Rounds 1-8, 2018

Please note that, as mentioned already in the 2018 area, there won’t necessarily be previews and reviews for every round; but there will be interim snippets and occasional entries by Penny Dredfell.

See also:
for some season preview and some comments on round 1

Added 26 March 2018
Players that played and who were underdone (players needed to have some significant issue in the off-season; or missed both JLT without the club providing a reason)

Adelaide: Greenwood – 45 SC points
McGovern 46

Brisbane: Dayne Beams – 97 SC

Carlton: Weitering – 55 SC

Collingwood: Aish – 54
Howe – 78
Moore – 83

Essendon: Hooker – a good 92
Hurley – another good one with 100

Fremantle: none

Geelong: none

Gold Coast Suns: none

GWS: Corr – 47
Deledio – 44
Greene – 131
Haynes – 74
Lobb – 97

Hawthorn: Rioli – 63
Roughead – 47

Melbourne: none

North Melbourne: Anderson – 51

Port Adelaide: Polec – 80 (and now some risk – may not play round 2)
Rockliff – 55

Richmond: none

Saints: none

Swans: McVeigh – 51

West Coast Eagles: Masten – 54
Nicnat – 113

Western Bulldogs: none

Early season stuff after round 1 and for round 2 – from Penny Dredfell
Added 28 March 2018
It was mentioned on the radio that teams losing round 1 don’t win the flag; this is true for 2014 and onwards, but the Hawks lost round 1 in 2013 and went on to win the flag; I personally regard this bit of info as not all that useful; firstly, teams that are in the premiership window have a high winning percentage anyway; the Swans won round 1 in 2012 – their flag year, but it was against the baby Giants; we then go back to the next team that lost round 1 and won the flag – Geelong in 2007 (the greatest team of all in terms of winning margin); they won 2 from the first 5 and looked like repeating the horror 2006 year; their slow start was reminiscent of the Roos in the 1970s; the NMFC have won 4 flags and lost round 1 in three of those years; so don’t panic if you barrack for any decent team 9th or lower; the ladder may eventually tell you when to panic, but it is not now.

Now on to some more useful stuff: teams that are rated worse than middle of the table who get overrun late in round 1; to be “eligible, the team would have t be considered highly unlikely to play finals; next, they have to have led or looked threatening at some stage in the game – only to capitulate late and lose by 4 goals or more.  then we look at how they went in round 2

Let’s do it in reverse chronological order:
Saints 2016 led Port by a goal at 3QT and then lost by 33 points; next round the saints were expected to lose to the Dogs by 26 points but went down by 57 points (underperformed by 33 points)

Blues 2014 – led Port by a goal at 3QT and lost by 33 points; next week were tipped to lose to Richmond by 7 points and lost by 10 points (underperformed by 3 points)

The Crows are a borderline case in terms of expectations; they finished 10th in 2013; they trailed the Cats in round 1 2014 by 5 points at 3QT and lost by 38 points; the next week they were 5 point outsiders in a Showdown and lost it by 54 points (underperformed by 49 points)

Bombers 2010 (this is borderline – based on expectations for the Dons as they entered the 2010 season); led Cats by a goal at 3QT and lost by 31 points; next week were expected to beat the Dockers by 15 points in Melbourne but lost by 44 points (underperformed by 59 points)

Now let’s apply that to 2018:  the Blues led the Tigers by 29 points early last week and were only 4 points down at the last break – but lost by 26 points; this case is borderline, but some feel that the Blues should have lost by more; this week they are firm favourites to beat the Suns in Melbourne; I say: BEWARE! This is a murky game to tip; the Blues may following the above technical trend and underperform – possibly enough to lose the game; but the Suns played in a tropical deluge last week; so it is unclear how well they will have recovered; at least they won and will have some confidence; I suggest you DO NOT tip the Blues as certs and the Suns might be a roughie worth considering.

