John Harms On AFL Round 14

Magnificent results for the competition with Port upsetting the Swans and Brisbane climbing from the grave to roll the Cats. Suddenly there is more hope for the Tiges, Pies and even the Bombers (if they survive the courtroom) to sneak into the top four. Interesting times for the Cats: they have Freo at home and then the Hawks on July 6. That’s a real test. A week ago it seemed like nothing much would happen for a couple of months. How things can change!

West Coast v Essendon

The best thing about this fixture (apart from the fact that the footy weekend is starting on a Thursday) is that it is actually a game of footy. Because, frankly, the whole is-it-legal, isn’t-it-legal, stop-you-from-getting-fat, drugs-in-sport fiasco is driving me nuts. Two things: firstly, the coverage of it is going round and round in circles and is really, really, really boring and secondly, some commentators have the ability to make it sound like the gravest issue since the Prime Minister forgot if she was knitting one or pearling one. And there, I’ve been sucked in to talking about it as well. The Eagles were OK against the mighty Hawks last week and they’re at home to this troubled Bomber team, although the boys from Windy Hill seem to have used the troubles to rally the troops. Taking all the shenanigans out of it, these two sides match up pretty well around the ground. I reckon the competitive advantage falls to the Eagles in the ruck and in the avenues to goal. It should be a cracker watched by squillions (over East, as they say) sitting in front of the heater. The Eagles by 2 points.

Sydney v Carlton

I hope they’ve got long memories in the Swans sheds and are thinking of 1945, or short memories and thinking of Port Adelaide last week. Revenge for both would be a good thing especially for those fans who’ve climbed into the Swans for the flag at a relatively short quote. Sydney cannot afford to drop games like this one against the Blues else that position in the four (which I had assumed was secure) will be taken by some wannabe (like Richmond?) Sydney’s mid-field, at home, to dominate against a Murphy-less Blues. The Swans by 15 points.

Gold Coast v Adelaide

The Suns are playing good footy. They grow in stature every week, win or lose. They’ve worked out that they can actually play the game. Not in a couple of seasons’ time – right now. I reckon they can do to the Crows what they did to North Melbourne: stand resolute in defence and run off half-back. The Crows will be under a lot of pressure here. They’ll play an extra back, which will suit the Suns who have a few who can roost the Sherrin. O’Meara is a talent. Ablett is sublime. Very keen on the Suns at the line, and to win straight out by 14 points.

Port Adelaide v Collingwood

Four games, four tough picks. Recent history suggests the Pies start solid faves here. But don’t underestimate the Power. The Pies have (some) class and (lots of) experience. Port Adelaide have the enthusiasm of an emerging young side. They’re in the eight, if you don’t mind. I think Heath Shaw and Harry O’Brien will take care of the live-wires, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Port were coming at them in the final quarter. Port at the line, but the Pies to sneak away, by 12 points.

Geelong v Fremantle

Make that five games, and five tough picks. Because here’s another one. The Cats played flamboyantly up in Brisbane (now there’s an understatement) and forgot what the object of the exercise is. They lost a game that should have been theirs very easily. That’s an issue. Especially against Freo, a team that has been beaten around the ears with the Lyon-stick, a voice so single-minded it will even permeate the mind of the world’s biggest numbskulls. As they play for Richmond, it’s an easier job for Ross with football geniuses like Nathan Fyfe and Luke McPharlin in his side. The Cats rely on flow. They hate stop-start. Freo will make this so tight they’ll go nuts. This is a test for the Cats. Win this and they are premiership material. Lose this and they’ve got a fair bit to work on. Freo, good value at the line. And Freo to win by 7 points.

Melbourne v Western Bulldogs

Melbourne ground it out last week against the Saints but the anticipated change with the new coach didn’t really eventuate. The major difference was that, instead of being banished to the bench, Jack Watts was top billing at the after-match media conference. The Dogs are further down the track in the development of their approach, and they will see this as a huge opportunity to learn how to win a game. The Dogs by 19 points.

Hawthorn v Brisbane

Hawthorn are the most potent side in the competition at the moment. The Lions have just pulled off a ridiculous comeback-upset. They showed that if any team moves the ball confidently and free of defensive pressure, the goals can be accumulated very quickly. However, down in the cold of the Great Southern Ocean, the pressure will come from a dominant Hawthorn side and Brisbane won’t be good enough. The Hawks by 35 points.

North Melbourne v GWS

North are having a shocker. So, after thirteen rounds, I’m willing to stand corrected. I thought they would come good. At least they’ll win this one. The Roos by 60 points.

Richmond v St Kilda

The Yellow and Black are building momentum, and that should continue here. Put a goatee on Ty Vickery and surely he is Catweazle, but that doesn’t matter a jot when he’s creating a terrific second and third option up forward. The Saints are hangin’ in there, but remain undermanned. The emerging side would have to have a shocker, and the battling side would have to play to their best. That’s possible. But not a good bet. Richmond by 36 points.