Preview of Round Five
We’re in week five and the season is still alive! Results are still all over the shop, but I suspect that this week things will start getting a bit more stable now that all the teams (bar Essendon and Melbourne) have had a few games to knock out the cobwebs.
But who really knows? It’s 2020, baby. By the time this week’s over, the Victorian teams may no longer reside in Victoria!
Round Five – let’s go!
West Coast v Richmond
St Kilda v Carlton
Thanks to a few security guards who didn’t wash their hands, scheduling is starting to become a logistics nightmare for the AFL. The Thursday night season-defining game between West Coast and Richmond gets the can and instead we get a much more exciting hit out between the new kids on the block – Saints and the Blues.
We still haven’t seen enough of either team this year to be able to judge where they are at, but both camps will be happy to see some very promising signs. The Saints dismantled the reigning premiers last week, led by ex-Tiger, Dan Butler and Tim Membrey, both of whom kicked three. They’re playing with some real belief at the moment and for the first time in years have a reasonably fit and healthy list.
Carlton have done a 180 in the last two weeks, going from the league whipping boy to a team that finally looks capable of winning games. I don’t know if Carlton have arrived, but at least their fans get to sing the song for once.
We over at The Mongrel Punt are very excited about the rebirth of Sam Docherty, who is currently sitting #1 in our power rankings. Will his dominance continue this week? We’ll find out in few hours.
Prediction: Saints by 2
Collingwood v Essendon
Collingwood and Essendon games are always juicy, if not controversial. There will be no crowds to boo this time, but I am sure there will be plenty of choice words made by supporters watching in front of their TVs.
Both teams are coming off demoralising losses. Essendon got done by Carlton by a measly point and Collingwood fell honourably in a close one to GWS, but have lost Howe to a knee injury and Sidebottom to a suspension for jumping in an Uber, catching up with a mate and ending up half naked on a street in Williamstown. Classic Sidey…
The question for the Pies is how do they fill the gap? They’ll get Treloar back, which will reinforce the midfield, but who steps up in Howe’s role as one of the competitions best intercept marks? That’s a problem Buckley will have to solve during the week, because it could very well expose the underbelly of the Collingwood defence and lead to the Bombers kicking away.
Essendon will be disappointed in their game last week and they have big outs themselves (Merrett, Heppell), but they always are up for a scrap against the Pies and this one will be much closer than most people think.
Prediction: Collingwood by 7
West Coast v Sydney Swans
West Coast have been given a gift with this rescheduling. Instead of playing the reigning premiers, they get the Swans, who are having some performance issues themselves.
Sydney have been okay for the first four games, notching up two wins without completely being convincing. Last week against the Dogs, they were appalling, and despite Papley’s 4.2 effort, they only managed a meagre 39 points from 14 shots on goals. But they are West Coast’s bogey side – they’ve beaten them 4 out of the last 5 games – including twice in the Eagles’ premiership year. However, they are going in without Buddy, who always seems to play out of his skin when he is against his home state.
I don’t know why Eagles are playing so poorly, but they are. They have one of the best lists in the competition, but for whatever reason, they are not clicking. I have a strong feeling they will eventually, but will it be this week? At 1-3, they’d want to hope so. If they can steal wins this week and next, they should go home at 3-3 after destroying the Crows, which is a very good spot for a team playing as atrociously as they are.
If West Coast can’t get over the line against the Swans this weekend, I reckon you could put a line through them for the season. On paper, they are a much better team. Their biggest concern is ensuring the Sydney smalls don’t get off the hook, but I reckon Cole, Jetta and Sheppard are enough to keep that from happening.
If they want to win, Simpson will their leaders to step up and steady the ship. Expecting big things from the likes of McGovern, Shuey, Hurn and Kennedy.
I said it last week and was wrong, but surely West Coast fire up this week and finally get a win. If they can’t, then I don’t know what the hell is going on and should probably watch another sport.
Prediction: West Coast by 33
Geelong v Gold Coast
I can’t believe that I am going to publicly state this – but I think Gold Coast will beat Geelong at the Cattery. I know, it’s crazy, but if you compare where the Suns are at against Geelong, it’s a logical deduction.
I’m not sure what happened during the AFL hiatus, but the Suns look very fit and are running teams into the ground with speed and pressure. It’s great to watch – also something I can’t believe I’m saying.
Geelong got a get out of jail free card last week against Melbourne, but it cost them Tom Stewart, who’s out with a broken collarbone. On Paper, they are a much better side than Gold Coast, but like Richmond and West Coast, need some time to get the wheel moving. This was glaringly apparently in their game against the Dees – they looked like a ghost of their 2019 season.
If this game was at Metricon, I would be confident in a Suns win. But we haven’t seen them travel yet, so there is a big question mark as to whether they can repeat their performance on the road. But I will put my neck out and say that they will get the job done against a Geelong side who haven’t hit their straps yet.