One could make a case for the Eagles to be included in this discussion; they came back from 26 points down at half time to trail by 5 points at the final break; then lost to the Swans by 29 points in the new Perth stadium; are they considered “lowly” enough to fit the criteria? maybe just out of range?? And they play the Dogs who were totally flogged last week in Canberra by the Giants.

This leads me to the next thing: teams that are expected to be finals chances (+ premiership contenders) who get flogged in round 1; what tends to happen to them in round 2; let’s define it this way: a six goal plus loss (there would be better and more refined methods, but I want to keep it simple).

In 2017, the Giants lost to the Crows in Adelaide by 56 points; in round 2, totally belted the Suns at home by 102 points (outperformed expectations by 63 points)

In 2016, the Dockers (on top of the ladder at the end of 2015) lost to the eventual premiers Dogs in Melbourne by 65 points; next week at home, the Dockers amazingly lost to the Suns by 26 points (underperformed by 58 points)

In 2015, the Cats lost to the Hawks by 62 points; the next week, they played the Dockers at home and lost by 40 points (underperformed by 33 points)

2011 – the Dogs  lost to the Bombers by 55 points; next week, they walloped the Lions in Vic by 78 points (outperformed expectations by 41 points)

2010 – the Dogs  lost to the Pies by 36 points; next week, they easily beat Richmond by 72 points (outperformed expectations by 29 points)
Same year, the Crows lost to the Dockers by 56 points in the West; next week; the Crows lost to the Swans in Adelaide by 43 points (underperformed by 55 points)

2008 – the Roos lost to the Bombers by 55 points; next week, they beat the Tigers by 41 points (outperformed expectations by approx 20 points); 

So you can see that it is a bumpy ride and a relatively small sample size; here’s is what I glean from this:
A: the teams that have 2 shockers in a row have come into the season with serious problems; it might be players underdone, injuries, trouble at the club; a new game plan totally failing etc; I don’t have enough data to classify the above teams that bombed in round 2;
B: teams that play a lowly rated team in round 2 tend to bounce back really well (with the exception of the Dockers in 2016… and they went on to lose 10 in a row;

This doesn’t really help us too much for the Dogs in round 2 – as they play a middle of the road side in the Eagles; one thing that is higher than normal is the variance;the variance is 45 points from these games – normal than the average variance of about 28 points; that’s my tip – for high variance in this game.
A tough round coming up!
Round 2 general thoughts
It is totally staggering that the Crows are favourites for the GF rematch; they had several players underdone in R1 and now they bring in Walker and Milera – also both underdone; that is too many under-doners; very keen on the Tigers to win this one – and with a more settled side than the Crows;

other thoughts – the most “uncertain” games – with EXTREME variance – are Blues vs Suns; Dockers vs Dons and Dogs vs Eagles; more on this Friday.

Also note that the Blues are likely to name Kreuzer, but he is likely to be subject to a fitness test

Comments on round 2
There are teams going badly; let’s look at them:
Dogs are underperforming the most; they have injury troubles and big man troubles; even so, they shouldn’t be doing that badly; they should get some experience back in soon – which may help; but there is no certainty that they are about to spike significantly. If they come good, it is more likely to be a gradual improvement; the coach left us with this impression in his presser after round 2.  At present, they are missing Picken, Morris, Libba, Adams, Crozier, Trengove and Clay Smith; most would be in the best 22; Roughead is doubtful this week; players such as Campbell, Boyd and Wallis missed both JLT games; they entered the season “head just above water” and the injuries they copped in the first two rounds served to submerge them

The Blues are 2 and zip; they got excited to be so far in front of Richmond first up, then lost, then were poor against the Suns; see Penny’s comments above for some sort of explanation;

The Pies are 0-2 and, like the Blues, they had an honourable loss; they simply have too many players injured or underdone to hit top form for a while; but they play the Blues this week…..

