2019 Rounds 1-8

Round 1 begins Thursday 21 Match 7.20pm AEDT

Home Team                                  Away Team                     Gnd                     Date     

Carlton                            v            Richmond                       MCG                   Mar 21 (Thu 7:20pm)   

Collingwood                   v            Geelong                           MCG                   Mar 22 (Fri 7:50pm)             

Melbourne                     v            Port Adelaide                 MCG                   Mar 23 (Sat 1:45pm)     

Adelaide                          v            Hawthorn                       AO                       Mar 23 (Sat 4:35pm)     

Western Bulldogs           v            Sydney                            Docklands          Mar 23 (Sat 7:25pm)     

Brisbane Lions               v            West Coast                      Gabba               Mar 23 (Sat 8:20pm)     

St Kilda                            v            Gold Coast                      Docklands          Mar 24 (Sun 1:10pm)   

GWS Giants                    v            Essendon                        Syd Showgrounds Mar 24 (Sun 3:20pm)   

Fremantle                       v            North Melbourne           Perth Stadium   Mar 24 (Sun 6:20pm)

At this stage, fine weather expected at all venues this round. Added 21 March 2019; NOW hey say we might have showers and storms on Saturday in Melbourne; keep this in mind for the Dees / Power game.

In brief, my tips are Richmond, Geelong, Melbourne, Adelaide, Western Bulldogs, West Coast Eagles, St Kilda, GWS Giants and North Melbourne. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that it is a very tricky first round containing several tough games.

Let’s begin with the easier ones. Richmond and GWS are my certs; I am highly confident about the Crows and Saints, without going overboard.

I covered Richmond and Adelaide in my Quick 2019 preview
I expect both teams to get out the blocks well and have a good first term, then never be headed. This is the general pattern of teams that:
A: win big 2 years prior and then somewhat disappoint the following year (Tigers); or
B: lose a grand final 2 years prior and then follow it up with a bad year (Crows).

Note added early 21 march 2019 – I am slightly concerned that the Tigers selected Tom Lynch to play; I don’t like teams playing underdone players in round 1; Nick Vlaustin could also be a bit underdone; Lynch terrified the Blues in round 2 last year when he booted 8 for the Suns; the Blues have Fasolo in the team and he is also underdone to a degree; someone also said that they have 13 player sin the team who did not play in the round 23 game last season; that is I will stick with the Tigers as certs, but just.

My main reason for confidence in GWS is the injury situation at Essendon. Joe Daniher was looking to playing R1, but is now gone for several weeks. The Bombers are slightly worse off than the Giants and play away. I am surprised at home many people are tipping Essendon.

The Dees should beat Port, but I am a little concerned about the outs for them first up. And everyone has written off the Power – who are a 7-12 type team, not a bottom four prospect.

The Saints look better this year than in 2018 and should beat the Suns (who are starting from scratch virtually). My hesitation about St Kilda is that they have the burden of expectation in this game. I would feel happier had they been in a 50/50 type game or been slight underdogs.

David King mentioned that the Eagles and Pies have had the shortest pre-season ever, due to the new agreement with the Players Association and the AFL on leave time. While this affects all clubs, it is now more severe on teams playing deep into September.

As such, I reckon the Eagles are slightly too highly fancied away against the Lions. It is close to a 50/50 game and the result might depend on whether the Lions can hold their nerve and “believe”. Also, watch for the chance of increasing humidity during the evening. All these factors combined makes this contest an EXTREME variance affair.

The Pies have to battle the shortened off-season, interrupted pre seasons for multiple players and an opponent that has had its best pre-season for a few years. The Cats are slight underdogs but deserve to be narrow favourites for this contest.

The final two matches are EXTREME variances cases. I am not too sure about all four teams. The Swans enter the year with big man problems – missing early on will be Buddy Franklin, Sam Naismith, Darcy Cameron and Jack Maibaum. The Dogs aren’t flying either and I would avoid this match if I could. Dogs just (as slight outsiders).

The injury + underdone quotient for the final game (Dockers versus Roos) is 44 – the highest of any game this weekend. Dockers 25 and Roos 19. The Dockers forward line looks likely to beat an inexperienced Roos defence (Scott Thompson suspended and Robbie Tarrant injured or underdone), Majak Daw still recovering and Marley Williams facing a test. But the Roos should win in the centre and maybe win the game. Another game to avoid.

A final comment on the Dockers: teams that get flogged in the final pre-season official game often enter round 1 somewhat under the pump. The worst performed team in JLT week 2 was Fremantle. Teams coming into the season like this typically are competitive in the first term but drop away n the second quarter. I expect this to occur again for the Dockers.

My two MAIN TIPS would be the Crows to win by over 4 goals and Giants by over 2 goals.

If you have a bad round 1 in tipping, just remember that there are 22 rounds to go and put your problems into context by comparing your woes to the troubles occurring worldwide.
Penny Dredfell Mon 18 March 2019

Round 1 Review (begun 25 March 2019)
I am stressed out that we have a Thursday night game for round 2. I need all week to review a bizarre set of results; I will do the best I can with the time I have available.

First up, I tipped 5 out of 9; this would normally be a disaster, but this was reasonable. In fact, there ended up being a multitude of upsets.
Cats – minor upsets; expected to lose by 8; won by 7
Port – huge upset; expected to lose by 21; won by 26
Hawks – huge upset; expected to lose by 19; won by 32
Lions – huge upset in terms of margin; expected to lose by 13 won by 44

On top of that, the last two games saw huge wins to the Giants (slight favourites and won by 78) and the Dockers (began the week as slight favourites but were slight underdogs come game time – and the won by 82).

One of my absolute certs lost in the Crows; the others (Tigers and Giants) were always going to win. My best comments were that the Dockers / Roos game would be an EXTREME variance game; that was true – with the result being over 80 points away from expectations.

Favourites that lost:
Magpies (only narrow favourites) – had more players underdone and the Cats had a relatively smooth pre-season
Dees – several midfield players underdone; Gawn had a minor op during the week
Crows – I am running with multiple theories here; one possibility is that Sam Mitchell is the best assistant coach going around; in his first year in the role (he was a player at WCE in 2017) the Eagles win a flag; round 1 this year the “Mitchell-less” Eagles flop and the Hawks (with Mitchell as an assistant) have an impressive win over the Crows.

The second theory is that it is a blip on the radar and the Crows just had a shocker. The reasons for the shocker:
A: they just believed the hype and thought it was won before the game started (unlikely)
B: they were distracted by the other games on beforehand – Crows AFLW team romping to victory and Port having a famous victory over the Dees; these two games would have been of far more interest to the Crows players than those of Hawthorn

The problem is that we have only got one game to base all this stuff on; it makes it especially difficult to rate Hawthorn; their win seems to have been built on manic pressure more so than superior skill.

On to Essendon: coach Worsfold noted the long gap between JLT2 and round 1 for them and round 1 (17 days); it was 16 days for their opponents GWS, so it’s not the comparison that is the issue. It’s that the Bombers – hyped up pre-season as they were – may have already played the game in their head. This perfectly explains their apparent lack of intensity; this is similar to a team playing finals for the first time if they put in a shocker. I, for one, am buying it. But they also had several players underdone and so it remains to be seen how well they can bounce back.

Round 2 begins Thursday 28 Match 7.20pm AEDT
SYD VS ADEL SCG 29 MARCH 7.50PM AEDT possible late shower
PORT V CAR ADEL OVAL 30 MARCH 5.10PM AEDT possible shower
GEEL V MELB KARDINIA PARK 30 MARCH 7.25PM AEDT (might be wet and windy)
HAW V WBD MCG 31 MARCH 3.20PM AEDT (small chance of a shower)

Notes: Qld is currently on 1 hour behind the rest of the east coast
There is no Saturday afternoon game as per normal. One would expect that it is because of the AFLW grand final… but no! That is in Adelaide on Sunday head to head against the Roos vs Lions game!!!???!!

This is another tough round and not one where teams can be tipped with great confidence. If you need to tip one cert, then Port looks the one. I would shy away from tipping the Bombers as certs and am still making up my mind on whether the Dockers should be considered certs against the Suns at the Gold Coast.

This bit added late 27 March 2019
For those who have to tip all games on Thursday, a brief summary:
Collingwood (but this is a 50/50 game)
Adelaide (quite confident)
Essendon (50/50 game and may change once I have done more work on it)
Port (my only cert for the round)
Geelong (but not certs)
WCE (again, not certs – almost a 50/50 game)
Brisbane (50/50 game)
Hawthorn (not certs)
Freo (not certs at this juncture)

This bit added Thursday day time 28 March 2019 prior to the first game of the round.

Port followed a familiar pattern which occurs from time to time; it’s when an underdog looks to be no hope early on; then fights back in the second term; then takes control of the game. Much can be said about this pattern, but all I need to say is that team following this pattern tend to do well the following week when playing opposition in the bottom portion of the ladder. I expect them to be absolute certs against Carlton despite:?
A: having a shorter break; and
B: the concern that the debutantes may not come up as well in week 2 (especially confident Drew can back it up as he is not a first year player)

A quick look at the Bombers, Roos and Eagles; all three had shockers last week and all three are favourites this weekend. when lowly ranked teams fall away badly late in round 1, it is a bad sign for them. All these three teams were poor late in the contest last week. But none came into the season rated that badly. I am very wary about all three this weekend. The Eagles and Roos both get a big home ground advantage.

The Bombers play the Saints; St Kilda only beat the Suns at home by a point – possibly the worst winning form in round 1 for some time. This is their first 4 points since beating Carlton in round 17 last year; since then, they lost 6 in a row. Normally, when a team like St Kilda breaks a losing streak of this length with an unimpressive win over a bottom side, then they come out all guns blazing the following week. This is because the pressure valve has been released. Will this work for the Saints, given that there was a break of several months following the series of losses (and then they won both JLT games)? I’m uncertain. But if the technical trend does kick in, then the Saints will have a big lead at quarter time (say 4 – 5 goals) and then never be headed. Wish I would be of more help, except to warn you about these games.

Next update AFTER the Pies / Tigers game

Added 29 March 2019 – by the time this goes to the airwaves, it will be about 5.25pm AEDT; JTL (Just Too Late) for many; humble apologies; right now I am running the entire Longggey organisation alone; the offices at 777 Nonex Street, Melbourne are empty apart from me; I have do do the purchasing work because they purchasing team of Justin Time, Justin Case and Justin Nuff are on leave; Longggey is still in Queensland droving (or was that “roving”); anyway, I have done work on the AS Absolute Shockers in round 1 back to 2012. I define it as a loss AND 36 points or more worse than expected.

yearteamrtgopprtg h/a?expactvar

Pies vs Dogs Friday

The above table gives the teams, their opponents and how they went versus expectations.
EG 2018 Dogs (WB) played Giants (GW) away and were expected to lose by 17 points; they lost by 82, which was 65 points worse than expected; hence they qualify.

