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AFL Round 7 Preview
Now I posted a ‘season so far‘ piece and mentioned that there was only 4 games of interest this weekend. May have worded that a bit too strongly, what I mean is there are 4 BIG games and the rest aren’t going to match the hype and hysteria or the football brilliance that will be displayed by the best sides. The big games this week as they are every week are the reason we watch and love the game, in any sport you want to see the best play the best and Friday night we have 2 undefeated sides clashing, can’t ask for much more than that!
Say what you will about the Bombers whether they did or didn’t take peptides (I believe they did for what it’s worth) but it’s hard to fault their on-field performances this year. Last week they were a tad off the ball to start off against the Giants, but the result was always inevitable. Geelong came off a barnstorming win against Richmond, who did test for most of the game but the Cats did what they do best and applied just enough pressure for the Tiges to crack. On the stats sheet the Bombers lead in most areas but only just, showing how tight the teams are, but as far as experience in the big tough games, very hard to go past the Cats, who have also won 10 of the last 12 between the sides. Bombers have some decent in’s this week too, welcoming back Hurley, Heppel, old man Fletcher at 38yrs of age, and Carlisle who has been impressive, but interestingly is Ryder only an emergency. More often than not he would be picked in the best 22, but perhaps there’s a niggling injury there for Patty. Do feel, if the Bombers can somehow score a win here, and providing ASADA don’t have anything to say about it, this could be a real chance to prove they are a premiership threat early on. But it’s so hard to tip against Geelong, patchy form or not, they have what it takes to win tight games. Tipping the Cats here.
Saturday’s best games start with an intriguing encounter at AAMI Stadium with the impressive Power hosting Richmond, in what could be an even tighter game than the Friday night blockbuster. Richmond were and have been competitive with the best sides but have failed in the final qtrs where it counts most. I doubt it’s down to fitness, but lack of speed hurts and decision making hasn’t been the Tiger’s strength for well….a decade! Nor has it been for Port but you can’t take away from them the exceptional start to the season they have had. 5 on the trot then last week, had it not been for a very slow start and a very unfavourable free kick count (38-15) they may well have gotten over the top of the Kangas instead of a 10pt loss. The concern for Port like it has been for a few weeks, is this a bubble about to burst or are they the real deal, hard question to answer especially 7weeks in. Richmond we predicted to be lower than what they are now but one gets the feeling, 4 losses in a row if they go down to Port this round, and the chances of finals won’t be so good. Tipping Port at home, but expecting a tight game, these teams finished off their seasons with a draw last year and expecting it to be a close call again. This game could well be determined early on, Port have lost most of their first qtrs and Richmond has won all of them. So if the Power start well early, expect a victory to the home side.
The 2 Saturday night games round out the ‘must watch’ games for the round, first up the big one, the Grand Final rematch between the Hawks and the Swans at the MCG. Last year’s granny was one of the best, a brilliant display of all that is good about football, and if we get half the quality in Saturday’s game we are in for a treat. Hawthorn will be out for some revenge no doubt and while both sides have looked good but below their peak, the Hawks have been tested slightly more, struggling to get over the line against the Crows last week. Neither side has changed their team from last week showing how fortunate both sides are, and Brian Lake has been a more than handy addition to this already strong Hawks side and will play his 200th this game. The Swans smashed the hapless Lions early on in their game last week which is a common trend now used against the weaker sides. Blow them away early and then cruise along, but that won’t work this week! Sydney are one of the most versatile sides with players that can play forward and back and seemingly everyone rotates and runs through the centre, yes most teams do this now, but Sydney have the perfect mix of players to do this, much like Geelong. Jetta played as good as any time he has played and Reid is building confidence now after being Missing in Action for sometime. Leaning towards Hawthorn here only just, the fire power in their forward line looks more dangerous that Sydney’s just now.
Second up Saturday night and the last of our big previews this week is Fremantle hosting Collingwood over in Perth. Both sides are 4-2 so far, although Freo looking slightly worse for wear on the team sheet with some key players injured. The Pies have started to flex their muscles now, a convincing win Friday night against the Saints did plenty for the confidence and Travis is now showing that when in form (and contracted) he is one of the best Forwards in the game. Moreso after the crazy rule explanation of push in the back by umpiring coach Jeff Geischen. (As much as I feel there could be 2 coaches sacked after this round, Geisch and his umpiring panel have ruined the basics of our great game more than anyone else). Fremantle has fully embraced Lyon’s tactics of stingey defence with the 3rd best in the AFL statistically, but this will prove a challenge for one of the supposed best coaches in the game. Pies have a brilliant on the road record, and have a very potent forward line so for Freo to win, they need to shutdown as many entries as possible, and right now their forward line is all small speedy guys much like Essendon’s. Perhaps they will have watched the Anzac day clash and will follow how the Bomber’s won that match? Liking Freo at home, JUST, in another very tight game, feel this is the match where they can go out and prove to the rest of the comp they are a genuine threat esp at home.
