Round 20 AFL Preview

Last Week 7/9   Season Total 116/162

Last week there was a lot of discussion around crazy ideas like a best-of-three Grand Final and Wildcard matches to qualify for the finals.  This then descended into comments around just how compromised the fixture is.  The first evidence of this compromise is that Charlie Curnow leads the Coleman race but has kicked 19 goals against West Coast alone.  That being said, Tex does get his chance when they play West Coast for the second time in the last round.

Anyway, I have come up with a plan to fix the compromise and make all stakeholders happy.  Revenue from broadcasting rights is at the centre point as well as making the draw equitable to all teams.  I think this plan is so good that I am making this my platform for running for Prime Minister at the next election.  The plan is as such:

Step 1.  Build six 100,000 seat capacity stadiums in Alice Springs (bear with me…).  All games will be played there so travel is equal for all teams.

Step 2.  To maximise revenues in the fixture, the only games played will be 22 Western Derbies, 22 Showdowns, 22 Battles of the Bridge, 22 Q-Clashes and 22 Anzac Day matches (all other Victorian teams will be folded into Collingwood/Essendon, so everyone has a stake in it).  The winners of these 5 conferences will face off in the finals.  Due to the odd number of teams, all matches will be considered wildcard games.  The Grand Final will be played at the 6th and neutral stadium.

Step 3.  All patrons attending the matches will be shut-in for the term of the season and housed at each stadium.  Mobiles will go into a bag upon entrance and supporters will be sustained on a diet of Pies and Beer (or soft-drink for the kids).  WFH can be conducted from the stadiums and all comms are monitored to ensure game results are not leaked.  Note:  Housing all these people should fix the housing crisis too.  Then the broadcasters can play the matches on TV at any time during the week they wish to maximise profits as no-one outside the stadium will know the result and everyone inside the stadium will have their own issues to deal with.  Since all these teams are essentially from their own states, this also means each final is a State of Origin match, so this resolves this ever-present request.  The diet of Beer/Pies/Soft-drink will ensure a booming heath industry and provide plenty of employment for nurses and doctors.

I have made progress on the above plan already.  I have spoken to Evergrande who currently have a ‘buy two get one free’ stadium deal on so the whole thing will only cost about $20B (that’s $60B in Victorian Dollars).  Initial funding will come from building one less submarine as I do not see any future outcome where Australia will say, “if only we had one more submarine.”

Equitable draw…tick

State of Origin…tick

Broadcast Revenues…tick

Housing crisis solved…tick

Healthcare jobs…tick

Construction employment…tick

As the key promise of the “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi Party” I think we can get some major backing.  Our campaign slogan is, “Gettin’ Sh.t Done” and an attitude of “Hold my beer and watch this,” is how we will go about it.  So, if you’re interested in getting fleeced of your money making a campaign donation, please contact your local party representative which you will see popping up soon in your neighbourhood.

What’s happening in the AFL at the moment?  I’d better write the Preview.  Hold my beer and watch this.

Collingwood vs Carlton MCG      Friday Night

I’m worried that the Hollywood writers’ strike has started to affect the AFL.  On Saturday night, Collingwood’s come-from-behind victory was just the same script we have seen before.  Seriously though, it was an entertaining match to watch.  I got my tip wrong, and Collingwood became an even firmer favourite for the flag, if that is possible.  Carlton on the other hand had the match against West Coast sewn up by the 3-minute mark of the first quarter and a 10-goal haul from Curnow provided entertainment for the Blues fans from that point on.  Both teams are on a 5-game winning streak and the MCG will be heaving with 90K plus fans.  The first installment in this match was a bit of a fizzer but there is an air of confidence around Carlton at the moment and perhaps Collingwood will be a bit flatter after getting themselves up for such a big match last week.  But then it is all Tulips and Pavlova’s at Collingwood with 6 player signings in the last 2 days.  There is so much love in the place that Olympic Park is practically a Hippie Commune, but this game will come down to the selection table.  Collingwood are currently brimming with choices as almost all of their group are available, but Carlton on the other hand have some issues.  Walsh and Silvagni will be out, MacKay is out (but this might be a benefit) and there are clouds around the availability of Cerra, Cripps and a few others.  Hopefully Carlton’s talent pool gets up and we see an adequately bruising encounter between the two befitting the hatred felt between the supporter groups, even if they don’t understand the source of it.  Because of the injuries, Collingwood by 25 points.