How the teams fared in round 2: on average the teams which had a shocker in round 1 performed 17 points worse than expected in round 2. Drilling down a bit further, the 3 bottom rated teams in this list were 68 points worse than expected on average in round 2 (that is the biggest variance from expectation I have ever seen, albeit the sample size is only 3); the middle rated teams performed 13 points less than expected in round 2; and the top teams fared 23 points better than expected in round 2 (sample size of 3 and 1 of the 3 underperformed and lost).

All three teams losing to bottom rated teams underperformed the following week, but two of these were, themselves, bottom rated anyway, so it’s almost the same data as the underlined comments in the above paragraph.

Teams losing to mid rated teams were, on average, 9 points below par in round 2; teams losing to top teams in round 1 averaged 3 points worse than expected the following week, but the individual figures are -58 (58 points worse than expected), 63, 4, -37 and 12 – so it is all over the place like a pack of cards after a windstorm.

Teams that had a shocker at home performed 27 points below par in round 2.

Teams playing a bottom rated team in week 2: there were three of them and they returned 63, -51 and 49 (again, all over the place with a monstrously high average variance of 54 – got by averaging the absolutes of these numbers); teams playing mid rated teams in round 2 averaged 23 points below par and it was 33 below par for teams playing top teams in round 2.

Putting all that together for the 5 teams who put in shockers last weekend:
Dees – they are still rated a top team by me; that is a tick for their round 2 chances; but they play Geelong who are borderline between middle and top; that is a minus; I give the Dees a chance, but won’t tip them

I also rated the Crows as a top team; that is a tick for their round 2 chances; I rate the Swans a middle of the road team (a cross for the Crows); but I also reckon that the Crows had a much smoother pre-season than the Swans, so I am heavily leaning to the Crows top team status to get them over the line tonight;.

Next top rated team is the Eagles; their prognosis is also mixed – top team; tick for round 2; playing a top or middle team, a cross; I am tipping the Eagles without confidence.

Essendon: to Bombers fans – don’t panic or stress out too much; however, I did buy shares on Monday in an Essendon based valium company; prices sky-rocketed during the week; should I sell now? or hang out for more profit come Monday?

Essendon is a mid ranked team – cross; the team they play (Saints) are probably bottom ranked; but maybe they can be considered as middle ranked; if middle ranked, then I would tip the Bombers to lose; if the Saints are bottom ranked, my tip would be for an EXTREME variance from the expected. TO summarise, I am suggesting the the Bombers will either lose – or win by more than 7 goals; and, as stated above, there is a chance the Saints may get off to an absolute flier and never be headed. If only I could tip at the 10 minute mark of the first term. The Saints had HUGE pressure on them last weekend; they get a free swing this time. I am tipping Essendon with ZERO confidence

Finally on to the Roos; they are a classic mid rated team – negative for their round 2 chances; they play a team that has probably just moved from bottom rated to middle rated; this is also bad for the Roos; and they have more injuries than the Lions; plus their defence is a little unsettled (lost EVW last week to an ACL, but get Scott Thompson back from suspension; in summary, I am sticking with Brisbane as my tip, but will mark this game as an EXTREME variance game – so little confidence in the tip and either team could win big!

Last comment on the Hawks; Scully in!!! shock; not sure he will be a huge success first up. I will watch with interest.

Once again, apologies for lateness and enjoy your tipping; it’s only round 2! Don’t get too stressed!

Round 2 review
Collingwood defeated Richmond by 44 points; this was a very good win by the Pies; it was a case of the stars not firing for the Tigers; Alex Rance was gone; Dusty Martin struggled and Jack Riewoldt got injured; with Kamdyn McIntosh copping a corkie in Q3. The Pies ran away with the game late; glad to have tipped the Pies, but it was a line-ball decision. Pies backed up their “most positive of the losers” tag after round 1 to put things right against the Tigers; Dusty has struggled early this season

Adelaide defeated Sydney Swans by 26 points; this was my best analysis for the week; the Swans were slight favourites but that was only because the footy public hadn’t forgiven the Crows for their poor showing against the Hawks first up. Josh Jenkins and Taylor Walker stepped up for the Crows; the Swans look a bit underdone and Buddy isn’t 100%, despite contributing well; Isaac Heeney played a bit sore, according to his coach after the game. Check out Paul Seedsman 70 metre torp on the quarter time siren!

St Kilda defeated Essendon by 11 points; it would’ve felt like a 111 point loss to Bomber fans looking on. Danny Frawley on SEN pointed out that the Saints actually came into the game with better form than the Dons; I am pleased to have steered people away from jumping on the Bombers as absolute certs; but also disappointed that I was a bit woosie in not tipping the Saints outright; as for the technical trend on the Saints (see above and where they could lead by 4-5 goals at quarter time and then maintain the lead thereafter) – well, it looked a chance early on, but the Saints blew multiple chances; they did manage to maintain their lead all day, but it wasn’t really the technical pattern I might have expected. Drats! I sold those valium shares late Friday! If Bomber fans need an excuse, the late start is it. Why wasn’t this a 2pm approx start? 8th wonder of the modern world.

Port defeated Carlton by 16 points; it wasn’t quite the “walk in the park” I was expecting, but at least they won and were able to make sure of it late in the contest. I note 2 reasons for the low margin.
A: I should have taken this into account; coach Ken Hinkley said after the win over Melbourne that it was the greatest win he has been involved with at Port – including finals games; then, to play Carlton at home the next week – a slight downturn in form was to be expected.
B: Port was slightly worse off than the Blues in terms of injury on the day.
Because of this, I want to hold off on upgrading the Blues.

Geelong defeated Melbourne by 80 points; this was the most surprising result of the weekend for me; I expected a tight contest in the tough weather conditions (even though it is true that teams getting a break in bad weather often go on to a big win); the inexperienced Tom Sparrow and debutante Jay Lockhart struggled and the Dees still have some players underdone; the Dees won the inside 50s, but their conversion rate was awful; a fan said on talkback that their forward line is really struggling at present and is their weakness; it was wet and difficult down at the Cattery on the night, so that might explain things a bit; but the Cats were extremely efficient inside 50.

West Coast Eagles defeated GWS Giants by 52 points; the Eagles made the capitulation against the Lions last week look like an aberration; also maybe the win against Essendon in round 1 over-flattered the Giants; the Giants also came off a shorter break (6 vs 7); the teams with shorter breaks than their opponents (days from their round 1 to round 2 matches) were Collingwod, Port, Melbourne, the Giants and the Roos; three teams lost, one winner underperformed; in fact, only Collingwood from this group exceeded expectations. Even so, the margin of 52 points was a bit of a shock.

I am taking a break and will review the Sunday games in a few days; regrettably there is yet ANOTHER Thursday night game to begin round 3.

Brisbane defeated North Melbourne by 20 points; the Lions were able to back up their good form of round 1 with a come from behind win away over the Roos; when Trent Dumont was a late withdrawal for North, I felt more confident about my tip; the Roos may, perhaps, have had more injury troubles on the day, but the underdone-ness of some of their players may have aided in them being overrun

Western Bulldogs defeated Hawthorn by 19 points; many viewers turned off at the last break because the game was cooked; but several factors kicked in to get the Dogs over the line; firstly, 22 goals were kicked at the end to which the Dogs were headed in the final term; only 7 goals were kicked at the other end; next, the Hawks had some dubious decisions go against them; thirdly, Sicily gave away a 50 metre penalty (he was only a few metres out from goal but on an angle anyway, but he gifted a goal to the Dogs); fourthly, the Hawks were down 2 players (Shaun Burgoyne and Liam Shiels with hammies for a large chunk of the final term; lastly, Tom Scully debuted for the Hawks and was underdone; he may have played less minutes had they had a full bench; all that aside, few teams win after being 5 goals down at the last break – less than a dozen times in the past 25 years; while the Hawks will ponder how it got away, the Dogs should be given credit for not dropping their bundle and capitalising on the opponent’s problems. The Dogs won the Supercoach score 1757 to 1541, which was a convincing “win” in the stats

Gold Coast Suns defeated Fremantle by 3 points; this win was the best feel good story of the round, because many were tipping the Suns to go through the entire season without a win

Round 3 begins Thursday 04 April 7.50pm AEDT (7.20pm in S. A.)

ADEL V GEEL MCG 04 APRIL 7.50PM AEDT a warm day – top of 31 and dropping to 22 overnight
COLL V WCE MCG 06 APRIL 7.25PM AEDT early showers are expected to be long gone by game time
BRIS V PORT GABBA 06 APRIL 7.25PM AEDT possibility of high humidity during the game – especially in the second half

My tips on Wednesday night are:
Crows (just)
Melbourne (not certs)
Sydney (not certs)
Giants (quite confident)
Collingwood (not certs)
Brisbane (just)
Dogs (certs)
Hawks (not certs)
Dockers (but a danger game)

These may change as teams come in; beware! it is a tough round

Added 4.00pm Thursday 04 April 2019.
Let’s have a look at the first two games:
Crows at home to Geelong – I don’t really like this game; the Crows are on a 6 day break and the Cats a 5 day break. Whoever recovers better from last week will benefit. The Crows lose Sam “Sauce” Jacobs. It will be left to his deputy, Reilly O’Brien with help from Josh Jenkins to fill in. How well they do will have a bearing on the outcome. I reckon they will do okay. The Cats played in the wet on Saturday night. This may be good (better than playing on a flint hard surface and having players suffering stress as a result), so long as none caught colds. Both team are doing extra well now; the Crows were poor in round 1, but convinced me last weekend that they are back on track. Given the short break and the query on the Crows’ ruck division, I am marking this as an extreme variance game; and any team establishing a decent break will be hard to reel in. Forced against my will to tip – Crows narrowly, but anything could happen.

Dees and Bombers at the MCG – how bad is Essendon? A young man phones home after day 1 of World Series Skunk Impersonators.
“How did you go?”, asked his father.
“I really stunk it up, dad!”, replied a contented son.
“Well done, son”
Regrettably, it is a negative for Don fans when their their stinks it up. That’s what they have done so far, say the experts. But they were better in round 2 – albeit with an easier assignment (Saints at the Docklands after an away game against GWS). Robert Murphy gave us a great insight into how the Essendon players might feel at present. The example was the player who wandered off to the interchange when the ball was just a few metres away. Murph said that when a team is in the situation in which the Bombers find themselves, they can think about what instead of why. So a player is told to come off after 8 minutes. That becomes the sole focus (so that he cannot be blamed) and he gets tunnel-visioned, wandering off with the ball a few metres away. Had he been thinking about why, he would’ve gone for the ball and then exited at the next available opportunity.

