I would like to welcome my next guest preview/reviewer, T, to share his insights into this weeks games. But be warned, he is 3 tips behind me and 11 off the leader.
Despite my shocking record with tipping this year, Fang has asked me to share my footy insights for this round. I feel his faith is misplaced but who knows? I could tip 8 and look like an overly modest genius! Let’s get to it.
Essendon v Collingwood. Well that’s a nice easy one to start with. Essendon are largely terrible while the pies are flying. Both teams have swung the changes with the pies taking the chance to rest some of their battered players while Essendon lose Davey, Winderlich, Prismal, Houli and Fletcher. Apart from Fletcher they don’t look like big losses until you look at the names coming in. Dyson and Slatterley are OK but Melksham and two first gamers are not going to worry the pies. In terms of game style, the Dons might have the foot speed to break out of the Pies stifling forward press but its unlikely they will maintain their composure under the immense pressure that will be exerted on them. Prediction. Pies by 40 plus. I will put one caveat. It has been a long, long, long time since the pies have gone undefeated for a season against their big rivals Richmond, Carlton and Essendon. Can Essendon spoil the party yet again?
Carlton v Richmond. No change for Carlton while Richmond lose McGuane, Thursfield, Farmer and Webberley. Richmond gave it a crack last week but were overpowered in the final quarter. Carlton recorded a much needed win. At this critical stage of the season I expect ladder position to tell. Richmond under Hardwick have shown that they deserve respect so don’t expect Carlton to take this game easy. I suspect the Blues extra class and strong final quarter form to be enough to win. Prediction Carlton by 20+
Fremantle v Sydney. Our first tough one for the week. Let’s look at the changes. Freo lose Van Berlo, Palmer and Bollenhagen whilst welcoming back Clarke, Walters and Schammer. That means the big news is that Sandilands is still out, a huge blow for Freo. Sydney have made no changes. My initial gut feel was that Freo will record a much needed win, but looking at the teams, Sydney actually look the stronger on paper. However, the big Subiaco ground should favour Freo, then again, Sydney have a bit more pace this year with the emergence of Lewis Jetta. Do I come across as indecisive? You bet. Prediction. I’ll take a stab and say Sydney in a nail biter, less than 2 goals in this one.
Western Bulldogs v Geelong. At the start of the week I was pretty keen on the doggies to win this one as their form over the last month has been outstanding while Geelong seem to be saving some of their strength for the finals. A virus sweeping through the doggies ranks has forced me to revise my opinion. The dogs lose Cooney, Hudson, Hill, and Grant. Mind you, their ins are pretty handy with Higgins, Ward, Minson and Murphy. Geelong lose Taylor and Ling to injury and welcome back Hunt and Wojinski. My real concern for the doggies is the number of players who will run out at 80-90% due to lingering effects of the flu. In terms of game style, these are familiar foes and Etihad holds no fear for either (except for the surface of course). Prediction. Cats to fall behind early only to win it in the final quarter as virus induced fatigue slows the doggies down.
Port Adelaide v West Coast. This one doesn’t exactly scream ‘game of the round’ does it. Port are one of the Jekyl and Hyde teams of the comp (more Hyde in recent years) while WC have been universally terrible this year. A loss to fellow cellar dwellers Brisbane sees them in real danger of collecting the spoon this year. Looking at the ins and outs, Port lose Banner and Krakour while regaining the services of Salter and Stewart. The Eagles lose McKinley, Jones, Priddis, Brown and Stevenson. They welcome back Selwood, Waters, MacKenzie, Wilson and Shuey. This looks like an easy tip with Port having found a little something under stand-in coach Primus while the Eagles have been frankly embarrassing. Prediction. Port shouldn’t have too much trouble beating an Eagles team whose away record is even worse than their home one. Port by 24 or so.
Brisbane Lions v Adelaide. The Lions host Adelaide after having recorded a rarer than hen’s teeth win last week. Both teams are out of finals contention, although Adelaide might still be able to cling to a ‘mathematical chance’. Winning this game by about 200 points would be a good start. Brisbane go in unchanged with crazy Vossy backing in the team that triumphed over the Eagles. Adelaide lose Griffen and Martin. Can Brisbane record another win? My feeling is that yes they can. While the ‘Gabbatoire’ is not the feared destination it used to be, the Crows are a very patchy side this year. Prediction. Brisbane by at least 3 goals.
Hawthorn v Melbourne. This shapes as one of the games of the round. Not so much because of the quality of football we can expect but because this game is crucial for the top 8 aspirations of both sides. Hawthorn lose Young to soreness and have dropped Taylor and Suckling. This means surprise recruit Skipper returns to the side and yet another club embraces the one key ruck model. Melbourne have named an unchanges side. In terms of predicting a winner it's a tough call. Both teams like to play the corridor so expect lots of goals from turnovers. Hawthorn are nearly at full strength and despite two consecutive losses they should be too strong for The Demons. Prediction. Hawks by less than 2 goals.
North Melbourne v St Kilda. The saints finally got their mojo back last week and North also recorded a good win. While North have been excellent against their peers they have struggled against the top sides and it's hard to see this game being any different. North lose Macmillan while the Saints lose Gardiner. In a rare fit of daring, Ross Lyon is blooding a kid by the name of Luke Miles. While I would like to make a case for North I find myself struggling. They are a gallant, well coached side but not up to this challenge. Prediction. Saints by plenty.