Round 21 AFL Preview

Last Week 3/9     Season Total 119/171

Every now and then the competition throws up a round of upsets.  The important thing is to be on that train when it arrives.  Sadly, I was not.  But neither was anyone else in the competitions I am in so damage was limited.  The most irritating thing about it all was that for the first time this season you could confidently sit down with the ladder predictor and feel like your machinations would be correct.  Then all of a sudden you have to waste more time doing it all again!

This week was the start of retirement season in the AFL.  It started with a bang when Buddy Franklin, injuring a calf, got the scans back that made him pull the pin on his career.  Like Buddy, calf injuries ended my career early too.  Yep, you read that correctly, I just compared myself to Buddy Franklin.  I’d say that I was a lot like Buddy in my short career in country footy, the only real differences were a shit-tonne of ability and about 1040 goals (and perhaps about 8 inches in height)…otherwise absolutely identical.

Regular readers will note I have been urging you all to get along and see Lance in the flesh one more time.  Those that were putting it off have now missed out.  I’m reminded of a Douglas Adams book, “Last Chance to See” where he details the need to go and look at (and protect) some of Earth’s wildlife before they are become extinct.  Which points me to this quote, “Humans are not an endangered species ourselves yet, but this is not for lack of trying.”  Of course, this has absolutely nothing to do with Buddy’s retirement but is an important bit of information to have.  If you would like some evidence, spend 10 minutes on Tik Tok.  Shannon Hurn also pulled the retirement ripcord this week and he is likely just the first in a number of departures we will see in the West this year.  I’m sure there will be more retirements to come in the next few weeks, and all I can say is get out to the footy over the last few rounds of the season as this could be your last chance to see.

One of the other two major bits to come out of the weekend was Touk’s tackle on Zorko’s tackle.  Is this why they call it your tackle?  There’s certainly no love lost between these two players and the aftermath through the media has almost reached the same heights as Johnny Bairstow versus…well…all of Australia.  I’m hopeful to see the team sheet this week with Zorko in the OUTS column with “bruised penis” or “squished scrotum” simply because I think it would be funny.  But that’s the 15-year-old boy in me speaking.  The older gentleman in me crosses his legs and winces at the mere thought of it.

Lastly, what in blazes are Port Adelaide doing down there when it comes to head clashes!?  Anyone looking at the vision of the collision, in any time frame could tell that both those players needed a SCAT test.  I think maybe the doctor was confused about the test.  Spending all that time waiting for a player to do a poo and then analysing that sample isn’t really all that revealing for a head injury.  But perhaps this is what integrated medicine is these days.  Me, I prefer a more classically trained medical practitioner.  Side note on this subject, if you have put off that bowel kit you get after age 50…take my advice and get it done.  Now on one hand they don’t do the test on a guy who was clearly unconscious, albeit briefly, and send him back out again and the other guy they do the test on him and say he is fine, and just sub him out with a migraine.  I’m not an expert in migraines but I’m thinking if you didn’t have one before you got your head knocked in and then had one after your skull was smashed, it’s probably related to the incident, and you shouldn’t play next week either.  Anyway, expect the AFL to come down heavily, the fine to be rather large (the AFL will need the money for the upcoming court cases), the club Doctor to be seeking new employment opportunities next season and Kochie to be a man of ill-tempered disposition for a few weeks.  Hinkley better watch out!

Speaking of knockouts, I see that the Matildas made it through to the knockout rounds, Tayla Harris will be taking a couple of weeks off pre-season training (presumably) and Australia lost the last test.

What’s going on in the footy this week?

Footscray vs Richmond Marvel Stadium               Friday Night

It would seem that the Bulldogs just can’t take a trick.  Leading by a reasonable margin last week they had the rest of their defence go down with injuries and this allowed GWS to roll over them.  The Tigers were well in the match with Melbourne up until about halfway through the last quarter when Melbourne juggernaughted their way to victory.  These two teams are separated by half a game, and neither can afford a backward step here so the game will be rich viewing indeed.  But Richmond has a well-documented dislike for Marvel Stadium and haven’t won a match there since 2021.  Then again, they are getting Footscray at a pretty good time with a backline bereft of anyone who does it on a regular basis.  So, what’s more important, having no backline or not liking the ground?  My theory here is that not liking a ground affects your backline AND your forward line AND your midfield AND everything else so Footscray by 16 points.  Not that it will change my tip, but given Richmond’s penchant for fast and furious footy, I couldn’t help but notice their team sheet contains both Coulthard and Mansell.  If they pick up Raikkonen in the draft, I’m going to get suspicious.

