The Roar’s AFL expert tips and predictions, Round 2: Can the reigning premiers get back on track?


After one full nine-round weekend of AFL action, we’re into the annoying month and a bit where all eight Opening Round teams get their byes. Yippee.

This week, it’s Carlton and Brisbane sitting it out in surely different moods, given one is 2-0 and happy to have a week to rest jangled nerves, while the other is 0-2 and likely chomping at the bit for a chance at redemption.

Of the eight games left to us, this feels distinctly like the sort of week where tipping looks pretty easy on paper… only for the traditional early-season randomness to kick in, upsets to crop up everywhere, and leave us all staring at a 4 or a 5 and well shy of the brave leaders who went for two or three outsiders.

So to buck this trend, I’ve… picked 7 out of 8 favourites. What can I say – I’m a coward.

Tim Miller

Last week: 6

Collingwood, Adelaide, Fremantle, Melbourne, Sydney, Gold Coast, Port Adelaide, GWS

Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way – yes, I’m tipping against my Bulldogs when they face Gold Coast on Sunday.

Yes, it’s sacrilege to pick against your team, and yes, the Dogs’ record in Ballarat is excellent, but you couldn’t possibly watch their performance against Melbourne and tip them with any confidence against a Suns outfit with similar strengths to the Dees in a powerful midfield, tall defence and high-quality ruckman in Jarrod Witts.

Plus, here’s a stat: the Dogs have never lost in Round 1 under Luke Beveridge and responded by winning Round 2. Make of that what you will.


— AFL (@AFL) May 27, 2023

Other than that, I’ve pretty much played it safe this weekend: I’m confident Collingwood will have gotten the kick up the backside from Craig McRae during the week they need and will overcome St Kilda in ‘Spud’s Game’, while Fremantle, the Dees, Sydney, Port Adelaide and GWS are all comfortable favourites in their matches – though Richmond could be a sneaky chance to knock off the Power at home, if they can replicate the spirit they showed against Carlton.

The hardest of the bunch is Adelaide vs Geelong: the Cats are my pick to climb up into the top four this year, while I have a sneaky suspicion the Crows will regress a touch. Despite that, I’ve gone with the home team – Matthew Nicks’ men are lethal at the Adelaide Oval, and a strong midfield has often proved the Cats’ kryptonite in years gone by. Still, if you’re out to tip an upset, this is probably your best bet.

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Dem Panopoulos

Last week: 7

St Kilda, Adelaide, Fremantle, Melbourne, Sydney, Western Bulldogs, Port Adelaide, GWS

Alright, we’re back on track after an Opening Round that quite frankly, I’m happy to treat as if it didn’t exist.

We’ve got the reigning grand finalists sitting winless after a combined four games, we’ve got a maligned coach orchestrating a significant victory after signing a contract extension, and we’ve got media highlighting and complaining about a high-five between two players. Footy’s back.

Oh, and happy first bye round.

In terms of excitement, Thursday night’s clash carries a heap of weight. The Magpies simply can’t lose three on the trot, but after watching the Saints’ loss to Geelong, I’m even more convinced in their credentials than at the start of the season, even if I believe they’ll have to overcome a slow start.

It’s a really hard game to tip – my gut says the Saints, my head says Collingwood can’t lose three in a row. We’re going with our gut here.

Tom Mitchell loads up on the run.#GatherRound #AFLPiesSaints

— AFL (@AFL) April 16, 2023

Friday night is also an important early-season game for both Adelaide and Geelong. The Crows have a lot to prove: they’re expect to be an imposing figure of a club at home in 2024, and the challenge that this opponent brings is significant – Geelong have won five of the last six in this contest.

Welcoming back some tall timber would be helpful, and the conditions should be more familiar, even though the wet hypothetically suited their glut of inside midfielders against Gold Coast. The Cats had a rollercoaster sort of match against St Kilda but they’re on a similar level to Adelaide this season.

I think it’s the Crows, but without full confidence.

It’s worth quickly touching on the Swans-Bombers contest on Saturday night, given how extraordinarily close these two teams’ matches traditionally are. Seven of the last eight have been decided by 10 points or less, and while we can only hope for a similar outcome, the Bombers may be too undermanned to hang in with my flag favourites.

Finally, I love the unpredictability of the games played at Mars Stadium. The wind, the cold, the equalisation it all brings – you couldn’t get more different conditions for the Suns to play in than what they’re used to.

Here’s a little tidbit – it’s only the third Sunday game ever played in Ballarat, and both previous clashes have had significant margins. Whichever team embraces a less precise style of footy will win.

Nat Fyfe. (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Cameron Rose

Last week: 7

Collingwood, Adelaide, Fremantle, Melbourne, Sydney, Gold Coast, Port Adelaide, GWS

Starting the round off, I’m sure there will be many sniffing a Thursday night upset from St Kilda, and perhaps rightly so, but the Pies have played what appear to be the two form teams of the competition in the early rounds, and the Saints are a level or two below them.

I have to trust they won’t drop three on the bounce.

Geelong looks overs on Friday night as comfortable underdogs, but I’m sticking with Adelaide, who love to catch fire and will be looking to make a statement after their loss to the Suns.

The upset of the round may well be in Ballarat on Sunday – there are big question marks over the Bulldogs, and Gold Coast are on a confidence high and looking for their first ever 3-0 start to a season.

Sam Collins said no chance!#AFLDogsSuns

— AFL (@AFL) April 7, 2019

Liam Salter

Last week: 5

Collingwood, Geelong, Fremantle, Melbourne, Sydney, Gold Coast, Port Adelaide, GWS

Let’s get my only mildly controversial tip out the way first.

I got (rightly) lambasted, mainly by Tim, for picking the Doggies last week, and I’ve done a complete 180 this week – the Suns will go three-zip with a win in Ballarat. That pressure gauge over Luke Beveridge… well, it’ll be going up. 

Other than that, I’ve played it safe across the board. You can make an argument that the Saints have more than a chance against a struggling Collingwood outfit, but the Pies are almost certainly going to come out breathing fire, and I’m not convinced Ross Lyon’s men can sustain that.

Ditto the Crows – they’re usually much better at home, and I maintain they’re finals contenders, but the Cats looked very good last week. 

The Demons, Sydney, Port and the Giants look comfortable-ish favourites in their clashes, and while I have horrid memories of North beating Freo in this exact fixture twelve months ago, Freo started brilliantly against Brisbane and I’ve got faith.

Dangerous last words. 

Dyson Heppell and Zach Merrett. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)


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