There’s one more week of the bye rounds remaining, and then good riddance to them. I must admit, three weeks with six games is better than one week with none, but surely, it’s not too hard to make players play one of the most labour-intensive sports ever created for 6 months without a break. Maybe it is.
Anyway, last week may have been the round of the year with all the games on Saturday at least being close and exciting. Even the Gold Coast v St Kilda game was good viewing.
What’s going to happen this week?
West Coast Eagles V Essendon. 6.10 Perth time, Optus
Thursday night footy makes its way to Perth, which means everyone leaves work early. 6.10 isn’t too bad, but while Perth might have the best (or at least new and shiniest) stadium going around, the busses don’t like the mid-week crowds.
Speaking of not liking things, the Eagles will not remember their last couple of encounters against Essendon fondly. Essendon has had the wood over the reigning premiers over the last couple of years, in a pattern that can only been seen as perplexing. The Eagles are better than Essendon in almost every single possible way, so it makes no sense that they keep losing to them.
Unfortunately for Essendon, Jonathan Brown just publicly declared that the Eagles are no longer the best team in WA, based on some apparently relevant stats. The Eagles, being a proud club, will probably take offence to that and come out firing.
Although Essendon are coming off a comfortable win against the Hawks, I can’t see them winning this one. They may match it with the Eagles for a while, but the Eagles are one of the few teams that can put a game to bed in a short period, irrespective of how they’ve played up to that point.
Eagles by 18.
Sydney V Hawthorn, 7.50 Sydney Time, SCG.
These once powerhouse clubs have fallen to mediocrity this season and this game provides opportunity to boost their confidence and rejuvenate their second half of the season.
Hawthorn went down to Essendon in a pretty lacklustre performance last Friday night and must win this game if they are in any position to make the eight. Clarkson is toying with the idea of playing Roughead and is optimistic of a recall. Now, I don’t pretend to be nearly as intelligent as Clarko, but after seeing how their forward line worked last weekend, I’d be bringing him in just to feed off. Clarkson seems somewhere caught between trying for the eight and changing his list up, knowing guys like Roughead won’t be there next year, however I think this is the game that finalises that decision – a win and the season is still alive, lose and it’s a fair case to start looking forward.
Sydney are coming off the bye, but prior to that hit some form with a shock win over the Eagles. Buddy returned to form, and they looked a different side to the one who had strapped the boots on for much of the season. It is possible the bye, then, has come at the worst possible moment, as it may have killed any momentum they picked up during that win, but they’ll be hoping that they’re refreshed, rejuvenated and still confident.
If Sydney can maintain that form, they should be able to overcome the Hawks who are looking at their third loss in a row.
It’s difficult to find any conclusive winners in this game. Both clubs are good for patches and ordinary for others.
I think, though, given recent form, you’d have to tip the Swans. Hawthorn will be feeling the pinch of losing Stratton and as much as they want to stomp (haha) their authority on the match, it just opens up some space for Franklin to move.
Swans by 8
Melbourne V Fremantle, 1.45pm Melbourne time, MCG.
During his weekly Monday night show, Garry Lyon was flabbergasted that Melbourne were going into this game as favourites – and most people would agree with him (at least this time).
Fremantle – or at least Michael Sonny Walters (nickname from his dad, in case anyone was wondering) is the talk of the town at the moment. Suddenly people believe that Ross can actually build a side, and on-paper, could be the best side he’s coached.
Having said that, it is Fremantle, so keep those expectations at a reasonable minimum.
If they haven’t already, Melbourne get their first chance this week to really regret trading Hogan so easily. I know they didn’t have much choice in the deal, but all eyes will be towards Hogan as he faces up against the Demons’ new recruit May.
Melbourne have played some reasonable footy in the last couple of months, their loss against Collingwood was poor but their loss against the Crows should have been a win. Max Gawn always looms as a threat in the ruck and they do have some good players around the field. However, most of those good players have yet to string together a full four quarter performance and Dees fans will have been hoping the club did a bit of soul searching with their week off last week.
Logic here says to tip Fremantle, but I don’t think I’ve tipped them since I started writing these and they’ve been playing beautifully; because I’m incredibly superstitious, I should continue the trend and tip Melbourne. But I don’t think even the Demons could beat my omens. I’m tipping Freo to win by 18.
St Kilda V Brisbane, 4.35pm Melbourne time, Marvel.
St. Kilda will come back from their excursion to Townsville, but they should not be bringing much confidence with them. Despite winning the match, it was the heat – not the Saints, that got them over the line. At risk of sounding like Bruce, Brisbane are better than Gold Coast (great insight there) and if they get thirty-one points up, the Lions won’t be so easy to run over the top of.
Having said that, Brisbane are known to lose the games they should win, and they’re terrible on the road, not winning a game outside their home state since round two, including a shock loss to Carlton last game.
I would expect Brisbane to bounce back. They are a young, enthusiastic side and have some great players in great form.
Brisbane by 21
Port Adelaide V Geelong, 7.10pm Adelaide time, Adelaide oval.
Geelong have this interesting record, where they are incredibly unsuccessful the week after the bye. However, they are in extraordinary form and have also beaten the power in fourteen of their last fifteen games.
The Power will be licking their wounds after falling asleep at three quarter time, to be overrun completely by Fremantle in the fourth quarter.
The loss against Fremantle has made this game vastly more important. Had the Power won last week, they’d be sitting comfortably in the eight, and while an upset win would be great for them, it wouldn’t be do or die for their season. However, with that loss, they are outside the eight and every game from here is paramount.
I can’t see it happening. Geelong are too good, and Port Adelaide just can’t seem to get it together at the moment.
Geelong by 30.
Bulldogs V Collingwood, 3.20 Melbourne time, Marvel.
If there was one major concern for the Dogs it is that they just let Charlie Curnow kick seven goals. Don’t get me wrong, Curnow will be a good player, but he’s not a seven goal game forward – yet.
Their lack of height in the backline makes matching up difficult and their run and carry that they rely from off half back is too easily stopped by good sides.
Collingwood are a good side. A very good side. They haven’t really hit their straps yet, but like all good sides, are winning the games they should win and being very clinical about their performances.
The Dogs can’t make the finals, but a few good scalps through the back end of the season will give their supporters some confidence into next season. As for Collingwood, they are in an ever-growing list of teams fighting for the top four. A win here will help secure that spot.
Collingwood have too much class, too much height and too much quality. I’m no Stephenson, but I’m betting they’ll win this one.
Pies by 21.
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