Round 24 AFL Preview

Last Week 5/9     Season Total 137/198

And so, here we are at the back end of the season.  Seven teams are confirmed for the top eight and two teams will be fighting it out for that last coveted position.  The Matilda’s unfortunately fell short but united the nation against England like so many teams before them have before.  I really feel like things – in general - are coming to a close.  The Ashes gave way to the Netball World Cup which then gave way to the Soccer World Cup.  What will fill any voids that I have in my life now?  Family?  Work?  Self-Improvement?  All great things I’m sure but there must be something else out there…?  Thank goodness for the Basketball World Cup which starts this week!  Is this the year of World Cups?  After The Basketball is the Rugby World Cup which overlaps with Golf’s versions of a World Cup and then the ODI Cricket World Cup is on!  That is a serious amount of crockery on offer this year.

And alas there is a bye next week.  What do we do with ourselves then?  Keep an eye on the blog here and I’ll deliver my annual “State of the Game” address, which I’m sure will be enlightening.

Essendon vs Collingwood            MCG      Friday Night

What exactly is Collingwood attempting?  It is like Fly has them approaching the season in reverse.  Normally you lose a few on the way and then build to unstoppableness as the season reaches its crescendo.  The Pies on the other hand were in unbeatable form early in the season and look a bit listless towards the end.  There’s one more game to build momentum before the finals and this is it.  Can you get momentum from a single game?  My High School Science teacher taught me that momentum is the product of mass and velocity, and that momentum is conserved based on the laws outlined by Newton in his excellent book, Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687).  Perhaps Collingwood has been conserving their momentum or collecting other teams spent momentum, ready to discharge it.  What did Newton really know about AFL and Collingwood anyway?  Speaking of Newtons laws of motion, Essendon were toying with them themselves last week.  In particular it seems as if they were very focused on Newtons first law, which loosely describes that a body will remain at rest unless acted upon by a force.  No force was applied, and it looked like Essendon just remained at rest.  For a time there, it looked like West Coasts big loss to Sydney was going to be outdone.  So, what does this all mean for this match?  Essendon will come out strong to make a statement that they don’t agree with the laws of physics and Collingwood will be working hard to get themselves out of this Lagrange Point funk that they are in.  The risk for Collingwood here though is finishing top of the ladder might mean a first up match against Melbourne at the MCG and if they lose that it would be an MCG Semi against Carlton (probably).  That could be an out-in-straight-sets scenario.  Interesting machinations.  Collingwood by 35 points.

Hawthorn vs Fremantle                MCG      Saturday Afternoon

For these two teams this is just a prelude to Mad Monday.  Luckily for them, it has been scheduled in Melbourne rather than Launceston where there is more flexibility over Mad Monday options.  Hawthorns Giant-killing run ended last week when Melbourne stopped them and Fremantle, who seemed to be in a small vein of form against Brisbane and then West Coast were taught some valuable lessons.  How do these two teams approach a game where they are not testing themselves against the best, not trying to disrupt a contender and their ladder positions won’t even change?  Not a spectators delight (I’m going out for the afternoon) and not even a tipsters delight as who knows which way it could go?  Time for a guess.  Hawthorn by 16 points.

North Melbourne vs Gold Coast                               Blundstone Arena           Saturday Afternoon

In a real twist on my earlier statements about Mad Monday, these two teams could have been on the Gold Coast, but the AFL scheduled this one down in Hobart.  Jogging up and down Mt Wellington is about as silly as Mad Monday might get!  North have their coach back and might want to win this one for him, although winning this just gives their hard-fought 1st draft pick back to West Coast so maybe they “play in a manner that makes it difficult to win.”  They won’t be tanking though.  I’m sure Clarkson needs to find out which defenders play best up forward and which forwards play best in defence and which midfielders play best when not playing well…all in the name of bettering their gameplan for next year of course.  On the other hand, Gold Coast might want to win this one for their incoming coach / outgoing coach.  Not a lot of interest in this one either.  Gold Coast by 28 points.

