Round 18 AFL Preview

Last Week 8/9     Season Total 102/144

Normally when you want to exit a member of staff from your company, there is a process.  Usually it starts with verbal warnings, then maybe written warnings, then maybe performance management and then, finally you can sack them.  The AFL process is a little different.  First you come out in full support of their position and highlight their brilliance and that they are the way forward and they have the full support of the board and the playing group.  Then you heap more praise on them.  Then you sack them.  Personally, I’d like to find the business consultant that came up with that process and buy them a beer.  Misdirection, deceit and two-facedness are excellent qualities when you can walk away from the situation as the good guy.

Poor Stuart Dew is exited as the 4th Gold Coast Suns coach and their longest serving coach with the highest win percentage of any of the Gold Coast coaches thus far.  Steven King becomes the 5th coach and has the job until season end to steer the club through these troubled waters.  Can they maintain the playing group, who must be bitterly disappointed at yet another upheaval.  It’s hard when the waters are murky and full of sharks/board members but maybe they are after the big fish…or have they already landed him?  The problem for Dimma is that sharks still eat big fish.  He’ll need to be more like a deity and walk on water to avoid them.  Time will tell.

In other news, England won a match to keep the series alive…all the whinging has now kinda just vanished and normal trade relations have resumed between the two countries.  Jai Hindley is a chance for the podium in Le Tour, Daniel Riccardo is back in the drivers seat, Minjee Lee is close but not close enough and the Cornhole championships have bounced back after the controversy of BagGate back in 2022.  With no cricket this weekend it seems like there might be a chance I can spend some time with the family.  But The Open starts the following week at Royal Liverpool.  Can Cam Smith defend his title?

What’s happening in the AFL?

Sydney vs Footscray       SCG        Thursday Night

Sydney had one of those awful experiences in footy last week.  You know, when you lead for practically the entire match, except at the point of measurement.  Meanwhile Footscray put in a strong performance early against Collingwood, but a barn-storming 3rd quarter put the matter beyond reach for them.  Both teams will be desperate for a win and with the ladder poised as it is, a loss to Footscray could see them out of the 8 or a win for Sydney keeps them in the hunt.  Footscray’s SCG record is patchy at best, but with only 4 games there in the last 6 years we can’t read much into that.  And the teams have a 4:4 record against each other since the drought-breaking premiership in 2016.  This is all pointing to one of those 50:50 games where you have to go back to your statistical leviathan to calculate all of the machinations.  Even the weather gives no clues with perfect footy conditions forecast for Thursday Night.  The stats machine is telling me Footscray, but my brain has a great deal of bias which has increased the deviation between perceived likelihood and objective likelihood.  Things never go well when I rage against the machine, but…Sydney by 9 points.

Melbourne vs Brisbane                MCG      Friday Night

The Lions had a close call against West Coast last week (assuming a win for West Coast is defined as getting within 12 goals of Brisbane) while Melbourne overcame a plucky but injury depleted Saint Kilda to record a much-needed victory.  But a lack of contest for Brisbane may not be so helpful when you come up against a Melbourne side who will be physical and hard at the ball.  Possessions must be earned and the added bonus for Melbourne is the match is at the MCG which has been a source of mental anguish for Brisbane in the past.  For The Lions to win this one, they will literally need to exorcise the demons.  This match is another roughie, but Brisbane’s 1 win in 14 starts at the ‘G’ carries significant weight.  But then that 1 win was against Melbourne so what to do?  Unlike the laws of Physics, the application of probability is a much more pliable and engaging experience and when I throw in all of the data, stir it around, discount items, add a dash of unintelligent bias, I get Melbourne by 16 points.

Collingwood vs Fremantle          MCG      Saturday Afternoon

The Pies continued their march towards finals last week after overcoming Footscray in a third quarter blitz.  The Dockers, on the other hand, coughed up a golden opportunity to stamp their claim on a top 8 spot and with a run home that includes Collingwood, Brisbane, Port Adelaide and Geelong their plight to make the 8 now is perhaps insurmountable.  This week is one of the rare chances that Fremantle get to play at the MCG and in front of a 50,000+ crowd of really friendly and welcoming people.  They get the chance to soak up the experience and see if they can do some top 8 damage on their way out for the year.  Collingwood may welcome back Sidebottom who is left stranded on 299.25 games played and Freo will also have to do it without Serong who is amongst their best.  Certainly, a match that is Collingwood’s to lose it would seem.  Collingwood by 35 points.

