Good news, everybody. The byes are over, and we get a full round of footy this weekend. On the downside, the means extra work for me. Delightful.  There’s another Thursday night game this round, so make sure you get your tips in early and use this guide if your comp has a prize for last place.

 

Thursday

Essendon V GWS, 7.20 EST, Marvel.

Essendon showed their mediocrity against the Eagles last weekend and they get a chance to do it again, against top 4 fancies, GWS. All year I’ve been saying I think the commentators were wrong when they had such an average side as contenders at the beginning of the year, and I am constantly proven right. Essendon would have to be the most over-rated side in the modern era.

Probably lost a few readers there.

GWS, on the other hand, really intrigue me. They’re flying under the radar a bit yet sit only a couple of wins off top spot. Their best footy is great, but they have known to lose games to the poorer sides. Still, winning is winning and I’d rather be unconvincing in third than trying to convince from tenth. Still, I hope they don’t win the flag because that will make us Freo fans feel even worse than when we did when Port won in 2004. Do well, Giants, but not that well.

Giants to win this by 32.

 

Friday

Geelong V Crows, 7.50pm AEST, Kardinia (GHMBA).

Geelong. Oh Geelong. What is it with you and a week off? Eight losses in a row after a week off. Why not give yourself a second week off I suppose? They have the space on top for a loss, and people who win all the time often say losing the occasional game is important for some reason.

If I was Geelong, I wouldn’t take much stock into the result. Port can sometimes play pretty well and deceive viewers into believing they have a chance, but I think you let them have that one.

Still, in the context of the season, this game shapes up as pretty important. Geelong now only have a one game gap on top with plenty of footy to play. Not that there’s much difference between finishing first and second, but you do get a nice little trophy everyone forgets about. The Crows are knocking on the top four’s gate and they are demanding entrance. I don’t know what’s more entertaining: The Crows winning or Tex’s little online war with Cornes. Probably the Tex one.

Geelong will bounce back here. I can’t see them losing two in a row. I think Adelaide are good, but they’re not *that* good.

Geelong by 12.

 

 

 

Saturday

Hawks V Eagles 1.45 EST, MCG.

The Hawks get to play the Eagles at a ground the Eagles have actually begun to enjoy the last few years. It’s amazing how widening your home ground can help you in away games. Or maybe the Eagles are just a good side.

Hawks are in all sorts of trouble this season. Not that any one is under any kind of pressure there- they’re allowed a poor season here and there- but nothing has really worked. They can’t find their groove; their forward line is non-existent, though improved a bit with Roughy in; and they just seem to lack the skill of former years. They seem a bit of a club without identity at the moment. Neither going forward nor backward; neither rebuilding nor attempting to content. It’s a strange place for such a successful club to be in.

They’ll probably somehow win the bloody flag.

The Eagles are statistically a pretty terrible side. They feature pretty lowly in a lot of key area, namely inside fifties where they sit fifteenth and disposals where they sit sixteenth.

The good thing about winning though is that you can ignore these kinds of stats. The Eagles have a lot of class – especially up forward- and have often broken games apart in short five- or ten-minute bursts.

I expect the same will happen on Saturday. Eagles by 22.

 

Sydney Swans V Gold Coast Suns, 4.35 EST, SCG

The Swans have found their mojo but lost their Franklin. But finding form in the back half of the season is always good and they have won three of their last five games. They’re beginning to look a lot more like a top eight side, how they’ve looked for the last two decades. Don’t get too excited- they’re a few wins short of any real movement, but the signs are going up. Interesting news that Longmire is potentially off to North though – that may shake a few things up, but knowing North’s luck I’d expect Longmire to sign an extension to stay at the Swans shortly.

The Suns have just been plain disappointing this year. They have talent enough to be more competitive than what they are, but they just can’t seem to get it together. There’s an annoying trend of them getting us all excited by round six and then by round 13 we’re talking failure and losses against poor sides.

