John Harms On AFL Round 7

Well, the Tatts boys put the pressure on me last week, but I don’t think you needed to be Norman Einstein (as one AFL coach famously described the physicist) to pick the card in Round 6. I reckon about a third of all tippers posted a perfect score. This week is the polar opposite. I reckon five games can go either way, and maybe six. If you tip the lot you are to tipping what Jeremy Howe is to human flight.

Geelong v Essendon - Strap yourself in for this ripper, wherever you might be. If you’re at the ground be prepared for a game of lightning footy with blokes running hither and thither and the footy being moved from end to end in an instant. If you’re in the lounge-room don’t even contemplate a cup of tea until quarter time. The teams are very evenly-matched. Both have excellent structures and play similar styles; the Cats marginally more defensive in sensibility but with a willingness to attack from anywhere. Geelong’s spread of experienced talent is better; whereas Essendon require a couple in the engine room – notably the skipper – to fire. The Cats will play tight on Watson, the tagging role probably going to Taylor Hunt who is not well known outside of Corio but has had a fine first six weeks. (However I hope Chris Scott and James Hird make a concession to theatre and allow Watson and Selwood to go at it for half a quarter or so). The Cats will also play close attention to Courtenay Dempsey who is a gun. Taylor and Lonergan match up well on the Essendon talls, but so do the Bomber backmen on Hawkins and Podsiadly. So what will be the difference? Perhaps that the Cats have a wider array of potential goal-kickers including Stokes, Christensen and Motlop. And what influence will that wildcard Stevie J have? This is set up to be a classic. The Cats by 6 points .

Port Adelaide v Richmond - In a round of beautifully-balanced matches this is one of the best. Port playa really good brand of footy, suited to AAMI Stadium, and they have finished matches well. The Tigers play bit-and-pieces footy, are iffy in their decision-making, and get the wobbles in the later stages of matches. So whatever happens here, Port will never be out of this. Last week the Tiges were solid early against the flying Cats, Port took a while to get into the game in Hobart. I like Port’s pace up forward, and their emerging big men. They are a little thin in the back-half so if Good Jack turns up he might be in for a good day. If Bad Jack turns up Port will mop up to their hearts’ content and they attack well from broken play. As silly as it sounds, I like the authority with which Power are moving the footy. At home. Against the trembly Tiges. Port by 6 points .

Brisbane v West Coast - The Lions are due for a big one, but even that won’t be enough. They were disappointing in Sydney. West Coast are the better side on paper – by a mile. If the Eagles win their share of footy in the middle their capable forward line could go bezerk. Michael Voss will need to plan carefully for this. Can’t see it though. West Coast by 24 points .

Western Bulldogs v North Melbourne - The Doggies continue to struggle. Coming off the Perth trip this will be even harder. North are potentially much better than their results suggest. This is one they have to win and win well. Which they will do. The Kangas by 66 points .

Hawthorn v Sydney - The Grand Finalists from last year are just warming up. The Swans have been given a rails run (AFL House style) to get themselves into contention again this year with a draw as soft as a modern marking contest. This, however, is not a soft match. The Swans big men have an advantage: Mike Pyke continues to improve and Mummy is a gun. Their smalls have the aggro to match it with Hawthorn who will miss Cyril Riolo. Buddy is not firing and he will need to. I’ve got the Swans ahead if they’re playing in Sydney, but this is at the MCG. I’ve still got them a nose ahead on contested footy and an ability to keep a tight-rein on the Hawks runners. Sydney by 6 points .

Fremantle v Collingwood - This is another tough one to pick. The Pies are not travelling overly well at the moment – they’re match against St Kilda was a dog of a thing the other night. They lack fluidity in moving the footy and their backline can be opened up (as we saw with Hawthorn and Essendon). But they have a lot of improvement in them, and will move from middle-tier side to top-tier side if they can get their best players on the park. Whether the signs of improvement are there in Perth is the question. The Dockers have a few absentees themselves. The result will depend on the ins and outs but my early call is the Dockers to sneak over the line. Freo by 6 points .

GWS v Adelaide - There won’t be a lot to say about most GWS games in the short term although they did put together a solid half of footy last week against a complacent Essendon. I don’t think it will be Adelaide who are the surprise losers to the Giants. The Crows by 66 points .

Melbourne v Gold Coast - The Suns continue to show promise, the Dees continue to frustrate. It’s another tough one to pick. I reckon the Gold Coast will win more than enough of the footy to trouble Melbourne and have enough firepower to capitalise. The Dees have played one quarter of footy all year, and they got away with that because their opponents that day were out on their feet. Ablett to fire on his beloved MCG. The Gold Coast by 6 points .

Carlton v St Kilda - Even when the Saints were flying this fixture caused them headaches. This generation of Carlton speedsters has exposed St Kilda’s lack of pace. And that trend is set to continue. The Blues to maintain their winning run against the weaker sides. Carlton by 30 points .

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