Round 11 AFL Preview

 Last Week           5/9           Season Total      57/91 

Another average week last week.  The footy at the moment is troubling for tipping.  It could easily have been worse with Adelaide almost pipping the Pies and Hawthorn losing the unlosable.  The worst thing is that I invented all of these tools which I meticulously maintain to try to help me navigate this world of upsets and inequitable fixtures but then I haven’t really been using them.  I’ve been running this show on “feelings,” and it appears my feelings are seriously hurt.  So, it will be a bit of self-flagellation this week followed by a strict adherence to the code!...unless it just doesn’t feel right.

Speaking of codes…decoding Brian Taylor is a part-time hobby of mine.  His commentary can, at times, be inflammatory and unintelligible.  But here are some things I have learned:
A Chiseler:                                         A drop punt
A back-spinning chiseler:                 A drop punt
A slider:                                             A drop punt
A back-spinning-round the corner sliding chiseler:          A drop punt
So, my conclusion for decoding Brian is any chiseler or slider that follows a series of adjectives, is a drop punt.

Another of my favourite observations this week is crowd engagement in umpiring decisions.  It’s something I enjoy watching immensely, especially if it is a very one-sided crowd, for Example the Port Adelaide match against Hawthorn.  As observers of this great game, we can all lay claim to being a little one-eyed from time to time…or all the time, but when you’re a neutral supporter in a lop-sided crowd the general observations can be somewhat hilarious.  My favourite is when an umpire makes a decision against the majority supported team and the crowd disagrees and the noise that accompanies that collective feeling.  Then the replay is shown, which everyone watches intently to validate their feeling of disgust.  But the replay CLEARLY shows the umpire was correct without any skerrick of doubt and then comes my favourite part.  The crowd doubles down on their disgust at the umpires “poor” decision with a noise that I’d like to type here, but has no spelling.  It’s one of the reasons I go to the football.

Footscray vs Sydney       Marvel Stadium in Wurundjeri                 Thursday Night

The Bulldogs were one of those teams that upset my apple cart last week and have cast further doubts on my confidence of a GWS premiership.  Sydney, who for some reason I have no confidence in, are essentially a lock for Premiers this year.  Footscray needs to bag another big scalp to keep momentum going and this is just the one for them.  A fast hard track at Marvel Stadium might just be the edge they need to get it done.  But Sydney don’t mind Marvel having won many of their last lots, playing there.  Footscray have an alternating record there and if following a pattern would be due for a win.  But that being said, they don’t have a terrific record against Sydney.  After a session of self-flagellation, I’ve decided to stick with my model, which says Sydney by 21 points.

Walyalup (Fremantle) vs Collingwood   Perth Stadium in Whadjuk          Friday Night

No doubt injuries have a major influence on a team’s ability to win.  Collingwood have been losing a few of their best 22 and still squeaking through on some matches.  It’s probably because mostly they are losing forwards and their forward line is typically non-functional anyway, so impact has been reduced. 

Fremantle have been hitting the scoreboard big-time.  Well, certainly hitting it, but only in tiny incremental amounts.  If their forwards could kick straight, who knows what the limits of this would be.  It’s a tantalizing midfield match up in this game with Daicos, Crisp and Pendlebury up against Serong, Young and Brayshaw.  Then you have Treacy and Amiss against Moore and Frampton and Jackson will be much livelier and more active than Cameron and Cox.  I don’t know what Pearce and Ryan are going to do against Collingwood’s rag-tag band aid solution, but one things for sure…this will be a great game to watch.  Despite my model and flagellations, Collingwood’s injuries must bite sometime. Fremantle by 8 points.

North Melbourne vs Yartapuulti (Port Adelaide)              Bellerive in Palawa         Saturday Afternoon

There is getting out of jail and then there is smashing the jailhouse doors down, cold-bloodedly killing all the guards and then staging a governmental coup.  Port did the latter last week after Hawthorn tried to kill the clock from halfway through the first quarter.  North Melbourne was much improved and put up a decent fight against Essendon until their less experienced bodies wilted.  Holding this one down in Bellerive will give North a bit of an advantage but the high that Port will be experiencing after a Lazarus effort will provide just the juggernaut juice they need to get them through this one…unless that effort tuckered them out, and those that stage a coup know that holding on for those first few days is the toughest.  Port Adelaide by 29 points.

Carlton vs Gold Coast    Marvel Stadium in Wurundjeri Saturday Afternoon

Some interesting papers have been shuffled across AFL desks this week as Gold Coast applied to have all of their 2025 matches played in Darwin.  In fact, the plan, from a Gold Coast perspective, is to completely outsource the club to the Darwinians.  The supporters don’t want to go to Carrara anyway, so they just outsource their support to Marrara.  This should hold them in good stead, and if all goes to plan, they will go through 2025 undefeated. 

Carlton has an injury list that keeps lengthening.  We do have sympathy for that (yeah right), and it unfortunately could unravel their season plans if they don’t start getting some of that top-shelf cattle back.  These are the tough testing times that clubs have to weather if they want to win a premiership and the extra game time it offers their youth can hold them in good stead for the future.  They started in a blaze of glory last week, but Sydney quickly put some flame retardant on that.  Gold Cost will be no pushovers and we have seen how damaging their midfield and forwards can be if you just let them waltz around unchecked.  Not with great confidence Carlton by 11 points.

