Round 16 AFL Preview

 Last Week           6/6           Season Total      81/126 

Promise I won’t talk about my testicles this week.  Or how magnificent they are.  Although…ok, I won’t.  It was a funny old week in Sport.  The first thing I noticed was Australia’s loss to Afghanistan in the T20 match.  I’m writing this pre-amble before the Afghanistan vs Bangladesh match, but we have already lost to India, so we wait with anticipation for the result.  A Cummings hat-trick can’t even save us.  Ironically, we held the fate of England in our hands and the media toyed with the idea of throwing the match to stick one up the Poms.  While I doubt this was ever seriously considered by the team, Sandpaper aside, they have too much integrity, it now looks like England will advance and Australia will not.

But to compensate for Australia’s poor showing in the Cricket, when Amy Yang won the LPGA Championship, the media here in Australia were very quick to reference her Australianness.  Yes, the Korean-born, US living golfer spent a couple of years of high school in Australia so as far as Media-Ancestry dot com can tell, she is as dinky di as Russel Crowe, Split Enz and Pavlova (if you ever want to go down a rabbit hole, try and research the origin of the Pavlova).

In the footy, things were also strange.  Steven May has come under fire for doing his best impression of a Woodpecker and The Sword of Damocles is hanging by a nano-fibre above Hinkley’s head.  But more of that later.  Let’s take a look at the games this week.

Brisbane vs Melbourne                Gabba   Friday Night

Beating a resurgent North Melbourne by 3 points is not an ideal representation of form when going against an also resurgent Brisbane at The Gabba.  Melbourne’s form has not been all that great to be honest.  When I look into my statistical Leviathan, I note that they have only beaten one of the “adjusted” top eight teams.  Adjusted means that the teams are ranked by adjusting based on who they have and haven’t played as some teams have played some teams twice and some teams not at all.  For example, a team that has played North Melbourne twice and won would not be ranked as highly as a team that has played Sydney twice and won.  Of course, that has not happened and only Richmond can do it now, but they don’t play them, so it won’t happen at all.  Anyway, there is a quick peek up the kilt of my statistical leviathan and the modelling that goes on inside it.  Back to this game and it looks like Brisbane have woken up and astonishingly a win here would put them in the 8 and send a few shivers down the spines of some other teams.  But is Brisbane that good?  Their run of wins has coincided with a nicety in their draw in that they haven’t played anyone ranked above 9th.  I think Melbourne is on the slide and Brisbane is on the rise and I’d better tip someone before this preview actually starts to make sense!?  Brisbane by 22 points.

North Melbourne vs Footscray  Marvel Stadium               Saturday Afternoon

Marvelous Marsupials Kangaroos are.  They bounced right back from the narrow loss to the Pies the week before and really turned the screws on Melbourne and nearly pouched that game too.  Footscray have found some serious form in the middle part of the season as if to say to the media, “hey, leave Bevo alone, he’s a good bloke.”  And even though it is a home game for North Melbourne, Marvel Stadium and Footscray are a combination like Nadal and a Clay Court.  North have had two hard fought losses in a row after a hard fought win and I think the moment will get to the young players this week so I see a bigger margin in this one.  Footscray by 42 points.

Sydney vs Fremantle     SCG        Saturday Afternoon

Someone has to stop them, right?  Will it be Fremantle?  With full back captain, Pearce now on the sidelines for a few weeks the task just got tougher.  I feel like Sydney never fail.  How can they be this good for so long?  What is the secret sauce in Sydney?  Here is a list of their finishes going back to 2010, starting at 2023, “EF, GF, EF, 16, 15, EF, SF, GF, SF, GF, PF, Premiers, SF, SF.”  That’s two bad years in 14!  There is something that needs to be unlocked there.  They didn’t look all that great against GWS last week and then they went on one of those incredible goal-scoring sprees and the game was suddenly over.  Fremantle disposed of Gold Coast, but they don’t seem to be much of a challenge when they’re on the road so we can’t be sure if Freo’s performance was any good.  Given the current state of the two teams I can’t see any scenario where Fremantle beats Sydney at the SCG.  I’ve been wrong before though.  Sydney by 35 points.

Gold Coast vs Collingwood         Carrara Saturday Twilight

Collingwood have the benefit of a week off which has enabled them to perhaps get on top of an expansive injury list or at least provide an opportunity for some of their less well-behaved troops to get off the chain without fear of reprisal.  For Gold Coast it is the opposite.  A 6-day break after a loss along the longest road trip in the league.  One that involves a bus, a red-eye and another bus, then in bed by about 3am on the first of those 6 days and you pretty much lose day 1 and 2 out of 6.  Is it fair?  Absolutely not.  Does the AFL care?  Absolutely not.  The fact that this is being played at Carrara in the greasy twilight is the leveler here.  Along with, what I’m calling, “the Collingwood Factor.”  Maybe I’ll wait until the post-season bye to publish my findings, but now that we have data like “Pressure Ratings” to look at we have a measure of how hard a team is trying.  For teams like Gold Coast and North Melbourne, who won’t play finals, and don’t normally draw a big crowd, when they get their game against Collingwood it will be the biggest and most finals-like game for them for the year and it gets treated as such.  As a consequence, the data certainly supports that for many teams, the match they try the hardest in every year is the match against Collingwood.  One conclusion that can be drawn from the data is that any Collingwood win is worth more than any other teams win because the opponent is always trying harder against them than any other team.  Or, maybe each of their premierships is worth 2?  No, let’s not go that far, and let’s not give too much sympathy to Collingwood.  They get enough of a free ride anyway.  And it’s pretty rich for them to keep playing the “We’re the working class team” card when they are one of the wealthiest clubs in the league.

