Round 17 AFL Preview

Last Week 7/9     Season Total 94/135

I’ll be honest.  I sat down at the start of the week and wrote many pages for this pre-amble, all about the Bairstow incident and the subsequent reactions on each side.  I have decided to leave it out though.  I had a nice holiday and don’t want to spoil it with sports politics.  But perhaps a conspiracy cricket theory…?

There is footage out there, also known as the Zapruder Film that shows both umpires.  If you go to Frame 313, you will see both the square leg umpire and the controlling umpire had started to walk towards their alternate spots when the stumps were broken.  Had they considered it over?  Ultimately, it was left to a mysterious third umpire, positioned on a grassy knoll to make the final decision.  In all of this, no one has confronted the umpires.  Like footy, the umpires cannot be questioned for their role.

Luckily, the AFL is on during the day…mostly.  It’s becoming hard in our house with footy, The Ashes, Wimbledon, the Tour de France, the US Women’s Open Golf and the John Deere Classic PGA match all competing for eyeball time.  The Missus has flatly refused the purchasing of 6 televisions and the creation of a “sports wall” in the living room.  It’s a shame and dents my plans for a bar, TAB and Casino in the adjoining rooms.  To be fair, she didn’t flatly refuse, but she spelled out very clearly the consequences.  I for one enjoy my marriage…and my testicles, so will keep the number of TVs to a reasonable quota.

Richmond vs Sydney      MCG      Thursday Night

The Tigers had seemed to turn a corner and then last week they took a tumble against the all-conquering Brisbane Lions at the Gabba.  It wasn’t that they lost, most teams do up there.  It was that they lost so convincingly.  Then Sydney pulled out one of the all-time worst kicking performances to just scrape a draw against the Cats.  But they had 24 scoring shots in total which was still seven less than the number of goals they kicked the week prior.  This means it is a troublesome match to pick.  Both teams are struggling for some form and the match is at the MCG which Sydney usually play pretty well at.  But Richmond usually plays it better.  If you’re in town, it could be Buddy’s last match at the MCG, a ground he has won a premiership at twice, so get down there and send him off well.  Richmond by 10 points.

Footscray vs Collingwood            Marvel Stadium               Friday Night

I hear a lot about Collingwood being a “prime time” attraction.  I also hear a lot about Friday Night being the “Prime Time” for Footy on TV.  So why is this Collingwood’s first match on Friday Night since Round 3?  AFL Scheduling is best associated with things like string theory, tensor theory, children’s emotions and other things it is impossible to understand.  Collingwood had a solid win against Gold Coast last week and this week will welcome back Jordan DeGoey.  While in Bali, I tried to find him, but it was difficult to distinguish him from the 1.3 million other heavily tattooed, bogan Australians I ran into.  Footscray also had a good win last week against Fremantle with Jemarra Ugle-Hagan kicking 4 goals.  If this game was at the MCG, I’d say the Pies were a lock, but the fast deck at Marvel offers something to Footscray which might trouble Collingwood.  Footscray have won the last two encounters with Collingwood, but until I see a good reason to tip against them, I’ll stick with The Pies.  Collingwood by 19 points.

Brisbane vs West Coast Gabba   Saturday Afternoon

Finally, The Eagles showed some spirit.  Not the kind of spirit that is used to determine the fairness of a cricket dismissal, but the kind that picks up a team and its supporters to give impetus for the remainder of the season.  I’ve been rather kind to West Coast and its plight, so it feels strange that I choose the week after their best match of the year to tee off on them, but here we are.  Footy clubs will often tell you they are a business.  When they make a decision that supporters don’t like (say, getting rid of Brent Harvey, your best and most faithful player) they tell you it is a business.  Part of running a business, and doubly so for a footy team business, is to maintain status quo production despite any market pressures or staffing issues.  This is something that West Coast has failed at, and it is not through unlucky injury crises, it is through poor management.  Heads do need to roll or the board needs to be spilled but it won’t happen because it is a business, and despite an average points against for the year of 20 goals and their WAFL side having an average losing margin of 18 goals, there is still a long queue of people waiting to be members and a long queue of companies wanting to be sponsors.  Business is just dandy.  Unfortunately for them, after such a great showing of spirit, they will now come up against Brisbane at The Gabba and this could easily be another 20-goal loss which means last week will have all been for nothing.  Last week, The Lions feasted on the Tigers.  Being a protected species, I found this a little distasteful.  The devouring was so complete there was barely enough tiger penis to grind up and sell at the local Eastern Healing centre.  So, this match is only going to go one way.  If you’re going to dine out on endangered species, you may as well have some Eagle for dessert.  Brisbane by 98 points.