The Bombers need to amend their mindset to help them return to the winners’ list. In my opinion, the Bombers are an 8-12 type team. Right now, they are down on confidence, have a few players out injured (or about to come back but short of conditioning) and a few playing underdone. They will improve if they don’t cop extra injuries and face Dees, Lions, Roos, Cats and Pies all in Melbourne in coming matches. In order to be finals relevant, they will need to win this week or beat the Lions next week.

The Dees’ woes look as bad, but they did manage 73 inside 50s against the top rated Geelong defence. They missed some half chances and had a few fumbles last weekend – resulting in a paltry 6:10 46 score line; Tom Mcdonald admitted to being below best form, Jesse Hogan is gone, while a couple of small forwards are injured. Nonetheless, they look far more likely than Essendon to rebound.

I don’t like tipping teams in Melbourne’s shoes as certs; so I am tipping them confidently, but with a small ? after the tip.

I will look the Blues and Port games together. They played last weekend – with Port narrowly winning as hot favourites after a real struggle. I reckon this score line was a false lead; see my comments in the round 2 review above.

Blues and Swans at the Docklands – two reasons I like the Swans:
A: they play the Docklands very well
B: the false lead of the Blues / Port game last weekend (Port coming of “their best win in Ken Hinkley’s time – including finals); with the Swans 0-2`and facing a home game against Melbourne, they will be desperate to get on the board this weekend and gain momentum (the Blues will be desperate also, but they aren’t realistically in the finals race).
Also, Isaac Heeney played a bit hurt last weekend; and the Swans get an extra day’s rest.
The Swans are like the Dees; I am tipping them, but will cool my jets on getting too confident on them winning; they also have a ? alongside their name.

Port travelling to the Gabba to play Brisbane – the Lions deserve favouritism on the back of two good wins. Teams from a low ladder position the previous year that string a couple of wins together at the start of the next season often hold their form line for 4 – 6 weeks at least. for that reason, the Lions look a good tip; but Port (which went from finals certs to missing out late last season) were tipped by many to be a bottom four team this year; with the recruits firing and Willem Drew finally being fit, they blew the Dees away and then fell over the line against the Blues; the pressure will be on the Lions in this contest. It will be a test of their nerve to see if they can sustain their form.
Helping them will be the likely high humidity; this alone is enough for me to tip the Lions; I reckon that Port will lead at half time and then get overrun by the Lions. But I am very wary about this game and list it as an EXTREME variance game.

GWS vs Richmond; Josh Kelly is expected back and maybe Shane Mumford as well for the Giants; the Tigers have definitely lost Jack Riewoldt (injured) and Dylan Grimes (suspended); I am keen on the Giants because of the Tigers defence. As well as missing Grimes, Alex Rance is out for the year and Bschar Houli is missing with a hammie. Up forward, the underdone Tom Lynch is the main man now with Riewoldt injured for a few weeks.

David King on Fox Sports pointed out how the Tigers have struggled without Rance; Ryan Garthwaite is the next key defender in line, but he has had an interrupted pre-season with an Achilles problem.

The Tigers were marked poor for pressure and tackling last weekend. Three reasons why the Tigers could pull off an upset:
A: they might apply enough pressure to put the Giants off their game
B: the Giants are coming back from Perth and the Tigers have a 9 day break
c: “Mummy” might come back in and be slightly underdone
I am keen on the Giants to win by over 3 goals

More news on the other games after team announcements late Thursday. sorry; back Friday afternoon late.

Collingwood vs WCE; remember Adelaide last year? The whole pre-season built up to the demolition of the Tigers and that was about it for the Crows. This is quite an unusual occurrence for grand final re-matches; Bucks told Gerard Whateley that the “replay / revenge” focus is primarily external and I believe him; they are just trying to get their season rolling along nicely; it will be interesting to see how Andrew Gaff goes first up after his 8 week (+ season break) suspension; I tend to favour the Magpies but not as much as the experts, but I am not overly confident about them.

Dogs vs Suns; Coach Dew let the boys party for a while after their great win; expect a letdown effect to kick in; having said that, the Dogs might have a slight letdown after their big comeback win last week; Dogs are certs at the Docklands

Hawks vs Roos; I was having a look at teams to be a long way up at the last change and then lose; I might not have the complete list, but I do have 8 such cases; the following week the loser (like Hawthorn in this case – 30 points up at 3QT and then lose) generally starts extremely well; in fact the 8 teams averaged a 13 point lead at quarter time, despite being underdogs by 8 points on average; very impressive; the most stark example of this was the Roos – losing to the Crows after being 31 points up late in the game in 2013; the next week, they led at quarter time by 55 points against the Saints. Four of the 8 led at the end of each quarter; 1 salvaged a draw and one was overrun. The “overran” team was the Gold Coast Suns in 2018; the Saints stormed home to beat them and then the Suns had to travel to play the Hawks; as 8 goal outsiders, they still managed to lead at the first change – eventually losing by 53 points. The 8 teams overachieved on the day by 18 points on average; this bodes well for the Hawks; the loss of Shaun Burgoyne and Liam Shiels is significant, however, and tempers my enthusiasm about the end result. I reckon they should probably lead all day and win, but I am more confident that they will lead at QT by at least 2 goals. The Roos are still trying to hit form after an ordinary JLT series; this helps me to pick the Hawks; not certs, however

Freo vs St Kilda; the Dockers greatly exceeded expectations in round 1 over the Roos and then were declared “almost certs” the next week against the Suns at the Gold Coast, but fell short by 3 points. I have reviewed recent examples of teams going big in the first round and then severely disappointing the following week; the higher rated a team is, the better they are likely to perform in round 3; poor teams tend to begin well and then fade. This is the more likely outcome but I am not extremely confident; also, teams expected to finish well down that start the year with 2 wins can generally hold their form until about round 4-5 at least; this is the Saints, although there are questions about the quality of opposition they have faced. I rate this as a danger game for the Dockers, but I will still tip them

Round 3 review
This was my worst week for the year humble apologies; more detail on Tuesday but a few quick thoughts.

Geelong defeated Adelaide by 24 points
As stated above, I didn’t like this game; still don’t like it; tipped the wrong team and the Crows only looked likely for a brief moment around three quarter time. The Cats had planned for their 5 day break and did it well; the Crows butchered some chances and, perhaps should have finished closer; losing Paul Seedsman to injury didn’t help Adelaide’s cause.

Essendon defeated Melbourne by 18 points
I’ll give myself a cross for this one; I thought it might be the Dees to come out smoking; well, they did for the second quarter and that was it; the goal by Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti just before half time was crucial; the Dees were on a roll and were going to the break on a high; the goal against the run of play (especially when the Dees almost got another just before this) gave the Bombers a boost at the break; when they found a spark after half time, they ran away with it. I wonder what would’ve happened had the Dees gone in 13 (or maybe 19) points up at half time. I reckon they might have gone on with it for a big win; interesting technical analysis fodder.
I will watch these two teams with great interest this week

Sydney defeated Carlton by 19 points
This all went about as planned; the Swans were a reasonably safe tip and always looked to have the game in control; not a really convincing win, however, as the Blues were a bit down on personnel

GWS defeated Richmond by 24 points
This was my best tip for the weekend; everything worked well – helped even more by injuries to Tigers Trent Cotchin and Jayden Short; Dusty Martin was well held and had a shocker of a day all round; I was surprised that the experts didn’t go more strongly for the Giants; they rated it a 1 -2 goal win only. Coach Hardwick said that the team’s effort was outstanding given that they were 2 down early; Sydney Stack looks a likely prospect for the Tigers.

West Coast Eagles defeated Collingwood by 22 points
Tipped the loser here, but glad I wasn’t too bullish; looks like Andrew Gaff treated this as his grand final and was great first up from his long suspension; the Eagles now look certs for the top four, so long as they can bank the two likely wins over Freo (beginning next week); the Pies are still doing okay, but need to start stringing some wins together

Brisbane defeated Port Adelaide by 17 points
I mucked this one up mostly; I tipped the winner but that was about it; expected Port to be a genuine chance; this they were (in front late last term), but they didn’t lead at half time as I suspected. They got overrun, yes, but only very late; Ollie Wines will be better for the run; and the Power was without Robbie Gray and Tom Rockliff late in the contest

Gold Coast Suns defeated Western Bulldogs by 5 points
Awful work; I tipped the Dogs as certs; will give more detail on what went wrong in due course; just looking back at the times when the Suns have a “rare” win. they tended to always do extremely well early on the next week – normally a lead at the end of the first quarter. Most of these leads failed to result in a win, but it was a noted trend; this time, they managed to just hang on; they seem better settled and things are better off field for them in 2019; the Dogs seemed to have their chance but weren’t good enough on the day; apologies for tipping them as a CERT

Hawthorn defeated North Melbourne by 16 points
I actually tipped the Hawks but totally stuffed up the technical trend estimate; I thought the hawks would blitz early; they looked like they were stuck in the final term against the Dogs; the Roos jumped the Hawks with a change of ball movement plan – possessed the ball a lot and caught the Hawks off guard; the Roos then played like a team that feared losing (trying to save the game) as opposed to a team that wanted to keep taking the game on; club legend Wayne Carey was scathing of them and singled out Ben Brown

Fremantle Dockers versus St Kilda
I tipped the Dockers to begin well and then fade; that is exactly what they did, but they barely hung on to win; maybe they could have had a bit more breathing space had Fyfe not got KO’d in term 3; overall happy with this analysis

Round 4 begins Thursday 7.20pm Eastern (daylight saving thankfully finished now)
Thursday 11 April
Friday 12 April
Saturday 13 April
GEEL V GWS Kardinia Park 1.45PM
PORT V RICH Adelaide Oval 4.35pm
WCE V FREO Perth Stadium 8.10PM Possible late storm
Sunday 14 April
GCS V CARL Gold Coast 2.40PM Shower or two

My early tips are
Swans (50/50 game) EXTREME VARIANCE
Pies (certs)
Cats (not certs)
Lions (50/50 game) EXTREME VARIANCE (changed tip Wed night)
Port (not certs) EXTREME VARIANCE
Crows (not certs)
Eagles (certs)
Suns (not certs)
Hawks (not certs)

Swans vs Dees Thursday
It’s Wednesday night and the Thursday teams are in; no great surprises
Swans brought in Kieren Jack and Justin McInerney for the injured duo Jarrad McVeigh and Will Hayward.

The Dees brought in Billy Stretch and Braydon Preuss for the injured Kade Kolodashnij and Alex Neal-Bullen has been omitted.

