Just glorious at the MCG.
So what can we expect from Round 4? Here some tips with one big call from each game.
West Coast v Richmond
The Tigers travel to Perth knowing that they have a fantastic recent record there but also knowing they are playing unaccountable, disinterested football. Despite racking up numbers, they seem to be struggling with the concept of having to run both ways. The Eagles come off their second straight six-day break following a torrid Derby, but have the firepower to win by 22 points. The big call is that Damien Hardwick will avoid clichés post match and take accountability for the Tiger slump.
Essendon v Geelong
The Cats have started the season in an intriguing manner, dominating the reigning premiers and then struggling in Round 2 before doing what they should have done against the Lions. The Bombers are what we thought they would be – heavy losses against decent teams and very competitive against mediocre teams. Both James Kelly and Mathew Stokes have proven they have gas left in the tank, but this match against their former premiership team mates won’t end well as Geelong win by 56 points. The big call is that the Bombers will have more possessions at a higher disposal efficiency than the Cats.
Hawthorn v St Kilda
Most people have tried to talk themselves into someone other than Hawthorn winning the flag, and it looks unlikely to happen. They remain the best team, with a system that develops players better than others. And they are doing all this without Luke Hodge, Liam Shiels and Jarrad Roughead! The Saints are on the right track and likely to throw their fair share of punches in this game. They can match the Hawks for running and possibly midfield power, but Hawthorn win by 33 points. The big call is that the Saints will lead at quarter time and be within 10 points at three quarter time.
Brisbane v Gold Coast
These two sides enter the Q Clash at opposite ends of the spectrum. The Lions were expected to struggle and so it has been. The losses of Dayne Beams and Tom Rockliff have hurt, this team simply cannot afford to have its best players unavailable. The Suns could not have been more impressive – despite them beating three teams with a combined one win, they have done so playing daring, attacking football and not entirely relying on Gary Ablett. The Suns have won the last three games in this series and it seems certain that will stretch to four on Saturday as they win by 26 points. The big call is that Aaron Hall will be best on ground again, giving him 11 Brownlow votes after four games.
Carlton v Western Bulldogs
The Blues are in a unique spot this season where results don’t really matter as no-one expects them to be any good. They won’t be, but Jacob Weitering and Charlie Curnow have already shown signs of what the future holds. They enter this game against a very good Bulldogs team coming off a demoralising loss and the loss of their heart and soul, Bob Murphy. It will take them some time to adjust to life post-Bob, but they won’t find it tough this weekend as they beat Carlton by 40 points. The big call is that the Bulldogs will be the first team in AFL history to pass 520 possessions.
Adelaide v Sydney
The match of the round between the bolter most likely to finish top 4 and the side perennially underrated but always around the mark. These are two of the top five contested possession teams, and both go inside 50 more often than most so the defences will be kept under pressure at both ends. The home ground advantage figures to be a factor here, but isn’t it just normal to underestimate the Swans, by any number of means? Adelaide will win a thriller by 9 points, and the big call is that Daniel Talia will hold Lance Franklin to one goal or less.
GWS v Port Adelaide
The Giants have had a huge fortnight as they have split games against Geelong and Sydney, but there is no doubt they are a relevant AFL team for the first time in their existence. Their midfield depth is copious, and the talent is reflected in their performance. The Power are an enigma; it is still not obvious whether they will finish top 4, 5-8 or just outside the eight and games like these will go a long way to determining that fate. The Giants should win a close game by 11 points, the big call is that Shane Mumford will register 50 hit outs and 12 tackles.
Collingwood v Melbourne
Two traditional rivals head into a crucial game knowing that a loss will almost spell the end of their season. Collingwood have led for less than 10 per cent of game time through three rounds, while Melbourne have played three games decided by 13 points or less. The Pies have slightly more midfield depth and with the return of Steele Sidebottom and should beat a Demons side missing Bernie Vince by 12 points, with the big call being that Melbourne will struggle to make it halfway to the 131 points they scored against North Melbourne last weekend.
North Melbourne v Fremantle
The Kangaroos have made the most of a soft draw to start the season 3-0 while the Dockers face a huge uphill battle just to qualify for finals, having started the season 0-3. The loss of Aaron Sandilands figures to tilt the scales heavily towards Todd Goldstein dominating in the middle, and with the teams evenly matched in the midfield, it is expected that North’s more impressive firepower should see them win this game by 18 points. The big call is that we will look back on this weekend as the beginning of Ross Lyon’s first ever rebuild as the season becomes a lost cause.
Agree? Disagree? Comment and let me know!