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2021 Preview & Rounds 1-8

Penny here and finally got a bit of time off from the fruit trees.

Here’s my quick and dirty ladder preview (which I hate doing, because it’s so difficult this time of year):

PositionTeamOne Liner
1Western BulldogsThey got the ruck help they need
2Port AdelaideLook stronger and are mostly fit
3RichmondFour flags in five years is tough, but possible
4GeelongHave recruited for NOW
5BrisbaneWill play away more in 2021, but still a threat
6West Coast EaglesThereabouts again
7MelbourneFinals and will save Goodie’s job
8CollingwoodToo many problems and have lost players
9St KildaStarting off the year too injured
10GWS GiantsA finals chance before Preuss went down
11CarltonNot convinced yet
12FremantleStill building and heading in the right direction
13EssendonSee comment for Blues
14Sydney SwansYoungsters look good
15HawthornSide too unsettled for 2021
16Gold CoastOn a slow build
17AdelaideAnother tough year
18North MelbourneA big rebuild and patience required

It as noted on the ABC that each year a team rises from outside the 8 into the top 4 the next year (EG Port in 2020 & Richmond in 2017). I haven’t tipped a team to do this in 2021, but if I had to take a stab, it’s the Dees with the best chance


Now for a quick preview of round 1 (added Mon 15 March before any teams selections announced: all times Eastern:

RichmondvCarltonMCGMar 18 (Thu 7:25pm)
CollingwoodvWestern BulldogsMCGMar 19 (Fri 7:50pm)
MelbournevFremantleMCGMar 20 (Sat 1:45pm)
AdelaidevGeelongAdel OvalMar 20 (Sat 4:35pm)
EssendonvHawthornDocklandsMar 20 (Sat 7:25pm)
Brisbane LionsvSydneyGabbaMar 20 (Sat 7:45pm)
North MelbvPort AdelaideDocklandsMar 21 (Sun 1:10pm)
GWS GiantsvSt KildaSyd ShowgroundsMar 21 (Sun 3:20pm)
West CoastvGold CoastPerth StadiumMar 21 (Sun 6:10pm)


Quick tips and comments: the percentages of fans the games at the MCG and Docklands with Victorian teams competing will be different in round 1 compared to 2019 (before COVID). As an example, Richmond are the home team against Carlton first up. I would’ve originally expected a 60/40 split in crowd support in favour of the Tigers. But this week, tickets will go on sale as follows:
Monday: MCC members
Tuesday morning: AFL members
Tuesday afternoon: Richmond members
Wednesday morning: Carlton members
Wednesday afternoon: general public
In 2019, 85,000 fans attended this game and the limit currently is 50,000. So, I reckon there will be 45,000 for the Tigers and 5,000 supporting the Blues! Significant! Big benefit for Richmond. Think Kardinia Park re crowd noise of affirmation.
Also, the Pies and Bombers will benefit from this seating allocation rule. Not sure what will happen for round 2 yet.

So, the quick tips and a few comments (check for weather and team announcements – I won’t update any comments after team selections):

Richmond by 33 points (I’m more bullish than most and see above crowd comments)

Dogs by 4 points over Pies (despite the Collingwood crowd assistance and the Pies being slight favourites – Dogs have bolstered their rucks stocks and the Pies have had off-season woes and also lost Adam Treloar – who will probably debut this week for the Dogs if they think his match conditioning is sufficient)

Dees by 28 points over Dockers (I’m more bullish than most – the Dockers have more injury concerns than the Dees at present)

Cats by 21 points over the Crows

Bombers by 5 points over the Hawks (the Hawks are slight favourites, but see above crowd comments); Hawks have more players injured / underdone and they have already lost Tom Scully for good and Jon Patton indefinitely.

Lions by 28 points over the Swans

Port by 40 points over the Roos (Roos have lots of troubles – injuries and a big rebuild)

Giants by 25 points over the Saints (the last round loss last year by GWS to the Saints was a horrible fade-out and lost 7:5 to 0:4 in 2H!!). I don’t buy into revenge matches too much – except for when the losing team hurts FAR MORE than the winning team realises. This is true here – with the Saints happy to win, but then had finals to contend with. Both teams are missing ruck stocks, but the Saints come into the year more injured than GWS.

Eagles by 40 points over the Suns (this game is a warm-up for the Suns as they face the Roos in round 2 at home; they’d love to win in the west, of course, but I can see them dropping off late if the game looks cooked)

Round 1 review:
Results
:

Richmond15.15-105dftdCarlton11.14-80
Collingwood7.11-53lost toWestern Bulldogs10.9-69
Melbourne11.14-80dftdFremantle8.1-58
Adelaide15.13-103dftdGeelong13.13-91
Essendon13.13-91lost toHawthorn14.8-92
Brisbane Lions14.1-94lost toSydney19.11-125
North Melbourne9.11-65lost toPort Adelaide17.15-117
GWS Giants11.12-78lost toSt Kilda13.8-86
West Coast12.11-83dftdGold Coast8.1-58

I tipped 5/9 and this is just so-so; I felt slightly unlucky as Essendon and GWS could’ve won. I especially feel peeved about the Bombers – maybe coaching inexperience cost them the game. It was good to hear Dermott Brereton on SEN say that the Bombers probably should have won. The Giants won time of possession, but couldn’t finish it off. They were extremely disappointing.

Now, the critical review: Cats and Lions. What happened? I did see that they play each other in round 2 on a Friday night and that this was a BIG game for both (a prelim replay). So there was a chance that they could be “looking ahead” to it and not fully focused on easy kills in round 1. If you google walterfootball, Walter talks about this often in his NFL game previews. This is precisely what happened for Geelong and Brisbane. Credit to the Crows and Swans, however, because they were good enough to take advantage of being in the right place at the right time. Usually, I would be expecting teams like the Swans and Crows to underperform the following week. Well, they play each other (as it turns out), so no point dwelling on that.

As a result of round 1 results, I have totally written off the Giants for the finals. I will write off the loser of Geelong / Brisbane for the top four as well; and I am warming to Port, Tigers and Dogs all finishing in the top four.

Now to look at teams that played in the 2020 finals coming up against those who did not in round 1, 2021.

The following 2021 finals teams underperformed (in order of worst under-performance to best):
Lions (underperformed by 54 points)
Cats (46 points)
Pies (13 points – Dogs also made the 2020 finals, but went out earlier, so I add this example for interest)
Eagles (2 points)
Tigers outperformed expectations by 2 points and Port did so by 19 points.

Port and the Eagles had a “wake up call” in that two hot favourites had been rolled the day prion. Even so, Port trailed at QT and the Eagles were a point down at 3QT. There were 4 players for the Roos who were “tests” who didn’t get up – Jed Anderson, Ben Cunnington, Robbie Tarrant and Luke McDonald. McDonald was a late withdrawal.

Richmond had the bonus of a biased crowd, unfurling 2 flags (AFL and VFL) as well as a long Carlton injury list.

Overall, the teams that missed finals in 2020 did well in round 1. The question now is – will it continue and, if so, for how long.

In round 2, we have the following relevant games re above:
Blues play Pies; Essendon play Port in Adelaide; Saints play the Dees & Hawks versus Tigers.

