Given my opening to the season it was a miracle to snag full points last weekend. I can thank the ineptitude of the Tigers and Port’s ability to find their inner-Popeye when it counted. Famous last words, but this doesn’t look to be the toughest round of all time either. (There’s a mozz if ever I’ve heard one)
Collingwood v St Kilda
- The Pies have had a couple of understandable losses – to Hawthorn and now Essendon. Understandable because the Pies still have quite a few players out and are missing the leadership of Darren Jolly and Nick Maxwell. Luke Ball is also set to return. But it’s great to see the worry on the grim black and white faces in Bay 13 when their team fades so terribly. Nathan Buckley has done a lot to create an attacking sensibility, but his charges lack the mean-spiritedness of Mick Malthouse at the moment. Mick, after all, could play in the back pocket. St Kilda have been patchy and are trying to develop their young talent. If they can put it together for four quarters they’re a chance here. But that’s a big if. The Pies to have the weight of possession and win by 18 points.
Essendon v GWS
- Essendon are right there – no matter how temporarily those with clipboards (initially) and wearing wigs and gowns decide. So tread carefully with the nice price on offer for the flag. All power resides away from Windy Hill on what is about to unfold. On-field, they have a fine goal-to-goal line, good mid-fielders and are well-led. Under the roof, they could slaughter the Giants . No doubt the Bombers will take the opportunity to try a few things out. If they are fair dinkum they will kick 40 goals. The Dons by 100 points.
North Melbourne v Port Adelaide
- The latest chapter in Port’s rich history is delightfully unexpected. But it is only five weeks old. It is such a brilliant yarn (well-spruiked by the boss) that it has become a page-turner. So again Port play in the match of the round. The young Port players have pace and skill and Ken Hinkley has them trusting their ability to play crazy-man footy which sweeps from end to end. North are in the opposite camp. Despite being competitive against the better teams, they have stumbled with the line in sight. This is because they keep butchering opportunities with poor decision-making. The further complication of this match is that it is being played in Hobart. Very hard to line these two up but I reckon North have shown enough to win a solid lead – and hang onto it. Don’t worry, Port will be storming home, but they’ll finish a gallant second. North by 16 points.
Adelaide v Hawthorn
- A great sadness has descended upon the usually happy shops of Hindley Street with news that Tex Walker, the man lost in the 1970s, has a bung knee and is out for the rest of the season. You could hear the whirling of bookies boards from the front of St Peters. I’m not sure all hope has gone though. The Crows retain their solid backline and squad of runners, they just need to find a tall option for their forward structure. The Hawks are OK but there is no wow-factor yet. I think the Crows will be in this for a long time, and I don’t mind them at the line. But Hawthorn to win by 13 points.
Richmond v Geelong
- This is a good test for both sides. If both play to their ability and experience then Geelong wins in a good game of footy. But neither side have played four-quarter footy this year. The Cats continue to believe they can hit the switch. The Tiges continue to make errors, especially in how they set up, and when they choose to take risks, and when they choose to contain. So if the Tiges are on and the Cats are a bit off, the Tiges can win. If the Cats are on, they win easily. So this is about picking the mental state of the Richmond team of opera singers some of whom should have their own dressing rooms (with JR, DM and BD). I’ll back the mental state of my Geelong boys. But I’d be careful. Geelong by 15 points.
Gold Coast v Fremantle
- The Freo crew will be very familiar with their Ipods and Ipads and Game-whatsits by the end of this season. This is yet another long trip to play a side coming off a sound win and ready to have a crack at a bigger scalp. The Dockers will try to shut the youngsters out, and their entourage of hardened talls may hold it over the emerging Suns big men physically. Ryan Crowley will take up his Ralph-and-Sam battle with G. Ablett. This could be tight but I reckon the experience of the visitors will prevail. Freo by 17 points.
Sydney v Brisbane
- The Swans are solid third favourites for the flag that they currently hold the title. And they’re at their preferred SCG. The Lions are re-building and have players who are performing sporadically, even against weaker opponents. Sydney will give a solid all-round performance with their posse of on-ballers making it too tough for the Lions. Sydney by 29 points.
Carlton v Melbourne
- It was the wishful thinking of the Geelong fan that Mick Malthouse (former coach of the despised Eagles and the more-despised Collingwood) might go through Season 2013 without registering a win. How that has changed with a fine win in Perth and a favourable draw over the next month, starting here with the Demons . Carlton have pace and can play with a high intensity. Melbourne have little to recommend them. Carlton by 40 points.
West Coast Eagles v Western Bulldogs
- If you reckon Mick Malthouse needed a win a couple of weeks ago, spare a thought for John Worsfold. They’ll get one here against a side which, despite showing glimpses against a half-pace Geelong, is really struggling. Look out Doggies . West Coast by 60 points.
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