For the top teams its time to perform consistency as the Finals are approaching the horizon. Seb backs the Cats over the Hawks and Melbourne over the Swans despite some in-house objections. He backs Port Adelaide over the Eagles and the Woods over the Lions. Giants expect a win over the formidable Crows and North to defeat the Dogs. Bombers to defeat St Kilda and Carlton fans wait in vain as Fremantle expecting an easy win.
The RESULTS FOR ROUND 21 were:
There were some classic footy nail-biters this weekend with heavily contested victories for; Eagles, Hawks, Tigers, Giants, Dogs and the Swans. Dockers , Giants and Woods came home Victors.
LADDER 1.TIGERS 2.EAGLES 3.GIANTS 4.HAWKS 5.WOODS 6.SWANS 7.MELBOURNE 8.PORT ADELAIDE
Tigers can fend off the Cats and Hawks the Bombers. Lions likely to overturn Nth Melbourne. In the South, Port will defeat the Crows and in the West, the Eagles to overpower Fremantle. Bulldogs, Woods and Giants should go home victorious but Seb bets on a Carlton will upset the Giants. The Swans might fall to to the sword go the Woods.
Carlton could be showing up for another disappointing assault unless they have a miracle from GOD.
The Crows and Melbourne have been formidable foes with a see-saw history of win and loss, MP picks the Crows. MP picks the travel weary Eagles over the Icy North and Port Adelaide set to fend off the Dogs. ‘South’ commonly known as the Swans will battle it out but as likely victors against Essendon. Tigers and the Woods, a classic game with Richmond unwilling and unlikely to compromise their position. The angry Cats should outplay the Lions and the Saints likely to retreat from the Giants in this round.
The Victors, this week in late July will likely be: Richmond, North Melbourne, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, Geelong, the Swans, Lions Eagles and Cats.
Those that should have stayed in bed are Collingwood, the Suns, Fremantle, the Crows, Melbourne, the Giants, Dogs and Carlton. The Saints should show up and ‘give it a shot”.
As the World Cup dominates the sports page and the temperature outside falls, the ‘die hard loyal’ will ignore all this for a night of Aussie Rules and a plastic cup of beer. No matter how many times the Blues fail and the fickle migrate to Richmond, the loyal will ‘soldier on’. Could Carlton defeat the Saints? MP are divided, Seb says no, the editor says yes, we will settle on a close game.
Expecting a close game between the Swans and Nth Melb, tipping the Swans. Fremantle to get the edge on Port and the Magpies to outplay the Eagles. Expecting a Richmond victory over Giants and Suns to fall to the Bombers. Melbourne to defeat the Dogs and the Lions no match for the Hawks.
Geelong supporters will rally for a win but the Crows unlikely to surrender.
Richmond , beloved by Melbourne should defeat the Crows at home. Undecided in the battle between the Cats and the Swans but MP will tip the Swans. Lions expecting an easy defeat over the Blues and Port Adelaide might will overwhelm the Saints ; Dog’s to fall to the Hawks and the Eagles expected to defeat the Giants. Melbourne to defeat Fremantle and Essendon should be victorious against the Woods.
Tigers over Swans and a Cats easy over the Dogs; When will the Blues be mighty again? Adelaide expecting an easy game.; Woods to win over Suns and Giants expected to defeat the Hawks; Melbourne expected to defeat St Kilda and Bombers over Kangaroos. Hawks over Giants Fremantle over Lions
No Tips this week.
Port Adelaide and the Bulldogs should give a tight game that will likely swing in favour of Port. The Swans to rise up against the Eagles, and Carlton looks destined to linger always looking up with little hope of defeating Fremantle. MP predicts the Saints over the Gold Coast Suns and Hawthorn likely to defeat the Crows. Richmond fans don’t like to be disappointed, nor do the Cats, we tip the Tigers.
MP predicts that our local boys will struggle against the interstate rivals. Giants to defeat Essendon; Eagles to defeat Hawthorn; Crows to defeat Melbourne and Fremantle likely to come out on top in a tight game with North.
Sydney Swans should dominate the game over Brisbane’s Loins.
Between locals we tip the Magpies over the Bulldogs and Tigers over StKilda.
Adelaide Crows Vs. Western Bulldogs (AO)
MP’s pick: Crows.
The crows have some serious injury issues, with a squad that seems to have more players out than in. Still, the game is at the Adelaide Oval, and the bulldogs have given little this year to suggest that they are in fact good enough to beat even a ravaged crows.
North Melbourne Vs. GWS Giants (BA)
MP’s pick: North Melbourne
Who would have thought at the beginning of the year that the Kangaroos would be favoured over the Giants in a head to head contest – but here we are. The kangaroos’ recent form has been impressive and they have a good record of playing well at Bludstone Arena.
Gold Coast Suns Vs. Port Adelaide (JSS)
MP’s pick: Port Adelaide
In what is a Gold Coast home game….in China, there is little hope that the Suns will even be competitive against a Port Adelaide team hot off the back of a thrilling Showdown win.
Essendon Bombers vs. Geelong Cats (MCG)
MP’s pick: Geelong Cats
How could we possibly tip the bombers at the moment! Let’s hope that they rediscover themselves and there exciting style from last season at some point – but we are not expecting this to be the week.
Sydney Swans Vs. Fremantle Dockers (SCG)
MP’s pick: Sydney Swans
Sydney at the SCG are always a strong pick even against a formidable Dockers team. Let’s see if Sydney’s exciting Ronke can back up his explosive performance from last round.
St Kilda Saints Vs. Collingwood Magpies (ES)
MP’s pick: Collingwood
Much like the Bombers/Cats game we feel like we are picking against a team rather than for a team in this one.
Carlton Blues Vs. Melbourne (MCG)
MP’s pick: Melbourne
Melbourne’s talented squad will be too much for the lacklustre Blues – who could have quite seriously had their only win of the season last round (although we hope not!).
Brisbane Lions Vs. Hawthorn Hawks (G)
MP’s pick: Hawthorn
MP can’t see the Lions getting their first win of the season against the always competitive Hawks who seem to play well no matter the squad under Alistair Clarkson’s coaching.
