2020 Rounds 1 – 8

Round 1 starts (hopefully) on Thursday night 19 March 2020
All times eastern & we have gone form 20 minute quarters plus time on down to 16 minutes plus time on for 2020

Thursday, March 19
Richmond vs. Carlton (MCG) 7.25pm

Friday, March 20
Western Bulldogs vs. Collingwood (Docklands) 7.50pm

Saturday, March 21
Essendon vs. Fremantle (Docklands) 1.45pm
Adelaide Crows vs. Sydney Swans (Adelaide Oval) 4.35pm
GWS GIANTS vs. Geelong Cats (Sydney Olympic Park) 7.25pm
Gold Coast SUNS vs. Port Adelaide (Gold Coast) 7.25pm

Sunday, March 22
North Melbourne vs. St Kilda (MRVL) 1.10pm
Hawthorn vs. Brisbane Lions (MCG) 3.20pm
West Coast Eagles vs. Melbourne (Perth Stadium) 5.20pm

Tomorrow (Wednesday) I will review pre season form leading into round 1 in recent years – especially since they stopped handing out a pre season Cup.

Added 18 March 2020.  Here is the March community Series ladder for 2020, courtesy of
1. GWS               2            0            188.52

2. Gold Coast     2            0            163.56

3. Melbourne    2            0            154.62

4. Fremantle      2            0            149.48

5. St Kilda           2            0            121.77

6. Port Adelaide              2            0            119.14

7. Essendon       2            0            108.11

8. Collingwood  1            1            125.89

9. WBD               1            1            122.37

10. Brisbane      1            1            114.63

11. NMFC           1            1            81.67

12. West Coast 0            2            94.00

13. Adelaide      0            2            77.01

14. Hawthorn    0            2            72.40

15. Richmond    0            2            72.02

16. Geelong       0            2            61.50

17. Carlton         0            2            54.23

18. Sydney         0            2            50.24

Few would have tipped the top four. Some will see hope (or maybe despair) when they find their team on the ladder.  Firstly, the real ladder today is everyone with zero wins and losses.  In a few rounds, everyone will have forgotten about the pre-season ladder.

Next, those who were undefeated generally had something to prove.  The Giants were thrashed in the grand final; the Suns were tipped for the spoon; the Dees are trying to recover from an absolute shocker of a season; and Freo has been tipped to plummet; you could find incentive for the Saints, Port and Bombers winning also.

The reverse of having nothing much to prove is having won a flag in the past 10 years.  Those teams are highlighted above.  The results in the Marsh games mean something, but aren’t the be all and end all.


Club Wins Losses Percentage Ladder end of 2019
1. West Coast 2 0 169.11 5
2. Brisbane 2 0 131.21 2
3. St Kilda 2 0 125 14
4. Adelaide 2 0 123.97 11
5. Collingwood 2 0 119.75 4
6. Richmond 2 0 110.64 3 & flag
7. Sydney 1 1 112.35 15
8. GWS 1 1 102.99 6
9. Carlton 1 1 102.98 16
10. Port Adel 1 1 101.92 10
11. Geelong 1 1 96.51 1
12. Gold Coast 1 1 81.03 18
13. Melbourne 0 2 91.24 17
14. WBD 0 2 88.82 7
15. Essendon 0 2 81.59 8
16. NMFC 0 2 79.56 12
17. Hawthorn 0 2 74.62 9
18. Fremantle 0 2 64.55 13

The Eagles looked good until late in the year when they dropped out of the top four; the Brisbane form should have been believed; similar for Richmond and Collingwood; but the Crows and Saints hugely disappointed and now have new coaches.

But 5 of the top 8 in the JLT made the finals in the regular season

A more reliable guide in a way was the pre season injury status.  Teams worst off in terms of injury this time in 2019 were Pies, Dockers, Roos, Dees, Saints and Hawks.  Most of these underperformed – with the Pies defying their injury woes to make the prelim.  Teams best off were Lions, dogs and Eagles.  All three made the eight – with the Lions and Dogs surprising most tipsters to do so.

Now to the 2018 JLT series

Club Wins Losses Percentage Ladder end of 2018
Richmond 2 0 265.26 1
Gold Coast 2 0 188.73 17
Sydney 2 0 159.46 6
Melbourne 2 0 148.17 5
Carlton 2 0 116.46 18
GWS 1 1 141.53 7
Fremantle 1 1 140 14
Port Adelaide 1 1 118.75 10
Western Bulldogs 1 1 94.24 13
Adelaide 1 1 91.06 12
Collingwood 1 1 62.44 3
Essendon 1 1 61.29 11
West Coast 1 1 61.29 2 & flag
Hawthorn 0 2 86.63 4
St Kilda 0 2 76.92 16
Geelong 0 2 67.74 8
Brisbane 0 2 56.94 5
North Melbourne 0 2 51.19 9

Five of the bottom eight on the 2018 JLT ladder made the finals later that year.  Richmond followed on from their 2017 premiership looking totally unbeatable, but didn’t even make the grand final.

Now looking at the injury status at the beginning of 2018:  worst off was Collingwood and the Giants, followed by Geelong and Essendon; those teams finished runner up (on grand final day), 7th, 8th and 11th respectively. The Pies overachieved – being considered middle of the road before the 2018 season; the other three all underperformed versus their March 2018 premiership odds.

Those best off for injuries were Brisbane, followed by St Kilda, Port and the Eagles; it was a mixed bag here – with the Eagles beginning the year at $41 for the flag and finishing second after the regular season. The Lions slightly outperformed expectations with finishing 15th after being equal favourites for 17th spot. Port plummeted to 10th in 2018 after being 5th in 2017 and widely tipped as a flag hopeful.

Of course, the above information does not take into account what happened with player availability throughout the seasons.  Richmond struggled with injuries early in 2019, but had the shortest injury list going into the finals.  The rest, as my tiger fan friends tell me, is HYSTERIA.

Round 1 contains a Thursday night game. The game starts shortly after the teams for games 2-9 are announced, so I will include ealry tip information for games 2-9 now and maybe amend after teams for games 2-9 are announced and AFTER game 1 has commenced.

Thursday, March 19
Richmond vs. Carlton (MCG) 7.25pm

Tigers are certs; they have the better team, less injuries and while I don’t get too excited about pre season form, I was a bit concerned about the Blues being blown away late in Marsh 2 against the Lions. When this happens to a team early in the year, it generally spells bad news the following week. Tigers by 43 points (experts are tipping Tigers by 20)

REVIEW: Richmond was tipped by 43 points and won by 24. the experts got closer to the margin than me; happy to tip a winner and a cert and happy that the Tigers won by over the expected amount. But the Blues lost Matthew Kreuzer in Q2 and were 46 points down at half time. They looked like they were going to lose by 10 goals plus, but fought it out well. Levi Casboult rucked and did well. Richmond had Ivan Soldo rucking with Toby Nankervis playing despite being underdone. Nankervis did little; SPS for the Blues had a limited preparation but did quite well. Jacob Weitering was a #1 draft pick, but has suffered injuries; he looked terrific in blanketing Tom Lynch last night.
They play 16 minute plus time on quarters and the total score was higher than the 2019 average; curious!! Will see how the rest of the weekend plays out.

Friday, March 20
Western Bulldogs vs. Collingwood (Docklands) 7.50pm
The Pies go into the season with the longest injury list in the league; they will be missing Adam Treloar, Dayne Beams (a fair chance Beams may not play at all this year and I will probably just write him off soon unless the news changes dramatically), Tim Broomhead, Lynden Dunn, Levi Greenwood, Tom Langdon, Travis Varcoe
Players doubtful or underdone for round 1: Taylor Adams, Ben Reid, Brayden Sier, Flynn Appleby, Isaac Quaynor, Jaidyn Stephenson, Scott Pendlebury (home with flu like symptoms for the past four days, according to on 16 March; then seems okay and he is the type who would do everything correctly in preparation, so not extra worried about him).

Given full lists, I would rate these teams about equal, so the Dogs will be tipped; on the flip side, the Pies have shown enormous ability to cope with injuries in recent years. So I won’t totally write them off; Dogs by 19 points (experts are tipping Dogs by 1 point)


Saturday, March 21
Essendon vs. Fremantle (Docklands) 1.45pm
This game follows on nicely from the Collingwood game; sitting behind the Pies in the injury crisis stakes is Essendon and then Fremantle close behind the Dons. I want to emphasise the OUTS and UNDERDONES in this game:
This is from my season preview

Players definitely not there in round 1: Patrick Ambrose, Joe Daniher, Sam Draper, Dyson Heppell, Cale Hooker,
Players doubtful or underdone for round 1: Tom Bellchambers, Mitch Hibberd, James Stewart, David Zaharakis, Conor McKenna (not injured but went home to Ireland early in 2020), Jake Stringer (not fully training yet according to Nackers who contributes to – a highly recommended website – and unlikely to be in top form round 1 if he plays at all)
Players who have had a better pre-season in 2020 than in 2019: Devon Smith

Players definitely not there in round 1: Blake Acres, Joel Hamling, Stephen Hill, Jesse Hogan, David Mundy, Nathan Wilson (all in best 22 according to, Alex Pearce, Stefan Giro
Players doubtful or underdone for round 1: Hayden Young, Liam Henry (both high draft picks who may have been on the verge of a game had they been fully fit), Sam Switkowski
Players who have had a better pre-season in 2020 than in 2019: Andrew Brayshaw, Connor Blakely (was thinking of bolding and underlining Blakely, but he was dropped for Marsh 2; still have high hopes for him, but he want to be in the round 1 team for me to recommend him)

The Dockers are travelling and seem worse off for injuries; so the natural thing to do would be to tip the Bombers confidently. Why I won’t do this is that there is a danger that Essendon may have Tom Bellchambers as the key ruck and not be able to properly compete due to a pre-season injury.

I’m marking this game as an EXTREME variance game – which means that the end result may well be far from what people expect (or the mid game scoring trends may be erratic). The Bombers are favoured by 15 pints, so I would expect there to be a fair chance that they could win by over 50 points or lose by over 21 points.

Early tip = Essendon by 11 points but not certs. Experts are tipping Essendon by 15 points

Adelaide Crows vs. Sydney Swans (Adelaide Oval) 4.35pm
The Crows have a new coach in Matthew Nicks (assistant at the Giants in 2019 AND assistant at Port from 2011-2018. The Crows look reasonably healthy to start the year, but the lofty expectations of 2019 are gone. I and many others wrongfully tipped them for the top four, but they finished 11th after which then coach Don Pyke opted to walk away. The Crows should benefit from Paul Seedsman, Wayne Milera and Luke Brown having better pre-seasons this year; and Brodie Smith is flying in now his second year after an ACL. This game looks like the perfect start for the Crows as they host the Swans.

Sydney struggled mightily in the pre-season – getting thrashed by the Giants and then losing to the Roos. I normally largely ignore these pre-season results, but it’s worth having a quick squiz at the Swans’ results. They lost to hometown rivals the Giants by 94 points. I reckon this is the biggest margin ever in such a game. It appears that GWS entered the Marsh matches with a point to prove after being wiped away in last year’s grand final. Then the Swans were highly competitive against the Roos in Tassie. but the Roos have one of the longest injury lists at present.
It all points to a poor start by the Swans in my book. Their injury list, as such, is short – only Buddy and Lewis the Pelican Melican set to miss for sure; but they have multiple underdone players leading into round one – such as Isaac Heeney, Sam Reid, Callum Sinclair and Colin O’Riordan.
New coach Nicks will be keen to get his first win; the fact that it is his first coaching gig causes me to shy away from tipping the Crows as certs; but I am still more bullish than most
Early tip = Crows to win by 15 points but not certs; (experts are tipping Crows by 6 points)

GWS GIANTS vs. Geelong Cats (Sydney Olympic Park) 7.25pm
Chris Scott suggested on Wednesday that Jack Steven is unlikely to play, while Joel Selwood (with no trial games) and Mitch Duncan (with 1 VFL practice match) are likely to play. I don’t fancy a team’s chances when they rush back players underdone for round 1. Both Selwood and Duncan would have been better off playing in round 3 or 4, but it looks like them 80% or so fit is better than then next midfielders (such as Charlie Constable); this makes me quite keen to tip the Giants with confidence. Giants by over 24 points and certs (experts are tipping Giants by 10 points)

Gold Coast SUNS vs. Port Adelaide (Gold Coast) 7.25pm
The Suns have had a pretty tough run of it during the pre-season with lots of injuries; despite that, they won both their Marsh matches and the whole place seems happy. It’s more important for them to be up and about early in the season than it is for many other clubs. There’s no expectation for them to play finals, but they need to be competitive and register an early win or two; their best chances for wins early would be this game, home games against the Swans, Dees and Crows in rounds 3, 5 and 7 and also an away game in round 4 versus the Dockers. I expect them get get at least 1 win in that time and they have some chance this weekend, but I won’t be tipping them. They have too many players underdone.
The pressure is on Port big time this year and this will be marked as a “must win” game for them.
I am marking this as an EXTREME variance game because of the doubts on the talls. Charlie Dixon is a test for Port; I expect him to miss; and Scott Lycett is also listed as a test; Peter ladhams looks like being the main man in the ruck this weekend if either or both of the above two miss.
Jarrod Witts seems to be a certain starter for the Suns and is crucial to their success, but he had foot surgery in the off season and hasn’t played yet.
Early tip is for Port by 20 points (experts are tipping Port by 15 points)

Sunday, March 22
North Melbourne vs. St Kilda (Docklands) 1.10pm
I rate these teams similarly, but the Saints have the second shortest injury list, while the Roos injury list sits at number 3; it’s enough for me to be bullish about the Saints; I was tempted to pick them as certs, but will narrowly shy away from that
Early tip = Saints by 23 points
(experts are tipping Saints by 2 points)

Hawthorn vs. Brisbane Lions (MCG) 3.20pm
The Lions have NOT ONE PLAYER on their injury list; the Hawks will be missing Daniel Howe, Jarman Impey and Blake Hardwick for many weeks to come, while Mitch Lewis, Jack Gunston and Tim O’Brien are all doubtful. This is enough for me to tip the Lions despite them being the ones travelling. I also rate the Lions a bit above the Hawks.
Early tip = Brisbane by 16 points
(experts are tipping Brisbane by 4 points)

West Coast Eagles vs. Melbourne (Perth Stadium) 5.20pm
At first glance, this looks like an easy kill for the Eagles; they were top 4 last year while the Dees were 17th. But Melbourne looks like a much better side this year. They had a horror pre-season last year and this year is better – despite having multiple injury concerns.
The Eagles will be tipped with the home state advantage as well as a shorter injury list. But they look like a team that is more keen on peaking late season (whenever that may be) rather than staring like a scalded cat. That’s why I am tipping them by less than many and won’t make them certs. But I don’t really like this game and would avoid it if I could
Early tip = Eagles by 11 points

(experts are tipping Dogs by 20 points)

In summary (might change after team announcements): Tigers and Giants are the certs; quite keen on the Dogs, Saints and Crows. If is likely that at least 1 outsider will win, but none stands out as noteworthy. Remember that we have 16 minute plus time on quarters for now (was 20 minutes last season); I think that will impact total scores (obviously), but maybe not such a huge impact on margins – just a little; we shall see; I expect at least 2 teams to win by over 7 goals. Enjoy your football (as Billy Baxter of the Coodabeens says); I am eagerly looking forward to it!

LATE Review Round 1

I want to start with the difference of round 1, 2020 to the previous year.  Firstly, it wasn’t until Wednesday night 18 March 2020 that it was finally confirmed that round 1 would go ahead.  The Blues and Tigers players were apparently told it was on earlier in the day, but the official word came out to the public well into the evening and less than 24 hours before kick-off.

Next – no crowd; just essential service people (players, umpires, coaches, trainers etc).

Then the quarters were shorter (16 minutes plus time on – usual was 20 minutes plus time on).  The Dream Team scores for round 1, 2019 totalled 27,520 (average 69.5 per player) compared to 22,433 in round 1, 2020 (average 56.6 per player).  The players scored 81% of their 2019 round 1 score in 2020. 80% was expected.  So nothing statistically significant there, except you need to adjust your expectations if you are playing Dream Team or Supercoach this season (if and when we resume). Your 100 player of 2019 will get about 80 this season.

How to review games: I will do so below as best I can, but maybe some clubs adapted to the bizarre events better than others.  It was reported that not all players were actually keen on taking the field.  So perhaps some results can be taken with a grain of salt.  Then, with a huge gap until round 2 and players all training at home, we have further problem with tips for that round.  Don’t go too hard on yourself if your round 1 tips weren’t that good.  That is me and I am cutting myself some slack.

Now to look at the fast starts some teams got this year.
Richmond vs Carlton: 5 goals to nil at the 12 minute mark Q1
Collingwood vs Bulldogs: 4 goals to nil at the 13 minute mark Q1
Essendon vs Fremantle: 4 goals to nil at the 16 minute mark Q1
Port vs Gold Coast Suns : no fast start, but Port scored the first 5 goals if the game
GWS Giants vs Geelong: 3 goals to nil at the 8 minute mark Q1
Eagles vs Melbourne: 5 goals to nil at the 22 minute mark Q1
These 6 fast starters all won – although the Bombers had to survive a scare

Compare this to round 1, 2019
The Tigers blew the Blues away early – 4 goals to nil at the 12 minute mark Q1
Melbourne vs Port: 3 goals to nil at the 11 minute mark Q1 (and then lost)
GWS Giants vs Essendon : no fast start, but GWS scored the first 5 goals if the game

Richmond 16.9  (105) defeated  Carlton 12.9 (81) at MCG
I tipped the Tigers as certs and was never concerned – even when the Blues were mounting a late charge. I felt like this was a 6 – 7 goal win in reality.  A radio commentator agreed. The Blues lost Matthew Kreuzer late in Q1 and he was gone for the night.  The long break until round 2 may mean he won’t miss a game. Levi Casboult (hands of steel, heart of gold and boot of iron) filled in and did very well.  Jacob Weitering was superb on Tom Lynch.  Coach said after that Weitering had had a great pre season.  Sam Docherty finally returned and was hogging the ball like he hadn’t missed a game. 

For the Tigers, Nick (there’s no F in) Vlaustin copped a knock to the head in Q3. Shai Bolton really impressed and Marlion Pickett looks to be more than a one hit wonder.  Similar to 2019 round 1, the Tigers put the game away early.

Collingwood 13.8 (86) defeated Western Bulldogs 5:4 (34) at Docklands
This result surprised me – as I was quite bullish on the Dogs (fortunately without tipping them as certs).  But Brodie Grundy totally dominated Tim English on the way to a massive 179 Supercoach points.  Jeremy Howe, off the back of a better pre season, was terrific and Tyler Brown did okay in his debut. Pendles showed no ill effects after having flu-like symptoms and being isolated earlier in the week.  The game was pretty much over midway through Q2. Often when a ruckman is in total control, the opposition mids can shark some hit-outs, but even this was working on the night.

Aaron Naughton went into the game underdone for the Dogs and he struggled (although the ball didn’t head his way too often).  Ben Cavarra had a quiet debut, but he managed a goal and it wasn’t a good night for Dog forwards.  Bailey Smith was about the only big plus for the team (106 SC points)

Essendon 9.9 (63) defeated Fremantle 8.9 (57) at Docklands
This was the one game where the team that got the jump on the opposition looked in real danger of losing. But the Bombers’ 4 goal plus margin early was just enough to save them in the end.

Despite the Bombers actually doing okay in the Marsh Series games, they had a horror pre-season and would be relieved to get round 1 out of the way with a win – and now have lots of time to get things right by a much-delayed round 2.

The Dockers (like the Swans listed below) narrowly missed snaring a win for their coach in his debut game. Coach Justin Longmuir hated the slow start, felt like his team played a bit too safe early, but came with a rush once they took the game on. Debutante Sam Sturt had his own cheer squad in one of the boxes and picked up a rising star nomination with 3 goals and 100 SC points

Sydney Swans 11.8 (74) defeated Adelaide Crows 11.5 (71) at Adelaide Oval   
This result came as a bit of a surprise to me; I was reasonably bullish on the Crows – without declaring them certs. One reason (thankfully) which held me back was that the Crows had a new coach in Matthew Nicks; also, there is still this query about the culture at the club being fixed. Even if it is, it might take a while to recover totally.
There were a few factors at play here. Isaac Heeney was supposedly underdone, but played a terrific game. With Sam Naismith in the ruck, the Swans dominated centre square clearances. for the Crows, my boy Brodie Smith (I talked up his chances of scoring big this pre-season) copped an injury – missing the entire Q3 before playing out the game under duress.  

The Swans looked to have control of the game from mid Q2 onwards. Coach John Longmire said the effort was top class from the start – especially tackling, but the method was slower to come. once the method came, they began to get on top.

Nonetheless, the Crows almost pinched it in the end; the game could’ve gone either way.

GWS Giants 17.3 (105) defeated Geelong 11.7 (73) at Sydney Showground Stadium
I tipped the Giants as certs, so reasonably happy here. The game was put to bed early in my mind. Having said that, the Cats stayed close enough for most of the day to give themselves a fluky chance at stages. Joel Selwood and Mitch Duncan went in underdone for the Cats; Duncan got a tick from his coach for performing well off a limited preparation (120 SC points) but Selwood only scored 68.

The Giants went through the pre-season and the first few minutes of this game like they were desperate to erase the grand final memory. They were very efficient inside 50 and this kept their opponents at arms’ length. They lost Adam Kennedy early; this loss was partly offset by several niggly injuries to Geelong players.

I’m still tipping the Giants for the flag after this effort.

Port Adelaide 10.16 (76) defeated Gold Coast 4.5 (29) at the Gold Coast
Port looked extremely good here and they followed on from excellent pre-season form. The Suns were also good in the pre-season, but put in an absolute shocker this time. Jarrod Lienert came in as a late replacement for Port’s Riley Bonner. Hamish Hartlett was gone with a quad in Q3 and they had some other minor niggles, but kept their rivals at bay.

Suns coach Stuart Dew thought the margin flattered the Suns and Port’s Ken Hinkley noted that they kicked at goal poorly in 2H; they won the SC score 1859 to 1440 and this is a whopping. One very significant thing to note is that Jarrod Witts had an injury interrupted pre-season, came in without a game under his belt and really struggled. Number 1 draft pick Mathew Rowell did well with 80 SC points.

I marked this as an EXTREME variance game and the result was almost, but not quite, in that category. Had Port kicked straighter and won by over 9 goals, it would have qualified

North Melbourne 8.8 (56) defeated St Kilda 7.12 (54) at Docklands
I found this game a little hard to assess. The Saints were terrific early and almost put the game away in the first half; 13 shots to 4 and up by 29 points. Then they booted 0:5 to 4:5 in Q3 and the game became a dour struggle. I’m cheesed off because a win by the Saints would’ve given me a decent week of tipping, but they couldn’t hang on. The pressure applied by the Saints early was terrific – praised by Roos coach Rhyce Shaw; but the Roos managed to perform under pressure in the second half and scrape over the line. They finished with Jack Ziebell, Josh Walker and Paul Ahern unable to play. Ben Cunnington was enormous later in the game – moving forward to boot two majors on the way to 185 SC points; Shaw also handed out ticks to Tarryn Thomas, Cameron Zurhaar, Nic Larkey and Jy Simpkin (with 131 SC). A gutsy effort by the Roos.

Sometimes when a tea gets injuries, the other team seems to play differently – maybe the Saints tried to save the game rather than win it after half time; they lost Jade Gresham to injury as well. The Saints won the Dream Team AND Supercoach totals and had 3 more scoring shots, but just fell short.

