Round 15 AFL Preview

Last Week 4/6     Season Total 81/120

At last, we reach the end of the bye rounds.  This is the last one so the lack of games of footy will be gone until season end.  Hooray!  It wasn’t so bad though was it.  I didn’t actually see a game of footy at all on the weekend.  I was able to reconnect with my wife and family, who hadn’t seen me on a weekend for a few months and was able to catch up on some sleep during the day after spending the nights watching the 1st Ashes Test and the US Open Golf – Both of which ended in exciting scenes.

Turning our attention to this week’s games…

Geelong vs Melbourne Kardinia Park     Thursday Night

I feel I was right about the Cats last week.  The crusty old Tom that patrols the street may be wily but was no match for the speedy youth of Port Adelaide.  And now Dangerfield has broken some ribs and punctured a lung.  I did something similar at a Bucks Party once (minus the punctured lung) but managed to see out the drinking part of the night.  I don’t regret that, but I do regret getting on a 17-hour flight to Europe the next day.  A Parisian hospital is not a great start to a week of strategy meetings.  But whatever they gave me for the pain made for some promotion-worthy strategy ideas!  Melbourne will be coming off the bye and be happy that they found a bit of form against Collingwood on the way into it.  Teams coming off the bye haven’t had a great win ratio with only one team out of 6 scoring a win, and that was perhaps only because they played a team that came off a bye themselves.  Melbourne has been competitive against Geelong down at Kardinia Park, but Geelong’s record is so strong down there.  It’s a tough game to tip.  Given the rarity of a Geelong loss, I’m going to go with the home ground advantage.  Geelong by 20 points.

Saint Kilda vs Brisbane  Marvel Stadium               Friday Night

The Saints are continuing their undulating WLWLWL record which kind of points to a win in this match.  The game is at Marvel Stadium which will suit the Saints more than it does Brisbane.  The Lions strategy of letting their players drop themselves did not pay off last week and so maybe they’ll rush themselves back in this week.  Saint Kilda can stifle ball movement and Brisbane like to move the ball quickly so it will be interesting to watch.  If I wasn’t going to be so busy this Friday Night I’d settle in with a quiet Ale, but I have to settle for getting my stuff done while listening to the radio and then seeing if Minjee Lee can tear up course in the Women’s PGA Championship.  Only because I have to pick someone, I’ll pick Brisbane by 9 points.

Sydney vs West Coast    SCG        Saturday Afternoon

After Brisbane players started dropping themselves, the last thing you want to do is let West Coast players know that this is an option.  Turning up week after week to get beaten by 100 points and I’d soon drop myself.  I’ve been through this before when I played in the country leagues.  Our coach was into punishment so when losing by such large margins we would just be forced to run laps for the whole training session.  It became self-fulling.  You’d lose by 20 goals but then not learn anything about improving your skills or game plan to help.  The next week you’d lose by 100 points again…but be marginally fitter.  I wouldn’t have fancied my chances of dropping myself as fielding a full team was always an issue.  If they didn’t give me a week off after my 5th week in a row with concussion, I probably wasn’t getting off for not being interested.  West Coast will start to get some of their more experienced players back over the next few weeks but until they start translating experience into performance, it’s really hard to make any case for them in any match.  Sydney by 46 points.

Fremantle vs Essendon Perth Stadium   Saturday Night

I think life would be hard if you were a Fremantle supporter.  The team were starting to look good after notching a few wins and they even had me believing they were bound for finals.  Then a couple of losses and one of them being so extraordinarily bad and you’d have to wonder why you’re putting yourself through this pain again.  It was a costly loss for Fremantle, giving up the 4 points and the percentage, which really makes it tough for them.  Given the teams around them all vying for those last few spots in the top 8, they are going to need to win everything from here I would think.  Essendon were quite ruthless against West Coast the last time they were in Perth, but Freo is a different proposition.  Coupled with the curse of returning from the bye and maybe Freo stand a chance in this one.  Longmuir will work them hard this week, although they’ll do more than just run laps.  Fremantle by 6 points.