West Coast Eagles Vs. Richmond Tigers (OS)
MP’s pick: West Coast Eagles
This top of the table clash is the toughest match up of the round. With Nic Nat back for the Eagles and the home ground advantage we are picking the Eagles to defeat the reigning premiers .
SA battle should result with the Crows defeating Port, convincingly as Dogs determination to enter the arena with a fixed victory against the Lions seems likely. Saints shouldn’t upset Fremantle or North to fight back the Tigers ferocity. The Eagles will challenge the Giants but Seb is expecting them to fight them off. Melbourne’s warm weather victory against the the Suns seems certain and Carlton unlikely to stand in the way of an Essendon win.
Carlton not able to defeat Crows without a miracle and Fremantle unlikely to offer a challenge against the Tigers. Melbourne should win easily over the the Saints and the Pies should defeat the Lions convincingly. Seb’s not expecting any tight games with Dogs defeating the Suns, Hawks over Bombers; West Coast over Port Adelaide and Swans over North.
Staff picks this week
Blues unlikely to upset the Dogs but the Swans and Cats will battle it out until the last siren, hometown advantage may wear down the travel-worn foes. Kangaroos consistency should pay-off against Port Adelaide (Seb picks Port defeat over Nth Melbourne) Loins will face a convincing defeat by GWS. Hawks skill and strength should easily defeat the Saints but it will be tight between Adelaide and the Suns, we’re tipping the former. We are expecting a low scoring sloppy game that Melbourne should win over the Bombers. The Eagles should continue in form and overcome the Dockers. The Magpies will be recovering from Anzac Day and unlikely to hold off the Tigers.
Old rivals North and Hawks unlikely to be a close game, Seb picked Hawthorn with an easy win. At the Gabba the Suns should tip the game in their favour against the Loins. Carlton enters the Grand Arena against the Eagles and unless they have Spartacus in the wing, they are likely be picked apart. Seb tips Port over the Geelong but we can expect the Cats to put up a fight. Fremantle should win easily over the Dogs and so should the Swans over the Crows. The saints are no match to the Giants. The Classic ANZAC match of Collingwood and the Bombers should be tight with the slightest margin in Essendon’s favour.
Seb’s picks this week expect Collingwood to defeat Adelaide with relative ease and an easy defeat of Fremantle against GWS. Tigers to intimidate the Lions and the Hawks to rise above the Demons. Expecting the Cats to walk over St Kilda. The Dogs should fall to the Swans and Carlton is unlikely to win over North. The West Coast Eagles should fly home victors over the Suns and the Bombers are no match to Port
Its not a great start for the BLUEs, with the usual suspects at the top of the tree. The Melbourne presence is a sitting at 4, but the rest of Vic is falling behind their inter-state rivals.
Bets on this week favour The CROWS over the TIGERS; NORTH over the SAINTS; BLUES over the SUNS; LIONS over the DEMONS; FREMANTLE over the BOMBERS; BULLDOGS over EAGLES; SWANS over PORT and CATS over HAWKS.
The Ladder after the 1st Round
Gold Coast Suns
West Coast Eagles
HOW it ENDed in 2017
Happily we were wrong, cheers to the TIGERs !!
Melbourne is backing on a Richmond victory and if the Cup goes interstate then the City will drop into a slump, if the home team advantage kicks in then Richmond is in for a boost. If Richmond win then the City will buzz.
The problem is that South Australia are as hard-nosed about their footy as we are and even though the airfare price hike could hinder some, tickets to Melbourne when available are almost $800, many will drive the distance. The crowd may have a high percentage of Eagles.
So it’s with a troubled brow the prediction follows.
MR D predicts Adelaide
So this is it! The most anticipated Grand Final in recent memory.
Richmond have rode a magical wave to get here and have shown resilience and grit that has typically eluded the Tigers in the previous decades. For Richmond fans it’s a 50/50 split between an excitement and shock that their team will be competing for the premiership trophy tomorrow.
Adelaide have had their own unique journey to get here. They are a cohesive unit, a real team. A level of commitment to the club and team that has grown from the tragic loss of their coach.
They have lost stars, but are deep at all positions. They are strong, yet display clinical skills – with high risk penetrating kicks a constant feature. Their forward line is diverse and skilful, and their perceived weak midfield has been anything but.
The MCG crowd will weighed in the Tigers favour – but it won’t be short of Crows. They beat the Tigers thoroughly in round 6, albeit at the Adelaide Oval, and MP are picking the crows replicate (in less emphatic fashion) and defeat the Tigers, with a fast start key to eliminate the Tigers crowds influence over the game.
Sorry Melbourne, we hope we are wrong !
Adelaide crows vs. Geelong Cats
Melbourne Press’ pick: Geelong Cats
The Adelaide Crows; the minor premiers, the team that have a huge boost at home, the team that embarrassed GWS two weeks ago and the team who is getting their best player Sloan back – should be our pick. But MP are tipping the Cats to upset the Crows in Adelaide. MP think that Sloan will be lacking a little bit match fitness and will get suppressed by the constant pressure of Scott Selwood. The Cats have regained their self belief after the bounce back win over the swans and Dangerfeild will come to play against his old squad.
Richmond Tigers Vs. Greater Western Sydney Giants
Melbourne Press’ pick: Tiges!!!!
90,000 tigers fans (likely to be 50/50 loyal and bandwagon), Dusty in hot form and Cotchin proving to be a leader from the front – MP are picking the Tigers to outclass the young Giants who rely too much on talent and just don’t seem like a cohesive group.
Swans to defeat Cats
What contrasting games these two teams had last week; Geelong were smothered with the tackling pressure of the Tigers last week in what was a demoralising defeat, while the Swans had an easy day out against the Bombers and would be expected to be much fresher leading into this game. Both of Geelong’s studs, Dangerfield and Joel Selwood, failed to perform last week and will both need to play a cracker to compete with the Swans. This will be a tough ask with Selwood still a bit rusty from the recovery of his ankle injury, and the large dynamic midfield of Sydney led by Kennedy. MP are predicting a straight sets outage for the cats, with Sydney continuing their sublime form.
