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Round Nine Mongrel Preview

 I’m back with another rendition of unwanted and unqualified tipping advice, this time for round nine. If we learnt anything from last week, it’s that if you’re going to follow my tips, I would suggest strongly that you go with the opposite team. Between the Gold Coast not wanting to win, Freo not turning up for half a game, and Essendon somehow losing to Sydney, I reckon I got about four tips right.

But for some reason I’ve decided to have another crack at it, so here goes nothing.

 

Friday

West Coast Eagles V Melbourne (6.10 Perth time, Optus).

Melbourne will be making the road trip across the Nullarbor with painful memories of their preliminary final demolition against the Eagles last year. The most attacking team of the season were held goalless for a half, as the Eagles completed a quiet training session to lead into the next week’s grand final.

This year has seen Melbourne unable to capture the scoring power they had last year that failed so horribly against the Eagles. If the Dees repeat the performance, then the Eagles - searching for a bit of inspiration - will be ten goals up at quarter time.

Both the Eagles and the Dees have found just a bit of form the last few weeks. The Eagles were rocky for a while, but a professional win against the Saints has shown they still know how to control a game, even when they’re not at their best. The Dees beat Hawthorn a few weeks ago and somehow (I still don’t really know how) managed to beat the Suns last week in a thriller.

Can the Dees have a better go at Optus this time around? No. Eagles by 42.

 

Saturday

Collingwood V Saints (1.45 Melbourne time, MCG).

The Pies were given a bit of a scare by the Blues last week, particularly the banner crew who were so confident of a win that they used their 15 seconds of fame to request that fellow pies’ fans make space for the expected three quarter time mass exodus of Carlton supporters.

Often having a pre-game dig at your opponents can backfire and this one nearly did as Pies went into three quarter time a goal behind their wooden spooned rivals.

Still, Collingwood are a top side for a reason, and they completely ran over the top of the Baggers in the last quarter and that was that.

The Saints played the Eagles at home and despite an inspired resurgence in the last quarter, they lack the class, composure and capabilities to beat the good sides at the moment. They were never really in the hunt, despite the late momentum, and unless they can work out how to play more consistently against the good sides, they aren’t going to win many games.

I think the Pies will use their short kicks to control possession of this game, and will win it comfortably by 21 points.

 

Lions V Crows (2.10 Brisbane Time, The Gabba)

The Crows have found some of that dominant form from a few years ago. It seems they have finally recovered from their mysterious pre-season exploits that ruined their season last year, and are looking, once again, at a top four finish. Or maybe it’s simply that they dropped Jenkins from their talented but dysfunctional forward line and replaced him with someone good in Himmelberg.

Brisbane, on the other hand, are still looking good this year, but have hit a few rocky patches in recent weeks. Their three losses have all been against sides who have beaten them in the contested ball. Apart from Hodge, they lack some class down back and will need to be at their attacking best to beat the Crows. Their pressure was immense early on in the season, and if they can return to that then they’re a good chance of rebounding quickly.

Adelaide on the other hand have been terrific in defence. They strangled the Dockers 2 weeks ago, and restricted Port to just three goals in three quarters last week before deciding that they’d make a game of it-because a blow out is just not how showdowns work, and the South Australians do love their tradition.

I can’t speak highly enough of the Adelaide defence, nor is enough credit afforded them. They say forwards win memberships, but defenders win premierships (except for Ross Lyon’s teams apparently), and that might be the difference this weekend. Both sides love a good contested ball, but I think Adelaide’s midfield runs a bit deeper than Brisbane’s and therefor they should have the upper hand.

Adelaide by 12 points.

 

Geelong V Western Bulldogs (4.35 Melbourne time, GHMBABCDEFGHIJ stadium)

Seriously, who gives a stadium and acronym as a name? What’s wrong with calling it Kardinia Park. “Our banners fly high, from dawn ‘til dark, down at GHMBA stadium” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Fortunately, they haven’t had to change it in the song, but still, of all ground names, this one is the worst.

Anyway, rant over. Geelong are the greatest team of all (this season, anyway). Most teams can’t find a weakness to their set up: their forwards are dynamic, their midfield is deep and talented, and their backline has been a double brick wall; plus, the AFL isn’t letting Gary take a holiday, even though he clearly wants one.

Everyone is just hoping their new kids start getting a bit tired and their older blokes start getting a bit sore, because it’s the only way they appear to be beatable, unless you surprise them like GWS did.

The Dogs on the other hand have been up and down. Their best is great, but their worst is awful. The are a team that relies heavily on scoring from momentum but can’t really control games for long periods of time. A win here would be great for everyone, cause everyone’s sick of Geelong, but I can’t see it happening.

Geelong will win this by five goals and their noise about playing a final at home will start to get louder and more irritating. I’m not sure why they want to so much, I mean you’d think it was a great advantage for them but last time they played a final in Geelong, they lost.

 

Essendon V Freo (7.25 Melbourne time, Marvel)

Well I got both these teams wrong last week. I did warn you that Freo tend to lose the games they should win, and I did say I had meagre expectations for the Bombers, who I really just can’t get a handle on this year.

Let’s start with Essendon. They get Daniher back which is probably good for them, but lose ORAAAAZIO FANTASIA, who has been excellent this year, but more importantly will make BT sad and have to come up with other nonsense to talk about. Speaking of BT, how hard is it to pronounce a player’s name right. It doesn’t matter if everyone used to get it wrong, you should start calling people by their proper name as soon as you are corrected- regardless of dialect. And if they decide to then change it to the way you were saying it, anyway… well… good!

