NRL Hot Form Chart
The game within the game has started in earnest and its name is musical chairs. Bennett has gone to St George but still coaches Brisbane. Falou has gone to Brisbane but will play against them for Melbourne on Friday night. Henry is coaching North Queensland after he finishes coaching Canberra and Willie Tonga is now a Cowboy … after he stops being a Bulldog of course.
Australia has one of the most, if not the most, competitive sports markets in the world. Tending the grass roots is essential for prosperity (if you don’t believe this is true have a look at the state rugby union is in). And yet, the NRL’s in-season bargaining process treats its grass roots — the fans — with disdain. It’s pretty difficult firing up about your team when you know the players, let alone the coach, have already made the decision to leave.
Perhaps this attitude is an anachronism but anything that has the potential for causing disillusionment amongst the game’s followers deserves scrutiny . . . which is why the role of the video ref should be re-examined too.
The Broncos themselves, however, appear to be dealing well with the coach’s swansong season having belted every team they’ve played so far. Friday night’s match up against Melbourne should prove a tougher assignment in theory but the Storm have looked far from the implacable winning machine of last year. With ball in hand Melbourne have been bland and predictable, and will need a stronger showing from Cooper Cronk in particular if they are to even their 2008 ledger.
Of course drastic form reversals are not out of the question as Manly showed last week. The Sea Eagles are back to their old selves just in time to keep the Rabbitohs winless.
Competition troubadours Cronulla still top the Hot Form Chart despite losing last week but have a tricky assignment against a Dragons outfit presumably motivated (one way or another) after the Bennett appointment. Fellow Hot Form high flyers the Eels face a similar prospect in North Queensland.
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But how could we go past the Bulldogs-Roosters clash for Crikey’s Hot Form match of the round? Despite the Roosters boasting a number of former Bulldog stars, the game is set to be all about Willie . . . which seems to be just the way he likes it.
AFL Hot Form Chart
On Sunday two of the three oldest football clubs in Australia meet. Geelong and Melbourne are celebrating their 150th year and the number may take on even more significance with many believing it could represent the margin between the two when the final siren sounds at Kardinia Park.
It’s hard not to predict a train wreck at the Cattery. Last week, Geelong could not have been more impressive, Melbourne could not have been less so. The Demons have blown out to as much as $35 in some markets and are still friendless. Far be it from Crikey to prolong one of Chairman Gardner’s footballing myths, but for Dees fans’ sake we at least hope the snow is plentiful over winter.
Fortunately for the AFL, rivalry round features many other more intriguing clashes. Take those ancient and bitter rivals St Kilda and the Bulldogs . . . um . . . well anyway, both teams will be keen to keep their season sheets clean and the expectations (especially in regard to the Saints) justified.
The Derbys — or is that Derbi? — spell crunch time for the ‘little brother’ teams of the West and South. Both Freo and Port are staring down the barrel of a 0 and 3 start to the season. A loss for the Power would make it four on the trot after the embarrassment of last year’s grand final. For Fremantle, the AFL’s Jekyll and Hyde, a winless start would vindicate the critics who say the list is old, slow and undisciplined. Of course, the Dockers are just as likely to come out and belt the Eagles by ten goals.
In Melbourne, the ghosts of suburban football return. North Melbourne and Hawthorn looks the pick of the bunch with the Roos sure to get physical with the Hot Form Flyers. Essendon must attempt to bounce back from their monstering at the hands of Geelong but, fortunately for them, they play Carlton, a team who has lost its past 13 matches and conceded 100 points or more in their last 24. And if that’s not bad enough, Robert Walls reckons the Blues look porky in white. Meow!
- St Kilda
- West Coast