I’m back again with another instalment of “Who’s gonna do what this weekend” (or something catchier), the only AFL tipping guide you can find that guarantees disappointment.
North V Richmond, 7.50 Melbourne Time, Marvel
North sacked their coach and all their players instantly started to look like AFL footballers. It was great that Scott got to go out with a win, but I think he’d have rather kept his job and had the players play like that all season. Though I guess it is difficult to organise a fixture where you get to play the Dogs every week. Richmond got the job done in the wet-dreamtime game against a pretty average Essendon side, who tried to win it despite not showing up until three quarter time.
When they met last year, North surprisingly came within a couple of kicks of a good result. But as a whole, they’ve been a worse side this year, and despite a few lots of injures, Richmond look a very similar side. Can a new coach reinvigorate the Roos? I doubt it. Goldstein will give them the advantage in the ruck, but outside that they’ll be beaten by a faster, more aggressive side.
Tigers by 30.
Collingwood V Fremantle, 1.45 Melbourne time, MCG.
Fremantle come into this game still recovering from the heart attack that they all got during their win against Brisbane last week. Never has a team had so many opportunities to win a game, and still taken until the last second before doing it. It’s like procrastinating on an assignment until you must hand it in late, but still scraping through with a pass. But they managed to regain their good ball movement through the run and carry of Hill, Wilson, and Ryan, and a debutant in Bewley, which was a stark contrast to the stop-start rubbish they’d dished up for the previous few weeks.
Collingwood got a bit of a scare against the Swans. Grundy had a massive game and controlled the middle, and they managed to keep Franklin to his lowest disposal count (6) since 2009. Still they couldn’t gain much ascendency and only won by a handful out points, so are going to want to stamp some authority of a Fremantle side that hasn’t beaten them at the ‘G since 2006.
I regularly (and sometimes correctly) think with sport that the longer something hasn’t happened, the closer it is to happening - therefore an upset is likely, or a record will be broken. In that spirit, Fremantle are more than due a win over the Pies in the east, so I’d be tempted to tip them. But it won’t be happening this weekend, so I won’t.
Pies by 24.
Giants V Suns, 1.45 Sydney Time, Giant’s stadium
The battle of the newbies. This game should be a bigger rivalry than it is, really. Except on display, we really get the battle of a club that did things right the first time against a team that really didn’t.
Giants are coming in off a nice, relaxing holiday to the MCG which is usually a ground where they rarely win. A few experts said that now they’ve beaten Melbourne there, there’s no reason they couldn’t win a flag, but using a win over Melbourne to say you can win at the ‘G is like beating St. Kilda and calling yourself a top four contender.
The Suns really took the game up to the Cats. No one expected them to really challenge, but there they were, at three quarter time, still in the hunt. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to keep up the pace and Geelong found another gear to win it pretty comfortably, but it should give them hope against GWS this weekend.
I can’t see, however, how the Suns will stop Cameron. They can play some good defence and at times will match-even beat- the Giants in the midfield, but the Suns are still a young, developing side and the Giant’s cooler, classier players will wear them down.
Giants by 15.
Geelong V Swans, 4.35 Geelong time, Geelong.
The Swans have almost found a bit of form the last few weeks. They’ve won a game, been competitive in another and seem to have found a little bit of their mojo. They’re still not a good side, but they have beaten Geelong at the cattery a few times in the past. Though they used to win regularly in the past, so that’s not much to go on. However, now the pressure’s off North to sack their coach, the hungry media has found a new meal in Longmire who is in competition for their next poppy to cut down. The Swans need a win here to really turn their season around and put some faith back into their systems.
Gary Ablett finally got the week off he’s been asking for over the last month. The guy just wanted a holiday and they kept denying his leave form - giving to other guys who haven’t been around nearly as long and are a lot younger. Seriously though, you must ask what is going through the guy’s head: best footballer we’ve ever seen, but probably not the smartest guy in Victoria.
Anyway, Geelong got a bit of a scare on the weekend and they aren’t going to want to risk not turning up again. They have more than enough depth to cover the lack of Ablett, and as inspired as Sydney might be, I can’t see too many winners around the ground. They’ll need Franklin to have a big game but going to him too often makes them a bit predictable and Geelong’s backline is more than talented enough to limit his influence.
Geelong by 26
Brisbane V Hawthorn 7.25 Brisbane time, Gabba.
I watched Brisbane closely on the weekend, and they are a damn good side. Fast, confident, dynamic, have talent all around the field. It’s taken ten years, but Daniel Rich is finally in a team who can benefit off his long kicking and awfully underrated ball-use. Charlie Cameron is Betts-incarnate, and they have a great defender in Andrews down back, who admittedly was playing on a one-legged footballer in Hogan. It wasn’t enough to get them the win, but they really should have won. All year I’ve followed this team, they play fast and exciting footy and it’s a joy to see the crowds swell in Brisbane.
Hawthorn, on the other hand, have not really inspired much greatness. They are a workhorse, the old reliable machine compared to the flashy new tech that is Brisbane. Because of this, you can always rely on them to perform, even when they’re not performing all that well. Their win over Port in Tassie last week was doing what they need to do in the first quarter, and then taking their foot off the pedal once the game was won.
Hawthorn control a game better than any side in the competition- they have for a long time. Their ball use is composed and comfortable and they never feel the need to rush, even when moving quickly. It’s almost the opposite to the way Brisbane go about it; they’re a team who knows they don’t have the skill to chip it around, so they only do that when there’s no other option.