Giants to defeat Eagles
GWS were outclassed by the Crows last week with a real lack of team cohesion, but are expected to outmatch the Eagles. They will be a significantly smaller side with the outs of Mumford and Cameron, but the MP are predicting that this may work in their favour since by providing them with more pace and diversity in the forward line. The eagles have had a real rollercoaster ride to get to this point, but MP suggest unless Kennedy goes ballistic, this will be Pridis and Mitchel last AFL game.
WEEK 1; TIPs
Adelaide Crows to defeat Giants
With Sloan ruled out of the contest Adelaide are at a big risk to lose this one against the young and talented Giants. However MP are backing the minor premiers to win on the back of a deafening Adelaide Oval crowd.
Result CROWS 84 / GIANTS 48
Richmond Tigers to defeat Cats
It’s a travesty that Geelong had to play this game at the G instead of the fortified Simmons Stadium. Geelong would be bankable down at Simmons with the high tackling pressure they apply on the smaller ground, but that will be diluted at the G. The Melbourne Press are tipping that the despite Geelong’s record against the Tigers, the Tiger will end their finals hoodoo and knock of the Cats and welcome the era of Dusty.
Result TIGERS 91 / CATS 40
Sydney Swans to defeat Bombers
Despite not finishing in the top 4, Sydney are high favourites to take the flag, and with their end of season blitz and Buddy’s ridiculous form its understandable. MP are on board the Buddy train and tipping Sydney to end the admirable and exhilarating season of the bombers.
Result SWANS 121 / BOMBERS 56
West Coast Eagles to defeat Port’s
West Coast are actually a good squad that just can’t travel, except to the Adelaide Oval it seems. They puzzlingly have a winning record at the ground, and this coupled with Port’s rather lacklustre season is enough for MP to predict that the eagles will upset the Power and their supporters.
Result EAGLES 78 / PORT 74
Round 23 THE FINAL FIGHT FOR THE FINALS
Bulldogs versus Hawks
In the game most noteworthy for the retirement of club legends for both sides (Hodge, Gibson, Boyd and potentially Murphy) The Melbourne Press is picking the Hawks to take it out over the doggies.
It is noteworthy though, that the doggies, despite their lacklustre season are still a mathematical chance to make the eight and defending the cup, depending on the outcome of the games.
Another point intrigue will be how Sicily bounces back from his bullying by Carlton last week, let’s hope he doesn’t exceed his seven free kicks!
Magpies versus Demons
The pies have nothing to play for except their coach Nathan Buckley’s pride and with The Demons playing to maintain the long awaited place in the finals Melbourne press are backing the Dee’s.
Look to see if Max Gawn can Bounce back for a big game against the formidable Grundy.
Lions versus Kangaroos
In what appears to be the least inspiring game of the round in which the already depleted North Melbourne are making five changes to the squad (don’t mention tanking) The Melbourne press predicting the Lions lead by the unheralded superstar Zorko (If healthy) to take it out.
Swans versus Blues
In what will be a lockdown affair at the SCG the strong finishing Swans should easily take care of the up-and-coming blue boys.
Cats versus Giants
The cats at home just lock it down watch for the high tackle frequency especially from the tough Scott Sellwood who has a habit of getting over 13 tackles at Simmons Stadium. Geelong will be too good at home for the youthful giants with Dangerfield likely to show absolute class with his to set the tone leading in to the finals.
Power versus Suns
In what will likely be (and should be) Gary Ablett Junior’s final game for the Suns, The Melbourne press are predicting a dominating victory by Port Power who are finishing the season off strong.
Let’s hope it’s a quick and clean break up for Ablett and the Suns, with Ablett returning home to Geelong. Where Ablett will have the opportunity to bookmark his career with a bumper season at the cattery to ensure that his brilliance is not overshadowed by the farcical seasons at Gold Coast
Bombers versus Dockers
What a year it’s been for the bombers who have overcome the disastrous previous seasons to emerge as the most exciting fast paced youthful team in the AFL. There is huge upside here for this young bombers team and MP are predicting they will finish the year with a big win against a team that can’t travel.
Tigers versus Saints
After the previous loss to the saints this will be a big test for The Tigers. Big win will send out aloud statement that they are here to play hard consistent footy this finals series.
The saints play hard to give absolute legend Riewoldt deserving send off and our real chance to down the Tigers again, however Melbourne press are on the Dusty train and think the Tigers will win.
Eagles versus Crows
Eagles will be sending off Brownlow medal list Mitchell (Sorry Jobe) and Priddis and fighting for a chance to make the eight. In the West Eagles are capable of excellent football and MP are predicting that they will defeat the top of the table Adelaide crows, Who can be shut down.
FOOTy ROUND UP & TIPs by Mr.D
Clock’s ticking down to September and in a season full of even games and upsets, there’s only six with no chance and four, maybe five that are safe. unpredictable? Yes, but… take out North Melbourne, who most expected to be challenging for at least a finals birth, and the bottom six looks pretty much as expected way back in the beginning – despite the cameos by Hawthorn and the Swans early days.
Of those bottom six, only Brisbane can claim two wins in the past five weeks – good for them, even if it only makes four for the whole season. Collingwood, Freo, North and the Suns have managed one and Carlton none at all. North put the season to bed a few weeks ago but, with the Blues and Lions a game clear behind them plus percentage, it will be a struggle for the Roos to claim the coveted wooden spoon (and the first draft pick). Carlton fans may have had some time in the sun mid-season, but will want to claim another couple of wins to avoid concluding that it’s just Situation Normal in the cellar for another year.
This week has some interesting matchups of some evenly placed teams, kicking off with Geelong hosting Sydney Friday night. It’s a game the Swannies want to win to stay alive and the Cats to firm up a home final. Too cold in downtown Geelong for the Sydney boys to shine, but their percentage should keep them in the eight for another week regardless. The Giants have one win and two draws from their last five, whilst the Dees disappointed last week when they had a chance to firm up their aspirations. Melbourne to win, further shaking GWS’s hold on the top four. The Bombers were another who didn’t measure up last week when it was time to stand up, slipping all the way to tenth. This week’s opponent is a long way short of them in terms of ability as well as ladder position though. and the Bombers should again threaten the eight with a big win over the Blues. The Lions won’t beat a resurgent Bulldogs outfit this week and the Doggies will stake a strong claim on the finals with a big win.
