Greater Western Sydney v Western Bulldogs (MO) 7.50pm
No Carlton this Friday night, so we’ll have to settle for this snooze fest between two teams that played one of the best Preliminary finals ever last year.
There’s a lot of history between these two clubs, which you can rarely say about a contest involving the Giants. This is GWS’ first real rivalry.
Like first loves, emotions are heightened and like first loves, your first rivalry usually ends in a lot of bad blood.
Being a huge home game for the Giants, this is, of course, being held in Canberra, welcome to the AFL Giants fans. Bewildering decisions are its proudest tradition.
The Giants have been in fine form since the Loss They Needed to Have™ against the Crows. I put a lot of their strong recent form down to the off-season recruitment of Brett Deledio.
The Bulldogs haven’t been anywhere near their best this season. They might be doing that ‘peak at the right time’ thing like Richmond aren’t doing.
This game will be all about matchups. At least, I think it will be because I heard someone say that on the radio the other day and it sure sounded like they knew what they were talking about. Although they also said, ‘scoreboard pressure’, which is what dumb people say to sound smart.
Giants to win.
Hawthorn v St Kilda (UTS) 1.45pm
No Cyril Rioli, so I’m down to being able to name about three Hawks. Scratch that, Mitchell and Lewis left, didn’t they? So just Jarryd Roughead. The rest are just those generic players Clarkson plugs into various roles.
At least, Jaeger O’Meara is back after his knees took a few weeks off to rest, which is not concerning at all in a 23-year-old.
This is being played in Launceston, where it’s going to be colder than my heart on Saturday.
That’s OK for St Kilda, they’re used to that, after playing all those games in New Zealand during their highly successful conquest of that country.
Last week, Hawthorn either sprung back into outright Premiership favouritism or just played West Coast at the MCG.
The Saints have been disappointing this season and a loss here mean panic stations. Not for the club but for the media and fans.
I’m tipping the Saints but this is their last chance. We are developing trust issues.
Carlton v Sydney (MCG) 2.10pm
Finally, the Swans get a win. At least they should or things will move from ‘challenging’ to “Help! Everything is on fire!”
Sydney’s drop off is one of life’s great mysteries, like how is Michael Slater still a commentator? Or why is Channel Seven so invested in the Megawall?
I think it’s the fact that Australian Rules is such a team game that a few key injuries and some players leaving can make any team go from the top of the tree to the bottom. If the five worst players in your team are hopeless or young kids, you’ll struggle.
In Carlton’s case, all but about three players are hopeless or young kids. Just looking at who still gets games at Carlton shows how far off they are.
Dale Thomas has not been recalled this week, as the Blues make sure they don’t trigger the fifth year on his contract. This may be the smartest thing they’ve done since 1995.
Swans to win.
Brisbane v Port Adelaide (G) 4.35pm
Against Carlton, the Power had one of those games you sometimes have on the PlayStation when you’ve got the difficulty setting on too low.
It’s fun for a bit but gets boring very quickly but you finish the game strong because you’ve got pride in your work and your nuggets aren’t ready yet.
The Lions might be a slightly harder proposition. Brisbane have been much improved this year, with the players appearing to like and respect Chris Fagan and enjoying that new sensation.
Rising Star nominee Eric Hipwood looks so impressive, I’m surprised I haven’t read more ‘Melbourne clubs are circling’ stories about him.
I think Hipwood is obviously homesick for Melbourne. He lived here until he was three before moving to Queensland, so he obviously wants to come home.
I think Port will win here but I no longer dread watching Lions games like I did all last season.
North Melbourne v Gold Coast (ES) 7.25pm
The Kangaroos may be the greatest 0-5 team of all time. Unfortunately, there’s no cup for that, a rare moment in the AFL that usually has a cup for every single little thing.
Brad Scott’s war on veteran players continues with both Lindsay Thomas and Andrew Swallow chopped this week. Say what you want about Brad but you can’t accuse him of being loyal.
Can North once again build up a significant lead and then squander it in a final quarter that should have the Curb Your Enthusiasm theme playing in the background?
