The Roar
The Roar


Checkside Round 2: A total reversal in Round 1 form

Lance Franklin is a legend already. (AAP Image/David Moir)
Roar Guru
6th April, 2016

With Round 2 done, it’s now perfectly acceptable to start making broad assertions as to the form line of teams, especially if those assertions counter the claims that were hinted at in last week’s review.

This week was a bit of an off week for tipping, but that often tells us more than those weeks when everyone gets 9/9 (and anybody who did tip 9/9 has to tell me what magic they’re using, because I need to change my rituals).

Or at least these weeks are more interesting.

Collingwood vs Richmond
I tipped Tigers

Ah, it really feels like a proper season now that Richmond has lost a game they should have won. Now all they need to do is to beat the Hawks, Swans and Dockers away from home, while losing to the Suns and Saints, and we’ll be well on our way to finishing our AFL bingo cards.

It was nice to have a proper thriller to start the round. Collingwood were much improved on last week, while Richmond played at about the same level.

Jack Riewoldt is in form, as is Trent Cotchin, although he keeps getting cheap possessions, so their best players are up and about at least.

The problem remains with their lower third, as Ben Griffiths was barely effective and Taylor Hunt really should be playing better so as to not even be counted in the Tigers’ lower third.

As for the Magpies, Adam Treloar was their best player yet again, Scott Pendlebury was much better than last week, and they actually had a functioning forward line, albeit one that was focused around Alex Fasolo rather than Travis Cloke. But I suppose getting six goals out of a medium forward is still a result.


Cloke was able to take marks, but unless they trade his legs for Anthony Rocca’s legs they are going to struggle to make the eight.

Adelaide vs Port Adelaide
I tipped Crows

I went for the Crows because I figured that they played better in a loss than the Power did in a win, and it turns out I was painfully correct.

In Showdown Extra Large, the Crows scored a huge win, with the results of last week’s matches an even better indicator than thought.

The Crows’ best asset is their forward line. With Tom Lynch, Taylor Walker, Eddie Betts and Josh Jenkins each capable of kicking a bag each week, most teams will have to work to make sure that they don’t get the chance to score because it’s hard to stop them once they do.

Port Adelaide, on the other hand, have a big worry. Their forwards were completely unable of taking any kind of advantage, with Charlie Dixon nearly silent and Chad Wingard smothered out of the contest. It didn’t help that Port lost two of their most valuable contributors before the match in Jay Schulz and Hamish Hartlet.

Ken Hinkley needs to start adjusting the gameplan, since the one they have no seems to have been worked out.

Essendon vs Melbourne
I tipped Demons


Well, I didn’t expect that. After looking like the Demons would be able to finally compete for a finals spot, and the Bombers might go through the season without a win, at least one of those is definitely wrong and the other one very well might be.

The Warplanes turned up and managed to beat the Forces of Darkness in literally every stat, including the scores. David Zaharakis and ring-in James Kelly were their best players, with Joe Daniher being the other best if only he were able to kick straight.

I don’t see the Dons causing too many upsets over top-tier or even second-tier teams, but I can now see them beating teams around them and maybe avoiding the spoon.

Melbourne, here we are again. After discovering that a disproportionate number of my Facebook friends were Demon fans (and not in a satanic way), I realised just how much pain you put the ones who love you through. The team played much like the Melbourne of old and it’s really disappointing to see. They’ll need to respond quickly, otherwise they might fall back into old, bad habits.

Brisbane vs North Melbourne
I tipped Kangaroos

North Melbourne seem to be positioning themselves for another lengthy finals campaign, but what comes after? Their best players are all past 30, so when they retire they’re going to have to have to rely on players who so far aren’t the major contributors.

The Lions are better this year, but they don’t have the structure of a normal team, with a good midfield, terrible forward line and average defence. Keeping the Kangaroos below 100 points was a small victory, although their inability to capitalise on their dominance of the first quarter cost them any chance of a win. The fact that they were able to even do that for that long suggests that they do have some potential once they do work out a forward line structure.

The Kangaroos do need to prepare themselves for the future. Not just in the first paragraph way, but for when they face the other top-four hopefuls this season. They’re going to have trouble containing the Swans’ big forwards and midfield, the Hawks’ everything, and the Bulldogs’ pace. Transitioning into…


St Kilda vs Western Bulldogs
I tipped Bulldogs

Nick Reiwoldt is going to go down in history as one of those greats whose success never matched his ability. There are a few of those in every generation and it’s always hard to see. At least he remains one of the good people in football and is using his talent and success for charitable causes, remaining loyal to his life-long club instead of chasing premierships like he would be entitled to do.