Hawthorn 14.6  (90) defeated Brisbane Lions 9.8 (62) at MCG
I tipped the Lions to win this based on a smaller injury list. they were quite disappointing and the Hawks gradually wore them down. The Lions lost Stefan Martin to a knee injury, but this didn’t account for the loss. It may be that the Lions are going to drop down the ladder almost as quickly as they rose last season. It’s too early to make that call; maybe just a good day for the Hawks and a bad one for the Lions; it’s also possible that the Hawks have been a bit underestimated. I don’t want to make a call on this yet either. Chad Wingard starred for Hawthorn with 3 goals and 131 SC points; there were a few underachievers for the Lions – I will keep an eye on them to see if they pick up in rounds 2 and following. See travel notes on Melbourne immediately below

West Coast 12.6 (78) defeated Melbourne 7.9 (51) at Perth Stadium  
The Eagles jumped out to a handy early lead and the lead didn’t vary much after that. While it looked like a total Eagle domination in Q1, both coaches agreed that the Eagles just made the most of their chances. With the Covid-19 story developing on the weekend and players in the latter games knowing it was their last kick for a while, I am less certain of the way to interpret that Sunday games. Max Gawn mentioned (alongside the coach in the presser) that the travel to Perth was not normal. And I note that both travelling teams on Sunday underperformed.

Jack Viney was huge for the Dees with 34 possessions and 186 SC points; Ed Langdon was next best for them – playing on a ground quite familiar to him (being an ex Docker). Kysaiah Pickett looked promising with two goals in his debut, while the other debutante – Toby Bedford – struggled.

Tim Kelly was reasonably good in his Eagles debut (but not as good as when he totally slaughtered them in the finals series last year – still think the Eagles may have lost the 2019 flag by not paying extra for him at the end of 2018).

Late in April we still await news of round 2 and beyond. Scott Gullan has hinted that we might be starting in the second week of July. Once it has been decided, I’ll put up the round 2 fixture and make further comments.

Latest news (21 May 2020) is a start on 11 June 2020; looks like we will get plenty of dreaded Thursday night games this year. Rounds 2-4 appear to be unchanged in terms of which teams play, but dates and venues have not been officially confirmed yet. Rounds 5-17 and TBA at this stage

Page down for Round 2

21 May 2020
Pastor Mark Buck is in the offices here at today and at a safe social distance. He’s here to talk about footy and the current crisis.

Mark: The topic for today is “The meek shall inherit the earth”.

Penny: Fine, but what has being insipid and submissive got to do with our current health crisis?

Mark: I’ll use a different definition of “Meek” for you – it’s to live with margins in your life. Those who were doing so at the start of 2020 are going to get through better than those who didn’t

Penny: Go on

Mark: Let’s look at the AFL and NRL. I’m just basing this on what I hear through the media. It appears that the AFL were living more within their means than the NRL. The NRL was in immediate crisis, whereas the AFL were better able to manage. One radio commentator mentioned that an NRL employee was getting $500,000 for a job which was only worth half that in reality. The AFL seemed better able to cope. So I assume they had, to a degree, shock-proofed their business. It’s still a crisis for them, but far less so than the NRL.

Penny: That’s because our footy is a better game than their footy

Mark: I agree about being a better game; but the AFL were way better off because it appears that they were much closer to living with margins in their business model than the NRL. Let’s transfer this to someone getting a housing loan. For a start, house prices in metropolitan areas are incredibly high. Many people buy a house on the most they can possibly borrow. This leaves them with massive repayments and some have no margin for error. So when someone loses a job, there’s an unplanned pregnancy or some other unexpected financial storm hits, then they lose their house. These people do quite well, as a rule, in up markets. But it’s not smart to presume upon the future, as we discovered this year.

Penny: So, Mark, what should I do in terms of my generous salary from

Mark: It’s up to you, of course. But I would recommend that you, and everyone, lives with margins in their lives. Don’t borrow too much. Have some reserve cash. You’ll lose out a bit in the boom times by doing this, but you’ll be saved in the bust times while others go under financially. The same principle applies to time. An experiment was given to some theology students many years ago – before mobile phones were invented. They arrived at a university and had been told a few days earlier to preach on the Good Samaritan. They arrived at different times and were told where to go to and what time they were due to start preaching. A man was placed along their path who was apparently in severe distress. This man needed a “Good Samaritan” to help him. Some students were told they had a ten minute walk to their destination and were given thirty minutes and were sent on their way. Others had the same ten minute walk past the same injured man, but were told that they were supposed to be there already. There had been a mistake with the timing.

Penny: So did any of them practice what they preached and help the injured bloke?

Mark: virtually all of the people who had twenty minutes to spare stopped to check on the man. Conversely, those who were running late either totally ignored him, stepped over him or apologised and kept going. Margins; meekness. I know a man who is employed by a charity organisation. Wherever possible, he gives himself extra time when attending meetings so he can stop to help or encourage people along the way. People with n margins in their time can get overly frustrated with minor unexpected delays. Having margins in your time schedule can reduce stress.

Penny: Good work, Mark. I need to remember this once the footy season gets back in full swing.

Rounds 2, 3, 4 and 5 have now been scheduled by the AFL. They are different both in terms of who plays who and also where – compared to the original fixture; so please refer to the AFL website for the full picture

Round 2:
Thursday, June 11
Collingwood vs Richmond (MCG) 7.40pm

Friday, June 12
Geelong vs Hawthorn (Kardinia Park) 7.50pm

Saturday, June 13
Brisbane vs. Fremantle (Gabba) 1.45pm
Carlton vs Melbourne (Docklands) 4.35pm
Port Adelaide vs Adelaide Crows (Adelaide Oval) 7.40pm
Gold Coast SUNS vs West Coast Eagles (Gold Coast) 7.40pm

Sunday, June 14
GWS GIANTS vs. North Melbourne (Sydney Olympic Park) 1.05pm
Sydney Swans vs Essendon (SCG) 3.35pm
St Kilda vs Western Bulldogs (Docklands) 6.05pm

Preview to be added in week of June 8-12 and by Wednesday latest

Added 02 June 2020 & will be updated through to round 2
Looked at the AFL website this morning hoping that the injury report would’ve been updated. Sadly, it hadn’t been. So here is what I could find out from various sources (with a big thanks to Foxsports & The Age – keep looking at the Age in coming days where they will cover injuries for all other clubs):

Adelaide: Tyson Stengle – club suspension and due back R6
Riley Knight – Achilles, will miss a few weeks

Brisbane: Dayne Zorko – Achilles, likely for R2
Stefan Martin: did PCL in R1 but will play in R2 after playing in intea-club last Friday
Grant Birchall – likely to be okay for R2 after missing R1 with a hammie
Marcus Adams – foot, out for several weeks

Carlton: Eddie Betts (calf) – missed R1 and expected to return for R2
Charlie Curnow (knee) – season
Matthew Kreuzer (foot) – back in R7
Tom de Koning (ankle) – 4 weeks
Brodie Kemp (knee) – indefinite
All these expected back in R2: Harry McKay (groin), Caleb Marchbank (knee), Nic Newman (elbow) and Zac Fisher (ankle)

Collingwood: Adam Treloar (calf) out for R2; maybe back R3
Ben Reid – out for R2 with unspecified injury
Brody Mihocek – a test and injury unknown
Levi Greenwood and Tom Langdon (knees) – our for several weeks
Dayne Beams – unlikely this year
The following should be available: Travis Varcoe (shoulder); Lynden Dunn (knee) and Matthew Scharenberg (hip)

Essendon: Joe Daniher – a long way off due to his troublesome groin
Dyson Heppell (foot) – test
Cale Hooker (hip) and Patrick Ambrose (knee) are both likely for R2
Sam Draper (knee) – unlikely for R2
Lachie Johnson (knee) – season
Orazio Fantasia (quad) – 2-3 weeks

Fremantle: David Mundy (leg) – likely
Nathan Wilson (toe) – test
Jesse Hogan (mental illness) – a chance for R2
Blake Acres (hammie) and Joel Hamling (ankle) – out for at least R2
Alex Pearce – out for a long time
Stefan Giro (knee) – 6 weeks
Stephen Hill (quad) – unknown; watch for news
Sam Start (back) – test
Cam McCarthy in hospital 03 June after collapsing in non-contact training

Geelong: Nakia Cockatoo (hammie) – 2-3 weeks
Lachie Fogarty (ankle) – TBC
Jack Steven (chest) – unlikely
Stefan Okunbor (Achilles) – TBC
Josh Jenkins (back) – will miss R2 at least

Gold Coast Suns: Charlie Ballard (shoulder) – TBC
Wil Powell (knee) – TBC
Mitch Riordan (ACL) – season
David Swallow (suspended)

GWS Giants: Tim Taranto (shoulder) – 7 weeks

Hawthorn: Jaeger O’Meara – facial fracture, test for R2
Blake Hardwick – illness, test (expect further news next week)
Will golds (knee) – season
Daniel Howe (foot) – 5 weeks
Jarman Impey (knee) – 6 weeks
Changkuoth Jiath (hamie) – test

Melbourne: Kade Kolodjashnij (concussion) -: indefinite
Aaron vandenberg (foot) – won’t be seen for a while

North Melbourne: Majak Daw – we still await his comeback; pec injury recently and out for next month approx
Luke Davies-Uniacke (groin) – TBC
Taylor Garner (hamstring) – TBC
Kyron Hayden (Achilles) – 3-4 weeks
Ben Jacobs (concussion) – Indefinite
Flynn Perez (knee) – 5-6 weeks
Kayne Turner (foot) – 5-6 weeks
Ed Vickers-Willis (knee) – 4-6 weeks

Port Adelaide: Charlie Dixon (adductor) – Test
Jack Watts (calf) – TBC

Richmond: Bachar Houli (calf) – 1-2 weeks
Noah Cumberland (knee) – Season

St Kilda: Jack Steele (wrist) – Available

Sydney Swans: Lance Franklin (knee) – 2-3 months
Sam Reid (calf) – 3-4 weeks
Ben Ronke (knee) – will miss R2 at least
Jackson Thurlow (calf) – will miss R2 at least
Joel Amartey (hammie) – 2-3 weeks

West Coast Eagles: Jarrod Cameron (pubic bone) – TBC
Mark Hutchings (knee) – 3-4 weeks
Daniel Venables (concussion) – Season

Western Bulldogs: Riley Garcia (knee) – Indefinite

Round 2:
Thursday, June 11
Collingwood vs Richmond (MCG) 7.40pm

Friday, June 12
Geelong vs Hawthorn (Kardinia Park) 7.50pm

Saturday, June 13
Brisbane vs. Fremantle (Gabba) 1.45pm
Carlton vs  Melbourne (Docklands) 4.35pm
Port Adelaide vs Adelaide Crows (Adelaide Oval) 7.40pm
Gold Coast SUNS vs  West Coast Eagles (Gold Coast)   7.40pm

Sunday, June 14
GWS GIANTS vs. North Melbourne (Sydney Olympic Park) 1.05pm
Sydney Swans vs Essendon  (SCG) 3.35pm
St Kilda vs Western Bulldogs (Docklands) 6.05pm

The following is a list of possible ins and outs; I am including this because many of you will be tipping without knowing the teams this week – excepting perhaps game 1 – and it has been a long time since round 1.  Please don’t tell me I cannot count; most teams have more ins than outs; the ins are possible ins – players available and somewhere near or obviously in the top 22 for their team.  First the likely team changes; then the tips & analysis

IN: Kyle Hartigan, Tom Doedee
OUT: Tyson Stengle (club suspension)
Played a scratch match Saturday 06 June

IN: Grant Birchall
OUT: Marcus Adams
Stefan Martin and Dayne Zorko might both be slightly underdone

IN: Eddie Betts, Harry McKay, Marc Pittonet
OUT: Matthew Kreuzer (inj), Zac Fisher (inj)

IN: Travis Varcoe, Darcy Cameron, Jaidyn Stephenson
OUT: Mason Cox (knee, test)

IN: Dyson Heppell, Cale Hooker, Patrick Ambrose
OUT: Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (inj), Orazio Fantasia (inj), Jake Stringer might be a test

IN: Jesse Hogan (maybe), David Mundy (test), Nathan Wilson (test), Stephen Hill (maybe), Blake Acres – all 5 played in a scratch match on 05 June
OUT: Sam Sturt (played half the scratch match but extremely unlikely for R2), Cam McCarthy (collapsed at training, will miss R2 at least)

IN: Rhys Stanley, Brandon Parfitt
Jack Steven has just returned to full training a week or so out from R2 and seems unlikely

Gold Coast Suns
IN: Wil Powell, Charlie Ballard, Pearce Hanley, Jarrod Harbrow, Alan Sexton, Jack Hombsch, Peter Wright, Sam Day
OUT: David Swallow (suspended), Brandon Ellis (inj)

GWS Giants
IN: Jackson Hately, Zac Williams, Callan Ward

IN:  Blake Hardwick (test), Mitch Lewis
OUT: Jaeger O’Meara (test)

IN: Christian Salem, Nathan Jones, Jayden Hunt

North Melbourne
IN: Mason Wood
OUT: Nick Larkey (inj)
Jack Ziebell had a knee injury in round 1 and has recovered; Marley Williams will complete the longest in season 2 game suspension ever this weekend and will be available for selection R3

Port Adelaide
IN: Charlie Dixon, Riley Bonner, Ollie Wines
OUT: Mitch Georgiades (inj)

IN: Bachar Houli (but may not be 100%), Jack Higgins, Jack Ross
OUT: Dion Prestia (Tigers say he will play for sure; watch for team selections and late changes)

St Kilda
IN: Jake Carlisle (but missed recent scratch match with a cold), Jimmy Webster, Josh Battle, Shane Savage

Sydney Swans
IN: George Hewett, Callum Sinclair
OUT: Ben Ronke (knee)

West Coast Eagles
IN: Oscar Allen
Things pretty stable at the Eagles; Tim Kelly likely to play despite a minor injury at training

Western Bulldogs
IN: Patrick Lipinski, Tom Liberatore, Toby McLean
OUT: Lachie Hunter (suspended)

Note: Late changes used to be in 90 minutes prior to kick-off; now it is 60 minutes prior. Also, we are sticking with 16 minutes plus time on for 2020.

Before I start with the tips, let me say that I have spent some time trying to work out how thing might pan out – given the long COVID-19 break and then the mini pre-season the clubs have done; and then there is the hubs. I have had a look at the Bundesliga and NRL. away teams seemed to do okay with no crowds – with maybe the effect diminishing. I had a look at the scoring patters in both the above codes (not the same as AFL, but it’s the best we have to go by).

Alistair Clarkson did a remote presser (weird to listen to!) and he was genuinely excited about the next few weeks. Adam Simpson reckoned that we would know the lay of the land in 4 weeks time. My take is that nobody has much idea of how things might pan out. I hear the injury rate of players returning is a bit higher than expected in those other codes.

Back now to the NRL and Soccer results: there seemed to be a pattern of winning teams holding or extending in second halves. I also noticed a lot of scoring VERY EARLY in matches. 5 of the 8 NRL games had a try within 4 minutes; conversely, tries in the 10 minutes AFTER half time were rare – only 3 across the 8 games in the first 10 minutes of the games as a total. Other 10 minute periods were averaging 5 – 8 tries.

Our current situation sort of reminds me of grand final replays.
1948: Dees led 38 to 3 at QT (35 point lead); Essendon reduced the margin to 22 points at HT; the Dees by 30 at 3QT and won by 39
1977: Roos by 13 points at QT; 11 at HT; 30 at 3QT and won over Collingwood by 27
2010: Pies by 18 points at QT; 27 at HT; 41 at 3QT and won by 56 points.

The general trend, apart from Q2 perhaps, is that the superior team draws away in the second half. Maybe that might happen, but I will review games day by day for the trend; I might not report until the round is finished, so check it yourself. My main take-away is NOT to expect teams to get overrun late – in fact, I would expect the 3QT leaders to kick away in Q4 as a rule.

Having said all that I don’t like the round as an analyst because there are to many unknowns. That being the case, upsets and blow-out wins are more likely than normal.

The AFL website NOW has predictions of round 2 changes written by the various club specialists, which will be better than mine; here is the link
I have cheated and pinched some of their thoughts in my list above

NOTE: Gauntlet starts this weekend (caught me by surprise!!) Usually we have the whole year’s fixture to look at when entering out first Gauntlet tip. Not so lucky this year; we only have rounds 2-5; I’m tipping Brisbane as my Gauntlet tip this week, with the likelihood of then going for Collingwood in R3, then Richmond and Geelong. May change along the way and you only have to tip 1 week at a time!!

Thursday 11 June 2020
Richmond vs Collingwood at the MCG

Really don’t like the first two games especially; I have concerns that the Tigers might be slightly overrated; and that Bachar Houli + Dion Prestia may both be ever so slightly underdone.

So why don’t I pick Collingwood with confidence? Well, they have a longer injury list and I am not sure what to make of their big win over the Dogs. Was it a false lead? Brodie Grundy totally dominated in the ruck and he might not be so dominant in this game. And the Dogs didn’t looked switched on early in R1.

I won’t say any more yet until the teams come in except to tip Richmond with little confidence for now.

Jack Higgins has been given the nod to play this week after his career looking in danger with a brain problem last year. Great news for him; let’s hope he gets through unscathed!

The teams are now in and Houli has been selected; Ivan Soldo is rucking without Toby Nankervis, so his performance in trying to quell Grundy will go a long way to telling who will win. There was talk of Marlion Pickett pinch-hitting in the ruck (maybe when Grundy not there?), so we will see if this transpires. Darcy Cameron is in for the Pies – replacing Mason Cox.

Tigers by 3 points and EXTREME variance, but stay away from this game if you can. I will watch the trends with interest as per the discussion above about the Bundesliga and NRL. I expect the half time leader to extend their margin in the second half.

Friday 12 June 2020
Geelong vs Hawthorn
at Kardinia Park
The Hawks have not played a regular season game at Kardinia Park since 2006; this would normally be a big advantage to the Cats but there won’t be a crowd there. So how big an advantage will it be? Slender, at best, I reckon!

Joel Selwood and Mitch Duncan had limited pre-seasons before round 1 and may be further improved (although Duncan was super in R1 given his lead-up). Maybe Rhys Stanley might come in; I expect him to and this should be a boost for the Cats.

On the other side, this is some doubt about Jaeger O’Meara playing; Jack Gunston was underdone in round 1 and should be improved.

The Hawks looked better in round 1, but their opponents (Brisbane) lost Stefan Martin to a knee injury. The Cats were competitive against the Giants, but never looked likely to win.

Early thoughts here are the same as game 1 – the home team (Geelong here) with zero confidence and an EXTREME variance game; Cats by 4 points

Saturday 13 June 2020
Brisbane vs Fremantle at the Gabba
Forecast: showers
Fremantle arrived at their QLD hub this week, along with the Eagles. The S. A. teams will be there a week later. The Dockers will be the first hub team to play. The two above games are “normal” (except that players have to adhere to certain health restrictions). It will be interesting to see how the Dockers fare. It’s a tough one for them – playing away against a superior team. They should have some handy inclusions (see above), but I doubt if it will get them close to a win. when they almost overran the Bombers n R1, Essendon had come off a poor pre-season in terms of injuries.

The Lions looked average against the Hawks, but lost Stefan Martin to injury during the game. Fortunately for him, the long break gave him a chance to recover from injury.

This is a “must win” game for the Lions if they are to repeat their top four status of 2019. I expect them to win comfortably. I’m tipping them as certs – to bounce back from a poor R1 effort; the only danger I see is that they get ahead of themselves and start thinking about the juicy R3 clash with the Eagles; I doubt this will occur. For the Lions and Dogs, I want to see how they rebound off shocking R1 efforts given the long break between games. I reckon they will begin extra well.

Lions as certs and to win by 38 points

Carlton vs Melbourne at the Docklands
The Blues lost Matthew Kreuzer in R1 and he’ still not good to go; the AFL website lists Marc Pittonet to come in. Levi Casboult did quite okay filling in for Kreuzer against the Tigers, but Pittonet seems like a logical “in”. Eddie Betts is expected to play his return game for the Blues. He was much loved last time and he is sure to get a warm welcome by Blues fans sitting at home.

The Dees had the tough road trip to play the Eagles in round 1 and were okay after blowing Q1 and being down by 27 points at the first break. That was the final margin. Likely inclusions Christian Salem and Nathan Jones is a plus, while Steven May will benefit from the break after minor ops early in the calendar year.

Harley Bennell has been named ahead of the official deadline. First senior game for over 1,000 days. Like Jack Higgins mentioned above, I hope he gets through the game okay. I wouldn’t expect too much from him and maybe he will start on the pine, but his potential is at the upper end of the talent pool.

I’m keen on the Dees here, without labeling them as certs. Dees by 19 points.

late note added Saturday afternoon: I am a bit concerned about the many changes for the Dees; I would be more so had round 1 been a week ago. I’ll still tip them, but with less certainty and I’m now changing this to an EXTREME variance game/

Port Adelaide vs Adelaide at Adelaide Oval
Forecast: showers and windy
They play the showdown on Saturday in front of a crowd and then head to QLD. Port is the home team and gets 1,500 of the 2,000 spectators. This would be the biggest split of the crowd they would have had in any showdown. I would’ve tipped them anyway, but it makes me a little more confident. Having said that, the Suns were in all sorts of trouble in R1 – with multiple senior players out injured and Jarrod Witts playing seriously underdone. So I won’t rate Port highly on that win (which put them on top of the ladder) yet.

I also don’t rate the Crows that highly. If they win, I expect it will be on tactics or catching Port by surprise. I reckon Port is the more talented team.

Port by 16 points but not certs.

Gold Coast vs West Coast at the Gold Coast
Forecast: showers
Some irony exists about the hub. In 2018, the Suns played a home game against Freo in Perth due to the Commonwealth Games. Now both the Eagles and Dockers will play the Suns in QLD while the hub is on. Maybe the Suns won’t go west at all in 2020. We will see.

As mentioned above, the Suns put in a shocker in R1, but Jarrod Witts was only half fit and he struggled. They also welcome back several senior players. Off-setting that somewhat is the David Swallow is suspended for R2. The wet might help the Suns.

The Eagles have a very short injury list and look the goods here. Tim Kelly had a minor knock at training, but should be okay. Both the Eagles and me will be checking in to see how the Dockers cope first up at the hub. Maybe the Eagles can learn something. Whatever the Dockers do, I expect the Eagles to do similarly – not in terms of winning or losing per se, but performance against expectation, start slowly or well, finish well or drop off… etc. I’ll be watching for trends.

Sunday 14 June 2020
GWS Giants vs North Melbourne at the Sydney Showgrounds
Forecast: showers easing
The Roos had a great win despite suffering injuries in round 1. Usually team in this situation underperform the following round. With about a 12 week break, will the trend continue? It’s hard to say, but I would rather say “Yes” at this point. That being the case, it should be an easy win for the Giants who are firm favourites here – expected to win by 3 goals.

I tipped them for the flag, so they look a good tip at home (but see above notes on home ground advantage with no crowds). Speaking of crowds, there is talk that 350 corporates might attend. This isn’t really a home crowd as such. Maybe they will be on the home team, but they won’t be roaring like a genuine local crowd would.

The Roos look better since their change of coach, but I don’t see them as a top 4 team as I see GWS. It might be a risk, but Giants by 30 points and certs. If you don’t go for the Lions of the Eagles in the Gauntlet, then the Giants are the go.

Sydney Swans vs Essendon at the SCG
Forecast: showers easing
It’s maybe the only time that the Swans and Giants have both played at home on the same day.

