Well last week was a bust, so here I am again to tell you who not to tip this weekend.

This season has been impossible to predict, which I suppose is why the AFL created the salary cap, draft and all those equalisation strategies, but shit it’s annoying now that it’s working. Suddenly Carlton and Essendon are meeting their pre-season expectations, the Suns aren’t stopping when they’re behind, Fremantle can hit a target. My whole world has been turned upside down.

It’s time to have another guess.

 

Thursday

Geelong V Collingwood, 6:10 Optus

Footy has made the great decision to travel to Perth. I must say I am very keen to see Optus Stadium and the Matagarup bridge in various interpretations of the “home” sides.

Jordan de Goey comes in for the Pies, who were great last week against the Hawks. Jack Steven is in for the Cats, adding to their very impressive 22. The Pies have been all over the place this year and I’d be guessing if I said de Goey will stabilise their side but he’s well and truly worth the risk.

The Cats have been tremendous this year. To quote Bruce McAvaney, Gary Ablett “turned back the clock” last week (as if Gary Ablett has ever looked old) in their dominant performance against the Lions.

The Pies are favourites going into this game, which is somewhat surprising given Geelong’s consistency this year, but they do play well at Optus, beating the Eagles in their last encounter in the West.

But what is most important to note is that so far, no team sitting second on the ladder has won. So, given that little stat, it’s apparently impossible for the Cats to win. Collingwood by 12

 

Friday

Essendon V Bulldogs 7.50est Metricon

First, I should apologise to the Essendon fans I’ve aggrieved in many of my articles. I don’t know why I have an issue with that club, except perhaps because they always seem to be rated by the media as being a top 4 fancy and they never deliver, which is to be expected because they’re not a top 4 list.

But this year, they’ve proven me wrong. For reasons unknown to me, they actually look like a functioning football side this year, and a lot of it is to do with Stringer and Saad.

Last time these two met, the Dogs won by 104 points. In fact, the last three times these two sides have played, the Dogs have had no issues scoring surpassing 100 points on each occasion.

But it’s a different Essendon this year, and I won’t go so far to say a different Dogs’ side, but I’m not so sold on them this season. Not after their insipid performance last week against Carlton. They’ve been winning, but not with any great confidence. A Win here for the Dogs could return some of that confidence but Essendon should walk in expecting to walk out 4 points the better.

I’m going with the Dons in a close one. Essendon by 5

Saturday

GWS V Lions 1.45est, Giants Stadium

The Lions got hit hard with the reality stick last week against the Cats. Whether it was an uncharacteristically bad performance or a showing of where they truly sit amongst the better sides will remain to be seen, but they get the chance to redeem themselves against the impressive, yet perhaps under-performing Giants this weekend.

Both sides are impressive in the middle; I’d expect the Lions to win the contested ball, but if the Giants can match them in that area, or at least create regular turnovers then they will win this game with their clean possession. The Lions probably have the edge up forward – just. The Giants have a better spread of goal kicking forwards, but the Lions are generating scores through the middle as well; they’ve just been a great deal less accurate.

The difference will be the pressure. The Lions are a much better tackling side and are more willing to do the little things that win games of footy.

I think that will be the difference. Just.

If Brisbane can grind the Giants down, which I think they will, the Lions will win by 14

 

Sydney V Suns 4.35est SCG

The Swans have been in the news all week for their defensive style and inability to score against Richmond. I think that was greatly unfair. Both Richmond and Sydney use the same territory game, which involves getting the ball inside 50 and locking it in there with a good forward defensive set up- i.e. flood your own half-forward line. Problem was, Richmond is a vastly better side that Sydney, so Sydney couldn’t keep the ball into their forward line when they got it there, nor could they get the ball through Richmond’s forward defence when it was in Richmond’s forward 50.

It was like watching two Kakuna Pokemon go at it, both using “Harden.”

But they’ve a chance to move on from that and while the Suns are good, they’re not Richmond level good when it comes to forward pressure.

However, the Suns are still a very good football side. Rankine’s debut last week showed that where Rowell has left a gap, they’ve just another top tier young player who can come in and fill it.

I like what the Suns are doing. Sydney, well, all their players are injured, and the ones left aren’t all that great. It’s a development year for the Swans.

Suns by 21

 

Richmond V North 7.40est Metricon

I’ve just spoken of Richmond’s role in “the worst game ever played” so I need not go on. Suffice to say that Richmond are still really struggling with these short quarters to wear their opponents down and score in time on.

North started the year OK but have been pretty woeful in recent weeks. I probably shouldn’t say totally woeful – they’ve played some pretty good footy and perhaps been a little unlucky at times. They just rely on too few, the Roos. There’s a lot of great role players in that side but they just lack the spark, the X-factor superstar players that can just lift the whole side a notch. But that’s not to say they’re not capable at winning this game. If the Roos defend as well as the Swans did down back but are then able to counter-attack and get the ball forward, then they’ll have Richmond on the ropes. Clearances will play a big role here, win the hard ball and show a bit of composure and the Roos will win.

But conversely, if the Richmond get the ball forward and find a way to score when the ball is there- which they’ve certainly got the talent to do- then it could be a mauling for the Tigers.

I think the Tigers win is a little more likely.

Richmond by 18

 

Sunday

Carlton V Port Adelaide 1.05est, Gabba

Both these sides have vastly exceeded expectation this season. It’s too often we see Carlton promise much and deliver little and I don’t think anyone outside Port Adelaide had high hopes for the club and I doubt very much even those within the walls expected the Power to be on top.

