friday night footy giving us the Magpies off a loss and the Swans off a gutsy win despite being depleted is already main event-worthy – they’re the two teams I’ve been expecting to square off in the big dance this season if the Saints’ dark horse run falls short.

The truth in Collingwood’s performance lies somewhere between the real margin and that of the ‘expected score’ that had them winning by three goals. Data can’t read game situations though – regardless, their pressure was good, particularly offensively, and stifling the likes of Florent and Blakey, who were extremely impactful in the opening round, will be important. I suspect it’ll work for the reigning premiers.


— AFL (@AFL) May 7, 2023

If you’re watching footy live on Saturday night, it’s best to have two screens, as they’re the other big games.

The Saints haven’t won in Geelong since 1999, although it’s true that they haven’t actually played there in their peak periods of form. Maybe it’s a fixture quirk, maybe it’s one for the conspiracy theorists, but this’ll be an excellent match between two underrated teams that many are sleeping on.

We submit these tips without knowing the finals teams named, but with Dougal Howard out and Josh Battle in doubt, it will be a lot of work for the defensive structures of Ross Lyon to slow down the Cats. 

In Queensland, the Suns are playing the Crows, who were everyone’s favourite dark horse in November, but seem to have maybe dropped off the radar a little bit. They’re a group that needs to convince me, one full of talented players but lacking the reliability defensively out of the still-young Max Michalanney to trust them fully.

More Rankine and Rachele midfield minutes would give them a strong edge in that previously one-dimensional space. Given the Suns are leaning into a high-kicking style of play to spread the field, the onus will be on the Crows to defend the space.

A Ben King bag wouldn’t surprise, and neither would Dimma going two from two.

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Cameron Rose

Last week: 0

Carlton, Collingwood, Essendon, GWS, Geelong, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Port Adelaide, Brisbane

A big old duck’s egg last week – yuck.

To start the new round – and thankfully with a full nine matches again – I’m tempted to go with Sydney on Friday night, but will be trusting the Pies, back at home, to not drop two in a row.

The Saints are a chance to upset the Cats down at Kardinia Park, but I’m also staying conservative there.

Gold Coast has been gifted a second home game to start the year as the AFL does everything in their power to get them into the finals. With an advantage of a game under their belt already, that gives them the edge over the Crows.

Matthew Rowell of the Suns celebrates a goal. (Photo by Jono Searle/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

Liam Salter

Last week: 2

Carlton, Collingwood, Hawthorn, GWS, Geelong, Gold Coast, Western Bulldogs, Port Adelaide, Brisbane

Three games catch my eye to kick off the year: Friday night’s Collingwood v Sydney clash, Saturday’s encounter between St Kilda and Geelong at a (finally) refreshed GMBHA Stadium, and Sunday’s 2021 grand final rematch between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs. 

The scoreline arguably flattered the Magpies last week, as they were thoroughly smashed by the Giants. They’re back in the familiar surrounds of the MCG – ahh, must be nice – but face the very good, very youthful Swans.

Sydney were impressive last week, but given the Pies have only lost two games in a row twice in the last two seasons, the premiers remain irresistible. 

The Cats open their season against the injury-hit Saints, a team who hasn’t won at Kardinia Park since I was one year old (1999, for those playing along at home). As much as I’d love to pick one heck of an upset, the Cats have this.

Brad Close streams into the open goal to make it eight Cats goals in a row!#AFLCatsSaints

— AFL (@AFL) August 6, 2022

As do the Bulldogs: they’ll begin underdogs against a Dees outfit frustrated by an opening round loss, but gut feel suggests they’ll narrowly earn this one – and consign the Demons to a 0-2 start.

Optus Stadium isn’t nearly as much of a fortress for Freo as the Gabba is for Brisbane, and that vulnerability will be clear as the Lions aim for redemption after their horrid loss last week.

On Saturday, I’m partial for the Hawks over the Bombers (this could sneakily be an under-the-radar blockbuster), while I’m also betting on the Suns to go two on the trot at home over a probably-good-this-year Crows outfit.

As for the rest, Port, the Giants and the Blues are all gaining the four points, probably comfortably – sorry, Eagles, North and Tigers fans, I have very little faith. 

Collingwood and Sydney players wrestle. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)


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