Round 7 AFL Preview

 Last Week           2/8           Season Total      35/55 

The competition keeps throwing us some curveball results in an effort to confuse and annoy us tipsters.  So confusing are the results that even my Statistical Leviathan thinks that Saint Kilda is the best team in the league currently (not from what I saw on the weekend) and Carlton aren’t even in the best 8 teams (not from what I saw on the weekend).  The worst thing about that is that I rely on the Statistical Leviathan when things aren’t obvious as it was designed to straighten up those curveballs.  But here we are after a very embarrassing score of 2 for the weekend with a gigantic statistical model I have been meticulously maintaining for 7 years and I just can’t trust it.  It’s also not lost on me that the only tips I got right last weekend, according to my preview, were because of house prices and ants.

So, after such a poor tipping result last weekend, I say welcome to the Round 7 Preview – Hindsight Edition.

This week, being the Anzac Round, provides little time for in-depth study and a lot of guessing given the first game is on Wednesday Night.  But I reckon guessing will bear more fruit than statistics in this unusual world.  Fear not about having a poor showing last week…if the Many-Worlds theory holds true and an infinite number of universes exist, you can be confident that you got 8 correct somewhere and you’ll get 9 correct this week.

Richmond vs Melbourne              MCG      Wednesday Night

Both of these teams had a bye last week so there is no hindsight required in this one.  It was one of the few things I got right!  A more recent tradition on the football calendar is this match on the night before Anzac Day.  For the footy loving tragics with more than a passing interest in military matters, it is quite troublesome to stay up late to get to this match and then get up for the dawn service and stay awake long enough to watch the next match.  But once a year it is a sacrifice that can be made which is insignificant against the sacrifices that this round acknowledges.

After the stunning nighttime visuals that ceremony will provide, these two teams will fight it out for honours on the day.  Richmond is having a horrible year so far.  Their last outing was a thrashing at the hands of West Coast when Richmond’s injury list looked more like…well, West Coasts.  Will they get those players back?  Will it matter?  Melbourne also had a loss in their last outing at the hands of Brisbane at the MCG.  It’s hard to see Richmond standing up for this one despite their creative nature and chaotic style.  Melbourne would seem to be the superior team here.  Melbourne by 28 points.

Essendon vs Collingwood            MCG      Thursday Afternoon

All of the data pointed to a Collingwood win.  I stated as much in my discussions last week.  In hindsight, I should have trusted in those statistics rather than relying on the nebulous, “They haven’t been playing well” observation.  They were going to turn it around at some stage and it happened to be that one that they got back to business.  The Statistical Leviathan also told me that Essendon is a better team than Adelaide, but that home ground and an apparent turn-the-corner match against Carlton last week convinced me to ignore the statistics.  In hindsight, I should have put my trust in the model.

This could be one of the highest attended matches outside a final that we have seen.  Essendon are on the rise, and it looks like Collingwood has turned the corner.  I’m tipping over 92,000 to turn up there.  Friends of mine married each other last week and as rabid Collingwood Supporters they have chosen this event as the key point of their honeymoon.  I think I would have gone for Tahiti, but you know…Collingwood Supporters are a different species in many ways.  The Anzac match is a wonderful spectacle, both as a tribute to the Anzac spirit and general entertainment for the masses.  The Leviathan says Essendon are marginally better than Collingwood and with 2-metre Peter returning from suspension they might just about be ready to take the next step.  But if Collingwood can capture their form from last week and continue with it, they might not be beatable.  The Pies have virtually owned this match in the last 20 years with Essendon only bobbing up to win one now and then…is this the time for them to bob up?  Essendon by 1 point.

GWS vs Brisbane             Manuka Oval     Thursday Night

It’s no secret that GWS is my tip to win it all this year.  But they will lose matches along the way, and I shouldn’t be so firm in my backing of them.  In hindsight, I should respect the opposition they were up against, who are also travelling ok.  Brisbane is still yet to win a game at their normally impenetrable fortress, the Gabba.  In hindsight, I shouldn’t have put so much weight on that home ground advantage against a team as good as Geelong.  Or at least I could have checked the weather forecast.  It leaves me in an awkward position for this game.  GWS will be without a couple of stars after Jesse Hogan got sucked into a retaliation and Toby Greene turned his body at the wrong time.  They will likely challenge the Greene bump but unlike Cameron, he does not qualify for the “Good Bloke” defence.  But the match is on their home ground which will carry a modicum of weight and they may welcome the return of key defender Sam Taylor who missed last week with concussion.  Brisbane on the other hand is standing on the precipice of that hole again.  They can’t seem to win at home, but this game is away which might be ok.  Worryingly for Brisbane is the coach is starting to use terms like, “We don’t worry about things like ladder position.”  It’s a shame that the competition is based solely around where you finish on the ladder.  With McInerney out on concussion protocols they may have to rob Peter to pay Paul and use Danniher in the ruck a bit more.  For that reason, GWS by 13 points.

Port Adelaide vs Saint Kilda       Adelaide Oval   Friday Night

The way Port Adelaide were playing and the devastating impact of their midfield the week before was always going to cause Collingwood some troubles.  In hindsight, this was mostly because no one last week tried to stop Ports midfield.  When you do that, you can find a way to beat them.  Saint Kilda are a fast ball moving, low pressure side.  In hindsight, there’s always someone faster.  Saint Kilda were flat against Footscray, and things now don’t get much tougher than a trip across the border to Port Adelaide.  And the aforementioned lack of pressure will likely translate to a lack of ability to stop that midfield of Port in Butters, Rozee, et al.  While I’m speaking in tongues, this match is a fait accompli.  Port Adelaide by 31 points.

