Last week 5/8 but a correction to the previous week in which I gave myself 5 when I actually did score 6 gives me 56/77 = 72.7%!!
This little place in which I am working in north east China does not have a problem about spending money on sports stadiums, unlike, say, Perth, who have been debating the expenditure of a mere billion dollars to upgrade facilities to cater for the two Aussie rules teams there, West Coast Eagles and Fremantle Dockers. By the way, as I am teaching English maybe I should be using the plural of stadium as stadia…then again…… Anyway, the city of XinCun is building another stadium similar to the bird’s cage concept built for the Beijing Olympics. That in itself may not be news to you but in an area that has a population of just over 2 million there already exists 2 multimillion dollar stadiums, one in Yixi, just a few kilometres from XinCun and another in Ranghulu a similar distance in the other direction. Again, that may not be news to you but if I told you that NEITHER of the venues is ever used you would have to start scratching your collective heads right?There was a rumour that Daqing would field a footy team (and I use the term ‘footy’ here loosely) so based on the rumour the government in the area, which is awash with oil by the way, built a grand stadium that seats about 50,000 I think. The one in Yixi is an open arena but the one being built now in XinCun will be enclosed in glass or something like Etihad but without the option of opening the roof. That’s a better idea than an open stadium considering the winter temperature here ranges from -39 to -25 resulting in the play area of the Yixi stadium being a sheet of solid ice for at least 4 months of the year and impossibly cold for another 3 months. We foreigners here just wonder about why there are so many grand places to play sport but nobody playing them. Totally empty, vacant, unused stadiums!! Western Australia just needs to discover oil under the ground in Perth and allow oil pumps to be installed everywhere and anywhere to help finance a whole range of public sporting venues for the population including a purpose built AFL stadium! Start drilling now people!
The AFL season is almost half over and as expected the middle range of teams are still madly jostling for position with unpredictable form changes. Geelong, Collingwood, Carlton and Hawthorn will play finals. You can raffle the rest.
Essendon V Melbourne at the MCG Friday night
The Bombers are coming off the bye and the Demons are coming off another hiding. Form has been fairly consistent with Essendon. Can’t say the same for Melbourne. Demon’s coach Bailey is under the pump no doubt and he has made wholesale changes with some welcome returns to the side from injury and suspension. The Bombers also get back Watson. The surprising great form of Essendon is as surprising as the lack of continuation of last year’s form by Melbourne.
Essendon by 29
Geelong V Western Bulldogs at Skilled Stadium Saturday
Not only are the Bulldogs playing poorly they get to meet Geelong at the Cats’ home ground. There are far more problems at the Western Bulldogs than at Geelong where things are purring along nicely with no losses in the first 10 rounds. Make that no losses in the first 11. The Bullies have not won at this venue since Noah was a boy and it would take just that, a form change of biblical proportions for them to make history.
Geelong by 33
West Coast Eagles V Gold Coast Suns Saturday
After the reality check to the Eagles delivered by Collingwood last week it will be the turn of the Suns to see how hard that road trip west really is. The form of West Coast should be good enough to keep the Gold Coast on the bottom. The Suns have amazed us all with two wins already but their inconsistency has meant a win or a thrashing. Could be the latter this week.
West Coast by 52
Collingwood V St Kilda at the MCG Saturday
Supporters of both Collingwood and St Kilda should not expect a repeat of the first grand final played last year between these two teams. However, it is reasonable to assume that the result might be a bit closer to the score of the second grand final they played. The Saints showed some reasonable form over the past two weeks but this is a whole different ball game. I am not so sure that bitter Grand Final memories for St Kilda will be a strong enough motivating factor to beat the Pies. Collingwood can have Dane Swan playing below his best and have Thomas step up. They can lose Ben Johnson to injury and find a surprisingly ready replacement with Leon Davis. Depth of the list and a small injury list can do wonders for team confidence.
Collingwood by 28
Brisbane Lions V Sydney at the Gabba Saturday night
The Swans scraped home by the barest margin last week against the Roos and the Lions gave the Crows a good old fashioned beating at AAMI, not an easy task for some other teams this season so far. Can the Lions string together 3 consecutive wins and arrest a horror start they have had this year? Sydney seems to like close games and this one will be no exception. Get somebodyin the Brisbane team to stop the effectiveness of Goodes and I guarantee victory.
Brisbane by 6
Hawthorn V Fremantle at the MCG Sunday
Lots of injuries and meeting one of the better teams in the competition means Fremantle is in danger of another loss. Add to those reasons another is that the game is at the MCG and I doubt there will be a lot of money on the Dockers to win this one. My money is going on the Hawks. Hodge back to great form and it will be a challenge for MacPharlin to hold Buddy to less than 4. I don’t think that even putting Sandilands back into the team would help Freo.
Hawthorn by 41
North Melbourne V Adelaide at Etihad Sunday
Neither team to make the finals, neither team winning many games, both teams filled with youth and inexperience, neither team filled with a lot of confidence. It all makes for a recipe for a close game and with the season looking like a record for draws this match might test the statistics again. It’s not good tipping to predict a draw so I go for North in a close one but a result of little interest to anybody other than supporters.
North Melbourne 3
Port Adelaide V Carlton at AAMI Sunday
As good as the Power was last week winning unexpectedly against the vastly improved Tigers there is no doubt they will find this a much tougher proposition. As a matter of fact, make that impossible. Carlton is surely top four material and they have beaten the Power at AAMI before. Who does Port have to contain Judd and Murphy? Carlton has a bad habit of allowing these games to be too close at times but even if they opt for a slow start they should win comfortably.
Carlton by 42