The Roar
The Roar

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Tip the final eight? I can't even tip a winner

Expert
14th May, 2015
23
1490 Reads

My nine-year-old son best summed up the unpredictable nature of the 2015 AFL season when he came home yesterday and declared how unfair it was that the kids who knew nothing about football were the ones picking the most winners in his school’s footy tipping competition.

His dismay highlights two things. The first is that the season is an absolute cracker, and unless you barrack for Carlton or the Suns, you won’t get too many arguments about that.

The second thing, and it is a little disturbing, is that having any sort of footy knowledge at all is almost a disadvantage when it comes to successfully predicting match outcomes this year.

Whether you crunch the numbers like Roar columnist Ryan Buckland or go more on gut feel like myself, odds are your tipping performances have still been mediocre. And as Ryan pointed out earlier this week, even the betting markets – the places where tips really count for something – have only pointed the way to a dismal 35 winners out of a possible 54.

That all spells one thing – classic season!

What more do we want from our premier competition than unpredictable results? While it might be frustrating for fans of teams who are expected to win each week, the log jam that is developing throughout the mid section of the ladder (and it is a bigger than usual mid-section stretching from second to fifteenth), will create a most entertaining home-and-away season with a greater number of games having significant meaning as teams jostle for positions, not just in the top eight, but the top four as well.

Was it really just six weeks ago that we were declaring the Hawthorn ‘three-peat’ a foregone conclusion? Had we really written Fremantle off as a true premiership contender?

Did we honestly think that the Gold Coast Suns were finally going to stamp their authority on the competition? Did we really think we had the top four nailed down?

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That’s just downright embarrassing if we did!

Even the AFL captains, the ones closest to the action each week, struggled to get things right in their annual pre-season predictions.

When their votes were tallied up they had the Suns well and truly entrenched in the top eight. At the same time they showed very little love for Adelaide, Collingwood and West Coast and absolutely no affection at all for Greater Western Sydney or the Bulldogs.

When it came to grand final predictions, not one of them thought that the Dockers could make it, preferring instead to make Port Adelaide the third favourite behind the obvious choices of Hawthorn and Sydney.

As it turns out, Fremantle have rocketed into contention, being the only undefeated team in the competition and holding a two-game break over the best of the rest.

Of course we are only six rounds in and we all know that the season is more a marathon than a sprint. The expected cream may still rise to the top, but you have to hand it to teams like the Bulldogs and the Giants, and also the Eagles and Magpies, who have given their fans more than they could have hoped for at the start of the year.

The Bulldogs have become the league’s glamour team. Their talented youngsters are playing big bold, audacious football, while veteran favourite Bob Murphy goes about his business of leading the side with a minimum of fuss and maximum output. They have assumed the mantle of becoming everybody’s ‘second’ favourite side. And why not? They are certainly exciting to watch.

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But can they stay the distance?

A favourable draw and a heap of raw enthusiasm says they can, although it won’t be all plain sailing. Last weekend’s diabolical fade out against St Kilda being exhibit one in the how-not-to-do-it stakes.

The Giants claimed their biggest scalp last week and are fulfilling every last bit of the potential that we suspected they had, unlike their expansion team cousin from the Gold Coast. Like every developing team they will experience ups and downs, and while they may not hold onto their spot in the eight this year, pencil them in for next year, and the year after, and the year after that.

The Eagles are sitting pretty in second spot on the ladder having defied injuries and the weight of public opinion. Not only that, they have the second best percentage in the league and are looking to extend a three game winning streak when they face the Suns this weekend.

While it is doubtful whether they can hold onto a top-four position for the remainder of the season, come Saturday night they should have at least almost cemented a well deserved place in the top eight.

Collingwood were expected to fall away this year, but Nathan Buckley has stemmed the tide of naysayers for the moment. The Magpies cling to third place on the ladder despite last week’s demoralising loss to Geelong, but it remains to be seen if the Pies can stay there.

Some say they have been blessed with an easy draw thus far, but you can only beat who is put on the field to face you, and for the most part, Collingwood have been spirited in doing so.

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Can spirit alone carry them to a finals berth though? It is going to be intriguing to watch.

So which teams will hold their spots in the eight? And which will be the sliders?

Your guess is as good as mine, but here goes.

The final eight will be:

1st – Fremantle
2nd – Sydney
3rd – Hawthorn
4th – Port Adelaide
5th – Adelaide
6th – Western Bulldogs
7th – West Coast
8th – North Melbourne

GWS will finish ninth with 13 wins and Collingwood tenth with 12 wins.

Over to you Roarers. What are your predictions?

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