Geelong vs GWS              Kardinia Park in Wadawurrung  Saturday Twilight

As I said last week, the Cats are cooked.  Or at least, as the old saying goes for Geelong, “No Cameron, no Hawkins, no Stanley, no Duncan, no De Koning, no Dangerfield…no Cats.”  It was a hard night for the Cats.  Personally, I haven’t seen 26 goals kicked since that time I watched 75 soccer matches!  GWS on the other hand seem to have lost their spark or their will to compete.  Something has got to give, and I would say that venturing down to a ground shaped more like a cigar than an oval to face a team that has likely been duly chastised for their lack of endeavour last week is a very, very tall mountain to climb.  But, GWS have won their last three matches down there so it is a ground that holds little fear for them and might put enough doubt in Geelong minds.  Where there’s a will there’s a way…but this way is shut.  Geelong by 3 points.

Richmond vs Essendon MCG in Wurundjeri        Saturday Night

The annual Dreamtime at the G match is always a wonderful spectacle to behold.  Essendon are coming in off a run of ‘not-losses’ that extends back 6 weeks, and this is some really unusual territory for many of the Bomber players. 

I spoke of Carlton’s injury list, but that is dwarfed by Richmond’s.  I haven’t seen a list of injuries that long since the Battle of Passchendaele.  It’s almost as long as West Coast 2023 injury list.  It’s crippling when you can’t run out more than half your list and this is a real baptism of fire for Yze who is under the pump and learning a lot about how to effectively engage with the media.  The result for this one is inconsequential as we get an opportunity to reflect on the contribution of Indigenous players to this great game.  Essendon by 68 points.

Hawthorn vs Brisbane   Marvel Stadium in Wurundjeri Sunday Afternoon

The Lions feasted on an injured prey last week while Hawthorn got so far in front early, they were able to shut the game down from about halfway through the first quarter.  At least that was their plan.  I only saw the last 30 seconds of the match, but that was enough to see the winning two goals.  There are some harsh lessons in footy and Hawthorn were schooled in one on Sunday.  But footy can also be the great redeemer and they get another chance this week to effectively manage the moments, which is another term seeing increased use in today’s game.  While Brisbane has their own injury concerns, I can’t see Hawthorn getting up over them, although they are much improved this year.  Brisbane by 25 points.

Narrm (Melbourne) vs Euro-Yroke (Saint Kilda)                MCG in Wurundjeri        Sunday Afternoon

It was a disastrous night for Melbourne last Sunday as they hardly put up a whimper while West coast ran riot all over them.  It’s bad enough when your captain, the best Ruckman in the game, turns in a bad night, but then for the rest of them to all turn up their toes just makes for a tough night for supporters.

Something is wrong at Saint Kilda.  They should be much better than they are, but the evidence just keeps stacking up against them.  At 14th on the ladder, they are the first team in that list to have a percentage less than 100.  A friend pointed it out to me and how strange a season that it is that almost halfway through and the top 13 teams have a percentage higher than 100.  “When was the last time that happened?” my friend asked.  I couldn’t answer because my statistical leviathan doesn’t have the ability to search for patterns like that.  Which might explain my poor tipping as statistical leviathans are usually built for the purpose of uncovering hidden patterns in data.  I think mine is built purely to waste my time.  Looks like more self-flagellation on my horizon.  I won’t expect Melbourne to be an easy kill after the performance they had last week, and I expect them to employ more of a shock and awe tactic this week.  Melbourne by 27 points.

Kuwarna (Adelaide) vs Waalitj Marawar (West Coast)   Adelaide Oval in Kaurna Sunday Twilight

It seems that West Coast, or at least Harley Reid, is also a fan of Superman II as he followed the script perfectly and first stripped General Zod, Ursa and Non (Oliver, Petracca and Viney) of their powers before literally flying away from the contest shouting “Nah, Nah, Na-Nah, Nah, you can’t catch me.”  Of course, it was captivating for the media and reading the stories it was unclear if West Coast had any other contributors on the night.  Waterman’s 5 goals and now up the top of the Coleman race was a mere byplay to the real match-winner. 

On the other side of the country, I watched another prodigy by the name of Izak Rankine almost single-handedly pull his team from the quagmire and topple the reigning premiers.  It’s not often you see a single player carry a team like that and almost wrest control of the match (unless you’re watching Harley Reid…then it’s every week).  On the matter of running too far, someone ran the numbers, I read during the week.  Usain Bolt’s stride length in a race is an average of 2.6 m.  Izak is quick, but no Bolt so let’s cut that back to 1.8 m.  Fourteen paces at 1.8 m equals 25.2 m, much more than the 15 you’re allowed.  That said, I’ve seen worse not get paid and now he has popped a hamstring in the process which often happens when you carry an entire team.  To this week though and West Coast will move away from fortress Perth and go to the lush green grass of Adelaide Oval.  At home against a team who were clearly off the boil is one thing, but your enemies home deck seething after their third narrow loss to their nemesis in a row and you have to ask yourself one question…can a Murder of Crows beat Superman (and support act)?  Adelaide by 17 points.


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