Essendon vs West Coast               Marvel Stadium               Saturday Afternoon

Finally for West Coast a second win on the board.  It looked like they were going to romp it in, but a good fightback made the final quarter compelling viewing.  I saw the West Coast crowd rise as one at final siren in jubilation, but I didn’t see the club song.  Maybe someone can enlighten me, but how to do you make a circle with 4 people and have 18 people in the middle to celebrate their first win?  Where do you get enough Gatorade to shower 18 people with?  West Coast needs to be careful now.  One more victory like that and Harley Reed gets his non-public wish not to go West.  That won’t be a problem this week with a game away from home against the Dons.  Essendon will be keen for a win after three losses on the trot and they really need this win to stay in contention.  Some percentage will help and I’m sure they’ll get it.  Essendon by 49 points.

Adelaide vs Gold Coast Adelaide Oval   Saturday Afternoon

Boy oh boy didn’t The Crows dish out another Showdown lesson to Port last week?  An evening stroll in the park for Tex had him kick 7 to keep in touch with Charlie Curnow for the Coleman and the team has been able to strut up and down Hindley St all week with chests puffed out.  But the same with Gold Coast who smashed their perennial bully off the park last week too.  I’ve always said, if you’re getting bullied the best course of action is to go up to the antagonist and kick him in the nuts (or in this case squeeze the living daylights out of them).  A damaged agate serves as a permanent reminder not to be messed with.  Gold Coast are going to need to bring that sort of fight to this match too.  Well, not the EXACT same sort of fight, but be hard and tough at the ball…the football…you know what I mean.  Adelaide’s speed can kill a team, but Gold Coasts toughness will be telling.  A close one here, but Adelaide has a bit more to play for than Gold Coast.  Adelaide by 14 points.

Hawthorn vs Collingwood           MCG      Saturday Twilight

It’s hard to get a read on what The Pies dished up last week.  Take nothing away from Carlton, but Collingwood also seemed a bit off.  Kicks were a bit wayward, and intensity looked a bit down.  Certainly, some of this was to do with the effort and intensity that Carlton brought but some of it can be portioned to the end of a long month that Collingwood set themselves for.  This is the troublesome part of footy tipping for us regular folks.  The Pies have all but locked away one of the top two spots and maybe have a bit of hesitancy in their legs as they try to preserve themselves for finals and teams like Carlton, or in this week’s case Hawthorn, can come along and pick them off just by body lining the player a little bit.  Hawthorn themselves were blown off the park in a fast first quarter last week by the Saints but worked their way back to being a chance late, falling at the final hurdle.  This match should be pretty similar.  Collingwood by 37 points.

Geelong vs Port Adelaide            Kardinia Park     Saturday Night

What a tantalizing match up this will be.  Geelong was reading from the wrong script last week by losing at home.  This brings words like “cooked” and “old” into conversations about them.  Add to that a couple of hamstrings to some key players and there is real risk of them dropping this one at home too!  You have to go back to 2015 to find a time when Geelong lost two games in a row at Kardinia Park, which incidentally was the last time Geelong did not make the Finals.  However, those two losses were 8 weeks apart.  You must go all the way back to 2006 to find two losses in consecutive rounds at Kardinia Park.  Port Adelaide is also starting to see the word “Cooked” in articles about them.  After umpteen wins in a row, they have now lost their past three.  Also, when looking at history you need to go back to 2007 to find a time when they won at Kardinia Park.  Anyone remember 2007?  Geelong beat Port Adelaide in the Grand Final by 119 points.  History is interesting, but it doesn’t help to pick a winner in this game.  Hawkins and Blicsavs are important to Geelong, but as important as Aliir and Jones are for Port.  The importance of this game is highlighted by the pub patron who went and head-butted Jeremy Cameron this week in an effort to get him to miss the match with concussion I suppose.  My guess is this was just Hinkley in disguise trying to get Kochies pins out of his back.  Geelong by 11 points.

