We’re down to the final turn as we get to the ‘nitty gritty’ of the AFL season.
With a season this tight and the race so open, we’re talking about… Alastair Clarkson and Travis Cloke?
If you pay for Fox Footy and the newspaper, all you get instead is wall-to-wall coverage of these two like they’re Kardashian sisters.
Incidentally, unlike Kardashian sisters, the good stuff is back in style. The Hawks, Crows, Swans and Kangaroos are all getting rewarded for playing fearless rebounding football. The Lyon’s Cage is now in exile on the other side of the country, so it’s no longer the issue of the football fan.
Imagine that? Attempting to kick the highest score to win a game of football? Reinventing the wheel here, folks.
Essendon vs. Hawthorn
James Hird said in a press conference during the week he harbored a deep hatred for the Hawks as a kid.
I find it astounding that an Essendon-supporting teenager in the 1980’s came to dislike Hawthorn. Again, uncharted territory we’re in here, ladies and gentlemen.
The Dons look like they’re slipping. As the injury toll rises and Dean Robinson’s nerves are tested, they’ve looked off the boil. Stanton isn’t dealing well with being tagged, the run off half-back has been stifled with a lack of consistent personnel and key forwards are either MIA or aren’t ready to take that next step.
It looks as if they’ve found the perfect time to run into the one-time-too-many premiership-favorites. They’ll have a crack, but I doubt they’ll get close to the red-hot Hawks.
Hawks by 40.
Geelong vs. Adelaide
I have a theory. About 10:15 on Friday night, as the Cats piled on goal after goal against a hapless Essendon, a shiver went up the spines of every coach with a team in the top 4. Knowing that a mob of a certain quality and reputation is still hanging around will cause many coaches sleepless nights over the next few weeks.
Soft draws, concussions and general injury concern would lead you to believe there’s a crisis out at West Lakes; when in reality they’re second on the ladder. Their last trips to Melbourne have resulted in disappointing results against the Hawks and Roos, so it remains to be seen what results the trip down to Geelong will obtain.
Geelong by 7.
North Melbourne vs. Melbourne
August 20, 2006 was the last time the Dees had tasted victory over North Melbourne. The Roos can extend the streak to 10 wins on the trot against the struggling football club, and edge their way to their first final series since 2008.
North earlier in the season ingloriously dropped games against Port and Western Bulldogs, so don’t expect this to be a straightforward result. Brent Moloney returns to the Dees line up, as his future at the club is going to be assessed over the next month and a half. Can the Dees combat the fast running game style of North or will they fail to fire a shot against an in-form side?
North by 52.
GWS Giants vs. Collingwood
Pendlebury and Swan’s Dream Team points. If you find another excuse to watch this, you’re lying.
Pies by 117.
Carlton vs. Richmond
High noon beckons for both parties. After 5 losses under 12 points this season, Hardwick doesn’t know if he’s coming or going when the game gets close. The Punt Road faithful are left again with only a mathematical chance of playing finals – Ratten and his depleted Blues are in the exact the same position. With the list of teams with the potential to make the top eight shortening by the week, whoever loses this has to start looking to 2013.
Tigers by 2.
Gold Coast vs. Sydney
Nobody wanted to rate Sydney as contenders. Last week they offed the Saints in a dogged effort, and consolidated first spot for another week. Swans supporters blame the Victorian media, the Victorian media blame Paul Roos, and Paul Roos blames anyone who isn’t ‘Goodsey’ or ‘Mummy’. This game will be like watching an episode of ‘On the Couch’ – a eed and white love-in.
Swans by 74.
Fremantle vs. Port Adelaide
I know this is kind of hard to believe, but Fremantle are sitting in ninth. I know, it came as a shock to me too. There’s this one guy named Matthew something-or-other who loves a goal, and he’s kicked 20-odd in the last month alone and will be wanting more. Going up to Darwin will take it out of the Power, so you’d assume the Dockers should have enough to get the job done. But we must keep in mind this: the Blues, Saints and Roos went over there this year with the belief that the 4 points were in the bag. All of them left empty handed. Old-fashioned danger game for Lyon’s mob.
Dockers by 11.
St.Kilda vs. Western Bulldogs
In his first year, Brendon McCartney has been all about the teaching. I know the St Kilda schoolgirl joke writes itself here, but this isn’t a laughing matter. The Saints were supposed to cough and splutter towards a rebuild, and now they’re after a place in the eight like everyone else. Considering this is year of the brain fade, one on Sunday could be a crucial blow to those finals hopes. Fortunately, St Kilda should get a pass mark.
Saints by 38.
West Coast vs. Brisbane
A bit like the Bombers, the Eagles were all the rage a few weeks ago. They’ve been taken down a peg by the Pies, Crows and Swans in the last month and a bit with injuries and suspensions taking their toll. The Lions sit in the same boat as Richmond and Carlton, waiting for Saints, Roos, and Freo to collapse in a glorious heap and take their spot in the finals. They weren’t too flash against the Suns last week, and they won’t be much chop for an Eagles outfit who’ll look to regroup before September.
Eagles by 48.