Round 5 AFL Preview

Your intrepid Previewer is away for a couple of weeks so the Previews for Round 5 and 6 have been done ahead of time.  I’ll be about as far away from technology as humans can possibly be in this country and I’ll have no way of knowing what’s been happening in the AFL and what backflips either Analysts or Fredericks have been doing.


Adelaide vs Carlton        Adelaide Oval   Thursday Night

It’s Gather Round.  Billed as a way to bring everyone together in one place, during a pandemic, to see how we all get along?  I see Gather Round as an experiment.  Not in the medical pandemic sense where people in lab coats are calculating R numbers and publishing papers just when the P-value hits the specific spot that proves their hypothesis.  No, this is an experiment where we say…”Hey, Ed Sheeran!  You think your Sheerios can ‘F-up’ an oval?  Well we will play 6 games of footy in 3 days on one ground and show how to REALLY F-up an oval.”  This is the first of those 6 matches.  At this point, I’ll be with the wife and kids, likely on a boat in the middle of the ocean, trying to catch the mother of all Dhufish.  So really, I won’t be too worried about the result of this one.  Adelaide by 19 points.


Fremantle vs Gold Coast              Norwood Oval  Friday Afternoon

When I start talking about the inequities of the AFL with my mates we generally arrive at the same conclusions.  You see, most teams enjoy a home ground advantage and all teams don’t play every team twice, so depending on who you draw in the fixtures and where and when and whether it is a great revenue raiser for the AFL, you’re just never going to get an equal competition.  These inequities were the driving reason for me building a gigantic statistical model to try and even out all of these little uneven bits to try and work out who would win in a fair fight.  The conclusion always reached is that the only way we will really find out is if all the teams gathered in the one spot on the same weekend and played each other on neutral grounds.  Finally, the AFL are doing it!  I can get some tangible evidence that the 8,000 hours I’ve spent gathering statistics, building models, testing, re-testing, building interfaces and losing my hair have not been a colossal waste.  And yet, the AFL, in their wisdom, scheduled the event in the days leading up to a total solar eclipse, which is of greater statistical significance, so I won’t be around to verify any of this.  On average, a total solar eclipse happens in any given area once every 375 years…and the AFL nailed it!!!  So, I’m sorry to all of you.  I have at my disposal the greatest statistical model ever seen by man, for predicting the outcome of a match between two sides on a neutral ground whom have both come from time zones different to that which the game is being played in, and I am unable to consult it to give you a true and accurate outcome of this match, so I’m relying on a straight up guess.  Gold Coast by 6 points.


Richmond vs Sydney      Adelaide Oval   Friday Night

I heard Gil saying earlier in the year that this was it.  “I’ll stay at the helm until Gather Round and then I’ll ride off into the sunset while you put some fresh meat into this grinder.”  It appears not so.  Either Gil is reluctant to leave or no fresh meat is forthcoming.  We, the people, are left to suffer the pressed ham that has fallen to the back of the crisper and collected some white spots and a greasy surface.  But that’s ok…Nutsy will eat it, if we all chip in $5 each.  On the whole, this should be a pretty good match.  It’s a shame I’ll be 6 hours from civilization with nothing but a satellite phone in case things go wrong.  But is it a shame…really?  Richmond by 4 points.


Brisbane vs North Melbourne   Adelaide Hills   Saturday Afternoon

This game here is the one you come to Gather Round for.  Make a day of it.  Head up in the morning, sample some lovely wines, watch the footy and then stop in at the German village for a couple of Steins of lager, a bratwurst, and some sauerkraut.  I’ll be thinking of you while I’m spending 13 hours in the car driving from the middle of nowhere to the middle of another nowhere.  The game itself won’t be much to look at it, but the beauty of the Adelaide Hills will compensate.  Brisbane by 45 points.