Collingwood vs Adelaide             MCG      Sunday Afternoon

The last time these two teams met, it was the finish to the match that was much talked about.  Thrilling, exciting and filled with joy if you were a Collingwood supporter and disappointing and annoying if you are an Adelaide supporter.  The Crows will be determined to turn the tables on the Pies, but they have not had a great record on the road so far this year and the MCG can be a foreboding place for enemies of the Black and White Army.  In addition, Adelaide is coming off a bye which as history has shown us this year is bad news.  But the same can be said for Collingwood, who are also coming off a bye.  One team will buck the trend.  It is hard to go against Collingwood at home.  Collingwood by 27 points.

Gold Coast vs Hawthorn               Heritage Bank   Sunday Twilight

The Suns were unable to awaken from their post-bye slumber and gave Carlton their much-needed win.  They will need to be a lot better than the highlights I saw if they are to beat Hawthorn.  The Hawks had a week off, but not really, as they spent two weeks with Lawyers trying to find loopholes in procedural laws to get Captain Mafia off the hook.  As any paramedic will tell you, it’s hard to overturn an unconscious body and Sicily will sit out for a few as a consequence.  Given the match is up at the…I’m trying to come up with a name for Heritage Bank Stadium.  We have the Cattery, we have the Gabbatoir…maybe, being the Suns home ground, is it the Chromosphere?  It can’t be the Corona, no one would go there…but not many people do, so maybe it fits.  In any event, Hawthorn will be visiting the Corona and are bound to return burned.  Gold Coast by 27 points.


The last of the bye rounds.  A final opportunity to do a quick mid-season review of the teams.


It’s a season that Carlton would probably like to forget.  After a hot start they fell into a hole.  A big hole.  And while at the bottom of that hole, what did all the fans, media, administrators, and passers-by do when looking down from the edge of the hole?  They certainly didn’t drop a rope or a ladder.  They started throwing dirt and trying to bury the occupant.  But the good thing about that is if you can stay on top of that sand, eventually the hole fills up and you can climb out by yourself.  It certainly looked that way last week.  Having no hope of playing in finals is a sure way to play with freedom and anyone coming up against Carlton in the back half of the season will need to be wary.

North Melbourne

Like Carlton, North Melbourne started the season well.  However, mounting losses and the toll of the Hawthorn saga on coach Clarkson consigned them to a series of losses.  You can see a spark of success in there though and, while still losing, they have been pretty competitive in their last few outings.  Surprisingly though, the statistical modelling has them as a worse team than West Coast.  But statistics can lie sometimes.  North Melbourne has an easier run after the bye than before the bye so hopefully, for their fans out there they can pinch a few wins to give them some impetus into next season.

Port Adelaide

Somewhat of the surprise packet this year.  They had a couple of bad losses at the start of the year but then strung together a big succession of wins.  Statistically they are not as good as some of the teams around them.  The reason for this is their home ground advantage.  At home the average strength/rank of the teams they have played has been inside the 8 whereas away from home the average rank of the teams they have played has been well outside the eight.  Additionally, with Gather round they get more games at home this year than most other teams.  Based on this ranking, their run home is easier than their run up to the bye so it should be a top 2 finish for Port Adelaide.  This means 2 home finals which just about gives them a free kick into the Grand Final.  Then all they need to do is pinch one.  Taking advantage of the unevenness of the competition and it could be a very happy year for Port Adelaide supporters.  Will a premiership be enough to save Hinkley’s job?  Only Kochie knows that.


The best from the West had a tough start to the year but were able to settle and then string together a number of wins before things got a little rocky for them in the lead up to the bye.  They have a comfortable run home with the average rank of team they play being 9.  They should beat all of the teams outside of the 8 they play and if they pinch a couple of those games against teams inside the 8 then they should be playing finals.

Greater Western Sydney

The Giants have taken a few good scalps this year but have also put up some performances they would like a mulligan on.  Their run home is a difficult one and is much harder than their run up to the bye.  They do play a bunch of teams that sit around them on the ladder and if they can get on top of those contests, expect them to fall just short of finals this year.


The Tigers had one of the tougher draws of the competition and a turbulent year which saw the departure of their long time, premiership coach meant that the start of the season put them in a position they would rather not be.  Their run home is also a tough one but some renewed vigour under the tutelage of McQualter has them playing some good football that could see them finish just inside the 8.


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