The Saints really stunk it up on Friday against the Roos; they lost Longer in 1H and that didn’t help; but they simply put in a shocker all round; they seem to be missing a marking linkman like Riewoldt; expect them to miss finals, but they are only 1-1, so an upset win this week over the Crows could put them back in the hunt.  Their injury list is quite short, but both Longer and Hickey have had interrupted pre-seasons and Longer was unable to play the second half after a knock to his nether regions; the Saints had some sort of crisis meeting on Saturday morning; of course, maybe the Saints might do better on an Easter Sunday than a Good Friday!!! the Saints are capable of a very quick spike, but it isn’t guaranteed

The Lions were expected to lose the first two; the Cats could be 0-2 or 2-0, but maybe just a bit lucky to have 1 win; their problems are mainly down back – with 2 retirements last year and now talls Henderson ans Taylor our for a while; fill-in Henry got concussed in his first game; meanwhile the Cats are trying to make it a shoot-out as a solution.

Those doing very well:
Top marks to the Suns – most tipster’s wooden spoon tip – including this one; they are 2-0 now and on a roll; it was really good for them to start like this, because road trips get harder as they accumulate; they have gone to Cairns, Melbourne, next have a trip to Perth (stay there for 2 games – Freo and Eagles – before heading east); then an almost home game against the Lions at the Gabba; they would be expected to hit the wall sooner or later; but they are much better this year and finally have some players getting back from injury (not much luck for several years prior); they also seem to be better administratively this year

Giants keep winning despite having more long term injuries; looks like many of their young players have improved in leaps and bounds; but they are already a couple down for the finals and cannot afford to lose too many more.

The Hawks have started well and are 2-0 with a fascinating game against the Tigers to come; they still haven’t done enough to convince that they are a top 4 hope; they are a “wait and watch” team

Port looks very good as illustrated by an impressive win over the Swans in Sydney – buttering up from their round 1 win there last year; they seem to have done well without Ryder

Quick thoughts on round 3 added on Wednesday night: keenest on Port, Melbourne and Essendon to win; Tigers should win IFF they can overcome the 10 day break AND the letdown of losing the GF replay; Dockers will be tipped without complete confidence; ditto Collingwood;  Swans / Giants (team selections very important in this game) and Eagles / Cats hard to tip; Saints some chance to pull off a big upset

Dog day trend – by Penny Dredfell
The Dogs began the season as a potential finalist – with about half the tipsters putting them in their top 8; they now have had 2 x shockers to start the season; looking at teams to have done this in the past 20 years and how they have gone after 2 x shockers (4 goals worse or more and losses in 2 opening games), here is what I find:
Geelong 2015: round 3 – fell over the line by 9 points against the Suns at KP; 4-5 goals worse than expected; Cats went on to miss the finals for the first time in about a decade
Crows 2010: round 3 – lost at the MCG to the Dees by 16 points; also 4-5 goals worse than expected; missed the finals
Bombers 2004: round 3 – won a high-scoring thriller versus the Eagles at the Docklands; result about as expected; finished 8th
Roos 2001: round 3 – lost at the SCG to the Swans by 80 points; 8-9 goals worse than expected; missed the finals
Port 2000: round 3 – lost at the Docklands to the Dogs by 470 points; about 4-5 goals worse than expected; missed the finals
Roos 1999: round 3 – beat the Tigers at the MCG by 36 points; approx 3 goals BETTER than expected; won the grand final 

What does all this mean?  My summary is that the Dogs are gone; Danny from Droop Street knows this already; 5 out of 6 teams in their position in R3 have lost and/or significantly underperformed; the one team that both won AND outperformed expectations made the finals; that is the wee glimmer of hope for Dogs fans this week.  My tip is for the Dogs to lose by more than 5 goals.

