John Harms on AFL Round 22

The Hawks and Cats were very impressive last weekend. Some Cats fans were pleasantly surprised by their thrashing of the Eagles. Both clubs are seeking a top two finish. But I wouldn’t be forgetting Freo or Sydney. These last two rounds are vital for the hosting of finals. Sydney has the tough draw: Geelong and Hawthorn. Freo just keep building.

Take your pick for the flag.

Collingwood v West Coast

The Pies let me (and other easily persuaded punters) down big-time last week, which is disappointing (did I just say that about the Pies?), and has forced a recalibration of the footy universe (again). The form-lines just aren’t clear - in my mind anyway. The Eagles also surprised last week against Geelong: they were woeful. The Eagles are gone. O this become a non-event. The Pies will win this. Their mid-field could break records. Statisticians: sharpen your pencils.
Collingwood by 40 points.

Adelaide v Melbourne

As patchy as the Crows are, and as disappointing as their coach may find them at times, they will win this. Beware the poking coach. Brenton Sanderson is developing the Parkin jugular, but he needs to remember that his team has had a very disrupted season. Whereas the Dees have had nothing to disrupt. The Crows, at home, by 60 points.

North Melbourne v Hawthorn

Now, if North win this, it would be the ultimate slap in the face to those of us who’ve believed in them all year. Which is why they probably will. They’re just as likely to come out like they should be premiership favourites and run Hawthorn all over the park. Such superstitions should be buried, although they have currency for good reason. Maybe the ball will fall for the Kangas and those whose penchant is to run forward of the footy will gather possession after possession without breaking stride. But the hope of a fickle bounce is too much upon which to base a serious tip. And Hawthorn have too much at stake. North at the line for value, but Hawthorn to win, by 9 points.

Geelong v Sydney

This is a beauty. The Swans knocked Geelong off in the equivalent fixture in 2011, holding firm in the final quarter when the local crowd expected their boys to run over the top. The Geelong Advertiser had already chalked up the win in their Saturday edition that day - surely mozz of the year. But the Cats went on to win the flag. This time round the stakes are very high: a home final is the reward. The Cats looked powerful in Perth, which surprised many Cats fans who’d gone in with serious concerns. They were very hard at the footy and used it well enough. Led by J. Selwood and C. Enright, the Cats will be flat out here as well, which will make this lengthy road trip even longer for the Swans. Geelong by 14 points.

Carlton v Essendon

The balloon is pricked for Essendon and it would be a remarakable win if they got up here. Oddly enough, though, the balloon was pricked for Carlton at quarter-time last Saturday, but they somehow pieced the latex back together again. The Tigers ineptitude helped of course. But the Blues found a bit of ticker, which had been absent for a while. They also found a way of not relying on J. Waite and a way to get a bit more out of Cruiser Gibbs. The Dons at their best would be too good here but, given the current state of Windy Hill, the Blues deserve to be favourites. Carlton by 21 points.

Fremantle v Port Adelaide

It will be interesting to see Ken Hinkley’s approach to this match. Port need one more win to ensure their place in September and they come up against a Freo team on the rise in preparation for finals. Does Hinkley free them up and invite them to be as cavalier as they like? First to 100 points wins? Or does he engage in the battle-to-death with the Lyon python. Freo by 25 points.

St Kilda v Gold Coast

You’d expect the Saints at home to have the upper hand here, but they have been poor, while the Suns have been sprightly. It’s look to the future time for St Kilda. The Suns could enjoy their trip to the Melbourne beach. Gold Coast by 14 points.

GWS v Richmond

A GWS win here would be good for football. Very good for football. Just imagine the Tigers fans! They’re already livid after losing to Carlton, despite landing eight goals in the first quarter. Can’t see it though. The Tiges by 70 points.

Brisbane Lions v Western Bulldogs

The Bulldogs are playing spirited footy and that makes for very entertaining matches. This falls into the same category. The Lions will want to win their final game at home; the Dogs will want to maintain the momentum they have established. Their mid-field is developing the mentality of marauders and they have the skill to match. The Lions defence will have to stand tall. Toss of the coin. I’m going with the visitors. The Dogs by 6 points.