Neither tea convince me at present. I have marked this an an EXTREME VARIANCE game; this has more to do with the Dees and their mental state. They may be about to turn the corner, but I don’t know. I referred to the turning point above in the review of their loss to the Bombers. They almost got to the point of killing off Essendon late in the second term; but a missed goal (in a 50/50 umpiring decision) and a late goal against the run of play to the Bombers left the vulnerable at a mere 7 points up at the main break; then they got overrun; but they fought it out when the game was virtually lost and facing the possibility of a 8-goal hiding.

The Swans were just so-so against the Blues last week, but at least they have a win.

I don’t have any feeling for the trend of this game either; Swans remain the tip but with zero confidence.

Pies vs Dogs Friday
The Pies and Tigers both struggled after the 9 day break following their round 2 clash; Richmond had excuses but, still, both significantly underperformed. The Pies now face the Dogs who have a 5 day break; this will be too tough for the Dogs; one could argue that they had one eye on this Friday night game when they played the Suns; perhaps; in any case, the Pies will rebound strongly from their disappointing “grand final replay”. when teams lose a grand final and then lose the replay as well, they tend to start slowly the next week and then ramp things up in the second; Pies are certs, but they may possibly trail at quarter time

Cats vs Giants Saturday
The Cats should probably win this, but I am concerned about their HUGE emphasis on the 5 day break; the coach talked about it several times and the danger is that, having done so well to win in Adelaide last week on a short break, they now get a 9 day break and might go to sleep; if Geelong repeats the trend of Richmond and Collingwood last weekend off their 9 day break, they will start well and then have a poor second term. It doesn’t help tipsters too much, but if the Giants trail at the first break and lead at half time, I reckon they will go on to win the match. And some people who wrote the Cats off wil pick them for the first time this year and be wrong!
Cats, but I am not overly excited about them this week.

Bombers vs Lions Saturday
I tipped the Bombers early Wednesday and then thought more of it; I changed to the Lions. Fundamentally, it is a virtual 50/50 game; the Bombers are slight favourites; I generally tip against a team the week after they have a famous victory despite injuries; the Bombers lost Kobe Mutch very early; then Shaun McKernan played on with a hammie (taking a hit for the team) and will now miss multiple weeks. Last week’s match sort of fits the technical trend; it would have better fitted had McKernan gone off and missed the latter part of the game. It is this technical lead (I’d call it a medium lead, not a strong one) that has tipped me over to tipping the Lions, but without confidence

Port vs Richmond Saturday
Port is about 4 goal favourites here, which is a surprise; it seems like a bit of an overreaction to last week’s results; the Tigers (as I tipped) were too highly fancied last week and now they have been dumped; Richmond do go on the road for the second week running and this is a slight negative. a lot will depend on team changes for this match; will Tom Rockliff and Robbie Gray get up and play for Port? Will Bachar Houli and Mac Weller be back for the Tigers?; The Tigers get Dylan Grimes back and Jack Ross has been named to debut against Port; Josh Caddy had gastro early in the week and didn’t play a full game in his first game back from injury last week in the VFL; it would be a risk to start him; I can see the Tigers winning if they apply manic pressure to the inexperienced Port young guns. I’m tipping Port, but it’s EXTREME VARIANCE (okay, I know I borrowed this from Longggey, but it’s one thing of his that I like) and the Tigers might have a sneaky chance

Roos vs Crows Saturday
Coach Brad (the anti-Chris) Scott admitted he played too many new guys all at once to begin the year; combine this with interrupted pre-seasons to some regulars – and it sort of explains things; the team selection will be interesting; in any case, I’m tipping the Crows; the danger in doing this is that:
A. the 9 day break is too long for the Crows; and / or
B: the Roos click after a few selection changes
I reckon both are a bit unlikely, but I’m not tipping the Crows as certs

Eagles vs Dockers Saturday

Nay Fyfe is already out and it pretty much means that the Eagles are over the line in this one. Coming up again after the grand final rematch shouldn’t be too much of a drama for the Eagles; the Dockers will be really up for it – but are lower rated and have a longer injury list.

Suns vs Blues Sunday
How good has it been for the Suns’ fans for them to be 2-1 a this stage? Some tipped they wouldn’t win a game all year; I still rate them low despite their two wins and, as such, won’t be too bullish on them winning this week. That said, it’s hard to get too excited about Carlton’s prospects. Yes, they have had a chance late in all 3 games (13 points down at the last break in round 1 vs Richmond; 3 points down same time round 2 vs Port and then 13 points down with 6 minutes to go in week 3 against the Swans), but they still haven’t convinced me that they can travel to beat a confident Suns team. Suns for me, but not certs.

Saints vs Hawks Sunday
Thursday news before selection is that Jaeger O’Meara is in doubt. Unless he looks real bad Thursday, I suspect he will be picked and then have a fitness test Sat / Sun; watch for late changes; Jarryd Roughead should return this week for the Hawks, but they will still be without Shaun Burgoyne and Liam Shiels. These “outs” give the Saints a realistic chance. I rate this as a game that the Hawks would have penciled in as a win at the start of the season, but now looks doubtful; Jack Steven is likely to return for the Saints; danger game, but I am tipping the Hawks.

This is all doen by 4.30pm Thursday – the time the AFL should give us the teams if we have a Thursday night game. Penny

.Round 4 review
Wow!! I tipped three winners, but I don’t feel as bad as a 3 win week; humble apologies for those who followed my lead. More news tomorrow, but there were 3 one-kick results and 8 results less than 4 goals.

Melbourne defeated the Swans by 22 points
The Dees looked good from half time on and and the inclusion of Braydon Preuss was a positive; this plus was accentuated – given that Callum Sinclair copped a knock in the second term; the Swans were 22 points up in the second term and lost by 22

Collingwood defeated the Dogs by 14 points
The Pies played the Eagles last week and both teams struggled at times next up; the Eagles led 5 goals to zip at quarter time and won by 13 points; the Pies conceded 6 goals to 1 either side of half time, but eventually overran the Dogs; Collingwood did lose Chris Mayne early and Dayne Beams was a late withdrawal – replaced by Callum Brown; the Dogs played Sunday and Friday – a 5 day break; maybe that got them late in the game, but maybe it was just Mason Cox clunking some marks for the Pies. Overall, I’m okay with tipping the Pies as certs, but it was a bit more of a struggle than I predicted.

GWS Giants defeated Geelong by 4 points
Mixed feelings about this game; some people had finally jumped on the Cats’ bandwagon just in time to see a broken wheel. I thought that the second term might be danger time for Geelong, but this was even. the Giants came hard after half time; sadly, Callan Ward did his ACL very early on return from injury; Tim Kelly was considered doubtful for the Cats; he played but struggled big time. See also the review below on Roos and Crows.

Essendon defeated Brisbane by 47 points
This was the only blow-out game; I had wondered if the Bombers could be classified as a “famous victory despite injuries” team and therefore do badly the next week; I mentioned it was borderline as to whether they fitted into this category; they actually played more like a “half decent team to finally get a win after a series of losses” team. That is, they had a monstrous first term and then fairly much held their ground thereafter (30 points up at quarter time and won by 47); so I went the wrong way in terms of technical leads; the Lions came down to earth with a thud; “a bit off”, said coach Chris Fagan; only excuse to be found was that Cam Rayner had apparently been playing injured and it might have all caught up with him.

Richmond defeated Port by 7 points
This is the best wrong tip all weekend. Port were hot favourites and many would’ve blown their “streak” on Port; glad to have saved people from doing that; still, I was too wimpy to tip the Tigers; but the four young guns for Port were all below weeks 1 to 3 form, so I was on the ball there; Josh Caddy only had 9 touches, but booted 3, so he was fine – along with Tom Lynch who booted 6 snags. He got 2 for 1 when the umpire gave him a second shot for a silly push after a goal. The penalty might be regarded as harsh, but what defender would ever consider this ploy a good idea???

North Melbourne defeated Adelaide by 12 points
I am working on a theory that teams playing Thursday night football do well late the following week; all six teams that played Thursday night lost the final term the next week (by an average of 12.7 points); the six teams averaged out to be neither strong favourites nor outsiders, so the figures are normalised already to account for expectations.

Furthermore, the six teams averaged 24 points below expectations in their week after the Thursday game; three (Pies vs Eagles, Crows vs Roos and Cats vs GWS) lost as favourites. I wish I had spotted this trend earlier & would’ve tipped the Roos.

The Roos probably should’ve got more value for F50 entries in the first half; balancing this off is that the Crows lost Chayce Jones early.

Suns beat Carlton by 2 points
What a huge wave of excitement for Suns fans and crushing disappointment for Blues fans; non-Blues fans under 30 years old all around the country are beginning to feel sorry for Carlton. If was my only non-cert tip I got right, but was losing in the last minute; it was truly a 50/50 game; good for the Suns to win under the burden of favouritism (rare in recent times); maybe the Blues threw it away and there can be endless comments about umpiring decisions; The suns lost Wil (missing an L) Powell early; remember that the Blues are also using their #3 ruck option in Matthew Lobbe currently (38 Supercoach points vs Jarrod Witts 107)

Saints defeated Hawks by 5 points
How long must Hawk fans suffer (every Hawthorn fan 7 years old and under must be wondering this); they could easily be 4-0 with a touch of luck. They lost Jaeger O’Meara from the selected teams (as I suspected – see above) and then lost Ben Stratton and James Frawley in play, while James Cousins, Isaac Smith and Conor Nash had various troubles as well; the Saints lost captain Jarryn Geary before the game, while Daniel McKenzie went out at half time and Matthew Parker had some issues. All in all, the Hawks copped the worst of it and were in a winning position, but got overrun late; the positive for the Hawks is that Tom Scully (110 SC points) looks like he could be very good for them in 2019

Round 5 begins 7.35PM Thursday 18 April, 2019
BRIS v COLL Gabba; showers should clear by game time; maybe high humidity later in the game
Friday 19 April
NMFC v ESS Docklands 4.20pm
WCE vs Port Perth Stadium 8.10pm Eastern
Saturday 20 April
GWS vs Freo Canberra 1.45pm
MELB v STK MCG 4.35pm
RICH v SYD Docklands 7.25pm
Sunday 21 April
WBD v CARL Docklands 1.10pm
ADEL v GCS Adelaide Oval 4.40pm Eastern possible shower

My early tips:
Giants certs of the week

BRIS v COLL Thursday
Yippee! we have teams for one game (excuse the sarcasm; cannot wait for game 1 to be on a Friday!); as expected, no change for the Lions and Dayne Beams comes back to replace the injured Chris Mayne.