So now the Best 4 are previewed, our final 5 games will be just short run throughs, saves having to type half a bloody novel about games that won’t inspire as much. That saying, always surprises in footy!
Lions v Eagles at the Gabba: Simply put, Voss is in big trouble if his side continues to get blown out of contention early in games. It’s one thing to lose by 10goals to last years premiers, but to show nothing in the first term and be down by 6goals early is unacceptable. Fans switched off early to save themselves the pain. Likewise the pressure is on Worsfold with his West Coast side, who have been less than impressive particularly in front of goal. A confidence boosting shellacking over the Bulldogs may be the start of a winning roll for them. Some very good in’s including NicNat last week for the Eagles and Black is back for the home side. Can’t see the Lions winning this, even though the Gabba fixture last year went down to the wire and a torpedo goal from Polkinghorne snatched the win for Brisbane. West Coast by plenty.
Bulldogs v Kangaroos at Etihad: The Kangas should just win this, no reason why they shouldn’t. The Bulldogs have been poor and thankfully other Victorian clubs have been worse so they haven’t been in the spotlight so much, that plus on face value, coach McCartney seems a very knowledgeable and likeable guy. As we all know, nice guys don’t always make good coaches, and it’s showing that the team has slowly got worse each game. The Kangas really need to show how they can finish a game, if they are ahead come 3qtr time they should ‘go for the jugular’ and bury the Dogs and not be accepting of cruising over the line.
GWS v Adelaide at Skoda: First game of the season at their home stadium for the Giants, and they were very impressive in their first half last week against the Bombers particularly a stellar 6 goal effort from Jeremy Cameron. Him facing Talia in the backline for the Crows will be a battle that will hopefully last many years as both guys are brilliant at what they do. Sydney though is a happy hunting ground for the Crows winning it’s past 5 against GWS and the Swans, and even with no Walker this should still be a comfortable win to Adelaide.
Melbourne v Gold Coast at the MCG: Could this be the Sun’s first win on the hallowed MCG turf? My heart says yes but my head is confused and unsure. The Dees have been poor, every man and his dog have laid into them in recent years so I won’t go too deep into their issues, but coach Mark Neeld must be worried about this clash. It was always going to happen at some stage where the new sides would overtake the established sides and this week could be that point in time. The Suns lack grunt and aggression across the whole 22 but they have much better skills than Melbourne, and with their proper leader Nathan Jones now captain (temporarily for now) this should bring out some sort of effort from the Dees. Tipping Gold Coast but not with 100% confidence, a proper 50/50 game. Put it this way, against GWS at 3qtr time Melbourne were down and out, until a record breaking 12goal final term won the game for them. I can not see any other team in the comp allowing this, and if the Suns are ahead or within range at 3qtr time, they will win, with Ablett to run riot.
St Kilda v Carlton at Etihad: Suddenly the Blues have got into some red hot form, and are looking the goods albeit a 10goal win over Melbourne isn’t as convincing as their previous 2 wins. Judd has also re-signed for another season, and the form of Murphy and Betts has been excellent recently. Waite out after the one game back is frustrating, but as we’ve seen from having a fast forward line like the Bombers and Freo, it can work so with Betts, Garlett, Yarran and if he can get into a groove Walker up front, against a weak backline of the Saints they should win. St Kilda have just the one win, albeit against the GWS so fair to say they aren’t in the best of form, bar skipper Riewoldt who is moving better than ever. Can’t pick many reasons for the Saints to win this, maybe because it’s a Monday night game? Maybe Malthouse will feel now he is winning games he can implement his defensive gameplan and let the Saints within a sniff? Milne and Riewoldt do have a good record against Carlton with 81 goals combined against them, and surprisingly have a very good record over the Blues in the past decade, but tipping Carlton here.
So, recapping our tips: Geelong, Port, West Coast, North Melbourne, Fremantle, Hawthorn, Adelaide, Gold Coast and Carlton. Follow on Twitter @mugpuntaus and @AfterTheClock Best of luck for the weekend and may your side win!