Prediction: Gold Coast by 9
Brisbane v Port Adelaide
The two in-form team battle it out on Saturday night at the Gabba. The Lions have just started coming into their own, while Port have been flying since the start of the season. Last week was supposed to be Port’s big test, but the Eagles ensured it was more of a training drill with their lacklustre performance.
The Lions at the GABBA is their test and if they grab the W here, I think calling them flag contenders is justified. If they lose, we’ll know as much about them as we do today, which isn’t a lot.
The Lions are very hard to beat at home. The GABBA has become one of the most feared fortresses in the competition, along with the Cattery and Optus. On the road they’re shaky, but in front of their supporters they are a rock-solid team.
I’m really looking forward to the battle between two AA candidates, Harris Andrews and Charlie Dixon. If Dixon is as good as Gerald Healy keeps reminding us every time he gets a chance, then he should be able to kick a few and further strengthen his claim to a jacket and a Coleman. But as we know, Harris is one of the best defenders in the game and it’s going to make for enthralling viewing.
Can’t decide who to pick for this one, so I’ll go with the home team.
Prediction: Brisbane in a thriller.
Western Bulldogs v North Melbourne
The Dogs have got their season back on track – and dare I say it my confidence – after a couple of wins.
I was quite bullish on North a few weeks ago, but they’ve failed to live up to expectations with a couple of losses on the trot. I think they’ll be desperate for a win this week, as they seemed to be in that thriller against the Hawks.
I admire how the Dogs have shown some grit when their season was on the line and came away with two wins against GWS and Sydney, who are by no means easy beats. And I really have liked seeing Tim English finally show some of the potential we were promised. Looking forward to seeing him going up against the hit out and clearance king. Todd Goldstein. I think how the Bev and his Dogs mitigate the big man’s influence, especially around stoppages, will go a long way to determining how this game goes.
I’ve been down on the Dogs for the past few weeks and been proven wrong, so I will back them in this week and see how that goes for me.
Prediction: Bulldogs by 11
Adelaide v Fremantle
The Crows and Freo go head to head for SPOONBOWL this week. The Crows have been seven kinds of ugly, but Freo have actually been alright and don’t deserve this 17th position. If it wasn’t for a period of around 10-15 minutes each game where they let their guard down and have a flurry of goals kicked on them, I think they’d be in the top 8 right now. However, they are going into this one without their Captain and Brownlow medallist, Nathan Fyfe.
Adelaide are such a clusterfuck right now, I can’t see this even being even remotely close, but if there was ever a game they could win, it’s properly a game against Freo without Fyfe. It’s a danger game for the guys in purple and they’ll want some of their midfielders to fill the massive hole left by reigning Brownlow Medallist.
I don’t see Adelaide winning this one, unless they go to a hypnotherapist to exorcize the Gold Coast training camp. However, if they somehow get across the line, we’ll be treated to some great content by Freo Doker.
Prediction: Fremantle by 20
Melbourne v Richmond
Who would have thought five weeks in to the season people would be so quick to jump off the Richmond bandwagon? Granted, the Tigers are not playing great footy at the moment, but writing off their season is a bit premature. Pretty sure a lot of people did that this time last year and look how that turned out.
They’ll win this week. They have their backs against the wall and let’s face it, they are facing the dreadful Dees who week in week out do their best to almost win a game.
Felt like Damien Hardwick made a strong statement last week dropping the likes of Rioli, Pickett and Soldo, but still needs his troops to step up, particularly forwards Castagna and Riewoldt, who are not doing enough to provide alternative targets to Lynch.
I don’t know what to say about the Dees, and I am pretty sure a lot of their supporters will echo my sentiments. They are a playing group of unfilled potential. 2018 filled us with hope that they were back after so many years in the darkness, but then 2019 happened and this year hasn’t been any better.
How long do Melbourne preserve with Simon Goodwin? Something is rotten in the state of AAMI Park.
Prediction: Richmond by 18.
GWS v Hawks
The Hawks have had GWS’s number recently. They played twice last year and Hawthorn gave them a belting both times. Firstly a 71-38 thrashing at the G, followed by an abysmal 85-29 in Canberra.
Looking at their past two wins, you would think Hawks would go into this favourite. However, the GWS team they faced last year was in the midst of an injury crisis and you can’t compare that to the team they face this week. Despite a very up and down start for GWS, I rate them as a strong contender to the flag and think they will only improve as the season unfolds.
The Hawks have been looking great this season, besides some consistency in games. They went completely MIA in the game against Geelong and were blown out of the water and nearly lost the unlosable last week against North when they went to sleep in the fourth. If they can string some 4-quarter games together, they would be dangerous.
In saying that, for whatever reason, Hawthorn seem to be GWS’s kryptonite and despite the orange army appearing better on paper, I think they’ll go down to them again.
Prediction: Hawks win by 25