Round 1 AFL Preview

Last Week           2/4           Season Total      2/4

Normal transmission resuming.  Yep.  Round 0 or Opening Round has been and gone without so much as a by your leave.  Was it a success?  By every measure yes.  Thankfully the AFL handles the measures which can only have a single answer.  For me, it was a bit flat, but I’m sure if I lived in NSW or QLD and liked footy and wasn’t occupied with other stuff because this round is so early in the year then it would have gotten my seal of approval.  Not being in SA also meant that Gather Round was a bit flat for me last year so it would seem, for me at least, the ultimate measure of a successful round is location.  A bit like real estate, I guess.

With normal transmission this means that Round 1 is upon us with a healthy dose of 9 games that need attention.  I still wish we had another week off though.  I haven’t seen Blue Hawaii in a long time and am still wondering if The Professor and Mary Ann ever made it safely off the island.

Carlton vs Richmond      MCG      Thursday Night

What a start to the season for Carlton fans.  It looks like Voss will keep his job for a few more weeks and Carlton fans can spare the microwave from that acrid smell of sizzling plastic for another week.  I’ll admit, this was the first game I had a chance to watch a bit of, so I sat down and at quarter time things were so one-sided and boring I switched it off and used my time more productively.  I kept half an eye on score updates so that when the margin passed 100 points, I could be poised to write a scathing missive about Carlton here, and really make all their supporters want to evaluate their life choices.  But alas, I was floored by a remarkable comeback!  Is Coleman that important to Brisbane?  I guess we’ll see this week.

Richmond also found themselves in an early margin hole against Gold Coast.  But where Carlton brought a bucket wheel reclaimer to dig themselves out, Richmond only armed themselves with a spoon.  I imagine for Hardwick there is nothing more satisfying than ruining your previous kids year by showing up their new Dad while at the same time showing your new kids how big and tough you are.

In this game I don’t see any reason that Carlton won’t start the year 2-0…God help us all.  Carlton by 37 points.

Collingwood vs Sydney MCG      Friday Night

The biggest talking point from the Collingwood game was Mason Cox getting in trouble for practicing Rucking.  I mean, he’s a yank, he needs the practice.  I hadn’t seen such a media beat up since Kate Middleton edited a photo!  And both Rucking and Photoshopping are beyond the skills of Mason and Kate respectively it would seem.  Early is the time to get Brisbane and Collingwood as they are likely getable before they start rolling.  Collingwood fans needn’t panic, they had more scoring shots so were probably just out-executed on the night.  Given it’s not even round 1 yet it’s good to get the lesson so early.

Sydney gave Melbourne a good working over.  Some satisfaction for Grundy to dominate the Ruck duel over Max Gawn who kept him out all of last year.  This week Grundy comes up against the other team that shafted him, and it would seem he is in a punishing mood.  Cox will need to do more practicing.  On Sydney, is there a sight better in footy that watching Nick Blakey take on the midfield charging across the SCG with ball in hand, mullet gripping his head in desperation trying to keep up with him?

As good as Sydney were, and as good as Collingwood wasn’t, with their famed 19th man at the MCG on a night when flags are unfurled, it’s hard to go past Collingwood.  Collingwood by 11 points.

Essendon vs Hawthorn MCG      Saturday Afternoon

I think this classifies as a traditional rivalry match.  The rivalry dates back to 80’s when both these clubs played a bunch of finals (Grands and Semi’s) against each other.  This was the good old days when concussing each other was one of the main strategies employed by teams.  Oh, how things have changed.  This is the first hit out for both of these teams this year and I’m uncertain what each teams new recruits will bring to the table, except perhaps Ginnivan.  I’m certain he will get a head high tackle and be an annoying little sh..  Both teams are about as skilled as each other and I would love to see the team sheets before writing this one up, but I can’t so close my eyes and throw the dart…Hawthorn by 16 points.

GWS vs North Melbourne           ENGIE Stadium Saturday Afternoon

Greater Western Sydney were outstanding last week and deserve the mantle of flag favourites.  This was a game they would have been thinking about since the fixture was released and Semi Final revenge would have been on their minds.  The win last week was important as their next games are Nth Melbourne, West Coast, Gold Coast and St Kilda so there is every likelihood they start the season 5-0 and will be difficult to dislodge from top spot from there on.  But can you discount a plucky North Melbourne outfit with its host of #1 Draft picks and spearhead Nick Larkey who I’m tipping for the Coleman?  Yes, you can.  No chance up at GIANTS Stadium, which is now renamed ENGIE Stadium, formerly Sydney Showgrounds.  But as a North supporter you can get along and enjoy the game from the Cumberland Stand while you enjoy a meat pie.  Perhaps the meat will have come from one of the cows that frequented the ground during its showground era and perhaps the Cumberland Stand is named after the sausages whose genealogy can be traced back to the pigs that were on display in the centre square.  Food for thought indeed.  GWS by 48 points.