Geelong vs Fremantle   Kardinia Park     Saturday Afternoon

I find the media narrative around Geelong very confusing to follow.  It belies an understanding of basic game analysis.  After smashing Essendon at Kardinia Park, they look at the stats and say how great Geelong are and their premiership fancies, and then they get held to 1 goal for almost 3 quarters of footy at the Gabba and the commentary quickly turns to them being done and out of contact with modern footy.  The media just don’t see the connection of home ground advantage for some reason, or at least ignore it.  Fremantle, on the other hand have lost their home ground advantage, amongst many other things they have lost since last year.  A spanking by Franklin and Sydney put the final nail in their 2023 coffin.  However, Fremantle beat Geelong at Kardinia Park last year so maybe they know something about playing on a cigar.  But remember, that was last year, and we can all agree that Freo have lost something since then.  Geelong by 62 points and the narrative to revert back to how unstoppable Geelong are.

Footscray vs Greater Western Sydney   Mars Stadium    Saturday Afternoon

The Dogs returned to the winners list after treating The Bombers as their own personal chew toy.  And then GWS bounded into the top eight after dispatching Gold Coast in a second half rout.  These two teams sit in that remarkable group from 5th to 12th where 8 teams are separated by a game and half.  All could stake their claim on a top eight finish to help make up the numbers in the finals and keep their fans happy.  This should be an outstanding match to watch with a great rivalry forming, so if you’re in the vacinity of Ballarat you should be boarding the Falcon Heavy’s and, to quote Douglas Quaid, “get your ass to Mars” (or was it Hauser that said that)?  But rug up because, without exaggerating, it will be somewhere close to Absolute Zero in Ballarat.  Footscray enjoy playing there but it is GWS who may be more used to the conditions after playing in temperatures well below Absolute Zero in Canberra.  Given subatomic particles stop vibrating at that point and all laws of physics that we know of become a little…iffy, we may be surprised at the quality and pace of ball movement in this one.  Footscray will relish some quick ball movement and GWS will be, as usual, hard at the man and make Footscray very accountable.  My statistics tell me that Footscray is the better team but only marginally and GWS may be a bit more consistent running into this match.  I’ll say Footscray by 3 points but with Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle the result will only be known upon observation.

Gold Coast vs Brisbane Carrara Saturday Twilight

The Suns seemed to be matching it with GWS for a while last week, but then were out-gunned in the second half.  Brisbane rolled over Geelong and let them back in a bit towards the end when the game was beyond doubt.  No doubt Brisbane were saving themselves for the Q-Clash as it is a such an important fixture.  Unfortunately, Will Ashcroft will miss the rest of the season, and most of next years with the dreaded ACL tear.  It’s a real bummer for Will and deprives us viewers of some electric up-and-coming-talent for a year.  Despite being at Carrara, I fully expect Brisbane to win this as they try to snatch the second spot from Port Adelaide…which is likely in my opinion.  Brisbane by 37 points.

Essendon vs Sydney       Marvel Stadium               Saturday Night

The Bombers were looking likely until last week they seemed to go back into their shell and try to use tentative ball movement which gets you nowhere in todays game.  Meanwhile, Sydney blasted Freo off the park in the first quarter.  The loss by Essendon was costly and saw them tumble out of the 8 in that scrum of teams vying for a spot.  They need a win here or face being left behind by the pack.  Sydney is a bit like the last rider off the back of the Peloton.  This game is their decision point…tuck, grit your teeth and try to move up through the pack, or drop off and give up on the season.  They seem to have their mojo back and don’t mind playing at Marvel.  Sydney by 16 points.

