Let’s talk about the f-word. Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade went close to dropping it yesterday. Actually, I’m certain he dropped it a few times throughout the afternoon.
But the particular f-word we’re talking about here is, of course, that other one.
“I think we can certainly help shape the eight and that might mean that we might be able to push for it,” Eade said.
That would be finals he’s referring to.
After a 77-point loss. After a five-game run where his side haven’t lost by fewer than 73. Hmmm. You can call me sceptical.
But Eade wasn’t alone in the footy world at the weekend. Elsewhere, Carlton were being referred to as finals possibilities.
This argument has a little bit more recent evidence behind it.
The Blues are absolutely flying. No one would have predicted they’d be 5-5 at this point of the season and Brendon Bolton is rightly drawing praise left, right and centre.
There was plenty to like in the win over Geelong yesterday, particularly after injuries cut the bench to two.
That said, as far as the f-word goes – for both clubs – some cold water should probably be applied at this point.
Eade was referring to the players he would be getting back in coming weeks and yes, it will be interesting to see how that transforms his side. Still, they are long, long way off right now.
With the Blues, well, prepare for more excitement. Brisbane and St Kilda in the next fortnight could bring two more wins.
But after the bye, it gets tough.
They face a run of Greater Western Sydney, Collingwood, Adelaide, West Coast, Sydney and Hawthorn – that is, mostly teams that will be in the build-up to a finals campaign.
I’ll hold off on this particular bandwagon.
No change // Ladder: 4th (7W, 3L)
Yes, the Giants went into the round with such an edge the loss to Adelaide didn’t see them drop in the rankings. But their trip to the Oval was nothing to write home about. The Crows often made GWS pay for trying to be too clever.
+2 // Ladder: 2nd (8W, 2L)
Second side to beat Hawthorn at the MCG? Tick. First side to beat North Melbourne anywhere? Tick. It’s been a good fortnight for the Swans after a degree of concern was raised.
+2 // Ladder: 5th (7W, 3L)
The Eagles have shown some better form the last three weeks, albeit against opposition outside the eight. Perfect time for them to face the Western Bulldogs at Etihad to get a stronger gauge.
+2 // Ladder: 8th (6W, 4L)
Played better than the competition’s in-form team. That Eddie Betts highlight goal was brilliant, but it was made even better by the fact it kick-started a run that basically put away the game. The lead was 21 before Betts scored mid-way through the third. By the break it was out to 46.
+2 // Ladder: 6th (7W, 3L)
Lucky. You take Collingwood’s injuries out of it, and we’re talking about a Pies win. The Dogs will take the four points, but they can’t afford a similar output when West Coast visit Etihad this Sunday.
-3 // Ladder: 1st (9W, 1L)
The loss finally happened. We can move on from the undefeated narrative. There was a small output from the big forwards against the Swans, but that’s a tough feat for an opposition defence to pull off.
-5 // Ladder: 3rd (7W, 3L)
Could have dropped further after consecutive losses to teams outside the eight, but losing to Collingwood and Carlton at the moment isn’t as embarrassing as it might have been earlier in the year. Still, it’s not a good time for the Cats to host GWS coming off a loss. I’m tipping the Giants at this stage.
No change // Ladder: 7th (6W, 3L)
Something to be aware of: the Hawks have the lowest time-in-front percentage of the top eight (48 per cent) and it’s not even close (nearest are Geelong and the Western Bulldogs, both 62 per cent).
+2 // Ladder: 10th (5W, 5L)
Charlie Dixon reminded us he’s capable of having a big afternoon. This time it was five goals in a 45-point win over Melbourne. Can he do it consistently? That’s the question.
No change // Ladder: 12th (4W, 6L)
Unlucky. Alan Toovey, Taylor Adams, Alex Fasolo and Darcy Moore all taken out of the equation through injury. Would have been a real momentum-fuelling win had they knocked off the Dogs.
+1 // Ladder: 13th (4W, 6L)
The Saints were on the ropes against the winless Fremantle. Then they kicked the last nine. Requiring such effort late against the Dockers is a bad sign. David Armitage’s game – 17 tackles, seven clearances, 28 touches and a goal – was a good sign.
+1 // Ladder: 14th (4W, 6L)
That’s three in a row now for the Tigers. Sneak a win against North Melbourne on Friday and the case for them making the eight starts to hold some weight (I’ll still be tipping North, though).
+1 // Ladder: 11th (5W, 5L)
Good game from Bryce Gibbs, lifting after the Marc Murphy and Liam Sumner injuries with 13 touches in the second and ten in the third.
-5 // Ladder: 9th (5W, 5L)
The size of this fall was harsh, but each team on the Dees’ tail won while the Dees themselves produced the type of loss that showed why they aren’t yet at a top-eight level. Port Adelaide, a fellow mid-tabler, presented an opportunity to prove their bona fides. Again Melbourne stumbled the week after a win.
No change // Ladder: 18th (0W, 10L)
Impressive effort against St Kilda when you consider there was no Nat Fyfe, Aaron Sandilands, Michael Johnson or David Mundy. But Ross Lyon slammed the first quarter and they were held goalless in the last quarter. More will be needed to get that first win.
+1 // Ladder: 16th (1W, 9L)
Definitely showed a lot more against Hawthorn than in recent weeks. Had the lead mid-way through the second term, were two kicks down going into the final quarter. Then the Hawks kicked away. Interesting fortnight awaits the Lions now. Carlton and Fremantle are up next.
-1 // Ladder: 17th (1W, 9L)
It’s been seven weeks since any of the current bottom four sides has won a game. At least someone will be put out of their misery when the Dockers host the Bombers this Saturday.
No change // Ladder: 15th (3W, 7L)
Another big loss to add to the list. Let’s see if an injection of players back from injury can turn fortunes around.