To the real issue here and who will win?  Gold Coast, who have a formidable home record (winning their last 5 at home) and Collingwood coming off a bye might be sleepy starters.  But then Collingwood may be better rested than Gold Coast and also have won their last 5 at Carrara.  This one is a coin toss, but what kind of coin does one toss?  A Dinar, a doubloon?  Or can you toss a Bitcoin or a Dogecoin.  I was quite shocked to discover a crypto currency called CumRocket and this is perhaps the only adequate result of a toss.  Gold Coast by 1.

Adelaide vs GWS             Adelaide Oval   Saturday Night

The Crows.  How depressing a year for them that was initially filled with promise.  Four games out of the 8, with only nine left to play and while not mathematically impossible, it’s highly improbable.  For the Crows it is time to evaluate lists and see what damage they can do to other teams aspirations for the year.  First cab off the rank is GWS.  Another team that has been disappointing given they missed the Grand Final by 2 points last year.  This is another game in the balance and one that you might be able to use if you have a few games to make up in your tipping.  Adelaide will go in as favourites due to the location but having lost their last 4 against GWS including 3 times at Adelaide Oval might just mean that GWS know how to beat them there.  It’s as good a measure as any to base a decision upon.  Besides, GWS have to start showing some form sooner or later.  GWS by 16 points.

Geelong vs Essendon    MCG      Saturday Night

What’s happened to Geelong?  It’s a question we’ll keep asking until some of yesterday’s hero’s retire then we’ll say…oh, they just persisted with those who were past it for too long.  In some cases, the hand will be forced.  Will we ever see Tom Hawkins again?  The mystery foot injury is being kept under wraps with the club simply stating it is too complex to understand.  I find that an unpalatable response in todays times.  We are treated to the inner workings of Lisfranc injuries, Syndesmosis, the role of Spleens, CTE, etc., the average footy follower is practically a fully qualified orthopaedic surgeon and should be able to cope with a sore foot (Editor:  Please do not try any orthopaedic surgery in your backyard…you’re not qualified).  Perhaps Tom Hawkins just suffered an Ouchie, or better yet, since he played Carlton, it was more likely an Owies.

Essendon had a win against West Coast, but this is another game that makes you wonder if Essendon were good or were they just playing West Coast.  We’re in that weird position these days where Essendon are sitting third on the ladder, but many still question if they’ll even make the 8.  The competition is so tight that they are only a game and half away from dropping out.  For sure Essendon are faster than Geelong, but Geelong is more physical.  Geelong by 12 points.

Saint Kilda vs Port Adelaide       Marvel Stadium               Sunday Afternoon

What did Ken Hinkley ever do to deserve this?  Oh yeah, he became coach of Port Adelaide.  It truly is a strange world we live in when a team is in the 8 (only 2 wins off second place) and its own fans are booing the coach and calling to sack him.  Sack your coach now and you concede the season.  The real danger sign is that the board are public backing him in.  This usually means we are but a week or two away from a beheading.  Saint Kilda has had a year that looks a bit like a Sine wave.  They’ve beaten the poor teams but can’t seem to beat the good teams.  It’s backs against the wall time for Port Adelaide.  Port Adelaide by 22 points.

Richmond vs Carlton      MCG      Sunday Afternoon

News this week is that Dylan Grimes season is over.  This doesn’t bode well in a backline that has to mind Curnow and McKay and a host of fleet-footed individuals skipping through to pile on misery.  And misery certainly will be piled on as Carlton look to consolidate second spot on the ladder.  Carlton by 44 points.

West Coast vs Hawthorn              Perth Stadium   Sunday Twilight

As it always is, it’s all about Harley Reid.  No one really gives a stuff about the match.  Most people wouldn’t have even known it was on.  15 rounds into his career and it’s all about how much money he will get when he negotiates his next contract.  Current scuttlebutt has it at an offer $20M over 10 years.  This is an average of $2M/year which means one player gets 14% of the salary cap and each other player gets, on average 2% of the salary cap.  Given that’s not much more than a rookie, I’m not sure what sort of creative accounting needs to take place to get this to happen.  But let’s weigh up the pros and cons of staying at West Coast.  Pros:  You get your name in the paper every day.  Not just in sports section, but the news, business news, weather, personals, employment, horoscopes and comics sections too.  I have stopped doing the Cryptic Crossword because every answer is Harley Reid.  Editor rearranged early ID for future AFL talent (6, 4).  Bike brand and wind instrument, article distributed to rising AFL star (6, 4).  Need I go on.  He’ll also get a house in a market where you can’t get a house and a West Coast surfer-gal by his side.  Cons:  See Pros.  I would like to see him sign a 10-year deal with a Victorian club today and then see what happens to The West Australian when he is forced to play out his current contract for two more years in WA.  Maybe he would then only appear in the funeral notices.  Is there a game on?  Does it matter?  My tip is for Harley Reid to lay a high tackle on Jack Ginnivan.  West Coast by 17 points.


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