Round 10 AFL Preview

 Last Week           4/9           Season Total      52/82 

Please note:  It is, of course Sir Doug Nicholls Round and for the next two weeks you might see your teams name revert to its indigenous form.

I just don’t know about this season anymore.  The choices seemed obvious leading into the round, but the only top 4 team to win their game was Sydney, and some extenuating circumstances around Fremantle’s state of mind may have contributed to that.  An appropriate aphorism is that this season is harder to pick than a broken nose.  Or is it that I’m just unlucky, in which case the aphorism would be, I’m so unlucky that if I fell into a barrel full of nipples, I’d come out sucking my thumb.  Ok, so not technically an aphorism but ChatGPT gave me the green light to work it in.

Then we had our second draw of the season.  I only got to see the last 3 minutes of the match, which was the important bit, so it was a little exciting.  All this means that the ladder is pretty cramped with only 2 wins separating 2nd all the way down to 10th.  This will make for an exciting back half of the year no doubt.  Which is timely as the AFL released the fixtures this week for Rounds 16 – 23 and it looks like they have jumped on the Bombers bandwagon.  Astoundingly, the Bombers are sitting in 3rd and with four of their next five games being against cellar dwellers, it is likely they will be ensconced in the top 4 and definitely be playing finals.  Long suffering Dons supporters can let out a cheer.  Their only concern then would be a straight sets exit.  How Essendon were scheduled to play West Coast twice in six weeks is one of those fixture oddities that the AFL like to throw in there from time to time.  They say that over a period of time it brings balance.  It’s not a very good argument as our only reference is Annakin Skywalker who was to bring balance to the Force.  Blowing up planets, exterminating all but two Jedi’s and killing a heck of a lot of extras before finally turning traitor (for a second time), is a unique approach to ‘balance.’

The other big talking point this week was Jeremy Cameron staying on the ground for those final desperate minutes and only afterwards finding out he had concussion.  It wasn’t a good look with the doctor out there trying to do a HIA assessment mid-game.  The doctor didn’t really look in control of the situation.  In fact, he looked about as influential as Bon Scotts AA representative. There have been calls to provide independent doctors, but the reality is that doctors take an oath to look after people first so independent or team oriented, they should be professional enough to do what is right.  Evidence seems to be to the contrary though with more than one incident taking place now.  The AFL deny there is an issue but with concussion becoming a much stronger force to contend with as time goes by, I suspect they will buckle in the end.  The usual retort is that it can be “Almost Impossible” to get some players to leave the field of play.  Well, that’s easy fixed in my opinion.  If they don’t want to exit the playing field to undertake the HIA assessment, then they automatically go into concussion protocols and therefore don’t play the following week or even two.  That’ll get ‘em off.

Rant over…let’s see if I can pick a winner this week, or at least a blood clot from the nostril. 

Gold Coast vs Geelong TIO Stadium in Larrakia                 Thursday Night

They couldn’t lose a match, then all of a sudden, they can’t win a match.  Geelong is officially cooked…at least that is the alarmist viewpoint.  So, what better environment to send a cooked team to than the pressure cooker humidity of Darwin.  To rub salt into the wound, Cameron is out on concussion protocols, and they have already declared they are resting Hawkins.  But as we know, the only way to combat salt clumping in a humid environment is a good anti-caking agent.  Which of Geelong’s forwards would fall into that category?

Gold Coast on the other hand seem to enjoy their trips to Darwin.  In fact, they have won their last 5 outings at Marrara.  Mostly those have been against North Melbourne, but some decent teams are in there too.  This will be Geelong’s first ever game at Marrara so they can cherish that experience.  I still think Geelong has what it takes to get over the line.  Geelong by 12 points.

Sydney vs Carlton            SCG in Gadigal  Friday Night

The Blues got out of their funk and stormed to an early lead before almost being reeled in by Melbourne.  Sydney kicked straight against a team that didn’t and this was probably the biggest difference between those two on the night.  I find it hard to mount a case for Carlton up at the SCG and history shows that they only win 1 of every three attempts up there.  If you take away all of the results before the year 2000 (due to those pesky Y2K issues) then they only win once in every 8 attempts in that post Tony Lockett era.  Curiously, in all their losses up there they have lost by 22 points on more occasions than a random distribution can account for.  Not that the game is rigged, but perhaps it’s time to don the tinfoil hats.  Sydney by 22 points.

Collingwood vs Adelaide (Kuwarna)       MCG in Wurundjeri        Saturday Afternoon

For the first time this season, Collingwood has snuck into the top 8.  This off a game where it looked like the VFL was playing the WAFL.  Superman Harley Reid has his cape and underpants stolen by Nick Daicos and both teams ended the game with more than one concerning injury.  Adelaide played out a grueling draw with Brisbane in a match where the margin never blew out.  The question for Collingwood is what kind of team will they be going in with?  Will it look much like a premiership side, or will the kids be let out of the yard again?  Adelaide certainly looks better than they were earlier in the year but a trip to the MCG to face the Pies is always a daunting one.  The one thing we know though is that there are no guarantees in footy and you sometimes just need to go on instincts.  And instincts tell me that Adelaide haven’t won at the MCG in 7 years, and they haven’t beaten Collingwood in 7 years either.  The last game that does not have an “L” next it was a “D” against the Pies at the MCG in 2017.  But both these teams have had their draw this year.  Collingwood by 19 points.

