Round 13 AFL Preview

Last Week 5/7     Season Total 72/10 

Now in the midst of the bye rounds.  I don’t mind that the players would like a mid-season rest, but I really don’t like the way it is stretched over 4 weeks.  Just take a single week off and be done with it would be my preference.  Maybe I should buy the TV rights so I can run the league.  Like the US have recently done, I just need to raise my debt ceiling and I reckon I could do it.

When I was a younger man, I travelled with my future wife to Egypt.  After checking into our hotel, we decided to go for a walk.  There was a shopping mall nearby we could take a look at.  As we left the hotel, I noticed a large and very foreboding man was following us.  As we walked on, I noticed he had a concealed firearm and he looked like he knew how to use it.  I alerted my partner to the situation, and we became very worried.  We had to lose this guy and in the crowds of the shopping mall was our best chance.  We entered the shopping mall and immediately started twisting, turning, doubling back, hiding but this guy was good.  He always managed to find us.  Capture, ransom, death were all thoughts running through our minds.  We sped up and tried to lose him again but, like the Terminator, he absolutely would not stop until he had us in his sights.  Panicked we decided to make a run for it back to the hotel.  In a super dangerous move, we bolted across a 6-lane highway which was swelled with afternoon traffic travelling at speed.  We almost lost our lives on the road then and there.  Once on the other side I turned around to get a bead on where this man was, and he was calmly and steadily walking across the highway as if the cars were not even there.  We sprinted back to the hotel, and I immediately went to the front desk to alert them of the situation.  “But of course, sir.  He is your personal security detail.  Allow me to introduce you to Ahmed.” The clerk said as the man walked into the lobby.

I laughed…nervously.  We enjoyed our trip and I still talk with Ahmed on occasion to this day.  We laugh that he thought we were trying to get kidnapped.  Ahmed, undoubtedly the best tagger in the business.

Sydney vs Saint Kilda     SCG        Thursday Night

While he’s not really a limelight kind of guy, the lead up to this match will be the celebration of Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin who will achieve his 350th game milestone.  It’s been a stellar career and here in the twilight of it we should all pause and recognize it.  If you get the chance to go along to a match where he is playing this year, you should take it.  Despite advances in medical technology, I doubt you will see another 1,000 goaller in your lifetime.  Sydney put Carlton’s season to the sword in their last game and spent last week resting up so will have some nice fresh legs to spring from.  Blakey signed a deal so long that Sydney will be able to resurrect him from the grave when the technology allows it and so things are all starting to look up for Sydney.  Saint Kilda limped their way to the bye and would have relished the opportunity to stop in at the clubhouse for a sandwich and an ale before tackling the back 9.  This game is at the SCG and these teams matching up at this venue points to a Sydney win.  In an odd statistic, the last time that Saint Kilda beat Sydney at the SCG, Ross Lyon was their coach!  This should be a great contest to watch but I don’t think that Sydney will let Saint Kilda rain on their Buddy parade.  Sydney by 16 points.

Footscray vs Port Adelaide          Marvel Stadium               Friday Night

After a loss to Geelong, Footscray need to make a statement in this game.  They don’t have a great recent record against Port Adelaide, but they rarely play them at Docklands.  Port Adelaide on the other hand is flying.  They have won 9 on the trot now and were so dominant against Hawthorn at home last week that they had 100 points on the board by half time.  After that they seemed to rest and let Hawthorn put a teeny bit of respectability back into the score.  But this is a different challenge for Port Adelaide.  Away from home, against a team in the top eight (albeit just).  Proposes an interesting contest and one probably worth watching.  If I was Footscray, I would have picked up Ahmed in the mid-season draft and put him to work on Butters.  If the media is to be believed, after 9 straight wins, Hinkley’s coaching job hangs by a thread and another win here might be just the nail in the coffin that Kochie needs to get rid of him.  That should spur him on.  Port Adelaide by 19 points.