I had a look at recent teams to begin 3 and zip and then lose; taking those NOT expected to be 3-0 (7-18 on the ladder the previous year), I note that most teams fitting into that category who lost their first match for the season in round 4 went on to underperform in round 5; I expect this to be the case for the Lions, so I am relatively bullish about Collingwood in this one.

One thing only prevents me from jumping on them as certs – the possibility of high humidity late in the game; for those on a small winning streak (4 or less – which may be most), the pies are probably wort the risk in tipping them as a cert.

North V Essendon Friday
This is a game to avoid if you can; both teams disappointed until recently; the Bombers beat the Dees after being 0-2 to start the season (felt like 0-10 to many Dons fans), while the Roos were 0-3 before overrunning the Crows last weekend. I have two theories and both make this an EXTREME VARIANCE game.
A: the Roos got the Crows at a good time (after a Thursday game – see above in review of that game) and, therefore, they will underperform this weekend – a comfortable win for Essendon; and
B: the Roos are a half decent team who had been struggling and finally had a win (I am not totally confident here because I normally look for at least 4 losses on the trot before considering this – but it is the start of the season and the Kangas were pretty ordinary in the JLT matches as well); if this technical trend holds, then expect the Roos to do exactly what Essendon did LAST week – jump out to a big lead at quarter time and hold control of the game comfortably thereafter; wish I could tip at the first break.

Almost anything could happen but I’m tipping the Dons with zero confidence. Late news: David Zaharakis and Zac Clarke are late withdrawals for the Bombers – replaced by the debutante Braydem Ham and the underdone Joe Daniher. I’ll change my tip to the Roos (which I can do in but I’m stuck with the Bombers in the other tipping comps; in any case, I’m not overly concerned because it is still a virtual 50/50 game with EXTREME VARIANCE!

Eagles v Port Friday
This is a late game – which suits the Eagles to a degree. Quiz question: when did Port last beat the Eagles in Perth? Answer: 2017; I thought (before checking) that it might be several years ago; since then, Port has had some disastrous losses to the Eagles. None more so than the 2017 Elimination final which went to overtime and was lost on a shot after the siren. Then in 2018, they had the game sewn up against the Eagles in Adelaide but lost narrowly again.

The Eagles have the benefit of back to back home games in Perth and should win this one. The win over a Fyfe-less Docker team was not great, but this came the week AFTER the grand final replay and both the Eagles and Collingwood had struggling wins as hot favourites last weekend.

Port players will be seething after throwing away a “certain win” against the “struggling” Tigers last weekend; they may lift, but cannot see them winning this one; Eagles are certs – just!

GWS Giants v Fremantle Saturday
Not much to see here; both teams got their opponents at the right time last week – Giants vs Geelong after the Cats had played a Thursday game and the Dockers got the Eagles after the Eagles played the grand final replay at the MCG. Most expect Matt de Boer to tag Nat Fyfe if, as expected, he returns this week; Toby Greene is a chance to return also. Giants easily and certs

Melbourne v St Kilda Saturday
Another game to avoid if you can; the Dees won very well last Friday night against the Swans to register their first win; the Saints got the Hawks on the right day – Hawks had players out and lost a few on the day; based on the “week after Thursday games” trend above, I expect the Saints to probably win the final term; the question is – will the Dees be far enough in front? A bit of a danger game for Melbourne, but I do like the 2 ruck setup & rucks sometimes resting forward for now while their forward line needs help. Dees the tip, but not hugely confident; a tick to Brett Ratten, who seems to have helped the Saints.

Richmond v Sydney Swans Saturday
If I knew Bacher Houli was definitely back and right to go, I’d be tipping the Tigers as certs; the Swans will like the game being at the Docklands rather than the MCG; the Swans have the “week after Thursday game” thingy to deal with. So expect them to lose the final term; okay, I’ll do it for now… Tigers are certs

Western Bulldogs v Carlton Sunday
The Blues lose Will Setterfield for the next 2 weeks; Blues fans – you will win one eventually; this game is a small chance; I will tip the Dogs now, but want to see who is rucking for the Blues; in any case, the Dogs won’t be tipped as certs

Adelaide Crows v Gold Coast Suns Sunday
I haven’t written the Crows off just yet, but they are in a bit of a rut; meanwhile, the Suns have exceeded all expectations; I thought they may, perhaps, win 1 of their first 4, but they are 3-1 now and have some confidence. However, I expect the Crows to bounce back; they are 2 weeks after a Thursday night game, which seems like it might be a positive at this early stage in the season (not so for Richmond in round 3, but they were off back to back Thursday games and had injury problems)

Hawthorn v Geelong Monday
See above re Thursday and Adelaide; the same applies to Geelong – expect they have back to back 9 day breaks; this 9 day break concerns me and would be the main reason that the Hawks might have a chance; having said that, the injury problem at Hawthorn and general good early season of the Cats means that Geelong has to be the tip; watch for injury news; the Hawks will definitely lose James Frawley and apparently, neither Shaun Burgoyne nor Liam Shiels will be back; James Cousins, Ben Stratton and Jaeger O’Meara are all list as “tests”. If any of the last 3 are names, they may need a fitness test. Tim Kelly should be better for Geelong off the long break after being doubtful last week and then scoring 39 SC points only; there’s talk of Zac Tuohy returning but that is likely to be via the VFL; pretty keen on the Cats overall, but they won’t be tipped as certs

Urgent 18 April 2019 – Gauntlet starts today! round 5 onwards; Eagles is the first tip; I will hopefully do some more work on this in the next few weeks; other Gauntlet options: GWS, Adelaide; if you must, Cats or Pies; avoid the temptation to select Dees or Dogs; you will have better options for those teams in the future

Round 5 Review

Collingwood defeated Brisbane by 62 points
Very happy with the analysis here; the key was that the Lions were predicted to be on a downer; they were almost gone at quarter time; the Pies lost James Aish at half time; while the Lions lost both Harris Andrews and Rhys Mathieson in the second half; also, in retrospect, the Pies having the extra day’s break was very useful; there was a query as to whether the Lions were overawed by the occasion (big crowd & a rare go at a Thursday night game); Brisbane coach Chris Fagan was unsure; I put it down to the technical trend (of the round 1,2,3,4 WWWL team that finished 7-18 the previous year)

Essendon defeated North Melbourne by 58 points
Mixed thoughts about the preview; EXTREME VARIANCE – tick; a game to avoid – tick; my eventual pick – cross!! My theory A was the best ie that the Roos caught the Crows at a good time and therefore they would be soundly beaten by Essendon; Tom Bellchambers played on despite a first term knee injury; you may want to keep an eye on his recovery in terms of ANZAC Day. Roos coach Brad Scott has his problesm and I would be dumping the Roos out of finals calculations already (I tipped them for 9th and even that will be a stretch); this feels like a “we’ve hit bottom” type experience for the Roos and they may do better next week???

Port Adelaide defeated the West Cost Eagles by 42 points
Ouch!! Named the Eagles as certs and tipped them in the Gauntlet (out at the first hurdle – but won’t be the only one); Will Schofield came in late for Tom Barrass; what’s with Josh Kennedy (24 SC points and a goal), Jack Darling (9 SC and no score) and Jamie Cripps (22 SC and no score)? And Jack Petruccelle kicked 5 goals???? Well done him! “Port out-hunted us”, said Eagles coach Adam Simpson; if we look at the Eagles’ schedule, they played the grand final replay, then the Derby; then an “easy kill” in Port, then they go to Geelong; so they may have just assumed that this was going to be an easy win; OUCH for them! Port coach Ken Hinkley praised his players for all buying in; looks like Port (as a group) just worked harder than the Eagles. Sam Powell-Pepper came off late for Port with a calf injury; Port played like they were embarrassed the previous week against the most depleted Richmond team for some years and really lifted.

Fremantle defeated GWS by 24 points
This was the biggest shock of all for me this weekend. I assumed that the Dockers gave it their best shot against the Eagles and would struggle with the long road trip to Canberra; maybe the Giants suffered from the same disease as the Eagles; they had a great win over Geelong the previous week and they face the Swans next week; the Giants were also on the road for the second week running; sorry for tipping them as certs! Just wondering if the Dockers may be slightly underrated; I will leave them at the same rating for now and keep tabs on them; Brennan Cox was a late in for Cam McCarthy, then Cox himself copped a minor injury. Thinking more about the Giants and Roos; they played the Cats and Crows in round 4 and outperformed expectations (with the Cats and Crows playing Thursday night round 3); then BOTH the Giants and Roos were awful the following week!! This makes sense – even if the drop by the Roos and Giants was severe.

St Kilda defeated Melbourne by 40 points
Another wrong tip; another game I told you to avoid if you could; bad to tip it wrong, but glad to have given the warning; I expected the Dees to be poor late due to the upcoming Richmond game in 4 days; however, they fell apart either side of half time – conceding 8 consecutive goals; this has been a pattern in Dees’ losses in recent years. A bad sign! Jordan Lewis came back for his first game of the year; had a leg injury late; not sure if it slowed him down earlier but he only scored 36 SC points.
Ex Dee Dean Kent topped the SC scores against his old team – making a statement – with 123 SC; this result appears to be a mixture of the Saints’ improvement and Melbourne’s woes

Richmond defeated Sydney by 22 points
This was a good tipping effort of the weekend – tipping the Tigers as almost certs and also forecasting that they would lose the final term (Swans won it 4:4 to 2:2) as they prepare for the Dees game on Wednesday; unlike Melbourne, the Tigers had a nice lead in the final term and could afford to ease off a bit; Bachar Houli and Dusty Martin coming back was a bonus; I reckon that the Swans are virtually gone for 2019, but the tipsters have been a bit slow to downgrade them.

Carlton defeated the Western Bulldogs by 44 points
I mentioned the rucking situation for the Blues; Matthew Kreuzer came back and replaced Matthew Lobbe (a big improvement); Levi Casboult went out and then was a late in for Charlie Curnow; the Dogs struggled – partly due to the injured outs of Matt Suckling and Taylor Duryea; it was unsure how the Blues would respond to their last minute loss to the Suns; they responded well (and the Suns went the other way); green shoots!!

Adelaide Crows defeated the Gold Coast Suns by 73 points
At last a cert that actually won a game!! Well, I didn’t tell you that they were certs, but I was bullish on the Crows. It seems that the last minute goal by the Suns last week was followed by a big letdown; the Crows were poor late last week after playing Thursday the week prior. Not much more needed to say here, except it was a great 300th by Eddie Betts with 6 goals – Stuart Dew even gave him a mention in his presser

Geelong defeated Hawthorn by 23 points
I probably would’ve made the Cats certs once Ben Stratton pulled out for the Hawks; on top of that, James Cousins played sore last week and struggled this week; was shocked at how many people gave the Hawks a great chance. Cats lost Brandon Parfitt at half time but, even so, the Hawks fightback to get close without ever looking like winning was brave.