GWS vs Footscray            Giants Stadium in Wangal           Saturday Afternoon

It’s a funny ol’ season sometimes.  Footscray needed a big win and got one and GWS have hit a rough patch.  So rough, I’m starting to waver on my unwavering support for their premiership.  Footscray’s win gets the media off Bevo’s back for a few more days so he can get some clear air heading into this game.  But here they face a big contested match which I have described previously, is something they don’t like.  Expect GWS to walk away with this one and scrutiny on Bevo to ramp up again.  GWS by 25 points.

Saint Kilda vs Fremantle (Walyalup)       Marvel Stadium in Wurundjeri Saturday Night

One has to feel for Fremantle.  With less than 24 hours to process the death of a friend they are fronting up to try and win a crucial match with their sadness on full display to the world.  It was a tough night.  I spoke to a sports psychologist friend about it, and they enlightened me on mental states required for elite sports and how that conflicts with mental states of grief.  Given what had happened it was almost an impossible task for them to win.  But they certainly didn’t lose any fans and from a scoring shots perspective, were well in the game. 

Saint Kilda are my enigma team.  All of my stats and models point to them being much better than where their ladder position indicates so I don’t know what to do about this game either.  I tip this one in the favour of the Saints, simply because it is at Marvel, but then it’s not much of an advantage given Marvel is just Perth Stadium without the weather.  Without confidence…Saint Kilda by 10 points.

Brisbane vs Richmond   Gabba in Yuggera-Turrbal            Saturday Night

Brisbane needs a win so it’s lucky that they get Richmond at the Gabba at this time.  Richmond is also in need of a win, but they can’t so won’t get one here.  Is Dusty finished?  Should he retire and go into the pub/tattoo fusion business with Dane Swan?  It’s a winning concept.  Sit at a bar and drink stubbies of anesthetic while someone gives you a sleeve tattoo.  Really, it’s just formalising a process that has gone on for centuries but moves the drinking closer to the tattooing.  Anyway, ear plugs in if you don’t like listening to John Denver.  Brisbane by 42 points.

Essendon vs North Melbourne                  Marvel Stadium in Wurundjeri Sunday Afternoon

I think I’ve already discussed Essendon and the luck of their draw.  Not only do they have the easiest next 5 matches by far, but they also have the third best run home of all teams.  If you don’t have money on them to finish in the 8 by now, you should (Editor: the views of this writer do not align with Essendon’s past – gamble at your own risk.  There is plenty of opportunity for Essendon to implode).  Every week I think to myself, what’s something I can say about North Melbourne?  I come up empty every week.  We’re not seeing improvement, we’re not seeing a coherent system, we’re seeing a bunch of number 1 draft picks get tainted.  I feel desperately for them, but one must be careful dishing out sympathy.  On the bright side, one of those young guns earned the Rising Star nomination last week.  Essendon by 43 points.

Port Adelaide (Yartapuulti) vs Hawthorn              Adelaide Oval in Kaurna               Sunday Afternoon

The form of Port Adelaide had been a bit patchy and going into the Cats lair was supposed to result in a loss.  It was a classic backs-against-the-wall display from the Power that may have revealed a possible blueprint to beating the Cats.  Hawthorn is also coming off a good win down in Tasmania and their game plan is starting to look a bit more coherent.  As good as Hawthorn are though, getting over Port Adelaide in Adelaide is a bit different to dispatching Saint Kilda on their surrogate home turf.  Port Adelaide by 29 points.

West Coast (Waalitj Marawar) vs Melbourne (Narrm)    Perth Stadium in Whadjuk  Sunday Twilight

I’m not sure if Daicos gave Harley back his cape and undies after the match but he will need them again in this one for West Coast to stand any chance against Melbourne.  Oliver, Viney and Petracca are a perfect analogy for General Zod, Ursa and Non but West Coast will hope Reid does not give up his powers this time.  Does this also mean Gawn is analogous to Lex Luthor by association?  He’s got the hairstyle for it.  Does anyone know what I’m talking about or am I rambling like an epic tale written during a Kryptonian sunset?  And in the end will it really be an analogy to Superman II?  It is likely General Zod, and his posse will defeat Superman and the rest of his allies in this one, which is not how the story goes.  It also means Reid won’t get the girl, which might be the only thing that keeps him in Western Australia.  Anyway, I’d cast Fritsch as Miss Teschmacher, just because of the ‘sch’ in the name but it’s still Melbourne by 53 points.


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