Round 1 AFL Preview

Richmond vs Carlton      MCG      Thursday Night

 The 2023 season kicks off with the traditional firecracker match between Richmond and Carlton.  When the AFL first came up with this great idea (well the clubs did – the AFL just said, yes) it quickly turned into a disaster as Richmond were a perennial 9th placed team and Carlton were doing ok after their recovery from their Salary Cap breach in 2002.  Then it was just as much a disaster as Richmond built their dynasty while Carlton languished.  But these clubs have consistently opened the season every year since 2007 (except 2014 when they played in Round 2 for some reason).  How will these teams shape up for the year?  Time will tell…or maybe statistics can tell us.  Based on previous results, the margin is likely to be between 20 and 30 points  But more likely to be 28 points if Carlton win and more likely to be 20 points if Richmond win.  Confused?  Just tip Carlton by 23 points


Geelong vs Collingwood              MCG      Friday Night

 If you talk to any Collingwood supporter worth their salt they’ll tell you straight away that this is the Grand Final we should have had in 2022.  Any Geelong supporter will then retort, “Which we would have won.”  The Geelong supporter might be right too.  The Cats have beaten the Pies 7 of the last 9 matches (or 10 matches if you prefer round numbers) and you’d have to go all the way back to Collingwood’s premiership year in 2010 to find a time when Collingwood beat Geelong in a final.  It’s been different off-seasons for the two teams with Geelong saying goodbye to some club champions/future coaches and Collingwood spending more time dealing with ‘mates’ filming mates and shopping that footage around for profit… Jack needs some better mates.  Ollie Henry has gone to join his brother at Geelong and that kind of turncoat switching could be the deciding factor…cue the boos.  Collingwood by 6…poetic.


North Melbourne vs West Coast              Marvel Stadium               Saturday Morning

 For most, this contest holds about as much interest as a sea sponge migration, but North Melbourne supporters will be watching intently to see if Clarkson can pick this once mighty club up off the canvas.  West Coast supporters will be watching intently to see if their players look fit and interested.  But daylight savings means that for West Coast supporters at least, bouncedown is before pub opening times so drowning their sorrows to a poor season start will be a little more difficult.  North Melbourne by 11.


Port Adelaide vs Brisbane           Adelaide Oval   Saturday Afternoon

 A few Port Adelaide stalwarts chose to go around again and if vision of them in the pre-season matches is anything to go by, they probably shouldn’t have.  In the meantime Brisbane shed some talent during the off-season, which may have the effect of streamlining their talent pool, although that pool can be pretty shallow if injuries bite as the season wears on.  The Lions have been knocking for a while now and it is only so long that continued unanswered doors are walked away from.  Interestingly, these two teams have not squared off at Adelaide Oval since 2019, probably due to Covid, but when they do play there Port usually trounce the Lions (in fairly recent history, anyway).  On the strength of that, Port Adelaide by 29.


Melbourne vs Western Bulldogs              MCG      Saturday Night

 It’s difficult to reconcile these teams form since the 2021 Grand Final.  I was at that game and felt it was a tense contest, except for the last 15 minutes.  Since then, Melbourne have had in-fighting and teams seemed to work them out a bit last year such that they were beaten twice on their home deck by visiting teams to go out in straight sets.  The Bulldogs on the other hand fell away so much that they only just scraped into the 8 and were forced to travel to Fortress Freo.  Melbourne will be stinging more from their straight sets exit last year and will be looking to put an early stamp on this season.  Melbourne by 38 points.


Gold Coast vs Sydney    Heritage Bank Stadium                                 Saturday Night

 It’s that time of year again.  The time when we read the fixture and see a new Stadium name we have never heard of and wonder where that could be so we look it up and find out it’s just a new incarnation of Carrara Oval.  Back in the late 80’s and 90’s it would have been great to go there and see the likes of Ablett, Dunstall, Beasley and Daicos kicking bags against the struggling Brisbane Bears.  Now it is just a passing interest to see the progress of one of the AFL’s pet projects and in this case against one of their most successful relocations.  Gold Coast importantly need to get those early wins on the board to help drive revenue in the right direction but Sydney need to make a statement following last years Grand Final debacle otherwise external scrutiny will be turned up a few notches.  For that reason alone, Sydney will not want that added pressure so Sydney by 35 points.


Greater Western Sydney vs Adelaide    GIANTS Stadium              Sunday Morning

 A Sunday morning game and here in WA this is an even earlier start at 10am thanks to Daylight Savings.  Adelaide will be travelling over to Giants Stadium, aka Showground.  This has not been a happy hunting ground for Adelaide since their off season camp (funny I can point to that as a moment in time like BC/AD) although there is barely enough data points to call it a viable sample set.  Adelaide looked pretty sharp in the pre-season, if you can rely on that as good input.  I see this as a battle of two teams who were embarrassed by Richmond in a Grand Final, both of which, never really recovered.  I’m going to pick Adelaide by 9 points but only because I have some friends that will be excited about that.


Hawthorn vs Essendon MCG      Sunday Afternoon

 The AFL has put together a pretty stellar season start and this is one of the ‘celebrations of Victorian Footy’ that they have included in Round 1.  After the Hawthorn Dynastic years, times have been lean and more so in recent years.  A big cleanout in the off season and an injection of youth might be just what was needed.  Essendon have been in no-mans-land since the peptide dramas an AFL career ago and years of promise have fallen short time again.  What will we see on this Sunday afternoon?  Hopefully a close and somewhat spiteful game as promised by the Bombers players in the lead-up talk to this one.  Maybe this is their year?  Sounds like a strong enough reason for a tip.  Bombers by 25 points.


Saint Kilda vs Fremantle              Marvel Stadium               Sunday Twilight

 Match of the round?  Maybe not, but with Ross Lyon back at the helm of a club, it’s sure to be the press conference of the round.  I don’t think that Saint Kilda have the firepower to overcome a rising Fremantle.  Will Ross resort to his, drag the game down to such low heights that anyone can win to give his team a chance or has he learned something in his time away from the coal face?  Longmuir has some new weaponry in his arsenal with Luke Jackson returning to the state and a fit Fyfe freely fumbling forward forays.  Given that Justin has already heard everything that goes on inside the Saints box, I think Ross will likely get schooled in modern football…and OneDrive.  Fremantle by 46 points.


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