Greater Western Sydney vs Sydney        GIANTS Stadium              Saturday Night

Here we go, the 26th battle of the bridge and one the Swans face for the first time without Buddy Franklin at the club.  Sydney have found some late season momentum to put them in the frame for a finals spot and GWS have won their last 7 to put them into 6th spot on the ladder.  I’ve been saying it for a while that GWS are a better side than their ladder position was showing and now the ladder has finally caught up with them.  The trick here is to pay attention to the details.  I have gone back through both these teams’ winning runs in minute detail and you know what it revealed?  I’ll tell you but keep this little secret to yourself…it’s tipping gold.  Going through past matches in detail reveals absolutely nothing.  There, I said it, the secret to my success is out.  But I don’t like taking blind guesses either, so I need something to anchor my analysis on.  Oh dear, that means I need to fire up the statistical leviathan and run some simulations.  You know what that shows me?  It’s a real 50:50 match.  But if I flex the decimal places then it’s a 50.00001:49.99999 match so on that basis, with utmost confidence, GWS by 6 points.

North Melbourne vs Melbourne              Blundstone Arena           Sunday Afternoon

This is going to be a bit unfair, but North Melbourne are not going to win this one.  Coming back from a loss in WA and then going all the way down to Tasmania they lose 3 days of preparation already.  Clarkson takes the reigns again this week.  Alastair that is, not Jeremy, although I think watching Jeremy Clarkson coach North Melbourne would be far more entertaining.  Melbourne looks like they are going through the motions until finals start.  Melbourne by 42 points.

Saint Kilda vs Carlton     Marvel Stadium               Sunday Afternoon

Carlton is on the rise.  It is very exciting for Carlton supporters.  I remember when journalists were camping outside Princes Park to ambush board members and try and find out when Voss was being sacked.  This almost seems like a season ago.  Now they’re talking about how much damage they are going to do in the finals…when they haven’t even qualified yet.  They were solid against Collingwood and caught Port at a good time but we’re thinking Port aren’t the team they were pretending to be.  Otherwise, their list of wins includes 14th, 15th, 16th, and 18th on the ladder.  Importantly though, this produces momentum and momentum can be important.  It will need to be with their run home now against 5th, 2nd, 14th, and 6th.  This will be more telling of how they have improved and will see them dancing precariously with the qualifying line.  Saint Kilda similarly have a tough run home and if they want to stay in contention for a finals spot are going to need to stomp on teams like Carlton.  I’m looking at this match as potentially the game of the round.  Both teams like to move the ball cleanly and quickly but Carlton launch from the centre while Saint Kilda launch from defence.  On that basis I think Carlton will win as defensively they are similar, but Carlton has a more potent attack.  How will St. Kilda deal with Curnow?  Carlton by 21 points.

Fremantle vs Brisbane  Perth Stadium   Sunday Twilight

Nothing is more infuriating than when your team puts in such poor performances to rule them out of finals contention and then play a game like Freo did against Geelong to prove that they could play finals…if they wanted to.  Frederick’s goal of the year contender has been replayed frequently, but to put that in context, the shallow pocket-cigar shape of the ground means that was more like taking a shot in line with the edge of the centre square on any other ground.  Ha, this coming from a guy who has a lifetime goal average of about 0.2 and was often named in the forward pocket.  That being said, in the country leagues usually 2 minutes into the first quarter some chain-smoking farmer would swap out of the centre bounces with me so he could rest for the remainder of the match.  What am I talking about? I’ve already established my Buddy-like credentials so I should be an authority…as you were Frederick.  Brisbane will be hurt by the loss to Gold Coast.  Their supporters wouldn’t have liked that.  It’s the sort of loss that really bruises the members.  But these things really testes one’s fortitude.  Ahhh, if only Chris Johnson was still playing for Brisbane, I’d have material to go on with, they do have Jack Payne and, if you think about it, Eric Hipwood.  I digress, Brisbane will be desperate to atone for the loss last week and put their finals campaign back on track.  Fremantle may be reveling a little too much in their great win last week.  It could go the other way, but Brisbane by 27 points.


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