AFL Round 11

Sydney and Fremantle were the biggest winners in Round 10. Oh, and Richmond. But who knows for how long they’ll keep their supporters on a high. The Tigers are recidivists in this regard. Last season they flogged Hawthorn and Sydney, yet couldn’t beat the Suns. Meanwhile, all eyes turn to the match which could well have implications for the make-up of the final eight: Essendon and Carlton on Friday night.

Essendon v Carlton

It’s always good to be in Melbourne in the lead-up to this game. Both clubs have their share of graceless fans who are happy to dish it out in a way that makes Wilson Tuckey seem like a choir boy. The two tribes really don’t get on. Talkback radio takes on the feel of a school playground and footy-rage is incited in a flash, especially with any reference from Carlton fans of the 1999 preliminary final. I can see some of the doof-doof Blues of Lygon Street having a little screen built into their headstones with Fraser Brown’s tackle of Dean Wallis on permanent Youtube rotation. But it’s 2013 and The Bombers have a better structure than the Blues, even if they aren’t in great form. The Swans beat them convincingly last week. The Blues dealt with the Giants. Looking at the match-ups, I like the Essendon’s defence in this game, and I reckon the MCG gives them an edge. Goddard, Zaharakis, Stanton and Watson to shade Murphy, Judd et al. The Bombers by 19 points.

GWS v Geelong

This is footy lotto. Or nearest to the pin: the pin being the margin. The forecast is for pretty reasonable weather. So look out. Geelong by 94 points.

Adelaide v Sydney

The Swans have impressed a lot of the experts over the past fortnight with wins against Collingwood and Essendon. Meanwhile, Adelaide were probably given too much credit for their win against the capitulating North. The Swans will have the advantage at stoppages; the Crows best chance is to run the footy. Adelaide’s inexperienced key forwards will find it tough against Ted Richards and his posse of mean defenders. I think the Crows will be in touch all day, but the Swans to do enough, by 12 points.

Gold Coast v North Melbourne

The gods really are toying with North: this would have to be the worst possible club to play given North’s run so far. Yes, they flogged the Saints with a big first-half burst last week. And they go to the Gold Coast to play a team they’re expected to beat relatively comfortably. The trouble is that Suns team is full of talent and is capable of periods of strong, competitive footy where they can take it up to the best, as they have shown against Hawthorn and Geelong. The Suns have absolutely nothing to lose here and they will probably make this a big game, treating it like an imagined final. I think the mid-fields match up reasonably well, with Ablett as the wildcard; I reckon Rory Thompson can do a good job on Drew Petrie. If the Suns are in this at three quarter time, look out. I like the Suns at the line. But I reckon the Roos can get home by 10 points.

St Kilda v West Coast

Both sets of fans will be going through the turnstiles to Etihad in a state of disillusion. Last week the Eagles looked woeful against Richmond, the Saints worse against North. I reckon the Eagles, given their better list, will have the bigger rebound. The Saints have the flexibility in their talls to deal with the Eagles, but they don’t have the general depth. In a match that doesn’t inspire, West Coast by 16 points.

Melbourne v Collingwood

Mark Neeld has been given quite a few chances, but he must be down to his last. Apart from their personnel and skill issues, the Dees look physically spent as well. I suppose the state of mind affects vim and vigour. The Pies won’t let this one slip. And they have a lot of percentage to make up. Hoping for a big Queen’s Birthday, but I suspect I’ll be in the garden not long after quarter-time. Collingwood by 60 points.

Byes: Brisbane Lions, Fremantle, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, Richmond, Western Bulldogs