How could anyone say the 2019 season is boring? Admittedly, the Cats have been on top of the ladder since Round 2 and look likely to still be there at the end of Round 23, but that is no guarantee that Geelong will dominate the finals.
In fact, the records show that despite Chris Scott’s outstanding win/loss ratio in home-and-away games, the Cats have won only one premiership in his nine years at the helm.
The business end of the season is still to be played, and a number of clubs are building towards an improved performance when the finals arrive.
Amongst these clubs is Adelaide who start the round with a game at home against the injury-stricken Tigers. With two AFL elite goal kickers (Eddie Betts and Tex) and one elite AFL game player (Eddie again) the Crows should be able to account for Richmond, but beware on the injured Tigers.
For the Crows Danial Talia will match the game performance of Brett ‘Birdman’ Burton and Matt Crouch – who with his brother Brad is having an outstanding year will play his 100th game.
For the Tigers, Dustin Martin – who is now also in top form – joins Kyabram recruit Dick Clay who played in four premierships for the club on 213 games and Bachar Houli joins Paul Broderick on 169 games.
Essendon and Hawthorn will meet for the 163rd time on Saturday night in a game vital for both team’s final eight aspirations, and I expect the slightly better-performing Bombers to take the points.
David Zaharakis, the club’s number one current elite player, will tie with legend Ken Fraser who did it all: played in a premiership in 1962, captained a premiership in 1965, won two best and fairest and captained the club for four seasons. Cale Hooker will take a huge leap up the ladder, drawing level with Charlie Payne, Alan Ezard, Steve Alessio and Jason Johnson just outside the top 40 Essendon game players of all time.
At Hawthorn, Luke Breust will match John Hendrie’s 197 games and Ben Stratton and Paul Puopulo – who are travelling up the list in tandem at the moment – will catch Angelo Lekkas in 46th position on the Hawks’ top 100 game players list.
Game 3 of the round is the first AFL game to be played in Townsville between the Gold Coast and the much-travelled St Kilda. These two clubs have only met 11 times with the Saints being victorious in seven of those games.
This is the second meeting between the two clubs this year, with St Kilda winning the previous encounter by one point so it should be possible to compare the relevant improvement of the two teams during the 2019 season.
Aaron Young will be missing from the Sun’s team and it looks like he will have to wait at least another two weeks to bring up his 100th AFL game whereas the much improved Alex Sexton will bury the ghost of Gary Ablett just a little bit deeper when he matches the little champ’s game tally at Gold Coast.