Essendon vs Melbourne               Adelaide Oval   Saturday Afternoon

A bonnie afternoon down at Adelaide Oval.  If you left the Adelaide Hills early enough and bypassed the steins and sausages, you might be able to make it just in time for this one.  You’d want a Porsche though…maybe you can find a Melbourne supporter to give you lift.  Or an Essendon support to jack one for you.  I like Essendon’s run for making this game closer than you might expect.  But closer is not going to be close enough.  Trying to stop Petracca and Oliver is a bit like trying to turn off the Sun…sure, it’s scientifically possible, but you’re going to get burnt in the process.  Melbourne by 34 points.


Port Adelaide vs Western Bulldogs         Adelaide Oval   Saturday Night

Inspired scheduling by the AFL here.  A double-header.  The crowd will be filled with a mix of Essendon, Melbourne, Port Adelaide and Bulldog fans.  The great thing about an all-you-can-eat buffet is you can just focus on the things you want to eat.  The AFL will just keep serving it up.  After the hard fought contest between the Dons and the D’s, you’ll barely have the smell of Deep Heat out of your nostrils when you’ll be assaulted by the smell of fresh Elastoplast strapping as the Power and Doggies take to the field.  However, the trick with the Buffet is working out just how long the crayfish has been sitting in the steam tray.  The objective observers from Essendon and Melbourne will be treated to the performance of the rabid Port Adelaide supporters…I suggest this is the time you head out and find another spot for dessert.  Now’s the time to avoid Hindley Street and maybe head over to the Wheatsheaf for a fine craft beer, Whiskey or Wine.  Port Adelaide by 22 points.


Geelong vs West Coast Adelaide Oval   Sunday Afternoon

If you’re turning up to this game, you’re probably going to be sitting in stunned amazement at the ground staff for the clean up job after back-to-back games the day before.  All the pie wrappers, the bamboo sporks, the broken teeth and countless beer cups will be gone and all that will be left is the feeling of slight unease from Geelong fans catastrophizing what it would mean if they dropped this one?  West Coast fans will be delighted that this one won’t be at Kardinia Park, where in the last 8 visits there they have an average losing Margin of 11 goals (see what I did there? This is manipulating the narrative.  If we had’ve looked at their last 9 visits, West Coast won one there…damn lies and statistics).  I feel like this is going to be a new ground where West Coast can lose by 11 goals to Geelong.  Geelong by 66 points.


Greater Western Sydney vs Hawthorn  Norwood Oval  Sunday Afternoon

Many learned readers who have been to Adelaide will know that Norwood is just to the East of the city.  I mean, it’s practically in Victoria so this could be classed as a Hawthorn home game.  Actually I think this is a missed opportunity here.  Haydn Bunton Jnr played and coached at Norwood so with a bit of forethought, the AFL could have scheduled a WA club vs Melbourne at this ground in both a nod to the Norwood AFL Hall of Famers’ link to the WAFL and the link to the Red Legs.  But I have it on strong authority that both Fremantle and West Coast requested not to play Melbourne at all this year.  And there you go, I’ve successfully ‘previewed’ a game between GWS and Hawthorn by talking about three other clubs, 4 if you count Norwood.  But it’s going to be difficult to come up with any compelling cases for Hawthorn this year.  I’ll endeavour to watch a few games.  But not this one.  GWS by 31 points.


Collingwood vs St. Kilda               Adelaide Oval   Sunday Twilight

Last match of the round and the 6th match of the weekend on this Oval.  The groundskeepers will be nervously watching this as the trampled surface will be rife with knee-exploding divots and ankle-bursting depressions.  If they can get through to the final siren without incident there is an esky full of Coopers on offer.  At the time of writing this, both Collingwood and St. Kilda are the two remaining teams without a loss.  Will this still be the case coming into this one?  Will this be a ding-dong top of the table clash?  It’s the run and gun open and free style versus the Lyon Ligature.  Which style will be triumphant?  Collingwood by 19 points.


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