Collingwood played a blistering first half against the leaders last week, but came away with only a draw – dispiriting, but expect them to come out blazing against the Roos who just don’t look like they care anymore. The Dockers play the Suns and, since neither of them are good enough to win, stick with home side in Freo. The Saints could have been contenders but were overrun at the death by a top four side last week, much to the Eagles benefit. They won’t make that mistake again and will tip West Coast out again this weekend with a home victory. Richmond have made a habit of surprising Hawthorn over the past few seasons when the table said they shouldn’t get close. With ladder positions reversed this year, it’s Hawthorn’s turn to surprise this time out.
The Showdown is a classic top four , with both teams finding an extra something to come back from the dead last week. Neither of them really look like premiers, but then, no team does at this stage. The winner of this one will shorten their odds for the flag and Port have the power to win.
There are still five rounds to go and that means it’s the time of year when the top seven is pretty settled and the remaining interest centres on who can scrape into eighth, primarily just to make up the numbers. It hasn’t been that kind of season though…
Port Melbourne are fifth with 10 wins and St Kilda eleventh with 9 wins. In between are Sydney and Melbourne with ten and Essendon, West Coast and the Bulldogs with 9. Percentage will count and the teams currently in the eight have a strong advantage there but, you still have to keep winning and this is a season where form can disappear and reappear almost overnight. Sundays game between the Bombers and the Dogs could possibly send Essendon as low as 11th , despite a good percentage, so nothing can be taken for granted.
The Cinderella seasons of Hawthorn and Sydney converge on Friday night. Both stated like losers and look like winners now, albeit too late for the Hawks. Of the two, maybe of all the teams in fact, Sydney look the strongest, but even then a couple of nail biting wins which could have gone either way flatter the Swans form run. Still, with everything to play for they must win this one and keep the roll going. That ugly word ‘tanking’ is back in vogue and the potential tankees, North, take on the proven tankers, Melbourne, this week. The Dees have everything to play for and the Roos no reason to play at all so, for that, and the fact Melbourne are just better anyway, expect the Demons to cruise home in a bruise-free game.
The Dockers started bad, improved and then plummeted again. They’ll make a nice sacrifice for GWS to offer the footy gods to get some form back.The Power are one game and a huge percentage gap ahead of the Saints. It’s the split between the most likely and least likely to make the eight and, it’s hard it’s hard to see any result but martyrdom for the haloed ones in the Adelaide Colosseum this weekend.The Suns have embarrassed the Tigers before, but not this round. Richmond are always better chasing a top four spot than defending one and the Tigers should make sure the Sun don’t shine this time around.
Carlton fans are optimistic, far more so than their win-loss record suggests this year. There have been bright moments but this won’t be one of them as Geelong keep their half-a-win hold on second for another week. The big game this week sees last years premiers, still in with a shot, take on the team that has their spot at the moment. Percentage gap or not, the Bulldogs will get closer by winning and the Bombers will take a step back. Given the percentage gap, it will be pretty much all over in dog land if they drop this one while Essendon will still have a shot in the locker. The Dogs to win and keep things interesting.
Collingwood pulled one out of the fire last week and, if the players are really doing it for the coach, they can prove that this weekend. The Crows are number one though, even if not a particularly impressive one, and the absence of the Collingwood skipper will be too much for the Pies to overcome. It’s a practice run on the G for the Crows and they should get more confidence for the finals by winning in Sunday.
The Eagles shot themselves in the foot by dropping a game they had won last week. Luckily for them they play the Lions in Perth. One foot should be enough for t
It’s getting pointy and no more so than at the top where both Adelaide and the Cats want to prove a point by taking the points. Despite the lofty positions they hold, neither have a right to claim stand-out número uno status. Of course, it has to be seen as a danger game, falling on the wrong side as, his old mates, the Crows ; beat new ones and tighten their grip on the top.
The Bombers are up, the Roos down and star Kangas find themselves out. Making North down and out as the Bombers fly. The Dees are getting the band back together and it will be an acoustic show at the ‘G as the Power is set to go out of the top four. The Dogs have much to prove but won’t prove much by mauling the Ablett-less Suns up there at Cazaly Stadium in a home away from home game. They will anyway.
The Dockers were atrocious in their feature derby last week and won’t be much better as Hawthorn get back up in the back half of the season. The Swans keep coming and the Saints are off the march. Not this week, St Kilda, not this year.
The Tigers had a light workout against the Lions last week getting the job done without reaching any great highs. They’ll need to be better to get over the Giants who have threatened to be mighty but haven’t stood tall when it’s mattered of late. A big win could see the Tigers leap to third and the nervous nosebleeds would be on again. Unlikely, but a smaller win is on the cards.
And, despite being in Melbourne this week, the Eagles must win to cling to eighth spot and a spot making up the numbers in September. It’s over for the Magpies and another disappointing loss will surely see Nathan Buckley considering media offers for 2018. The Lions host Carlton. And Carlton will win. And no one much will care either way.
With the finals just around the corner (and down the road a little way) it seems that no team can claim outright favouritism. The Doggies are gone. The Tigers are afraid of heights. GWS have managed only two draws in two weeks and Adelaide are not convincing by any means. The Cats have shown some muscle, but struggled to defeat the Dockers and went down to the Eagles and how could Port possibly be in the top four? The Dees are coming, but won’t get there this year, same can be said of the Saints. The Swans are the form team but, having missed the jump at the start, can they maintain the manic pace they’ve set down the back straight all the way to the post? The Eagles have improved in Melbourne, but not that much and Essendon or Freo? No.
This week we can expect the Saints to prove they’re closer to heaven than the Bombers / Cats must beat Hawks to prove themselves worthy / Power to flatter themselves a little more by bouncing Kangaroos / Suns to burn lukewarm Pies / Giants to stop the Swans progress / Dees to down Adelaide / Tigers beat Lions (née Bears). Oh my!; Blues to put Dogs down / Freo to win derby because they do that.
