The only guide to the round that admits it’s completely unhelpful. What it lacks in insight, it makes up for with wild theories and detours onto unrelated topics.
It’s your unhelpful guide to round eighteen.
Adelaide v Geelong (AO) 7.50pm
Adelaide not only sits on top spot, they provided Geelong with the working part of their team.
Kane Cornes and Patrick Dangerfield spent the week playing the footy media for fools. It was like two WWE stars working the crowd.
A planned sledge, a prop heavy press conference and then a ‘chance meeting at a Glenelg café’ where all was forgiven. All it lacked was someone going through the Spanish announcers' table.
We’re still not completely sure if Dangerfield will play after having to be resurrected last week. It takes at least three days to be resurrected and often a few more to be ready to play football. That’s at least what the bible says*.
We also don’t know if Rory Sloane will play, after last week being so concussed he thought one of the trainers was Bernie Vince and told them ‘listen, Bernie, you’re not me mate’.
While saying that to Bernie Vince is no surprise, saying it to some who isn’t is strange.
That’s not what I would call a good sign that he’ll play, but I’m no doctor. I did, however, win the odd game of ‘Operation’ in my youth, so I have some insight.
I’m tipping the Crows here.
*I have not checked this, but I think it was in the Book of John.
Essendon v North Melbourne (ES) 1.45pm
Essendon are coming. Possibly.
If they are going to make the eight, they’ll need to beat 17th placed North.
The Bombers looked so good against the Saints it launched a few ‘do we have a new entrant in the race for the Premiership?’ articles. Let’s just steady on, the week before the Saints were getting those articles.
Essendon can indeed look like a finals team at times, but students of history will remember that they did lose to Brisbane just three weeks ago.
Last week, the Kangaroos looked like they’d decided this season was done. You know it’s the end of the year for them, as they’ve started dropping the older players. Lindsay Thomas and Todd Goldstein have been omitted this week.
I’d be worried if I was them. North are a football club roughly based on the 1976 movie Logan’s Run, in which everyone is killed at the age of thirty to stop overpopulation. That strategy has worked wonders for North this year.
Apparently, the Kangaroos are trying to land Dustin Martin and Josh Kelly, a bold move and one to be applauded. It’s win-win for everyone. If they land them it’s a huge success for the club, if they don’t, it will be hilarious, like watching your mate strike out at a nightclub.
Bombers to win this.
Melbourne v Port Adelaide (MCG) 2.10pm
When Melbourne President Glen Bartlett said he wanted Melbourne to be, ‘the New York Yankees of the AFL,’ I thought he was referring to the Yankees ability to win World Championships. It turns out he just meant them being hated by everyone.
Melbourne continued their new brand of footy last week, ‘getting unnecessarily suspended’.
Bernie Vince will miss this game as a result of his suspension, but the Dees get back Jack Viney, Jack Watts, Dom Tyson and Christian Salem. They’ve also recalled former co-skipper Jack Trengove.
Viney’s return is a surprise given he had foot surgery 19 days ago. He’ll probably be playing through pain. That’s a phrase that makes no sense to me. If I even sense I’m getting a headache, I call in sick.
An even bigger comeback is Jack Trengrove, who I’d assume had been delisted several years ago. Trengove must go down as one of the unluckiest players of all time, having a bad foot injury and an even worse case of Mark Neeld.
Who knows what Port are? Pretenders? A serious top four contender? The second-best AFL team in all South Australia? The largest contributor to INXS royalties in the world?
Either way, a win here would silence the haters for almost a full week.
I’m tipping Melbourne.
Western Bulldogs v Gold Coast (CS) 4.35pm
Gary Ablett is out again. It’s always like this when someone knows they’re leaving an organisation.
I remember when Susan in finance quit and they made her see out her six weeks’ notice period because no one else knew how to use SAP. Susan saw those six weeks as the perfect chance to use up her sick leave and steal stationary.
Now I don’t know if Ablett’s doing this, but if I were the Suns, I’d be checking the stationery cupboard at the end of each day.
I’d also be taking Rodney Eade’s key to the cupboard away too.
Steven May is also out, meaning this is a substandard Suns side, which means it’s a substandard version of a substandard AFL side.
For the reigning premiers, desperately trying to keep their defence on track, a trip to Cairns is probably the last thing they need. Not that Cairns isn’t nice and all but travelling up there and playing in 27-degree heat is a slight gear change from Melbourne’s ice winter.
Let’s also not forget that 27 degrees was the temperature Bernard Tomic retired in citing "unbearable heat.” How can the AFL let this game go ahead?
Despite this dangerously high temperature, I’m tipping the Doggies.
Sydney v St Kilda (SCG) 7.25pm
St Kilda have lost their last seven games against the Swans, meaning they haven’t beaten them in over five years. In the AFL stats world, we call that a pattern.