This leads us to the round 2 fixture: (all times eastern)

Round 2
CarltonvCollingwoodMCG (Thu 7:20pm)
GeelongvBrisbane Kardinia Park (Fri 7:20pm)
SydneyvAdelaideSCG (Sat 1:45pm)
Port vEssendonAdel Oval (Sat 4:35pm)
St KildavMelbourneDocklands (Sat 7:25pm)
Gold CoastvNorth MelbGold Coast Stad (Sat 8:10pm)
HawthornvRichmondMCG (Sun 1:10pm)
W. BulldogsvWest CoastDocklands(Sun 3:20pm)
FremantlevGWS GiantsPerth Stadium(Sun 6:10pm)

Early thoughts:
Maybe a slight leaning to Pies and Cats
Swans
Port
Saints and Dees is a toss-up; same for Suns / Roos
Tigers
Dogs
Slight leaning to Dockers

Preview round 2 (written Wednesday day time 24 March 2021)
Pies by 7 points over the Blues
I expect players to be very sore after round 1 with less rotations and back to normal length of quarters (20 minutes in 2019 to 16 for 2020 to 20 again now), so the extra break may be useful. the Blues get an extra day’s break on Collingwood, but have a longer injury list. The Pies get back Steele Sidebottom, while the Blues lose SOSOS (Son Of Son Of Serge) Jack Silvagni
and maybe Harry McKay (Meghan will be disappointed if Harry cannot play!); recruit Zac Williams wil come into the side for Carlton

Cats by 4 points over the Lions & EXTREME variance
I don’t like this game. I would usually expect the home team to rebound better after both teams had horrible losses in round 1, but Geelong lose Danger to suspension and maybe also Sam Menegola.

There is also the risk that the Cats may flop after being beaten by a team with significant injuries on the day; this would be more likely had the Cats been a lowly rated team, but it’s still a concern

Swans by 36 points over the Crows and CERTS
The Crows had a great, heroic win with injuries on the day last week and teams in this space often underperform the following week. The Crows will lose Jake Kelly and probably Mitch Hinge and Luke Brown as well.

There is talk of Buddy coming back in for the Swans. If he does, I expect more of a cameo from him than a BOG performance.

The only risk on the Sans is that the star debutantes might not come up in week 2, but I will note this risk and dismiss it

Port by 27 points over Essendon & EXTREME variance
All form, home ground and team ratings suggest an easy win for Port. I tend to agree but there is one little issue here. Port avoided the upset loss to a lowly tam last week (unlike the Lions and Cats), but now face a similar risk of over-confidence. This looks like an easy kill and there is a huge game away versus the Eagles coming up in week 3. that’s the one reason I’m not labelling them as certs.

The worry for the Bombers is how they will respond to throwing away a big half time lead last week (with a coach in his second game – although he has had a long apprenticeship). If there is a negative resulting from the round 1 loss, I would expect the Bombers to (again) have an absolute shocker quarter (maybe 3rd??)

Saints by 3 points over Melbourne & EXTREME variance
I rate the Saints (at full fitness) a bit higher than the Dees. I also rate their round 1 win better than Melbourne. The Dees played an injury-depleted Dockers team and struggled to put them away.

The Saints, themselves, had injury troubles but managed to overrun the Giants away last week. To me, this all hinges on the ruck. Big Max should dominate the ruck duels, but then it will be up to the team to turn this into scores.

Maybe the win will come from the coach’s box – an interesting game of tactics!

Suns by a point over the Roos & EXTREME variance
Over the years, lowly teams have led or got close to a higher ranked opponent in round 1 and then been blown away late.
EG Port in their first game – they got to within 15 points of the pies in Q3 (after looking totally out of it early) and then got blown away thereafter to lose by 79 points. Essendon in 2010 led reigning premiers Geelong at 3QT and then lost by 31 points.

The Suns led by a point at 3QT last week and by 7 points early in Q4. They were overrun late by the Eagles and lost by 25 points.

They are firm favourites to beat the Roos this week and I would normally tip the upset. But the injury concerns for the Roos prevent me from being too bold. Even so, I reckon the Suns are overrated here.

Tigers by 27 points over the Hawks
Apart from the concern that the 10 day break is almost too long, this seems like an easy game to tip. The Tigers are higher rated and looking good again for another premiership tilt.

Dogs by 21 points over the Eagles
I like the 9 day break versus the 7 day break for the Dogs here. With the home ground advantage and the slightly shorter injury list, I’ more bullish about the Dogs than most.

Dockers by 6 points over the Giants
The Giants blew their chances for a win last week. Matthew Flynn starred in his debut for GWS but had an ankle injury in the game. For the Giants to win, he will need to come up.

Speaking of rucks, the Dockers are almost certain to regain Sean Darcy to replace Lloyd Meek (who struggled last week).

The only concern is the long injury list of the Dockers.

In summary, the round is book-ended with 50/50 type games, the Cats, Saints and Dogs are slight favourites and the other games feature strong favourites.

I expect at least 2 of the following 3 to occur:
Swans win by over 4 goals
Dogs to win by over 3 goals
Saints to win Q3

Round 2 review:

Carlton13.7-85lost toCollingwood16.1-106
Geelong12.9-81dftdBrisbane Lions11.14-80
Sydney18.13-121dftdAdelaide11.22-88
Port Adelaide18.11-119dftdEssendon9.11-65
St Kilda11.7-73lost toMelbourne12.19-91
Gold Coast14.14-98dftdNorth Melbourne5.9-39
Hawthorn7.7-49lost toRichmond11.12-78
Western Bulldogs14.16-100dftdWest Coast14.9-93
Fremantle11.21-87dftdGWS Giants7.14-56

I tipped 8/9 and really annoyed that I was too woosie to go for the Dees (with the Saints lacking rucks currently); I was maybe a bit lucky to get away with a win with the Cats; but I generally consider wins by under 2 goals to be iffy anyway. Only 1 of my EXTREME variance calls was correct – with the Suns outperforming expectations by 39 points.

Round 3 tips (added 4pm Thursday)

Round 3 (times eastern)
Brisbane LionsvCollingwoodwas Gabba now DocklandsApr 1 (Thu 7:40pm)
North MelbournevWestern BulldogsDocklandsApr 2 (Fri 4:20pm)
AdelaidevGold CoastAdel OvalApr 2 (Fri 7:50pm)
RichmondvSydneyMCGApr 3 (Sat 1:45pm)
EssendonvSt KildaDocklandsApr 3 (Sat 4:35pm)
West CoastvPort AdelaidePerth StadiumApr 3 (Sat 8:10pm)
CarltonvFremantleDocklandsApr 4 (Sun 3:20pm)
GWS GiantsvMelbourneManuka OvalApr 4 (Sun 6:10pm)
GeelongvHawthornMCGApr 5 (Mon 3:20pm)


I am intrigued to see how the Lions and Suns go with their likely temporary hub situation. QLD has lifted its lockdown today (Thurs) but the Suns had to travel to Crowland early and the Lions stayed in Vic after their round 2 match. I’m expecting them both to underperform – due to less than ideal preparations.

Collingwood to defeat Brisbane Lions by 19 points.
It’s generally tough to play back to back road trips, but this was unplanned. It was originally a Gabba game, but now the late season game between these two teams is to be moved from Melbourne to the Gabba. Added to the Lions’ woes is that their ruckman Oscar McInerney is out injured. And they had an energy-sapping loss to the Cats last week

Western Bulldogs to defeat North Melbourne by 32 points and certs (just).
I’m not as bullish as most on the Dogs , but they should win. The Roos will debut Will Phillips and Ben Cunnington returns. The Dogs also had a tough game last Sunday vs the Eagles and it may flatten them a tad. If the Roos get within 5 goals of the Dogs or win, it will make me think the Eagles should not be tipped.

Adelaide to defeat Gold Coast by 14 points.
The Suns are in a slightly different situation to Brisbane, but I’ll be guide a bit by the Friday night result.

