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Round Eight Mongrel Preview

I am going to use my over-inflated ego that I got from winning a pretty competitive tipping competition to pretend myself an expert- for the next five minutes or so and give you the goods on who to tip this weekend. Because let’s face it, tipping has been an absolute nightmare this season, with every game being less predictable than the last. So, if you’re looking for some advice, or just want a guide as to what you think might happen this weekend, read further and let my “expertise” show you the way.

 

Friday

Sydney Swans V Essendon Bombers (7.50 Sydney time, S.C.G).

Usually a game like this would be a nice break from the rubbish Carlton games that have flooded our screens on a Friday night. Except Carlton are pretending to be an AFL side this year and have therefore lost all their Friday nighters to Sydney, who are looking like they have never seen a football before.

I’m not really sure what happened to Sydney. Many pundits are putting it down to the fact that they have been up for so long that they are due a poor season, but this season they look particularly terrible. Maybe giving all their good players away for nothing wasn’t such a good idea - about as bad as back-loading a $10m contract so that your power forward is paid more after his prime.

Essendon on the other hand have exceeded my pretty meagre expectations of them. I don’t really know why, but I had pretty low expectations for them this year. Maybe just cause I wanted to be different, or maybe because Essendon and finals aren’t exactly synonymous. Their midfield looks a bit more like an A-grade midfield with Shiel, and Daniher is looking about as half as good as Bruce thinks he is, which is about another half as good as he was two years ago.

What a pity he won’t be out there to either prove, or disprove that confusing statement… further confusing matters.

Essendon will win this pretty comfortably by 18 points.

 

Saturday

 

Bulldogs V Lions (1.45 Mars time, Mars).

Elon Musk has done it, and this game will be taking place on the red planet; I’m clearly joking, it’s at the Mars stadium in Ballarat. But, like Mars, it’s isolated and we’re yet to find any form of intelligent life there, so the name is fitting.

(The Mongrel Punt would like to make clear that the opinions of Matt are his own, and not representative of our entire team… irrespective of how correct they may be).

Anyway, the game itself could be interesting. Brisbane are playing the best footy they’ve played in a decade, and the Dogs are still suffering from the worst premiership hangover in living memory. Still, the Lions aren’t unbeatable, and the Dogs are capable of playing some good footy. Naughton is fresh off his automatic inclusion into the AFL hall of fame after kicking five goals against a pretty depleted Richmond backline- which unfortunately for Dimma, was missing Jesus (or Hamling, or any other full back that’s managed to keep Naughton to the kind of figures you’d expect from him). Don’t get me wrong, Naughton will be a great player, but I haven’t seen an over-reaction from the media like that since an injured player decided to have a quiet pint.

Logic says to tip Brisbane. They’re in form, and the better side, and also haven’t lost to Carlton. But don’t say I didn’t warn you when the Dogs end up winning.  Brisbane by 5.

 

Carlton V Collingwood (1.45 Melbourne time, MCG)

Collingwood must be exhausted from all that travelling they did to Marvel stadium last week; you might forgive them a slow start. Why they would make Collingwood who have more members than seats at Marvel, play at the venue is beyond the likes of me. But the AFL moves in mysterious ways and who am I to judge their wisdom?

Carlton have been playing pretty well this year. Much better than their one win suggests, and the players will be buoyed by the confidence of Cripps signing on and saying he wants to hang around there. In fact, he said it so loudly, I’m half expecting his to request a trade in three weeks. That’s a bit harsh, I admire the loyalty and leadership that comes with a comment like that, and he’s the type of player you can really build a side around. So well done, Carlton.

But back to the game. As much as I think Carlton is playing well, and as much as I love to see Collingwood lose… I just can’t see where Carlton can kick a winning score.

Collingwood by 26…. But if Carlton win a couple of quarters, and the results were judged that way, they’d be eighth, you know?

 

Suns V Demons (4.35pm, Gold coast time, Gold coast).

Well the Suns are doing pretty well this season. They seem to be a bit more organised and really took it to the Eagles last week. They almost look like they actually want to be out there, which makes a nice change. It seems as though every time a high-profile recruit walks out on them, the rest of the team just gets a little bit better. Or maybe it’s just that Stewie Dew is a competent coach.

Melbourne, on the other hand, have had a poor season by the standards they set last year. They’re missing Hogan a lot more than they’d admit to, and apparently are more concerned with the drinking habits of their players more than their game plan. Anyway, while their forward line got up and left, their back line apparently forgot how to defend- or maybe they didn’t defend that well last year, and we just didn’t notice because they were able to kick a decent score.

Melbourne did find a bit of form with a win over Hawthorn last week, but the Jury’s still out on whether they’re still Hawthorn or not.

Suns will win this at home in a tight one. Suns by 7 points.

 

Saints V Eagles (7.25pm Melbourne Time, Marvel).

The Saints came down from their March premiership and have got a fair old whack with the reality stick over the last couple of weeks. It’s amazing how the fixture sorts itself out when the bottom sides start playing the better teams, they are usually found out eventually.

