John Harms On AFL Round 3

Fremantle v Essendon - Nothing like a drug scandal to help build fascination in a game of footy. Although this fixture would have had at least some intrigue anyway – football intrigue. Of all the journalism surrounding the Supplement Scandal I like the bit which explains how some of these pharmaceuticals improve skin-tanning. ASADA should be looking at Terry Wallace. So how do the Bomber Boys  travel with all this on their minds? Does it galvanise performance? Or turn them into lost little calves wandering around Subiaco. Better to focus on Freo . They have started well and Ross Lyon will have them ready to fire on their side of the Nullarbor. The Dockers’ pressure is right up there with the best, they have good skills, and are developing strong cohesion. Expect lots of camera shots of James Hird, if indeed he still has the reins. Freo by 21 points.

North Melbourne v Sydney - I loved this North v South fixture when I was a kid, back when it used to be bottom-of-the-table stuff. Not so now. The Roos  are OK but they have had a horror draw, while the Swans  have had the softest draw. North could have beaten two contenders already, Collingwood and Geelong, but didn’t. We don’t know much about Sydney yet. But they will be there – later in the season. North’s mid-field continue to mature and, if they have learnt anything from the first two rounds, you’d expect them to take advantage of an under-done Sydney. North by 11 points.

Melbourne v West Coast - Wouldn’t it be funny if embattled Melbourne  (has there been a more embattled club in history?) came out and took it up to embattled West Coast . The visitors have players out, are playing below their best, and will be over east (as they say in the west). They also ran out of gas against Hawthorn. I can’t see it happening but, geez it would be good if this was a contest. I might be mad, but I don’t mind the line here at 58.5. West Coast by 19 points.

GWS v St Kilda - The young Giants  will fancy themselves here and may well project the significance of a final onto this one. They play Manuka well. The Saints  are pretty ordinary right now. Nick Dal Santo looks like a man on superannuation; like his Gatorade should come out with a little cherried umbrella in it. Some of the Sainters seem to have lost their drive. Maybe Brendon Goddard could hear the hiss of air coming out of the tyres. The risk with GWS is whether they can string together four quarters of competitive footy. It’s a risk I’m happy to take. St Kilda by 7 points, but GWS at the line of 26.5.

Geelong v Carlton - It’s very hard to line these two sides up. The Cats  have been lucky in some ways. Yet, if they can play as they have in the two third quarters this season they will beat anyone. Fierce footy. Tremendous skill. It’s a type of sporting mania they bring to the field. The Blues  have troubled Geelong in recent times with pace. But it may be the lack of general structure which finds them out here. I’m not sure the Blues can win playing fast-break footy. Geelong by 17 points.

Gold Coast v Brisbane - This could go down in the annals of history as the greatest Q-Clash of all time. The Suns  have been determined, and encouraged by their own improvement, have shown some belief. Their win against St Kilda was terrific. The Lions  have been dull. I think the shininess of the coat matters here. The Lions will have their hands full containing the spread of the Gold Coast. Much feeling in this one. The Suns at the line (16.5) are worth a ticket. In fact, I reckon they can win it. The Suns by 3 points.

Richmond v Western Bulldogs - If ever the Tigers  have had a chance to set a season up, it is here. 3-0! That’s halfway up the Magic Faraway Tree. But it would be so in character for them to blunder and then face Collingwood next week with trembling concern. The Bulldogs could be up for the contest. It’s all above the shoulders for Richmond so if Bob Murphy and the boys can have the Tiges asking questions of themselves early, then this could go down to the wire. A test for the yellow and black. They should pass. Richmond by 14 points.

Collingwood v Hawthorn - This should be a beauty. The Hawks  are always flag favourites and, had there been doubt about them, they seemed to dispel that quick-smart in Perth last week. But I reckon the match posed as many questions as it answered. Are the Hawks dependent on Cyril? And Buddy? Does that make them a sitting shot. I think Hawthorn have the brilliance; I think the Pies  have the grind, with enough creativity thrown in. I’m not sure what the Hawks are doing with Mitchell et al. I prefer Pendlebury and Swan at this stage. But this will go down to the wire. Collingwood by 6 points.

Port Adelaide v Adelaide - The draw has served this contest well. Port’s  solid victories over a couple of minnows makes them at least believe they’re a seriously good show in this. Nothing like a bit of confidence residing in players like Hartlett, Westhoff and Carlile. Fit and fresh, Port look so much better than they have for ages. The Crows  are inconsistent and reliant on too few. If Port can contain Dangerfield and Sloane it will make things harder for Walker. It will also be a battle of the coaches: two old teammates and half back flankers in Kenny Hinkley and Brenton Sanderson. Hinkley to contain the fancied Crows and find enough goals to challenge for much of the match, but not all of it. The Crows by 9 points.

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