Both the Suns and Crows have begun the season well ad I rate them similarly, but with the early travel for the Suns (who had to flyout of Qld on Tuesday) and the home ground advantage, it’s the Crows for me

Richmond to defeat Sydney by 31 points.
The Swans are playing in “lanes” and are more attacking, after Don Pyke joined as an assistant coach. If you imagine the ground looking like a swimming pool with 5 lanes, the Swans (like the Crows 4-5 years ago) are moving the ball along a lane until they are blocked – than transfer the ball to a lane adjacent or 2 away ad continue down the field. The Swans are undefeated this year so far with that method, but this is their biggest test. I wat to see how it looks against the reigning champs. I have resisted labelling the Tigers certs, but it was a close call.
Bachar Houli and Nick Vlastuin are likely ins for the Tigers, while Buddy has been confirmed as an out for Sydey.

St Kilda to defeat Essendon by 21 points & EXTREME variance.
I was considering the Bombers to be an upset chance prior to their injuries. But they have lost Sam Draper, Dylan Shiel and Jye Caldwell now. Brad Crouch has served his suspension and is available to debut for the Saints.

With both sides having long injury lists, I am making this an EXTREME variance game

West Coast to defeat Port Adelaide by 2 points.
See above comment re Dogs game. I will switch my tip to Port if the Dogs underperform expectations (most tipping them by 7 goals).
Luke Shuey (Eagles), Connor Rozee and Todd Marshall (Port) are all chances to return from injury this week.

Port has toweled up lower rated and more injured squads in the first 2 rounds, but this is their big test. It’s a 50/50 game for me (ad the experts). I don’t have a strong leaning either way, bar for the lead from the Dogs.

Carlton to defeat Fremantle by 22 points.
The Blues lose Jack Martin and Zac Fisher to injury and may get back Jack Silvagni. Luke Parks will debut. The Dockers lose Nat Fyfe, but expect Michael Walters to return.
This will feel like make or break for the 0-2 Blues ad the media (plus fans) has got stuck into them tis week. Coach David Teague says Patrick Cripps has bee playing through an injury, but it’s getting better and the long break between rounds 2 and 3 will help.

I’m keen on Carlton here.

Melbourne to defeat GWS Giants by 11 points & EXTREME variance.
The Dees are 2-0 and nobody is talking about them. Conversely, the Giants are 0-2, struggling and are copping lots of criticism. They are similar to the Blues in that they will be desperate to win to stay in touch.

But the Dees are looking good and I will tip them. But the the 0-2 for the Giants and the thought that Max Gawn could possibly dominate Matthew Flynn makes this an EXTREME variance game.

Geelong to defeat Hawthorn by 9 points.
The Cats are almost 4 goal favourites and I cannot see why they would be that highly fancied. They may get back Sam Menegola and Mitch Duncan, but lose Gary Rohan. Young talent Will Day is out for the Hawks, while Chad Wingard may return.

The Cats have looked shaky in pre-season and also in the opening 2 rounds. New Cat Isaac Smith faces his old team and this will be interesting. The Hawk fans won’t be happy – unless he misses a shot after the siren to win.

In summary, Dogs are the only certs, but I would consider the Tigers and Blues if you want to pick more.
Best outsiders are the Hawks.

I expect 2 of the following 3 to occur:
Pies to win by over 15 points (incorrect)
Crows to win by over 2 goals (incorrect)
Hawks to win or to lose by less than 15 points (correct)


Round 3 Review

Collingwood11.6-72lost toBrisbane Lions11.7-73
North Melbourne5.9-39lost toWestern Bulldogs25.17-167
Adelaide14.11-95dftdGold Coast12.13-85
Richmond10.12-72lost toSydney17.15-117
Essendon22.11-143dftdSt Kilda9.14-68
West Coast16.12-108dftdPort Adelaide11.5-71
Carlton16.13-109dftdFremantle9.1-64
GWS Giants11.2-68lost toMelbourne15.12-102
Geelong10.9-69dftdHawthorn9.1-64

I tipped 6 out of 9 (so-so) and was mightily annoyed (but not as much as Bucks) that the pies lost with a kick after the siren.

My 2 games tipped as EXTREME variance (Saints / Bombers and Dees / Giants) were indeed EXTREME variance games; however, the variance in the Dees / Giants game may have bee aided by injuries to GWS. Furthermore, there were other games which played out as EXTREME variance, but I missed them (Roos / Dogs, Tigers / Swans and Eagles / Port).

A positive is that I narrowly resisted labelling the Tigers as certs, so I kept my streak of certs intact while most would’ve bombed out on the Tigers.

My analysis on the Cats and Hawks was very good – tipping the winner, but also tipping the Hawks to get close. However, the game was a shocker to watch – bar for the close finish.

Round 4 games:

SydneyvEssendonSCGApr 8 (Thu 7:20pm)
Port AdelaidevRichmondAdel OvalApr 9 (Fri 7:50pm)
Western BulldogsvBrisbane LionsBallaratApr 10 (Sat 1:45pm)
St KildavWest CoastDocklandsApr 10 (Sat 4:35pm)
Gold CoastvCarltonGold Coast StadiumApr 10 (Sat 7:25pm)
CollingwoodvGWS GiantsMCGApr 10 (Sat 7:25pm)
North MelbournevAdelaideDocklandsApr 11 (Sun 1:10pm)
MelbournevGeelongMCGApr 11 (Sun 3:20pm)
FremantlevHawthornPerth StadiumApr 11 (Sun 4:40pm)

Early thoughts: Swans, Port, Dogs, Eagles, Blues, Pies, Crows, Dees and Dockers.

Tips (added with only the Swans / Bombers team anounced)
Swans to defeat Bombers by 24 points
Both teams had huge upset wins last weekend, so whose form do you believe more? I’ll stay out of that argument, but I believe the home ground advantage and the injuries. The Bombers were terrific after losing multiple players to injury after the round 2 loss to Port – beating the Saints by 75 points (if you don’t mind, ampere). But the Saints were also injured and seriously under-stocked in the ruck.

I toyed with making this an EXREME variance game, but decided not to. The reason to make it such is the erratic form of the Bombers, but I’ll give it a miss this time – meaning that the result should fall within Essendon willing by 2 goals and the Swans winning by 10 goals – with no huge momentum swings along the way.

Port to defeat Richmond by 15 points
See above game; I’m tipping Port on the basis of home ground and less injuries. The Tigers are being affected by injuries at present. Port just had a shocker (for no particular reason) last weekend in Perth.

Dogs to defeat Lions by 16 points
I expect this week might be tougher for the Lions than last as it is their 3rd game on the road and they will fly back to Qld after that. Also, the Dogs are a hot team. If the Lions get back Jarrod Berry (likely) and Oscar McInerney (test), it will help but I’d still tip the Dogs anyway. The Lions won with a kick after the siren last week (had he been paid a free the previous week at the Cattery, he might’ve been the only player to achieve this feat 2 weeks running)

Saints to defeat Eagles by 2 points and EXTREME variance
The Saints hit rock bottom last week and there have been meetings to address this at the club during the week. I am sure the effort will be better, but will it be enough to turn into a win? Maybe! I’d feel more confident if I knew that Rowan Marshall was going to play and play well (Nic Nat could run rampant otherwise). And Brad Crouch will be better for the run as well. Mind you, if both teams play at last week’s level, this will be a blow-out victory for West Coast. Hence the EXTREME variance call. A good game to avoid.

Carlton to defeat Gold Coast by 19 points
All the Suns’ ruckmen are injured or gone. the most important one of all – Jarrod Witts – is out for the season after doing his ACL last week. The Suns had hoped it was only a medial, but no such luck. This would be close to a 50/50 game had the Suns had a viable ruck option. The scribes have postulated various ruck options. We will see, but it will be a challenge for the Gold Coast midfield for a while.