I’m getting side-tracked again. There’s not much to say about Essendon last week, they’ll put that loss in the memory bank, but they won’t want to repeat the performance in front of their home crowd.

Fremantle were pretty rubbish last week. Against a depleted Tigers group, they decided to have a late lunch and a longer half time break, not rocking up until the Tigers had put a score on the board. They also have this tendency to pass the ball instead of trying to kick a goal, stuffing it up and allowing the other team to score off the turnover. It’s as if none of them want to actually kick goals. If I was a coach, I’d be dropping any player who could have a shot but decides to pass it - it becomes very high risk for almost no reward. They looked very tired on the weekend, and very ordinary. Some changes will have to be made to their line up and you’d expect Blakely to come in for, well, just about anyone.

Freo at their best are probably better than Essendon at their best, but anything could happen this week depending on which teams decide to rock up. Freo should win, but they won’t. Their scoring has dried up too much and although they have the talent, they lack imagination. Essendon by 17 points.

 

North V Sydney (7.25 Tassie time, Blundstone arena)

If you’d told me at the start of the year that when these 2 teams played, they’d be 16th and 17th, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. I thought that although neither were going to be contenders this year, both Buddy and Brown would enjoy the space that the 6,6,6 rule allows and that would be good enough to get them enough wins to stay out of the bottom four.

Yet that hasn’t happened so here we are, going to Tasmania to play a game that really has little importance on the overall season, but will be hugely important to both clubs.

Sydney need to be smarter. Not sure what Rampe was thinking, but that could have genuinely cost (and probably should have cost) them the four points last week. They also really need to work on their contested ball. For a side that was once among the best in and under team, they have fallen dramatically in that area, they also lack pace which leaves them in a pretty dreadful position.

The Roos recruited some pace and have some good inside players, but they lack polish and tend to collapse under pressure. This is a must win game for them, not in terms of finals because they’re out the window, but because they need to show their fans and members that they can beat the teams around them. If they don’t, they may be looking for a new coach soon - if they haven’t got their eye out already.

I think in Tassie though; North will win this. They’re better at the contested ball, and they can move it faster than the Swans. Roos by 12.

 

Sunday

Port V Suns (12.40 Adelaide time, Adelaide Oval)

I still don’t know how the Suns managed to snare defeat from the jaws of victory last week. They had the game in their grasp, the fat lady was halfway through her song when they just decided that winning isn’t really their thing. They’ve been in a fair few close ones this year, must be a nice change for their supporters, who, if we’re being honest, would’ve been expecting a few thrashings this season, but the stress of losing games they should be winning… they really are becoming Fremantle 2.0.

Port will take a lot from last week’s showdown. It took them 3 quarters, but they eventually decided that kicking goals is a good way to win a game of footy. It was too little too late, but teams learn from these so called “honourable losses.”

There’s a bit on the line in this game. A win to GC will see their season back on track and show the AFL community that they are capable of playing footy, something that we’ve been waiting for, for years. Port, at 4-4 need to win to get ahead on the ladder. By the end of the season, it’s going to be very tight from 4th to about 12th on the ladder so these wins are vital.

I think at Home, the Power will be too strong and win by 22 points.

 

Richmond V Hawthorn (3.20 Melbourne time, MCG).

Hawthorn are playing Richmond this week, which means they get to play in front of a half decent crowd. I admire the 15 or so people that rocked up to the game last week, but it does ask the question: have all your fans become Richmond members?

Seriously, talk about bandwagoners, a few years ago they were boasting 80,000 members and now you everyone just about gets their own block of seats at the game.

On the bright side, it appears Hawthorn have returned to their irritating goodness. We were all sick of them winning all the time, and it was nice to see them languishing down the bottom, or at least around the middle, but finishing outside the eight is almost a wooden spoon as far as Clarkson would be concerned.

Richmond were running out of troops last week but now they are running out of reserves. Fortunately for them, their strategy really doesn’t rely on any particular player. It is simple, doesn’t require a lot of skill - just pressure and pace. I couldn’t help but admire last weekend their ability to get the ball from one of the ground to the other with one actual disposal. They just knock it forward until someone can pick it up. You don’t need to be a champion to play for Richmond, you just need to compete. A lot of teams, I think, could learn from that.

I’m not sure where to stand on Hawthorn at the moment. One week they lose to Melbourne and the next week they don’t let GWS score 40 points. You can never rule them out, but that was a fairly large leap in quality from one week to the next.

Because of that, and because of the way they can control the game, I think they will beat Richmond. The Tigers will try hard, but I can’t see them repeating the heroics of last weekend. Hawks by 12.

 

GWS V Carlton (4.40 Sydney time, Giants Stadium).

GWS are not going to want a repeat of last weekend. I think it may have been an anomaly, but it does show that they are certainly not unbeatable, and perhaps not as good as we think they are. Carlton will be studying that tape pretty closely and hoping to be able to repeat whatever it was the Hawthorn did to stop the giants scoring.

Carlton were very good last week for three quarters. If you’re a baggers fan you’d be optimistic for the future, but then how many times have we said that? Carlton really took the game to the Pies last week and left nothing behind, and apart from the last 10 minutes or so, probably deserved to win the game. They are a young and relatively inexperienced side, so you can forgive them being overrun by the more experienced Collingwood, but they should be able to take confidence into this Sunday’s game.

This has become a must win game for GWS. They had a chance last week to make some space for themselves in the top 4, but probably should have stayed in Sydney. They were abysmal and are going to want to make up for that lacklustre effort in front of their home ground.

As good as Cripps is, and as inspired as Carlton were against the Pies, they should be coming up against a very angry Giants side who are going to want to win and win big. Giants by 38.

 

 

 

 

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