I think their loss against the Saints will hurt the Suns a lot more than what the ladder will suggest. A win there could have inspired some confidence in the young group, but to lose the way they did, after the season they’ve had can do no good. Still, they’ve had a week off so perhaps they’re refreshed and ready to put up a challenge. Sometimes when your back is against the wall and you’ve got nothing to lose, you find a way to win.

Won’t be this week but. Swans by 22.

 

 Look! Mongrel Punt Stubby Holders. Buy one and be cooler than all your friends! It also helps the site out.

Look! Mongrel Punt Stubby Holders. Buy one and be cooler than all your friends! It also helps the site out.

Collingwood V North, 7.25 EST, Marvel.

The Pies are on the road and travelling to their second home ground at Docklands. Must be a pain to have to travel so far for a home game. Melbourne only have to go to Darwin when they do. It doesn’t really make sense for Collingwood to have any home games at Marvel- even against smaller sides. Melbourne and Fremantle played at the ‘G last week and I’ve seen larger crowds at the under 13s!

More important than the game though, is the recent treatment of Dayne Beams. A certain private message has been going around the internet and it’s an appallingly low act. Players are human, they are not robots. Treat them as such. Social media gives us great access to them, but with that comes the responsibility of common decency.

I’m digressing because there’s not a lot to say about this game. North briefly found some form under a new coach but then pretty much returned to where they were as soon as they had to play a really good side. They’re playing another really good side this week and I honestly don’t expect much difference. A new coach is often good, but there’s not much you can really structurally do without a bit of time.

Anyway. Pies will win this one, cause anyone who has to put up with that sort of crap deserves a win on the weekend.

Pies by 22.

 

 Port V Bulldogs, 7.10 Adelaide time, Adelaide oval.

Well Port will be the talk of the town after their great win last week but talk moves quickly in AFL media and they will need to back it up this weekend to keep the conversation positive. The talk around the Dogs this season has been pretty meagre and a close win over an inspired – but still Carlton – Carlton doesn’t do much to breed confidence amongst those who generate conversation.

This equation is simple this game: Port must win if they wish to make the eight- in fact they must win most of their matches from here on. Lose one, and it’s game over. Hinkley will find himself in all sorts of trouble. A coach who should be under pressure but for some reason isn’t, is Luke Beveridge. How many poor seasons after a flag from seventh spot earn you as a coach? Had they lost to the Eagles in the first elimination final that year, we would certainly be talking about the limits of his capability. How long can a club live in the past? Or do we accept that although the Dogs are luckless these last couple of seasons, they are still young and should return to the upper levels soon?

Either way, a win here is important for the club. Wins on the road inspire confidence and wins against reasonable sides extend that confidence even further. I think they have the capability- but do they have that dog-hungry desire that they built their brand on? They’re going to need to.

I’d like the Dogs to win this, but I can’t tip them. Port by 12.

 

Sunday

St. Kilda V Richmond, 1.10 EST, Marvel.

Speaking of coaches under pressure, I’m pretty sure the pressure is now off Richardson. His time is up – he is gone. Which puts him in an interesting position here. He has the freedom to experiment, free the players up, go man on man. Change things up a bit knowing that he’s not going to be there soon anyway. Or, he’ll go back into his shell, try and hang on tightly to the final thread of his career and try really hard to win the game.

Ironically, I think the first option puts the Saints in the best position to win this game. Remove responsibility and let them just have some fun and play footy – after all, that’s pretty much what Richmond do.

Richmond are still holding on to a finish in the top eight and why wouldn’t they? They’re only percentage out, but their season is on a slow spiral downward. If they can keep in touch with the eight for the finals, and get some of their better players back, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with. But they need to do it largely with their reserves, and how long can they hang on for?

A win here is important. It doesn’t need to be big or exciting or pretty. An ugly three or four goal result will do. They’re not here to win fans- they have enough of those already, they just need to keep in touch. A loss and it’s bye bye finals.

