I am avoiding chatting about tipping because with 4 rounds to go the ‘ton’ hasn't been cracked yet and it will be round 22 before that actually happens based on existing weekly scores. The tips offered last week were a bit out there and risky but those tips went the wrong way while the so called easier tipping matches turned out to be disastrous upsets! After Essendon beat the Saints last Friday night I was reduced to tears. Fortunately sitting in the Southern Stand to watch Collingwood maul Carlton did bring back a smile to the dial. Apart from that game there was not a lot of joy in a weekend that gave me 3 points.
Good to see the dissatisfaction of direct telecasts is shared here in Victoria as it is, nay, more passionately debated, than in the West. In the day and age of advanced communications we are still reduced to listening to the radio or opening the AFL Match Day website to get current, live scores. Television broadcast rights in the next 5 years from 2012 will be sold for over $1billion and we can only hope that from those negotiations we get direct telecasts of every game and the viewer can choose which game they want to watch and how much they want to pay if they have Foxtel or Austar. Some tricky games again this week, but it’s been like that all year so no good whinging about it now. Good luck.
Essendon V Carlton at the MCG Friday NightBoth these teams have had some big questions asked about them over the past few weeks so it will be interesting to see whether the Blues can respond as well as Essendon did. No idea as to who will win. The way Ratten criticised his players after their insipid effort last week against Collingwood we can expect some early fireworks in the game with the Blues needing to show some aggression. It’s doubtful a young Essendon side will back away so an early brawl will probably settle a few nerves. Unfortunately $25000 worth of AFL imposed fines for ugly brawls doesn't actually mean either team played strong, gutsy football. Carlton has to win to stay in the top 8 and the Bombers need to win to ensure they keep their finals’ chances alive. Interesting scenario.
North Melbourne V Fremantle at Etihad SaturdayNorth has the habit this season of winning after a bad loss but Freo got their season a bit back on track with a big win against West Coast. The loss of Ballantyne for the Dockers might tip this game in North’s way. The withdrawal of Sandilands will add to the Dockers’ woes. Tarrant is out for the season. The injury list at Fremantle is really threatening any success they may have hoped for in the finals. Maintaining success is closely related to a low injury list. While a win to North won't get them into the top 8 it will put pressure on teams like Sydney and Carlton who both have tough games this weekend. Keeping in line with the upcoming elections it seems the Arden Street oval surface will be upgraded by the ALP?? Don't ask.
North Melbourne by 23
Sydney V Hawthorn at the SCG SaturdayA loss last week by the Hawks against a resurgent Port Adelaide will have done nothing for their confidence but the same goes for Sydney who were thrashed by Geelong. Both teams really need to win to consolidate top 8 positions. Should be close. The Hawks don't depend on Cyril Rioli to win games but his two week suspension has not come at a good time. If Hawthorn can hold Goodes to a mediocre game they can win as Sydney seem to have too many players playing below their best which is reflected in their poor second half of the season. Expect a tough, rough encounter as both teams need to win badly.
Hawthorn by 11
Geelong V Collingwood at the MCG Saturday nightCancel all other activities and sit down and watch the two best teams in the competition this year slug it out in front of 90,000 at the ‘G’. The Pies need to reverse the result from the last game to give them the credibility of a flag win this year. Tough ask. Collingwood will have to maintain pressure football because you let Geelong off the leash for 10 minutes they are likely to put on 4 or 5 quick goals. The quality of their players all over the ground is far better than all other teams – the reason they’re so good I guess. But you have to like Collingwood’s style and commitment. They slacked off in the last quarter against Carlton, something they will not want to do against the Cats although it’s impossible to think that they will be 73 points ahead at any stage of the game. Dane Swan and Gary Ablett. Ottens and Jolly. Chapman and Maxwell. O’Brien and Johnson. Bartel and Beames. And so on. Both teams field very good players. Should be a cracker!
Collingwood by 11
West Coast Eagles V Brisbane Lions at Subiaco Saturday nightWith a direct telecast around the country of the blockbuster at the MCG the interest in this bottom of the ladder clash is negligible. The Eagles can get off the bottom with a win and Brisbane can ensure the Eagles stay on the bottom with a win. Yawn. Biggest news about this game seems to be the misspelling of Eagles player mCkenzie's name (sic) by the AFL and oops! he was supposed to be suspended. Worsfold has finally admitted that his job is finished if the Eagles don't improve next year and I guess with a year of less injuries they should do better next season if that eventuates. Maybe get Cousins back in the line up if he’s out of contract at Richmond? Just a thought. The Lions will also undergo a microscopic inspection of their football performance this year but no blame is being laid at the feet of the coach Michael Voss. Who knows? Miserable seasons for both teams.
West Coast by 15
St Kilda V Port Adelaide at Etihad SundayThe Saints are on an upper and the Power is on an upper. Somewhere in the middle there will be a result. Can Port really beat the Saints at home? It’s certainly possible with the Port players performing much better under new coach Primus. The Saints managed without Reiwoldt for 3 months but it seems his return has now unbalanced the team and they have not been convincing since Nick came back. The Saints need to win to maintain a strong presence in the top 4 and Port will want a win to maintain that forward impetus of the past couple of weeks. The Saints should be too good but it won't be easy.
St Kilda by 29
Melbourne V Richmond at the MCG SundayThis is an interesting game as the Demons and the Tigers have been the big improvers in the AFL this year. It seems the Dees have come on a bit better than the Tigers and incredibly a win here puts them right in contention to pinch a place in the finals. Interest remains with Jack Reiwoldt for Richmond and whether he can continue kicking goals and win the Coleman medal. He is level with Barry Hall on 65 but as a forward I would prefer delivery from the Bulldogs ball players than Richmond’s. Ben Cousins has to put in another good performance to keep his name in lights for the 2011 Richmond team. Brad Greene is having a great time up forward for the Dees, a statement you couldn't make last year, or the year before, or the year before that, or….you get the idea. Colin Sylvia plays his 100th for Melbourne and he has been hot the past few weeks. I think Melbourne has a bit more to play for.
Melbourne by 20
Adelaide V Western Bulldogs at AAMI SundayThe Bulldogs seem to have sorted out a lot of mid season problems and are playing some pretty slick football. The late rush by Adelaide has fallen on its sword and they have no hope of winning this game. Home ground advantage enables us to lower the margin accordingly from 10 goals. A strong backline might stop Barry Hall from kicking 5 but I think not. Barry will be on 70 at the close of the weekend’s AFL round 19.
Western Bulldogs by 49