John Harms On AFL Round 4

Sydney v Geelong - What a brilliant way to open Round 4 with the first fire of the season starting to crackle in the deep south and the waft of garlicky pizza filling the lounge-room. (Sorry to the good folk of Far North Queensland and the Top End, but you have the last July-laugh on us anyway.) I know you have to take any Cats-love with a grain of salt but I’m telling you they are pretty good. The experienced play like responsible old rams in a paddock of ewes, the young Geelong  speedsters frolic about like their progeny. They’ve unearthed a few good ones and the big steeple-chaser, Mark Blicavs, may turn out to be a weight-for-age flat performer after all (if he keeps improving at the rate he is). The only problem for the Cats is that Sydney  might be better, even at this early stage of the season. They certainly have the mid-field to contain Geelong and the firepower to trouble them up forward. Should be a beauty. Make that two pizzas please. Sydney, at home, by 5 points.

Hawthorn v Fremantle - If you consider the logistics of Freo’s  travel for this fixture, you’d be thinking they’d need huskies, a base camp, and a grant from the Royal Geographic Society. Just when they don’t need this added burden as well – their fade-out to Essendon was concening. The Hawks  were very impressive against a Magpie outfit which, admittedly, fell apart. C. Rioli and L. Franklin looked in ominous touch though. M. Pavlich didn’t. The Hawks, easily, by 34 points.

Richmond v Collingwood - Aaaah! Back to the good old days, when the meeting of these two powerhouses was worth writing home about. Neighbouring suburbs, they’ve hated each other forever. The Pies  missed their outs last week while Richmond  had another confidence-building win during which they were able to continue to experiment with tall options up forward. Luke McGuane is helping Jack Riewoldt and Tyrone Vickery. He is an agile third tall who can really fly. The mid-fields are evenly matched, although the Pies would have to be concerned with the form of some of those returning. Daisy Thomas and a few others need to find something quick-smart. The Carringbush to go into ANZAC Day under a fair bit of pressure after losing again this week. Tiges, with too many scoring options, by 17 points.

St Kilda v Essendon - The Bombers  were gone, gone, gone last Friday night. What happened? Their defenders got on top, Freo got frustrated and the Bombers somehow got the points. Sensational win! If the Bombers key backs play like they did in Perth, Nick Riewoldt is in for a tough night. We could be talking ‘generational change’ by three quarter time. The Saints  will be tested. Essendon by 20 points.

West Coast v Carlton - Why do Carlton  often look like they’ve got sixteen men on the field? And then occasionally they all play brilliantly, look like they have 23, and blow good sides away. Successes are usually initiated by Matthew Kreuzer who won’t be at Subiaco. They need more from their skipper and, as fine a player as Chis Yarran is, he needs to lead the way for more than just patches. The Eagles  have their own problems – odd to think that after a 100-point win, but that was only against Melbourne. The Blues look like being 0-4. West Coast by 28 points.

Gold Coast v Port Adelaide - Port  have found something: lightning, play-on footy. No fear against the Crows. The spirit of Ken Hinkley has been re-ignited. The Suns  have had a fair crack as well. But this is a difficult road trip for the young Power players and they will do well to maintain the high of the opening three rounds. They also have to contain G. Ablett. I like the Suns’ structure. I think they’re a good bet at the line and can win. Port to fight to the death, but The Suns by 4 points.

Melbourne v GWS - They’re calling this the battle of the wooden spoon. But there are a couple of other teams you wouldn’t write off (Carlton may take a while to win a match). GWS  have intensity. The Dees  at least have experience. The Giants will be a little dispirited after losing players to injury. But they may find something. Hard to pick. On enthusiasm and the weight of top-level draft picks you’d expect the Giants to be right in it. But if the Dees have any belief at all they must win this. Melbourne by 1 point.

Adelaide v Western Bulldogs - Not a good time to catch the Crows  on the re-bound, on their own patch. The Bulldogs  will struggle in all areas, but especially in the key positions. The Crows really need this one, and will grab it, by 50 points.

North Melbourne v Brisbane - I’m giving North  one last chance. There is no reason for them to wind up 0-4 by the end of this round. They have been right in all of their games so far, yet allowed sides to string goals together. They are able to rotate a whole raft of talented players through the mid-field, they have mean defenders, they have a good target up forward and a few sneaks who can find the goals. But they certainly don’t know how to win footy games. Brisbane , on the other hand, are patchy. The best I can say is that the Roos are due, and being at home they can win this. North by 21 points.

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