The Swans were pretty good in beating the Crows away in R1 (with ruckman Sam Naismith making a welcome return), while the Bombers fell over the line against Freo at the Docklands.

Based on those results alone, the Swans would be strong favourites. But the Bombers had a rough pre-season and now get some senior players back. Will it be enough to give them a win? Maybe. But this is a classic EXTREME variance game for me. Just to refresh – EXTREME variance means that the end result will be 6 goals or more outside the expected range (in this case, the Swans winning by over 39 points or bombers by over 33) OR it can be a game within those ranges but with severe shifts of momentum (eg one team up by a huge amount ans then the other team piles on late goals – any over the top momentum swing really). It’s another game to avoid, but most of us have to tip every game.

Swans by 4 points if I absolutely MUST make a tip

St Kilda vs Western Bulldogs at the Docklands

The Dogs faced the Pies in what people thought would be a 50/50 game in R1, but it looked over at QT. The Pies led by 26 points and ended up winning by 52. The key take away was that Tim English got smashed in the ruck by Brodie Grundy. but it would be unfair to blame it all on English. The whole Magpie team looked sharper on the night. My thought about the long break that followed is that the Dogs will come out with huge energy in this encounter. But there is also a small chance they might bomb again (maybe expending too much nervous energy about the bad loss during the break)

The Saints lost to the Roos in R1 despite having a decent lead AND seeing North cop injuries on the day. They almost pinched it near the end, but fell a kick short. Usually teams that lose like this underperform to a significant extent the following round. Will the 12 weeks help them in this regard? Or will they still put in a shocker?

Without any hard evidence, I would tend to think the latter. But because of the long break, I am also going to make this an EXTREME variance game. Dogs by 26 points, but not certs.

Summary: certs = Lions and Giants (if I had to tip 4 certs, next would be Eagles and Dogs
I want to sit back and see how teams have coped with the unexpected break. I think some teams and players would have managed better than others. Some players are good self-motivators, while others thrive on the team mateship. It’s not a round to get too confident about anything. I have wimpily tipped all favourites, but I surely expect at least one upset.

Most likely upset winners = Collingwood, Hawks and Bombers (though all are only just outsiders). I even give the Gold Coast a tiny chance of winning. Most of all, I am glad that footy is back. Penny

Review Round 2
Richmond drew with Collingwood
After the bright start by the Pies, this was painful to watch. Brodie Grundy was on top early, but Ivan Soldo fought back well after that. My concerns about Bachar Houli and Dion Prestia were allayed when both did pretty well. I heard arguments about who “lost it”. Both probably deserved to, as the skill level was poor (but the pressure high). Maybe they carried the burden of being first up; and the ground was dewy. My thought was that Collingwood lost it rather than Richmond failing to grab it. Oh, yes, I know that Jack Riewoldt didn’t even make the distance from 35 metres out on a slight angle (might go and have a kick from that spot myself!), but the Pies lacked the dare later in the game. And the conditions deteriorated during the night.

I labelled this an EXTREME variance game and this call was wrong by a whisker. It certainly was a bizarre game, but not an EXTREME variance one. In retrospect, I almost felt like I wimped out in not tipping Collingwood. Had I been tipping on the 7 points in, I would have gone for them. In the end, it didn’t matter.

Remember how people doubted that Gazza junior was going to make it as a footballer? I had the same doubts about Josh Daicos, but he took a big step forward this week and the Pies have a good one in him.

Geelong defeated Hawthorn by 61 points
I tipped the winner here and got the “EXTREME variance” call correct due to the margin. In retrospect, maybe the Hawks were too highly rated after their R1 win over the Lions. While it’s true they haven’t played at the narrow Kardinia Park since 2006, they seemed a bit clueless about playing the ground. Tom Mitchell got tagged and Jaeger O’Meara didn’t play. The Hawk players often seemed to kick, admittedly under a bit of pressure, without looking downfield and this resulted in either a turnover or a failure to give a downfield team mate a clear advantage. the Hawks also looked a bit top-heavy. Johnathon Patton was criticsed for being slow, but the ball wasn’t in his area much and it was a pleasure to watch him nail a set shot from 45 out on an angle. He may improve in springtime when grounds are drier. I won’t downgrade the Hawks too much on this effort; I’ll watch to see how they respond in coming weeks. Teams weren’t able to train together as a whole much recently and maybe this prevented the Hawks from practicing playing on a “narrower ground” in training.

I don’t normally reference milestone games in analysis as it tends to be a non-issue. But now that I look back on Danger’s 250th…. it seemed that Joel Selwood really lifted to ensure that this would be a win for Patrick (and even more so due to the absence of a manic home crowd). “Best game I’ve seen him play”, said Jason Dunstall.

Selwood had an interrupted pre-season and the 12 week break was good for him. It also seemed to be good for Brandon Parfitt and Sam Menegola. Both had battled injuries in recent times and now seem fully fit. Had I realised how well both these guys would come up, I would have tipped the Cats with some confidence.

Brisbane defeated Fremantle by 12 points
The critical thing for the Lions in this game was to get a “W” and they did that; but that;s about all. I tipped them as certs and they struggled all day to shake off a determined Docker outfit.

The Dockers have had two highly competitive losses under new coach Justin Longmuir. They fell behind early in both games and fought hard to just fail each time. Hayden Young came in as a late replacement for Nathan Wilson. Sean Darcy exited in Q3 with a knee injury. Nat Fyfe and Michael Walters combined for 5 goals and just shy of 300 SC points.

It looks like Freo settled into the hub quite well (see comment to come below about the Eagles), but they would just love a win.

Brisbane was led by Lachie Neale with 171 SC points and he was probably the difference. Charlie Cameron got to sit in the presser with the coach after bagging 4 goals. Stefan Martin was coming off a PCL and spent some time with the trainers before coming back on, while Daniel McStay copped a small knock.

A positive is that I chose the Lions as my Gauntlet tip (and suggested people avoid the Eagles) and they got the choccies.

The Lions don’t seem to have found their 2019 level yet. They might not get back there, but I am holding off making a call on this just yet.

Melbourne defeated Carlton by a solitary point
My late note (too late for many, but it didn’t change my outright tip) saved my analysis on this game. I tipped the winner, but imagine the stress of having the Dees as your Gauntlet tip!!

My thought that big comebacks were unlikely (like when GF replays occur) turned out to be wrong for this game. I am still not sure exactly what happened. The Blues lost Nic Newman fairly early.

The Dees had no injury concerns as such, but I am waiting to see the midweek injury report. There were several players slowing down late. Harley Bennell was okay with 59 SC points and only played 50% game time, while debutantes Trent “Swanny” Rivers (62) and Luke Jackson (30) made some contribution.

I would have thought the lack of cohesion at Melbourne (casued by 7 changes – only 2 of them compulsory) might have made them slow starters. The opposite was true. They flew out of the blocks to lead by 42 points and then stopped. Their coach applauded their ability to hang on, but the Blues probably just blew it with errant kicking at goal (kicking 3:5 to 0:1 in Q4).

My late addition of EXTREME variance was correct due to the wild momentum swing in the contest.

Port Adelaide defeated Adelaide by 75 points
The Crows booted the first two goals and then didn’t fire a shot thereafter. They probably needed everything to go right for them anyway, but lost Jake Kelly in Q2 and Rory Sloane in Q3. Adding to the problems was the SC scores of their inclusions: Ben Crocker 34, debutante New McHenry 34, Ben Keays 39 and Tom Doedee 39. The latter can be cut some slack as he is coming back from a long term injury. But having 4 inclusions score under 40 is almost always going to end in a loss. Reilly O’Brien (a game high 161 SC points) was a stand-out for the Crows and the only one to top the ton.

Port looked really impressive and I have upgraded them now. Early wins are gold in this shortened season and the have a percentage nearing 300!!
Connor Rozee scored 145 SC points and Zac Butters 119; turned out to be a good deal to trade out and draft these two. Ryan Burton came off with a sore knee late in the contest.

This is what I expected in several games – the team leading at HT to go right on with it (32 points up at HT and won by 75).

I was surprised to hear Crows coach Matthew Nicks refer to “bruise free football” almost first line of his presser. Must have been really cheesed off. He had a long association with Port (2011 to 2018) and this would have made the loss even more painful.

On the other side, Ken Hinkley’s job looks safe for a while.

Gold Coast Suns defeated the Eagles by 44 points
Most people tipped the margin right – just got the wrong team. The Eagles were 32 point favourites and lost by 44 points. I reckon I know exactly what happened. It was a deadly combination of over-confidence and distraction. First off, the Eagles had marked this down as a win (as opposed to a “must win”). Then, there was an interesting match immediately prior involving the Dockers and the Lions. This game was of interest because the Dockers are their local rivals back home; and it was close; and it they wanted to see if the Dockers had settled in well (maybe, as I mentioned above, to convince themselves that they would meet expectations as the Dockers were appearing to do). From memory, there is evidence to suggest that this has happened in the NFL in the US. But let’s look at some local examples:
2014 round 17 Fremantle 2nd plays St Kilda last in Melbourne. The AFL had a split round, so the Dockers played this game with a 12-day break coming up. As 57-point favourites, there was no hope of them losing it. So they “took a bye” a few days early. hugely over-confident, they never looked likely and lost by 58 points.

There was another example of a team which hugely under-performed when their key rival was playing a fascinating match as they were preparing; regret to say I cannot find the match. But I am sure it has happened (will add it in later if I find it) and this is what happened to the Eagles.

Having said all that, I don’t want to pour cold water on the Suns’ effort. They had a much better team than in R1 and had done quite well in the pre-season. It was their first regular season win since round 4 2019 and well deserved. Can you believe that Matthew Rowell scored 171 SC in his second game!!! Surely a record! And Sam Day scored 123 – maybe his best return.

I am trying now to rate these teams. Will do so this week, but I don’t think I am too certain of how they will go short term and maybe the teams themselves aren’t too sure either.

Only 11,445 tipsters out of 27,148 remain alive in the Gauntlet and many of these bit the dust by tipping the Eagles this week.

North Melbourne defeated GWS Giants by 20 points
This is where I really came unstuck. I tipped the Giants as certs and they lost. My confidence was partly based on the Roos “heroic win with injuries” in R1 and I expected them to under-perform as is the trend with such teams next up. But the fact that there was an 80 day plus break probably nullified that and I shouldn’t have put too much weight on it. AFL teams have had to travel the day before matches for some years now; this year they fly up and back on the same day (currently for the games to and from NSW) and maybe it suits teams better to do that. Both travelling (on the day) clubs won on Sunday.

GWS coach Leon Cameron said that the Roos outworked them. Todd Goldstein demolished Sauce Jacobs in the ruck. Callan Ward will be better for the run. Maybe the Roos handled the 12 week break better than the Giants. Luke McDonald excelled in keeping Toby Greene quiet (47 SC points and kicking 0:2).

The way the Roos are playing reminds me of when Denis Pagan came in as coach early in 1993. They had struggled under the previous coach, but hit the ground running immediately and made finals; eventually winning flags under Pagan in 1996 and 1999. I want to see a bit more footy before I call the Roos finals certainties

Essendon defeated the Sydney Swans by 6 points
Sam Naismith was out injured for the Swans (after I wrote about his welcome return in round 1) but Callum Sinclair did well as a stand alone ruck. disappointed I tipped the wrong team but it sort of turned out as expected – tough to pick and almost EXTREME variance (with the Bombers jumping the Swans early.

The coaches didn’t drop any gems for us, but every statistical measure was about even. The Swans never led and would’ve been lucky to pinch it. I rate the Bombers slightly ahead of the Swans and might increase the gap if the Bombers players who had interrupted pre-seasons all begin to fire. There’s even talk of Joe Daniher playing soon!

St Kilda defeated the Western Bulldogs by 41 points
The Dogs are really struggling and I got this one horribly wrong. Twice in a row they have been beaten badly in the ruck and in the middle generally. When they were very good late in 2019, they were winning in the middle and now they are getting beaten in that area.

Looking at the missing bits: Lachie Hunter is out suspended; Tom Liberatore (admittedly hasn’t played much in recent times) is still on his way back; down back Easton Wood is injured and Jackson Trengove (tall defender and pinch hit ruckman) is nowhere to be seen at present; another experienced player in Taylor Duryea is out injured.

On Sunday, coach Brett Ratten made some excellent observations: Jack Steele on Bont was very good; Jarryn Geary on JJ also very good. The two rucks against Tim English alone worked well, but they won’t necessarily play both each week; Bulldogs pressure very good early and Saints lucky to be that close in Q1; then they got their act together and good early conversion rate helped to keep them close in Q1.

That about sums it up; I got the tip wrong; only consolation was the game was correctly listed as an EXTREME variance game.

Round 3
Before I preview the games, I reckon this round is full of traps for young players. It’s tough to know whether teams will rebound from poor performances, how teams will go in the hubs and how the travellers will fare.

I had a look at the NRL because they played their 2nd week back from COVID last weekend. Now the games are different and require different quantities of strength and endurance, but here are the findings (please note that the NRL scores are roughly 25% of a total AFL score):


TEAMS WITH 3 LOSSES: 2 HAD UPSET WINS; THE OTHER 2 PLAYED EACH OTHER                                          




What this means for AFL round 3: if these trends for the NRL also work for the AFL:
Teams with shorter breaks (1 day shorter unless indicated):
Hawks, Saints (3), Blues, Bombers
The Bombers are only jusr favourites and the other three are outsiders; keep this in mind and I am steering away from getting excited about tippinf certs this weekend

Teams without a win (2 losses here and 3 for NRL who played 2 rounds before the COVID shutdown); I don’t give too much weight to this comprison due to the differences of losses (2 AFL vs 3 NRL), but the winless AFL teams are Carlton, Bulldogs, Fremantle and Adelaide.

Teams to hugely outperform in R2 (in order of biggest upside first): Suns, Port, Geelong, Saints and Roos. I am expecting one of these at least to disappoint in a major way (not sure which one)

Teams to hugely underperform in R2 (in order of biggest downside first): Eagles, Crows, Hawks, Dogs and Giants – But Giants play Dogs. Maybe one of Eagles, Crows and Hawks can hugely outperform expectations this weekend.

I’m gong for the Cats in the Gauntlet, but would like to skip the Gauntlet this week if I could.

Thursday, June 18
Richmond vs Hawthorn (MCG) 7.40pm
We have the teams in and Dusty is out injured for the Tigers, while Liam Baker is rested; the notable inclusion is Josh Caddy back from injury. Jaeger O’Meara is back for the Hawks. These changes give the Hawks some hope.
I’ll still be tipping the Tigers and marking this games as an EXTREME variance game. It’s very tough to know how the extra day’s break will help (or hinder) the Tigers (see above re NRL) and also do we believe the form of Hawthorn last week? I think that the form of the Hawks in R1 was too good to be true and last week’s form too bad to be true. I don’t like this game and I don’t really like the entire round. Maybe Dusty’s absence will be a good motivator for Richmond! Not sure; Tigers by 3 points

Other tips for the round =
Pies (danger game)
Cats (reluctant sole cert and Gauntlet tip)
Suns (but not sure)
Port (other thought re Gauntlet, but decided against as they are travelling to the hub a week later than the Dockers)

More data Thursday

Friday, June 19
Western Bulldogs vs GWS Giants (Docklands) 7.50pm
This game sees the first team make a flying visit to Victoria to play a game since the shutdown. The reasons to tip the Giants are:
they are the superior team; and:
travel went well for the Roos and Bombers last week; and:
they were brought back to earth with a thud last week after being talked up as flag hopefuls
To tip the Dogs, you need to think that last week was the bottom and that they can rebound strongly and quickly. I tend to think not. The Saints quelled the Dogs by tagging JJ and the Bont last week; the Giants will look to do similar – maybe Matthew de Boer go to the Bont and either a tagger of team effort to ensure Jason Johannisen doesn’t give them too much drive off half back. I am reasonably confident on the Giants and they are my second pick for the Gauntlet. But I will stop short of labelling them certs. Giants by 23 points

Saturday, June 20
North Melbourne vs Sydney (Docklands) 1.45pm

Rhyce Shaw played for the Swans from 2009 to 2015 and then was assistant coach for them 2016 – 2018. He moved to the Roos as assistant in 2019 and took over the main job mid season. In last week’s post match presser, Shaw spoke with great respect about the Swans. This will be a tough match for him to coach; he’s up against his former mentor and head coach. Teams often perform poorly in this space. The Crows proved this last week under Matthew Nicks. Same thing happened to Leigh Matthews coaching the Pies against Hawthorn in 1986 (lost by 45 points as about 20 point underdogs). Damien Hardwick (assistant under Alistair Clarkson up to 2009) narrowly missed on an upset win over the Hawks in 2010 first up against his mentor. It was a similar story for Leon Cameron coaching against the Hawks in 2014 – almost pulled off a huge upset with a 7 point loss as MASSIVE underdogs. But Clarkson didn’t coach these days; this was Brendon Bolton’s first job as stand-in for the ill Clarkson.

Anyway, it can be done; but one shouldn’t assume that this will be an easy game for the Roos. Putting all that aside, the numbers suggest that North should win well.

The reason to tip the Swans is the coaching thing mentioned above; and also the notion that travelling teams exceed expectations in this new era. It’s not enough for me. I’m tipping the Roos, but without much confidence. Roos by 15 points

Collingwood vs St Kilda (MCG) 4.35pm
Rain is forecast and a bit breezy!
This is the only game with a large disparity between breaks. The Saints have 6 days between games and the Pies 9 days . Harking back to a similar theme for the NRL last week, the game played out as expected (with Parramatta narrowly defeating Manly in accordance with expectations). With the AFL being more of an endurance game AND the long break between rounds 1 and 2, I have two possibilities for this game:
firstly, the Saints might struggle mightily to keep pace with Collingwood due to the shorter break. If so, I would expect this to show up later in the game. Teams that underperform off a “too long” break (9 days or more) generally underperform in the second half of a game. This doesn’t really compute with me, but they are the facts. Teams like to get into a rhythm (been tough in 2020!) so what happens with a 9 or more day break is that it almost feels like a bye. The players can go into a type of holiday mode. To explain the second half thing, I reckon that they get to game day and think they have put the “snooze / bye / nice little rest” mentality behind them. They are highly focused to begin well; but the bye mentality catches up with them later in the game. That’s the best explanation I can find. It doesn’t help tipsters much because the tipping is closed by the time the “in game” trends are spotted.

The Pies are higher rated and definitely deserve to be clear favourites here. so they will be tipped. But there is the concern about the break discrepancy both ways. as such, the game is listed as an EXTREME variance contest. Pies by 18 points but not certs

Geelong vs Carlton (Kardinia Park) 7.40pm
Showers forecast at the Cattery.
This looks an obvious tip and, of course, I’m tipping the Cats. In fact, I have made them my Gauntlet tip (just getting the nod ahead of the Giants and Port). The Cats have the home ground advantage and are the higher rated team. But it should be noted that, unlike the Hawks, Carlton has played at Kardinia Park in 2018 and 2019, so most players know the ground. Also, the Cats looked like they had a huge focus on the Hawks; Joel Selwood couldn’t even correctly name their next opponent on the Saturday morning. And the Cats can tend to underperform after playing Hawthorn. All that makes me think that the Blues might push the Cats. They have a slim chance of winning – maybe slightly better than people think – but the Cats are the best of a bad batch of potential certs this weekend. Cats by 19 points

Brisbane vs West Coast Eagles (Gabba) 7.40pm
Showers forecast earlier, but should clear by game time
Brisbane played one W. A. team at the hub last week and another this weekend. Based on the Lions’ effort in falling over the line against the Dockers last weekend, you couldn’t tip them….until you look at the effort of the Eagles in being demolished by the Suns to the tune of 44 points. I explained why they did so badly in my review, so there is some level of forgiveness when it comes to tipping this week. There are some doubts on Lion Dayne Zorko and Eagle Luke Shuey. Also, Jeremy McGovern is out suspended. This makes me lean ever so slightly to the Lions. They are my tip, but with zero confidence and it is an EXTREME variance game. Lions by 3 points. ** after the Hawks win I am thinking of switching to the Eagles; will decide Friday; Stefan Martin is out injured and replaced by Archie Smith; Smith played in 2 games last year (both with Martin) for a win and a loss.

Okay, I’ve changed to the Eagles on Friday. Eagles by 4 points; it seems like Luke Shuey is okay and the Eagles are a big chance to dominate in the middle.

Sunday, June 21
Gold Coast Suns vs Adelaide Crows (Gold Coast) 1.05pm

Showers forecast earlier, but should clear by game time.
There has been a lot of hullabaloo about Mark Rucciuto’s comments about ex Crow players. I won’t get involved in that, except to work out how it might affect the game. One player was Hugh Greenwood (“not in our next premiership side”). This either means that he wouldn’t have been getting a game in the Crows’ flag team or that the Crows are many years away from a flag. Either way, it could be a negative for the Crows. Also, the Crows arrive a week late to the hub after playing the showdown. That could also be a minus.

The Suns lost 19 in a row before beating the Eagles. I have stats on teams ending long losing streaks, but it is mid-season stuff. I don’t have a good feel for whether they will go on with the job this week or collapse. Ross Lyon already is talking about the possibility that Matthew Rowell might be tagged (in his 3rd AFL game!).

The Suns were actually pretty good in their pre-season despite injuries and are now healthier. They get David Swallow back and maybe Brandon Ellis. They are the tip by 5 points, but EXTREME variance.

Essendon vs Melbourne (MCG) 3.35pm
A chance of showers for Sunday in Melbourne
This is a tough one to tip, but I was bullish about the Dees before the season started and will stick with them. Kysiah Pickett is available following a COVID breach suspension and he might come straight back in. But I am wary of them making too many changes and I also don’t like the drop-off at the end of last week’s game. It has to be yet another EXTREME variance game. The Bombers were good enough against the Swans last week to jump them and just hold on, but I don’t rate the Swans that highly. Dees by 10 points and EXTREME variance.

Fremantle vs Port Adelaide (Gold Coast) 6.05pm
Showers 99% to be all gone by evening.
Port should win this, but they arrive a week after the Dockers at the Gold Coast and often underperform after a Showdown. And maybe they have played struggling clubs in the first 2 rounds (but the Suns did well last week). Everything else suggests that they should win well. The new Dockers coach has gone 0-2 but been close each time and this match could be set up for a big loss. A plus is that Jesse Hogan is ready to return (watch to see if he is in the 22 come Friday night).

Ollie Wines can come back in for Port this week from suspension and was best in a scratch match versus the Crows last weekend. Jack Watts did well in that game and is another pressing for selection (but don’t expect too many changes)

If I knew that Port was fully focused and settled in well, I’d almost tip them as certs; but I won’t. Port by 22 points.

In summary, this is a round with much potential for upsets and I tend to like outsiders on the whole. If we were tipping “points in” or “line”, I would be tipping mostly outsiders. I’ll learn more this week than I will teach you. I feel like I have just given you a framework in which to understand the results.

I’ll leave you with an unusual type of forecast:
1. Either the Giants to win by over 5 goals or Port to win by over 7 goals (or both); AND
2. At least one of Hawthorn, Sydney or St Kilda to cause an upset.

Enjoy the weekend!

Round 3 Review
Hawthorn defeated Richmond by 32 points

I tipped the Tigers with little confidence and rightly so; they were never in the hunt. This was a huge form turnaround from the Hawks who were dreadful after half time last week. Hawthorn followed the pattern of the NRL teams who were very poor first up after the bye; they generally did better the following week and outperformed expectations. See just above with my predictions 1 & 2; I’ve nailed number 2 already. Pity I tipped a loser in the first game. Glad I wasn’t bullish about the Tigers as some were.