Collingwood to defeat GWS Giants by 32 points and certs just
The Pies looked to have the game in control last week against the Lions, but lost it with a kick after the siren. Teams in this situation generally do okay the following week. If you look back at the exceptions (to disprove my point) remember this: 16 teams led at 3QT and then lost via a kick after the siren since 2000. 7 of them underperformed the next week and, on average, outperformed expectations by 2.7 points (so that sounds like a 50/50 scenario), but if we remove late season games (where teams could drop their bundle after such a loss) and bottom rated teams losing like this, then the results are okay – from this sample, the only team to stink it up the following week was Brisbane in 2005 after losing in round 3; they then lost at home as 33 point favourites to the Swans by 6 points the following week. Given that the Swans won the flag in 2005, it appears that the Lions were too highly favoured.

Because the Pies are about 4 goal favourites here, I feel pretty comfortable that they’ll win – and the Giants have lots of injuries!

Adelaide to defeat North Melbourne by 9 points
I had a look at teams losing in rounds 1-9 his millennium by 100 points plus (such as the Roos did last week) and excluded losses where teams traveled interstate. There were 15 such cases ad now 16. The 15 games – the big loser won next week 6 times, drew once and lost 8 times. Amazing! But the drill down needs to happen. Shock, horror – the team that lost big was actually favoured the following week on 5 occasions. they overachieved 8 times out of the 15 and overachieved by an average of 3.4 points. The Roos are 20 point underdogs here; 5 of the 15 teams exceeded expectations by more than 20 points; looking at teams who played home after the thrashing against an interstate opponent, those 6 teams overachieved 5 out of 6 times and overachieved by an average of 12.3 points.

Looking at this data, this is a danger game for the Crows but I am still tipping them. I would be more tempted to go for the Roos if their side was more settled; they have had injury troubles and players have come in and out of the team.

Melbourne to defeat Geelong by 12 points
The Cats are ever so slight favourites, but I’m pretty keen on the Dees. Even though they have got the breaks in their wins so far, Melbourne (3-0) is travelling better than Geelong (2-1 but maybe lucky not to be 1-2 or 0-3) at the minute. With the Cats missing Patrick Dangerfield and Gary Rohan to suspension as well as recruits Shaun Higgins and Jeremy Cameron to hammies, it looks an obvious choice to me.

The doubt I have in this tip is whether the Dees can handle the pressure of winning against a top side (or one that was in 2020 at least) which is down o form a bit. I think they can do it, but won’t label them certs.

Fremantle to defeat Hawthorn by 21 points
The Hawks looked gallant in defeat last Monday – coming from 30 points down to just fail. But they were doing this against an injured and “Just going” Geelong team. It shows that they are a fair way off the top 4 in my book.

The Dockers are a way off as well, but slightly ahead of the Hawks and, of course, are playing at home this weekend. With a extra day’s break. Nathan Fyfe likely to return and Michael Walters better for last week’s run, I am keen on them – more bullish than most with the Dockers only 10 point favourites.

In summary: last year’s top 4 (Tigers, Cats, Lions and Port) have all struggled at times this year. Each team has already put in 1 shocker of a performance.

Teams to overachieve in 2021 are the Swans, Melbourne, Fremantle (all of whom missed the finals last year) and the Dogs (out in week 1 of finals in 2020). It’s an interesting thought after a year where the season finished in late October.

The Pies are the only certs; thrill seekers might consider Fremantle as well, but I wouldn’t risk a decent winning streak on them

I expect at least 3 of the following 5 to occur:
St Kilda to win
Blues to win by over 18 points
Pies to win by over 36 points
Dees to win by over 6 points
Dockers to win by over 18 points

Look out; it’s a tricky round and well done if you can tip the card!

Round 4 Review

Sydney11.17-83dftdEssendon12.8-80
Port Adelaide11.13-79dftdRichmond11.11-77
Western Bulldogs10.13-73dftdBrisbane Lions8.6-54
St Kilda15.12-102dftdWest Coast13.4-82
Gold Coast8.11-59lost toCarlton9.16-70
Collingwood9.6-60lost toGWS Giants14.6-90
North Melbourne10.8-68lost toAdelaide16.13-109
Melbourne12.13-85dftdGeelong9.6-60
Fremantle13.18-96dftdHawthorn12.9-81

Kieran Butler has a line: Collingwood ruined my life; well, they ruined my tips this week. I tipped them as certs and they were my only loser!

I got 2 of my 5 things right only, but a generally positive round. The big plus was the Saints.

I’m still trying to assess the Bombers – not sure if they are really improving or just catching teams at the right time (eg Saints injured and Swans just after the Swans played the reigning premiers).

Most of the games went according to script, but the wins by the Giants and Saints need further study.

I have noticed a trend this year that teams prior to a BIG Friday game (ie NOT like the Dogs vs Roos o Good Friday) tend to perform poorly the week prior. Geelong and Brisbane both lost when favoured in round 1 before their round 2 Friday game.

Port and Richmond both underperformed in round three before their prelim final rematch on Friday in round 4.

West Coast and Collingwood play this Friday and they both had shockers in round 4.

Firstly – the Saints and Eagles: apart from the above, here’s what happened: the Saints were awful vs Bombers the week prior and played what I would call wimpy footy – low tackle numbers. So they were determined to give their all for all of the game no matter what against WCE. conversely, the Eagles knew what to expect. Their modus operandum was to put this game to bed early and then focus on Collingwood. That’s exactly what they did. The game was won at 33 points up 2/3 of the way through Q3, so they just eased up a little bit (a la Essendon in the prelim 1999). Trouble was that the lead was not quite big enough and they were unable to stem the bleeding once the Saints applied the pressure and kicked a few. A beautiful preview and I correctly tipped the EXTREME variance as well.

Collingwood suffered from the pre-Friday night syndrome as well, but there were other factors in play. The Giants rested Matthew Flynn and Mummy came back; he was a physical presence and may have been a one-off shock factor. The Pies lost Taylor Adams and Brayden Sier in Q3 (62 and 30 Sc points respectively). then there are all the peripheral (from a playing viewpoint) issues at Collingwood – letting go of good players after 2020, Eddie departing; the coach’s marriage and the racial news. Maybe it’s affecting the on-field stuff. The Giants at 0-3 seemed to life for this game; and they were doing okay in round 3 before injuries put them out of the contest vs the Dees in Canberra. SORRY for tipping the Pies as certs!

Finally, the Roos were highly competitive until Q4, but they lost Josh Walker before the game (replaced by Tom Campbell) and then lost Luke McDonald + Cameron Zurhaar early. So their late fade-out was expected.

Round 5 preview (times eastern)

St KildavRichmondDocklandsApr 15 (Thu 7:20pm)
West CoastvCollingwoodPerth StadiumApr 16 (Fri 8:10pm)
Western BulldogsvGold CoastDocklandsApr 17 (Sat 1:45pm)
SydneyvGWS GiantsSCGApr 17 (Sat 4:35pm)
CarltonvPort AdelaideMCGApr 17 (Sat 7:25pm)
Brisbane LionsvEssendonGabbaApr 17 (Sat 7:25pm)
AdelaidevFremantleAdel OvalApr 18 (Sun 1:10pm)
HawthornvMelbourneMCGApr 18 (Sun 3:20pm)
GeelongvNorth MelbourneKardinia ParkApr 18 (Sun 4:40pm)


Richmond to defeat St Kilda by 26 points (tipped Wed evening after teams announced)
There might be some doubt about Rowan Marshall (Paul Hunter has been named as an emergency) playing and I also have doubts about the Saints carrying on from their big last third of last week’s game.