What becomes of the broken hearted? Both Adelaide and the Bulldogs started the season with high hopes, but, with their Plan A being shut down and no Plan B to be found, the Crows are looking like pretenders and the Doggies hopes have all but departed. Both teams are suffering from having key players blanketed and neither seem to have found another clear path to Victory. It’s close to last roll of the dice for the Doggies and their finals hopes, let alone going back-to-back, should receive another blow in front of a raging Adelaide crowd on Friday night.
Hawthorn have gone from easybeats to feelin’ alright but GWS will be the ones making their supporters happy down in Launceston. Hard to imagine either of their supporters flying south to icy Launceston to see it but there’s no doubt they have finals on their mind.
There’s still time to snatch Nathan Buckley’s coaching career back from the abyss, or at least back to the edge of it, by beating the Bombers, who, having turned snatching defeat from the jaws of victory into an art form, put on an embarrassing display against the Lions last week. More than a few soldiers in the Magpie Army will have mixed feelings about winning – and prolonging the surely-possibly-maybe inevitable for another week at least – but it’s been a long season of highs and lows for the Bombers and their losing runs seems set to continue.
Sydney are suddenly fourth favourite for the flag, having started the season looking more like wooden spooners. It’s all heart at the Bloods while Gold Coast, a team of questionable commitment, already know their season’s done. Without the ‘Little Master’ Gary Ablett (who, by the way is a genuine 6’0”) in the engine room they are no chance to derail the Swannies’ charge to the finals.
The Lions staged an upset last week (actually, any time they win is an upset) and the Cats’ skipper may be a fifty-fifty proposition but surely, even in this season, the Cats cannot lose with all important home finals on the line. Geelong by a whole lot.
The Saints have a sniff of the eight and that was enough to get them across the line last week. The Tigers however, seem to have managed the vertigo that so often besets them when a lofty rung on the ladder beckons and look balanced enough to keep charging toward an obvious (to the yellow-and-black faithful anyway) tilt at a first flag since 1980.
Having gone down to the Suns last week and, with their season as dismal now as their lowly ladder position would suggest, it would take an unexpected return of the shinboner spirit to beat a decent team this week. Fortunately for them, they are playing Freo, so they should manage another rare win.
Carlton couldn’t match the Crows and Melbourne were clearly off their game against the Swans last week – avoiding an absolute thrashing only through their oppositions chronic inaccuracy. Call it just an off week and with Hogan making a welcome return and Gartlett back too they should find themselves with a lot more firepower this week. Balancing against that is the loss of their skipper to injury and playmaker Bugg in ugly circumstances. But the Blues are down some back men too and the scales should tip the way of the classier Demons.
Which just leaves the Eagles, ever stronger at home and with a few back if not their superstar full-forward, to knock off the intermittent Power. They have a massive percentage but another loss could see Adelaide tottering on the edge of another Power outage, this time from the finals race.
With four games decided by less than a goal last week and with the top team beaten at home by the second bottom team, it’s difficult to argue that the long-cherished goal of the football socialists has been realised. The playing field has been levelled. Still, in an environment where some are still more equal than others, the state of the Queensland teams must be a big concern for the AFL politburo. Sadly, no one else seems to care.
For that matter, for all their on field success at present, it’s difficult to imagine the Giants ever coming off life support. Sub 10,000 crowds may work, somehow, in the NRL – but it’s just not football. Once upon a time the powers of the VFL were desperate to reduce the number of teams in the interests of strengthening the competition. The gap between top and bottom was too great in terms of performance, both financially and around the grounds. And now? Close finishes are fantastic, super-exciting , special. There’s magic in upsets. But now, failing teams are ok because the national footprint generates more in TV rights than it costs to keep the frost bitten extremities of the competition functioning.
It all seems a little synthetic. A little manufactured. Actually, a lot. Even the draw is weighted to be another self-levelling mechanism. Forgive me for being a bit of a grinch in the AFL’s wonderland Christmas season of fun and sharing but it’s all seeming a little hollow.
Or maybe I’m just making excuses for my lousy tipping this season:
Oh well, on with the show…
Melbourne are taking the mantle of this seasons Cinderella, going from strength to strength. Sydney are rolling again after starting the season zip-6 (never would have said it that way in the VFL days). Both good stories. Melbourne should keep it rolling.
Speaking of Cinderella, it looks like it looks like the premiership clock has gone past midnight for the Doggies. A one point win against North is hardly screaming ‘Here we come’. Still, they are playing the Eagles in Melbourne, so they should win this one.The Blues best run in years came to an end last week and, with the Crows looking to atone for last week’s disappointing loss Carlton probably won’t turn it around again this round.The Suns might win, they might not. So might North. It’s probably the Suns turn at home.
The Giants and the Cats – could be the Grand Final Preview. At times, both have looked like machines and at others, all too human. If it’s a question of humanity this week then sentiment says the home team will win. The Tigers are coming, again. The Power look menacing, some weeks. Staying with the logic I used for the Giants, once again I’ll punt for a home town win. In this case, Port. Essendon play Brisbane, a team who have a little bit of form against them. Gutted on the line last week though, it’s unlikely the Bombers will go into this one with less than 100% intensity – which will be about 10-15% more than the Lions can offer. Just when it seems the cliff is crumbling beneath Nathan Buckley, the Pies pull out a win to make the ground a little firmer again. But, after six years of erosion I don’t think anything will stop the fall as Hawthorn make a terrible season look a lot better, at least for them. The Dockers could have got one of the most difficult wins on the road last week but that particular fairytale had a Grimm ending. The Saints are feeling more confident but beating the Suns comfortably is still easier than taking on Fremantle way out west. Expect the Dockers to knock St Kilda off their tenuous perch in the eight.
Well, it’s confirmed. This is the silly season.
If 14th beating 4th and 15th taking out 1st last week didn’t close the deal then try 1st losing, at home, in Adelaide, to 16th. That makes Hawthorn two rungs from the bottom of the ladder and one game out of the final 8. Go figure. What a difference Luke Hodge makes, but can he make it for another season? Hawks gotta hope so.
