Jackson and Edna had a Barry Crocker in round 1 but have taken a long hard look in the room of mirrors and have vowed to bounce back.
Yes, we had plenty of mates in Round 1 when we returned a very modest 4 out of 8. But we promise to bounce back this week.
Essendon v Richmond, MCG Friday night
Good to see the Dons’ supremo Graeme McMahon taking a stand for the ABC’s coverage of the footy. While the whole spat was reminiscent of the annual AFL versus MCC squabble about nothing – it was always going to get solved and no tears would be shed – the clout of Melbourne’s (and probably the league’s) most powerful club probably played a part in expediting the solution.
First up wins last week from both of these premiership aspirants. Richmond’s was a little more convincing given the quality of the opposition, but the Dons seem to have the wood over the Tigers of late. The Dons slammed the bunny-in-the-spotlight-esque Tigers by 8 goals in round 7 last year, but the Tigers beat the Dons by 4 goals in their round 22 clash, only to be slammed by 70 points when it really mattered in their qualifying final joust.
Ottens and Richo worked well last week, but they won’t have it so easy against the Dons’ Fletcher and Wellman. Richo could learn a thing or two about not dropping your bundle when things don’t go your way from watching Justin Leppitsch in last week’s opener against the Swans. The Orange Roughie had his colours lowered early, with Barry Hall kicking 4 against him in the first half and missing a few gettable chances. But Lethal swung Lepper to full forward in the second half, with the Roughie bagging 5 goals and almost winning the game off his own boot. The Orange Roughie showed that he was determined not to play four bad quarters. Rather than point at team mates, abuse the umpire or let the head drop when things weren’t going his way, he just got on with the job of improving his day.
Our first apology of the year – we dumped all over Greg Stafford last week and he wasn’t as diabolically bad as he was last year. Spud Frawley even said the Woods caught up with the Tigers when Stafford was off the ground. But his honeymoon won’t last long.
The Tigers’ lack of defence last week is a real concern and will need to be fixed if they are to match it with the Dons.
We’ll tip the Dons by 19 points.
Carlton v Sydney, Optus Oval Saturday
It’s only taken a week, but we’ve jumped right off the Blues. Forget everything you read in our preview last week (for the dozens and dozens of our fans that did actually read it). It’s true, it’s true – the Blues are too old, too slow and now too short.
Sydney matched the defending premiers for most of their round 1 encounter, but completely went to sleep in the third quarter. This coincided with the disappearance from the game by J&E favourite, Stewy Maxfield. Maxy had 7 possessions in the first quarter, only 6 in the second and third combined, but was back in the fray in the fourth with several long, direct passes into the forward line setting up goal-scoring opportunities for the Bloods. Ricky Mott made a fantastic debut and in one game has justified the Swans’ decision to chop the much-maligned (mostly by us) Greg Stafford.
What about the Blues? They take absolutely nothing positive out of their first up effort, except the fact that Big Jack managed to keep quiet in the face of disaster. They can only get better, but not by enough in one week.
Sydney by 12 points.
Collingwood v West Coast, MCG Saturday
The Magpies lost heavily to the Tigers but weren’t totally outclassed. We were surprised on the injury front – first by the fact that our mole in Woodland got it completely wrong on Nathan (he looks as fit as a Mallee Bull) and second by the lack of conditioning on Fraser and Rocca, both victims of the dreaded osteitis pubis in the pre-season. Well, truth be known, Rocca has always been a fat, slow, Mumma’s boy. The DOP was just a convenient excuse this year.
West Coast did well to get over the Dockers in the Derby (that’s “derby”, not “darby”) and will be a much-improved side under Woosha, but they won’t have improved enough to notch a win over the Woods in Melbourne.
Collingwood by 35 points.
Kangaroos v Western Bulldogs, Colonial Stadium Saturday night
How good were the Roos last week?!
We are not at all embarrassed having tipped against them last week, but can they keep winning on emotion? Perhaps last week reinforced the fact that there is a bit of talent in the side, they aren’t just reliant on the bloke we thought was about to run around for the North Wagga Saints. We now hear that he couldn’t cut it with the NWS and is planning to take a working holiday in the USA.
