Round 3 AFL Preview

Last Week 3/9     Season Total 9/18

Western Bulldogs vs Brisbane   Marvel Stadium               Thursday Night

Footscray looks like a team in a bit of disarray.  One of the early favourites to do well for the year and a dire loss to St Kilda makes the start of the year troublesome and a very long road to the finals from here.  But the Western Suburbs of Melbourne was always an area where people would just roll up their sleeves and get it done.  Can they do that against Brisbane?  A terrible loss in round 1 was followed by a stirring victory in bizarre circumstances at the Gabba in Round 2.  While I may have got that tip wrong, I did suggest that one way Brisbane could beat Melbourne was with a well-trained individual on the roof of the Clem Jones stand with a rifle.  Not to say I’m some kind of Nostradamus, but I reckon I’m some kind of Nostradamus! In the after-match interview, Dayne Zorko said he heard something that sounded like gunshots and then the lights went out.  Expert move by the Lions hierarchy there, although it nearly back-fired with the D’s coming out after the unscheduled break and almost producing a Lazarus effort.  What does all this mean for this week?  Nothing really.  Timid ball movement by Footscray will be turned around this week and at Marvel this will be a hot contest with the Dogs desperate not to be 0-3.  I think Brisbane is vulnerable here.  W. Bulldogs by 8 points.


Collingwood vs Richmond           MCG      Friday Night

When you’re wrong, you’re wrong (and I was wrong a lot last week).  My lack of faith in Collingwood was based solely on the historical record that Port has against the Pies at the MCG.  But to quote any Superannuation ad, past history is not an indicator of future performance.  Words to live by.  It’s a strange time we live in when everyone talks about how much they love Collingwood.  A few more wins by the Pies and everyone will be sick of it and the natural order of Magpie hatred will be restored.  Richmond looked strong against Adelaide and held off a late fight back to win comfortably.  But a growing list of niggly injuries and a hefty suspension for an ill-conceived tackle has Richmond on the back foot.  This week on Friday Night the MCG will be heaving with 90,000+ rabid supporters, yelling in support of their team or just Yelling ‘B A A A L L L L’ because it sounds so great.  To tag or not to tag?  It’s been the burning question when talking about Collingwood’s star backman.  So far this season we’ve seen one team not tag him and get slaughtered and one team tag him…and get slaughtered.  Sydney has managed it, but maybe things are different this year.  More data is required.  I think we saw a blueprint for beating the Pies on Thursday Night and perhaps is something Richmond can try.  To counter the late Magpie surge, trip the breaker to the lights so the game result is called early…food for thought, anyway.  What I like is McCrae has been bullish about unleashing the fun of watching footy and I think Hardwick likes that approach too.  I was hoping they would get together and hatch a plan to put DeGoey and Martin head to head, but hamstring awareness will rob us of that.  Who wins this one?  It could go either way but let’s say Collingwood by 14 points with a high lack of confidence.


Hawthorn vs North Melbourne University of Tasmania  Saturday Morning

Last week Hawthorn came up against a very strong side in Sydney.  The result was inevitable.  Based on precedent, the Coaching Succession Plan is going about as well as any previous succession plan in the history of the AFL.  This morning I read that Hawthorn had a secret meeting called “Unite and Inspire” …which someone walked out on!  I can see at least two things wrong with that, can you?  This is a tough time indeed for Hawks Fans, especially coming after a sustained period of success.  Hang in there folks, there’s still a bottom to this ride.  Things don’t get easier when you have to face your old, previously successful coach at the helm of a new club.  And what a refreshed and happy looking Clarkson we see.  Previously it was all punching walls, abusing Under-9’s umpires and throat-grabbing.  Now he’s down on the boundary line, punching air, pantomiming umpires and headline-grabbing.  He’s all smiles (he kinda reminded me of Uncle Arthur).  It was certainly an exciting finish to the match and as an objective observer I found myself fully invested.  For this game, Tasmania holds no fears for either club with each club claiming it their home away from home, at least until the AFL gets a full-time team down there.  I think Clarko will have the North players up for this one for a miraculous 3-0 start to the season.  North Melbourne by 16.


Greater Western Sydney vs Carlton        GIANTS Stadium              Saturday Afternoon

Carlton brushed the reigning premiers aside last week.  I gotta say, it makes me nervous having the name Carlton associated with words like ‘confident’ and ‘competent’.  They’ll take their first road trip of the year to go and see what’s happening up in Sydney at Giants Stadium and tackle GWS, who lowered their colours against a form-reversed West Coast.  A loss here could see Carlton in that eternal struggle to keep in contact with the top teams so I expect that will be motivation enough.  I’m really not sure which way to lean on this one.  ChatGPT was no help at all, telling me that Carlton are a good team because David Teague is so innovative and that GWS are so good because of Jacob Hopper.  A.I. is dead to me.  I say we should all stop living in the past and just pick a side.  Carlton by 26 points.


