John Harms On AFL Round 8

Round 7 was enormous! Big results for Hawthorn and Geelong have affected how we will consider premiership betting for a while, although pedestrian Collingwood might get on their bikes and have something to say about that this Saturday night in another huge match against Geelong at the MCG. The Cats are good. And a pleasure to watch. The Hawks are solid. And tolerable to watch. Essendon will be about the mark as well. The Bombers did not know how to take control of last Friday’s match which looked like an even contest with some ebb and flow – yet Geelong won easily. There’s a long way to go.

West Coast v North Melbourne - I have convinced myself that North Melbourne are better than conventional wisdom suggests. And if that is the case then they have the perfect opportunity to show it here. However, the Eagles are at home, they are becoming a little more settled in their line-up, they have a serviceable mid-field – and about eight monsters over 6’4”. For North to win they’ll have to dominate the middle of the ground, and counter-attack with precision. The Eagles deserve to be favourites but I reckon the Kangaroos can put the debacle of last year’s semi-final behind them and take it up to the locals. North by 5 points.

Essendon v Brisbane - The Bombers have a very good squad. They play a free-flowing, yet organised, style of footy which allows them to put together big scores, especially against weaker sides. I wouldn’t describe the Lions as hapless, but they’re only a couple of haps away. This one will be too easy for the Bombers. Essendon by 44 points.

Hawthorn v GWS - No doubt Hawthorn will rest a few players here but, even still, they’ll hammer the Giants. If Adelaide’s young Lynch can kick a bag, what will these Mayblooms do? Hawthorn by 120 points.

Gold Coast v Western Bulldogs - Lost in the dust of all the Melbourne-bashing after last Sunday’s game at the MCG was the fact the Suns were pretty good. Their talls have agility and ball skills, their on-ballers have pace, and Gary Ablett is Gary Ablett. They’re playing a pretty poor incarnation of the Dogs who are slightly ahead of the Dees but not travelling too well themselves. The Suns are within striking distance of the top eight which is enough incentive to make them manically enthusiastic about this contest. Gold Coast by 24 points.

Collingwood v Geelong - On form you’d have to say the Cats were good shopping at $1.36. They have been in sparkling touch – against good sides. The Pies haven’t. They’ve fallen away to the better sides, conceding many final quarter goals. The Cats have been stronger in the second half of matches. They are getting some terrific footy out of their youngsters: Duncan, Horlin-Smith, Smedts, Blicavs, and now Thurlow. Add the flair of Motlop and the quiet achievement of Stokes and Christensen and the reasons are mounting – and I haven’t mentioned one of their top six players yet. The Cats by 20 points.

Sydney v Fremantle - In the good old days, Roosy and Rossy hung out together in Sin City pondering nil-all draws and the place of the bear-hug and the scrum in modern football. Roosy has gone to the couch. Rossy Lyon has gone to the West. He has his Dockers playing tough, defensive footy. How things have changed in Sydney with the Horse mixing defensive strategy with expansive attack. So how does this play out? It will be another one for the coaches. Sydney were a little down against a rampant Hawthorn so John Longmire will be looking for them to bounce back with some good run-and-carry against a side determined to give them zero space. This is hard to pick. If ever Freo had a chance in Sydney, this is it. But I still fancy the Swans by 7 points.

Carlton v Port Adelaide - There are moments in life when you wish you were an insider. I wonder what Mick Malthouse did say to his Carlton charges on Monday night when everyone should have been home watching Q and A. If he has any voice back by Sunday he’ll be telling his Baggers that, in a tight competition, it is criminal to lose winnable matches. This is another winnable one. Port will come hard (and I’m hoping for an upset just for the theatre of it) but not hard enough. Carlton by 33 points.

Adelaide v St Kilda - St Kilda showed they have some ticker on Monday night. Riewoldt continues to run and jump and land a few goals. But he has to have the footy sent in his direction. The Crows had a bit of a training run in Sydney but they will be in for a contest here. They’ll be up for it: their run in the big open spaces will stretch the Saints. Weight of possession will serve them well. Adelaide by 24 points.

Richmond v Melbourne - Feeling back in the hunt, the premiership-hopefuls at Tigerland are looking for the keys to the bandwagon again, and by slaughtering Melbourne here, they’ll be talking silverware. The Deledios and Martins of the world go well against the likes of Melbourne. They’ll lead them to a solid win. Richmond by 60 points.

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