I expect the Tigers to come good some time soon and this looks to be the right setting for it (maybe not back to premiership form, but good enough to beat a St Kilda team who have more injuries). I’m a bit more bullish than most tipsters here. I’m not calling them certs, but I will tip them as certs in my comp because the Pies wiped me out to zero, so not much to lose in tipping the Tigers as certs; you can do the same, but it’s risky if you are sitting on a big streak

West Coast Eagles to defeat Collingwood by 20 points & NOT CERTS.
These teams have strong finals memories – the Eagles seemed to have ticked off their elimination final against Collingwood as a formality, but came unstuck. The Pies were terrific in that game, but had nothing left for week 2. The elimination final loss will be a bigger hurt to West Coast than it was a joy to Collingwood (because Collingwood’s joy was short-lived).
On that basis, I would expect the Eagles to excel in Q1. But because the Pies were so humiliated last week and also put through the wringer by the media and fans, I expect them to be determined a la St Kilda last week. But not enough to win, probably – as the Eagles definitely won’t be focused on their round 6 game at Kardinia Park (in fact, if they had a choice of winning only 1 of round 5 and 6, they would pick beating the Pies!). So long as they are uninjured, I would expect Collingwood to do well in Q4, though I am keener on the Eagles outperforming expectations in Q1.

Western Bulldog to defeat Gold Coast Suns by 40 points and certs
The Dogs are travelling nicely and the injury toll at the Suns is rising. As such, the win looks a formality

Sydney Swans to defeat GWS Giants by 4 points, but danger game and EXTREME variance
I don’t like this game, because there are too many unknowns (especially now – before teams announced). Can the Swans keep going? Was the narrow win over the Bombers good (because the Bombers are better than people think – or because the Swans were able to win despite being flat following beating the reigning premiers) – or was it a sign that they are about to hit a hurdle. They are losing Dane Rampe and Isaac Heeney to injury this week.

Were the Giants good last week because they have turned the corner? Or just caught the Pies at a good time. Avoid this game if you can. If you are in 2 tipping comps, go 1 each way.

Port Adelaide to defeat Carlton by 3 points, but danger game and EXTREME variance
It’s a carbon copy of the previous game. I am not sure how Port will come up after a gutsy win with injuries against the reigning premiers. This, and the venue of the game, offsets the clear higher rating of Port and makes it almost a 50/50 game. But I don’t trust the Blues enough to pick them outright. they still have too many injuries for my liking.

Port loses Xavier Duursma and Zak Butters to injury, while Connor Rozee and Orazio Fantasia copped knocks last week but are expected to play. Watch for late news on them.


Brisbane Lions to defeat Essendon Bombers by 32 points and certs
This is the Bomber’s second week on the road and this is enough (along with the other factors favouring the Lions) to pick them as certs

Adelaide crows to defeat Fremantle by 3 points
The Crows are slight favourites here and this is a tricky game; I might even change picks when I see the teams; don’t especially like the game, but the home ground advantage just gets them over the line as the tip here. Shane McAdam and Brodie Smith are tests but both expected to play this week after copping minor injuries last week.

Melbourne to defeat Hawthorn by 19 points
The Dees are flying and the Hawks are so-so; I expect the Dees to win – without labelling them as certs. Melbourne was UP for the Cats game and controlled it; their challenge now will be to tick off the games that look like
relatively easy wins. I’m not completely convinced that they are at this stage yet, but cannot tip against them.

Geelong to defeat North Melbourne by 51 points and certs.
They are the GAUNTLET TIP and are the certs of the week. For those tipping in points in type comps, the Cats are favoured by 57 points at present; with the Roos down and out in terms of injuries, the Cats could easily surpass this mark. But the Cats are just going and would be content with any win.
Ben Cunnington is free to play are having his charge downgraded and Jeremy Cameron is almost ready to play now.

In summary: go for the Cats as the best certs, then the Lions.
Best outsiders are the Giants, Blues and Dockers

I expect 3 of the following 4 at least to occur
Richmond to win by over 3 goals (correct)
Eagles to win Q1 by more than a goal (incorrect)
Brisbane to win by over 5 goals (correct)
One of Giants, Blues or Dockers to cause an upset (correct – both Giants and dockers won)





Don’t forget the AFL Gauntlet starts this week; need to tip prior to game 1. Google AFL Gauntlet for details.

My Gauntlet tip is the Cats this week and then Freo the following week. After that it gets harder and I will explain more in the following weeks

Round 5 Review

St Kilda7.6-48lost toRichmond20.14-134
West Coast16.7-103dftdCollingwood11.1-76
Western Bulldogs17.16-118dftdGold Coast8.8-56
Sydney10.9-69lost toGWS Giants9.17-71
Carlton9.14-68lost toPort Adelaide15.6-96
Brisbane Lions15.12-102dftdEssendon6.9-45
Adelaide11.6-72lost toFremantle12.12-84
Hawthorn8.6-54lost toMelbourne15.14-104
Geelong10.17-77dftdNorth Melbourne7.5-47

Thongs went pretty much as expected. some team changes & injuries on the day(s) were important.

When Rowan Marshall and Zak Jones pulled out for the Saints, Richmond was just about over the line before the ball was bounced. Although I didn’t expect such a big win and this big win pushed the game into EXTREME variance – which I did not tip.

The Pies began well (I tipped the opposite) but were gone once their injuries mounted up.

Dogs won well as expected.

The Swans – well, I got everything wrong here – the tip and the variance. But I felt like the Swans were o a winning track until Tom Hickey got injured.

The Blues were almost favourites by game time, but Port was able to win easily; the game was predicted as EXTREME variance was it was a toss-up as to whether it was or not. The Blues were very disappointing.

The Lions won easily as expected. When you see a rainy game, you expect a close result. What I find actually happens is that the result can still often blow out; what is more common is that the trend tends to be linear – a team gets out to an early lead and keeps going. They are fewer comebacks on wet days.

when the teams came out for the Crows and Dockers, my tip went form the Crows to a draw – as it was, I left my tip as the Crows in my tipping comp (regrettably), but not shocked at all the the Dockers won; a alternative in the Gauntlet was to tip the Crows (as there aren’t many good games later in which the Crows can be tipped – glad I didn’t do this and stuck with Geelong)

The Dees just keep rolling along and won like certs.

My certs tip the Cats won, but didn’t excite anybody; of note was the the Roos coach David Noble said that they were UP for this game.


Round 6 (all times eastern)

GWS GiantsvWestern BulldogsManuka OvalApr 23 (Fri 7:50pm)
GeelongvWest CoastKardinia ParkApr 24 (Sat 1:45pm)
Gold CoastvSydneyGold Coast StadiumApr 24 (Sat 1:45pm)
CarltonvBrisbane LionsDocklandsApr 24 (Sat 4:35pm)
MelbournevRichmondMCGApr 24 (Sat 7:25pm)
FremantlevNorth MelbournePerth StadiumApr 24 (Sat 8:10pm)
HawthornvAdelaideLaunceston StadiumApr 25 (Sun 12:30pm)
CollingwoodvEssendonMCGApr 25 (Sun 3:20pm)
Port AdelaidevSt KildaAdel OvalApr 25 (Sun 6:40pm)

Early tips: Dogs, Cats, Swans, Lions, Tigers (?), Dockers (certs and Gauntlet), Hawks, Pies (?), Port

Gauntlet update! This is the AFL elimination tipping comp; started last week (google afl gauntlet tipping)
or
https://tipping.afl.com.au/tipping/index.html#/gauntlet
current status
PLAYERS REMAINING 37508 /43617 (ie most)

The rules are to tip 1 only winner each week, but you cannot tip the same team twice. The comp will end in week 22 (weeks 5,6,7 etc to 22 gives 18 games). I have done some analysis which has led to me tipping all 18 winners in advance (2 different options). Here they are (I tipped the Cats last week, so cannot re-use them)

Rndprobability team & opp  probability  team & opp
51GE1GE
60.9FR(NOH)0.9FR(NOH)
70.8CO(GCH)0.8CO(GCH)
80.8WB(CAN)0.7ST(GCA)
90.8HA(NON)0.8HA(NON)
100.8ES(NON)0.8ES(NON)
110.9ST(NON)0.7SY(CAH)
120.8RI(ESN)0.8RI(ESN)
130.7GW(NOH)0.7GW(NOH)
140.8PO(GCA)0.8BR(NOA)
150.6NO(GCT)0.6NO(GCT)
160.7BR(ADA)0.9WB(NON)
170.9WC(NOH)0.9WC(NOH)
180.8ME(HAN)0.8ME(HAN)
190.8CA(NON)0.8CA(NON)
200.5AD(HAH)0.5AD(HAH)
210.6SY(STH)0.8PO(ADN)
220.4GC(ESH)0.4GC(ESH)
231 1 
0.004315 probability0.005034 

Legend of the above
column 1 = round (eg this week is round 6)
column 2 is probability of my tip wining (0,9 = 90% chance)
column 3 is the team and opponent – last letter H = home ground advantage; N = neutral; T = in Tassie
columns 4 and 5 same as columns
the final row gives the probability of getting through successfully to round 22 ie .004315 – 4.315 out of 1,000 or 0.4315% – not too likely, but .5034% was the best I could do.