Saint Kilda vs Essendon                MCG      Saturday Night

Ross is up to his old tricks.  Bogging games down and making it generally hard to move the ball.  He carries a certain demeanor in his press interactions, and we like that he’s back in footy.  The Saints were stingy against the Dogs last week but there is method in their madness.  Essendon also have re-captured some of the talent they seemed to always have, but could never unlock.  This week is the 150th year celebration match for the Saint Kilda Football club.  It’s remarkable to think they have had 150 years in existence and only have a single cup to show for it.  What an indicator of just how tough this caper is!  Essendon will be looking to poop on that party…but hopefully not in the literal sense.  They have shown some freedom of movement (that’s not a joke about fiber), but can they stand up to the Lyon Ligature?  I don’t think so.  Saint Kilda by 19 points.


Port Adelaide vs Adelaide           Adelaide Oval   Saturday Night

If 150 years is not big enough for you, try 153 from the Port Adelaide Football Club.  They’ll be wearing their black and white prison bars after being granted permission by everyone’s new best friend, Collingwood.  They’ll be fired up after last week’s performance.  I can’t help but think about that bus trip back last week.  It was all hugs and kisses prior to the match as Port offered Pies supporters a seat on the bus to the MCG.  I feel that after such a drubbing, the bus trip back would have included a kind of segregation not seen for several decades.  Honestly who’d want to sit next to a Pies supporter after that, anyway?  You’d practically taste the smugness.  But at least they get to wear the heritage strip.  Adelaide showed some good patches against Richmond last week and will be no easy beats in this one as Showdowns tend to bring about statistical outliers.  On that subject, I have spent years trying to create a statistical model to simulate matches that level the playing field to work out which team is, pound for pound, better than any other given team.  What I have now is a statistical leviathan that I keep updating purely because I’m scared of what will happen if I stop.  Occasionally I consult it on matches like this, but it is yet to give me a definitive success rate that is any higher than the background guess rate while consuming vast amounts of my spare time.  But what else could I possibly spend my time on though?  Family?  Friends? Self Improvement?  Port Adelaide by 33 points.


Gold Coast vs Geelong  Carrara Sunday Morning

If you’re reading this on the day of the match and you’re in one of those states…put your clocks back.  Yep.  Finally, that crazy daylights saving thing is finished for another year.  As kids sleep patterns return to normal, cows start milking at the right time and curtains start darkening again, these two teams will be slogging it out in the humid conditions that the Gold Coast has to offer.  Both teams are winless for the season and this game will serve to lift one of them up off the bottom of the proverbial barrel.  I love a bit of history.  Carrara is a field that reeks of it.  In the old days this was a happy hunting ground for Geelong with them once scoring 239 points to beat the Bears by 164 points.  Back in the days when Ablett Snr would stalk the forward line and take scalps with ease.  But, alas, he is not playing…and alas, I don’t think it matters.  In more recent history, Gold Coast have had a terrible time against the Cats.  I see no reason for that trend to change.  Geelong by 57 points.


Melbourne vs Sydney   MCG      Sunday Afternoon

Melbourne was very lucky to only lose by the margin they did in the end.  The loss of Gawn for the next few weeks will be tricky to cover.  But this is exactly one of the reasons they got Grundy in for.  Time for him to stand tall…so to speak.  Sydney had an easy training run against the Hawthorn Colts which either bodes well for them having not been too tired out or bodes poorly in that they are not up to the rigours of a hardened team.  I’m personally looking forward to this one as Melbourne will be keen to put in a better showing than last week and being a day game won’t have to deal with any lighting issues (although an eclipse is scheduled soon).  Sydney on the other hand have a pretty good record against Melbourne at the MCG and this will be their first real test for the season.  This will also be one of those times in Melbourne where sports lovers will be torn between coming to a great game of footy or going to the post-covid return of the Australian Grand Prix.  Ticket prices will have a say in that I’ll bet.  Personally I’ll have two TV’s set up where I am and the plan is to drink just enough beer that my eyes point in different directions and I can watch both.  For the record, enough beer is just the one these days.  Melbourne by 3 points and Piastri to finish…no position…just to finish would be good.


Fremantle vs West Coast             Perth Stadium   Sunday Twilight

Just as Fernando Alonso is stepping onto the 3rd place podium, Fremantle and West Coast will be going toe to toe in a Western Derby extravaganza.  Last week West Coast took on board the “their gameplan is outdated” feedback and turned that into a modern go-fast footy game to put GWS to the sword.  This means that attention was turned during the week to Fremantle and “their gameplan is outdated” feedback was rolled out again.  On the strength of that Fremantle should be more desperate as a 0-3 start would be disastrous, but West Coast is a week further along in the application of the new game plan so how does one tip this game?  I find the best way is to ask a supporter of each team why they think their team is best.  West Australians are very parochial so be careful if you do this to manage your time well.  Approach the question like you’re Jason Bourne and identify all exits before asking and perhaps learn some Krav Maga to help with your escape.  Overall history has this in West Coast’s favour but recent history points to Fremantle.  The more you scratch the surface on this one the muddier the waters get.  Hopefully the Optus turf is in better nick after the extra week.  Crystal Ball says Fremantle by 22 points.


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