Round 19 AFL Preview

Last Week 7/9     Season Total 109/153

Wow!  What a weekend of footy, packed full of thrilling and exciting matches…assuming your weekend ended on Saturday Night.  I’ve made many mentions previously about fixturing and I’m not sure what they were smoking when they decided to isolate those two matches on a Sunday.  On the flipside, the family were happy to see me for the first time in weeks.

A lot has been happening over the last week.  The Aussie women won their version of The Ashes in a last ball thriller.  The Australian Women’s Soccer team (The Matildas) won a friendly in front of 53,000 people at Marvel Stadium, which out-did the Demons vs Lions match by about 20K.  This bodes well for the upcoming World Cup which is sure to be an event to remember for Australians.  At least the Australia vs France friendly was much more friendly than the Ireland vs Columbia ‘friendly’ which they abandoned when Ireland feared for their lives!  If that’s not enough sport, Alcaraz beat Djokovic in the Wimbledon’s Men’s final.  The match was almost abandoned when the net posts nearly called it off as they feared for their lives.  And we’re not done yet with Sport.  Rory McIlroy won the Scottish Open with an incredible approach to the 18th green.  I stood in awe and remarked how it was almost as good as my drive on the 2nd last week (if you’re keen to hear how good I am, let me know…I’m telling everyone!).  The last bit of sport I’d like to bring up is the doofus who wiped out half the peloton in the Tour de France when they were trying take a selfie.  There’s an old saying, ”Never turn your back on the sea…or the peloton.”  It’s something that for me, who doesn’t do any social media, beggars’ belief.  You camp out for hours for the moment the peloton comes past, which is only going to last for a few seconds and as the moment arrives, you turn your back to take a photo of yourself!  This is why our species is going to hell in a handbasket.

Things don’t get any easier this week when directing your eyeballs with the next Ashes Test, The Open Golf, The World Cup, Le Tour winds up and the National Siesta Championships are on in Spain…maybe.

Now, I wrote the above on Monday thinking, “Job done! Nothing else of consequence will happen this week.”  Then Dan Andrews goes and blows up the Commonwealth Games and Australia don’t pick a spinner on the pitch that traditionally is a spinners paradise.  I didn’t think these two topics could pass without comment.  Firstly, I had planned to build a house two years ago.  Then costs went up and have kept rising and are now 70% higher than when I first looked into it.  So, I understand that the Victorian Government’s estimates a year ago fall short of what the actual cost is likely to be.  But a 270% increase (which is what Victoria are touting) is either a gross under-estimate originally, or some dubious predictions of the future.  I think this great material for the next installment of advertising for Lion Nathan’s Furphy beer.  Something is not right in the Victorian government and a sports hungry collective electorate will likely punish them at the next ballot.  Dan Andrews will be remembered for a lot of things and killing Bambi will be at the top of that list.

The long-asked question of how many Western Australian All-Rounders should be in a cricket team will finally be answered this weekend.  Australia have lost faith in the spinner, Todd Murphy on a ground that is usually very friendly to spinners.  I assume the plan is to bat the crap out of England’s attack (which makes Warners selection a bit more puzzling) and then hope that the pace attack will beat the Bazball spread.  I think this is a sad state of affairs for Australian cricket and hints at their fear of England beating them and keeping the series alive.  Perhaps the hope is to post a huge score and then have a slow enough over rate that rain will force the issue.  Australia better hope they win the toss!

What’s happening in the AFL?

Essendon vs Footscray  Marvel Stadium               Friday Night

Both of these teams played last year’s grand finalists last week.  Footscray were unlucky not to walk away with the win and (if you adjust Geelong’s score for their 10-goal home ground advantage), you can say the same thing for Essendon.  These teams occupy 7th and 8th on the ladder and with a log jam of teams from 5th to 15th with only a couple of games between them all, a loss here puts you outside the 8 and struggling to keep up.  Both teams love playing at Docklands with a favourable record registered in each of their ledgers, but Footscray have the wood over Essendon at the Docklands in general (looking back over the last few years at least).  Both teams will be keen to right the wrongs of last week and this is another of those 50/50 games.  The stats model says that Footscray is the better side, and this is where I’ll put my stake in the ground.  Footscray by 14 points.

Richmond vs Hawthorn                MCG      Saturday Afternoon

The Tigers are on a roll.  Not a hard, crusty roll, or a soft and spongy bap, but a period of good play.  But then good play is easy when you’ve been playing West Coast.  Hawthorn themselves played the other cellar dweller.  Richmond are only half a game off 8th spot and they’re unlikely to let this one slip.  Richmond by 22 points.

Carlton vs West Coast    Marvel Stadium               Saturday Afternoon

Where has Carlton been?  Suddenly they turn up and have beaten the 2nd position on the ladder.  Coming up against Port Adelaide, they sent out an S.O.S. Not “Save Our Souls” but Son of Steven who bobbed up to snag a few.  I must say, it brings joy to my heart that Carlton are working themselves nicely into a position where their qualification to the finals will come down to the last game of the season.  West Coast had another percentage booster, although percentage is likely not to come into it when evaluating the draft picks.  At Marvel Stadium this is not going to go well for West Coast.  And now with Harry McKay not playing, Carlton’s efficiency in front of goal will only increase.  On that point Carlton by 71 points.

