Well 6 tips isn't too bad...certainly a lot better than I have been going.
Doggies d Demons by 4. The Dees continue to defy the critics with solid performances. This was a game they could have won and should have won. They showed more ticker and desire, and had it not been for turnovers when handballing to umpires they probably would have won. The Doggies in contrast look like a middling team, capable of beating those well beneath them on the scale of perception.
Weagles d Hawks by 8. The Eagles were excellent. Again, like North against the Hawks they capitalised on their excellent ruckman and killed the Hawks in the middle. And frankly that was where they game was won. Kennedy a shining light up forward, ably supported by LeCras when the Hawks were coming in the last half. The Hawks, whilst the lost, showed that last week's effort was an anomaly. By no means are they a good side, but they are a lot better than the crap they dished out against the Bombers. Roughy too kicked 6 (4 in the last to almost haul the Hawks over the line) showed that its not form, but fatigue that has been his problem after supporting the ruck.
Port d Bombers by 3. An exciting match that was tight all day but seeing the Bombers pull away to wrest control in the 3rd, only to have Port overhaul yet another team. In the grand scheme of things, the Bombers really aren't that good, and Port must be OK to win away. A huge performance from Watson was a highlight as was 6 goal kickers evenly spread between the sides that got 3 goals each.
Pies d Roos by 66. Smashing and slaughter are two words that come to mind. The Pies well oiled and well drilled machine rolls on through another young, mediocre opponent. The Roos, well they are young and mediocre.
Freo d Lions by 13. This was an enormous win. The travel factor, the 6 day factor, the Derby factor, the Gabba factor; all overcome. And with emphatic style. 13 more scoring shots that all happened to be behinds. The Lions were killed in the middle other than the magnificence of Simon Black, and their forwards didn't get a look in.
Cats d Swans by 67. An amazing game of footy this. It was all good for one half. The Swans showed a bit the Cats showed a bit, but then Roger Ramjet loaned some protein pills to the Cats. BANG. And it was all over. Gary wasn't half bad either.
Crows d Tigers by 50. This game was in the Tigers grasp at half time. They had clearly been the better side, but then it started to slip away. Failure to convert 5 shots in the 3rd allowed the Crows to gain momentum, and then the Tigers had a Hawk like last quarter fadeout (see Hawks v Bombers round 6) and were smashed.
Blues d Saints by 61. Yet another slaughter. Where were the 20 point wins this round? Either big or small margins. The Blues were superb (I'm running through the superlatives today). they did what the Doggies couldn't last week, and were brave and adventurous and cut through the snore fest that is dished up week in and week out by the saints-sans-Rooey, by attacking, running and kicking long. Waite has excellent, O'Hailipin continued his remarkable form run and the 'Setanta's little helpers', Garlett, Betts and Yarran were all good. All the sudden we have a functioning forward line and Ratten should be congratulated. The Saints on the other hand were given a lesson. Other teams will have watched and seen how to break through yawn-o-rama 2010. The Saints need a new plan methinks.
So the real winners and losers in the grand scheme of things were:
1. Fremantle - Magnificent win. Freo are showing the footy world they are the real deal, but the test next week is almost as big as it gets: Pies at Subi. they have homeground, but the Pies are the big thing in footy. They back that up with Sydney at the SCG. 2 wins and people will be quaking, 2 losses and the naysayers will linger (depending of course on how they lose).
2. Carlton - To take out the Saints, admitedly with no Rooey, was an exceptional effort. To do it comprehensively was fantastic. The Blues have shown in recent times that they are developing a forward line and one that was significantly complimented by Waite. Talls, smalls, lead ups, crashers, they have it all. Can it stick together and keep pulling the results? Don't know. With an excellent midfield held together by one of the best they are on track. They can't afford key injuries and they need more consistency. And perhaps, just perhaps, lets not rate the Saints too much. Most of their wins have been scrape home jobs. Maybe they aren't as good as we think.
3. Port Adelaide - I have long doubted Port. I have seen softness and lack of quality. I take it back. This year they are proving a formidable opponent. They are harder, tackling better, and being more decisive. Most impressively is that they know how to win a game. Their ability to finish hard, fast and strong has been brilliant. A mouth watering game v Carlton looms. We'll know a bit more about both sides by the final siren of that one.