Geelong vs Saint Kilda  Kardinia Park     Saturday Night

Speaking of stands, has the Kardinia Park redevelopment been completed yet?  I hope so.  I want to see what it looks like when an entire wing of people are sitting in a straight line, rather than the arc matching the ellipses eccentricity.  I guess it’s no different to seeing people in the stands at a soccer match or rugby match…or AFLX match.  Sometimes I miss AFLX, but that may be my early onset dementia.  It’s a straight-walled fortress down there and I can’t see St Kilda getting over it.  But I do look forward to a Ross Lyon post-match presser.  Geelong by 27 points.

Gold Coast vs Adelaide Carrara Saturday Night

Here Comes the Sun, and I say, it’s Alright (do-do-do-do-do-do-do-d-doooo).  Like Port Adelaide and Never Tear Us Apart, maybe Gold Coast can adopt that one as their pre-match.  I’d like to hear a full stadium trying to do the do-do-doo bit in unison.  But, given that the team appears to be on the rise perhaps House of the Rising Sun would be more appropriate, but rather than sing it, it’s just a way of life.  “Spend your life in Sin and Misery, in the House of the Rising Sun.”  Sounds ok to me…well, except for the misery, I guess.  Aaaannywaay…The Beast Matt Rowell is back.  He had more clearances last week than a dozer driver in the Amazon and I noted just how neatly trimmed the grass was on the playing field.  Add Ben King to the equation and there is potential there for a challenger to Nick Larkey on that Coleman.  A lazy 5 goals to open the season is how you start the Coleman race.  Adelaide will be without spearhead Thilthorpe leaving Tex to try and out-do King.  I don’t think Adelaide has anyone that can out-clear Rowell although they did have Keays who was always good for a shutdown role (or kicking behinds).  This feels like a bandwagon move but, Gold Coast by 15 points.

Melbourne vs Footscray               MCG      Sunday Afternoon

The AFL is back in Victoria with a vengeance.  All about the Northern states last week, this game will be the fourth at the MCG for the weekend!  Let’s hope the Swifties left the place spik and span and that it wasn’t a Cruel Summer so the grass is in good condition and the teams can find a Blank Space on the wing.  Melbourne were poor last week and just need to Shake it Off and get their head into this game against Footscray.  Oliver will need to drop the Anti-Hero moniker and put in a strong performance to get over Bontempelli and crew who will be keen to make a good start.  It would be a shame for Melbourne to start the season 0-2 and take their gameplan Back to December.  I don’t think there is any Bad Blood between these two teams, but it’s no Love Story either.  In my Wildest Dreams I couldn’t pick a winner in this one, so I’ll just go for Taylor Swift by…er…I mean Melbourne by 9 points.

Port Adelaide vs West Coast      Adelaide Oval   Sunday Afternoon

Some teams have a really lucky draw.  It’s an unprecedented move by the AFL to give Port Adelaide two consecutive byes to open the season but here we are.  No, I jest.  In all seriousness, it’s actually worse than that and Port Adelaide get a percentage booster to start the season.  Or at the very least another week to evaluate their youth.  Yes, it’s going to be tough for West Coast again this year.  Although their supporters may be glued to this game, clinging to the hope that their combination of youth and experience might actually work.  Sometimes it does.  They weren’t called The Baby Bombers for nothing.  Youth don’t care about history.  I don’t mean that as a sweeping statement about all youth, although probably true.  I mean the teams youth won’t have any hangups about playing this ground or this team or that match up.  They’ll attack with energy and fervor and in the heat of a blistering 33 degree Adelaide day, might just outrun their opponents.  Then there is the wiliness of the West Coast old guard who have been here before, done it before, know how to be sneaky and might just out-think their opponents.  Or I could just be dreaming.  Port Adelaide by 62 points.

Fremantle vs Brisbane  Perth Stadium   Sunday Afternoon

Longmuir is widely tipped to be the first coach to be rolled this year.  It doesn’t help that their first match up will be against the Grand Finalist who will have had a stern talking to from Chris Fagan about their intensity and drop off last week.  Personally, I can’t imagine Fagan being stern about anything, so we’ll have to wait until the last game of the round to see what impact he had on the players during the week.  Fremantle may have had what the experts call a down year last year.  Apparently, it is well documented that on your rise, you have a year where you slip back and then you continue your rise.  Although, Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great would disagree with that theory, and that thing called history that the youth of today aren’t so invested in, would tend to agree. 

Looking at the early tips and the “experts” are right off Brisbane on this one.  Maybe they think the PINK concert will have damaged the grass of Perth Stadium and it won’t be to the liking of Brisbane.  For Fremantle, they need to commit to the Trustfall and Get this Party Started.  Brisbane by 17 points.


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