Western Bulldogs defeated GWS Giants by 24 points
I was quite bullish on the Giants when I tipped; slightly less so when Toby Greene came out injured and then Josh Kelly was a late withdrawal (replaced by Jackson Hately). Then Lachie Whitfield got injured early and the Giants were virtually gone then. After round 2, Luke Beveridge was asked about Tom Liberatore and his response suggested Libba was a way off being 100%. But he came in along with Zayne Cordy and Toby McLean. Libba was great early under the packs with clean handball out and made a difference. He scored 101 SC points with McLean 90 and Cordy 62. That contribution from experienced players made a huge difference. Even after the game, Beveridge seemed surprised about how well Libba went.
Lachlan Ash debuted for the Giants with 39 SC points; with Zac Langdon coming in and scoring 27, it gave GWS little chance of a win. To make sure of it, the Giants gave away a silly free kick goal on the 3QT siren; glad I didn’t tip them as certs in a week where I didn’t want to tip any certs. This was a crucial win for the Dogs.

“Cleanliness and touch not there now”. Words to that effect by Giants coach Leon Cameron. That was quite noticeable.

Sydney Swans defeated North Melbourne by 11 points
I keep tipping losers (not good), but I did warn you that all outsiders have some chance this weekend. Looking back at it, I reckon the “against old coach” played a big role in the result. Rhyce Shaw was asked about the Roos’ 3:9 scoreline at half time (game could have been different had they nailed some of those shots), but Shaw said that the Swans forced them wide and the shots were difficult. Not helping North’s cause was the late withdrawal of Ben Cunnington (replaced by Aiden Bonar. Shaun Higgins was well held by George Hewett. The Roos hit back hard late (slightly helped by a couple of late injuries to the Swans), but never really looked likely.

Swans’ coach john Longmire was rapt with Q3 (5:5 to 2:2) where the game was won. Hayden McLean came in as a late replacement for Justin McInerney. Oliver Florent looks to have taken the next step, while James Rowbottom excelled and got a tick from the coach.

Collingwood defeated St Kilda by 44 points
Finally a favourite wins on the weekend! And they did it emphatically. and I finally tip a winner. But I was wrong on the EXTREME variance call. IT was close to EXTREME, but not close enough. The Pies led by 20 points at QT (another excellent first term) and 38 at HT, then won by 44 points – all just outside the EXTREME variance markers. The game fizzled out in terms of scoring in the second half (28 in second half after 90 totals to HT). I expected that the winner might pull away in the second half, but the game was won pretty much by half time.

The Saints played two rucks again (worked last week; not so much this week); the Pies were cleaner and crisper with the ball (a common theme this weekend).

Another thing I have noticed is that teams can be up one week and then flat the next; or vice versa; look like the Saints were really UP for the Dogs and then flat on Saturday. Other possibility is that the Pies either liked the 9 day break or learned from the Tigers (who played on the Thursday) who came off a 7 day break versus Hawthorn 6 days. Sorry, but it’s too hard to pick the right reason. I would think that the Pies are this much better than the Saints if they were to play multiple times in 2020.

Carlton defeated Geelong by 2 points
Ouch; there goes my very reluctant Gauntlet tip. Port turned out to be the real reliable tip! Looking back, I nailed all the reasons why NOT to tip the Cats this weekend (at least, why NOT to tip them as the Gauntlet), but I tipped them anyway…. because Port had just played a Showdown and travelled to the QLD hub; and I wasn’t as confident on the Giants coming to Melbourne and winning as I was on the Cats finding a way to win. To make matters worse, I failed to tip this as an EXTREME variance game; it clearly was – with the Blues up by 7 goals and then barely falling over the line.

Jack Steven was a late in for the injured Brandon Parfitt and struggled first up. Steven himself was just coming back from injury.

Some say the Cats should have won. But looking at it from a Carlton perspective, they definitely deserved 1 win from their last 2 games. Against the Dees, they stormed home from the same deficit as Geelong had on Saturday and missed a few easy shots late. It was deja vu in reverse, if that makes sense.

Little Gazza missed a set shot that 90% of players would have got late in the game. I think this result could provide a false lead, so I won’t be too bearish on Geelong next week nor too bullish on the Blues (but also remember the worries of the Bombers)

Brisbane defeated West Coast Eagles by 30 points
UGH! I changed my tip – thinking that the Eagles would rebound strongly. Throughout the weekend, I kept hearing about how the Eagles players had more in the way of partners and family than the Dockers. Adam Simpson mentioned in a presser a coupe of days before the game about how critical it was for them to get back home soon. I began to wonder if the whole hub thing has gone pear-shaped for them and they won’t do any good at all now!

But I am not ready to tip the bucket on the Eagles just yet. Luke Shuey was in doubt and played maybe less than 100% (31 DT points and 83 SC points! – a DT shocker and okay SC, but the journos called his effort below his best). Elliot Yeo and Liam Ryan finished with a few niggles. And then there was the humidity – 80 – 90% humidity throughout the game and it seemed to wear the Eagles down (less accustomed to it than the locals). I had a look at Gabba games between these teams from 2002 onwards. There were 9 early games (1.10pm through to 2.10 pm starts) & the Eagles won 8 of them – including 2003 and 2004 when the Lions were flying. The other 8 games began at 6.10pm (1 game) and later than 7pm. The Lions won 6 of these – one on 2002 and another in 2019; but the other wins would have been in years when the Eagles were the stronger team. In these 8 late games, the Lions won the first halves on average by 6 points and the second halves by an average of 17 points. This shows the general effect of humidity. I should have thought of that before swapping my tip.

Dayne Zorko was NQR and was replaced by Campbell Ellis-Yolmen who pleased the coach.

Gold Coast Suns defeated Adelaide Crows by 53 points
I think I undersold the Suns, but very glad to tip them to win. This game was over a QT. The gap was only 19 points, but the Crows were cooked then and only a lack of finishing power by the Suns prevented a 5 goal plus margin at the first break.

It was their first win over the Crows who have made a habit of beating up on lowly teams when life was better for them. There were 2,00 locals in and nearly all cheering on the Suns (in matches Suns vs Collingwood before this year, you could hear more roar for the Pies than the Suns) and this proved to be a boost for them.

Matthew Rowell is the best ever 3 game midfielder by SC numbers, I reckon. 141 SC this week! Add to that the 130 SC and 3:2 by Ben King and several players who were long term injury cases last year – and suddenly you have a fairly good side. Bigger challenges than the Crows will come, but they are sitting third on the ladder right now.

The EXTREME variance call was correct after the Suns led by 58 points at 3QT.

Port Adelaide defeated Fremantle by 29 points
This was about the only game that went to script for the weekend. The variance from estimated winning margins to actual was as follows:
Hawthorn +41 and upset win(expected to lose by 9; won by 32; I won’t explain the rest in detail
Dogs +33 and upset win
Swans +20 and upset win
Pies +29
Blues +29 and upset win
Lions +27
Suns +50
Port +9
Usually 2 – 3 matches end within 3 goals of expectations (and, of course, we lost a game ESS V MELB)

This game was similar to the Pies / Saints game in that the dominant team won it in 1H (the first half) and then the scoring dried up for both teams (78 total 1H and then 33 in 2H).

The game was played in around 90% humidity and maybe this helped stopped the scoring – plus some rain as well from Q2 onwards.

Not helping the Dockers was the withdrawal of Stephen Hill (replaced by Nathan Wilson who actually did okay as a different type of player with 85 SC). Jesse Hogan scored 31 SC and no goals; he has improvement in him. Rising Star nominee from round 1, Sam Sturt returned and copped a minor ankle injury.

The Dockers and Eagles are both winless up in the hub, but Fremantle has performed about to expectations, while the Eagles are well off the pace.

For Port, Ollie Wines came back from a COVID suspension and excelled with 107 SC and a pat on the back from the coach. Xavier Duursma did a hammie in Q3 and will likely miss a few weeks. Charlie Dixon did well in unsuitable conditions with 89 SC and 2:2; Scott Lycett clearly won in the ruck.

Round 4 (starts THURSDAY 25 JUNE)
Sydney v  Western Bulldogs  at SCG   Jun 25 (Thu 7:40pm)     
GWS v Collingwood  at Sydney Olympic Park Jun 26 (Fri 7:50pm)             
Port Adelaide v West Coast  at Gold Coast        Jun 27 (Sat 1:45pm)             
St Kilda v Richmond    at Docklands     Jun 27 (Sat 4:35pm)      
Essendon v Carlton  at MCG Jun 27 (Sat 7:40pm)      
Gold Coast v Fremantle   at Gold Coast    Jun 27 (Sat 7:40pm)      
Brisbane Lions  v Adelaide  at Gabba    Jun 28 (Sun 1:05pm)             
Melbourne v Geelong    at MCG Jun 28 (Sun 3:35pm)     
Hawthorn v North Melbourne  at Docklands     Jun 28 (Sun 6:05pm)     

Early tips without great thought:
Dogs (toss up)
Giants (toss up)
Blues (but wait for Essendon and AFL news)
Roos (but tough one to pick)

Sydney v  Western Bulldogs  at SCG   Jun 25 (Thu 7:40pm)
The teams are in for this game on Wednesday night. The Dogs lost Dunkley very late in their round 3 win; Lin Jong is out with Achilles soreness & Patrick Lipinski is back in; other changes of no importance to the result, although Louis Butler and we are well overdue for a Louis playing in the AFL.

John Longmire coached against his old assistant last week and prevailed. I see no pattern for this scenario next up.

There is a bit of a query on the Dogs; was last week their true form which will continue or was it a dead cat bounce (to pinch a share market term)? I’m not sure; it we leave that out, I had the this game as a 50/50 game; but the team changes have me slightly favouring the Swans. And they are slight favourites with the experts; so I am going with the flow here.
Swans by a goal but not certs

GWS v Collingwood  at Sydney Olympic Park Jun 26 (Fri 7:50pm)
It’s not official, but apparently the Pies and Cats are headed to the West for round 7 & onwards; they are likely to play each W. A. team and each other, then come home. Friday is the official release day for the info, I believe. This news might sharpen the focus for the Pies and help them win over the Giants in Sydney (or maybe it’s a distraction – I favour my first thought). And they generally travel well. But I had GWS winning the flag, so it’s hard to tip against them at home.

Having said that, they were quite poor against WBD last weekend in what was a make or break game for the Dogs. I detailed the injury problems of the Giants last week and reckon that if they can get back Toby Greene and Josh Kelly, while retaining Lachie Whitfield, they are a big chance. Early news is that all 3 will play.

Adam Treloar is available for the Pies but the AFL website suggests he may be another week away from a senior recall.

These two would be my grand final duo if I had to tip now, even though most have dropped off the Giants after their back to back losses.

Giants by 5 points, but not enthused about the game that much from an analysis viewpoint.

Quick Friday update: Sauce Jacobs has struggled a bit, but I’m surprised to see Shane Mumford replace him. The other “ins” are positives for the Giants. I’m a bit concerned about the ruck and considered changing my tip, but will stick with the Giants.
Port Adelaide v West Coast  at Gold Coast  Jun 27 (Sat 1:45pm)             
“Get us out of here!”. That was the cry of the Eagles last week and now they have been told that they will be going home (and their their own beds) for round 7. But they need to play some more games out east first. apparebtly, Adam Simpson is now quite upbeat (after the “going home” news); so will this translate into a top performance this weekend? Or will they be still so missing home that they cannot return to top form.

Last time these teams played was round 5, 2019 in Perth. Port used “dirty” tactics to win. No, it’s not old time, belt your opponent stuff. What Port did was to kick low or ground balls inside 50 to prevent Jeremy McGovern and co from intercept marking. I’d call it smart footy.

They can do the same again this time (assuming McGovern returns from his ankle injury – having served his suspension). Except this time they have Charlie Dixon as a marking target. This is an afternoon game. The Eagles weren’t coping with the night time humidity, so this will be a help.

I’m making this an EXTREME variance game – mainly due to the uncertainty about the mental state of the Eagles.

Port by 7 points – which is about what most experts are tipping

St Kilda v Richmond at Docklands  Jun 27 (Sat 4:35pm) 
People are looking for reasons why the Tigers are down a bit at present. Well, they are 1 1/2 out of 3 – not any reason to panic just yet; it’s just that they looked horrible against the Hawks – who themselves looked shocking the week prior – that has people chatting about the subject.

The theories are: premiership hangover; no crowd to feed off; came back badly from the long break; shorter quarters. The first three make some sense, but I don’t but the last one. My associate Poppy Copp may not have a hope of being prime minister, but she is a pretty good 1,500 metre runner. A few of compete over this distance from time to time. I tend to run near the front of our group of about 8 and she stays near the back. At about the 200 metre mark (200 Metres left), she accelerates and goes from 10 metres behind me at that point to 10 metres in front at the line. It’s frustrating. I came up with a ploy to beat her. I suggested we had a race over 1,200 metres. Good idea, huh. Poppy was at the back as usual and I was near the front. But she began her surge earlier this time and STILL beat me easily.

My point is that many have noted how the Tigers used to dominate in the latter part of quarters last year and now the quarters are shorter. No problem; when they hit form, they will just start dominating earlier.

The other issues – premiership hangover, no crowd and didn’t handle the break well – they all have some effect, but they will eventually get over them. With the likely return of Dusty this week and Liam Baker, they should handle the improving Saints (who may get back sipper Jarryn Geary).

I’m quite bullish on the Tigers; I’ll tip them by 28 points and label them as certs; a good pick for the Gauntlet if you are still alive

Essendon v Carlton  at MCG Jun 27 (Sat 7:40pm)      
There was some doubt on whether or not this game was to happen. All good now, but each day the news changes on COVID-19 tests and who can or cannot play. Watch for news through the next few days.

I’ve been checking about postponed games and what effect it has on teams. The longer ago the games were, the less relevant, I feel. 
I started back in 1918 when it was the VFL and, as Mal Prop tells me, the players were all “ammeters” back then!  I will focus on the team that was dealt the unexpected delay in each case.  I have omitted occasions where an entire round was postponed due to weather conditions because each team was equally affected.

1918: a semi-final was postponed between South Melbourne and Carlton (cannot remember this game personally).  Back then it was a top 4 with 1 vs 3 and 2 vs 4 then a grand final between the winners.  The Swans were the top team so, if they lost the grand final, they could challenge the following week.  The Swans were favourites to win the grand final the first time around and fell in by 5 points.
Collingwood slightly over-achieved as favourites; I don’t have a “line” for this game.  Q by Q it was
Collingwood +4, +12, -4, -17 (ie Pies won Q1 by 4 points; they won Q2 by 12 points etc)

1990: Pies and Eagles play a draw in a final and then replay the following week where Collingwood scores a big win (with the Eagles having to fly east in consecutive weeks).  This delayed finals matches for both Melbourne and Essendon by 1 week.

Second semi Pies vs Bombers; considered a 50/50 game
Essendon lost by 63 points
Q by Q Essendon: -14, +2, -16, -35

First semi Eagles vs Melbourne (at VFL Park Waverley)
Eagles slight favourites
Dees lost by 30 points
Q by Q  Melbourne: -13, -32, -4, +19
My note: this was the third road trip in a row for the Eagles and they might have “Put the Q in IRAQ” (as Mal Prop says) late in the game, so I’m putting a * against the Q4 result.  In any case, the game was virtually cooked at HT.

2015 Adelaide vs Geelong game cancelled due to the tragic death of Phil Walsh 2 days earlier. Both teams played the following week – with life being tougher for the Crows than the Cats. Scott Camporeale coached out the season for the Crows.

Crows next week away to the Eagles; Crows 27 point outsiders and lost by 56;
Q by Q:  +14; -54; +11, -27

The Cats played the Roos at Docklands and were 1 point underdogs; they lost by 41
Q by Q:  +1; -34; -5, -3

My overall summary is that teams who have an unexpected hiatus such as those above tend to underperform significantly. About 30 point worse.  They also tend to have bad Q2 and Q4.  Where they did have a positive or competitive Q4, the game was totally cooked.
Another case to consider is the VFL Park in the Dark game. The lights went out on 08 June 1996 with the Essendon vs St Kilda game unfinished – late in Q3 with Bombers 20 points up.  The AFL decided to finish the game the following Tuesday night.  Then each team had to play the next weekend as well.  The Saints played Richmond in what should have been a 50/50 game but lost by 34 points (lost all 4 quarters); the Bombers were red hot favourites against Freo at the MCG, jumped to a 20 point QT lead, were a goal up at HT, a goal down at 3QT and fell across the line by a solitary point.  Some may say that teams had to play Tuesday night in the 1980s as well as both weekends either side; but that was all scheduled in well in advance so the teams could plan for it.

All this points to, in my mind, Essendon losing to the Blues this weekend and underperforming; while Melbourne is tipped to do the same – lose to Geelong and also underperform.

Conor McKenna won’t be an “out” this week because he never made it “
in” despite being selected to play last weekend. Though I needed to clarify that when people see the team changes. Similarly, James Stewart has been on the fringe this year and you won’t see him as an “out” either.

The Bombers are narrow favourites for this game. I am very keen on the Blues; Blues by 25 points and I’ll label them as CERTS; I am also making thsi an EXTREME variance game – mainly because I think the Blues might win big; I see a tiny chance of the result going big the other way, but only tiny (about 10%). Blues by 22 points

Gold Coast v Fremantle at Gold Coast  Jun 27 (Sat 7:40pm)      
I’m sticking with the Suns here. There has been a lot of talk about Matthew Rowell – and rightly so. But there is a lot more gong on at the Suns than just him. There is #2 draft pick Noah Anderson; he’s doing okay in Rowell’s shadow. Ben King began last year with injury problems, but is flying now; Brandon Ellis has slotted in nicely – as has Hugh Greenwood (10 possessions last week but 116 SC points); last year they had a horror run of injuries and probably lost a bit of confidence at the back end of the season. Having said all that, the jury is still out on the Suns. They beat a homesick Eagles and then thrashed a poor Crows outfit. I expect this to be a tougher contest than last week.

The Dockers need a win to spark their season. They would be some chance in this contest, Sam Sturt is out injured, but they may get back Sean Darcy and Stephen Hill. Suns by 10 points

Brisbane Lions  v Adelaide at Gabba Jun 28 (Sun 1:05pm)             
The Lions look the goods here. They are higher rated than the Crows who are in a world of pain, according to their coach. Harking back to the Mark Ricciuto comments recently – I reckon it was a big negative for the team last weekend; Hugh Greenwood was one in the firing line and he excelled against his old club last weekend. The current players may be wondering what will be said about them when they depart. The list experts reckon that the Crows cut too deeply – out went Eddie Betts (trd), Richard Douglas (del), Cam Ellis-Yolmen (FA), Hugh Greenwood (trd), Paul Hunter (del), Sam Jacobs (trd), Josh Jenkins (trd), Alex Keath (trd), Andy Otten (ret) and in came some draft picks and low level trades in from other clubs (Ben Crocker and Billy Frampton who weren’t getting a game last year). The culture question hangs over their heads and that may be having some effect. But the list itself is on the lower level.

For me, it’s just a matter of the Lions turning up to play in the correct frame of mind and they will win. Most experts agree and have the Lions the hottest favourites of the round. I concur; Lions by 32 points and certs; another good Gauntlet tip.

Melbourne v Geelong at MCG Jun 28 (Sun 3:35pm)     
See preview of Essendon vs Carlton for help on this game; I’m very keen on the Cats – as can be seen if you read the ESS V CARL preview. Apart from the problem the Dees have with the unexpected “bye”, the Cats were hugely up for the Hawthorn game and Danger’s 250th; then weren’t even sure who they were playing the following week; the Carts lose Rhys Stanley to injury this week (Darcy Fort the likely replacement – neither a match for Max Gawn); Sam Menegola and Luke Dahlhaus both had injuries last weekend and will be tests; Brandon Parfitt looks to be a certain inclusion.

The Dees are tipped to go with their selected round 3 team (Kysiah Pickett, Aaron vandenberg and Mitch Hannan were the “ins”) with three dropped including Nathan Jones. Maybe Jones might survive the cut, but we will see come selection time.

Note that the Cats are playing this at the MCG and it is their only non-KP game in this block. Cats by 28 points

Hawthorn v North Melbourne  at Docklands  Jun 28 (Sun 6:05pm) & now 6.10pm after a Wednesday change by the AFL
Ben Cunnington will have a fitness test on Thursday and this preview is being written Wednesday evening. So if he is named, he is probably a cert to play.
Early thought is the Roos just; I don’t especially like this game and would like to see the teams. Last week, the Roos struggled and maybe this was because Rhyce Shaw was coaching against this old team. As an aside, Shaw has the ideal voice range for a coach, I reckon. Meanwhile, the Hawks – embarrassed the previous week – were up big time against a flat Tigers team. Both results could be false leads.

Based on teams improving the week after their coach fails against the old coach, I am tipping the Roos to prevail; they are 8 point underdogs at the time of writing, so I’m tipping an upset; Roos by 2 points, but not confident about the game.

In summary, I see another week where upsets will occur. I would expect 3 or more this time; I’ve picked 3 to win – GWS, Carlton and North Melbourne – although the first 2 are close to 50/50 games; the Dogs, Eagles and Dockers are all capable of causing an upset.

I will tip the following as my highlights:
Tigers to win by over 3 goals; (wrong) AND
Blues to win; (right)AND
Cats to win by over 2 goals (wrong)

Certs are Tigers, Lions and Cats (2 out of 3 – not good enough for certs)

Round 4 review

Western Bulldogs defeated  Sydney by 28 points
The Dogs are slowly winning me over; they look a bit better with a more experienced team in now. The Bont was tagged last week, but this time the tagger (George Hewett) went to Jack Macrae to start the game. Bontempelli had a field day – 166 SC points, 2 goals and an inspirational mark.

Teams on a day trip interstate and 4 and 2 since the season re-started – with Giants games being the 2 exceptions; GWS lost travelling to play the Dogs and won narrowly this week hosting Collingwood.

The start was crucial – given that the Dogs lost Aaron Naughton early and then Sam Lloyd later.

The Swans were very flat early but nowhere near as flat as John Longmire was after the game. He talked of how (the then coach of North Melbourne) John Kennedy came up to the bush to recruit him as a 16 year old and what a good mentor he was when Horse came to play for the Roos.

Of course, john Kennedy (grandson of John) had to deal with the death as well (but did quite well). Then Sam Naismith went down with another serious knee injury. Horse noted that Naismith lost his sister to illness in recent months, so a tough day all round.

Putting that aside, I think that the Swans are below the Dogs and maybe I overrated the combination of the Swans win last round & the home ground advantage.

Here is a snipped from (an excellent website) and it shows why I like SC scores more so than DT. Based on DT, you would have thought the Swans won the match.

StatisticSydneyW. Bulldogs
Dream Team12321180

GWS Giants defeated  Collingwood  by 2 points
My lack of response to Shane Mumford’s inclusion proved to be a good move. And I was right NOT to be too enthused about a tip. The game went down to the wire. I felt like Jeremy Cameron was in the right area to slot the late goal that he did. In some ways, this was easier for him than 35 metres out directly in front. Reminded me of a couple of long goals from a similar spot on 2011 grand final day by Travis Cloke. The difference was Toby Greene, in my opinion. Three goals and not much help from the umps according to a lot of unbiased viewers; but the other Green (Tom) was also top class – a goal and 94SC points; but most impressive was his coolness under pressure late in the contest.

