One bye round down, two to go.
This weekend actually gives us seven matches which, not too long ago, was a full suite. The only problem is the AFL have made like a uni student with leftover takeaway and tried to ration it from Thursday to Monday. It doesn’t work.
I was ready to get a point back on the rest of the panel after masterfully tipping Melbourne to down Brisbane, but Carlton’s failure to get the job done against West Coast saw things even out.
Dem Panopoulos, Liam Salter and myself all managed scores of four, while the Crowd had a rare mishap with a measly three. It now means everyone except me is tied in the lead with 71 points.
Port Adelaide, Sydney, Fremantle, St Kilda, GWS Giants, Richmond, Melbourne
As annoying as Thursday night football’s return is (at least during a bye), at least it’s a cracker to kick things off.
Port Adelaide and Geelong sit alone in a category of teams who, on current form, are clearly a cut above the sides beneath them, but haven’t proven they’re premiership threats in 2021 just yet.
The Power have benefited from a very soft early draw and have consistently been found out against the top sides, while Geelong have been in second gear since the season began.
Home ground advantage means I’ll give the Power the edge here — but I’d safely predict a six-goal loss if they were playing at Kardinia Park.
Sydney are doing just enough to keep themselves in a finals spot, although I’m going against the grain and saying the nine-point margin in their win over St Kilda actually flattered the Saints.
Playing Hawthorn still gives me the jimmies as a Swans fan, but the home side are a huge class above their old rivals at the moment and should get the job done.
Matt Rowell’s return is so good for footy — I just hope he gets through the four quarters unscathed and we get to see what this kid can do with at least half a season of uninterrupted game time.
Unfortunately, it won’t be enough for the Suns against a Fremantle side who are quietly becoming one of the toughest teams to play against on their home deck.
The wheels look to be coming off at Adelaide, unfortunately. The last quarter of their narrow loss to Collingwood would’ve been hard to watch as a Crows fan. I have to go back to Richmond’s last two minutes in the 2012 Karmichael Hunt game to remember the last time I’ve seen a team repeatedly make the worst possible decision every time with the game on the line.
We’ve all figured out St Kilda by now, they love beating up on the lesser teams — so watch them get up by five goals and keep an eye out for the inevitable article talking up their chances of a finals charge.
Greater Western Sydney’s thumping at the hands of Brisbane wasn’t a sign they’re bad, the Lions are just very good. Hobart makes things trickier, but the Giants play okay there and should give the Kangaroos another loss.
West Coast taking on Richmond is a nice bonus belter we weren’t supposed to get until next week. The Eagles have impressed in keeping their heads above water despite a hefty injury toll, but I suspect spending the week in Perth should negate any travel disadvantages for the Tigers.
Finally, Nathan Buckley coaches Collingwood for the last time in the Queen’s Birthday classic. Teams do funny things for coaches in their last ever match, but Melbourne looked too well-drilled to bottle it against the Magpies this time.
In fact, with no disrespect to Bucks, that game is my Shoe-In of the Week.
Geelong, Sydney, Fremantle, St Kilda, GWS Giants, Richmond, Melbourne
Nothing like a little bit of havoc to start off the bye rounds.
A couple of unexpectedly close results made the week a little tougher to tip, and now we have an extra game to account for this week in our attempts to rise up the ladder.
Thursday night footy is back in the bye rounds, which seems like it could’ve been avoided with a modicum of sense, given there are no early afternoon games this weekend.
Anyway, we should be grateful that the weekday game is a ripper between two teams with excellent records yet unconvincing performances.
Geelong have certainly upgraded their team with the changes, while Port remain relatively stagnant and will hope that the bye rounds lit a fire underneath them.
The last time these two played at Adelaide Oval was the Power’s qualifying final win, and you would think that should create some sort of incentive in the Cats.
It’s quite incredible to look at the recent history between Sydney and Hawthorn.
