This article is another contribution to the annual state-of-the-game hand-wringing festival, so if you’re over that already, I totally understand and you’re free to go.
It’s the penultimate round of the 2015 AFL season, and with all the bandwagons getting a much needed late tune-up, it’s time to gaze into the crystal ball once again.
Geelong versus Collingwood at the MCG
If Nathan Buckley didn’t have a target on his back after last weeks debacle, he will after this, as the Pies have had their worst season in a decade, capping off four years of decline.
I really hope Scott Pendlebury finds something to play for this week. Maybe a paycheque? They say money talks, just ask Gil. He’s been busy making cash angels in his office all week.
Geelong, now the preferred destination for every out of contract player this year, will come away with an easy win.
But all attention will be focused on how long the Collingwood cheer squad stay for this week. Apparently they all had to leave early last week because they left their oven on.
Cats by 57 points
GWS versus Carlton at Spotless Stadium
Carlton are coming off a bad week with the loss of the number one pick and a win against the Demons. Hopefully another player walks out and gives them the inspiration to win.
Lets face it, Henderson had been holding back the Blues for years. It’s all his fault.
The dream for a premiership can begin again with the appointment of Brendon Bolton, but this game however has the potential to be like kissing your grandmother.
Carlton have just about every player finished for the year with either injury or disinterest. GWS could hand some youngsters a chance to showcase what talent he has in reserve for next year just to frighten the competition a little more.
GWS by 22 points.
Hawthorn versus Brisbane at Aurora Stadium
This has blood bath written all over it. If Hale can get over his ‘old man syndrome’ he should line up. I hope Swisse have a pill they can all take as the whole team looked like they’d been infected by it as well last week.
‘Cheap shot’ Hodge is out after the MRP went ‘Lite N easy’ on him. He thanked them for a chance to give his body a rest and will go into the finals fresh.
The Alastair Clarkson ‘Assistant Coach Academy’ is now world standard and with Bolton gone the Hawks coaching box is becoming emptier than Fremantle’s trophy case.
Clarkson would have been angry after last week’s loss. After the match he went looking for a drunk Port heckler to punch to try and deflect the questions that are starting to be asked. He didn’t have any luck.
Sam Mitchell might be rested this week. His attempted tackle last week in the last quarter could have done some serious damage to his arms. Matthew Leuenberger looks set for a return in what coach Leppitsch described as ‘Giving other clubs a look at what they could get with him’.
Hawthorn by 100+ points
North Melbourne versus Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium
Why is every match involving North a tipsters’ nightmare?
Boomer Harvey will be out to celebrate his new contract… again, Jack Zeibell returns and Daniel Wells, the forgotten man of North still has to build some match fitness in the two’s. Hope he doesn’t trip on something and hurt himself again.
The Bulldogs are back from the dreaded Perth trip and the psychology experts have been working feverishly to get the boys up for this week. The Dogs’ bandwagon should be back in time for the finals though. Last time it was spotted it was coming out of Kalgoorlie. I hope once it hits Adelaide that fans don’t spray paint ‘remember 97/98′ on it.
The young Dogs have been brilliant this year and time will tell if it has taken its toll on the young list.
North by 27 points.
Essendon versus Richmond at the ‘G
Fiat versus Jeep in the battle of the car manufacturers.
Is it Dreamtime again? Not on the field with Essendon beginning the search for a new coach by appointing a sub committee consisting of every person who was ever involved at Windy Hill. This could turn into a nightmare. The game, not the selection process, although… Watch this space.
Essendon had a chance to win last week with Carlisle kicking the ball on the siren but missing. Karma hates haters and haters hate Essendon. Does that make Karma an Essendon supporter? James Hird probably thinks so.
The Richmond bandwagon is now so big that the Victorian Government are set to announce it will receive its own post code and member of parliament.
King of the hand signals, Dustin Martin, will tear the Bombers apart single handedly if given the chance. The Bombers ‘farewell tour’ for players has kicked off, this week featuring three time premiership player and Norm Smith medalist Paul Chapman. Well done on a great career, Fella. Sorry your last match will end badly.
Tigers by 84 points
Gold Coast versus Port Adelaide at Metricon Stadium
Can Port make the sequel of ‘50 shades of Sam and Robbie Gray’ this week?
Rodney Eade could go for the ‘Just for Men’ strategy early which promises to get rid of any grey in just five minutes. He might also start Charlie Dixon at full back in a Port guernsey – Rocket’s full of surprises.
Not sure if Hinkley would want to change much this week, he might want to see if it was just a fluke that his game plan worked for once.
Chad Wingard could go on a rampage here and Eade will instruct his players to avoid touching him near the point post. You don’t want to knock any more sense into him.
Port have tried something new in the last two weeks, for example – winning. Gold Coast couldn’t care less and want the season to end.
Port by 29 points
Adelaide versus West Coast at Adelaide Oval
This match is season-defining for both clubs. Adelaide wins and they play finals. West Coast win and they host two finals.
The Crows have a touch of ‘1997′ about them. Being an unashamed Crows fanatic I would love nothing more than to see the boys get up and win.
Both clubs have an attacking game plan. Adelaide will recall Jake Lever and may look to bring in either David McKay or Matthew Wright for some outside midfield polish.
West Coast are starting to have a few injuries and their lack of bigger bodies in defence could count against them. Daniel Talia kept Josh Kennedy goalless last time these two teams met before he went off injured and Kennedy went on to boot five goals.
Potential Geelong mayor Paddy Dangerfield had a quiet match in his 150th game where at one stage he showed that doing your hair before marking and goaling is back in vogue. There’s not enough being done on the issue of hair care in the AFL. I hope the AFLPA make it more of a priority in the off-season.
The Crows are still struggling with slow starts, kicking efficiency and decision making and will have to come out firing to have any chance.
Campo will have his team wired up. I’m tipping an upset.
Adelaide by 1 point
St Kilda versus Sydney at Etihad Stadium
Josh Kennedy is in sparkling form after last week winning the highly prized ‘Brett Kirk’ medal for having the same hair style as Kirky. Tippett was a close second with his five goals but was deemed to have a slightly darker hair colour.
I tipped the Saints last week and they have a chance here. I like what I see and Alan Richardson has gotten these players to buy into his plan. He made seven changes last week and he might make another eight just to confuse the Swans brains trust who themselves might make five changes.
The umpires admitted they may have cost St Kilda the match last week so expect to see the free kick count heavily in the Saints’ favour.
Premiership player and five-time grand finalist Adam Schneider announced his retirement and it’s fitting this match involves his former team. Whoever wins he’ll know the song.
Sydney by 11 points.
Fremantle versus Melbourne at Domain Stadium
Is Jesse Hogan is the new Richo? He sure did let his team mates know how he felt last week and they should sign him up for the next 28 years. Not often you get two Jack Watts in the one team.
The purple haze are in a purple heap. Ross Lyon has been busy asking people what the word ‘confidence’ means to them. I really hope someone bought him a dictionary.
Lyon won’t want to take the cotton wool off of Pav here, he might rest a few others as well. But all the team has to do is show up.
Paul Roos needs the margin to be under 80 points or he’ll start getting emails again.
The Demons haven’t improved much under Roos and while that’s a concern for the AFL they have more important issues to deal with.
Fremantle by 81 points.