Given that Phil Davis and Zac Williams were both gone by 3QT, I think it is fair to say that the Giants deserved the win. Lachie Whitfield recovered from his heavy knock the previous week to do well and Josh Kelly scored 120 SC on return from injury.

Back to Mumford – his night’s work was 17 hit-outs and 36 SC points; compare this to 47 hit-outs and 135 SC points to Brodie Grundy. Had you told me that before game start, I’d have picked the Pies as certs. But GWS won the clearances 35-32; Mummy was given credit for his bullocking work so that”Reg” Grundy wasn’t hitting his team mates in space with his tap-outs, according to

The Pies lost Jeremy Howe midway through the last and it was hard to watch. Similar to Longmire in the above write-up, Bucks was really flay in the post match presser. The Pies won the SC 1739 to 1562 but they tend to be a high possession side. Still, with 19 scoring shots to 16, a case could be made that they could’ve pinched it.

Port Adelaide defeated West Coast by  48 points
Home cannot come soon enough for the Eagles, but they have another 2 weeks in QLD before playing a round 7 Derby back home. Please note that they WERE going to play Richmond in the hub for round 5, but the QLD govt have now stopped Victorians coming north without a quarantine period; so the Swans come from healthier NSW to play the Eagles next week.

Port won all four quarters, but the Eagles made a small surge in Q3 to get within 17 points; the comeback was short-lived and the Power went away to win by 48 points (biggest winning margin for the round).

Port has “gone top, top, top” and they are looking the goods. no probs in the hub for them so far. Charlie Dixon got a tick from his coach last week for doing well in unsuitable conditions; then he cashed in for a daytime match with 6 snags. He’s finally fit after numerous years with problems.

Josh Kennedy almost matched Dixon – with four majors in a return to form. Jeremy McGovern didn’t come up and was a late withdrawal – replaced by Will Schofield. Schofield sums up how the Eagles are going in the hub. He scored a miserable 16 SC points and then got reported. Jack Darling struggled as well.

Port coach Ken Hinkley said the Eagles are a possession style footy team, so they worked on limiting their possessions (effectively this time).

When asked about McGovern, coach Adam Simpson said McGovern was close…but, 5 day break (coming up) against the Tigers. Sadly, this game was scrubbed and now they get a 7 day break against the Swans. Good decision not to play him, because he wouldn’t have made 8 goals difference.

My calling this an EXTREME variance game was correct – just (with Port exceeding expectations by 41 points)

St Kilda defeated  Richmond by 26 points
Boy, I really came unstuck with this one – naming the Tigers as certs. Going back to reasons the Tigers are struggling: maybe the break wasn’t good. Captain Trent Cotchin said on Tuesday that they are missing the Richmond crowd.

Dusty was considered to have just missed the week before, but he wasn’t close to his brilliant best upon return. It didn’t get mentioned on the day, but David Astbury and Josh Caddy both had scans a day or two later. Neither was horrible. Damien Hardwick mentioned that Toby Nankervis was very good (184 SC points). The Tigers gave away a few goals with poor discipline.

Dan Butler apparently wanted to prove a point against his old team – kicking 3 for the Saints. Paddy Ryder was a late withdrawal – replaced by Dean Kent; Zak Jones had hammie tightness and was taken off in the second half.
Saints coach Brett Ratten said they were the least games played and second youngest of any team on the weekend. Made younger and less average games by the withdrawal of Paddy Ryder and the absence of Jarryn Geary. Young and inexperienced tends to suggest inconsistent. Keep this in mind for the following few weeks, although both the above players should be back soon.

I tipped the Tigers as CERTS! SORRY! One last thing – the Tigers were wearing that horrible yellow jumper; I’d love to have stats on how often teams play poorly in such outfits. It was definitely a negative to some degree!

Carlton defeated Essendon by 1 point
Watching the game, I drew the conclusion that the Blues should’ve won this by a fair bit more than the solitary point. However, I was pleased to see this written in the Monday Herald-Sun (otherwise, I thought I might have been dreaming it up to prove the worth of my analysis). Backing up both the little paper and me, the SC scores were 1775 to 1523 and the Blues dominated Q3 without banging through the goals.

Carlton lost Jack Silvagni in an incident which saw Zach Merrett reported.
Levi Casboult (heart of gold, foot of iron) excelled and kicked 3:0 plus a couple of complete misses. Sam Docherty was a ball hog with 32 possessions and 185 SC points. The Blues have had 3 cliff-hangers in a row and coach David Teague has some greys now. He gave Mitch McGovern a big tick. David Cunningham has now got a bit of continuity in his game and was terrific for the Blues. Ironically, he had a chance to ice the game and missed the kick with a minute to go; then there was the controversial 50 metre penalty against Eddie Betts. It made for great theatre – with the kick by Bomber Jacob Townsend’s kick looking like a winner from the “behind the player” shot, but it fell a few centimetres short.

I was confident that the Bombers “cancelled game” last week would lead to a loss. I’ll stick by my guns, based on the Herald-Sun saying that the Blues were 5 goals better in general play. Happy with the tip, but it was a bit stressful to watch. I labelled it EXTREME variance, but it wasn’t.

Gold Coast defeated Fremantle by 13 points
The Dockers lost Nat Fyfe with a “minor hammie” in Q3 and I don’t think this was enough to make the difference, but it didn’t help. Young Hayden Young impressed, but Rory Lobb got towelled up by Jarrod Witts in the ruck. Sean Darcy played in the scratch match and will be considered to bolster the rucks for next week. The Dockers continue to push opponents, but no win yet for new coach Justin Longmuir. They’ll get one soon, it appears. Caleb Serong did okay on debut with 71SC points

This was, looking back, a danger game for the Suns; they had the big win against the Eagles, then beat up on a struggling Crows team. They were expected to win this (albeit not hot favourites), were not at their best but still found a way to get over the line.

Brisbane Lions defeated Adelaide by 37 points
Someone called this a 100 point victory ruined by poor kicking at goal; the Lions won by 3 goals 19 behinds. Let’s check another measure. They won SC 1906 to 1385; Port beat the Crows 100 to 35 and in SC 2000 (magnificent to get it to the exact round figure) to 1301.

So, maybe 100 points was an exaggeration, but the Lions should’ve won by more. I tipped them by 32 points, so I was probably lucky to get so close.

The Crows actually looked a sneaky chance to win in Q3 when Tex Walker had a purple patch – two goals and a hand in 2 others. They lost Will hamill early with concussion and Rory Sloane had an ankle issue in Q2 but played the game out. Elliott Himmelberg was a late replacement for Darcy Fogarty.

Ball magnet Lachie Neale was tagged by Crow Ben Keays. Keays did well early, but Neale racked them up in Q4 to finish with 31 possessions and 147 SC points. With Neale coming good, the Lions booted 3:8 to 1:1 in the final stanza. Dayne Zorko didn’t finish the game after a calf injury.

Geelong defeated Melbourne by 3 points
This was another game where I felt that the winner should’ve won by more; as it was, they could’ve easily lost it after a late Q4 turnover led to a goal and then a late shot by Adam Tomlinson missed narrowly – with the Dees missing their last chance to pinch it.

The reason I felt that the Cats (SC winners 1840 to 1457) should’ve won by more is the shot on the 3QT siren by Brandon Parfitt (as I recall) to make it a 23-point game. His kick fell short from about 40-45 metres out and it sucked the energy out of the Cats a bit. I need to say, however, that the Cats style of play (possession and a lot of short kicks to a marking target) led to a higher SC score.

Dees coach Simon Goodwin gave credit to Tom McDonald and he took a very impressive pack mark to goal and give the team a sniff late in the game.

Coach Chris Scott said they had a couple of sore players late in the game. Danger was one after a hit on the jaw in Q4 got checked out; Tom Atkins was another; and, of curse, they lost Tom Stewart in Q1 with a collarbone.

Happy to tip a winner here and feel like the Cats deserved to win (given all the circumstances and in game troubles) even if I did think the Dees got slightly the raw end of the pineapple from the umps.

Hawthorn defeated North Melbourne by 4 points
I was debating on whether to change my tip after the news of John Kennedy’s passing. I didn’t (especially after the Swans didn’t fire – see report above on them) and felt like a goose for much of the game. then I thought I might end up being a hero – tipping a come from behind outsider; but no!

Another thing which almost made me change the tip was the late withdrawals: Jonathon Patton out for the Hawks – replaced by Mitch Lewis; and Ben Cunnington out for the Roos with Paul Ahern coming in for him; the Roos suffered more out of this than Hawthorn.

There was lots of injury news from this game. Rhyce Shaw said that Jack Ziebell rolled his ankle in Q1 and struggled through the game – only to do a hammie late in the contest. Robbie Tarrant got sore ribs in Q2 but played on (in doubt round 5) – on top of the late withdrawals

Luke Breust copped a small fracture to the jaw in Q3 but played on (fortunately avoiding any hits to it thereafter); Jaeger O’Meara copped a big knock early and looked NQR after that.

The game bordered on EXTREME variance and was just inside the limits after the Roos surged late. The North players were a little bit fumbly at times and this cost them a couple of goals. Happy with the tip; not the loss!

Round 5 commences Thursday 02 July 2020 (note that the AFL changed the fixture after Richmond was denied entry to QLD – they were to play the Eagles in QLD before the change)

AFL players and officials living in the bad areas as far as COVID-19 is concerned had to move out by midnight Wednesday so they can be eligible to move interstate to play games. All ten Vic clubs are affected except Melbourne, Hawthorn and Geelong. I sort of suspect that the Dons may be worst affected along with the Roos and Dogs (the latter two play each other this weekend)

Carlton v St Kilda Docklands Jul 2 (Thu 7:40pm)
The entire preview is being conducted prior to Thursday team selections, but we do have the teams for this first game. Zac Fisher and Harry McKay come in for the Blues to replace the injured Jack Silvagno and the omitted Sam Philp. The Saints regain captain Jarryn Geary for the injured Zak Jones.

The Blues had to wait to see they they even were playing last weekend, then were planning to play this game first up Saturday and it has moved to Thursday night. Almost all evidence of the original 1st amendment of round 5 has disappeared, but I found it here
at about 8 – 11 minutes where Jesse (and he looks like a Jesse) tips for round 5 PRIOR to the recent change.

The Saints and Blues both played Saturday last weekend, so no great disadvantage there (Blues played 3 hours later).

Refer to my analysis of the Crows and Cats from 2015 in the Pies / Dons preview below. I then looked at the teams to play the Crows and Cats after those teams had their unexpected bye. The Eagles and Roos, respectively, both cashed in big time. then I looked at the Eagles and Roos the following week to see if any trend appeared. The Roos won well but underachieved by a goal; the Eagles also won comfortably and overachieved by 20 points. Also no clear in game trend (eg corresponding good or bad quarters), so I will scrap any predictions for Carlton here (and Geelong below) on this basis.

The one thing I will say about the Blues is that this is the second time in two weeks where they have had something happen re their fixturing. Surely it has to be unsettling. Then there is the succession of close games. That can take its toll as well (less so when winning, however).

The other question is: do we believe the form of the Saints against Richmond last weekend. Answer: Yes… sort of. They were poor the previous week against the Pies and maybe the Tigers game can give us a false lead. But I am more convinced by the Saints overall. And their injury list is shorter. Saints by 11 points

Collingwood v Essendon MCG  Jul 3 (Fri 7:50pm)
Forecast: rain and possibly hail expected to be gone by game time
Refer my verbose preview for the Bombers & Blues last weekend. I was looking for how team who have a totally unexpected cancellation / delay of game go the week after they resume. This applies to Essendon and Melbourne this weekend. The only teams that this really made sense for are the Crows and Cats in 2015. They both underperformed to a large degree after their cancelled game. Then both teams won the next week with the Crows slightly overachieving and the Cats performing exactly as expected. The Crows won Q1 by 15 points, won Q2 narrwly; won Q3 by 13 points and lost Q4 by 27 points – falling in to win a Showdown by 3 points.
The Cats won Q1, Q2 and Q3 then lost Q4 – all by smallish margins. Anyway, the pattern is the same as far as winning and losing quarters is concerned:
But SSS – Small Sample Size. The difference for the Dons (and Dees below) is that they both came off 1 kick losses last weekend, whereas the Crows both lost by over 6 goals. Still, the loss after the break should help the teams focus on a good start and dropping off at the end makes some sense.

The Pies have lost Jeremy Howe and Steele Sidebottom (COVID breach suspension) from last week’s team, but Adam Treloar is expected to return.

Zach Merrett is out suspended for the Bombers.

Both teams are affected via the postcode COVID proble, but I suspect it affects the Bombers worse than the Pies. I am reasonably confident on Collingwood; maybe would’ve made them certs with Sidebottom in the side.

Pies by 24 points and I’m bullish because that’s double the margin most are predicting; but read the notes about teams traveling below in the Dogs / North preview. It’s another reason NOT to tip the Pies as total certs

West Coast  v  Sydney Gold Coast  Jul 4 (Sat 1:45pm)
When the Eagles played on Saturday night, they were expecting to then play the Tigers in QLD on Thursday – Adam Simpson even mentioned it in the presser; now they have to play the early Saturday game. They are all pining for the chance to look west and see the sun set over the ocean. Can they lift to win a game in their eastern hub? Jeremy McGovern was a late withdrawal last week and is likely to replace (and improve on) the suspended Will Schofield.

The Swans also have some change – going from a Sunday home game against Melbourne to a trip to QLD.

This is a game I don’t like; it’s easy to make a case for the Eagles going winless in QLD, but the Swans are similarly struggling. The Swans were flat as compact disks after the game on Thursday – with the John Kennedy and Sam Naismith issues. I expect them to bounce back somewhat.

The experts have this as a 9 point victory to the Eagles; I’m going for them by 15 points, but I don’t trust either team at present and am labeling this an EXTREME variance game

Selection update: Callum Sinclair was injured at training and is out. The Swans will be rucking with Hayden McLean with possibly help from Aliir Aliir. With other talls also out injured, this is a disaster for the Swans. Eagles by 31 points now, still EXTREME variance and I’m tempted to label them as certs, but I still don’t trust their state of mind, so I’ll steer clear of calling them certs… they’re almost certs!

Geelong   v  Gold Coast    Kardinia Park Jul 4 (Sat 4:35pm)
Forecast: showers and breezy
The Cats would’ve penciled this in as a win a few weeks ago, but the Suns are in pretty good form since round 1- with wins over the Eagles, Crows and Dockers. The gloss was somewhat taken off the win over the Eagles when the Eagles went on a losing streak, but it’s still pretty good form. The Gold Coast injury list is short, but this is their biggest challenge to date.

The Cats have gone WLWLWLWL etc since playing Richmond in round 12 last year. Based on that, they are due for a win. While I don’t take a huge amount of stock in such patterns, it’s enough to hold me back from being too bullish on the Cats.

Up against that is the milestone games for Gaza (350) and Joel Selwood (300) on the same day. Pity there’ll be no crowd to celebrate it at the Cattery. I don’t normally take much notice of these milestone games; why should a team try harder than of these two were playing games 349 and 249? But it’s Ablett and Selwood – so it might be worth an extra goal.

Matthew Rowell is in Brownlow contention (+ Rising Star) and his favourite player was Selwood. Selwood has said he will enjoy watching Rowell for the next 15 years. It makes for an interesting encounter if they go head to head.

The Suns are expected to be unchanged for the game, but the Cats have lost Tom Stewart (coming in for him is Lachie Henderson and / or Harry Taylor) and Tom Atkins is in some doubt.

I’m just wondering whether the next Suns loss will be a hard fought loss or whether they may fall into a screaming heap. Had I thought the latter, I would make this an EXTREME variance game. But I think the Suns will be competitive this week with some chance of causing an upset. So won’t call it EXTREME variance game.

Cats by 18 points, but not certs. The experts are tipping a similar result

Western Bulldogs  v  North Melbourne  Docklands  Jul 4 (Sat 7:40pm)
I want t have a look at the teams that traveled (did a day trip) to play from round 2 on
Round 2: North and Essendon went to Sydney. Both won and exceeded expectations.
North lost as favourites the following week back home and Essendon did not play

Round 3: GWS traveled and lost as favourites to the Bulldogs
Next week they won narrowly over the Pies as slight underdogs
The Swans came to Melbourne and had an upset win over the Roos. Next week, they lost as favourites to the Dogs

So 2 of the 3 teams that traveled on a day trip underperformed significantly the next week (both losing as favourites).

The Dogs had an upset win away at the SCG over the Swans last Thursday. Now they’re back home against the Roos. They deserve to be favourites – all things considered, but I am wary of this trend. It makes it almost a 50/50 game. The Roos would be a reasonable roughy to tip if we knew Ben Cunnington was right to go.

The Dogs lose Aaron Naughton and Sam Lloyd to injury. Easton Wood is a test and may return. Perhaps Josh Schache could replace Naughton

North lose Jack Ziebell to a hammie and Robbie Tarrant is a test – I expect him to be okay.

I’ll tip the Dogs by 12 points, but not overly confident and not completely convinced by the Dogs yet – not have I given up on the Roos

Brisbane Lions  v Port Adelaide  at the  Gabba  Jul 4 (Sat 7:40pm)
These are the two of the form teams of the QLD hub. It looks like being a great clash. They are also performing “honestly” = good and consistent efforts. Both see this hub time as a chance to set themselves up for the season.

Stefan Martin is close to a return for the Lions. I expect him to be named, but check for any late fitness test he may need to go through. Dayne Zorko has been confirmed as an “out” this week. Port may go in unchanged. This will be their biggest test to date in the hub, but I reckon they are up to it.

I cannot see a blow-out in this contest either way and I’m expecting the honesty of each team to continue. Port by 1 point

Adelaide  v Fremantle at Gold Coast   Jul 5 (Sun 1:05pm)
Neither coach has had a win n their career yet; let’s hope it’s not a draw at the end! A good reason for extra time!

Chayce Jones was injured at training on Wednesday, but is still a chance to play. Rory Sloane played through an injury sustained in last week’s match. The club says he’ll be given up to the last minute… so expect him to be picked but watch for late changes. Will Hamill was concussed last week and is progressing well, but needs to complete the concussion protocol. Darcy Fogarty was considered a chance to return, but won’t be back this week.
the Crows might face the possibility of playing with only 1 Rory this week! Oh no! a good chance for Matt Crouch to gain a recall.

Nat Fyfe is out for a couple of weeks with a hammie. Coming in may be Sean Darcy and / or Connor Blakely.

Overall, I am more positive towards Freo and they will be tipped. But tippng a coach to have his first ever win – even against poor opposition – is a concern. History suggests that you never get too excited about tipping one lowly team over another.

Dockers by 8 points

Melbourne  v  Richmond    MCG  Jul 5 (Sun 3:35pm)
Forecast: chance of showers
The Dees have few injuries, but trying to pick the best 22 seems to have been difficult. The Dees have had more changes this year than a family with triplet babies. All a chance to return are Neville Jetta, Nathan Jones, Harley Bennell, ANB and more.

I still rate the Dees and they could’ve pinched the game last week. Based on the Crows and Geelong in 2015 (see preview for the Bombers game above), there is a chance for the Dees to do well in Q1, 2 and 3 and then have a poor Q4 (a chance – not definite).

I don’t know what to make of the Tigers. They are following Geelong’s pattern 10 years later – Flag, Finals, Flag, Finals, Flag. The Cats in 2010 were a bit patchy early, but didn’t lose successive games all season. I am tempted to put the Tigers into the “serious slump” category and not to tip them for now. But is that just an over-reaction to tipping them as certs last week and having them disappoint?

The Tigers are somewhat similar to the Dees in terms of players coming in and out of the team. They will lose David Astbury to injury this week and Josh Caddy has been given the tick after copping a knock last week. The Richmond FC website said that “Dusty’s pulled up fine”. This suggests that he is not 100% and he didn’t look like a Norm Smith Medallist last weekend.

Back the the late change of fixture. The Tigers are the team most affected by this. They were due to play Thursday in QLD, but now switch to a Sunday game. The Dees were always set down to lay Sunday – they just swapped the Swans for the Tigers. It’s this fact that is making me tip the Dees. But I want to see them well up at 3QT.
Dees in a minor upset by 6 points, but also EXTREME variance.

Saturday night update: following on from Essendon’s win and the pattern being precise (bar for the Pies getting off to a flyer early), I am quite keen on the pattern (Dees doing well in Qs 1, 2 and 3, then having a very poor Q4). Staying with the Dees as the tip but would like to see them 4 goals up at 3QT at least. NO CHANGE for the Dees this week. Amazing!

GWS Giants  v  Hawthorn   Sydney Showgrounds    Jul 5 (Sun 6:10pm)
These teams last played in the snow game at Manuka last year. “Snow what”, I hear you say. This is very relevant. This was the game where Alistair Clarkson braved the freezing cold in summer type clothing a day or so before the match. It was a psychological ploy that worked well. Hawthorn adjusted to the conditions well and won handsomely 85 to 29. The Hawks will have gone away feeling good about themselves and the win. But this was totally humiliating for the Giants. The Hawks will not know, I reckon, just how hurt the Giants were after this performance. They have been waiting for a rematch like you wouldn’t believe.
To explain this effect, here is a link by Young Harry who pokes his nose into the offices of from time to time. It is an article about NFL football in the US with a reference to AFL.
Expect the Giants to come out breathing fire early and to win well. Giants by 36 points and I’m tipping them as certs. I’ll call the variance EXTREME here but only because I can see the chances of GWS totally blowing the Hawks away.

In summary: certs are the Giants and my recommended tip for the Gauntlet and they will win by over 3 goals
I’m tipping both Essendon and Melbourne to win the first quarter and lose the last
Dees are the best outsider of the round. Other outsiders with some chance are (I’m calling CARL V STK and BRIS V Port 50/50 games with no real outsider) Roos and Suns have a small hope

Review Round 5
St Kilda defeated Carlton by 18 points
Carlton had Zac Fisher as an “in”, but gastro meant he didn’t get a run, if you’ll pardon the pun. Sam Philp debuted last week, got dropped and then reinstated.

Saints coach (and ex Blues coach) Brett Ratten assigned Jack Steele to Patrick Cripps and Jarryn Geary to play a defensive forward on Sam Docherty. These plans worked a treat. I was watching Q1 without sound and wondered who this fantastic new forward the Saints had found who was wearing Geary’s number! No, it was the man himself and, like most defenders, really enjoys kicking a goal. It was noted that the Blues’ tall forwards struggled, but that was possibly due to the tagging jobs mentioned above. Tick to Ratten.

The Saints were 5 goals up at HT and the game was virtually cooked. Cripps came good after the main break, but the Blues only reeled i the deficit by 12 points. And the Saints had already put Dan Hannebery on ice at half time.

Recruits Jack Martin (Blues) and Dean Kent (Saints) continue to impress

Happy to tip a Thursday night winner and the get analysis pretty much spot on.

Essendon defeated Collingwood by 15 points
My game trends predicted worked out perfectly except for missing out by 1 point in Q1. Otherwise, the Bombers won Q2 and Q3 then lost Q4. I actually expected the Pies to run over the top of the Bombers in Q4, bbut Essendon found something when needed. The scoring pattern was EXTREME variance – which I sadly did not tip. It was EXTREME because the Bombers kicked 8 goals in a row and the Pies booted 3 and 4 in a row either side of that.

I don’t know if the upset was a result of the Bombers benefiting from the week off 2 weeks ago, the trouble with Colliingwood losing both Steele Sidebottom and Jeremy Howe in the one week.

It helped the Bombers that Andrew Phillips came in for the rested Tom Bellchambers and did reasonably well in the ruck.