Two teams full of belief must be Sydney and Essendon. Essendon are in the eight and the Swannies are 12th but, with Sydney’s percentage advantage, they’ll jump the Bombers and tip them out of the eight – for this week at least. Sydney are the form team of the competition and should keep in rolling.
Collingwood seem to be improving and Port are victims of the season’s confusion. The Maggies should keep their finals hopes alive and win this one.
Can Brisbane become the second lowly ranked team tro beat GWS in two weeks? Surely not! But…
The two disappointments of 2017 play off in Western Bulldogs and North Melbourne. Without Cloke to fill in for the other missing forwards and, with North due for a good day, the Doggies look like slipping even further off the pace this week with North to remain marooned, if victorious, one step out of the cellar.
The Eagles are at home and the Dees have a nasty habit of being off the pace after a stirring win. It should be enough for the Eagles to triumph.
Geelong also stumbled last time out but this week they play the other WA team on this side of the country – and should smash them.
Before last week’s loss, Damien Hardwick was lauded as the ‘Coach of the Season’ and the ever cheerful Patrick Smith had named Brendan Bolton as the coach most in the gun.Carlton could just surprise tomorrow and then will those positions be reversed? Every chance that we’ll find out.
Is it worse to start off badly and stay that way, or to be the great improver and then forgo all that promise? The Saints have dropped the ball and the Suns never really had it to begin with. At home, expect St Kilda to find it a few more times this week and come away with a win.
Last week of the bye round, drawn out over four long weeks as it is, and a great game in the West kicked it off with the Eagles proving again it’s either Dr Jekyl or Mr Oh-no-we-have-to-go-to-Melbourne. Home games may bring finals, maybe even home finals, but in the end the season is won or lost on the MCG. Geelong are not really looking quite a top four team, but then, none of the top four looks to have really cleared out from the pack in a season so even that even Brisbane can win a game…North take on the Saints and both can only be disappointed that it’s a game between 15th and 12th. Smashed by the Crows last week I’ll suggest a six-day break against a team coming off the bye should mean the Kangas can outplay, outlast and out score St Kilda
The in-form teams of the competition are Richmond and Sydney, although a huge gulf of ten spots separates them on the ladder. If the Swannies are any hope of scraping a finals birth they’ll need to win this and, with that incentive, should overcome the Tigers but, if they don’t, maybe it just could be the tigers year.
All those new Power fans in Beijing will be expecting to beat another Queensland team and know from their deep knowledge of the game the Lions should be a gimme. Throw in a deafening g Adelaide crowd against a team used to a deafening silence from scant crowds and it’s the recipe for some flat-track-bully-action as the Power rack up a cricket score.Last week the Suns ladled a little more misery on Hawthorn, while Carlton staged a huge upset against the premiership favourites. One of these two will get two on the trot and at home, where the silence is golden, the Suns should triumph. And on Sunday, the quailing Bulldogs, missing the belief of last year, meet a team growing in belief. The ladder says the Dees should win and so does form and that’s how it should go with Melbourne winning a tight one.
It’s bye time for Adelaide and the Giants, top four teams still with a lot to prove. Mid table teams Collingwood , Essendon and Fremantle will enjoy the break before returning to their lottery style seasons with a mix of satisfaction and disappointment from Act 1. And Hawthorn players will enjoy not having to go to work this week, with their demise probably the biggest surprise of the season so far.
Major upset, with a Carlton win !!
Looks like the season is beginning to make a little more sense, around the half way mark. The question about whether the Bulldogs could do it again seems to have drawn a ‘no’. It’s hard to be s hungry as you were once you’ve eaten. And if you’ve got big Trav in the kitchen, you know you’re too many staff down to make a great meal anyway. Conversely, Sydney, who looked stuffed themselves early on, have got the personnel back and look like Sydney usually look – probabaly, if not definitely, good enough to go all the way. Now that it’s been done from outside the top four, maybe they can do it too.
Adelaide are still good, but far from invincible. St Kilda were looking good, but now jus look like a team that has improved again, but not enough. The self-belief must be starting to ebb.
Mondays game, between Collingwood and Melbourne, may tell us if either are really making ground. The Pies usually manage to surprise against the top teams while dropping the games against teams below them. Now they seem to be in a more stable rhythm of beating the teams below them and being beaten by those above. That’s a better grounds for moving up the ladder. Melbourne have been a mixed bag, winning and losing against the trend. It seemed impossible to countenance Nathan Buckley keeping his spot next year but a win, and I think a likely one, would switch his chances back to 50-50 and, let’s face it, even the Prime Minister would take that. For the Dees a loss will switch the optimism toward next year.
The Hawks and Suns have had similar years. Some good wins and some horrible floggings. The Suns are rising however, while the Hawks are falling back to earth. This should continue on the G.
Brisbane have been the bookies’ surprise this week, shortening against Freo this week. True, they didn’t lose last week but, then again, they didn’t play. Freo lost at home to Collingwood, but, improvement aside, they’re not good enough to be consistent, so that will happen. They should take a big stick to the Lions this week.
The Bombers we’re good against GWS, without looking like winners. Port chopped up Hawthorn and even if they Bombers can produce a better first half than the Hawks did (four points would cover that), they don’t seem to have enough going to beat the Power, even at home.
The Blues are still no good, even being twice as good as last year is still no guarantee of climbing much higher than seventeenth. GWS are number 1, with a bullet, and can be expected to perform a perfunctory execution come Sunday.
Did I miss something? Hawthorn held to 3 points to half-time, apparently their worst performance in their history. If giving up a seven-goal lead to Collingwood was the final notice that the era is over then this insipid performance in Adelaide is a Legal Demand. And Port? We’ll, their best is very, very good and given their last finals campaign, they could go a long way in a September.
Big game in the kitty litter on Monday, with both Geelong and Adelaide seeking to re-establish credentials. I think the Cats, but I’m guessing…
The Suns have been up and down more than Mark Harmon was in St Elsewhere, you know, before he became Gibbs… Anyway, they have a good chance to be up against West Coast, who can’t seem to get anything going when they’re a long way from home – and nowhere is further for the Perth boys than the Gold Coast
On a given day it seems the Bombers can do anything. Nothing given about playing GWS in Sydney though, except the long list of missing Giants. Even then, I don’t expect Essendon to come away with Jack.