North Melbourne vs Adelaide   Blundstone Arena           Saturday Afternoon

Crows players have every right to be a bit miffed.  I heard Drapers move described as a starfish and the umpires even said in hindsight, it should have been a free kick.  Of course, Tex would have still had to nail the kick.  Adelaide wasn’t playing well for most of that match and you could argue they didn’t deserve it anyway.  Small consolation though.  Now here’s a great conspiracy theory (tinfoil hats on please). We could call out that these controversial umpiring decisions on the death knell and wonder why they always go against the non-Victorian team.  Now there’s a statement sure to fuel the interstate rivalries.

What to do about North Melbourne?  In hindsight, maybe they shouldn’t have won that last match of the year last season and then they would have Harley Reid.  As I understand their grand plan, it was to continue to finish last for 18 straight seasons and then have an entire team of #1 draft picks.  The way they are playing at the moment, winning a game is not a mistake they intend to make twice. 

The game at Bellerieve doesn’t hold much fear for Adelaide and North Melbourne may be keen to try and make it a stronghold before the Tassie Devils arrive.  But it won’t start this week.  Adelaide by 28 points.

Geelong vs Carlton         MCG      Saturday Twilight

No doubt about it, both of these teams are humming along nicely.  Geelong is yet to drop a game and it was touted by many, including me, that the match against Brisbane would be their first test.  In hindsight, Brisbane is 2 and 4 for the season, perhaps they are not as big a test as they seem (don’t tell Melbourne that though).  Carlton is definitely a formidable team, but with a couple of lucky escapes to their name.  But it takes some luck to win a premiership and they look on the road to glory.  There are so many possibilities this week, but I’m going to call this the match of the round.  I’ll try and grab a tinnie and nestle into my well-worn patch on the couch.  I might have to build a fort out of the cushions, so the family don’t know I’m skiving off my weekend duties.

Unbeaten Geelong looks like the obvious tip and certainly they have won the lions share of recent encounters.  But Carlton has some midfield and forward beasts who don’t like to share the meat, and I just don’t know which way to turn on this one.  Future me will regret this, but Carlton by 8 points.

Fremantle vs Footscray Perth Stadium   Saturday Night

A Fiery flurry from ‘F’ fans for this match.  I’ll admit, I gave Footscray both barrels last week and just plain insulted them.  I’d like to think my comments were read out in the changerooms before the match and they won just to spite me.  Good for them.  In hindsight, I did say they like to play open, bruise free footy without much physical contact and I should have realised that is just the type of game that St. Kilda like to deliver so it was always a Footscray win on the cards.  I don’t know what to say about Fremantle’s performance though.  Insipid is a word I like to try and find a use for on occasion, and this seems like a good occasion.  The less said about it the better for Fremantle, but a good start to the season was important for Fremantle with a tough run home and a 3-3 record might not cut the mustard.  It also leaves me in a quandary for this match.  Fremantle will be angry with their performance, embarrassed even, and they will be physical with the Western Bulldogs, you can be sure of that.  Footscray don’t like that.  Fremantle by 16 points.

Gold Coast vs West Coast            Carrara Sunday Afternoon

West Coast supporters now have one burning question on their lips…is it too early to start using the ladder predictor?  Like a bear, West Coast supporters have been hibernating for a while and now after an unexpected Derby win, they have emerged into the warm spring of season 2024, hungry and looking to start a fight.  If you can do it, avoid talking to West Coast Supporters for a bit as they are a little chirpy at the moment after such a long time in the cellar.  But who could blame them..chirp on, you rascals.  I can’t really make an “in hindsight” statement on this as no one in their right mind would have picked West Coast except for those so indoctrinated that they don’t understand the outside world.  Gold Coast were picked apart pretty cleanly by Sydney who were never threatened but have a pretty talented midfield that could compete well with the revived West Coast midfield of Yeo, Kelly and now Reid.  As an added bonus for Gold Coast the match will be on a dewy Carrara surface that Matt Rowell regularly feasts on (figuratively and literally).  To make matters worse for picking a winner, the Statistical Leviathan has these two teams as equal in strength out to 4 decimal places.  In a case like this, go the home team…but nervously.  Gold Coast 18 points.

Hawthorn vs Sydney      MCG      Sunday Twilight

The Hawks finally opened their account for the year after a couple of near misses and it was done to the delight of Mitchell who likes nothing more than getting one over his old master.  But giving North Melbourne a good spanking is a little different to playing Sydney.  And this is not a game for Sydney to treat lightly either, what with the median house price in Hawthorn being so much higher than the broader Sydney market (hey, give me a break, house price analysis worked last week!)  Even at the sanctuary of the MCG, it is tough to see Hawthorn getting over Sydney in this one.  The Hawks will be more like a broken Humpty Dumpty on Sunday but will get no help from All of Horse’s Men (groan).  Sydney by 29 points.

They shall grow not old, as we who are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

(excerpt from “For the Fallen” by Robert Laurence Binyon)


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