Jake Stringer was injured late in the contest. The coaches didn’t really help to explain the upset win and the strange scoring trends in the game. I’ll add info in due course if I can assist. We live in strange times – that’s all I can say for now.

West Coast Eagles defeated Sydney Swans by 34 points
The key thing here was the injury to Callum Sinclair through the week. As I mentioned, it almost made me tip the Eagles as certs. The Swans were missing their best 3 ruck options plus other talls and were always going to struggle. The Eagles lost Luke Shuey in Q1 and were 2 points down at QT but gradually drew away to win comfortably. They lost Jarmaine Jones late in the contest. The Eagles won the clearances 36 to 23 thanks to their big man dominance; Ryan Clarke did okay tagging Andrew Gaff – holding him to 88 SC and getting 90 himself.

The “ins” for the Eagles did much better than those for the Swans. Jeremy McGovern and Oscar Allen were the standouts for the inclusions.

Maybe I should’ve declared the Eagles as total certs once the ruck situation was known – but I chickened out due to concern that the Eagles hadn’t been going that well themselves.

Geelong defeated Gold Coast Suns by 37 points
Those who tunes in to see Matthew Rowell were disappointed – he didn’t make it to QT after injuring a shoulder.

The Cats started well, then the Suns fought back hard – hitting the front in Q3. When the Cats got out to an almost match-winning lead of 17 points at 3QT, the Suns rolled the dice in Q4 and it didn’t work. That partly explains their zero score in Q4. When Patrick Dangerfield had his milestone game vs Hawthorn, Joel Selwood excelled; this week it was Tom Hawkins (another old timer) who came to the fore. Gazza kick a big goal from outside 50 late in the game – icing on the cake.

Maybe this game puts the Suns in their correct place in terms of their improvement from last year – they are netter but not a top team yet.

Western Bulldogs defeated North Melbourne by 49 points
Just before the game I was watching channel 7 and Abbey Holmes was interviewing a young Roos player (don’t remember who, was only half listening)… but then he said that he and 3 other Roos players had to relocate quickly out of a “bad postcode” region. The 4 all went to some flat and there was no heating the first night. They then had to move again the next day. ALARM BELLS, but I didn’t have time to update the website. Right away I thought that the Roos had no hope. So it proved. Of course, I had already tipped the Dogs, but I seriously upgraded them after this news.

There were injuries galore in this contest and the Roos copped the worst of it – helping to blow out the margin. Firstly, North. Ben Cunnington returned from injury and never looked okay (copped a knock to his back early, according to the coach); 50 SC and gone at 3QT; Tarryn Thomas was concussed Q2 and never returned. Shaun Higgins was tagged by Toby McLean and seemed to be struggling with a knee complaint. 35 SC points – his lowest for a long time, I would guess.

Bailey Smith was concussed very early and didn’t return (I thought all that hair might’ve protected him); Laitham Vandermeer copped a big hit but he finished with a career best 99 SC nonetheless. Lin Jong battled through with an ankle problem.

Josh Bruce booted 6 for the Dogs – that was a big shock. Captain Easton Wood’s return was a big positive and the team is looking pretty good again.

Brisbane defeated Port Adelaide by 37 points
The margin here was a big shock; I slightly leaned towards Port in my tip (unfortunately), but expected it to be a tight contest.

Port dominated Q1 but wasted opportunities in a term which saw the Lions lose Campbell Ellis-Yolmen to injury. Brisbane coach Chris Fagan thought they were lucky not to be 3 – 4 goals down at QT, but he was rapt with Q2. The Lions dominated Q2 and cashed in on their chances. Brothers Jarrod & Tom Berry stepped up with 121 and 90 SC. Fagan was pleased with the pressure that his team applied & thought it was their best performance in 2020.

Ken Hinkley advised after the game that they are going home Sunday and then flying back next weekend to tackle the Giants in QLD. With that bit of hindsight, I reckon they talked themselves into a big start, then didn’t cash in on their good work, then dropped their bundle a tad when the Lions had a great spurt in Q2; they only lost the second half by 2 points. It was humid but not extreme.

Fremantle defeated Adelaide by 20 points
The Dockers always looked likely to win,but had to withstand a challenge from the Crows. Adelaide brought back Matt Crouch into the team and battled it out with his brother for the leading possession winner in the match.

On SEN with Whateley, Freo coach Justin Longmuir praised stand-in captain Michael Walters for this commitment generally and his leadership on the day. This was a good insight from the inside. He was tagged bu Ben Keays for much of the game. Longmuir also said that they have played better patches of footy in their losses than in this game. It doesn’t say much for the Crows – who still couldn’t win. Maybe the pressure of expectation (first game as favourites for the Dockers) added some pressure on them.

Andrew Brayshaw (144 SC) lifted in the absence of Nat Fyfe. Reece Conce did his hammie in Q3 and Taylin Duman was a late replacement for Travis Colyer.

Matthew Nicks said the Crows found a way NOT to get it done. They blew chance with goal kicking and should have led at HT. Nicks also said they gave the ball back too much. The club announced 2 days after that game that Taylor Walker has been managing a knee problem and will miss 1-2 games. Like Port, they are flying home and returning home for their match against the Eagles.

Richmond defeated Melbourne by 27 points
I came unstuck big time on this game – with the Dees NOT following the pattern as per the Essendon / Collingwood game. I also called EXTREME variance which was narrowly wrong. And, of course, tipped a loser.

The Dees have copped it big time for their lack of disposal skills and they were very poor on the weekend. They had a feint hope late in the game when Clayton Oliver turned the ball over with a shocker of a kick and the Tigers capitalised with a goal.

Making matters worse for both team was the injuries to the Tigers. They finished without Toby Nankervis (off in Q3 with an ankle), then Trent Cotchin (hammie Q4) and Dion Prestia (syndesmosis Q4). It was later reported that Tom Lynch broke a finger during the game.

That was bad for the Tigers, but the Dees STILL couldn’t overrun them!!
I might have to downgrade the Dees – or maybe call this year a Geelong 2006 or Richmond 2016 season! Musing over that.

“They pressured us into turning over the ball”, Said Dees coach Simon Goodwin.

GWS Giants defeated Hawthorn by 34 points
Whew! I nailed the analysis perfectly here. I tipped them by 6 goals and they missed this by just 2 points; they also started very well – as explained above.

Helping my tip was the injuries to Mitch Lewis and Jack Scrimshaw for the Hawks.

The Giants are winning despite getting few inside 50s, but converting well when they get it in

Round 6 begins on 09 July 2020
Early tips for round 6 & subject to change
Lions (just)
Pies (just)
Dees (just)
Bombers (just)
Giants (just)
Swans (see Tiger outs)

Team movements this week (all subject to change):
Adelaide & Port Adelaide went home a few days ago after playing round 5 in QLD; they return to QLD for round 6; Port stays in QLD for round 7; the Crows return home.

Brisbane, Melbourne and the Gold Coast Suns travel to Sydney for the next two rounds at least (Suns in Wollongong, actually)

Carlton, Essendon, North Melbourne, Richmond & Western Bulldogs all travel to QLD and all stay for round 7 as well

Hawthorn was in NSW for round 5 and stays there for rounds 6 and 7.

GWS travels to QLD for round 6 and then NSW for round 7.

Collingwood and Geelong travel to Sydney for round 6 and then fly to Perth for rounds 7 and beyond

Fremantle and West Coast remain in QLD for round 6 and then fly home for the Derby.

St Kilda flies to QLD for round 6 and then Adelaide for round 7

Sydney Swans remain in QLD for round 6 and then fly home for round 7

Or, in chart form:


Geelong v Brisbane Lions at SCG Jul 9 (Thu 7:40pm)
Do not adjust your sets! Yes, this game is at the SCG; the Lions will be there for 2 weeks, but the Cats play 1 game there and then fly to Perth.

We have the team changes for this game only as I do the preview.
CATS: Sam Simpson in for Jack Steven (rested)
LIONS: Dayne Zorko in for Campbell Ellis-Yolmen (injured)

The AFL website ran a story about Chris Scott (after the round 22 game last year) that Charlie Cameron wasn’t influential – despite kicking 5 goals in the match. I am dismissing this article and any memories of this to have an impact on the game.

This is the first time since March that either team has traveled outside their state. I don’t like this as a first game of the round; in fact, I don’t like the round at all. From what I can gather, the Cats are more restricted in Sydney than the Lions. And then there the fact that the Lions stay in Sydney another week at least, while Geelong flies straight to Perth.

I had Brisbane slightly higher rated than Geelong to start the season and their recent form has been better, so they will be tipped. But the movements, the fact that the Cats came off a dual milestone game AND Brisbane winning a game against Port easily just before Port ducks back to S. A. makes this tip an unconfident one.

It’s an EXTREME variance game. Not a good Gauntlet game. Lions by 15 points (more than most are tipping) but beware.

Collingwood v Hawthorn  at Sydney Showgrounds Jul 10 (Fri 7:50pm)
See above for team movement details.
The Pies have one game in Sydney then fly to Perth. They are missing Steele Sidebottom and Jordan de Goey (both suspended and already in Perth). Will (son of Craig) Kelly will debut, according to the club – and rumour has it he will replace Mason Cox.

Nathan Buckley said that the uncertainty about the departure date from Melbourne (heading in to last week’s game against the Bombers) contributed to the loss. They performed 27 points below expectation last weekend. My Pie fans cohorts all agree and the rest have poo-pooed it. So should it be taken into consideration? I’m going to say yes… probably. If the Pies overachieve this weekend and / or the Bombers underachieve, then I’ll believe it (too late, of course). Why I am giving it credit now is that it explains their poor performance on the back of me being pretty bullish about them last week. So Bucks’ comments validate my (errant, as it turned out) analysis of their chances in round 5.

Channel 7 reported that Tom Phillips didn’t train in the main Wednesday session.

This is a bigger game for the Pies than the Hawks, in my opinion. They need to win to take momentum into Perth. Collingwood is a genuine flag hope, whereas the Hawks are somewhere in the midfield. But giving the Hawks some hope is their smaller list of absentees. Look out, though, for Liam

The Giants were waiting in ambush for Hawthorn last week (see the preview above for that game) and realistically put the game away by quarter time. As a general rule, teams that get ambushed slightly underperform the following week.

This all adds up to a Collingwood win; Pies by 16 points, but not certs

Friday update: it was pointed out that the Clarkson / Buckley head to head is 12:1 and Bucks only win was when the Pies came from 6 goals down to win (round 9, 2017 – the year when the Hawks were ordinary, but the beat the Pies in their other encounter). This doesn’t change my opinion on the Pies aiming for top 4 and Hawks realistically going for a 5 – 8 finish.

Of course, the Hawks would have been firm favourites in the 2013 – 2015 times frame. This makes me a bit less confident on the Pies now; Pies by 7 points

Fremantle v St Kilda at Gold Coast Jul 11 (Sat 12:35pm)
See above for team movement details
The Dockers won their first game and also gave new coach Justin Longmuir his first victory last weekend. I had a squiz at teams winning their first game for the season in round 5 or later. What happened next week from my sample was 5 teams won, 9 lost; 8 teams exceeded expectations (some without winning) and 6 underachieved. Of note was that the average variance was 35.5 – a fair bit higher than the normal 26 – 27 range.

Drilling down to those who won in rounds 5 and 6, it was 4 wins and 3 losses and and average over-achievement of 14.4 points. The actual figures against expectations were: +68 (did 68 points better than expected), +95, -3, +5, -76, +4, +16.

These figures will cause me to do 2 things:
A: make this an EXTREME variance game; and
B: give the Dockers some chance of causing an upset.

Adding to the uncertainty is that the Saints are in the hub for the first time and the Dockers may be looking forward to going home. The “go home” didn’t have a huge impact on the Adelaide teams last week (but their go home was only for a few days), but I will keep an eye on it (as will the Eagles, I suspect).

Now on to the fundamentals: Nat Fyfe is a chance to return; if he’s picked, he may still need a fitness test; they won’t risk him (if in any doubt) with a Derby coming up in round 7. Ex Saint Blake Acres may debut for the Dockers; he’s almost right to go. Out goes Jesse Hogan, Reece Conca and griffin Logue (all injured). The Saints lose Daniel Hannebery to injury but might get back Zak Jones.

Saints by 8 points; big danger game and a big win to either team would not surprise. Avoid using this as your Gauntlet tip

West Coast v Adelaide at Gabba Jul 11 (Sat 3:05pm)
See above for team movement details and also comment about the Dockers about to head home. Adding to the intrigue is that the Crows have just gone home and returned. Will it help? I and Port Adelaide will watch on with interest.

Here’s a couple of reasons the Crows may improve:
A: The trip home may have worked
B: Taylor Walker is out injured; he’s been carrying the injury for some time and unable to perform near his best; with a better functioning forward line, they may lift.
C: If the Dockers’ game is close, it may distract the Eagles players (the Crows players won’t be as interested)
D: The Eagles may have penciled this in as a win in their heads and be “already at home” and not play at their best.

Almost all else points to a comfortable WCE win. Because they broke their QLD duck last week, they may come out of the blocks sizzling.
They do lose Luke Shuey and Jarmaine Jones to injury. The Crows lose the suspended Lachlan Murphy on top of Walker.

The Eagles by 28 points and I’ll label them certs just. If you are protecting a long winning run of certs, you may think about baulking about adding the Eagles to your list; they are a borderline cert in my book

Melbourne v Gold Coast at Sydney Showgrounds Jul 11 (Sat 6:05pm)
See above for team movement details
The Dees have been highly criticised this week for their turnovers. Some say they play a too attacking brand of footy and their skills aren’t up to it. Not only did they waste chances with the ball last week, but they also failed to overrun a team with multiple injuries. Usually I don’t tip teams that do what Melbourne just did. But because they have been so much in the spotlight, I expect some sort of positive response – and maybe getting away from Melbourne may be a help.

Harley Bennell racked up possessions in the scratch match last week and has excellent kicking skills. He is mooted as a likely inclusion this week.

The Suns are on the road for the second week in a row. Generally teams slightly underperform under such circumstances – although this is different due to the hub scenario. Matthew Rowell is out and the experts tip Brayden Fiorini to be his replacement.

I have downgraded the Dees, but still have them a bit higher rated than the Suns. The Suns have come off a bit from their wins over the Eagles and Crows. If I were to make excuses for this, the game vs Freo – they got the job done, then they faced the Cats on hostile ground when 2 stars had milestone games; so maybe they can bounce back here.

I favour the Dees by 14 points (slightly more bullish than most)

Essendon v North Melbourne at Gold Coast Jul 11 (Sat 7:40pm)
See above for team movement details
Refer to Collingwood preview above; if Bucks is right, then the Bombers may be overrated.

They’ll be without the injured Jake Stringer – who was pretty good last week. but Zach Merrett return from suspension and maybe Conor McKenna may return.

Also, see the review of North’s last game and the Abbey Holmes interview. Expect the Roos to rebound strongly. On the NMFC website, assistant coach Heath Scotland talked about “confronting conversations” regarding their review of last week’s game.

Majak Daw and Bailey Scott did well in the recent scratch match and are chances to be included. All this makes me want to tip the Roos. but there’s always a “but”. Shaun Higgins (knee), Tarryn Thomas (concussion), Jack Ziebell (hamstring) and Ben Cunnington (back) are all tests for the weekend. Even if named Thursday, they may be tested prior to game time. Of those tests above, Ziebell didn’t play last week.

As long as they can get a reasonably healthy group on the park without too many missing, I’ll tip them. But, given the uncertainty on both teams, I’ll mark it as an EXTREME variance game.

Roos by 4 points

Port Adelaide v GWS Giants at Gold Coast Jul 12 (Sun 1:05pm)
See above for team movement details & comments above on the Crows and their travel.
Forecast: Showers likely
Port looked like a top 4 team until last weekend – albeit mostly against bottom half of the ladder teams. They got stitched up good and proper against the Lions after wasting Q1 dominance last week. I’m still trying to work out how to rate Port. It is year 150 for them and I sense that they are “up” for it and are willing to fight through COVID difficulties maybe more than other teams (who will all dent this). Port will have an ever so slight “home ground” advantage – having been in QLD for about a month now (apart from a quick trip home this week).

The Giants got their revenge on the Hawks last week after two losses against them in 2019 including the Canberra snow disaster. Teams that get up for revenge games can tend to underperform the following week; and the Hawks ended the game with injuries. I am pretty keen on GWS but this is a slight negative.

The experts rate this a 50/50 game; I slightly lean to the Giants. GWS by 8 points

Richmond v Sydney at Gabba Jul 12 (Sun 3:35pm)
See above for team movement details
Forecast: Showers likely
Looking at form lines, this tip is easy. The Tigers were much better last week and are higher rated generally. But they lose 5 and maybe 6 players. Out injured goes Toby Nankervis (Ivan Soldo to replace him), Trent Cotchin and Dion Prestia. Unavailable players – Bachar Houli and Shane Edwards, while Tom Lynch has had a op on his right hand and looked very ginger in training (one-handed) on Wednesday. He says he’s 50/50. I expect him to be named Thursday and then tested come the weekend. Add to this Jack Riewoldt saying he wonders what he’s doing up there (playing footy will come to mind, Tiger fans hope) – leaving behind a young family. The 6 (5 certain outs plus Tom Lynch) are all in the top 10 of the Tigers list.

The ins: Ivan Soldo and tipped to be Jack Graham, Sydney Stack, Marlion Pickett, Jack Ross and Shai Bolton. All with some or significant experience – it’s not like their needing to go for rookies. Maybe it’s a challenge the Tigers can rise to, but I don’t like the volume of sudden changes. The top placed Saints made 7 changes in one week in 2009 and were considered NO HOPE to beat the 9th placed Hawks, but still won by 25 points.

So do we tip the Swans? They have significant injury problems themselves – especially in the big man department. Buddy is still out, while Sam Naismith is out and Callum Sinclair is highly unlikely – still a week away. Talls Tom McCartin and Sam Reid are still out. They are blooding this year’s draftees Dylan Stephens and Chad Warner (both mids). Strangely, the result may depend on how well they debut.

The Swans settled into QLD last week and this may be a small help.

Three words to Gauntlet tipsters about this game: AVOID, AVOID, AVOID!
I don’t like this game; Swans the tip for now; I will watch for team selection and late changes. Would be keen on the Swans if Sinclair was right to go. Swans by 2 points, no confidence in the tip and EXTREME variance

Okay; I’m making a late Saturday night change – after seeing the teams; of the 5 ins for the Tigers, 4 have already played this season. I think it will work okay and the Swans are poorer rated AND short on talls. Going for Tigers by 8 points, but STILL EXTREME variance. So I’m not confident in my switch.

Carlton v Western Bulldogs at Gold Coast Jul 12 (Sun 6:45pm)
See above for team movement details
Forecast: Showers likely
The Dogs are flying and they will be tipped. The plusses for them are that they are a higher rated team than the Blues and also have better recent form. a slight minus for Carlton, I think, is the 11 day break between games – especially after losing. Along with the move, it will feel like they have had a bye.

Negatives for the Dogs: injuries to Lin Jong and concussion tests for Bailey Smith and Laitham Vandermeer. And Hayden Crozier is out suspended. Lachie Hunter’s suspension is over and he should return. The team is much more experienced than the team that lost in rounds 1 and 2.

It needs to be noted that the win over the Roos maybe flattered the Dogs. North had multiple problems on the evening. The Blues have been very honest all season but I am keen on the Dogs. If you are wary of tipping the Eagles, then the Dogs would be the go for a Gauntlet tip.

Dogs by 26 points and certs (just).

In summary,
Lions, Pies, Saints, Eagles, Dees, Roos (upset), Giants, Swans (then changed to Tigers Saturday night), Dogs.
Best certs: Dogs, then Eagles
Best outsiders (leaving out PORT VS GWS and RICH VS SYD which are virtually 50/50): Roos, Hawks and small chances to Dockers, Cats and smaller chances to the Suns.

I’ll tip the Dogs to win by over 3 goals and for the total score (both teams added up) to be under 100.

It’s not a good weekend for too many outlandish predictions.

Review Round 6
Geelong defeated Brisbane by 27 points
Expected result: Brisbane by 6 points
My tip: Brisbane by 15 points & EXTREME variance
I got the EXTREME right with the Cats going from 22 points down to over 30 points up, but tipped the wrong team.

In racing parlance, I was ready to “put down my glasses” when the Lions were 22 points ahead midway through Q2 – with the Cats 2 mids down (Mitch Duncan and the boy with the nice hair – Quinton Narkle).

Q3 by Geelong was the most dominant quarter all season, but it was probably the 2 goals before HT that sparked the Cats. They looked like being 4 goals down, but got it back to under 2 goals; then they kicked the first 2 in Q3 and were in front. Often the last goal or two before a break can be significant.

Sam Simpson came in for the Cats and was the leading possession winner on the ground & 112 SC; the Cats covered for their injuries with Danger 146 SC and Sam Menegola 152 SC.

It was as heavily publicised, but the Lions copped some injuries as well – Mitch Robinson was done in Q3 with a corkie, while Hugh McLuggage and Cam Rayner battled on reasonably well after knocks.

Leigh Matthews said the Lions are in the flag window during the week; not sure if this had any effect on them. Maybe of more significance was that Danger mentioned after the game that the Cats really set themselves for this – having to go to Perth for 3 weeks next up. Both they and Collingwood (the other team about to go to Perth) exceeded expectations this weekend. And both lost Q4!

Gary Rohan was involved in multiple clashed early on is on report.

Collingwood defeated Hawthorn by 32 points
Expected result: Collingwood by 6 points
My tip: Collingwood by 7 points
I tipped a winner, but a fair way off in the margin. This game was over very early. I though the Hawks were gone early in Q2. I also noted that the Hawks were playing like leaders in the latter part of the game (looking to slow things down and keeping a spare back – rather than trying to take the game on). Maybe the spare back was due to the fact that they were coming off a 5 day break compared to 7 days for the Pies. In any case, whatever they did didn’t work early or well enough.

Will Kelly kicked a goal with his first kick, then ended the game with a dislocated elbow. There were other minor knocks to both teams, but the only other one worth mentioning was Hawk Jonathon Patton – who did a hammie in Q1. He was visibly upset on the sidelines after enduring a horror run of injuries in recent years. But I believe his show of emotion was due to him hearing that Clarko was going to play the guitar and sing after the game!!

See comments above about the efforts and patterns of both Geelong and Collingwood as they prepare to go to Perth.

Fremantle defeated St Kilda by 6 points
Expected result: St Kilda by 16 points
My tip: St Kilda by 8 points & EXTREME variance
I got the EXTREME right with the Dockers going from 37 points down to win, but tipped the wrong team to win.

Whoa! The Saints kicked 7 goals in Q1 and lost. Their QT score was enough to beat Richmond, Sydney, Hawthorn and Adelaide this weekend!

The game started with Michael “Sonny” Walters kicking the wrong way ans then his team mate giving away a 50 metre penalty. Then late in the game, with the Dockers a goal up, Walters gave away a 50 himself and the Saints drew level from the resultant kick. But go to the AFL match centre page for the game; watch the last 2 minutes and check out his perfect kick from half back that set up the winning goal. we need to put that into the picture.

Now back on track. Saints coach Brett Ratten said that they had too many non-contributors on the day. He mentioned that they need to be able to turn the tide when it’s going against them. That’s the second time this year that they have given up a sizable lead. Brad Hill 31 SC was poor against his old team. It may have been a difficult game for him. Seb Ross has a mere 37 SC points playing mid.