You may be “alive” and want to work out your own plan. Here is a chart of each round, each team and their chances (here using 8 = 80% chance to win, 5 = 50% chance etc

RndADBRCACOESFRGCGEGWHAMENOPORISTSYWBWC
5       GE          
6473559263641862874
7455854246382557656
8252835347472867386
9182464262882684649
10245387196582763374
11173422463652898758
12344724XXXX6XX86466
133XX4X91373637X77XX
14X82X6X2484X284XX66
15367733448276773346
16372538173371795595
17372373288741673379
18334685255282674587
19168253235482872798
20584653284552676554
21288622264431894687
22171364474392963876
23775643255253387873

Hope this helps.

Round 6 tips
Little or no rain for the AFL round in all the areas

Dogs to defeat Giants by 22 points
GWS has won back to back games with the Mummy playing (on his last legs and rested for this game), but Matthew Flynn comes back in. Shane Mumford can probably only play a few games this year and wouldn’t have played at all, I reckon, had Brayden Preuss been fit.

I tend to think that the Giants only won last week due to a Tom Hickey injury (and some young Swans are needing a rest). Also the Dogs cruised in 2H last week and should be really up for this game. Stefan Martin comes back in after a rest and they are looking like a top 4 cert at this stage.

Cats to defeat Eagles by 13 points, but I don’t like the game
The Eagles last won at the Cattery in 2006; heard this yesterday ad was somewhat amazed, because they one won down there regularly. it turns out that they have lost the last 6 in a row at KP; they played the Cats at the MCG a couple of times in this period in finals and lost those as well.

This game is more important for Geelong than the Eagles and I think they know it. I will write them off as a top 4 chance if they lose. conversely, I won’t be downgrading the Eagles if they lose unless there is some significant injury news from the game.

The Cats are somewhat limping to the round 11 bye with this to come:
R7 v Sydney Swans (SCG) (tough)
R8 v Richmond (MCG) (unlikely)
They could be 3-6 and struggling; even at 4-5, top four hopes are almost gone.

We know Danger is an out and Jeremy Cameron is finally in; and also that Eagle Josh Kennedy is an out.

The Eagles are a chance to cause a minor upset, but I’d be more confident if they had closer to a full list.

Sydney Swans to defeat Gold Coast Suns by 14 points
Tom Hickey goes out injured and Callum Sinclair is likely to come in. Buddy is also out injured, but the Swans have done okay without him this year.
The suns were whipped early last week and then had a good Q3 to make the loss to the Dogs look respectable. But I think that may have had something to do with the Dogs having an important upcoming Friday night fixture – more so than signs of hope for the Suns.

The Swans are a whisker away from being undefeated, so I reckon they’ll get the job done here.

Brisbane Lions to defeat Carlton by 9 points & EXTREME variance
The Blues have appointed John Worsfold as a part time mentor to David Teague. And the Blues have been under the pump big time this week after losing badly to a banged up Port team. Some may thin that the Blues will lift and win this week, but I am not so sure. They have more injuries than Brisbane and are lower ranked anyway. All they have going for them is the home state advantage and the likelihood that they will respond to the grilling they got this week.

But I can see a chance for the Blues to have a huge UP – or to capitulate to an superior side. That’s why the EXTREME variance call was made.

Who do the Blues play next week? Essendon (John Worsfold’s team last year!)


Richmond to defeat Melbourne by 9 points & EXTREME variance
If these teams were to meet without knowing each other, I might be tempted to pick the Dees. Their form has been more consistent this year and tipsters tended to rate the Tigers as “invincible” after their demolition of the Saints last weekend.

I think that a combination of bluff and big game experience is Richmond’s best weapon this weekend. That’s why I tipped them. If this works for them, a big win is possible.

But if the Dees can overcome this obstacle, they could even win big themselves. Steven May is a chance to return from injury

Fremantle to defeat North Melbourne by 46 points & certs of the week & Gauntlet tip
The Roos were UP for last week’s honourable loss to the Cats (who aren’t in top form, it must be said). I cannot see them getting near the Dockers in Perth. They are, however, likely to get back Luke Davies-Uniacke and Cam Zurhaar to help with the loss of the concussed Aaron Hall.

With the game in W. A. and Freo having a small injury list, this is enough to make them the Gauntlet and cert tip. No big deal saying this as most would agree

Hawthorn to defeat Adelaide Crows by 19 points
Quite keen on the Hawks in this one – even though they got blown away late by the Dees. I rate them higher than the Crows and they have half a home ground advantage (with the game in Tassie). They should get back Mitch Lewis from suspension. Watch for the Crows line-up and possible late changes – Taylor Walker and Rory Laird were sore last week, but indications are they’ll be right to go.

Collingwood to defeat Essendon by 2 points
Don’t like this game and might change tip when I see the teams.
Early news from the Pies is that Jay Rantall will debut and Nathan Murphy will come in for his first game since 2018.
Already confirmed out (injured / suspended) from last week is Jordan de Goey, Levi Greenwood, Jeremy Howe and Mark Keane

Port Adelaide to defeat St Kilda by 15 points
This is a slight danger game for Port; last year they beat the eventual premiers in Richmond then had an absolute shocker the week after vs the Cats. This year, they had a tough win over Richmond with injuries, then did a number on Carlton (again with injuries). Meanwhile, the Saints hit rock bottom last week and might bounce back. My only concern is that the Saints also hit rock bottom recently against Essendon. They are in a yoyo pattern and these patterns usually end badly. They will need Rowan Marshall in to have ay hope, but he is expected to return – along with Zac Jones.

Port will lose a jones (Lachie) to injury and both Dan Houston and Hamish Hartlett are in doubt after copping knocks against Carlton last week.

In summary: one cert = Dockers
Best outsiders are Bombers and Dees, with some hope to Blues and Eagles.
And I’m not officially tipping the Dogs as certs, but will do so in my own comp as my run of certs is quite low (thanks to the Pies losing to GWS)

I expect at least 2 of the following 3 to occur
Dogs to win by over 4 goals (correct)
Hawks to win by over 3 goals (incorrect)
Saints to win or to lose by less than 4 goals (incorrect)

Round 6 Review

GWS Giants9.11-65lost toWestern Bulldogs15.14-104
Geelong21.1-136dftdWest Coast5.9-39
Gold Coast15.1-100dftdSydney9.6-60
Carlton12.13-85lost toBrisbane Lions15.13-103
Melbourne12.1-82dftdRichmond6.12-48
Fremantle14.15-99dftdNorth Melbourne6.12-48
Hawthorn15.12-102dftdAdelaide16.3-99
Collingwood13.7-85lost toEssendon16.13-109
Port Adelaide14.9-93dftdSt Kilda5.9-39

I tipped 6/9 and rue not changing my tip from Collingwood to Essendon when I saw extra OUTS; also, Brody Mihocek had an injury from the previous week, played and was WAAAY below his usual output.