Some did argue that the Power has mostly played bottom sides, which has inflated their hype. A possibility of course and their loss over Brisbane did suggest that. But they manage to return with a win over GWS, and I think the Eagles, even out of form as they were, are still always a tough beat. So, I don’t think I’m completely sold on the Power, but I am a lot more sold than I am not.

Who I am not sold on is Carlton, and I’ve no real reason not to be except the inconsistencies that can come with youthful inexperience. They’ve a young side with some great older players, and a great coach who seems to have generated a whole new positive mood for the club. But they are still susceptible to the odd lapse, which we certainly saw in their game against Melbourne and St. Kilda, both winnable considering the other teams they’ve beaten.

I think Port win this. The Gabba almost offers a home ground advantage for them, and there’s a great structure about the way they play. Carlton will definitely not go down without a fight, but Port seem particularly determined.

Port by 11

 

Hawthorn V Melbourne 3.35 Giants Stadium

I was lambasted a couple of weeks ago when I suggested on Twitter that Clarkson is finding it a bit tough to win. The lambasting was somewhat fair, considering they were 3-1 at the time, but something about them just seems a bit off this year, and now they sit 3-3 after a couple of losses and my statement feels a little vindicated. You could argue somewhat the umpires had it in for them against GWS, but last week they were insipid. The Clarkson plan has always required smart, skilled footballers who don’t mind getting their hands dirty. This current Hawthorn side, while full of great players, just seems to lack the patience and precision of his past champions.

I was completely off Melbourne, but they’ve managed a good win against a good side and, well, I’m still not on them, and I’d still suggest to Melbourne fans that this might be another year worth forgetting, but there is some hope, yet. Enough to suggest that I could see the Demons winning this game. Guys like Oliver, Petracca and Viney can match up on Mitchell, O’Meara, and Smith and, on their day, potentially beat them.

Wingard and Sicily are both keys for the Hawks. If they play well, then the Hawks will win. If Melbourne can stop them, then it’s potentially game on.

I’ve talked up Melbourne a bit here and talked down the Hawks a bit. I fear I’m making the commentators’ error of sniffing an upset and the creation of a new story and running with it a bit. In reality, the Hawks are just too good, and the Dees can win but usually won’t.

Hawks by 13

 

Fremantle V West Coast Eagles 4.35wst Optus

The Western Derby is upon us. I’ve not recently taken too much stock in the Derbies, because the results have recently been of no real importance to either side. The Rivalry died down a little the last decade, as the team who was expected to win generally won. But this year is different. It’s a little reminiscent of the 1999 derby: The young Dockers side have struggled for form since 95 (15); They’ve lost 9 derbies in a row. They’ve a new coach (hopefully Longmuir is a great deal better than He-who-must-not-be-named) and there’s a little weakness appearing in West Coast.

But more than that, this game is a little litmus test for the reality of the Dockers’ season. They’ve been competitive, finally won a game, but have yet to match themselves against the best. They were OK against Port, but lost by too much, probably unlucky to not beat Brisbane, but outside that their opponents haven’t been top level; though they will take a huge amount of confidence from their inspiring come from behind win against the Saints.

The Eagles at home are a different animal to the Eagles away from home. West Coast don’t like losing at home – especially to the Dockers. They’re proud of being the big club and “owning the west” and Freo can be a thorn in the side. West Coast have just found some form, but their wins have also come against lowly sides.

The Dockers could win or lose this by 8 goals and neither result would surprise me. It’s just that kind of game. An Eagles win would be a record ten Derby wins in a row, but something tells me this Dockers’ side has a little more determination than they may have in the past. JL knows all about derbies, and he’ll be buying into them.

Knowing quite well that my tipping has been terrible all year and jinxed a few sides,

West coast by 24.

Sorry, not sorry.

 

Monday

Adelaide V St Kilda 7.10 Adelaide Oval

If there was to be a Monday of all games, this would be it.

Keep an eye out for certain ruckman to accidentally reveal notes this week, too. Not only did it seem to work, he got a new phone out of it, too.

Adelaide actually looked pretty good against the Eagles last week- particularly early. They also did a lot of good the week before against the Dockers, and probably lost themselves the game through their bad kicking. So, they may actually be building to some form, but I want them to make some big calls on the selection table. Drop Tex permanently. He’s averaging a goal and 8 touches a game, but really has no impact. They need to make a statement about their future, and that statement needs to be about building the club for the future. There’s no doubt a handy 18-20-year-old on the list who could have the same impact. I’m not usually one for gifting games to anyone, but at this stage of the season, there’s nothing to lose.

The Saints have done plenty good this year. I’ve really liked the way they’ve gone about their footy, and their blistering pace and efficiency inside 50 is incredible. But perhaps they’re living up to their name a little too well and are quite saintly giving away wins to anyone who asks. Twice now they’ve given up 5 goal leads. Put pressure on them, and they apparently collapse. Take Brad Hill out of the game and no one else steps up to run. Cover King and their forward line doesn’t function. String a couple of goals together and watch them lost their heads completely.

Here’s some notes for you this week, Reilly O’Brien:

  • Give up first 4-6 goals – Saints will get complacent
  • Let a few of your team get injured – especially if they’re currently your best player
  • Wait for Saints to stop playing – should happen after you kick a couple of goals
  • Win dramatically.

 

Does Adelaide have the ability to do that? Absolutely not. Not in any way, shape or form.

Saints by 21.

The Mongrel 50 – Volume Two