Brisbane vs Geelong      Gabba   Saturday Twilight

At three quarter time on Friday, I was all prepared to write about Brisbane shaking their monkey off their back, or at least re-framing the monkey to “not being able to win at the MCG against all non-Demons teams.”  Then, in the blink of an eye there was a complete capitulation to see Melbourne swing in from the trees overhead and cling fast to their backs with prehensile tails and opposable thumbs.  Geelong, in the meantime, had the match against Essendon sewn up by about the 10-minute mark of the first quarter.  It’s hard to read much into that game when Kardinia Park presents such a great advantage.  Brisbane in Brisbane is a different kettle of fish, but more interesting is this is a match between The Lions and The Cats.  Is this a crisis of Phylum?  Lions are a sub-family of Cats in general.  I’m not sure if this a paradox or not?  It certainly makes picking a winner much harder in my opinion.  Better stick with the home team.  Brisbane by 16 points.

Fremantle vs Sydney     Perth Stadium   Saturday Night

It could be argued that Fremantle’s season is over.  When the chips were down, they were unluckily scheduled to play the Juggernaut and they got burned in a single quarter.  But, at the same time, they are only 2.5 games out of the eight and, although remote, the chance still exists.  Sydney is making a late bid for finals footy but sits only half a game ahead of Fremantle but it’s like an imaginary line exists between the two for the experts who would say Sydney are a chance, but Freo are not.  This game does pose some questions.  Freo will be stronger at home, but Sydney is much improved.  One thing is for sure, if you’re in Perth, this could be your last chance to get along and thank Franklin for all the memories.  In his 352 matches he’s only been to Perth Stadium 3 times but kicked 15 goals there!  In fact, it’s the footy ground with his highest goal average.  In one of those three games, he only kicked 1 goal.  Anyway, get down there to wish him well and see Fremantle just pip them.  Fremantle by 2 points.

Port Adelaide vs Collingwood   Adelaide Oval   Saturday Night

This was to be the greatest game of the century, but then Port Adelaide went and spoiled it by losing to Carlton, so the result of this match is now inconsequential.  Even if Port wins the positions will not change, well, unless Port win by about 23 goals.  Port Adelaide had the luxury of resting some players last week in preparation for this match.  It didn’t quite work though as a smashing at the hands of the Blues was dished out.  This served to only anger Kochie who described it as the worst coaching performance in the history of all space and time and has drawn up the termination papers, which of course will start with him coming out and talking about how Hinkley has the full support of the board.  It was a different game for Collingwood who blew away Fremantle in a 2nd quarter blitz.  In a kids-come-for-free day at the MCG this means that 61,157 people turned out in the largest home and away crowd Freo have ever played in front of.  Is it just me or does 61,157 Collingwood supporters in a single place represent a great advertising opportunity for dentists?  To the game though…  Last week I was in the awkward position of getting my tips out before the teams were announced and if I had’ve seen them I would have tipped Carlton.  Again, this week, I don’t get to see whether any of those Port players who were rested last week are brought back in.  Port Adelaide have made a fortress at home and as good as the Pies are, it will be tough for them to win there.  Is this a preview of the Grand Final?  Port Adelaide by 22 points.

Greater Western Sydney vs Gold Coast Manuka Oval     Sunday Afternoon

GWS had a fantastic fighting win against Adelaide last week to make it an ordinary weekend for South Australia in general.  Gold Coast also had a stirring victory after the dismissal of their coach Stuart Dew.  Both teams are very hard at the ball and the man and this match will be played in the cold of Canberra which we believe is the main reason for getting rid of Stuart.  The fact is that Dew just doesn’t belong in Canberra, only Frost.  The temperature will be somewhere between 0 and 10 degrees.  This is good news for catering as the Pies can be left out on the counter, although the beer taps will need to be passed through heated pipes.  GWS and Gold Coast need to be careful not to do an injury here in their attack on the manball, especially GWS who are a good possibility for the finals.  Greater Western Sydney by 26 points.

Melbourne vs Adelaide                MCG      Sunday Afternoon

The D’s had a fighting comeback against Brisbane while the Crows were killed by the Giants.  This murder of the Crows (see what I did there) put a serious dent in their finals aspirations with them being outside the eight and with only half their games being at home now.  Given their trouble away from home it is difficult to mount a case for Adelaide in this one.  Melbourne is a strong team at the home of footy and they have a nice little run home here with every game winnable which could lock them into 3rd spot.  Dropping Grundy seems to have been a good choice.  And it’s a choice made easier when another team is paying most of his salary.  Melbourne by 31 points.

Saint Kilda vs North Melbourne                               Marvel Stadium               Sunday Twilight

Thank goodness for North Melbourne.  At least that’s what they’re saying at Saint Kilda.  They’ve only won one game in the last five starts… and that was only against West Coast… and that was only by 8 points.  Look, I don’t think that this game will be the fait accompli that it seems like on paper.  North Melbourne is a good clearance team, and this will trouble Saint Kilda a little.  But the young side will make too many errors and Saint Kilda’s transition from defense will be too much for North Melbourne to handle.  Saint Kilda by 36 points.