We did OK last week, six out of nine and on the wrong side of a one-point game involving Brisbane for the second week in a row.
The biggest lessons (that we already knew but stupidly chose to discount) were: 1) don’t tip against Hawthorn in Tasmania and 2) never trust Port Adelaide. Anyway, let’s jump in to this week’s thoughts.
Friday 31st May
North Melbourne v Richmond
7.50pm at Marvel
We begin the round with North Melbourne’s first game post-Brad Scott. While we’re here, is it just me or do the words “caretaker coach Rhyce Shaw” provide more evidence that we’re living in the Twilight Zone?
It doesn’t seem that long ago that Shaw was charging with reckless abandon off a half back line for Sydney or Collingwood, giving fans heart attacks every time he shaped to kick.
By all accounts he’s been very impressive the last few years as an assistant with the Swans and the Roos, so it’ll be interesting to see what he brings to the table for the rest of the season.
As for this game though, it’s hard to see any coaching moves that would give North Melbourne a real shot at toppling the Tigers machine.
The Kangaroos simply don’t have the skill level or top line talent required to weather the pressure storm that Richmond will hit them with.
The tip: Richmond
Saturday 1st June
Collingwood v Fremantle
1.45pm at MCG
After squeaking out a one-point win last week, travelling across the country to face Collingwood, winners of seven straight, looks a bridge too far for Fremantle.
The numbers for the Dockers away from home don’t look pretty: a 1-3 record while scoring 62.8 points per game, more than two goals less than their already bottom six mark for the season.
Meanwhile, after putting up a meek 70.5 ppg in their first two matches at the MCG this year, the Pies have scored 92.2 ppg over their last four at the ground, all victories.
The returns of Darcy Moore and the terrifying Jordan de Goey are further reason why Collingwood should make it eight on the trot.
The tip: Collingwood
GWS v Gold Coast
1.45pm at Giants Stadium
Let’s update a stat that we gave out in this space two weeks ago. GWS at Giants Stadium this year: 125 ppg and 53.7 opponent ppg, for a ridiculous 71.3 average margin of victory. Sorry Gold Coast. Lock of the week.
The tip: GWS
Geelong v Sydney
4.35pm at GMHBA
Here’s one for you: between 2016-2018, the Cats were 0-3 against the Swans when playing in Geelong and 21-0 against everyone else at the same ground. Wild stuff. Will Sydney extend their winning streak at GMHBA to four in a row?
Seems unlikely. Buddy came back last week but Josh Kennedy now goes out for the Swans who, despite some better performances over the last few weeks, remain a few levels below Geelong this season.
For the Cats, Gary Ablett finally succeeded in getting his long mooted rest; it only took him three attempts, but he did it!
Geelong will swap in one future Hall of Famer for another though, with Dangerfield returning after presumably sitting out last week to show Kane Cornes that he was, in fact injured.
The Cats have already dropped one home game this year (to the other Sydney team, no less), I don’t see them losing there again.
The tip: Geelong
Brisbane v Hawthorn
7.25pm at GABBA
The Lions owned Hawthorn last year, with a 56-point thumping at the Gabba impressively backed up by dealing the Hawks their only loss in Tasmania for the year, to the tune of 33 points. Together, those two matches made up 40 per cent of the Lions wins last season!
Already with more victories than the five they managed in 2018, Brisbane are a better team than the one that swept the Hawks last year and should prove it at home on Saturday night.
The tip: Brisbane
Melbourne v Adelaide
7.40pm at TIO
A disappointing couple of weeks for the Crows, going down by a combined 13 points against two fellow finals contenders.
Luckily for Tex Walker and Co. they get the chance to play themselves into form Saturday night against the hapless Demons. And boy do they need it, because the schedule is about to get brutal.
Following this week, Adelaide will face GWS, Richmond, Geelong, and rival Port Adelaide, with the bye right in the middle of that nightmare run.
The good news for Crows fans is that three of those games will be played in Adelaide, but even with home ground in their favour the Crows are in big danger of going 1-3 or even 0-4 and torpedoing their season.
Tom Lynch remains one of the more underrated players in the league (top 10 for score involvements per game this season), his return is crucial for Adelaide.
On the other side, Simon Goodwin seems more worried about injuries and contested possession differential (where the Demons still rank top six in the comp) rather than their worst in the league 1.21 points per inside 50.
Until Melbourne can regain some semblance of the offensive potency they displayed last year, they’ll continue to be 2019’s biggest disappointment.
The tip: Adelaide
Sunday 2nd June
St Kilda v Port Adelaide
2.20pm at Jiangwan Stadium
Remember what I said earlier about not trusting Port Adelaide? Well… look out because I’m about to immediately ignore my own advice.
The Power have two years of experience travelling for the China game and more than half the team that took part in last year’s game will make the journey again this weekend. On the other hand, this will be the first such road trip for the Saints, that has to matter right?
As a sidenote: is bringing Jarryn Geary back for this game the dumbest thing the Saints have done since signing Dan Hannebery to a five-year contract?
The man spent five days in hospital with his leg literally sliced open only one month ago, and they’ve decided it’s all good to stick him on a plane for ten+ hours before his first game back?
My dad just had minor surgery on a toe and isn’t allowed to fly for six weeks! The Saints remain truly incredible. I still believe Port will sneak into the final spot in the eight; to do that they have to win games against other middle of the pack teams like St Kilda.
The tip: Port Adelaide
Essendon v Carlton
3.20pm at MCG
Ugh. For Essendon fans, the one constant over the past three years has been losing to Carlton in the first meeting of the season between the fierce rivals.
The Blues average number of wins over those three seasons? Five. For Essendon? Nine, and that’s including a three-win season in 2016 when everyone was suspended. So why do the Bombers keep stumbling against the seemingly inferior Blues?
Well, for whatever reason, they just can’t score, averaging 59 ppg in those three contests despite averaging 83.4 ppg over the past three full seasons.
It’s concerning for Essendon then, that for this season that number has dropped to 76.8 ppg (11th in the league) and an atrocious 61 ppg over the last five weeks.
Couple that with the mounting injuries for the Bombers and it seems like Carlton has a real shot at making it four years in a row here… But… with the Blues missing a big chunk of the few veterans they have (Murphy, Simpson, Thomas, McGovern), Essendon should do just enough to win.
I reserve the right to change my mind another 15 times before Sunday.
The tip: Essendon
West Coast v Western Bulldogs
5.20pm at Optus Stadium
West Coast have somehow won four in a row and sit at 7-3 despite not looking impressive since Round 3 against Collingwood.
A quick look at the schedule reveals a pretty tasty second half of the year, so the Eagles will probably remain in the top four conversation even while sporting a per centage that suggests they belong squarely in the middle of the pack.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs just gave up 115 points to a team that were mostly in shock before the game, having just learned that their head coach was stepping down. Pencil in another uninspiring win for West Coast.
The tip: West Coast
Last week: 6-3
Overall record: 57-33