It’s going to be much harder this week as wasting golden opportunities is in the Gold Coast DNA, not something they just do for a few games.
If North get a big lead, they could possibly hold it against the Suns.
For the Gold Coast, the big question is ‘who will coach them next year?’
Mark Robinson suggested the AFL should consider Nathan Buckley. It’s not the worst idea I’ve heard but it’s a good effort.
North should win this.
West Coast v Fremantle (DS) 8.10pm
West Coast can’t win on the MCG and this week they might be able to show they can’t win at home either.
They were awful against Hawthorn and I’m still upset with them for ending that wonderful losing streak the Hawks had going.
The Eagles have Sam Mitchell returning and it will be nice to have someone on the team who wants to win.
The Dockers are another story. Effectively, Ross Lyon did some rearranging of the deckchairs on the Titanic and it suddenly stopped sinking. That’s not meant to happen.
Can they keep it up? Who knows? Nobody saw this turnaround coming so I’d be suspicious of anyone claiming to be able to predict what’s going to happen here.
The Eagles are of course better at home, but who isn’t? You get me at home, on the couch with a blanket, a drink and some Netflix and I’m never better.
Get me away from home and I’m an awkward, uncoordinated mess. Wait, I’m the Eagles embodied in one person. I also took a lot of drugs in 2006! To be fair, they were for a nasty case of pleurisy.
Eagles to win.
Essendon v Melbourne (ES) 1.10pm
What’s most important here is that both sides display their brand of football. Their ability to do that will give us a great insight on where they are on the respective journeys.
Did that sound like proper footy commentary? Instead of banning headbands, the AFL should ban people using ‘brand’ and ‘journey’.
If we do have to have brands, Essendon are United Airlines, find it hard to say sorry, and Melbourne are Kodak, relevant in the 1950s.
The Dees have a lot of issues, with ruckmen basically the Spinal Tap drummers of the club.
Playing a season without a ruckman is like getting Craig Hutchison to host The Footy Show, it’s just not going to work and everyone knows it.
Melbourne couldn’t beat the Bombers last year when they had volunteers from the stands playing for them. Now they face them with no ruck and Jesse Hogan missing due to the tragic passing of his father.
The Bombers are coming off a great ANZAC Day victory and must like their chances here.
Melbourne are wounded and even when they weren’t wounded they were as inconsistent as the temperature of Chicken McNuggets. Seriously Maccas, sought it out.
I’m tipping Essendon.
Geelong v Collingwood (MCG) 3.20pm
Collingwood have been in trouble but things are looking up with Lynden Dunn to play this week. His recruitment sums up Collingwood perfectly in recent years.
Eddie McGuire gave a speech on the radio this week that many called inspiring but didn’t address any of the substantive issues facing the club.
His basic message was Collingwood fans and the club must stand side by side no matter what. It was stirring stuff and the Pies fans I’ve spoken to can’t wait to stand side by side at the bottom of the ladder for the foreseeable future.
I’m yet to meet a Collingwood supporter who agrees with McGuire’s view. The ones I’ve spoken to think Buckley’s a great guy but can’t coach.
Geelong are travelling along very nicely at the moment. I can’t see them having much to worry about until finals. Their issue will be, can they match it with the Giants and the Crows?
They’ll need a lot more consistency across the whole team to do this. Until then, Geelong fans can sit back and enjoy a fun afternoon picking up four points against the Pies.
Adelaide v Richmond (AO) 4.40pm
It’s here. The moment of truth. Are Richmond the real deal or are they Richmond?
For many, the Tigers are staring down the barrel of a string of losses that will show they are purely the beneficiaries of an easy draw.
Could that be? Could the Tigers get their fans hopes up only to dash them on the rocks of reality?
I know it seems fanciful.
In many ways, the fact the Tigers got through five games they were expected to win without losing is the real miracle.
My view is they are OK. They are not at the level of the Giants or the Crows but they’ve certainly improved.
Are they a chance against the Crows? Oh no. Especially not at home. The Crows will smash them.
But if the Tigers do win, their supporters have every right to be beyond unbearable next week.
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