As it is, he’ll stay a Saint, possibly their greatest ever captain, and now must help lay the groundwork for the next time the club pushes up the ladder.

Right now, he’s got his work cut out for him. St Kilda were bad on pretty much every line. That’s not to say they didn’t try, but they don’t have the talent or experience to compete with a top-tier team.

The Bulldogs are a top-tier team this year. They’ve built upon the strategy and players they had last year and are ready to make an assault on the top-four. As is traditional, they’ve managed to build this team without a big forward as a focal point, instead using medium-forwards, midfielders and resting ruckman to score. Their defence is likewise smaller than usual, but they’ve built something greater than the sum of its parts, and I look forward to seeing how they go.

Fremantle vs Gold Coast
I tipped Dockers

This is one of those games where I wish I had $10 on the result. As it is, I didn’t even tip it correctly.

Turns out that the Dockers’ flaws, exposed last week, are even more serious than thought, and the Suns could be a threat this year.


I noticed a weird parallel between these two clubs as it looks more and more like Fremantle might be a one-man team, consisting of Nat Fyfe and 21 other people, while Gold Coast may be ready to have Gary ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ Ablett as a contributor, not sole hope. Tom Lynch might compete for the Coleman and Aaron Hall might now be the leading candidate to replace Ablett as the leading midfielder.

With Carlton and Brisbane to come for the Suns, they might be 4-0, while the Dockers have the Eagles and Kangaroos up next and they might end up 0-4, setting up two very different trajectories for the rest of the season. Incidentally, two very different trajectories than most predicted, too.

Greater Western Sydney vs Geelong
I tipped Cats

A team that lost to Melbourne beat a team that beat Hawthorn last week. Apparently it’s the 1960s back in Canberra or something (actually that makes a lot of sense).

The Giants were much better. Tom Scully looks to be fulfilling his potential, as is Ryan Griffen. Shane Mumford managed to dominate the Cats both in the ruck and around the ground, while giving away only one free kick. The Giants’ forward line wasn’t great with Jonathan Patton playing his first game in months, and Rory Lobb still learning.

Luckily, the Giants were able to rely on the midfielders and smaller forwards to kick a winning score, while the defence was decent enough to keep the Cats from getting in front.

The Cats were average. While Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood and Tom Hawkins were good, the rest of the Cats’ midfield wasn’t, and their defence leaked a lot of crumbing goals.

Sad as it is, Jimmy Bartel and Harry Taylor might be passed it. Luckily for the Cats they have the opportunity to get into form against the Lions this week.


Hawthorn vs West Coast
I tipped Hawks

Six months later and how far have we come? Looks like not that far after all. All the build-up, list changes, talk about redemption, revenge and reinforcement of the point, and what do we get? The exact same result as last time.

That’s not to say the match was exactly the same as last time. For instance, James Sicily didn’t even play in the grand final and he was arguably among Hawthorn’s best players. However the rest of the best players, Josh Gibson, Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis, have been around the block a few times. Although Josh Gibson played probably one of the better games, so that was something different.

Also different is that the Eagles knew coming in how the Hawks had beaten them last year, and they decided that they wouldn’t change anything. The first quarter was terrible play, with many of the Eagles having just a couple of possessions and the team kicking just two points. Their normally reliable players weren’t able to get themselves in the game with Andrew Gaff the only midfielder who had a decent game, with key forwards Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling quiet early, eventually competing but still giving the Hawks defenders too many easy ways out.

Hopefully, this time, the Eagles will get the message.

Carlton vs Sydney
I tipped Swans

This is the only match where both teams continued their form from Round 1. The Swans’ goals came from a slightly different source than last week, but they were just as effective, and while the Blues lost by a larger margin, they competed all match and never let themselves be embarrassed by their efforts.

Both are positive signs for their respective seasons.

Carlton’s forwards were much improved over last week with Levi Casboult able to kick a few, and the Jazz able to produce a reasonable spread of goal-kickers. Their midfield was comfortably beaten, but suffered no shame against one of the strongest in the league. Their defence managed to hold up in plenty of cases but, considering the sheer number of entries, they were never going to keep the Swans key forwards from kicking a big score.

The Grown-up Ugly Ducklings were just as good as last week but in different ways. The big forwards Kurt Tippet and Callum Sinclair were really good, the new kids weren’t quite up to the level of last round but were still valuable, while the rest of the midfield was its usual, brutal self.

The return of veteran key defender Ted Richards was good to see, but he’ll need more matches to get back to his old self if he can. They’ll need to be ready for the big forwards of the other premiership hopefuls when they face off in future matches.

Speaking of the future…

Round 3 tips