Brisbane vs Saint Kilda  Gabba   Saturday Twilight

If Collingwood faulter, Brisbane can claim top spot.  But if they lose, they could fall as far as 4th.  The reality is that they must win this one.  A win last week against an injury hit Pies outfit and they seemed to play themselves back into form.  Saint Kilda are looking pretty good and can finish anywhere from 5th to 8th depending on results.  As good as Saint Kilda have been, the winning record the Lions have at The Gabba means you just can’t tip them.  Brisbane by 34 points.

Geelong vs Footscray    Kardinia Park     Saturday Night

One of the two games that actually matter this week.  Geelong can’t make it now, so this is a game for pride for them and after last week’s debacle against West Coast, Footscray have left their charge until the very, very last minute.  Needless to say, it’s a must-win game for Footscray.  Lose it and they are out of finals contention, win it and they are not guaranteed, but have to wait to see what happens in the Giants v Blues match.  The match is at Kardinia Park which is not a happy hunting ground for Footscray.  Geelong by 17 points.

West Coast vs Adelaide                Perth Stadium   Saturday Night

Last week was the worst possible result for West Coast.  It was the strangest attempt to tank that I have ever seen.  Winning the game means that Harley Reid moves to North Melbourne, which received 140,000 likes from Harley Reids account alone.  It could also mean that, if Harry McKay departs, the 2nd pick will go to North Melbourne too as a compensation.  Looking through North Melbourne’s playing list and it’s getting tough to find any players whose draft position has double figures!  But I’m off track, this isn’t about North Melbourne.  This is about whether or not West Coast can get that pick back.  As bad as the result last week was for West Coast, the only worse result for the entire season was Adelaide’s.  I’m not sure what more I can add to the conversations during the week in relation to what happened there.  Apologies were issued and somehow this makes it all ok.  Frankly anyone you ask is ok with it…so long as you don’t ask any Adelaide supporters.  It’s not often you can say you were robbed and its actually true.  Adelaide should hold a sit-in during the match as a protest.  Although West Coast are going so badly, they’ll probably score a behind and have to wait for Adelaide to kick the ball in.  Adelaide by 29 points.

Port Adelaide vs Richmond         Adelaide Oval   Sunday Afternoon

This game is only important for Port Adelaide.  A nice tune up before the finals and a win could get them as high as 2nd or a loss as low as 4th.  They will know if the win changes anything for them once the Brisbane game is played.  In all likelihood this game will determine if they travel to Brisbane or Melbourne for their first final.  Richmond are done and Dustied for the season.  I’m expecting a win won’t mean much in this one.  Port Adelaide by 41 points.

Sydney vs Melbourne   SCG        Sunday Afternoon

It’s tough to understand what this game might mean for both combatants?  A win for Sydney might give them a home final in the first week and for Melbourne, a win and they (likely) host a home final at the MCG or a loss and (likely) play an “away” final against Collingwood at the MCG.  There is a remote chance that they win and have to travel to Brisbane for the first final…but it’s pretty remote.  Better play the safe option here and just lose…unless Collingwood lose, then they should win.  Confused yet?  I think Sydney has more to play for.  Or will the AFL try to even things up by dubiously getting Melbourne to win as they should have against Carlton except for an umpiring error and get and in the process having Sydney lose as they should have against Adelaide except for an umpiring error.  And now we’re back to conspiracy theories.  Sydney by 11 points.

Carlton vs Greater Western Sydney        Marvel Stadium               Sunday Twilight

It comes down to this for GWS.  Carlton can’t be knocked out of the finals and can likely only finish as low as 6th.  GWS need to win this to play finals.  Will Carlton’s minds already be fixated on finals?  Will they try to preserve their bodies while GWS cracks in?  Will Carlton completely ruin their streak by bringing back players who ruin any structure they may have had for the last nine weeks?  All shall be revealed.  GWS by 1 point.


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