I messed up most of the EXTREME variance calls or non-calls.

The EXTREME variance games turned out to be
Cats vs Eagles
Gold Coast Suns vs Sydney Swans
Melbourne vs Richmond
Hawthorn vs Adelaide

I tipped it correctly for the Dees vs Tigers, but missed the other two.
I incorrectly tipped the Blues vs Lions as EXTREME variance

I regret being too bullish on the Saints – see my query about the yoyo effect (which meant the Saints were also a chance to have a shocker).

I possibly could’ve tipped the Dees; the Tigers looked like they were out to smash the Dees early, but the Dees stood strong and then ran away with it (aided somewhat by the injuries to Kane Lambert and Dusty)


Round 7

RichmondvWestern BulldogsMCGApr 30 (Fri 7:50pm)
CollingwoodvGold CoastMCGMay 01 (Sat 1:45pm)
AdelaidevGWS GiantsAdel OvalMay 01 (Sat 2:10pm)
St KildavHawthornDocklandsMay 01 (Sat 4:35pm)
Brisbane LionsvPort AdelaideGabbaMay 01 (Sat 7:25pm)
SydneyvGeelongSCGMay 01 (Sat 7:25pm)
North MelbournevMelbourneHobartMay 02 (Sun 1:10pm)
EssendonvCarltonMCGMay 02 (Sun 3:20pm)
West CoastvFremantlePerth StadiumMay 02 (Sun 4:40pm)


Early thoughts: one cert = the Dees & the Gauntlet tip; all the others are doubtful, but my first thought tips are:
Dogs
Pies
Giants
Saints
Port
Cats
Dees
Blues
Eagles

Previews below done with only teams for the Dogs vs Tigers game

Western Bulldogs to defeat Richmond by 5 points

Collingwood to defeat Gold Coast by 20 points & EXTREME variance
If we assume that the Pies are merely going through a rough trot, then I would be hugely confident that they would win well; and they may do so this week. However, if they are in “trouble at the club” mode, then they are in danger of losing this.

The Suns, fresh off a win over the Swans, will see this as a chance for their first MCG win since knocking over the Hawks in 2017.

The Pies should get back Jordan de Goey and the Suns might bring in Zac Smith.

I originally had the Pies as my Gauntlet tip, but have changed to the conservative tip of Melbourne this week.

GWS Giants to defeat Adelaide by 13 points
This is a 50/50 game according to the experts, but I rate the Giants higher than the Crows and enough to tip them in Adelaide. Jesse Hogan is expected to debut for GWS this weekend. Riley Thilthorpe was terrific in his Crows debut, but I don’t expect him to double up with as good an effort this time.

St Kilda to defeat Hawthorn by 9 points & EXTREME variance
Both teams have been untrustworthy of late – especially the Saints, so I tip with little confidence and half expect a comfy win one way or the other.

The Saints may get Paddy Ryder back; they will lose Daniel McKenzie to suspension and Brad Hill is doubtful due to injury.

Port Adelaide to defeat Brisbane Lions by 3 points
Lots of rain o the day forecast
The experts are having trouble splitting these teams and I agree. Lachie Neale is out injured for the Lions – along with Darcy Gardiner (and Jarrod Berry likely to return). Perhaps they will lift enough (as often happens when a star goes out) to win, but I reckon Port’s form is irresistible at present; Port just; I’d be more confident if the game was a day game and the weather was dry

Geelong to defeat Sydney by 14 points
Rain should clear well before game time
Had this been played a week earlier, the Swans would have started favourite. But last week, the Cats won huge and the Swans lost by 40 points to the Suns.

There will be significant team changes here; the Swans will lose George Hewitt and Sam Reid to injury & should get back Tom McCartin. they won’t be getting back Tom Hickey nor Buddy

Out for the Cats injured is Mark O’Connor and Jake Kolodjashnij.

I lean to the Cats, but the concern I have is that this game is sandwiched in between the Eagles game where Jeremy Cameron debuted for the Casts and a Friday night Richmond game (grand final rematch).

However, this is offset by the hot start by the Swans, so there is little chance of this being viewed as an easy kill by the Cats

Melbourne to defeat North Melbourne by 41 points, certs & Gauntlet tip
I swapped the Gauntlet tip from the Pies to the Dees. The Dees might be hugely down in intensity – from playing the reigning premiers to this year’s likely spooners. Even so, I cannot see them losing; for those who tip points in, the line is about 58 points; the Dees at their top would cover the line, but I can see them being a little flat after last week; so that’s why I tipped 41 points.

Aaron Hall is expect back from concussion for the Roos, while Jack Ziebell could be an out as he is a “test”

Carlton to defeat Essendon by 4 points& EXTREME variance
John Worsfold coached Essendon last year while mentoring Ben Rutten. He has just recently been appointed a coaching consultant job at Carlton. This begs the question: how much will this help Carlton this weekend?

Maybe quite a bit. But I don’t like this game, because the Bombers have just come off a huge game where they beat a struggling Collingwood. I am not sure if they will be full of confidence from that game or flat.

Jordan Ridley is expected back for the Bombers, but Aaron Francis will be an out.

West Coast to defeat Fremantle by 10 points
It’s been usually easy to tip the Eagles in recent Derbies, but this is tougher. Based on last week’s form, the Dockers would be certs. but I expect the eagles to respond after the coach said they looked weak at the Cattery. The Dockers had an easy kill at home over the Roos and are getting the injury list down bit by bit.

Team changes might be significant. The Eagles will lose Jeremy McGovern and Jamie Cripps is a test; Josh Kennedy, Shannon Hurn and Jack Petruccelle are all listed as available to come back in.

The Dockers might lose Brennan Cox to injury.

I’ll stick with the Eagles to lift and win, but it’s no cert

In summary: this is a tough week and anyone getting 9 / 9 is doing great.
1 cert is the Dees
Best outsider chances : Bombers, Dockers and Suns (I have labelled Crows / GWS and Brisbane / Port as 50/50 games with no outsider)

I expect 2 of these 4 (all four considered somewhat unlikely) to occur:
Pies to win by over 50 points OR suns to win by over 25 points (missed it by that much – Suns wo by 24 points)
GWS to win by over 3 goals (correct)
The margin in Saints vs Hawks to be 7 goals plus (correct)
The Roos to lose by less than 50 points (correct)


Round 7 Review
Results:

Richmond11.11-77dftdWestern Bulldogs7.13-55
Collingwood7.13-55lost toGold Coast12.7-79
Adelaide4.15-39lost toGWS Giants15.16-106
St Kilda19.14-128dftdHawthorn9.5-59
Brisbane Lions13.15-93dftdPort Adelaide5.14-44
Sydney14.6-90dftdGeelong12.16-88
North Melbourne11.7-73lost toMelbourne16.7-103
Essendon16.11-107lost toCarlton19.9-123
West Coast20.12-132dftdFremantle11.7-73

I tipped 5/9 which wasn’t too bad overall in a week where there were 3 upsets and 2 50/50 games; drilling deeper, there were some plusses and minuses.

The EXTREME variance games: Tigers / Dogs, Pies / Suns, Swans / Cats and Dons / Blues were borderline cases, so not concerned on these ones. All the rest were EXTREME variance in a remarkable week of footy

I correctly tipped Saints / Hawks to be EXTREME variance, but missed on:
Crows ./ Giants
Lions / Port
Roos / Dees
Eagles / Dockers

The highlight was my summary above where I got 3/4 right and would’ve been 4/4 had the Suns kicked an extra point.