The Bulldogs were just out-classed by the Crows and played to about the level we expect of them this year. They’ll pinch a few wins off the better sides, but for the most part will struggle. Their 21 behinds were the direct result of great Crows pressure. D’Arcy went missing, with not many possessions and copping a caning in the ruck. The Dogs had just as much trouble clearing from their backline as they had moving it into their forward line, and constantly coughed up possession around their defensive 50m line.
We don’t know what Plough Wallace was thinking in playing Libba on McLeod – talk about a lamb to the slaughter! Even for us Libba-bashers, the scenes early in the last quarter where Libba was in the box seat to grab a loose ball then fumbled, had McLeod run rings around him and got suckered into holding onto McLeod, who didn’t have possession, were lamentable. Plough soon after invoked the mercy rule and assigned Libba to pine-warming duties.
Perhaps the Roos’ Dr Allen Aylett and the Bulldogs’ David Smorgon should hook up for a few post-match refreshments and discuss the dreaded merger option. These two clubs are on life support and we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them heading down the aisle together.
Did the Smorgon family sell out of their company stock big time on Thursday to prop up the ailing Doggies?
And the redemption of the King has commenced – apparently he met with senior players during the week. The comeback is just around the corner.
Adelaide v Geelong, Football Park Saturday night
Too much of a class imbalance in this one – the Crows will get up easily at home.
The Cats are definitely in “rebuilding” mode this year – witness the assignment given to Cameron Ling on James Hird last week. Ling performed pretty creditably, but still Hird had double Ling’s possession tally to half time, including, decisively, 5 centre clearances. Despite Steven King dominating in the ruck, the Dons capitalised on Geelong’s ineffective mid-field. One of the few bright spots for the Cats was Aaron Lord, a livewire on the forward line, if wasteful. A bloke called Ablett made his debut but we didn’t see enough of him to rush to judgment.
The Crows’ round 1 victory was built around one man – A. McLeod. He was great all day, but his last quarter was simply awesome. He kicked a blinder on the run from 50 metres out (as he’d done earlier in the day), picked up a raft of possessions and laid two desperate tackles late in the game when it was all over, tackles which lesser mortals couldn’t have laid when the game was there to be won. The lad Johncock – a commentator’s nightmare of a name – made a promising debut for the Crows.
While the Dogs’ inaccuracy last week (12 goals 21) may have expanded the Crows’ winning margin, the fact was most of these points were the result of tremendous pressure, the kind which we expect will cause the Cats to wilt this week. McLeod will have a day out against the Cats’ third-rate midfield.
Adelaide by 45 points.
Brisbane v Hawthorn, Gabba Sunday
This game will be played at the Channel 9 friendly but hydration unfriendly time of 1pm – finishing just in time for Channel Eddie to cut to the NRL game of the day in the northern states.
Brisbane were good but only really turned it on for a bit over a quarter against the Swans last week. Based on last week’s insipid effort against Melbourne, Hawthorn will not come close, especially in the Brisbane heat and humidity.
We’ve raved about Lepper already, and the other bright spots for the Lions last week were the usual suspects. Voss was very good despite playing the second quarter with a badly corked thigh, Aker kicked a couple of miracle goals and seems to have shed the pre-season kilos that he reckons his acne medication caused him to gain, and their midfielders bobbed up when required. But the Lions were generally indirect in playing the smaller SCG, and benefited a lot from Sydney mistakes.
Hawk skipper Shane Crawford trotted out the apology to the fans very early in the season and it’s plain bad luck for them that they’ll be facing the Lions at home.
Brisbane by 33 points.
Fremantle v St Kilda, Subiaco Sunday
Robert Harvey was brilliant in his return for the Saints. It’s no secret that he will be the key to their success or otherwise this year.
The Saints’ win was largely thanks to a 5-goal burst in 18 minutes in the last quarter, but that shouldn’t be seen to be taking away from their win – they were more than competitive all game. Having said that, our suspicions that a win against the Kouta- and SoS-less Blues in 2002 seem to be well-founded.
Freo can take some positives out of last week’s effort, but they still won’t be a force this year.
We never imagined we’d say this, but we’re tipping the Saints to go 2-0 thanks to their superior Harvey-led midfield.
St Kilda by 12 points.
Melbourne v Port Adelaide, MCG Sunday
Consider last week an aberration by the napping pre-season premiers. They won’t be caught with their pants down a second week running.
The Demons were lucky to catch the Hawks on a bad day last week. No such luck this week.
Port by 23 points.