Rules for Tipping #1. Never pick Richmond.
Rules for Tipping #2. Never pick North Melbourne
So who do you choose between them? Um, Richmond. Well, on form, they should win…
Collingwood have launched a review into the coaching department. Normally, that’s a death nell for the coach but, given history, it may be just to decide on whether to reward a record which has taken the Magpies from the top, down, down, down, down and down, with a three year or ten year extension. Freo should make sure the Collingwood board have something nasty to consider by putting some distance between the ‘pies and the eight.
Everyone else can take a week off. Which means that rule #3 – the Lions can’t win – is not required this week.
The last round of Autumn leaves the Crows at the top of the tree, with the Giants and Cats battling it out for the Glory. The Dogs, Tigers and Eagles are hot on their path, with the remnant of the eight Fremantle and Port Adelaide still in the contest. How long will this configuration last with the hungry snapping at their heels.
Is their any hope for the Lions as they languish at the bottom of the ladder waiting for the wooden spoon.
Cats may have an incredible record at home but, now that the ladder’s turning upside down, it’s not just the easy beats that play there. Expect the Dogs to strike a blow..The Giants still look pretty good and the Tigers not so much. After a couple of close ones Richmond should get a proper spanking in Sydney. Saints are still looking good, if winning ugly against Carlton last week.Sydney are only beating the cellar dwellers and that won’t change on Saturday.. Adelaide may be in terrible form but the Lions are simply terrible. Crows all the way. Collingwood snatched defeat in the dying seconds after maybe a Lou inspired performance last week. An emotional week but they should channel it into a win against a Hawthorn whose leaders are either injured – or traded. Essendon are up and down this year, as are the Eagles (and yet they’re still third?). It’s Etihad not the G but still not in Perth and I expect the Bombers to get the bacon. Melbourne delivered last week in Adelaide and North, who delivered the week before against Adelaide, didn’t deliver in Sydney. The Dees to deliver a win this week.. Dockers on the rise, Blues better but you wouldn’t say good. Freo too much at home.. The bye is with us for the first time this year and, although lacking firepower, expect it to be too much for the Suns this week. Port can enjoy a spell after thrilling a sold out (but strangely empty) stadium in China last week.
Big game in Perth and the home advantage should be enough, has to be if the Eagles want a top 4 finish. / Hawks maybe finding some leaders at last on recent form and I’ve said, or will say, enough about the ‘Kings’ of the jungle. Hawks to fly and Lions to remain at the bottom of the food-chain. / Saints are getting stronger by the week, maybe the blues are too but at nowhere near the same pace. Carlton could get seriously flogged here. / If any team should be charged up to play above themselves this week it would have to be Lou’s beloved Magpies. The Giants ARE a long way above them, but the ‘pies seem to match up well on them and should scale the heights for an upset. / Cats are sinking but the Bombers are more off than on. Comeback kitties this week. / If the Crows were starting to believe they were as good as everybody thought then they got an ice bucket wakeup in Hobart last round. Dees are brittle and will find themselves broken in front of a Coliseum crowd / Tigers are stumbling against good opposition but last weeks take-it-to-the-line loss to the Dogs should inspire them to beat the not-so-easy but still along-way-from-home Dockers / The Suns are shining and the Power has failed the past few tests, more of the same on Sunday /North have been ordinary until last week, when they turned on a clinic at long odds. Sydney have finally beaten someone but, being Brisbane, it’s probably still no one. Swans to stay in the cellar as the Roos continue to climb
Sainters may have hammered the Hawks last week but who hasn’t? Ok, the Eagles, but we all know how much that counts for away from the comforts of home. The Giants are a much tougher test, which they should fail miserably. / North struggle to win and the Crows struggle to lose. Can’t see that changing this week. / Collingwood vs Carlton – no one else likes them and they like each other less. I’ll bet Eddie’s lunch that the ‘Pies storm home at the G /Power vs West Coast. Adelaide is only half as far from Perth as Melbourne so we can expect the Eagles to be only half as bad away this week, which won’t be good enough – by half. / The Suns at home, expect a crowd nearing 10,000! Got my doubts about Geelong after last week but surely they can beat the Suns, or just give up this year. / The Tigers face a real contender again this week in the Dogs and can expect to be just as woefully exposed as pretenders. / Sydney have been awful but SURELY they can’t be worse than Brisbane. They should manage a much belated first win for ’17 / They tried to merge them in the ’90s but this year these two are on clearly different paths and the Dees should take the high road this week./ Dockers v Bombers in the west and the home team should continue their resurgence even if optimism is like a drug with the Black and Red fans.
Dogs aren’t quite sharp yet, if still winning , and Giants should have more bite. Hawks are back? Saints’ll beat them. Cellar dweller showdown. Swans to come up this week. No shock to see Power fry the improving, but still awful lions. Winless North. Suns not good enough against the big boys but good enough to beat kangaroos. Eagles a different team at home but Docker love derby and are set to continue winning form. Are Melbourne Gawn without the big man?Not this week, they like to beat the Bombers when the chips are down. Those who don’t like watching the Cats torture the bird before they move in for the kill should turn away now. Magpies no chance. But the big birds in Adelaide can even take a tiger by the tail.. Crows to dominate at home.
ANZAC DAY Seems the Power are running out of puff but it doesn’t take a wolf to blow the Blues house down. Winning confidence injection to reboot Port./ Dogs may be struggling to recapture their ’16 form but the Lions are going right on with theirs and won’t trouble the premiers. /The Suns have been shining but expect the Crows to rule the skies on Saturday. Hey GC fans, planning on going? The home team needs you both there. /Swans continue to slide as the Giants continue to rise in the Sydney match – oh well, at least the Swannies have supporters – or is that only if they’re winning? We’ll have plenty of chance to find out this year. Dockers have surprised and North have been serviceable but winless, which is actually not serviceable at all. Tough call to come back against the flourishing Dockers in the west. Dockers to win./Saints beat the Magpies last week but it’s not that hard. Cats beat the Hawks which doesn’t seem so hard either. Cats are shaping up as a force though and should triumph./ The Eagles don’t fly so high in Melbourne but the Hawks have been miserable this year. Their too proud not to put in great effort this week but still, there’s a reason they’re winless and bottom of the ladder. Another loss for the Hawks. /Tigers v Demons looks interesting with the Dees seeming to make a habit of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and the Tiger fans getting cocky – are the players? With Hogan and Lewis back this week it’s a sterner test and one I can’t see the Yellow and Blacks passing. /Valiant acts against the odds rings true on Anzac Day but it’s hard to work out which of these two is on the hills and which is on the beaches. Much more evenly matched than for years, but the Maggies need to give their supporters something and the Bombers look to be struggling a little more each week. Magpies, but just.