Hawthorn vs Brisbane   MCG      Saturday Afternoon

Hawthorn was monstered last week, and the match was essentially over by the 14-second mark of the first quarter.  Brisbane got to have a rest and put their feet up after their unexpected loss to Adelaide the week prior.  Will Brisbane have a post-bye malaise, or will Hawthorn rise to the occasion on their beloved MCG deck?  Don’t expect any fireworks here.  Brisbane by 37 points.

Adelaide vs West Coast                Adelaide Oval   Saturday Afternoon

The Crows seemed to have the game in their grasp on the weekend.  That was until a 9-goal burst by the Suns put the game to bed.  It was a disappointing loss for Adelaide away from home, which seems to be trouble for them this season.  West Coast on the other hand played in a win-win game.  The Pies won, but West Coast also won because they put up a fight, which is just what the media, and their fans wanted to see.  Although I’m not sure if that really is what the media wanted to see.  Luckily, they had the DeGoey incident to be able to write negatively about.  And in a strange outcome, West Coast had one of their players ironed out and it was they who had to issue an apology.  Each game for West Coast seems to add more players to their injury list to continue this annus horribilis.  Things aren’t going to get any prettier for them this week with Adelaide being roughly a 20-goal better side at home and the desire to celebrate Big Tex’s 250th game means that West Coast may find their endeavour questioned again and the media can restore their status quo of going for the throat of the coach, the players, the support staff, and the board.  Adelaide by 88 points.

Fremantle vs Richmond                Perth Stadium   Saturday Night

Richmond and Fremantle don’t get to play each other that often (an odd statement…it’s actually at least once per year).  In fact, they’ve only met at Perth Stadium twice before.  The Dockers have built their way nicely into the season and after a stirring victory on the road against Melbourne, they were able to take a breath before tackling the second half of the season.  Richmond chalked up their first win under McQualter for the year with a last gasp effort against GWS.  The victory should give them some confidence to go over to WA and get the job done.  The forecast there is for some rather unpleasant weather which may suit Richmond more than Fremantle who will rely on clean and slick ball movement.  After the break, Fremantle’s biggest challenge is to find out which surf breaks all their players went to and whether or not they all returned.  Jackson is starting to pay dividends and he will look to exploit Richmond’s lack of tall mobility in the same way Michael Jackson exploited…nup…not going there!  It’s hard to go past Fremantle at home, but I think this match will be a lot closer than the pundits predict.  Fremantle by 8 points.

North Melbourne vs GWS           Blundstone Arena           Sunday Afternoon

North Melbourne are in the business of honourable losses at the moment.  GWS – honourably lost by interchange error, Collingwood – honourably lost by getting closer than 10-goals, Essendon – honourably lost by not winning at the end.  GWS have also had some honourable losses with a single admirable win.  So, this is the battle of the honourable losers.  Which team will be the most honourable loser of the competition this year?  The game will be down in the frigid conditions of North Hobart, but this should hold no fears for GWS who play games in the snow in Canberra.  A game in Hobart and it is a good opportunity for Tasmanians to continue to protest their inclusion in the league.  I feel like North Melbourne are close, but they will ultimately fall short on this one.  GWS by 28 points.

Carlton vs Essendon       MCG      Sunday Night

What to do about Carlton?  The season is getting worse and worse and now I read that journalists are stalking the inner sanctum and driving wedges, creating factions that they can write conflicting reports about.  My understanding is the goal here is for the media to get another coaching scalp or a board spill so they can write tonnes of click-bait.  Premierships require consistency.  If Carlton throw out the plan now and start again they will be in the doldrums for years to come.  Perhaps the plan is wrong, but rather than tear it up, they need to do the following: Pivot.  If there was one thing I learned in my time as a business consultant it was to walk into a joint, tell them they are wrong and use the word ‘pivot’ and then charge them an arm and a leg.  I hereby offer this service to Carlton should they wish it.  Essendon find themselves in the top 6 at the halfway point of the season for the first time since peptides were a thing.  Will they know what to do from here?  This match is the 30th anniversary match for the 1993 Grand Final when the baby Bombers smashed the Blues to the tune of 44 points.  That game was over by half time… as was I, having drawn Mil Hanna out of the hat and having to consume a Yard of beer when he got stretchered off.  Ahhh my university days…how I don’t remember them well.  On Sunday night I’ll twitch in the corner having flashbacks while Essendon relive the victory again.  Essendon by 44 points.

Melbourne vs Collingwood        MCG      Monday Afternoon

There’s only a small percentage of the population that will remember a time that this match was not called the Queens Birthday match, so long was her reign.  Of course, I know this is not true.  The Sovereign’s Birthday match has only been a consistent fixture since 2001.  It’s also more recently been installed as The Big Freeze match to raise money and awareness for the devastating impact of Motor Neuron Disease.  It’s a great cause to rally around and it’s something that took the life of a friend of this column a few years back.  If you have the means to donate, please do.  Now let’s take a look at last week.  Melbourne cruised to an easy, and yet ugly to watch victory over Carlton, pushing ahead at the end of the first quarter and maintaining that lead for the rest of the match.  Collingwood had an easy kill on the cards, but a mid-match rally by the Eagles had Pies fans sweating a little before the young (and old) Eagles tired for the Pies to run out convincingly.  All of the talk of course has been on the DeGoey bump and its expected consequences.  There wasn’t really a story in it, but much is written on it anyway.  In summary, he did it, he’ll cop his whack (I’m writing this before the tribunal decision, but don’t be surprised if he gets a concession for anguish caused by Dom Sheed’s tweet).  The biggest concern for Collingwood is what DeGoey is going to do on his time away from play.  I’m off to Bali in a few weeks and talk has been that I’m going to chaperone him.  I deny this accusation and in fact, the missus has given me a $500 budget to see if I can get him in trouble and then sell the footage for $100,000.  Of course, even if DeGoey doesn’t get to Bali, like any government budget I’ll spend it on my own good time to ensure the budget is allocated again next year!

Anyway, as a third vs first contest, it should be a bit of a doozy.  Looking more closely we have that deadly ruck duo of Gawn and Grundy (is 1 + 2 > 3?) against Cameron and Cox.  Two elite midfields with Petracca, Oliver, Viney, Brayshaw vs Pendlebury, Daicos, Mitchell, Adams and then you have somewhat average attacks versus elite defenses.  The game is just dripping with good points to watch.  Who will win it?  Collingwood have had the better of this fixture over the years, but I think, in this case, turnabout is fair play.  Melbourne by 6 points.


The bye rounds continue.  I’ll take this opportunity to do a quick mid-season review of the teams.


The Cats are going a lot worse than people are saying.  They have had issues getting their experienced bodies on the park and in the first half of their season the best team they have beaten is Essendon.  The bulk of their wins have been against teams ranked 11th or lower.  The old defense of “You can only play who are scheduled to play” might be their undoing as they have the overwhelmingly worst run home.  Out of the 11 games they have left the average rank of those teams is 6 which means they will be playing mostly top eight teams.  This can be looked at in two ways.  Either that they are shot…not making the eight on that draw, or it could be such a battle hardening run home that they will be cherry ripe for finals…if they make it.  Plenty of Kardinia Park games in that run so there is cause for optimism.  On the balance of it, and the games of the teams around them vying for the bottom spots of the eight, I predict (unconfidently) they will just miss out.  But I’ve been wrong before…a lot!

Gold Coast

I feel like we’ve been here before.  The Suns are on the verge and could possibly break through…but then they don’t, and Hardwick becomes their new coach.  Many have been happy with their run of late, but it has been a pretty soft draw and they’re not beating the teams they need to if they want to push for finals.  However, this time, their soft draw may work to their advantage, because although they have had one of the top 5 softest draws up to the bye, they have the second easiest run home after the bye.  The average rank of the teams they play is 10.  This could put them in a position to push for the top 8 and an historic finals berth.


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