Round 6 begins (UGH) Wednesday 24 April, 2019 with:
RICH V MELB at MCG 7.35pm
Thursday 25 April
ESS V COLL at MCG 3.20pm
Friday 26 April
PORT V NMFC at Adelaide Oval 7.50pm eastern
Saturday 27 April
GCS V BRIS at Gold Coast 1.45pm
STK V ADEL at Docklands 4.35pm
SYD V GWS at SCG 7.25pm
FREO V WBD at Perth Stadium 8.10pm eastern
Sunday 28 April
HAW V CARL at Hobart 3.20pm
GEEL V WCE at Kardinia Park 4.40pm

** All previews done Monday 22 April 2019 **
Early tips – will maybe amend Thursday
Richmond but a danger game
Collingwood – confident
Adelaide – confident
Hawthorn but a danger game
Geelong but a danger game
Looking for the week when sanity will return to the AFL fixture

Richmond v Melbourne Wednesday
At the start of the season, this looked like a potential grand final preview. The Tigers hit a flat spot and now appear to be back on track, while the Dees are 1-4 and a finals appearance could be out of reach with a few more losses. The Tigers are pretty warm favourites (about 2 goals – to be reviewed after team selections), but this is a danger game for them. I will rate this as a Longggey EXTREME VARIANCE game – mainly due to the short break from Saturday to Wednesday and not knowing who is sore. Players I might be particularly concerned about are Jordan Lewis, Jack Viney and Daniel Rioli.

The Tigers will be warm favourites but it’s a danger game and anything could happen.

Essendon v Collingwood Thursday
Once more the Pies get an extra day’s break compared to their opponent; a 5 day break for the Bombers and a 6 day break for the Magpies.
I’m very bullish about Collingwood

Port Adelaide v North Melbourne Friday
Port was the big underdog and got the job done last weekend; now they will be the firm favourite – and can they cope with that pressure? The Roos had a crisis meeting during the week. Can this help turn things around? Coach Brad Scott says their tactics will change; a slight danger game for Port and I’ll mar this as an EXTREME VARIANCE game. I’ll be tipping Port without huge confidence.

Gold Coast Suns v Brisbane Saturday
I am thinking that the Lions should win this because the Suns seem to have hit the wall with the bad loss against the Crows last week; and the Suns have a longer injury list; having said that, the Lions have had 2 bad losses in a row and they also played last Thursday; teams playing Thursday have underperformed the following weekend this year on the whole – going 4 goals worse than expected; that being the case, the Suns have a good chance if they aren’t too badly shaken by their big loss to the Crows. Another game to avoid and an EXTREME VARIANCE game; stay away from being too bullish about the Lions; I reckon the result could well fall outside the expected deviation of 30 points either way of the expected result; this would mean Suns winning by 3 goals plus or Lions winning by over 8 goals

St Kilda v Adelaide Saturday
Very keen on the Crows and here’s why:
A: the Crows look to have finally had the break-through win that will set them on the right track (despite Sauce Jacobs still being out); I reckon the win over the Suns was just the tonic required
B: the Saints played Melbourne AFTER the Dees played on a Thursday night. Teams playing AFTER a Thursday and on a 9 day of more break have struggled this year. The Saints appeared to have a huge breakthrough win to set them on their way last weekend, but I blame it on catching hte Dees at the right time. My tip for the week: Crows to win by over 2 goals!!! I wouldn’t call them total certs, but you could tick them off in your certs comp if you are a thrill-seeker

Sydney v GWS Giants Saturday
The Swans fought on well after being 5 goals down at the last break against Richmond and won the last term; but I think the Tigers were just getting reading for their ANZAC eve match; I’ll forgive the Giants for their poor one last week – explained in last week’s review; quite keen on the Giants to win but not total certs

Fremantle v Western Bulldogs Saturday
The Dogs have brought in Jackson Trengove to support Tim English; this will help. My problem with this game is that I don’t know whether to upgrade the Dockers or to assume that they have got teams at the right time. In either case, I’m tipping the Dockers here.

Hawthorn v Carlton Sunday
Early rain should be gone by game time, but it will be breezy!
Both teams impressed in different ways last week; the Hawks fought on well when under duress caused by missing key players; and the Blues finally cracked it for a win; the win by the Blues broke a 4 game losing streak; bottom rated teams like Carlton that get their first win in round 5 tend to underperform a little in round 6; but bottom teams that record a big win after a series of >3 losses generally do well in their next game after the breakthrough win; I’m getting mixed messages; one trend suggests a comfortable Hawthorn win; the other trend makes it a danger game; another reason not to be too confident about the Hawks is that we don’t know if the returning Ben Stratton and Liam Shiels are 100%… and they have had players performing under duress of late due to the injury problems at the club; Carlton’s injury list looks very small, but they have 4 “uninjured” players just coming back through the VFL this week; so they will be healthier in a couple of weeks if they don’t cop more injuries.
Hawks the tip without great confidence. This borders on being another EXTREME VARIANCE game – look out! The fact that the game is in Hobart is a plus for the Hawks.

Geelong v West Coast Eagles Sunday
Strange that the match of the day is slotted in the late Sunday afternoon time slot; in retrospect, the AFL would like the Sunday games times switched. But looks like they’ve used up their free to air game slots already this round.

The Cats have a 6 day break after 2 x 9 day breaks and a home game; it looks ideal for them. But the Eagles seem to have risen to the occasion so far this year. So expect them to be on the ball this weekend after being “outhunted” by Port last weekend.

The Cats may be just a bit too strongly fancied for my liking, but they will be the tip – but, by no means certs. If the Cats happen to win big, I might put it down to the Eagles hitting a flat spot following the 2018 premiership.

Note that Jack Redden is a late withdrawal Friday for the Eagles

Round 6 review
Richmond defeated Melbourne by 43 points
Well, not much of a danger game once the Tigers coped with the early Melbourne effort. Watching the game, I could see the Dees falling away late in the third term and I could sense that they were totally gone at the last break- even though the margin was a manageable 16 points. The end margin was a touch too small to fall into the EXTREME variance category; glad I tipped Richmond! someone asked Simon Goodwin about the numerous ops that the players had in the off-season; they looked like that was affecting them late in the game, but who knows!

Collingwood defeated Essendon by 4 points
This was a bit of a shock to me; I expected the Pies to win easily; I ignored the problems of teams after a Thursday game because the ANZAC Day game was on Thursday; was I wrong to do this? maybe; other option is that the Bombers are better than I give them credit for; at this stage, I will put the strong Essendon fightback due to the Pies being down a bit due to playing a previous Thursday; I’ll re-assess the Bombers in 2-3 weeks

Brisbane Lions defeated Gold Coast Suns by 49 points
I just snuck in for a good tip here – talking about the EXTREME variance and that the margin would fall well outside the expected – I said suns by over 3 goals OR Lions by over 8 and I “won” by 1 point; so, harking back to my preview, it appears that the Suns were flat after their first bad loss.

Adelaide Crows defeated St Kilda by 29 points
This was my best work for the weekend; the key was that the Saints were overrated after playing the Dees last week (after the Dees played a Thursday and before the Dees played ANZAC eve); and that the Crows are back in town (to a degree – finals bound at this stage – maybe not top four bound just yet!).

The Saints dominated early but kicked 3:6 to 3:0 in the first term; Jack Lonie was off injured early and then the Crows took over. Josh Bruce looked NQR all night and now he is in doubt with a leg injury.

Billy Longer came in for the injured Rowan Marshall (a minus for the Saints), while Bryce Gibbs was a late out – replaced by Jordan Gallucci

GWS Giants defeated Sydney Swans by 41 points
Glad I was confident about the Giants; it was helped slightly by Buddy being a late withdrawal (replaced by Ben Ronke); partially offset by the Giants losing Phil David (replaced by Matthew Buntine); Lachie Whitlfield struggled throughout the day, but both teams had to deal with little injury troubles; the bottom line is that the Giants are a top 6 team; the Swans won’t make the 8

Fremantle Dockers defeated Western Bulldogs by 19 points
I got this tip right, but that wasn’t that hard; all panned out about as expected; I’m finding both these teams a bit hard to assess at present; not much to say here

Hawthorn defeated Carlton by 5 points
There was talk of soul-searching by the Hawks at half time (31 points down); I’m sure there was, but the Blues lost Kade Simpson, Nic Newman and Matthew Kreuzer was hampered (and won’t play round 7); that’s the story; I tipped a winner by sheer luck. I’m pleased that I didn’t tip them as certs; the Blues were stiff and if you tipped them, please take this honorary win token below
Honorary Win Token

Geelong defeated West Coast Eagles by 58 points
This game was over very early and one of the commentators said that the Eagles were “off”. maybe it’s a premiership hangover. But I have another 2-part theory:
A: the Eagles had a 9 day break to this game; I already mentioned that Geelong’s breaks over recent weeks set them up nicely for the game; the 9 day break was too long for WCE and they underperformed like a team playing after a Thursday game.
B: looking at the Eagles’ fixture – they had the grand final “replay” in round 3; then their fixture was Port at home, a Derby, Geelong away, Gold Coast at home and St Kilda away. At the start of the season, this would have looked liked all certain wins bar for a 50/50 game against a Geelong team that was then considered doubtful to make the finals. The Eagles would’ve planned to be UP for the tough games after St Kilda: Dees at home (looks easier now than before the season), Crows away, Dogs at home and then Swans away. Any Eagles fans should avoid hitting the panic button just yet.

Apologies for the long delay in the review, but I tipped nine winners ONLY to be robbed of the prize by some temp working at – who got closer in the round 1 points! So annoying! I needed 2 days with Psycho Anna Liszt for therapy before coming good.

Round 7 begins on Friday, 3rd May at 7.50pm
(Hallelujah – sanity returns!)
COLL V WBD at Docklands 7.50pm
MELB V HAW at MCG 1.45pm
GWS V STK at Canberra 1.45pm
BRIS V SYD at Gabba 4.35pm
WBD V RICH at Docklands 7.25pm
WCE V GCS at Perth Stadium 8.10pm eastern
CARL V NMFC at Docklands 1.10pm
GEEL V ESS at MCG 3.20pm
ADEL V FREO at Adelaide Oval 4.40pm eastern

Early tips are
Hawthorn (tipsters will be split on this one)
Brisbane (danger game)
Richmond (danger game)
WCE (certs)
Carlton (tipsters will be split on this one)
Adelaide (certs)

Collingwood v Western Bulldogs Friday
My main concern here is that the Pies played last on a Thursday and teams playing after a Thursday are currently underperforming by an average of 17 points; if we apply that to this game, Collingwood go from comfortable winners to an almost 50/50 game; but the saving grace for the Pies is that this game is on a Friday – so only an 8 day break for them; the Dogs were highly competitive last week out west versus the Dockers, but they haven’t convinced me yet. I’m tipping the Pies but not total certs. PS: Ben Reid is back in the team; I thought we may have “lost him” when he was injured early season.