On the Cats, I thought that they repeated what the Eagles did a few weeks ago: seemingly had a Saturday night game wo prior to a big Friday night game and slowed down too quickly. Credit, of course, to the Swans for being good enough to bridge the gap. Hope that explains the comeback in this game.

I remained alive in the Gauntlet, but not too many ticks for picking the Dees (except that I avoided tipping Collingwood)
there are 14609/43617 players left in that comp; now it gets harder to pick!

Round 8

RichmondvGeelongMCGMay 07 (Fri 7:50pm)
GWS GiantsvEssendonSyd ShowgroundsMay 08 (Sat 1:45pm changed to 2.10pm*)
Gold CoastvSt KildaGold Coast StadiumMay 08 (Sat 2:10pm changed to 1.45pm*)
North MelbournevCollingwoodDocklandsMay 08 (Sat 4:35pm)
MelbournevSydneyMCGMay 08 (Sat 7:25pm)
Port AdelaidevAdelaideAdel OvalMay 08 (Sat 8:10pm)
HawthornvWest CoastMCGMay 09 (Sun 1:10pm)
Western BulldogsvCarltonDocklandsMay 09 (Sun 3:20pm)
FremantlevBrisbane LionsGabba (was in Perth originally)May 09 (Sun 4:40pm)

Early tips Wednesday night: Please note that the Dockers / Lions game had been transferred from Perth to the Gabba and the Fremantle team flew out of Perth Wednesday; the Dockers will fly to Melbourne for round 9 without returning home and then, hopefully for them, go back to Perth after that.

There is also a COVID case in NSW which might affect things; keep an ear open for news.
tips are:
Cats just, Giants, Saints just, Pies, Dees, Port easily, Eagles just, Dogs and Lions

Cats to defeat Tigers by 7 points
The Tigers are favourites here, so I’m tipping a minor upset. The reason I’m doing this is grand final revenge. Usually, this doesn’t work, as both teams are equally motivated. but this may be different. a snippet from Damien Hardwick’s half time address in the grand final: They’re a good side, but we’re a great side.
That must burn for the Cat players. Even without this unintentional barb, there’s not a great difference between the teams this year on performance.


GWS Giants to defeat Essendon by 12 points & EXTREME variance
* due to NSW COVID, this game has been delayed to a 2.10pm start so that the Bombers can fly in and out on the one day; I don’t assign any advantage nor disadvantage to this.
The Giants were very good last weekend and the Bombers fell away in the second half – losing to the Blues.
I just think the Giants will be slightly too good. The trouble is that the Bombers are a dreadfully hard team to assess. So I’m calling this an EXTREME variance game


St Kilda to defeat Gold Coast Suns by 5 points
* this game swapped times with the GWS / Bombers game – see above; now to start at 1.45pm
This is a tough one to pick; I have a slight leaning to the Saints to win away because it is a day game (less night humidity problems) and the Suns have lost Jarrod Witts a while ago, while Paddy Ryder had just come back in for the Saints last week.

The other query was how to assess the win by the Suns over the Pies last week; not sure; but it was great for the club to win one at the MCG again.

Collingwood to defeat North Melbourne by 20 points & EXTREME variance
While the Pies are in “trouble at the club” mode, I am very wary. They should win this one, but it will be seen by the Roos as a chance to break the ice for 2021. I can see all sorts of possibilities – the Pies losing as their season falls apart; the Pies having an unimpressive win, but a win; and the Pies hitting their straps and having a huge win after last week’s poor showing.
I’m steering clear of them for the Gauntlet tip this week; will wait until later in the year for them. See note below re Port and prison bars.

Melbourne to defeat by Sydney Swans by 26 points
I almost labelled the Dees as certs, but their slow start last week makes me wonder if they are heading for a loss; probably not; well, not yet anyway.

I have downgraded the Swans win slightly last week because the caught the Cats the week before the grand final rematch. I reckon it helped the Swans overrun Geelong late. Buddy may be back for the Swans.

Port Adelaide to defeat Adelaide Crows by 43 points, certs and Gauntlet tip
I note that Port and the Pies had an argument about the prison bar jumpers last week and both teams underperformed thereafter. Maybe Port will lift; they also played the Lions who may have lifted as Lachie Neale was out injured.

I know that this is sort of the grand final for the Crows this year, but they are miles behind Port – who will be keen to atone. Travis Boak is expected back this game.


West Coast Eagles to defeat Hawthorn by 3 points and EXTREME variance and a big danger game
Based on last week’s results, the Eagles would win by heaps. But expect Hawthorn to get back some players this week – Jaeger O’Meara, Chad Wingard and Daniel Howe (who starred in the VFL last week) might all come back in. The Eagles still have a few vital players out. I am wondering if the big finish by the Eagles last week was due to the Dockers realising that they were about to lose their home game. And the last two trips to Melbourne by the Eagles resulted in bad losses to the Saints and Cats.

Having downplayed the Eagles, I must say I don’t trust the Hawks all that much either. Jack Gunston struggled in his first game back for the year and should improve this week. the Hawks are doing their premiership reunions for 1961, 1971 and 1991 (beating the Eagles). This may be a help for the team this week.


Western Bulldogs to defeat by Carlton 23 points
Another case where I thought of tipping a team as certs, but I didn’t. that’s because the Blues might have confidence now after their win and / or the Dogs could be flat. I am actually expecting them to bounce back well if Tim English comes in for Josh Schache.

The Blues might get back Jack Silvagni, Zac Williams and Marc Murphy, but will lose Mitch McGovern and Paddy Dow

Brisbane Lions to defeat Fremantle Dockers by 36 points & certs
The Lions won the lottery this week when they got this game transferred from Perth to Brisbane.

I cannot see the Dockers winning this one away and they have a longer injury list than the Lions.

In Summary:
It’s an easier week to tip this week; if you mucked it up last week, this round may help you.
Certs are Port and Brisbane
Best outsiders are the Cats and Hawks

I expect at least 2 of these 4 to occur this week (all 4 considered somewhat unlikely)
Cats to win by over a goal (correct)
Port to win by over 7 goals (correct)
Hawks to win by over a goal (incorrect)
Lions to win by over 7 goals (incorrect)

Round 8 review

Richmond9.9-63lost toGeelong19.12-126
GWS Giants16.11-107dftdEssendon16.9-105
Gold Coast7.12-54lost toSt Kilda8.15-63
North Melbourne11.1-76lost toCollingwood14.1-94
Melbourne10.7-67dftdSydney8.1-58
Port Adelaide12.15-87dftdAdelaide5.8-38
Hawthorn8.12-60lost toWest Coast14.14-98
Western Bulldogs16.11-107dftdCarlton13.13-91
Fremantle10.11-71lost toBrisbane Lions14.11-95

Well, it was great to tip 9 winners, although I felt like a goose when both Richmond (Q1) and Carlton (Q3) were in winning positions; the Saints were behind most of the day but finished well; and the Giants win was a stressful watch; but all worked out well in the end.

My EXTREME variance predictions were off the mark. The games I selected as such were:
GWS / Bombers (this was a borderline case, so okay)
and these two which were wrong calls
Pies / Roos
Hawks / Eagles

Games which were EXTREME variance which I did not predict
Tigers / Cats (mega-EXTREME)
Dogs / Blues.

I was chuffed with my tip of Geelong (as most people bombed out in that first game), but disappointed that the Hawks didn’t really show anything to celebrate the premiership anniversary celebrations.

I tipped Port in the Gauntlet (which wasn’t that hard) and am one of 12,619 / 43,617 left n the comp (hope you are still in, too!).

A new page for rounds 9-16 will be created this week, but early quick tips are:
Cats (danger game)
Swans (danger game)
Hawks
Lions
Tigers
Dogs (but 50/50 game)
Bombers
Dees
Eagles