Since the start of 2016, they’ve played eight times, winning four apiece, where six of the games have been decided by less than ten points and the biggest blowout being a 19-point margin. Sydney need to be more convincing this week, but I’m not sure they will be.
Fremantle can’t catch a break with injuries, although they’ll be welcoming back some key talent in Matt Taberner and Alex Pearce, while Gold Coast have announced the return of Matt Rowell.
The Suns have only ever won one game after their bye, while the Dockers have both home ground advantage, and a good record post-break. This’ll be a close game.
The Saints and Crows playing the standalone Saturday night game is hardly awe-inspiring and the ‘home’ team will need to make bulk changes. To save face, they need to win in Cairns.
Surely GWS won’t lose this week having been one of this season’s surprise packets? It really does depend on how many players they’re willing to bring back after long stints on the sidelines, but I don’t have the guts to tip North Melbourne yet.
West Coast won at the SCG, huzzah! Josh Kennedy and Oscar Allen would be very handy inclusion against a Tigers team that barely got out of first gear in an incredible final quarter blitz. Maybe the supporter hat is on in tipping this game.
Finally, it’s the traditional Queen’s Birthday clash at the… SCG. Hopefully we can get the ground packed like Optus Stadium was for Dreamtime and, with the Magpies coming off a win, who knows what could happen?
Actually, I do. The Demons win.
Port Adelaide, Sydney, Fremantle, St Kilda, GWS Giants, Richmond, Melbourne
Another bye round, and another weekend with no footy in Victoria. Shades of 2020, to be honest.
Plenty of intrigue in this week’s matches, with tonight’s encounter between the Cats and Port Adelaide especially enthralling.
Geelong will be looking to break a sobering record – they have failed to win a single immediate post-bye game under Chris Scott’s reign and, to be honest, Port at Adelaide Oval is a tough ask in terms of breaking that streak.
The Cats have been winning without being impressive. That is a trend Port have seemingly embraced in their past few games – a decent win against Freo, barely surviving against the Pies.
The Cats might see the returns of names such as Patrick Dangerfield and Cam Guthrie, but Port are my tip – the Cats’ post-bye record and the Adelaide Oval setting loom too large to ignore.
The stretch of games from Friday through Sunday are largely fizzers. Friday’s is Sydney taking on Hawthorn. These two have played plenty of great Friday night games over the years – this won’t be one of them. The Swans should win by a heap – something their state counterparts in the Giants should also do comfortably against North two days later.
Saturday’s games are a bit meh. The Dockers will seemingly struggle to get a team together, such is the extent of their injury woes, while the Suns are heralding the return of Matt Rowell. That’s scary – but I’ll back in my own team, more out of blind hope than any logic.
The Saints host the Crows – in Cairns! – in what will be a game of…something. I’m not too sure what’s going to happen here, and there’s no number of words I can type that’ll convince myself it’ll be a classic. I’ll back in the Saints for no real discernible reason.
The Eagles host Richmond on Sunday night. I was super impressed with West Coast’s resilience in beating the Blues last weekend, given their injury crisis. That should dissipate a little this week – Josh Kennedy and Oscar Allen should return. The Tigers won a classic against the Bombers and seem to be slowly returning to their best form.
Being at home should comfort the Eagles, but I’ll have to back the Tigers.
The week finishes with Nathan Buckley’s last game as Magpies coach after his shock resignation yesterday, and his team will be desperate to go out on a high.
It’s unfortunate that high is bound to be elusive against the Dees, who remain the competition’s strongest team. Expect the Pies to rally, but they won’t be winning this one to end the Buckley era.
|PA vs GEE||PA||GEE||PA||GEE|
|SYD vs HAW||SYD||SYD||SYD||SYD|
|FRE vs GCS||FRE||FRE||FRE||GCS|
|STK vs ADE||STK||STK||STK||STK|
|NM vs GWS||GWS||GWS||GWS||GWS|
|WCE vs RCH||RCH||RCH||RCH||RCH|
|MEL vs COL||MEL||MEL||MEL||MEL|