It says a lot about the labour market you’re in when six months notice is the bare minimum. The Bulldogs’ Steve Folkes became the latest coach to take down the shingle but leave the shop lights on with an end-of-season resignation. This week, he must inspire the vim required to overcome the New Zealand Warriors at home — an assignment history shows to be no easy task.
Many would have thought Panthers’ coach Matt Elliot would be in a similar position but consecutive wins have kept the wolves at the door and taken Penrith into the Hot Form top eight. Unfortunately, their opposition is the red-hot Roosters who have toppled Cronulla as Crikey’s top ranked team. In a competition so even that no team is undefeated after just four rounds, the Roosters have shown they will be this year’s big improver (though the loss of Anthony Minichiello will be sure to hurt).
The Titans away form will be tested by the hot and cold Eels; a team that, as Doug Walters might say, are “due”. In fact, all of the Queenslanders are on the road in round five. Brisbane travel to Newcastle and the Dragons host North Queensland in a Crikey cellar dwellers special.
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The real action of the round, though, is tonight’s grand final replay between Melbourne and Manly. The Form Chart likes the Storm – just – but the most interest may well surround what new tackle term the match will throw up. I wonder … “the wedding tackle” has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
The AFL Ladder shows it and the Hot Form Chart agrees — Hawthorn are the real deal. Undefeated, the Hawks sit behind only Geelong on the form table and have displayed a mix of skill and aggression that clearly identifies them as the Cats’ early season danger … at least this week.
Last week, many pundits had attached that title to St Kilda but a 70 point turnaround loss to the Bulldogs changed all that. Skipper Nick Riewoldt may have bristled at the ensuing criticism but his team will need to lift significantly against Geelong or suffer a good old fashioned touch-up … sort of like the one handed to Jason Akermanis by Rob Harvey last Friday.
The Dogs themselves have been a revelation and enter this week’s game against fellow speed merchants Essendon as warm favourites. Bombers fans, meanwhile, are cock-a-hoop about the big score their team rattled up last Saturday but let’s face it — Stephen Hawking could jag a couple of goals against the Blues at the moment.
Carlton, like Melbourne, are expected to lose again but keen prospectors may have detected a silver lining in each club’s performance last week. Collingwood of course would love nothing more than to hand the Blues their record-setting 15th consecutive loss, which should make Mick Malthouse happy … provided Pies players are nominated for Goal of the Year, Mark of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards as well.
West Coast travel to Sydney but the great rivalry of modern times has paled, the Eagles being a diminished mob these days.
And Port Adelaide host Brisbane in another clash that resonates with the echoes of headier times. Last week, the Power knocked the tripe out of the Crows but forgot to score more points. A loss this week would put Port at zero and four — no wonder Mark Williams wants to introduce a top 12.
- North Melbourne
- Port Adelaide