Melbourne v Hawthorn Saturday
Based on pre-season rankings, the Dees would have been tipped in this one. But things have gone pear-shaped for them since and they have a long injury list; they also have a 10 day break from the ANZAC Day eve game; not good (although teams off the Thursday games often start well); therefore I am tipping the Hawks; but not confidently. I am not totally convinced that the break was bad for the Dees; it probably was, but there is a small possibility that they may have re-focused during the break. My other concern is that the Hawks are just going; they were lucky to beat the Blues last weekend and haven’t been overly convincing. Hawks, but an EXTREME variance game and I’m not excited about tipping in it

GWS v St Kilda Saturday
The Giants are going along very nicely just at the minute (to quote the late Bobby Davis) and put the Swans away easily last weekend. They now return to their “away” home ground in Canberra. they should beat the Saints, but here are some things to consider – which is why I am not tipping the Giants as total certs:
A: they just re-signed Josh Kelly; it could be a +, but also a – (Kelly relaxes a bit and doesn’t have his best game this week?)
B: Lachie Whitfield is 99% out this week and Stephen Coniglio is a test (may be named and tested Friday)
C: the Saints were virtually 2 men down last week – with Jack Lonie gone early and Josh Bruce struggling with a leg injury all day
D: If Rowan Marshall comes back, that should help the Saints
Most are tipping a 5 goal win for the Giants; I have it at 3 goals – which is enough to make me baulk at tipping them as certs; if you are still in the Gauntlet; the Eagles are a safer tip and you will get plenty of good goes at the Giants later in the year
Late breaking news: Giants lose Josh Kelly and Phil Davis for this game – replaced by Jackson Hately and Matt Buntine; see above – looks like Kelly relaxed too much ): the “line” has moved 5 points; Saints remain a small chance.

Brisbane vs Sydney Swans Saturday
At the start of the year, most would be tipping the Swans in this one, but now the Lions are firm favourites. Both team have just come off local Derbies, with the Lions winning big and the Swans losing by heaps. I am a little concerned about how each team will back up from big matches and, as such, I’m calling this an EXTREME variance game. Buddy won’t be back yet for the Swans, but Harris Andrews is a likely inclusion. I’m tipping the Lions, but not as certs and it’s a game where almost anything could happen. John Longmire basically said that they are in a rebuild. again, this could flatten the club short term – or galvanise them!??

Western Bulldogs v Richmond Saturday
The Tigers appear to be back on track after their big losses to the Pies and Giants in rounds 2 and 3. They have had three decent wins in a row. They are higher rated than the Dogs – who appear to be honest triers without being.

So this should be an easy win for Richmond. Right? Well…the problem is that they played last Wednesday and, like Melbourne, they are coming off a 10 day break after playing 2 games in rapid succession. As such, I expect the Tigers to be good early and vulnerable (please note: there is a “L” in vulnerable; not a double N!) later.

If the Thursday night and next week scenario works for this game then, like the Collingwood game, it goes from a comfortable Richmond win to a big danger game. I end up tipping the Tigers narrowly and mark this as a slight danger game. If I trusted the Dogs more, I would be making it a big danger game, but I don’t have that much confidence in them.

West Coast Eagles v Gold Coast Suns Saturday
See review of the Eagles loss to Geelong above. This is the game in which tipsters are the most confident. And rightly so. The Eagles are much higher rated and have a huge home ground advantage. But what about the premiership hangover? Is that a problem? I don’t think so; I reckon the 6 day break following the 9 day break is just about ideal. whether the
Suns can rebound somewhat off 2 poor showings is questionable. What I do know is that the Suns will have more focus on their NEXT match (at home versus Melbourne) than this week against the Eagles; they are likely to be outsiders in both but a much better chance at home against the Dees. The Eagles don’t need to be at their best to win this; and they will be annoyed enough to be switched on enough to win this one. Eagles are certs.

Carlton v North Melbourne Sunday
This is the most interesting game of the day. Both teams had honourable losses last weekend, but the Blues would’ve won barring injuries in Launceston. Conversely, I reckon that Port eased off late in the game against the Roos because they had a short break to the Collingwood game coming up.

The Blues will go into the game as slight favourites – and this will be a challenge in itself – putting more pressure on Carlton; and they’ll have to do it without Matthew Kreuzer; last time Kreuzer was out, Matthew Lobbe filled in for him. This time, Andrew Phillips is available and a better option. Blues for me, but not overly confident.

Geelong v Essendon Sunday
The Bombers have surprised to the upside since their poor 0-2 start and they almost overran Collingwood on ANZAC Day. I’m looking at upgrading them soon – and I will if they win on Sunday; but I won’t downgrade them if they lose this one. They have a 10 day break from ANZAC Day to this game; it’s too long and may be a negative; as per similar comments on some other games, if the pattern plays out, then the first term will be the best one for Essendon but they will struggle later in the game. Watch for late changes – as the Bombers had several sore players last round. the Cats are doing very nicely tight now and should win this one; I won’t rate them as total certs, but am more confident on them than some of the other clear favourites this weekend.

Adelaide v Fremantle Sunday
Fremantle is second on the ladder; nobody east of W. A. would have tipped it and very few in W. A. as well; David King is impressed with them this year and they look to have improved; but they may have caught teams a bit at the right time so far; I expect the Crows to win this one quite well; watch for any late changes as Michael Walters and Joel Hamling may both need fitness tests. Crows by 5 goals and certs

Round 7 review (apologies for lateness)
Collingwood defeated Port Adelaide by 39 points
This game was over at quarter time really – despite Port getting within 18 points in the third term; of interest is that the first term was the Pies’ best and the second was their worst – a bit of a trend for teams off a Thursday game; Taylor Adams got injured for Collingwood as did Brad Ebert for Port. Ollie Wines played (fairly) with what was later diagnosed as a minor leg fracture; I reckon Port are going to settle about midfield, whereas the Pies are looking like top 4 material.

Melbourne defeated Hawthorn by 5 points
Well, this game did NOT turn out to be an EXTREME variance pattern and I tipped the loser; the only thing I got right here is that it was a game to avoid if you could.

Hawks coach Alistair Clarkson basically said: we were rubbish; so they they, but not as much. He reckons the Hawks are a middle of the road side; I agree.

Maybe the 10 day break was good for Melbourne, because of the desperate nature of their plight; but they played like a team that was struggling to regain confidence – not like a top 4 side.

GWS Giants defeated St Kilda by 44 points
David King reckoned that the Giants were super in the first term; although the Saints had a few injury troubles (mainly Jimmy Webster), the Giants lost Adam Kennedy in the second term and Aidan Corr late; Jeremy Cameron was excellent and booted six.

I reckon that injuries to key players are starting to take its toll on St Kilda; yes, the Giants had a few key outs, but not for multiple weeks so much as the Saints.

And the Giants are really looking good for a top four chance

Brisbane Lions defeated Sydney Swans by 22 points
Happy to tip the winner here; the EXTREME variance? not on final score, but the game trend was all over the place -with each team having a huge period of dominance; the Swans lost Harry Cunningham in Q3 and Tom Papley soldiered on despite a huge knock to the ribs; I’ve already written off the Swans as a finals chance, but not sure exactly where to rate Brisbane

Western Bulldogs defeated Richmond by 47 points
Glad to mention that this was a danger game; the Tigers were gone midway through the third term; they came in with some injury problems – then had 4 players struggle a bit with injury during the game: Nick (there’s no “F” in his name) Vlaustin, Bachar Houli, Jack Higgins and Daniel Rioli. Tom lynch struggled as the key forward in Jack Riewoldt’s absence. The Dogs were good enough to capitalise. Aaron Naughton was fantastic for the Dogs (“JC wouldn’t have stopped him”, said Damian Hardwick); I’d rate the win as 70% Richmond’s problems and 30% Bulldogs great play.

West Coast Eagles defeated Gold Coast Suns by 23 points
This looked like being a huge win to the Eagles – up 39 points at half time; from there, the Suns clawed back to an 11-point deficit before the Eagles finished off with the last 2 goals. A key issue for me was that Nathan Vardy came in and rucked virtually all night as a replacement for the injured Tom Hickey; I reckon this was one of the causes of the second half slowdown. GCVS coach Stuart Dew said that the players took ownership of their poor first half and lifted – so that might have contributed as well. I am going to rate this game as a slight false lead – ie the Eagles should be rated higher than a 23-point win over the Suns at home; the Suns should be rated lower than a 23-point loss to the Eagles away. Having said that, I am personally pleased that the Suns made it a contest in the second half.

North Melbourne defeated Carlton by 58 points
Really annoyed that I didn’t see this as an EXTREME variance game; the Roos eventually started as slight favourites after the four injuries to the Blues; but they still won by 50 points outside the expected range; in retrospect, the Roos have been slowly getting players back (Jed Anderson and Taylor Garner, for example). But the main thing is that Carlton was way off their game. North coach Brad Scott set Jack Ziebell to tag Patrick Cripps; Cripps finished with 123 SC points, but was blanketed early and the game was gone before Cripps started firing; all the “ins” for the Roos went well – Shaun Higgins, Marley Williams, Taylor Garner (first game since 2017 and very important to the team, according to the coach), Jy Simpkin and Sam Wright (a late replacement for Luke McDonald) all contributed well; Scott Thompson was injured in Q2 and was iced at 3QT but possibly could have come on if needed; for the Blues, Liam Jones copped a big knock in 3Q; Levi Casboult butchered the ball and Carlton’s “ins” were not as good as those for the Roos. Maybe the Blues missed Matthew Kreuzer; maybe they crashed mentally after the narrow loss the previous week

Geelong defeated Essendon by 32 points
This was good work by me, I reckon; I was reasonably bullish about the Cats. I reckon the long break for Essendon was a negative for them; for Geelong Brandan Parfitt and Zac (looks very young) Guthrie came in to replace Joel Selwood and Zac Tuohy, but these changes were done prior to game day. Kyle Langford came in for the Bombers to replace Orazio Fantasia (Brian Taylor was disappointed). Patrick Dangerfield “was on one leg” for much of the game, according to his coach. And Esava Ratugolea was off with concussion. All of that makes the Bombers effort look awful, but I reckon they were just off their tucker due to the long break after a narrow loss on ANZAC Day

