CrikeySports_markSex. Drugs. Violence.

You gotta love the footy.

Even without a ball being kicked in anger this week we have St Kilda players in a sex scandal or some such, Fremantle player Michael Johnson’s drug history and penchant for late nights/early mornings being revealed publicly and Barry Hall vs. the North Melbourne Football Club in the greatest non punch up of season 2010.

It’s like a really bad episode of Chances (was there ever a good one?).

And I have to say, this week’s games are like anti-rivalry round. With the absence of any real blockbuster game we are left with games devoid of any real interest to the neutral fan. At a pinch I’d have to say Friday night’s game between the Dogs and the Bombers  is the most even on paper and form — but hell — if there’s one thing for certain — there will be an upset or two.

But back to Barry. I think my esteemed colleague First Dog on the Moon said it (drew it?) best with his interpretation of how Barry Hall was treated — like a chip being attacked by seagulls:

100527_hall_chip

I couldn’t have put it any better…

Essendon vs. Western Bulldogs — 7.40pm Friday May 28, Etihad Stadium

The Bombers have won two in a row — is it a false dawn or is there momentum and an inner belief gathering at Windy Hill? It’s hard to say considering those victories were against an out of sorts St Kilda and a barely competitive Richmond. But you can only beat who you play. Young gun Jake Melksham makes way for speedster Nathan Lovett-Murray as the Bombers seek to prove to the competition that they can match it with the big boys.

It’s been a big week for the Dogs. Their 70 point thrashing of North last week was overshadowed by the antics of one Barry Hall vs. Scott Thompson and the Kangaroos back line. Barry was, in this author’s opinion, rightfully relieved of any AFL punishment and I doubt Bombers young defender Tayte Pears will have the gumption to employ the same tactics as the blue and white did last week. Shaun Higgins returns at the expense of Nathan Eagleton.

The question for the Bombers coaching staff will be how to stop an on fire Brian Lake and Adam Cooney. When these two are playing well — they lift the whole team. Cooney’s form is especially noteworthy as he seems to have regained his Brownlow form of yesteryear.

The Dogs should be too strong.

Dog by 24

Geelong vs. Melbourne — 2.10pm Saturday May 29, Skilled Stadium

The Cats are scary good at the moment? How scary? This scary:

scary-cat-1

Despite the persistent “will Gablett stay or go to the Gold Coast” rumours that dog Geelong, it can not be denied that this great team shows no sign of slowing down. You’d want to play for Geelong wouldn’t you? I would. In other news Matthew Scarlett is not playing due to hamstring soreness and is replaced by Simon Hogan.

Before I saw the team sheets I though Melbourne might be a chance for one of those “against all evidence and rational theory” upset victory over Geelong. But Melbourne, as is their want, have decide to rest three of the best young players in the competition in Tom Scully, Jack Trengove and Jordan McKenezie. The good news for Demons fans is that another gun youngster is getting given a shot. Jordan Gysberts (is Jordan the “it” name or something?) will make his debut this week. Good luck young man.

The Dees will need it.

Cats by 34

Port Adelaide vs. Richmond — 2.40pm Saturday May 29, AAMI Stadium

After last week’s heart breaking 1 point loss to Melbourne in Darwin, Port Adelaide effectively get a bye. Or do they? Richmond have been building momentum but surely Mark Williams won’t let his men drop this one. Jason Davenport has been suspended and Daniel Motlop is serving a club suspension after breaking team rules. He is such a wonderful player and has seemed to lost his way this season. A shame.

Despite last week’s thrashing by Essendon, coach Damien Hardwick is quietly building momentum at Richmond. If he can keep away the vultures of Western Sydney and the Gold Coast who continue to circle his young cubs he is starting to build a future for Tigerland. In exciting news for Richmond fans Ben Griffiths will make his debut for the Tigers this weekend. I wanted Freo to draft this big hulk of a forward. I hope he does well. The Tigers need to find a killer instinct, which will come through experience. Meanwhile I found this cool Tiger video (I love tigers slightly less than I love monkeys):

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fw1O7g0v0kU&feature=related[/youtube]

Port by 22

Brisbane vs. Collingwood — 7.10pm Saturday May 29, Gabba

What happened to Brisbane? They looked so strong, so self assured, confident … arrogant even at the beginning of the season. Now that’s gone. Jonathan Brown needs to hurt people. Coach Michael Voss must want to put the Number 3 back on and go and crack some skulls. Another injury to a key player in Jed Adcock must have Voss thinking what foul luck has befallen him. The Lions are stripped of all form, consistency and the ability to field their strongest team.

Despite losing to Geelong last week the quality of this Collingwood team can not be denied. Jack Anthony and Simon Prestigiacomo come in at the expense of Nathan Brown and Leon Davis. “Neon” Leon was disgraceful last Friday night. If Collingwood are going to win a flag they can carry no man, whether they are a sublimely skilled All Australian or not.