In fact, I think that’s called a pattern outside the AFL stats world too. Not that those in the AFL stats world realise there’s a world outside it.
Last week was a disaster for St Kilda. For a team pushing to play finals, the performance they served up was as awful as it was surprising.
It doesn’t get much better for them this week, with Sydney in great form having won nine of their last ten games.
Remember when Sydney couldn’t win a game to save themselves and pundits said they’d managed their list poorly and paid Buddy too much money?
That’s the great thing about footy; it continually provides us all with opportunities to look stupid. The only fools in footy are the ones who think they’re not fools.
Perhaps the Swans do know something about football the rest of us don’t. Their ability to consistently make finals is impressive. Maybe being in a city free of the convention wisdom of footy people is an advantage.
Bloody Sydney, always getting advantages. We must take this one away from them too. Let’s move them back to South Melbourne to correct this and surround them with footy pundits 24-7.
Sydney to win this.
Fremantle v Hawthorn (DS) 7.40pm
It’s been a while since the phrase ‘still mathematically possible to play finals’, and ‘Hawthorn’ were in the same sentence.
While it is sweet to hear, Hawthorn’s decline means it’s time to start investing the emotional energy that has gone into hating them is no longer worth it.
Instead, I’m going to channel that energy elsewhere. It would be inappropriate for me to announce who I’m going to hate in their place, there is a proper process in place to determine this, involving a public tender and a probity officer.
The probity officer recently oversaw the vetting process for The Greens Senate candidates and luckily just happens to be free at the moment.
In last week’s Derby, the Dockers answered the question ‘what would it look like if we got people who have never kicked a Sherrin before to play in an AFL team?’
While their stunning inaccuracy in front of goal made headlines, their 57 per cent kicking accuracy in general play deserves recognition too.
At least, Dockers, fans can be happy that Nat Fyfe has signed a new six-year deal, although we all knew that would happen the moment Perth morning radio guaranteed he was going to St Kilda.
Hawks to win this.
Richmond v Greater Western Sydney (MCG) 1.10pm
The Giants are in terrible trouble, struggling so much they’ve spiralled out of control into third spot. How do those Greater Western Sydney fans cope after all those decades of heartache and pain?
Imagine a Tigers supporter and Giants supporter chatting.
“We’ve had such a tough time with injuries. Sometimes being a footy fan tests you.”
-Richmond fan throws Giants fan off bridge-
No court in the land convicts them.
Some would say this is a possible Grand Final preview, but I’d encourage Richmond not to think of this like a final in any way.
A win here would certainly shut up the doubters, or as I like to call them, ‘everyone who isn’t a Tigers supporter and a lot of Tigers supporters and players’.
They have some good news with Jeremy Cameron being out, but I’m tipping the Giants here.
Collingwood v West Coast (ES) 3.20pm
Scott Pendlebury is an out and as you know, no Pendlebury, no Collingwood. Although sometimes, even with Pendlebury there’s no Collingwood.
Taylor Adams said this week that firing Buckley would set the Pies back years as they’ve invested so much time and effort getting things right in the last six seasons. He thought the club should stay the course. It seems that Taylor Adams is in furious agreement with every opposition supporter then.
It’s why everyone is keen for Collingwood to win here. Even Eagles fans can see the appeal of this.
Adams problem is Collingwood’s; he’s suffering from the sunk cost fallacy. That’s when we make poor decisions because of the emotional investment we’ve made in something.
The more you invest in something, the harder it becomes to abandon it because you feel like you’re not just losing that thing but all the money, time and emotion you’ve poured into it too.
Trust me, I know all about this, I’m a lifelong Melbourne supporter.
West Coast needs to win this. They’re clinging to eight spot and with Domain Stadium no longer a fortress for them, winning on the road is now a must.
A win here though sets them up for a finals run, and Josh Kennedy being healthy means the Eagles finally have something resembling a forward line.
Eagles to win this.
Brisbane v Carlton (G) 4.40pm
What will you be doing instead of watching this? I might do some housework, which means throwing out pizza boxes and empty whiskey bottles.
We often criticise the people who do the AFL draw, rightly so too, but burying this in the Sunday twilight slot was a wise move, the fewer people who see this, the better.
The only reason to watch Brisbane is to see Dayne Zorko, apart from this it’s been a lean year. At least there’s some hope. They’ve gone from being a barely competitive AFLQ team to ‘worst team in the AFL’, so baby steps.
There’s nothing to recommend watching Carlton this week. They don’t have Patrick Cripps who is injured, and they score fewer points than anyone else in the competition.
I wouldn’t normally advise this, but Carlton should probably consider returning to salary cap cheating.
Lions to win this.
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