EASTER Long weekend, ROUND 4
Eagles at home, Swans are winless and a long way from home. No breaking the duck this week; Dogs are too good to lose two in a row and the Roos not good enough to win this one; The Dees wasted the chance to be too far ahead to get overrun last week and Freo have had their win and don’t like to travel. Melbourne could probably win this one on behinds alone. The Giants will be up the pointy end this year, Port have been good but may be set to rethink early form after getting towelled up in Sydney. Two shock winners from last, Carlton and the Suns, one of them will actually string two together, probably Carlton. The Crows have been awesome and the Bombers may have started the season on fire but getting rolled by the Blues? they should cop a bird strike to the jets in Adelaide. The Magpie troops are ready to march, despite winning by just a point against Swans They can take more false confidence from knocking of the Saints who did notch one up last week – but it was Brisbane. The Lions (and questionable confidence) the Tigers fans will be booking their grand final seats after smashing the kids from up north. Expect Dusty to continue his showcase form. Anyone want to buy a pre-loved, classic tiger? Usually a season highlight when Cats dual with Hawks but, unless the Hawks can find a leader (and a few contributors) this week then this one should be a no contest outing for the kitties.
ROUND 3 Tips
Result round up
Shock and awe in round 3 last week, the shock coming from wins to Gold Coast, Fremantle and Carlton (and Hawthorn’s continuing collapse) and the awe from those two SA teams at the top. We’ll give the Doggies the benefit of the doubt – after their last loss, also to Freo, they aced the final series Keep a watch over Geelong and, maybe, Richmond, and keep faith with GWS. The rest you could almost throw a blanket over on early results.
Sydney put an end to Magpie premiership hopes and their black and white hoodoo in the first quarter of their round 1 clash last year. No such hopes this year but expect a similar result. Swans to get their season rolling and Magpies to write another one off. North almost cracked a win last week missing out by the smallest possible margin. They won’t open their account this week in a Hobart ‘home’ game against a tuned up GWS. West Coast are back in Melbourne but won’t win two weeks out of three. Expect the ever optimistic tiger fans to start making space in the pool room for the premiership souvenirs after they win their second. Two in a row for the Dees but with a disappointing Saints and Carlton performance, having big names ‘in the corner’ for indiscretions last week you’d think the Cats would win this one. Their big forward may have been told to try harder by the coach but at least he’ll be on the ground. One vs Two in Adelaide with both teams looking red hot. A toss up maybe, but the Crows tipped to get over the top.
Big changes at the dismal Dockers this week just shuffling the deck chairs as Ross Lyon’s Titantic runs up against the Bulldog iceberg. Heave-ho! The Bombers are playing like a team stimulated and the Blues continue to search for the defibrillator to jumpstart their decade. To much talent, too much passion. Easy day for the red and black…. finally the Hawks, they get to open their account up at Metricon where the Suns don’t shine. And the Long Night Of The Bored continues for another week on the Gold Coast. Finally…..the Lions and a Saints?? It’s in Melbourne,can the Lions surprise again? No!
Mr. D’s Tips were spot on a perfect 9/9
So if your anything like Moss or Roy, this is your weekly footy guide.
Battle of mediocrities at the G this Friday, two teams giving all, or nothing, I’ll pick Collingwood to disappoint their army and the Tigers to keep building hope: GF replay with Dogs to grind it in, rocky start for the Swans. On that note, with last week’s form you’d expect Adelaide to go 2-0 leaving Hawthorn at 0-2 and the natives are starting to get restless : In a game sure to draw almost no crowd, the expansion clubs face off in Sydney : A chastened GWS to slaughter the hapless/hopeless Suns : Moment of glory over, Brisbane can expect a demolition squadron to send them back toward the Carlton zone of the ladder: The Eagles at home, the Saints under pressure after disappointing round one, it won’t get better this week, Eagles by a mile. Geelong looked good last week, North didn’t. Can North get it together for four quarters? No! The two hard-luck teams of the decade, one’s on the way up, the other is Carlton. Dees by plenty. Port Adelaide surprised with a first up KO of the Swans in Sydney. Freo were about as good as last year, which won’t be nearly good enough.
What have we learned?
Well, it seems footy is more popular than ever with record crowds, except on the Gold Coast, where a lousy 12,000 turned out to watch GC and Brisbane, maybe due to footy franchise destruction, nothing new there…
Meanwhile, in the action
Richmond proved they were better than Carlton, which isn’t really proving much Collingwood showed that it doesn’t matter how often you get the ball, if you can’t do anything with it. Bulldogs know just what to do with it. / Port Adelaide could actually be pretty good by beating Sydney in Sydney while Sydney didn’t prove anything all. / Essendon once again, know how to channel emotion by knocking over a Hawthorn that didn’t look like it had quite factored in, how to cover the loss of three of its top leaders?(two gone and one in penance) / Melbourne went a long way to proving the pre-season hype was justified – St Kilda not so much. / Adelaide is a real contender by defeating a limp GWS who proved the premiership is no walk-up start for the AFL’s favourite child / West Coast proved that they can win in Melbourne – even if they only beat North, who, like Hawthorn, had decided their experienced leaders were surplus to requirements / Gold Coast revealed that they are worse than Brisbane, seems as though QLD didn’t care but maybe Carlton and Fremantle noticed. /Fremantle proved that they are, in fact, witch’s hats and Geelong proved that even after a long flight, they can run around witch’ hats