I’m always tempted to tip hawthorn. There was a time where you’d tick them without even looking at who they were playing, and you know you’d be right 9 times out of ten. But I’m inclined to go with Brisbane this week. They’ll be hurting after their close loss last week and will want to rebound at home to keep their top four chances alive. I think they’ll try and take the comfort and composure out of Hawthorn’s game and hit them the other way, with pace and pressure.
Lions by 7
Melbourne V Adelaide, 7.10 Darwin time, TIO.
Footy travels to Darwin for the first time this year. And Well done to Melbourne for taking a few of their games to the top North. The Territorians love their footy more than most and while they’ll never have an AFL side, they do deserve the chance to see a few games up there- even if it is the off-season.
Form wise, Melbourne were completely out played by the Giants last week, but they had performed well and really taken it to the Eagles in Perth the week before. Adelaide are finding form but couldn’t stay with the Eagles last week as they were overrun, despite getting ahead early. Their lack of heart is worrying, and It was highlighted to great scrutiny when Tex Walker decided he didn’t want a concussion. Everyone’s a bit harsh on him, most players would put their head over the ball, but I understand if he felt like someone might accidentally pull his ears off.
The Demons defence has been questionable all season and they still aren’t convincing up forward. They can match Adelaide in the middle, but I think the Crows will have them beat at the other two ends of the ground.
Crows by 10.
St. Kilda V Port Adelaide, 2.40 EST, Jiangwan stadium, China
The AFL is off for its annual excursion to China. I like this experiment: It’s a bit meaningless, it’s a bit useless and it costs a lot of money and is an inconvenience to the teams, but at least the AFL are consistent with their tinkering. Don’t get me wrong, tinkering with the sport is not always bad and growth is good, but I question the growth to a nation with a population of a billion people that can’t find 11 half decent ones to make a soccer team. It’s as if the entire country isn’t that interested in team-based ball sports. Perhaps America, New Zealand, India, England, South Africa or literally any other nation that might be interested in AFL would a better place to look for growth - but then what do I know?
Port haven’t lost in China since they’ve been there, but also, they’ve only ever played the Suns, so that’s not really saying much. This will be the Saints first trip over, so it’s new ground for them, but I don’t think that should trouble them too much. When both teams are travelling the whole home ground advantage kind of gets lost a bit, but the distance overall is important. Which ever team can adapt to the new oval, different conditions, and jet lag faster should get the jump on the other side.
The game itself will be an interesting story in the context of the season. The Saints who started so well are really looking for a big scalp to show the members that they could, just maybe, push for the eight this year. A game against Carlton last week should leave them refreshed, but there’s a bit step up from Blue to Teal.
The Power continue to be an enigma for me. I never really want to tip them, because they are about as inconsistent as … well the power in Adelaide, but I do think they will win this. They must, for the sake of Hinkley. Port and Hawthorn are probably the only 2 sides out of the eight at the moment who can win enough games to squeeze in (sorry Essendon fans, I don’t see it happening), and to do that they must win this game.
Port by 14
Essendon V Carlton 3.20 Melbourne time, Marvel
I learned recently that Charlie Curnow has played 54 games for 8 wins, which is comparable to Geelong’s Gryan Miers who has 9 wins from his ten games. Still, I’d rather be in Curnow’s position because then at least he doesn’t need to introduce himself by saying “Hi, I’m Gryran.”
Still, it’s not been a good week for Carlton. They’ve had to suspend Daisy Thomas for drinking at a fundraiser event. To be fair to Daisy, he’s the first Carlton player to turn up in about 5 years. He should be rewarded for that - though some say he probably was.
Essendon are ticking along nicely to just win enough games to finish just outside the 8. I might be able to see them in there, but they’re becoming a bit too easy to beat: stop Tippa, stop the Dons. It’s become a bit systematic that he only seems to kick goals when they’re winning- or that they only win when he’s kicking goals. Whichever it is, they need to do change something up a bit, and this week provides them ample chance.
The one thing that Carlton has going for them, is that they’re actually pretty good against the Dons. Maybe it’s a rivalry thing, but they’ve won three of the last five clashes, which genuinely surprised me. I wasn’t sure if they’d won three games in the last five years against anyone.
Sorry I’m being a bit harsh here Blue Baggers, but the team is rubbish- and that’s coming from a Freo supporter, I know rubbish footy teams and I know the position you’re in and it’s not a good feeling: You’re trying to be optimistic, but everyone who shows a bit of early talent early seems to stop improving. I don’t know how they fix them, but a win here might be a good start.
Essendon by 25.
West Coast Eagles V the Western Bulldogs, 3.20 Perth time, Optus.
It’s the battle of the southern eastern west Vs the actual west. I never really liked “the Western Bulldogs” as a name, I get the whole western suburbs bit, but Footscray was so much better-especially in a national comp where there are four teams more geographically west than you.
The Dogs don’t travel to Perth very well, yet they seem to twice a year, which must annoy them. Their last win in Perth came against the Eagles during the successful 2016 finals series, but it’s been pretty slim pickings around that one, most important result.
The Eagles have well and truly found their mojo. They’re still not playing a full game of footy, but when they do decide to flick the switch, they’re suddenly back to their form of last season.
Consistency has been a small problem, but you can afford to be a little bit inconsistent within games when you’re a champion side. Last week they showed Adelaide and the wider audience just how good they really are as they piled on 5 goals to 1 in the last quarter.
The Dogs can’t win this. They can try- as they always do- but they don’t have the class.
Eagles by 45.
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