Next, I will venture out into the unknown!  Not a smart thing to do as a technical analyst, but the lure proved irresistible! The Suns and Roos played in tropical rainfall in round 1 in Cairns.  Many thought that they may struggle to come up the following week; but both teams scored huge upset wins; the Roos powered away from the Saints late on Friday, then the Suns jumped Carlton early and never looked back; the Roos outperformed expectations by 71 points and the Suns by 48 points; but where to for these four teams (2 winners and 2 loses) for round 3; the two main possibilities I see are:
A: both the Roos and Suns underperform this week; so this would mean Suns lose by 4 goals or more and the Roos by 5 or more; and / or
B: both the Saints and the Blues outperform expectations; here, this would be the Blues winning and the Saints winning or getting within 10 points.
I am more confident on option A than B; the reason is there there are other technical issues around the Carlton / Collingwood game that tend to muddy the waters; the Blues were overrun week 1 after looking a chance and then put in a shocker against the Suns; the four teams following this pattern have had two huge out-performances and two complete shockers – this tends to suggest that the Blues / Pies game will be a high variance game; then there is the pies heroic effort in a loss against the Suns; it is unclear how they will rebound from that; so let’s go with the A possibility and just watch on for the B; if the Blues excel, it will bode well for the Saints later in the weekend.  Regardless of how the Blues perform, I advise against tipping the Crows as total certs

PS: my tip for last week – high variance in the Dogs / Eagles game was spot on!!

Added 16 April 2018:  notes by Penny Dredfell
harking back to round 3 as listed above: I was correct about both the Roos and Suns underperforming in round 3 – just; the Roos lost by 43 points and the Suns by 28; glad I didn’t go for option A; there was no problems in tipping the Crows as certs in round 3, however.
Notes after the fact on round 4:  there were some huge variances in round 4, but why?
Here they are (the variances of over 50)
Crows expected to win by 32 vs the Pies in Adelaide but lost by 48 (variance of -80 for the Crows)
Tigers expected to win by 40 vs the Lions at the MCG but won by 93 (variance of +53 for the Tigers)
Roos expected to win by 13 vs the Blues in Tassie but won by 86 (variance of +73 for the Roos)
Dees expected to win by 5 vs the Hawks at the MCG but lost by 69 (variance of -74 for the Dees)

It is remarkable to have 4 such huge results in the one round; on top of that, we had the Eagles  plus 44

What went wrong? or right? some games are easier than others to explain.  Game 1 is easy; I reckoned that the Pies were certs at quarter time; for most tipsters, that was too late. 

Why certs at quarter time?  When a half decent team goes through a rough trot and finally escapes with a win, they can often hugely outperform expectations the following week – and almost always with a big initial quarter or two – then holding that lead throughout the game; usually the win is in the realm of 6-10 goals above expectations. An example of this is St Kilda in 2011 (there have been others since, but this one readily comes to mind); the Saints were grand finalists (twice) in 2010; then 2011 began lost draw (vs the then lowly Tigers); bad loss, narrow win over the lowly Lions, loss, loss, loss and then an okay win over the Dees by 20 points (about as expected); next week, the 2 1/2 win Saints played the 5 win dockers in Perth; they were 25 points up at quarter time, 45 points up at half time and won by 46.

So, when the Pies were up by so much at the first break (and I reckon the umps missed a free to them in the last minute of the first term), they were as good as home already.  {a quick aside: the Dogs were in a similar position this week, but their win over the Bombers was sort of too impressive to fit the technical pattern; also, they could actually get that decisive break on the Swans}.

Next, the Lions; they were on the road for the second week running and almost pulled off a huge upset win over Port.  That game was probably overrated – given that Port have no ruckman and that Stefan Martin is in good form; plus Port was up big time for the Swans match the week prior; then, when the Lions traveled the second week in a row, they came to a frigid, wintry Melbourne; they were beaten before they walked onto the field.

The next two games are fascinating (Roos / Blues and Hawks / Dees); the Dees played the Roos the week prior and snapped a 17-game losing streak against the Roos; the Dees seemed to talk themselves up after that contest; it seems that they believed their own talk in a bad sort of way, perhaps; and the Roos took it as a challenge.

But there is more to it than that; before the “squirter” drink bottle innovation, teams would often have a big flu go through the place; when this happened, you would expect them to be useless all day; but what often happened was that they seemed to realise that they had limited energy; they would approach the game like a 400 metre runner in a marathon; they would fly out of the blocks to a lead, but then totally run out of puff and get slaughtered – offering almost no existence in the second half.