The Eagles, on the other hand, have decided that only playing half a game of football is good enough this year. They’ll blame the surface, or the shorter pre-season or whatever else they can to deflect from the fact that maybe they just aren’t that good this year. Or maybe they are, and they’re just having a bit of a form-slump like many teams do. If you were an Eagles fan, you’d happily be having that slump now rather than September, which I think they will still feature pretty prominently.

Eagles to win this in a pretty routine match. Eagles by 29 points.

 

The Showdown (showdown time, Adelaide).

If you were to ask anyone from South Australia what this game meant, and many would say it’s more important than any other game. I’m not sure why a pre-scheduled game involving two teams who happen to train near each other should hold any type of significance, but that’s footy, and these rivalries are what make it great. If you were to ask anyone else what they thought of this game and it sounds a lot less like a showdown, and much more like the battle of who could care less.

Port Adelaide will be full of excitement and confidence after playing some very good football in recent times. Their win at Optus over West Coast is still providing them with some sort of belief, but their follow up ordinary win against the Roos and pretty decent thumping by Collingwood gives us a much more accurate portrayal of where they are at.

Adelaide on the other hand have had a slow start to their season, but they are building towards something pretty good. They hammered the Suns, got over the saints and, in a remarkable game, managed to beat Freo despite trying really hard to lose.

As much as Fremantle’s backline were lauded in that game, I don’t think enough credit went to Adelaide’s whole ground defence, which made scoring virtually impossible for the dockers- who seemed to have reversed their scoring woes up to that point. Because of that, I don’t think Port will be able to kick a winning score, nor have the same defensive ability as the Dockers to stop the Crows at the other end.

Adelaide to win in a tight one. Crows by 15 points.

Check out extended coverage of the Showdown with the Mongrel’s Showdown Preview

 

Sunday

North V Cats (1.10pm Melbourne time, Marvel).

North almost got a small reprieve this week with the cats losing Ablett, but the AFL later decided it’s who you are - not what you do - that constitutes a suspension. There’s not much really to say about this game. The Cats are the premiership favourites, and clearly the best team in the comp. The Roos look like they’d be a comfortable middle tier team in the VFL; however, they did just thump Carlton which gives no one any more confidence over their ability but does allow them to keep their coach for a few more weeks.

This will be a bit of a light training drill for the Cats, who’ll win by 45 points.

 

Hawthorn V GWS (3.20pm Melbourne time, MCG).

I’m not sold on Hawthorn at all this season. On paper, they have the players and the coach to go deep into December (?). A genuine destination club that have had no problem recruiting players for well below their worth; which seems to defeat the purpose of the salary cap, but that’s another issue. However, this year they haven’t really hit their stride. They have beaten the teams they were expected to beat but haven’t really been convincing in any game they’ve played. They seem a little bit slower and less composed than the great Hawthorn dynasty of the early 2010s, but mostly because of Clarkson, it would be stupid to ever write them off completely.

GWS on the other hand seem to be going about their business as well as you could expect them to. They may be running out of number one picks on their list, but they still have plenty of talent to put a decent side together. With Cameron in career best form, and their midfield firing, they really haven’t struggled much all year- except against the West Australian teams, one of whom was in the type of form you’d expect the reigning premiers to be, and the other decided to actually rock up and be competitive for a change, mostly taking the Giants by surprise.

As much as every coach says every win is important, you feel as though the Hawks need to win this in order to keep their season alive. GWS are pretty comfortable with where they’re at, but when you’re hanging on to a potential top 8 by a thread, as Hawthorn are, it is more important not to lose these games.

Having said that, I think with Greene and Cameron up forward, the Giants won’t have too many issues kicking a winning score and will win by 21 points.

 

Fremantle V Richmond (3.20pm Perth time, Optus).

I was accused, after my first article, of being a “one eyed freo sook” (sic). So, being true to that, Freo will win this by several hundred points….

But let’s get with reality; I take a bit of offense to that. I pretty rarely actually tip Fremantle, mostly because they’ve been terrible for a really long time, and partly because getting the tip right is a bit like a consolation prize to make Mondays a little bit easier.

But I digress. This is a game Fremantle should win. It’s at their home, their midfield is firing, their backline is the best in the comp and their forward line actually wants to kick a score this year; except last weekend, but as much as I enjoyed that game and want more like it (yes I’m weird), it’s not one we will really look to when discussing Freo’s forward movements. Rather I’d look to what they have done before that, against GWS, the Roos and, if you remove the inaccuracy, the Eagles. 

Richmond on the other hand already look exhausted this season. They are trying really hard but are running out of troops. Their midfield is still elite but Lynch up forward hasn’t been able to cover the loss of Riewoldt, and no Rance down back has left a pretty gaping hole, which greatest-forward-ever-to-play-the-game-Naughton exploited last week.

On Paper Fremantle should win this, but you can never trust Fremantle, especially in games they should win.

Fremantle with the home ground advantage will win a scrappy affair by 7 points.

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