The Dockers had injury problems. Sean Darcy copped a knock Q2 and couldn’t come back on. Ben Long has been sent to the tribunal for the hit. Brennan Cox pulled up sore after training and missed. Sam Sturt was also a late withdrawal. Taylin Duman and Bailey Banfield came in to replace them. Hayden Young did an ankle and was gone in Q1, while Rory Lobb rolled an ankle, but was able to ruck in Darcy’s absence.

Fyfe went forward but wasn’t injured. He was sent there because Rory Lobb had to ruck and it left them short up forward. It was a great comeback win against the odds to give the proud as punch Justin Longmuir his first win. They now face the Eagles in a Derby. He was assistant at the Eagles for several years before becoming an assistant at Collingwood.

West Coast Eagles defeated Adelaide by 33 points
Expected result: West Coast Eagles by 32 points
My tip: West Coast Eagles by 28 points & just certs
I tipped the winner and was close to the margin (as were many others), so nothing to brag about there.

The Eagles did what they had to do, had the game won by 3QT and then cruised – losing Q4 by a point but never looking threatened.

Andrew Gaff was tagged for the second week running – with Ben Keays keeping him to 12 possessions and 67 SC points. But the highlight came after the game. Reilly O’Brien had unintentionally posted his private notes on Nicnat to the entire world due to a damaged phone. Nicnat gave him a new phone after the final siren!

The Eagles are going home next week and the news seemed to benefit Tim Kelly who scored 140 SC.

Rory Sloane copped a knock to the hand, but contributed okay. The Crows also head home now and hope for a win in front of some sort of home crowd.

Melbourne defeated Gold Coast Suns by 17 points
Expected result: Melbourne by 6 points
My tip: Melbourne by 14 points
I tipped the winner and was closer to the margin than most. I reckon the fact that the Suns had back to back road trips AND settled in Wollongong was a negative for them. Suns coach Stewart Dew felt like it was one that got away; they won the SC and DT scores narrowly and had their chance.

Dees coach Simon Goodwin mentioned that they were more careful with the ball this week (having been too reckless the previous week). sometimes even a bit too careful, he noted. The AFL website singled out Jack Viney for hitting an important target this week. He was best for the Dees behind Max Gawn. Tom McDonald failed to make it to QT after a poke in the eye.

Izak Rankine debuted for the Suns after a year of injuries and showed why he was picked at pick 3. Jarrod Witts was noted on as having knee soreness late in the contest. This is worth keeping an eye on. Brayden Fiorini was given his chance when Matthew Rowell was out injured, but he struggled with 40 SC.

Essendon defeated North Melbourne by 14 points
Expected result: Essendon by 8 points
My tip: North Melbourne by 4 points & EXTREME variance
I got the EXTREME wrong as well as the tip!! YUCK!
Both the Dees and Bombers (the two teams to have played 1 less game than the rest) slightly over-achieved this week.

Dylan Shiel was tagged by Luke McDonald; struggled and copped 2 weeks for a hit on Curtis Taylor (who went off under the concussion test rule). David Zaharakis was talked of as a chance to be omitted this week, but he repaid the faith shown in him by the selectors with 3 goals and 126 SC. Darcy Parish also arrested a form slump with 88 SC.

Marley Williams replaced the late withdrawlee Jed Anderson and struggled. The Roos won the inside 50s but didn’t deliver the ball too well (frustrating for Ben Brown in particular). Coach Rhyce Shaw thought that they are close to getting back to form. I agree with him (but a win would’ve been nice and now the season is slipping away at 2-4).

Conversely, the Bombers have snuck up to fourth and 4-1 (second if you employ the old match ratio formula) and look to be finals bound (albeit only beating one highly rated team in Collingwood) – and they could have been undefeated had they pinched a late goal against the Blues. John Worsfold mentioned that Shiel being tagged helped bring Darcy Parish into the game.

Maybe I just underestimated the troubles of the Roos. Or maybe I need to slightly upgrade the Bombers. Essendon came up this week to play and are staying in QLD but moving again this week. Not sure why, but they are playing Friday and that is not ideal.

Port Adelaide defeated GWS Giants by 17 points
Expected result: GWS Giants by 1 point
My tip: GWS Giants by 8 points
Port flew in on game day after enjoying time at home and the break seems to have refreshed them. The Giants did the same – traveling on the day.

I have noted that teams who are to travel the following week tend to do well in Q3 and poorly in Q4. Add to that the fact that teams UP for revenge games as I mentioned re GWS last week can tend to underperform the following week. This happened and maybe I was too bullish on the Giants as a result.

Daniel Lloyd was out of the game by HT for GWS, while Cam Sutcliffe was doing a good job tagging Lachie Whitfield then did a hammie in Q2. Whitfield cashed in after HT and was top possession winner on the day. Brad Ebert was reported for a hit on Harry Perryman.

Richmond defeated Sydney Swans by 8 points
Expected result: Richmond by 3 points
My tip: (late change Saturday – see above) Richmond by 8 points & EXTREME variance.
The late change saved what was other an absolute shocker of a tipping day for me. I got the EXTREME variance call wrong, but quite chuffed to tip the exact margin.

I hope this game doesn’t get marketed as an example of our great game. It was dreadful; so said Richmond coach Damien Hardwick. If caused a bit of a stir because he mentioned the Swans defensive tactics. All sorted out a few days later between the coaches (for the public eye, at least). Hardwick said they got well beaten in the midfield with the inexperience in there (compared to recent weeks).

The Swans were like the Hawks a couple of days earlier – too slow to go on the attack to win the game. The radio commentators mentioned playing Callum Mills as a sweeper. He got 29 possessions and 173 SC points!! But the 4 points are more valuable in the end. The Swans had dropped Aliir Aliir a hour or so before the match. This also helped me to tip the Tigers. I know that they had some rain to deal with, but Aliir could’ve helped out a badly depleted ruck division.

The Tigers booted 3 in 10 minutes then 1 for the rest of the day but still won (34 to 26 and the lowest total for a game for 24 years.

The Swans lost John Kennedy early to a medial ligament injury, while Isaac Heeney had multiple issues and is to miss the whole season. Luke Parker copped a big, black eye and struggled. Considering all that, it tells you that the Swans were lucky to stay in touch; and the Tigers are going to struggle with some key personnel out.

Carlton defeated Western Bulldogs by 52 points
Expected result: Western Bulldogs by 11 points
My tip: Western Bulldogs by 26 points & certs.
Everything about my tip was wrong here. The variance was EXTREME (with the Blues winning big) and I didn’t tip it; I tipped the Dogs as certs and they got thrashed; I also tipped this to be a low scoring game. I based this on the forecast for significant showers, but little fell. a big SORRY to anyone who I booted out of the Gauntlet tip this week!

The Blues success in this game came by pressuring the Dogs.

Patrick Cripps had shoulder problems in Q1 after a hit and finished with a SC score of 56. Marc Murphy (47 SC) was also put on ice late with a hip complaint.

This game was in stark contrast to the previous one – with the Blues the only team for the week scoring the ton and the total game score being the week’s best at 154.

An interesting comment by Luke Beveridge in the post-match – we’ve got a game in 5 day’s time. It was clearly in his mind. He talked about missing a chance to get within 12 points early in the last. Put the two together. This explains why they dropped away badly late in the game. They were already on to the Bombers Friday night upcoming game. Maybe they were half thinking about this before they played the Blues. This needs to be kept in mind when tipping for round 7

Despite all this, I am considering upgrading Carlton.

One thing I got right:
It’s not a good weekend for too many outlandish predictions.
Pity I didn’t take my own advice (but my advice is for other people, not for me)

Round 7 begins on Thursday 16 July 2020 (and finishes Monday 20 July 2020)
Thursday July 16
Geelong v Collingwood (Perth Stadium) – 8:10pm EST

Friday July 17

Essendon v Western Bulldogs (Gold Coast) – 7.40pm

Saturday July 18
GWS Giants v Brisbane (Sydney Showgrounds) – 1:45pm

Sydney v Gold Coast Suns (SCG) 4:35pm
Richmond v North Melbourne (Gold Coast) – 7.40pm

Sunday July 19 Carlton v Port Adelaide (Gabba) – 1:05pm
Hawthorn v Melbourne (Sydney Showgrounds) 3:35pm
Fremantle v West Coast (Perth Stadium) – 6:35pm EST

Monday July 20
Adelaide Crows v St Kilda (Adelaide Oval) 7:40pm

Thursday July 16
Geelong v Collingwood (Perth Stadium) – 8:10pm EST
Forecast: Windy and VERY WET
These teams both played in Sydney and now go to Perth for 3 matches. The forecast makes it tough, but this is Perth, so the ball can sometimes skid through at knee height on the sandy surface; we will wait to see how much rain falls, when and how severe the wind gusts are (20 – 30 km/hr is the BOM’s call)

I’m inclined to downgrade both wins by these teams last week. The Pies caught the Hawks with 2 extra day’s break after the Hawks had been smashed at times by the Giants. That loss may have left the Hawks flat – and they were awful in Q1.

Not sure about the Cats. Was it a great effort all night – with the early troubles merely a result of the injuries to Mitch Duncan and Quinton Narkle? Did the Lions not travel well after enjoying games at home?

The Cats get the extra days break on the trip from Sydney to Perth, which is a slight help. And both teams will enjoy playing in front of a crowd – likely to be a few more Pie fans there than Cat fans, I guess. Whoever settles in best to their new environs will probably win.

This is another tough Thursday night game to call; I don’t especially like it; I’m tipping the Pies by 3 points – in line with most experts; Cats a definite chance, however.

Friday July 17
Essendon v Western Bulldogs (Gold Coast) – 7.40pm
Forecast: fine, winds 15- 25 km/hr
Wednesday tip: Dogs by 6 points

The more I think about this game, the more I like the Dogs. I think they have been downgraded too much for their poor last 20 minutes last week against a determined Blues outfit. They actually shut up shop then and got ready for this match (which was supposedly the tougher one to win!).

Meanwhile, the Bombers just did enough to overcome a struggling Roos team. I rate the Dogs higher and they are slightly closer to full strength than the Bombers (who are missing Dyson Heppell, Jake Stringer, Dylan Shiel and others).

The Bombers are one kick away from being undefeated. They also could have lost 2 games that they narrowly won! And they have had things their way in a sense, Dockers at home in round 1 when they were vulnerable and just fell over the line. By round 2, they had overcome most of their injuries and struggled to beat a likely bottom 4 team in the Swans (away); a bye and didn’t play the Melbourne game, lost by a kick against the Blues (perhaps we can excuse them as they had the unexpected hiatus in their season the week prior); a great win over the Pies (where Bucks made excuses that I believe); then a fair win over the Roos (who have injury troubles).

The potential obstacle for the Dogs is the short turn-around from Sunday to Friday. So long as they can cope with this, they should do okay.

Dogs by 14 points.

Saturday July 18
GWS Giants v Brisbane (Sydney Showgrounds) – 1:45pm
Forecast: fine
Wednesday tip: GWS by 15 points
The Lions play this week in NSW then head home again. They were very good vs Port and then got smashed in Q3 last week against the Cats in Sydney.

Port took care of the Giants last week, so it would seem logical that the Lions will win; I don’t buy it. I reckon that Port was flat for the Lions game and up for the Giants. GWS was up for the Hawks and then flat for the Port game. Back at home this week, I expect them to get the job done. But it will be without Callan Ward. And maybe Danile Lloyd who has to pass a concussion test.

The Lions have doubts on the fitness of Hugh McLuggage and Mitch Robinson; word is they both will be okay, but watch for late changes for both teams.

I have the Giants higher rated than Brisbane and they are the tip at home. GWS by 15 points

Sydney v Gold Coast Suns (SCG) 4:35pm
Forecast: fine
Wednesday tip: Suns by 16 points.
I am extra keen on the suns with one proviso – the Jarrod Witts is okay; he had a sore knee late last week according to & no news elsewhere since.

The Swans were short on talls last week, but Callum Sinclair is expected back. The only way I see the Swans winning is for Sinclair to dominate and for Witts to be out / impeded.

If I were in the Gauntlet, I would even consider the Suns as the tip (but Eagles would be first option)
Suns by 16 points

Richmond v North Melbourne (Gold Coast) – 7.40pm
Forecast: fine
Wednesday tip: Tigers by 4 points, but not confident and may even swap Thursday.

Both teams are struggling with injury and unavailability at present. I will update news on Thursday night after team selection.

Update Thursday night: no change for the Tigers, but Tom Lynch will be improved from last week. The Roos lose Paul Ahern and Tarryn Thomas to injury, plus drop Tom Campbell; they get back Jack Ziebell, Aiden Bonar and Mason Wood.

I’ll stick with Richmond, but with no confidence. Tigers by 4 points.

Sunday July 19 Carlton v Port Adelaide (Gabba) – 1:05pm
Forecast: fine
Wednesday tip: Port by 20 points
I’m calling the big win by the Blues last week as a false lead at this stage. The win was blown out by the Dogs putting the queue in the rack in Q4; nonetheless it was a good effort and enough to have me giving them some chance against Port.

The Power lose Brad Ebert and Cam Sutcliffe. the Blues had Patrick Cripps and Marc Murphy sore last week, but Cripps is right and Murphy probable, according to

I’ll stick with Port by 20 points.

Hawthorn v Melbourne (Sydney Showgrounds) 3:35pm
Forecast: fine
Wednesday tip: Hawks by 2 points
Jordan Lewis has questioned the Hawks and whether Alistair Clarkson has the energy to go through another rebuild (the suggestion here is that the Hawks cannot progress to another flag with this list – the jury is out on this in my opinion; but Lewis has written them off totally). Lewis made these comments leading up to the week his two old teams play. It makes me what his motive is in the timing – maybe good publicity for his media career; does he want to fire the Hawks up? He was appointed as a coach at Melbourne, but I think this role finished when COVID hit.

I have queries on both teams. The Dees finally won one, but it was against the Suns who were on the road for the second week running. They will need to win here to convince me that they are back in form.

The Hawks have never won at this ground – having lost about half a dozen times. I’m not too worried by that, but I need to see more than recently. I mentioned how the Giants ambushed them 2 weeks ago; then they were flat off the short break last week. This might be their chance to bounce back; but I have little confidence in this theory.

Tom McDonald has been ruled for the Dees

I’m marking this as an EXTREME variance game and will stick with the Hawks by 2 points

Fremantle v West Coast (Perth Stadium) – 6:35pm EST
Forecast: fine
Wednesday tip: Eagles are BIIIG CERTS by 34 points
Justin Longmuir was assistant at the Eagles for some years and this will be a very tough assignment for him – coming up against his old boss. Most new coaches in this spot do quite poorly. And with the Eagles the higher rated, it’s an easy tip.

Nat Fyfe is said to be okay after looking sore and playing forward last week; and Sean Darcy will be tested, but the Dockers are confident he’ll be okay. If he plays and does well, Nicnat might give him a phone.

The Eagles are hoping Luke Shuey will be okay. My guess is that they will pick him and give him a test. I’d expect him to miss.

Eagles by 34 points, a safe Gauntlet tip and the ONE cert of the week.,

Monday July 20
Adelaide Crows v St Kilda (Adelaide Oval) 7:40pm
Morning showers to be gone well before game time; winds 20-30 km/hr
Wednesday tip: Saints by 22 points.
The Saints are the first team to go from hub to hub and play a team NOT in the same circumstance (the Suns went from a game at Geelong to a game in Sydney, but were not in a hub in Vic; Cats and Pies were in NSW then WA, but played each other first up in WA). They played in QLD last week and now Adelaide. If they can negotiate this, they should win. But they will face a hostile crowd – estimated to be a half full stadium of mainly Crow fans. This one fact is the hope of the Crows. They may get a boost from their noise. The coach reckons they are not that far away from a win.

The Saints will be savage after throwing away a big lead last round vs Freo. Often teams that do this tend to start extremely well again the following week and win well. Two examples of this are:
North in 2013 when they threw away a 5 goals lead late in Q4 to lose to the Crows. Next week, they booted 9:7 to 1:0 in Q1 vs the Saints and won by 68 points.
Geelong in 2006 blew a big lead against the Eagles and next week kicked 6:3 to 2:3 in Q1 versus the Bombers and won by 42 points.

The Saints also did similar in rounds 1 and 2 this year – threw away a very handy lead against the Roos and the next match (a couple of months later, it must be said – due to the COVID shutdown) – leading throughout with dominant Q2 and Q3

This is what I expect the Saints to achieve IFF they can overcome the second week of travel AND the crowd. These two doubts make it an EXTREME variance game.

Saints by 22 points; not a game to pick for the Gauntlet

This looks like a tough round to tip; the Eagles are the clear stand-out tip

In summary, my favourite game is Eagles versus Dockers; Eagles to win big – by over 4 goals, certs and the Gauntlet tip

Also very keen on the Suns to win by over 2 goals

Round 7 Review
Collingwood defeated Geelong by 22 points
Expected result: Collingwood by 2 points
My tip: Collingwood by 3 points
Jordan de Goey was the absolute star of this contest with 5 goals (including bookends) in a low scoring game. But it wasn’t quite as wet as forecast. Nonetheless Mason Cox was left out for a small in John Noble.

I got the tip right but the question is: would the Pies have won had Joel Selwood (off in Q1 and 10 SC) and Jordan Clark (off in Q3 – 57 SC) played out the game. A case could be made for the Cats winning in this scenario; they got within 8 points late in the contest.

I think that the Pies might have still squeaked over the line. We’ll never know and I only tipped the Pies by 3 points, so I am fairly happy. Hope to get to Saturday without tipping a loser (a rare event in 2020).

My Cat fan colleagues noted that the umps were against them – especially 2 marks (and goals) to Jordan de Goey. The question of the umps was put to Chris Scott after the game. He backed me up – saying that the Pies were the better team on the night and that the Cats would’ve pinched it had they won.

Bucks said that their pressure rating was 210 for the night and 240 in Q2 (200 or better is excellent). the Pies kicked 2:1 to 0:2 in Q2 and effectively won the game then.

The Cats’ flag hoped are hanging by a thread now

Western Bulldogs defeated Essendon by 42 points
Expected result: Western Bulldogs by 6 points (note: Bombers were favourites earlier in the week)
My tip: Western Bulldogs by 14 points
I didn’t tip this as an EXTREME varinace game and it ended up being right on the cusp in terms of score, but the 11 of 12 goals mid game to the Dogs pushed it into EXTREME variance territory.

I want to cover a point I made recently – teams about to travel often had a bad Q4 (travel away, not return home). This applies to Essendon and they actually won Q4 by a point (so about as expected prior to the game). But a bigger factor here was the fact that the Dogs needed to do well earlier in the game (off a 5 day break) and they blew the game away by 3QT. It was just a matter of cruising to the line; then they have a 6 day break until their round 8 game; so I still think the “about to travel and go badly in Q4” theory is valid, but there was a stronger force at work in this game.

A note purely relating to enjoyment of a star player. The Bont’s courage and marking prowess has been highlighted, but it was a pleasure to see his precise kicking skill son display – especially when roving to a wonderful Tim English tap from a centre bounce! One more thing – check out Cody Weightman first kick in AFL footy (a banana kick goal from about 40 on the boundary).

The Bombers got away with Andrew Phillips vs the Roos last week (probably because the Roos had other problems – not ruck ones). but Phillips was beaten 72 Sc points to Tim English’s whopping 204.

The Dogs kicked 11 of 12 goals mid game – bringing back memories of their 21 goals in a row last season. Police officer Lauren Oder asked me why didn’t the 21 goal in a row match last year constitute a “hidden revenge” factor as I discussed re the Giants / Hawks game above. Well, Lauren, it wasn’t really hidden enough. Every paper had it plastered on the back page next day. The Dogs have now won 6 in a row vs the Dons, but Luke Beveridge doesn’t see anything in this as the teams have changed a lot in that time.

On the same question, John noted that the Dogs had a superior and more experienced midfield. When questioned on who could come in as a ruckman, Woosha noted English’s dominance and mentioned that Tom Bellchambers and Sam Draper are both coming back from injuries, but would not necessarily replace Phillips immediately.

Tim Watson noted on Monday morning that the Dogs like to possess the ball, so you need to pressure them; but the Bombers had only laid 5 tackles by early Q2; also that Orazio Fantasia at QT said the coach’s instructions were to slow things down (assume meaning not to play at breakneck speed, but to look for options when moving the ball forward). Tim said that they lost the plot a bit from then on.

Conor McKenna passed a fitness test and did very well with 103 SC points and the only bomber to top the ton.

The Bombers go to Adelaide next round to play the Crows. I still believe in my ratings – Dogs higher than the Bombers.

Brisbane defeated GWS by 20 points
Expected result: GWS by 1 point (was 5 points before Toby Greene came out)
My tip: GWS by 15 points

After I did the tip, Toby Greene and Daniel Lloyd were withdrawals, so I was less optimistic, but still expected a Giants win. But the Lions really hardly looked losing all day. It is noted that both the Lions AND Suns (see below) exceeded expectations in their 2nd week in NSW (after which both return home). Maybe the team bonding helped; the 8 day break compared to 6 for the Giants.

Lachie Neale got tagged by Matt de Boer – who kept him to 87 SC and 20 possessions; but the other Lion mids did enough to keep the show going.

Some commentators were frustrated by the Giants – who played an extra mid and then bombed the ball to an outnumbered forward line. Harris Andrews took several intercept marks as a result and it was as if the Giant players weren’t even thinking of what they were doing. Even so, they still produced low inside 50 numbers.

“We overused our hands” said Leon Cameron – so the Lions pressure kept the ball in the GWS back 50. There was also a silly goal given away with a 50 metre penalty.

Tim Taranto came back in and was okay for the Giants. Brisbane went in with the same side as the previous week and a settled side is generally good although a lot of players have excelled in their first games this year – or after long absences from the senior team).

Brett Deledio on the ABC (and replayed Monday morning on Whateley in the Means Test) mentioned that the players tend to play as individuals and not so much as a team. Kane Cornes says he sees this when looking at them. He also mentioned the lack of discipline and lack of care (in letting Neale walk into an open goal). Their losses have often shown multiple goals in a row kicked against them.

Over all, I am not too shocked by this result, but unhappy to tip a loser.

Gold Coast Suns defeated Sydney Swans by 32 points
Expected result: Gold Coast Suns by 3 points
My tip: Gold Coast Suns by 16 points
This was very good work by me as I was much more bullish than most on the Suns. They always looked in control; I felt pretty comfortable once I saw that Jarrod Witts was okay. He won the ruck duel wit Callum Sinclair. My tip was helped slightly by Colin “(unusual name these days) O’Riordan going off injured in Q2.

Stuart Dew noted that his Suns were older and more experienced than the Swans (first time ever in clashed between these teams). Clearly the Swans will struggle with the outs they have at present.

Izak Rankine did very well again in game 2. Noah Anderson (remember him – number 2 draft pick) is going along very nicely with 93 SC points. Not much else to say here except I am very happy with my work on this game.

Richmond defeated North Melbourne by 54 points
Expected result: Richmond by 9 points
My tip: Richmond by 4 points
The variance was EXTREME (obviously) and I didn’t forecast that!!

The Tigers kicked 4:3 to nil in Q1 (inside 50s 18 to 1) and they didn’t actually need to score any further. The Roos only scored 2 goals for the entire game. A problem that the Roos have is players coming in don’t or cannot perform. Coach Rhyce Shaw said that they took the cautious approach with Jack Ziebell (was a chance to play round 6) and then he only lasted a few minutes. Jy Simpkin rolled his ankle, looked gone, but soldiered on. Kyron Hayden went back into a marking contest and got ko’d in Q3. My take is that getting Captain Ziebell back was huge for the Roos and they seemed to drop their bundle a bit early. With Simpkin struggling also in Q1, the Tigers pounced. They weren’t helped by Mason Wood coming in and struggling (although he copped a knock in Q2). Luke McDonald tagged Dusty mostly with moderate success. Ben Brown and a few others missed some gettable shots. Remember I commented about 4 Roo players sleeping in a cold unit when the urgent move was on before the game against the Dogs? The Roos were awful in that game, passable against the Bombers and then terrible again this week. I thought they may have been on the way up a bit. Maybe I will cut them a small amount of slack due to their injury problems on the night, but there were more concerns than just injuries.

