With the impending finish to the weird and wacky 2020 AFL season, the silly season is about to begin. And the silly season means one thing: trade period.
Essendon are on the up this year under the reign of James Hird. We knew that. Essendon always seem to have St Kilda’s measure, even when the Bombers have been nowhere near the Saints on the ladder. We knew that.
What we didn’t know was that the Saints would go into round five without a win on the board, that they would look soft, slow and unmotivated.
They still might make the finals, and they should with enough class individuals to drag them over the line, but at this stage they’re destined to be making up the numbers.
The red, white and black looked cooked.
The league’s equalisation process might be able to ingest the Saints. Coach Ross Lyon got the first suspicion of that last year, confirmed by his post-match comments.
The Dons stamped themselves as top-four prospects.
Only burnout or injuries will see them miss the double chance. Anzac Day now looms as a match not only followed for its sense of occasion and remembrance, but as an early look at what we might see towards the latter weeks of September.
Nothing less than a record crowd should be expected.
Collingwood keeps giving the impression of being in low gear, yet to really work over the rev counter and search for another cog.
Carlton were impressive in their most accomplished performance of the season thus far, a performance that showed glimpses of the kind of side that has been built for serious finals success over the last four of five years.
Yet the Magpies never really look threatened.
Either we paint them with a brush of invincibility or the reigning premier is circling rather closer to defeat than we are currently thinking. They take on a luckless Richmond this Friday, but the Bombers the week after will be a much better barometer for the Pies.
They say cats hate water, and the Tigers played like your average tabby on Saturday night at a slippery MCG, while the Hawks stamped their claim on one of the top four spots up for grabs this year.
The big names for Hawthorn are sending an early impression that they’ve recalled 2008 and the kind of football they played. Opposition clubs know that when they get it right they display a level of dominance few can repel, let along challenge.
The Western Bulldogs, who are aiming for September action this year, saw off an improved Gold Coast, but offer nothing yet to set the punters searching for their hard-earned.
A heavy loss to Essendon is nothing less than expected after facing the crummy Queensland offerings in successive weeks. The Dogs are treading water. A big scalp is needed and soon.
Geelong continue to roll the wins together, and while Port Adelaide and St Kilda might not be the toughest four points to acquire this year, Freo’s win at Adelaide on Saturday offers the Cats extra credit for their Subiaco victory two weeks back.
It seems the bye will be a detriment to teams coming back, if the Crows’ effort against the Dockers is anything by which to judge. The purple haze were good, no doubt, but two Patrick Dangerfield solo efforts aside, Adelaide looked sloppy and rusty, well below the side we know they can be this year.
So while Neil Craig would have torn off the wallpaper post-game, and rightly so, put that down to coming off the bye. The Crows will be alright.
Saturday night gave as a glimpse of why the West Coast are flush with opportunity. Their young talent definitely has finals potential. But Sydney has final victories in them this year if they want them.
Three good wins in three different states in three weeks has the Swans looking good early. The only team to account for the extraordinary Essendon so far, and it looks like John Longmire has thought that channelling his old mentor Paul Roos would yield better results than putting his own stamp on the side. Smart man is The Horse.
Three weekends in and the form lines are starting to emerge. The titleholders are yet to really step up, but nor have they needed to. The danger is not being ready for their first serious challenge in a fortnight’s time.
The Bombers are for real, and are primed. Saturday afternoon football this week at the MCG would have one celebrated commentator wrestling between whether it’ll be special or delicious. Perhaps both, Bruce?
But for perennial Grand Finalists St Kilda, the bubble has unfortunately burst.