That is EXACTLY what happened to the Dees on Sunday; moreover, the Hawks had injuries in the game as well, but still ran away with the game; in earlier wins this season, it could be said that the Hawks had less injuries than their opponents; but not so against the Dees.

Over to Carlton vs North; they Blues happened to lose Murphy in the last minute before the game; in went VFL star but AFL struggler Nick Graham; one player shouldn’t make so much difference, but it hurts when a bottom team loses a top quality player; and the lateness of the change means that plans are done on the hop; next, they lost Gibbs last year and then Docherty before the season; anyway, they went down four goals to one with the wind early and the game was shot at quarter time.  It is also noted that the Blues played the Pies on the Friday night a week earlier; they got some good reviews about the way they finished off the contest; this now makes it twice in 2018 they they have followed up an “honourable loss” with an absolute shocker – losing both these shockers virtually by quarter time.

Hope this helps a little

Added 20 April 2018:  notes by Penny Dredfell
okay; now we have the Gauntlet; the big problem is: when to pick Carlton; on face value, they might struggle to win one before the bye; they play Eagles at home, Dogs, Crows away, Bombers, Dees, Geelong at KP and then Swans away; I would be tipping them to lose the whole lot, with a small chance of a huge upset somewhere along the way; if they go to the bye winless, then I would tip them to win first up after the bye; the bye will serve as a circuit breaker for them – one week where they don’t lose and the media is off their backs; this will give them renewed vigour for a home game against Freo in R12.  For this week, I am tempted to pick the Tigers in the Gauntlet, but will play safe and go for the Giants; second option would be the Eagles against the very injured Blues

Now on to this week; I am really impressed with the Hawks so far this year – with O’Meara up and running plus McEvoy excelling – and few injuries until last weekend – this were looking good; they play the Roos – the team that was tipped by many for the Spoon.  Teams that have a great win despite injuries on the day (Hawks last week) can regularly underperform significantly the next week; it doesn’t always happen – but it is a risk; an example of this is Gold Coast in 2014 round 16 vs Collingwood; they were just in front at the last break, but with multiple injuries; they play the last 20 minutes with no rotations, but managed to guts out a win; next week, they were favoured to beat the struggling Dogs up in Cairns but lost by 28 points – underperforming by 6 – 7 goals; so my tip is to avoid tipping the Hawks as certs.

Also of interest are the last two games – on Tuesday 24th and Wed 25th; the Dees get a 9 day break compared to the Tigers 10; given the awful performance of Melbourne last week, the break is too long and they may have played the Tigers game over in their heads too many times by game time; also, see above about Hawthorn; teams that lose to a team that had an heroic win despite injuries regularly perform terribly the following week – averaging an “under-performance” of 29 points – with the only two teams to outperform expectations by any significant amount being two teams that were hot favourites on the day.  So I am very keen on tipping the Tigers as certs; if they fail, I will blame it on the long break after a cushy win over the Lions.  Added 23 April – not quite so keen on the Tigers now that Caddy and Vlaustin are out; will still tip them, but hold the enthusiasm.

The ANZAC Day game sees the Pies go from a Friday night to a Wednesday game – 12 days break; and they play the Bombers – who have a 10 day break; I reckon the 12-day break is going to hurt the Pies – especially as they had such a meritorious win against the Crows in Adelaide leading into this game; so I am tipping the Bombers, but not with a huge amount of confidence.

Added 27 April 2018 – notes by Penny Dredfell
Last week I started off in excellent form but petered out late in the round; the warning on the Hawks was spot on; then I wimped out a bit on the Tigers as certs; then went the wrong way with Essendon; at least the confidence level was rightly low!  This week, some advise on the Gauntlet and games; the Giants look to be the best certs – followed by the Crows and then the Dogs; not overly keen on tipping the others as there are risks associated with them and there will be better weeks to tip them; for those who tipped the Giants or Saints last week and sweated it out all weekend – relax, you are both winners; especially anyone brave enough to go for St Kilda; congrats thrill-seeker!!