Derek Eggmolesse-Smith scored 109 SC points which was huge for the Tigers. Marlion Pickett returned to grand final form with 109 SC points. So the Tiger lower ranked players significantly outperformed their Roo counterparts.

But the Tigers lost Josh Caddy to what looked like a bad hammie.

Port Adelaide defeated Carlton by 3 points
Expected result: Port Adelaide by 15 points
My tip: Port Adelaide by 20 points
You have just got to watch the last 2 minutes of this game. Port dominated late, missed shots I would have kicked with my left foot half asleep, saved a certain Carlton goal and then Robbie Gray kicks a ripper after the siren from 45 out almost on the boundary to take the win. Awful for Blues fans but relief for the Port. The Power should have won anyway, in my opinion. They won the SC 1765 to 1534; they also had a worse run of injuries – notably losing Steven Motlop in Q4 and Connor Rozee playing on despite an ankle injury. Ryan Burton was off late, so watch to see if he comes up.

Peter Ladhams did well in Scott Lycett’s absence – 21 possessions and 80 SC.

So all that considered, I am okay with my analysis. Port flew in on the day again and now go home for a few weeks.

someone commented that it would be harder

Melbourne defeated Hawthorn by 43 points
Expected result: Hawthorn by 4 points
My tip: Hawthorn by 2 points & EXTREME variance
I tipped a loser but the EXTREME variance call was correct.

I came into the match doubtful about both teams. Now I have hope for the Dees and have all but written off the Hawks for 2020 (not that I had them as a flag chance before the season started). I probably should have changed my tip when Jonathon Ceglar went out injured. It left Big Boy McEvoy in the ruck against Max Gawn and Gawn dominated. Although Big Boy has rucked a lot in the past, he has been used almost exclusively as a defender in 2020.

Jeff Kennett made a comment about Alistair Clarkson which tended to suggest that the coach will not be re-appointed when his current contract expires at the end of the 2022 season. This was said before the weekend’s game and refer to my comments above about Jordan Lewis. All this talk will diminish somewhat when the Hawks snap this losing streak.

Chris Pelchen was interviewed a couple of days after this game. He noted that the Hawks had had few top draft picks in the last decade – a combination of results of success and their ploy to take players from other clubs (eg now on the list Chad Wingard, Jack Gunston, Jaeger OP’Meara, Jarman Impey, Jonathon Patton, Shaun Burgoyne, Tom Mitchell, Tom Scully and others). some players from other clubs have hit the spot and others not. But Pelchen said that teams need high draft picks and the Hawks are suffering now due to the lack of them. My comment is that the Hawks worked on being a destination club; that was fine when they were winning flags, but they have slipped down the pecking order in Victoria a bit now (behind Richmond and Collingwood at least).

The match looked like a top four team against a bottom four team on the weekend. The Hawks will bounce at some stage but I’m expecting a dead cat bounce of sorts. The Hawks lost Tim O’Brien early, but that didn’t make the difference.

Up the other end, debutante Luke Jackson and also Sam Weideman combined for 4 goals in the absence of tall forward Tom McDonald.

The more interesting question is: how far can the Dees go?

West Coast Eagles defeated Fremantle by 30 points
Expected result: West Coast Eagles by 18 points
My tip: West Coast Eagles by 34 points and big certs
Again, I’m very happy with my analysis work here. The Eagles dropped Brayden Ainsworth to bring back Luke Shuey, but this was reversed when Shuey was a late withdrawal.

St Kilda defeated Adelaide by 23 points
Expected result: St Kilda by 18 points
My tip: St Kilda by 22 points & EXTREME variance
I got the tip right and almost exact on points, but the big negative was the errant EXTREME variance call. It was a very ho hum scoring trend bar for a mini Q4 fightback by the Crows.

Matthew nicks mentioned that they rolled the dice late to try to get the win and that led to a couple of late St Kilda goals.

Ben Keays was listed as tagging Jade Gresham; Keays is getting plenty of it with 23 possessions ans 123 SC, but Gresham also 18 himself and 114. Jarryn Geary successfully tagged Brodie Smith (44 SC). It’s interesting that Smith was the target – probably a better user than either Crouch.

Josh Battle got collected by Paddy Ryder in Q1 and never returned. Brett Ratten noted that they will fly back to their hub in QLD and then fly in on the day next week for their match against Port.

Round 8 begins 7.40PM on Thursday, 23 July 2020

Gold Coast v Western Bulldogs at Gold Coast Jul 23 (Thu 7:40pm)         

GWS Giants v Richmond at Sydney Showgrounds Jul 24 (Fri 7:50pm)      

North Melbourne v Carlton at Gabba Jul 25 (Sat 1:05pm)            

Sydney v Hawthorn at SCG Jul 25 (Sat 3:35pm)  

Port Adelaide v St Kilda at Adelaide Oval Jul 25 (Sat 7:40pm EST)             

Adelaide v Essendon at Adelaide Oval Jul 26 (Sun 1:05pm EST)  

West Coast v Collingwood at Perth Stadium Jul 26 (Sun 3:35pm EST)      

Melbourne v Brisbane Lions at Gold Coast Jul 26 (Sun 6:10pm) 

Fremantle v Geelong at Perth Stadium Jul 27 (Mon 8:10pm EST)

Wednesday morning quick tips (? = doubt)
Giants? (Cotchin not back this week)

Gold Coast v Western Bulldogs at Gold Coast Jul 23 (Thu 7:40pm)  
Forecast: rain 8-15mm
The teams are out on Wednesday for this game. No change for the Suns (as expected). The Dogs did something very smart (while they live in a hub). They brought in Porter (not the bag carrier type; Callum Porter in his debut) and Billy Gowers for Lachie Hunter (personal / managed) and Bailey Dale (injured).

I think the experts have this about right in tipping the Dogs by a goal. I rate them better than the Suns, so I’ll tip them (even in QLD). But the concern for me is the big focus they had on playing a Sunday game and then a Friday one. There may be a slight chance that they relaxed too much after last week’s comprehensive win. That removes certainty for me in this game. Oh how I long for a dead easy tip for Thursday and Friday each week – but it hasn’t happened much.

The humidity and wet might help the local team (especially humidity in 2H of the game)

The Dogs by 5 points

GWS Giants v Richmond  at Sydney Showgrounds Jul 24 (Fri 7:50pm)      
I expected the Tigers to be favourites, but it the Giants by 7 points according to the experts. I am slightly more bullish on the Giants than this. It has a little to do with last year’s grand final. I did some research on teams that lose grand finals by 6 goals plus and then how the rematch goes the following year. Since Collingwood played Richmond in 1981 there has been 20 cases and it is 10 all. The total winning margin of the grand final winners (winning again next time) is 234 and the same exact total for the losers exacting revenge for their grand final loss. Where things differ is that the revenge winners tended to have an even spread of winning margins. but those teams to win again in the rematch (after winning the flag the previous year) win by 60, 57, 46, 45, 9, 6, 6, 2, 2, 1. Two of the big wins were teams playing with a home state advantage.

If we look at teams looking for revenge AND doing it in front of their home crowd against an interstate team, the results favour revenge. there are four cases and the results were
Geelong 116 defeated West Coast Eagles 64 in 1995
Sydney Swans 65 defeated North Melbourne 55 in 1997 (looks like a 2020 score)
Port Adelaide 96 lost to Geelong 105 in 2008 (Cats only lost 1 game in the home and away that year)
Adelaide 118 defeated Richmond 82 in 2018 and haven’t done much since.

The revenge teams’ best quarters in the revenge match was Q2 – if you’re interested.

This tends to suggest that GWS is well placed to win this one. But here is the problem: not a full crowd and they didn’t get to plan for the game too much in advance. The latter point may be a plus or a minus, however – not sure.

The main reason for me tipping the Giants is that the Tigers are WAAY short of their best list; they fell over the line against a bottom four team in the Swans and then smashed the Roos early; but the Roos had BIIG problems with injury early, looked discombobulated and I think this match gives a false lead on hoe well the Tigers are travelling. The blokes coming in have done quite well, but this will be a step up in intensity.

I have two concerns about tipping the Giants:
A: I want Toby Greene to be fit and firing; and
B: The Tigers seem to be playing with system, whereas the Giants are just playing on individual ability. I expect point B to be addressed at GWS training this week… but if not, the Tigers are a definite chance.

Giants by 15 points

North Melbourne v Carlton at Gabba Jul 25 (Sat 1:05pm)   
Forecast: rain 10-20mm         
There’s no way you could watch them last week and then tip the Roos here. so I won’t. But it looks like a bit of a danger game to me. Here’s why:
A: the Blues lost via a kick after the siren after earlier appearing to get out of jail against Port last week. They could be flat after this result. Teams in this space in the last 10 years have underperformed by 3.6 points on average – and their scoring trend is patchy – winning Q1 the following week by 6.8 points on average, losing Q2 by 0.8; winning Q3 by 9 and losing Q4 by 8; that tends to suggest that these teams are excelling overall, but they were favourites by and large. I just cannot get too excited about Carlton after doing these figures
B: the Roos were so bad that they have to respond in some way. A lot depends on their injury status. They will definitely lose Jack Ziebell and almost certainly Kyron Hayden (I’d want 6 months off if I copped that hit!) and Jy Simpkin may be in doubt. If Simpkin comes up well and they regain Jed Anderson and Cam Zurharr, they could surprise.

Having poured cold water over the Blues, I still think there is a chance that they could win big. If the Roos don’t get players back and / or lose Simpkin (or bring back players who cannot go 100% first up) then they could get flogged again.

This is an EXTREME variance game; not one to use for Gauntlet. Blues by 6 points

Sydney v Hawthorn at SCG Jul 25 (Sat 3:35pm)  
Forecast: 8-20mm of rain!!
If the Hawks weren’t flogged enough in the media before the Dees game, they certainly copped it after. They lost yet again at Sydney Showgrounds (never won a game there, remarkably) and have slipped to 14th. Finals seem out of reach for both teams now.

The move to the SCG will be good psychologically for the Hawks.

The Swans have multiple injury concerns from last week’s – Colin O’Riordan and Will Hayward are in doubt, while and George Hewett has a bulging disc in his back and is unlikely. Sam Reid and Lewis Melican are available. Hewett likely to be out is the big worry here. The Swans have a lot of senior players out now and their mids (including sometimes mids) missing are John Kennedy, Isaac Heeney and Sam Naismith – plus a few talls. This is a problem especially for the Swans because their next tier is so inexperienced.

I’m keen on the Hawks; if Jarman Impey comes back in (after playing a couple of scratch matches now) and can be close to his top, this will be a help. Hawks by 17 points but not certs.

Port Adelaide v St Kilda at Adelaide Oval Jul 25 (Sat 7:40pm EST) 
I’m labeling Port an almost cert. I reckon it will be more difficult for the Saints flying in and out this time. Firstly, it’s a better team they are playing; second, I reckon it might get harder for the repeat trip – knowing that they can settle in to 4 weeks in sunny QLD after that.

The one concern for Port is that they do not come up after the “kick after the siren” win last week. Looking back over the last decade, teams in this spot actually outperform expectations slightly (+8.8 points). The in game trend is all over the place, however. Q1 teams lost by 3.4 points on average (just scoreboard listed from here on, not performance against expectation and just done so you can get a feel for the likely Port players’ mindset); Q2 win by 9.2 points; Q3 lose by 2.2 points and Q4 win by 6.4 points. This data might be slightly skewed by the WCE win in a finals series in 2017. This happened in overtime and then they had to travel 2nd week in a row to Sydney where they got totally flogged by the Giants. nonetheless, the general trend holds true. The psychology behind this can be explained as follows. Let’s say a kid is practicing baseball as a hitter. Babe Ruth comes to watch for one hit only. At that time, the kid hits one out of the park. Babe claps; the kid is ecstatic and then Babe departs (for you young-uns, Babe Ruth is not a pet pig). What will the kid do next pitch? Probably his effort will be less than average because he’s still thinking about his timely brush with fame. After maybe fluffing a hit, he will then re-focus and exceed expectations (like Q2 above). You can see how his concentration can go up and down. That sort of explains the above Q by Q patterns we have seen this last decade.

Ryan Burton, Steven Motlop and Connor Rozee are all in some doubt, but Brad Ebert is available after suspension, while Cam Sutcliffe and Rocky can both come in if needed.

Port by 27 points and if you need a cert, this is the game            

Adelaide v Essendon at Adelaide Oval Jul 26 (Sun 1:05pm EST)  
One would expect the Bombers to be stung by their Friday night shocker last week and to bounce back. They should win. But I am not overly bullish about them. The Crows might get back Rory Atkins this week (having only 1 Rory recently has been a shock to Crow fans). The Bombers might get back Tom Cutler and Martin Gleeson. But they lose Cale Hooker to injury.

Adelaide will enjoy being at home, then 1 match in QLD and then home for a further 2 games.

Essendon by 12 points

West Coast v Collingwood at Perth Stadium Jul 26 (Sun 3:35pm EST)
Forecast: Morning showers should be gone by game time
I am marking the Perth games as EXTREME variance because the Pies and Cats have had different living arrangement to the Perth teams. I’m not sure how things will be when a Vic team plays a WA team in this situation.

The Pies have been going better this year than the Eagles overall, but now have a long injury list – the latest out is Jordan de Goey. Meanwhile, the Eagles are pretty settled.

The hub could be a big plus for the Pies or a drama. If they can beat the Eagles while missing multiple top level players, a premiership is within grasp. They could fail badly here and still be a flag hope, of course, if the hub thing isn’t right or the Eagles exploit their lesser players.

Eagles by 14 points but EXTREME variance      

Melbourne v Brisbane Lions at Gold Coast Jul 26 (Sun 6:10pm) 
Forecast: rain 3-10mm to be all done by game time; breezy

This will be a good test for the Dees. They have back to back wins over the Suns and Hawks after a shocker vs Richmond. Both teams have few injuries and the humidity forecast is not too bad (good news for the Dees).

Note this is at the Gold Coast and not a fully home game for Brisbane. Nonetheless, the home state advantage is the difference here, in my opinion. Dees still a decent chance, though

Lions by 11 points and the game of the round for me

Thursday night change!!!!!! NOTE; I’m tipping Melbourne now. Two reasons:
A: Stefan Martin is out and Gawn is going to have fun
B: I’ve been thinking about this all day and the Dees in 2020 are beginning to remind me of the Cats in early 2007. The Cats were promising in 2005, had a shocker in 2006 and were scratchy early in 2007. Then they had a big win (over Richmond) that set them on their way. The Dees have doe similarly; they had an ordinary game vs Richmond, then were okay in a win over the Suns; then they smashed Hawthorn; I’ve got a feeling that they are going to carry on the form of last week. This will be a good test. Dees by 5 points

Fremantle v Geelong at Perth Stadium Jul 27 (Mon 8:10pm EST)
Forecast: showers and a bit breezy
See above notes on the Eagles and Pies. I like the Cats here, but a bit concerned about their injuries to mids. They lost Joel Selwood and Jordan Clark last week and still won’t get back Quinton Narkle. Mitch Duncan is a chance to return but not a cert. Tom Stewart is tipped to return and that is a plus.

The Dockers don’t expect Nat Fyfe to play and also have a sizable injury list – but a more evenly spread one (not many mids like the Cats).

Maybe Geelong can learn from whatever the Pies do a day earlier.

Cats by 7 points but EXTREME variance

Sunday night update: looking at the Eagles / Pies game, I began to feel more confident about Freo winning. But was this absolute shocker by the Pies something that Geelong was going to replicate? Maybe; maybe not. But then I looked at the Sunday edition of the team changes. The Cats regain Mitch Duncan (probably, but might need a game day test) and Tom Stewart. So far so good; but they lose to injury or unavailability the Little Master, Jack Steven, Darcy Fort, Joel Selwood (admittedly, was virtually not there last week), Luke Dahlhaus and Jordan Clark.

Esava Ratugolea will have to ruck almost all day. So I am changing my tip late AGAIN. I messed up by changing to the Dees, but I am changing again! Dockers by 11 points

In summary, this is a tough round to tip. I predict at least 2 of these 4 things will occur
GWS win by over 3 goals
Roos win
Hawks win by over 3 goals
Port wins by over 5 goals

Finally, note that I have changed from the Lions to the Dees after team selection! And to the Dockers from the Cats!!

Expect a wild ride over coming weeks. Note that round 10 has 7 games and round 11 8 games. You won’t really notice it unless you’re in a tipping comp – with games coming thick and fast.

Round 8 Review
This was a very unusual round in that many of the losers had bad fortune or did something silly to cause their own demise. Let me go through them:

The Suns missed gettable shots at goal in Q4.

Richmond totally dominated for most of Q2 but couldn’t finish off their good work. They should’ve led at HT, but the Giants kicked two goals in a minute to grab the HT lead. Goals just before a break (or bad misses) are crucial. Things could have been different had the Tigers kept their Q2 lead.

The Hawks let Tom Papley get 2 goals with one kick, in effect. Papley booted a goal close to half time. The Hawks were dominating 33-19 before that goal and looked like they had the game in hand. Papley then appeared to taunt ex team mate and now Hawk player Tom Mitchell (taunting is penalised in the NFL but not in the AFL). James Frawley then charged into Papley and the Swan then got a second shot at goal – which he converted. The Swans went to the break 2 points down and full of momentum. They grab the lead in Q3 and hung on to win.

The Crows had injuries on the day and missed late chances to hit the lead.

The Pies lost Pendles in the minute or two before the game (but hard to make a case that his absence cost them the win)

The Dees were making a late charge and were 4 points down. The Lions had a free in the back pocket, but Bayley Fritsch gave away a 50 metre penalty and the Lions were off the hook.

The Dockers lost Brennan Cox prior to the game, then Darcy Tucker very early in the game; and Michael Walters late in the contest

Western Bulldogs defeated Gold Coast Suns by 5 points
Expected result: Western Bulldogs by 5 points
My tip: Western Bulldogs by 5 points
This may never happen again (my tip same as experts and exactly right). Rain was forecast but they didn’t get as much as expected. Nonetheless, the conditions were tough and scoring was hard.

The Suns had chances to win it – Izak Rankine missed a few but lesser players wouldn’t have even got the ball in some circumstances.

Jarrod Witts beat Tim English in the ruck, but the Dogs’ mids prevailed. The Dogs did well to win with first gamer Callum Porter copping an early shoulder knock and scoring 39 Sc points, while 2nd gamer Cody Weightman only managed 14 SC.

Remember, when you tip a team by 5 points and they win by EXACTLY that amount, you are only 1 kick away from tipping a loser. Nonetheless, it was my second best tipping effort for the weekend

GWS Giants defeated Richmond by 12 points
Expected result: by 8 points
My tip: GWS Giants by 15 points
I am pretty happy here because many Victorians tipped the Tigers. Despite the Giants being favourites, many tipping comps had over 50% going for Richmond.

I didn’t tip EXTREME variance, but the game bordered on it. In Q2, Richmond dominated the quarter (14 inside 50s to 5, according to Leon Cameron), but the Tigers just couldn’t finish and lost the quarter 1:3 to 2:0 with the Giants kicking their 2 very late.

In the end, Toby Greene (wearing 2 black armbands – one for Shane Tuck and one for his uncle) was the difference – 166 SC and 5 goals.

Based on outs, the Giants should have won, but the Tigers had their chances

Carlton defeated North Melbourne by 7 points
Expected result: by 12 points
My tip: Carlton by 6 points
Well I tipped the winner and was only 1 point off, but not all that happy – because I tipped EXTREME variance and it wasn’t such a game.

Sydney Swans defeated Hawthorn by 7 points
Expected result: Hawthorn by 5 points
My tip: Hawthorn by 17 points

St Kilda defeated Port Adelaide by 29 points
Expected result: Port Adelaide by 16 points
My tip: Port Adelaide by 27 points
My tips was wrong here in almost every way. The scoring trend of Port was nothing like the trends of previous teams that had won by a kick after the siren the previous week. Next – the Saints pulling away late in the game made it an EXTREME variance game – which I did not predict. Oh no!

What I missed was the ruck issue for Port; they got away without Scott Lycett last week, but ex Power player Paddy Ryder toweled up Peter Ladhams

Essendon defeated Adelaide by 3 points
Expected result: Essendon by 11 points
My tip: Essendon by 12 points
Injuries played a fair part in this game. The Crows lost Brad Crouch in Q2 and Tom Doedee in Q3 but managed to battle it out well (acknowledged by coach Matthew Nicks – he was proud of their effort, but said they still lack polish). Having read that, you probably think the Crows should have won and maybe this is correct.

But the Bombers lost Jayden Laverde in Q2. Connor McKenna provieded a highlight and lowlight. He did a Gaelic Football kick to himself running through the centre and bamboozling his opponents. Then late in Q4, he went to kick the ball off the ground deep in defence – resulting in “a swing and a miss” (to quote Bill Lawry).

West Coast Eagles defeated Collingwood by 66 points
Expected result: West Coast Eagles by 5 points
My tip: West Coast Eagles by 14 points and EXTREME variance
In a dirty week of tipping for me, this was my best effort; I tipped the winner (albeit 46 points away from the right score), but I was more bullish than most AND I tipped EXTREME variance. This result was EXTREME with bells on. The Eagles went from behind in Q1 to 72 points up late in Q4. I hate it if this happens and I don’t predict the EXTREME; this was a rare moment of satisfaction for me on the weekend.

I mentioned that the Eagles might be able to blow the Pies away if they can exploit their lesser players (with Steele Sidebottom missing, then Jordan de Goey this week and, finally, Pendles pulled out a few minutes before game time – not when sheets were handed in). I was even more confident at that point – but a bit shocked that the Pies jumped them early.

Brodie Grundy had his worst game for some time; he went from about 130 SC points in recent weeks to 61 this week. He went forward late – making me think he might be injured in some way. But it was also a chance to give Darcy Cameron a run in the ruck against Nicnat (alas, no phone for Cameron). Cameron was actually quite good forward with 2 majors.

Despite the scoreline, the Pies won the inside 50s, but their disposal efficiency was waaay below that of the Eagles. West Coast kicked 18:3 from 35 entries. Amazing!

Brisbane defeated Melbourne by 4 points
Expected result: Brisbane by 9 points
My tip: Melbourne by 5 points
I began on Wednesday tipping the Lions narrowly, but changed when Stefan Martin went out injured. Although I’m dirty on not tipping a winner, it was a 50/50 game

Geelong defeated Fremantle by 32 points
Expected result: Geelong by 7 points
My tip: Fremantle by 11 points and EXTREME variance.
Oh boy! I changed yet another tip and was wrong again. I was concerned about all Geelong’s outs and some doubts on the ins. Here are the SC scores of the ins for Geelong: Mitch Duncan 148, Tom Stewart 89; Lachlan Fogarty 76; Bradley Close 74; Charlie Constable 68 and Lachie Henderson 67.

Conversely – the Dockers were supposed to have slightly less injury problems but lose Brennan Cox before the game, then Darcy Tucker a few minutes in; then Michael Walters late; and Sean Darcy battled through a leg problem.

Round 9 begins on Wednesday 29 July
see here for details: