Round 14 AFL Preview

 Last Week 5/8     Season Total      77/114

The bye rounds continue this week as we come off another scintillating round of football exacerbating the twists and turns of season 2023.  In the wash up from the round, there were the usual talking points around bumps and tackles which will all play themselves out over the week.  Collingwood lost and everyone still loves them, which begs the question…when does the enemy become your friend?  This is a question that has recently played out in a major way with LIV Golf and the PGA.

Let’s recap that one.  LIV want to untangle the stranglehold the PGA has on golf, so they get money from a dubious source to lure players out of the PGA.  Some players take up the money and, despite the advice from Donald Trump, other players do not and stand firm with the PGA, presenting the combined front that the source of the money is the issue and by making this stand our conscience is clean.  In the end it turns out that money from a dubious source is still, in fact money, and the PGA and LIV (with DP World Tour) combine their efforts and the new holistic stance is that Golf is the real winner here.  Enemies become friends.  But the story doesn’t end there.  On one hand you have a player that gets their conscience dirtied but gets $200M and on the other hand you have a player that has a nice pristine conscience…and that’s all.  Each player is the same in the eyes of the new entity.  How much is some soil on your conscience worth?  That’s a question for each golfer individually I would expect as not all players are created equal (from a skill/potential standpoint).  If you look at the prospectus of any company, they have a section on ‘mergers and acquisitions.’  These terms are lumped into the same bag as far as the company is concerned and if your company was part of a ‘merger,’ the truth is, somewhere in the company, it is being referred to as an acquisition…it’s just a matter of percentages.  Let’s not be fooled, the PIF (Public Investment Fund) has a significant percentage and will only be publicly referring to this as a merger. 

Where does this leave us?  Golf will be full of disgruntled players who don’t want that mote of dust on their conscience, so I see only one thing for it.  I shall start my own not-for-profit league, called the CCGA (Clean Conscience Golfers Association) and get all those players who are disgruntled and want clean consciences to come and join.  We will get sponsored tournaments and play for prize money for the next two years all spearheaded by the illuminating brilliance of my clean conscience.  Then, with any luck, the PIF will pay me $200M to sell it to them!

Perhaps off topic a bit there.  What’s happening in the footy?

Port Adelaide vs Geelong            Adelaide Oval   Thursday Night

Are Port Adelaide becoming a force to be reckoned with this season?  10 wins on the trot and now a home game against a tired, old, lame cat.  But have you ever been woken up at 3am by the guttural yowling of cats about to have a fight.  You go out to check it out (and maybe lay off a few bets with some of the other blokes in the street that came out to watch), and there is this one cat which is old and gnarly, has chunks of fur missing and one cloudy or absent eye.  That’s the cat your money goes on.  The street hardened feline pugilist that don’t take no crap from no one!  But todays footy is not a fight, it’s a 100m dash.  And the old pugilistic cat won’t make 10m before the arthritis in the hip starts to impinge on the effort and this time it will be the strut of the most virile of the young tabbies (Port) we’ll see in O’Malley’s Alley (Adelaide Oval).  I guess I’m thinking of (Matty) Primus…see if you can get that reference.  Port Adelaide by 35 points.

Brisbane vs Sydney         Gabba   Friday Night

Brisbane were shock losers last week against Hawthorn and must now suffer the constant jokes around their ability to win at the MCG.  As far as monkeys go, this is a big one that needs a back the size of Quasimodo to rest on.  Sydney was unable to get the job done against Saint Kilda to get the win for Buddy’s 350th.  This pretty much put them out of contention for the finals.  At least Buddy kicked a couple and ensconced himself as a legend if he hadn’t done that already.  This game is at the Gabba so there is no illusion about who to pick here.  The only question is by how much.  I’m thinking a lot.  Brisbane by 52 points.

GWS vs Fremantle          GIANTS Stadium              Saturday Afternoon

GWS took a bit of time, but eventually swept aside North Melbourne down in the always tropical Hobart.  At least that’s what it will be once they get a roof on their new stadium.  Watching a bit of this on the telly and all Bellerive was really missing was a few cars with their headlights on around the boundary.  Looked like a classic country game.  Fremantle will rue letting slip a home deck advantage to get downed by the Tigers.  Revenge came in the form of a tip off to the cops that Marlion was in town.  He’s out for possibly the rest of the season while that plays out.  This loss makes the road to the finals a bit harder for Freo and they were a smoky for me to make the 8 so I’m a little disappointed.  Travelling over to GIANTS stadium will be no easy task but I think Freo have the firepower to do it.  Fremantle by 11 points.

Richmond vs St Kilda     MCG      Saturday Night

The Tigs are currently one and half games out of the eight and have strung a couple of wins together as they have settled into the new coaching style of McQualter.  St. Kilda pooped all over the Buddy party to take home the 4 points and continue their recent WLWLW alternating record.  Does this put them in line for an L against Richmond?  Patterns are nice and data analysts rejoice when they find the hidden pattern in all the bulk of data.  Beware the outlier…St. Kilda by 24 points.

Carlton vs Gold Coast    MCG      Sunday Afternoon

Just how low can Carlton go?  They’re 15th at the moment but Hawthorn is only half a game behind them and are looking like a better team.  I don’t know what to say about them anymore.  And anything I do say would look like rubbing it in.  Do they need a new coach?  I’m not sure...this is Voss’s second go at it and maybe he’s just not coaching material?  No shame…not everyone is?  Or maybe the problem is the players.  They’ve got a team full of Brownlow medalists, Coleman medalists, Number 1 picks, and yet none of them are playing like it.  There are some dots in there, someone just needs to connect them.  Gold Coast on the other hand have had a couple of wins in a row and after a restful week are now prepared to tackle the back half of the season.  The fact that, after 12 games, their record is 6-6 with 991 points for and 991 points against, really tempts me to want to tip a draw here.  I’m going to go with the MCG here and tip a Carlton circuit breaker.  I’ll write a groveling apology to all those taking my advice next week.  Carlton by 16 points.

North Melbourne vs Footscray  Marvel Stadium               Sunday Twilight

I have just felt like North Melbourne has been on the cusp over the past few weeks.  They love playing at Marvel, as does Footscray though, and they will want to bounce back sharply after dropping the match against Port Adelaide last week.  Hopefully it won’t get too ugly for North.  Footscray by 39 points.


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


Tex Walker kicked a lazy bag of 10 goals against West Coast as Adelaide ease themselves into the halfway mark of their campaign.  After performing above expectations in the first half of the season, they need only fear matches on the road in the run home.  Their run home is difficult though with a few upcoming matches away from home and a home Showdown to contend with.  Adelaide, I fear will be a team that potentially drops out of finals contention.


A loss heading into the bye is never ideal, but what better way to generate a positive energy than by signing McRae for another few years and adding a year to Pendlebury’s contract to squeeze the last bits of juice from his ever-giving fruit.  Collingwood have benefited from a pretty friendly draw which started with some tough games but a soft run up to the Melbourne game allowed them plenty of wins but didn’t do anything to harden them for such a match.  The good news for them though is with the early season difficult games, their run home is a bit easier, but they have to overcome the Collingwood factor.  This is a theory that I have been working on and have started to gather some intriguing statistics.  The concept was borne from comments made by Mick Malthouse way back when he was the coach.  He used to talk about a game such as the Anzac Day Game or the Queens Birthday game being the “Final” for their opponents, as for years they were absent from the actual finals.  This meant those teams would try harder that week.  Extending that thought, asking most players, “Which team would you most like to beat?” The answer is usually Collingwood…even amongst showdown/derby/Q-Clash/Bridge opponents.  So, I wanted to look at the stats of players and establish an average background work rate versus their work rate against Collingwood and so far, there seems to be some merit in this.  I want to explore more before I publish (Nobel Prize work, I’m sure).  All that aside though, the draw for Collingwood looks like they will nestle into the top 4 nicely which should set them up for a Premiership campaign.


Hawthorn have been a bit of a surprise packet this year.  That’s probably a terrible Indictment when you’re at 4-9 for the season.  But, while they’ve beaten the teams below them…and convincingly, they have also beaten two teams in the 8 which is a glowing endorsement.  Add to this all the happening around the club in the off-field sense and I think there is a lot to like if you’re a Hawks supporter.  After this week’s bye, they have a delicious little run with the next 5 games being all the teams that are just above them on the ladder.  This should be the time that Mitchell tries to extract a bit extra from the team.  If they can do that, they would be close to contesting the top 8, but the final push home is a challenging one from there.  Of course, they have to face the next 3 without captain Mafioso (Sicily) who had McCluggage sleeping with the fishes last week and faced the consequences.  Won’t play finals but will finish the season with a pass mark.


It would seem that after years in nowhere man’s land, Essendon is finally getting somewhere.  Well entrenched in the top 8 at the halfway mark of the season.  And with an overall easier run home than their run up to the bye, this should be a season where the Bombers taste some finals footy.  They have had a successful last few weeks, beating up on the poorer teams but have been a little shaky against other top 8 sides.  Luckily there are few of those games left for them for the season.  Their fate is in their own hands.


Melbourne has been the beneficiary of the easiest overall draw this season.  This has proved them well in staking their claim for a spot in the top 4.  The average rank of the teams they have played up to the bye has been about 10 and their run gets even easier after the bye with the average rank of teams they play being just 11.  This should mean they cement themselves in the top 2 and claim the double home final which builds them nicely into their finals campaign.  Belying that is their final 6 games are against low-ranked sides which does not prepare a team well for the rigours of a finals campaign.  They switched on last week and time will tell if they can switch on when finals arrive.

West Coast

I expect the bye comes as a bit of a treat for West Coast fans.  This could be the first weekend of the season that their fans can look forward to.  Needless to say, it’s been a tough year and things don’t look like they’re going to improve by any remarkable standards in the run home.  West Coasts run home is about the same as their run into the bye, but luckily for West Coast supporters, for the next 6 weeks, The Ashes will be on so their attention can be distracted.  In fact, there is plenty of Golf on too with the US Open and the Open at St Andrews on during that period too.  In a further boon, if you have Kayo, you can find all manner of weird and wonderful sports like Hotdog eating, cheese rolling, bog snorkeling and even competitive sleeping to keep you from watching your team if you need to.  But beware, I found something that REALLY annoys my wife last weekend (note:  For the record, I don’t go looking for things that annoy my wife, I found this by accident).  I had one TV with the Cricket World Championship going in picture in picture mode with the Golf and another TV in the house with the footy on, while my phone had a basketball match on in the dining room.  At the time she expressed her angst, I was listening to Led Zeppelin while preparing dinner in the kitchen but had complained because the kids had changed one of the channels to put some cartoons on!  Not EXACTLY certain what I did wrong, but I’ll figure it out.


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