Adelaide vs Port Adelaide           Adelaide Oval   Saturday Night

It was near heroics on both counts last week for these two teams.  Port Adelaide fell under the script-writers spell to be overrun in what is now real danger signs for Hinkley.  Kochie has his Hinkley Voodoo Doll in hand with pins poised.  Adelaide was out of the match with Melbourne for most of it, but a barnstorming final quarter saw them nearly pinch it.  A couple of significant injuries in the process will not help them this week.  A Showdown is great for SA because the rivalry is so fierce.  It’s also great for the rest of Australia as South Australians tend to stay in their state that week.  A loss to Adelaide here sees them well and truly out of contention and this is a game where they need to throw everything at it or resign to starting their 2024 campaign next week.  Injuries will be telling.  Port Adelaide by 10 points.

Hawthorn vs Saint Kilda               Marvel Stadium               Sunday Afternoon

The Hawks seemed to have the match sewn up against Richmond, but a lapse in the last quarter allowed the Tigers to storm home and pinch the match by a solitary point.  Saint Kilda had to grind out a win against North Melbourne, also coming from behind on a slippery Marvel deck that gave Ross Lyon a case of the irrits. Hawthorn are looking for some reason to hope for next year whilst Saint Kilda are locked in the battle for 5th to 8th with the rest of the mob so neither team will want to drop this one.  Saints will have a bit more on the line though and might be a bit more comfortable at Marvel this week after the roof gets closed before the Mist descends.  If you’ve seen the end of the 2007 film The Mist, you’d want the roof closed early too.  Saint Kilda by 22 points.

Richmond vs Melbourne              MCG      Sunday Afternoon

A classic match of traditional Victorian rival clubs and MCG co-tenants.  Melbourne kept Adelaide at bay to almost certainly lock away a top 4 spot and Richmond have gone from maybe having a mediocre year to having their coach depart to now maybe being a chance for finals.  Oh, the life of a Tigers supporter.  Could we see Richmond finish 9th?  That used to be their usual spot.  This should be a good game to watch which makes a nice change to what’s been served up on a Sunday recently.  The chaotic ball movement of Richmond vs the clinical precision of Melbourne.  I think Melbourne will have too much composure in the backline to let Richmond run riot.  Of course, in my plan outlined in the preamble, this match could never happen, so is it even required to come up with a tip?  I suppose so.  Melbourne by 24 points.

West Coast vs North Melbourne              Perth Stadium   Sunday Twilight

Rumours were flying around during the week Harley Reed had let it slip that he doesn’t want to go to West Coast.  While this kind of thing is considered draft tampering and has been rightly denied by Reed and his team, you could hardly blame him, right?  But I’m not so sure the first pick is such a certainty.  North Melbourne are staking their claim and if West Coast can win by about 39 goals here then they will be above North Melbourne on the ladder!  It’s not the only rumour.  The other rumour merchants in the media who will remain unnamed have been touting the capitulation of the club internals with Nisbett gone, the footy department gone, and half of the team gone or forced into retirement.  All Money and no talent.  Not a great spot to be in but I’ve always had the following motto when I leave the house with the kids: “I may forget to bring everything, but if I have my wallet, all problems can be resolved.”  Not to mention the media have already started dividing up the spoils by making suggestions around which players should be sold off.  I am reminded of playing Dungeons and Dragons when one your friends and faithful party members dies in a fight and you barely pay the corpse any respect before rifling through their pockets and taking all of their valuables.  To this game though and both teams have lost to Saint Kilda by exactly 8 points so all current data points to this being a draw.  In recent weeks, West Coast has been much improved at home, but North have been a little unlucky recently too.  Consistency is key and the most consistent thing I can point to at the moment is West Coast losing.  North Melbourne by 8 points.


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