4. Geelong - Scared? You should be. After a few coughs and splutters starting the old engine, they are getting back into form. And its mighty good form too. Sydney have been up and comers, and they were ruthlessly put to the sword. this was the Geelong of old, the same Geelong that made 3 and won 2 Grand Finals. With Brisbane at the Gabba probably a small obstacle, the main game, and game of the season is Friday fortnight, Cats v Pies. Now that's a game I cannot wait for!
5. Collingwood - Another opponent, another demolition job. Without doubt they are the form team in the comp. Everything is clicking nicely, but I think the most significant improvement to this side has been the introduction of young Chris Dawes. He hasn't kicked a bag yet, but he has provided a target and given the opposition something different to consider, a key position power forward, something the Pies have not had since Rocca was in his hey day 4 or 5 years ago. Structurally he is the most important player in the team because he creates space and provides a target.
6. Melbourne - They lost but they win overall. This team has climbed from the depths and continues to give great performances. As I said earlier this was one they should have won which is great credit to them as they were playing a highly fancied (overrated?) opponent. West Coast and Port in the coming weeks will be intriguing. The first against a lower 'peer' the next against a higher one. I am going out early and predicting 2 wins.
7. Adelaide - I didn't want to put them this high, really. But they did play 1 quarter of sublime football so that dragged them up. They are still crap. They only beat Richmond. However, perhaps they have found belief because they SHOULD be better than their ladder position. North next week is a good challenge and then Brisbane at home is another.
8. West Coast - They had everything going for them. At home, Franklin out, Mitchell out, two great rucks v one average one, and they only won by 8 points. Its probably an indication of where they are at. I don't expect any significant improvement from them.
9. Hawthorn - Arguably their performance was better than that of the Eagles for the very reasons I listed above. They are coming from teh darkest place in footy, a humiliating defeat compounded by the weight of expectation coming into the season. Without doubt the Hawks are the worst performed side of 2010. However, this game showed there was a heart beat, not so much for the season for that is gone barring miracles, but for gaining some small amount of respect. With Franklin, Mitchell, Burgoyne, Hooper and even Skipper their back up ruckman all available against the Tigers this week, they really had better win well. For there are no more excuses to be touted.
10. Essendon - Coming off and excellent win and at home they should have done much more. But they didn't. They are very flakey these Bombers, and again, the game result is probably a true indication of where they are at. They just aren't very good and will end up somewhere out of the 8. They will win the odd game here and there, but drop more than they win.
11. Richmond - OMG they actually played some footy! For three quarters they were good, albeit inaccurate in the 3rd, and it was even in Adelaide. This was a good performance from Richmond. Yes they faded badly but this is all about expectation. to be in the game at 3 quarter time in hostile territory is a good effort. Like the Hawks, whom they face this week, perhaps there are some positive signs.
12. North - To be beaten by 60+ is bad, regardless of the opponent. Its not the end of the world, and I guess in the grand scheme of things its irrelevant as this is a side of the future, not one ready to take on all the challenges of the now. Lessons will be learned and they'll be better for it.
13. Doggies - Ooo I'm so mean to the Doggies. They won and their 13th. Well with good reason. These are the Premiership favourites based on recruiting and March form. Hmm interesting, March form.... anyway I digress. They simply need to get the runs on the board. No offense to Melbourne, but it is exactly that sort of team that the Dogs should put to the sword. A lot of questions remain and Sydney and even North are no gimmies for this breed of hound.
14. Sydney - The run had to end sooner or later. And there is no shame losing to the Cats at Kardinia Park. Getting done like a dogs dinner however is not good. They essentially didn't show up for a half, which perhaps is what I've feared for the Swans, they just aren't good enough to mix it with the elite. The Dogs are ripe for the picking and the Swans need to win that to bring some more credibility to what looms as a top 6 challenge.
15. Brisbane - Shocking. Yes they had injuries, but its little excuse. Freo were ready to be docked. The questions about Brisbane's depth and midfield class remain. They have lost the last 3, including the last 2 against rivals. Things don't look so good for the Lions especially with Cats and Pies over the next 3 weeks. They COULD be a broken team if they lose those two and to Adelaide who is sandwiched between them in the draw. Worrying times.
16. St. Kilda - I've kind of been waiting for this to happen. They have been scraping home too much and been given too much credit. The Blues exposed them badly. Whilst I have no doubt they are top 8 material they really need to get back to winning and winning well. Essendon and the Weagles in coming weeks give them the perfect opportunity, but frankly the Dons in particular have the style to push the Saints. They lose that and the Eagles at Subi is very interesting. How does the snore-fest work on the wide open spaces?