Gold Coast vs Saint Kilda             Carrara Saturday Afternoon

I was looking forward to writing this contest up with Max King and Ben King and now Steven King at the helm, it could have been all about the Three Kings which was a reasonably terrible movie from 1999 starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube.  A quick Google also shows me that Three Kings Pizza is a good place to eat on The Gold Coast so the fact that we are now down to just the single king seems like an unfortunate lost marketing opportunity.  With all of these missing Kings, I now have to rely on just Steven (Stephen) King and his horror novels to get cheap laughs.  But where does one start with the puns?  Will this game just be Misery, or will it be The Shining light of the weekend?  Perhaps it will be just the match to act as a Firestarter for one of these teams to finish off the season or will this be too much of a burden to Carrie (sheesh!  Now I’m reaching)?  Using my Dead Zone skills to see the future it looks like Gold Coast by 18 points in a classic sack-the-coach-win-next-week moment.  That’s about the sum of It.

Carlton vs Port Adelaide              Marvel Stadium               Saturday Afternoon

This one is a tantalizing contest.  Carlton looks like they have turned the corner, but beating up on lowly ranked teams is a far cry from beating a team that is equal top of the table.  On the Port Adelaide side of the coin, beating all comers…mostly at home, is a far cry from taking on a team that looks to be in form in their home city.  This match is a great litmus test for both teams.  Don’t know what a litmus test is?  Don’t ask Ross Lyon (google that for a hilarious Ross Lyon moment).  What is certain is at the end of the match we will understand if Carlton really have turned the corner and if they have, we will also learn if Port is as good as they look.  A slip up by Port Adelaide here could be disastrous with Kochie certain to unleash his wrath on Hinkley for his dismal output in the last 13 weeks and try to secure Dimma before Gold Coast do.  It’s almost a 50:50 match.  If it was at the MCG, I’d be likely to say Carlton, but Port have won their last 9 matches at Docklands, and this elevates them to favouritism as they seem quite comfortable there.  Port Adelaide by 14 points.

Geelong vs Essendon    Kardinia Park     Saturday Night

The last time Essendon played at Kardinia Park they hosted Gold Coast there in front of no crowd during that bizarre time we called lockdown.  It really is a strange ground to play at and not like anything else.  It is shaped more like a stool that has been cut in half, and I don’t mean a stool as in chair.  It kinda has one straight wing as it is constrained by Moorabool St on the East and in a poor attempt to provide some symmetry the pockets on the Western side are not too deep either.  This promotes corridor play and goes a long way to Geelong’s success over the years.  Essendon’s fast ball movement will certainly help their cause when playing a ground like this, but it is too hard to go past Geelong on a ground that they play so well.  Geelong by 24 points.

Adelaide vs Greater Western Sydney    Adelaide Oval   Saturday Night

Adelaide’s woes on the road continued last week with a loss to Essendon in what was a fast, high scoring and exciting game.  They will welcome a return to Adelaide Oval where they can ply their trade in a more confident manner.  GWS had an early scare from the Hawks but shored things up to hold them at bay for the majority of the match.  Greater Western Sydney is a very good side and are very hard at the ball and the man, so you certainly know when you’ve played them.  It’s a crucial game for Adelaide who just slipped out of the 8 after their loss last week and GWS are on their heels with just percentage separating them.  The statistical leviathan has Adelaide as a slightly better team than GWS and being at home puts them over the top.  Adelaide by 21 points.

North Melbourne vs Hawthorn Marvel Stadium               Sunday Afternoon

Sixteenth vs Seventeenth doesn’t promise to be a match that reaches great heights.  Both teams have been serviceable at different times during the year, and both will fancy themselves in this one.  Clarkson’s working from home experience didn’t produce a win last week, but I expect that experiment to continue this week to avoid any media circus that would arise as a result of squaring off against the club that caused all the angst.  When I look at the AFL Ladder on the AFL Website, I see that both Hawthorn and North Melbourne (and West Coast, astonishingly) are still paying $501 for the premiership.  The hopeful side of me thinks this is because, somehow, all three of those teams are still a mathematical possibility to make finals.  However, the logical side of me understands that betting companies will be more than happy to take your money even on a bet that is statistically impossible to succeed.  And they wonder why we are keen to legislate against them.  Hawthorn by 27 points.

West Coast vs Richmond              Perth Stadium   Sunday Twilight

It’s refreshing for West Coast when they have a percentage boosting loss.  The match against Saint Kilda was a huge percentage boosting loss, but they took a step backwards again last week against Brisbane. But they will be looking to boost their percentage with a quality loss against Richmond this week.  Discussions around a merger with Fremantle intensified during the week although they are largely unfounded, but a West Australian fan can always dream, I guess.  Richmond goes in as red hot favourites which is an unusual position to be in when travelling to Perth Stadium and a win here will put them on track for a finals berth if an incumbent slips up along the way.  No surprises in this match, but it will be a bit closer than people think.  Richmond by 29 points.


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