There’s more for Richmond to play for here. More to gain. The Saints are a rabble and even if they come out and perform near their best, I don’t think they have the confidence nor talent to match what is left of the quality Richmond players left.

Tigers will win by 36.

 The Mongrel’s most recent Player Power Rankings is up - who sits at the top? Click here to find out.

The Mongrel’s most recent Player Power Rankings is up – who sits at the top? Click here to find out.

 

Brisbane V Melbourne, 3.20 EST, Gabba

Well Melbourne found some form last week, didn’t they? See what happens when I tip Fremantle to beat them – I had a feeling that would happen. For the first time this year, they looked a bit like they did last year. Brisbane have this knack of losing against teams below them on the ladder, and if Melbourne play like they did last week, they could take the Lions by surprise.

But the Lions are also a different animal at home. Away from home, they’re more kitten than lion but at home they are kings of the jungle. They changed that somewhat last week and dominated the meek Saints in Melbourne but then, I’d be concerned for them if they didn’t. They’ll want to build on that this week as they start their run towards finals and potentially a home final and a win against Melbourne will help considerably.

As much as Melbourne were improved last week, I don’t think they have the midfield to match the engine room of the Lions, who have an equally strong or perhaps even superior one to Freo’s. Martin will prove a much tougher opponent for Gawn, who will have to be more accountable around the ground.

Brisbane will win this, but it will be a lot closer than they would have expected a few weeks ago. Probably why they say “one week at a time” all the time.

Lions by 14.

 

Fremantle V Carlton, 3.40 WST, Perth.

Well I went and tipped Freo last week. Sorry Freo fans, apparently Melbourne can beat omens.

It’s not that Fremantle was bad, but having your Full Back out, losing your Full forward and a Hill is always going to make things difficult. It was really a sad day for the Fremantle Football club. Hogan and Hill’s injuries aren’t too bad, thankfully, but in their reserves it was worse news for Harley Bennell who suffered a rolled ankle which became an achilles injury which then was confirmed as everyone’s worst fear and he had indeed torn his calf again. I think that’s career over for the luckless bloke, which is just a shame for everyone.

Still, the cogs of the AFL wheel are always turning, and Fremantle must look forward to this weekend’s game against Carlton, which will be no easy task.

Since deciding that winning is a good thing just a few weeks ago, Carlton have been an OK side. Their win against the Lions was more than impressive and they lost no fans with a narrow loss over the Dogs – where Curnow showed more than a flash of the potential that he’s been teasing us with since he got drafted. The Dockers are slowly moving the way of Richmond and are having to look deep into their reserves to build a side. Fortunately for the Dockers, Walters got off for his head butt, which was controversial, given that McGovern got suspended for an unfortunately placed push in the back. For the record, neither should have been cited – McGovern’s was a deliberate act, sure, but the result was far from intended, and there’s questions over whether a head butt can be called a head butt if the receiver didn’t feel it happen.

Anyway, I’m getting side-tracked again. With storms predicted, anything could happen this game. Carlton have been playing a good brand of footy, but they are a young side – even compared to Fremantle who have changed their list more than any other since 2016. That young side is full of run and carry but they’ll be beaten by the larger bodies of Fyfe, Mundy and Tucker. For Carlton to win, Cripps will have to be first to the ball and win 10-15 clearances which will be a monumental task – a match up against Fyfe will be one worth the price of admission.

However, if it’s dry, anything is possible. Freo’s injuries have left enough gaps in talent around the ground that Carlton could find some winners. The Dockers’ backline, although still strong, is without Pearce which might just free up Curnow a bit. Their forward line doesn’t tend to function as well without Hogan and Lobb. McCarthy will come back, but he’ll need to repeat his round one heroics for the Dockers to kick a reasonable score.

At home you’d have to tip the Dockers. But I’m not risking that again. Carlton to win in an upset by 4 points.

 

 

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