Collingwood hate Brisbane. They will be fired up for this one.

I have breaking news. Drugs in the AFL have been in the headlines this week.  A magpie has been caught on camera with a “questionable looking” cigarette:

magpie_morris

Collingwood by 45

St Kilda vs. Adelaide — 7.10pm Saturday May 29, Etihad Stadium

St Kilda are having a bad week. Sex scandals and such. They are not the same team from last year. Despite beating the Eagle’s last week in Subiaco (never an easy task) the gulf between them and the Geelongs and Collingwoods of the competition is growing. They are playing an out of sorts Crows at their once vaulted fortress in Etihad Stadium. Nothing short of a convincing win should be accepted. But how the week’s events have affected the players — we’ll have to wait and see.

In the space of a few days two of Adelaide’s greatest players, captain Simon Goodwin and Tyson Edwards, have called it quits. This should rally the playing group. Goodwin and Edwards have both been extraordinary footballers for their beloved Crows. Their place in Adelaide’s history written it’s now up to newer, younger, Crows to pay their respects to these champions and earn back some respect to this strong club.

However I can’t see them getting over the line here.

Saints by 19

Hawthorn vs. Sydney — 1.10pm Sunday May 30, MCG

Are you a Luke Hodge man or a Sam Mitchell man? Regardless of who should lead the Hawks someone should buy Alistair Clarkson and Jeff Kennett a copy of the Dalai Lama’s The Art of Happiness. I’m not sure it will help but the question remains: can the Hawks show something in the remainder of season 2010? Sydney have lost form and confidence. This is a fantastic opportunity for the Hawks. And on Luke Hodge he has been terrific this year. Superb. A wonderful wonderful footballer.

Sydney have lost two more to injury. Tadgh Keneally and Daniel Bradshaw won’t front up for the Bloods this weekend. So important to the team are these two that the return of Shane Mumford won’t garner the same enthusiasm it might have otherwise. Despite the loss if form and confidence I do like one thing about the Swans. Garry Rohan. The kid is a beauty. It’s good to see Trent Dennis-Lane be named for his debut. There’s something about a hyphened name that excites me. Who is the best and worst hyphened names of all time? Leigh Wardell-Johnson gets my vote.

Hawks by 23

Carlton vs. West Coast — 2.10pm Sunday May 30, Etihad Stadium

Remember in 2008 when West Coast played Carlton and Eagles players were saying to Judd : “His Shoulders are stuffed! Hit him hard. His shoulders are stuffed!” To which Judd replied:
“No wonder my shoulders are stuffed, I’ve been carrying you blokes for the last six years!”

Such a superb sledge, and one wonders where the Eagles would be if Judd was still at the helm.

What is obvious is that Carlton’s best is very good but occasionally they aren’t focussed and can put in a pretty ordinary effort. Last week was an expample of this. I doubt they will do this again this week. Good news for the Carlton faithful is that Bryce Gibbs has resigned for two years for the Blues. Carlton have made four forced changed due to injury which sees an opportunity for debutant Marcus Davies.

This will be hard for the Eagles. They were overrun by St Kilda last week and looked tired. Is Nick Naitanui due for a rest? Much maligned Eagle rover Matt Priddis was superb last week. His kicking ain;t great but his determination ofr the West Coast cause can not be questioned. If he had a few more like minded soldiers the Eagles may be a chance this week. Josh Kennedy, who has been superb this year — needs to fire against his old team. Maybe hand out a sledge or two.

Carlton too strong, Carlton by 24

Fremantle vs. North Melbourne — 2.40pm Sunday May 30, Subiaco Oval

Fremantle are flying. And if it wasn’t for the actions of one individual in Michael Johnson, there would be nothing but good news coming out of Fremantle Oval at present. Nat Fyfe won the nomination for last week’s NAB Rising Star. He’s a beauty this kid. Hands like Stuey Lowe. He reminds me of champion Eagle Brett Heady. Sandilands’ and Pavlich’s domination over their opponents continue and Pavlich, in particular, looks as happy and dedicated as I have ever seen him. Which bodes badly for his North Melbourne counterpart this week.

North have had a big week away from the football field. The bean counters at Arden Street won’t complain about the exposure but they would prefer to make the back pages of the papers due to their footballing prowess not their Royal Rumble capabilities. And make no mistake — this is a big game for the Kangaroos this week. Daniel Wells is out due to a groin complaint. Hamish McIntosh returns and for the second week in a row North have named a debutant with  Brayden “Chuck” Norris following the footsteps on Nathan O’Keefe from  last week.

Oh! And check this out! Young Fremantle defender Dylan Roberton in 2009 short film The Creep. Comedy gold.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hb5W0YgPINo&feature=related[/youtube]

An in-form Fremantle should be too strong in on the vast expanses of Subiaco in front of a parochial home crowd.

Freo by 31

Creepy.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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