Adelaide Crows defeated Fremantle by 17 points
51-34; why didn’t they play the second half? No! that was the final score! The lowest score so far this millennium. Only 3 goals were kicked in the first half, but the good news is that the game looked safe for the Crows for most of the latter part, so happy with the “certs” pick; but the Crows went nowhere near a 5 goal win; maybe it was the defensive game style; maybe I under-estimated the Dockers; a very tough game, according to Ross Lyon

Round 8 beginsFri 10 May 2019 at 7.50pm
SYD v ESS at SCG 7.50pm
WBD v ESS at Ballarat 1.45pm
CAR v COLL at MCG 1.45pm
GCS v MELB at Gold Coast 4.35pm
STK v WCE at Docklands 7.25pm
PORT v ADEL at Adelaide Oval 7.40pm Easterm
NMFC v GEEL at Docklands 1.10pm
HAW v GWS at MCG 3.20pm
FREO v RICH at Perth Stadium 5.20pm Eastern

My Thursday night tips are
Essendon (keen on them, but not total certs)
Western Bulldogs (don’t like the game)
Collingwood (just barely certs)
Melbourne (very keen)
West Coast Eagles (don’t like this game either)
Adelaide Crows (keen)
Geelong (but a slight danger game)
GWS Giants (but a slight danger game)
Fremantle (not certs)

SYD v ESS at SCG 7.50pm
The Bombers are coming off a 5 day break and Joe Daniher has been given a rest. I personally think that the 5 day break will be okay because:
A: the Bombers planned for this well in advance; and
B: they played ANZAC Day, so they got a good rest before their round 7 game (too long a rest, in fact – so their poor showing against a somewhat banged up Geelong will be ignored); the Swans are struggling and lose Harry Cunningham AND don’t get Buddy back yet. Orazio Fantasia coming back is a plus for the Bombers

WBD v BRIS at Ballarat 1.45pm
Ballarat will have had a lot of rain prior to the game and maybe just a bit during the game as well. With a temperature forecast of 4-13 and breezy, this should suit the Dogs. But not enough to get too confident on them; they are, and deserve to be, slight favourites; I’m a bit uncertain about both teams, so will make it an EXTREME variance game. I’d also like to see the ground condition on the day

CAR v COLL at MCG 1.45pm
Eddie McGuire made a comment about the Blues needing to chase Alistair Clarkson through the week. not good timing really, since his team is playing the Blues this week. I reckon the Pies should win, but they are a bit too favoured for my liking. They have just had a nice Friday night win and then the weekend off and they’re coming in to some “easy games” – Carlton, St Kilda, Sydney away and then Fremantle in Melbourne. The ins for the Blues are good and they should be competitive. I have the Pies as just barely certs but they are too hotly fancied for my liking

GCS v MELB at Gold Coast 4.35pm
The Suns were very good after half time in Perth last weekend against the Eagles, but I am marking this as a game where the Suns over-achieved (which I blamed on Tom Hickey being out for the Eagles – now Jarrod Witts faces Max Gawn!). Now they are given some hop and it will be harder for them this time. They have the weight of expectation. Melbourne lost 2 games after their maiden 2019 win against Sydney – a bad one vs the Saints and then were similarly beaten by Richmond off a 4 day break. Their win over Hawthorn was just a win, but I’m expecting them to get a big boost off this win. They aren’t certs, but I have them in the “almost certs” and I’ll actually be tipping them as a cert in my footytips comp (only because I’m not risking much right now)

STK v WCE at Docklands 7.25pm
This is an EXTREME variance game; last weekend Tom Hickey was a late withdrawal and Nathan Vardy failed to do as well as the replacement (not meant to ruck almost all day, according to the coach). Now Hickey is back, but against his old team. Is he 100% and how will he go? These are hard questions to answer; that’s why I’m wary. The Saints have hit the wall a bit recently – mainly due to injuries catching up with them. I reckon that the Eagles should win this reasonably well, but I’d be happier if I knew about Hickey.

PORT v ADEL at Adelaide Oval 7.40pm Eastern
Port has hit a snag with injuries – losing Robbie Gray recently and now Ollie Wines and Brad Ebert; plus one of their young guns Zak Butters has been dropped; Ryan Burton was sore in last week’s game. The Crows have been coming good with three wins in a row; Ross Lyon said the Crows / Dockers match was a tough match and it was the last match on Sunday; this is a slight concern; if the Crows really bomb, I might change my thoughts more towards Richmond in their Sunday game. As it is, I reckon the Crows can keep their run going and win by over 3 goals

NMFC v GEEL at Docklands 1.10pm
The Roos didn’t sing the song after last week’s win… well, they had a brief team meeting and then sang it. The Roos looked much better with their team chances last week and also caught the Blues at a good time (4 outs injured and all handy players). So expect generally better form from the Roos in the short term. Will it be enough to beat the Cats? Maybe not, but everyone has been talking about the tough fixture the Cats had in their first 7 weeks. If they are thinking that, then they may well choose round 8 to have a bit of a rest. Against this is that there is family bragging rights on the line. It’s a slight danger game – and Patrick Dangerfield might be tested close to game time. Cats, but beware

HAW v GWS at MCG 3.20pm
Shane Mumford is out injured and will be replaced by Dawson Simpson. This is a blow for the Giants and they also don’t get back Lachie Whitfield. but Josh Kelly and Phil Davis return. The Hawks dropped Jarryd Roughead (cannot remember the last time this happened) and lost Chad Wingard with an injury (maybe his hair!). I was going to be fairly bullish on the Giants until Mummy went out. Now I will tip them, but with less certainty. The dropping of Roughy might inspire a Hawk revival of sorts. Giants by about 2 goals is the tip – which means that if anything goes significantly wrong for them, they could get rolled. Mummy and Roughy make this an EXTREME variance game

FREO v RICH at Perth Stadium 5.20pm Eastern
The Dockers have improved and the Tigers look too injured to win. That was the exact scenario for Richmond’s last interstate trip – to play Port. they managed to pull off an upset then, but this time they appear more injured and the Dockers have improved. Dockers to win, but I’ll be cautious if the Crows put in a shocker (see above)

Round 8 review (apologies for even-later-ness)
Sydney Swans defeated Essendon by 5 points.

Disappointed that I was keen on the Bombers and they got rolled. I won’t bother with umpiring decisions or non-decisions; John Worsfold said his players should know better than to give away a 100-metre penalty and a goal. The Bombers were disappointing; in retrospect, Essendon are lacking big men up forward – with Joe Daniher rested and also James Stewart + Shaun McKernan injured. I was probably a bit too keen on them; Devon Smith and Orazio Fantasia are both injured now, but managed to contribute on the night. Tom Papley played a bit sore.

Western Bulldogs defeated Brisbane Lions by 16 points
The Dogs lost ruckman Tim English before the game – replaced by Fletcher Roberts. That was a help for the Lions, but they lost players in the game – Zac Bailey gone early and Jarrod Berry out late; the ground looked okay, but players had trouble with slipping – more so the Lions’ players; overall the tip was fair, but the pattern of scoring was not EXTREME

Collingwood defeated by Carlton by 19 points
The Blues led by 11 points with six minutes to go as the old blokes celebrated the 1979 flag. It looked like they were going to pull off the upset of the round, but the Pies kicked the final five goals of the match. This result was perfect for me, bar for the fact that the “certain win” was a bit too stressful. I tipped the Pies as “just certs” but I thought they were too hotly fancied as 7 goal favourites. The Blues were really UP for this game due to the 1979 grand final celebrations and also the poor effort the previous week. The Pies lost Chris Mayne to concussion near three quarter time. Bad for the Blues to concede the last five in quick succession.

Melbourne defeated Gold Coast Suns by a point
This was an amazing last minute. Scores were level then the suns “won” the game; then the Dees leveled it with 9 seconds to go; then rushed a behind to gain the win on the siren. I had the Dees tipped as “certs” in my own tipping comp because I was on a short run of winners. But they didn’t win like certs; they did have injuries on the day, but they didn’t start like the win over the Hawks gave them a big boost. Given their injuries, they would have been unlucky to lose; the Suns lost Sean Lemmens also, and now Pearce Hanley, but Hanley contributed well on the night.

West Coast Eagles defeated St Kilda by 18 points
Well, Tom Hickey never even made it to the selection table. Still, the Eagles were good enough to win and Nathan Vardy was better this week. The Saints look like they are doing their best, but injuries have caught up with the and the depth / experience underneath isn’t quite up to it yet. The Saints current injury quotient is about twice as bad as that of the Eagles. Good for the Saints to fight the game out well

Adelaide Crows defeated Port Adelaide by 20 points
This looked like being a big blow-out at the last change, but Port fought it out well. Port’s injury list has grown lately while Adelaide’s has shrunk; happy to tip the Crows confidently. The Crows lost Matt Crouch mid game and Daniel Talia late. The conditions were slippery. Port lost Ryan Burton early. Port moved Dougal Howard forward and I wanted to mention this because Dougals are so rare in AFL

Geelong defeated North Melbourne by 24 points
Joel Selwood was a late inclusion on Sunday for Sam Menegola and then Selwood himself was replaced by Charlie Constable (who scored 92 SC points). Roo Sam Durdin was a late replacement for Marley Williams and ended up getting suspended. An eventful day for replacements! The win was about as expected, but coach Scott (Geelong) said the difference in the game was that the Cats kicked straighter. It was a game of ebbs and flows as well; glad to tip a winner and I reckon the Cats will be vulnerable in coming weeks.

Hawthorn defeated GWS Giants by 33 points
This was the highest winning margin of the round. It would be a long time since the highest margin was as low as 33 points….wait a minute… round 4 1897 was lower at 30 points! And the winner in Hawthorn last weekend was an outsider as well. The Hawks stifled the Giants – who only had 40 inside 50s; then they butchered some of their rare chances – Jeremy Cameron was well held by James Frawley but kicked 0:4; it was a painful game to watch for non-aligned supporters (similar to the Crows / Dockers game the week prior), but a great result for the Hawks. It appears that the absence of Shane Mumford hurt the Giants; maybe Alistair Clarkson’s assessment of the Hawks after the loss to Melbourne may have fired the team up (and / or the dropping of Roughy)

Richmond defeated Fremantle by 25 points
This was almost a carbon copy of the Richmond win over Port (they didn’t kick 4 goals to nil in the first few minutes, but a “backs against the wall” type win interstate); the Tigers lost Toby Nankervis early as well as Jack Ross. The Dcokers got it back to level, but then the Tigers kicked away. A big effort by Richmond, but the Dockers were fairly poor. Noah Balta carried the ruck load for Nankervis and did enough to avoid a disaster. It’s hard to pinpoint why the Dockers were so poor – but they did get beaten by a higher rated team (even though the Tigers had injury concerns).

For rounds 9-16, see here:

Don’t worry about the “19”; the link will take you to the right spot