Greater Western Sydney vs Hawthorn  GIANTS Stadium              Saturday Afternoon

If you ask Thor (the actual mythical god, not the Marvel creation), he will tell you to beware of the Giants, they are a bit tricksy.  In the myth I’m speaking of, Thor, like Hawthorn travelled to the land of the Giants.  Here, they put him and his travelling companions through a series of trials of which Thor was confident of success, but ultimately failed.  Much the same will happen to Hawthorn here but instead of trying to outrun a thought, Hawthorn will be done for speed of ball movement.  Rather than out-consume wildfire, Hawthorn forwards will be starved of inside 50’s.  And rather than wrestle the world serpent, Hawthorn will not escape the fierce tackling pressure of the Giants.  Make no mistake, GWS are a very good side and with a pretty favourable run home, they are a smoky for finals.  GWS by 37 points.

Saint Kilda vs Melbourne            Marvel Stadium               Saturday Night

I bet Ross Lyon is breathing a sigh of relief.  To continue his golfing analogies, it was almost like losing the Open to an amateur.  Luckily, they righted the ship in time for the final siren.  Melbourne is still awaiting the return of Oliver.  Like his namesake in the Dickens novel, it appears he has not had enough gruel to sustain his recovery and Demons fans are certainly hoping he can be rushed back in and used in much the same way as the child labour market of mid-19th century England.  Marvel will suit Saint Kilda in this one, but Melbourne will be very keen to maintain their separation from the bottom of the top eight and should put in a stronger performance.  With luck, we will see Oliver out there and he will be keen to pick a pocket or two (groan!).  Melbourne by 18 points.

Port Adelaide vs Gold Coast       Adelaide Oval   Saturday Night

Ken Hinkley’s contract talks are fast approaching.  By all accounts, a single loss could see him immediately terminated as he feels the wrath of Kochie who has stepped back from his TV commitments to keep a more watchful eye on Hinkley’s lousy coaching efforts to date.  There is some kind of Squid Game going on here at Port Adelaide with some next level consequences.  But life is good at Port Adelaide.  Come from behind, after the siren heroics puts them in the same league as Collingwood and with a travel record of almost 60% home games over the last two years, they are certainly starting to be more like Collingwood than ever.  If Kochie can just get them wearing the prison bars and adopting the original Magpies name…hangon, is this some kind of reverse takeover underway?  Another conspiracy theory to add to the list.  I’m going to need another roll of Alfoil!  Poor Gold Coast, who were badly swooped by The Magpies last week, will be experiencing déjà vu this week…although Port are sneakily referring to themselves as The Power…for now.  Mwaah ha ha ha.  In a sidenote, Rowley will get his first taste of Adelaide Oval this week.  Port Adelaide by 68 points.

Geelong vs North Melbourne    Kardinia Park     Sunday Afternoon

After a dreary looking match last week up at the SCG, The Cats will be glad to be back at the more cigar-shaped Kardinia Park where they can assert more dominance.  They should welcome Jezza Cameron back who is hoping a knock on the head will revive his season.  North Melbourne got dominated by Adelaide but can start to look forward to an imminent return of head coach, Clarkson who is apparently spending a few weeks working from home?  I’m not going to question that, but it really does beg the question, doesn’t it?  This match will only go one way.  Geelong by 31 points.

Essendon vs Adelaide   Marvel Stadium               Sunday Afternoon

The Crows could be excused for coming into this match with a bit of trepidation.  Another away game against a team who are not too shabby.  Adelaide certainly has a monkey on their back.  I can now attest to how difficult it is to shake a monkey off your back?  If you’ve ever been to the Monkey Forest in Bali, I had one jump on me and attempt to rifle through my backpack.  Trying to get one off your back is not only difficult but fraught with danger as there is always the risk of being bitten.  Based on the monkey, I’m going to go with Essendon in a close one on this.  Essendon by 9 points.

Fremantle vs Carlton     Perth Stadium   Sunday Twilight

Probably the biggest game of the round, or more appropriately the season for both of these teams.  Both Freo and the Blues are clinging to slim hopes of finals and a win here will keep that dream alive.  A loss will certainly spell the end of the 2023 campaign and planning for 2024 can begin in earnest.  To say there is a lot riding on this is an understatement.  This is great news for the general riffraff that gets to watch it.  I’ll be doing my best to sink so low into the couch that my family will call in a missing person’s report so I can watch it.  However, I may need to rope the kids into the plan to bring a steady supply of snacks and beer.  Ok, ok, getting your kids to provide you with the ingredients for intoxication doesn’t put one at the top of the parenting tree so maybe I’ll rethink that.  Time to get the Engel out.  I digress…this match will be a humdinger.  Carlton have beaten Freo at Perth Stadium twice and both times by 4 points only.  They have a 4:4 record at the ground in total.  A couple of wins against some lowly sides and Carlton look to have turned the corner.  Fremantle have been a bit inconsistent this year and are only a 50% proposition at home so far.  I’m really undecided on which way to go in this one.  This means I have to consult my statistical leviathan and run some gaussian simulations.  This is telling me Fremantle by 4 points. With a 50.5% certainty.


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