A quick look at other games; the Swans have lost Buddy and Hannebery and now have to play an in form Geelong team at the Cattery; no hope?  I still give them a chance; they were probably breaking down because of playing through Lance who was way less than 100%; they may do better this week and have more of a surprise factor about them; plus they played the FNS Friday Night Shocker and may respond well to the loss and weekend to think about it; also, the Cats are doing quite well despite their injuries (a bit worse off than the Swans) and I maybe feel the win over Port could give the wrong lead; maybe they are not going quite as well as that win would suggest.  The Blues were highly competitive last week vs the Eagles; coach Simpson said a few of his Eagles were very sore after the game; so I take this to mean that the Blues were lucky to get that close. I expect them to regress this week; as for the Eagles, wait until final teams are announced before tipping if you can; a rumour was circulating in Perth that Nicnat, Shuey, Yeo, Sheed and Kennedy all might not play; I am more confident of the Dees bouncing back from their bad loss than the Bombers; I wouldn’t even dare tip them as certs, but will definitely tip them; and the Pies have some chance, I reckon, but I will select the Tigers

Added 03 May 2018 after team selections – notes by Penny Dredfell
Last week’s analysis was pretty good overall; the best bit was warning people not to get too excited about the Cats; after my warning, the Cats lost 2 players before the game and Horlin-Smith early; then Joel Selwood struggled late – apparently with a corkie; the Blues did a bit better than I expected without excelling; the tip for the Dees was good in an almost 50/50 game, but I was a bit wimpy in not being more confident on them; the Tigers ran away after the Pies ran out of players; of note is that both the ANZAC Day teams struggled late against the ANZAC Eve teams.

For this week, the Gauntlet looks easy is you have the Crows available; they are total certs; I am also keen on the Dogs (my tip as I have already used Adelaide); but also keen on the Hawks; I want to steer people away from Essendon, Collingwood, Richmond and Melbourne because they are playing off 2 x short breaks; the Tigers still look almost certs and the Pies are clear favourites and will probably win, but there are better times to pick them; likewise Melbourne, but the Saints is a bit of a danger game for them; I don’t give Essendon much hope of an upset.   I am very keen on the Dogs; their opponents (Suns) will be on the road now for the 5th time in the past 6 weeks; their “home game” was a Q clash at the Gabba and they go back to the Gabba next week before the China trip; on top of that, they have 4 out injured (Lynch, Fiorini, May and Lonergan) AND they dropped Barlow (managed? – like to see if he plays NEAFL or gets rested); last week the Cats were 2-3 goal favourites and got overrun by the Swans; its Danger Voo this week, but I am much more keen on them this time; they have a ruckman back in (Smith) and the Giants have key injuries; but I won’t go so far to tip the Cats as certs

Added 09 May 2018 – notes by Penny Dredfell
Last week’s analysis was so-so, but no huge damage done; my Gauntlet tip on the Dogs was a bit too stressful for my liking; the Hawks were the better tip and I probably should’ve gone for them; but it was good to cross the Dogs off the list; the four teams above (underlined and in red) actually all performed as expected – with Essendon losing (but still underperforming) against Melbourne (1 of the red four); while the Tigers just keep blowing teams away and the Pies made their fans sweat; the positive for me here is that nobody following my advice would have tipped the Pies in the Gauntlet; yes, they won, but the stress levels involved were EXTREME; happy to be quite confident about Geelong; they were safe right from the start.

This week, we have the news that Joe Daniher has been playing injured and is now going to miss a month of footy; they play the Blues this week who are looking to get a few good players back; “OH NO!”, I hear Bomber fans say; they lost to the Blues in the wet in R3 last year; actually, I am tipping the Bombers as certs and making them my Gauntlet tip unless something bizarre happens at selection; you see, the bombers have been making Daniher their target as if he were the big star we all think he is about to become; so when he is suddenly gone, things will get better; they have enough tall options up forward (probably won’t be needed this week if we get the big rain) and their forward pressure (keeping the ball forward once it is there) will be enhanced.