Last week the fans finally got their chance to express their feelings about the Essendon performance enhancing drugs saga, all round good bloke and nice guy Jobe Watson admitted he believed he had been administered AOD-9604. The footy public finally had the human embodiment of the controversy that has been a scourge on the 2013 season. No matter where Jobe played last week the reaction from opposition supporters would have been the same. All we get from the commentary team is how inappropriate the booing is, what a bunch of claptrap. Why would they not just try and take the fans perspective rather than that of their employer and the fact that one of their colleagues is the target’s dad. The ex-players union is alive and well, apart from Mark Maclure. “Sellers” compared Jobe with Lance Armstrong last night and was hounded down by a number of ex-players today, none of them articulated why the comparison was inappropriate. The comparison might not quite be fair as the case drags on – but there is the irrefutable fact that whatever went into Jobe and his cohorts it was not for anti-obesity. Stealing from one of our own I reckon Dips O’Donnell summed it up with this extract from the Footy Almanac :
“Having multiple injections into your stomach, containing a substance that you’re not sure about, in the context of a sporting environment where the coaches and performance scientists made it perfectly clear that they were looking for an “edge” is not a mistake. Its premeditated cheating.”
Now onto actually footy and the bug bear from the last few weeks. This idea of umpires paying less free kicks being good is rubbish. Has it made the game better to watch? Marginal at best. Has it improved the decision making? Absolutely not. Are the rules that make up the fundamentals of the being enforced? Absolutely not. Being a Carlton fan I recall the howlers and the inconsistency from their games, but there have been plenty of other jaw droppers. The McGlynn free against Henderson may have been there, provided all players get minimal amount of time to dispose of the footy. This is the prime issue; as they are paying less frees there is less consistency. Then for balance Chris Judd literally throws the ball to the ground when tackled with no attempt to handball or kick and no penalty, this reinterpretation of “incorrect disposal” is against the spirit of that rule. If you have had the chance to handball or kick the footy and you get caught then the tackler deserves the reward. As for Malceski in the goal square – the umpire was right, he was brave, but horribly inconsistent. Malceski’s intent was always to concede the point and waited for the pressure to come, but I have seen plenty more not paid under much less pressure.
Then there is so much other sport – great work in the South of France with an Australian team controlling Le Tour. Wimbledon comes to a close before the test matches begin. The Australian cricketers get what we hope is some form and direction with the help of Boof. Signs seem promising at the moment, but one must be wary of the quality of the current opposition.
But onto this weekend’s fare after an ordinary effort last week only getting 5 from the possible 9. But there were plenty of cracking encounters and this weekend promises to deliver the same!
Kangablues ($1.73) vs Kangapies ($2.26)
This scribe has often labelled North Melbourne as the barometer of the competition, they lose to who they are supposed and beat who they are expected to. Both the Blues and Pies deserve that mantle so far this year. The Pies have had their challenges this year which has made competing with the best challenging, the Blues on the other hand simply appear to be overwhelmed by the challenge of playing the best. No matter what concerns the umpiring may have presented last week, the Blues execution and non-execution of some basic footy smarts were the most critical diffference. Kicking out to a lone opposition ruckman by an “all-australian?”, then a Number 1 draft pick spectating at close range to a Jamieson-Tippett duel. Meanwhile the Pies super record at West Lakes is now tainted. There are issues in both camps, but astoundingly the Blues are favourites for this encounter. Pie ins and outs are comparable, but the Blues welcome back Carrazzo and McInnes – not sure about the skipper although named. Overall the Blues seem to have named a stronger line up and with that and my bias they are my selection. To balance that Carlton have often struggled with the depth of the Pies midfield and they have a habit of having a couple of surprise packets such as Elliott and Dwyer last time. Whilst the Blues are my pick and every sinew in my body would not allow me to punt on Collingwood, this is a flip of the coin game and they are good value.
New Boyd ($4.60) vs Old Boyd ($1.27)
But neither of them playing this weekend, the new Boyd might not even become a Giant as they hawk there Number 1 draft pick, the old Boyd out with an injury. An ugly forecast for the nation’s capital does not make this an enticing encounter, but one that is important for both. I expect the Dogs will have greater desire after their disappointing effort against Melbourne, they also have an impressive 5-2 record at Manuka. Dogs to win.
Butt Out ($2.84) vs All Aboard ($1.52)
With finals virtually locked in for the Tigers, the bandwagon is loaded as they take on the Roos who will be lamenting their best forward’s stupidity. On paper there is not much between these two teams, but on the ground we have seen major differences this year. Mostly about leadership and responsibility. In the face of adversity the Roos have had no-one stand up and lead them, on the other hand Richmond are have great leadership and an even effort across the board. On paper the odds are too far apart, on form they are correct. The Tigers are my selection, but one day the Roos will display their talent and that makes $2.80 good value on the Roos.
Kings of the Jungle ($1.59) vs The Interlopers ($2.64)
The Lions host their neighbouring upstarts in what is an important clash for both teams. I don’t like the marketing name for this encounter, but I suspect the Lions-Suns rivalry will develop nicely over the next few years. The loss of Simon Black will hurt Brisbane but that is balanced with the return of Daniel Merrett to their defense. I am selecting Brisbane though based on the strength and superiority of Leuenberger in the ruck and a pretty strong defensive line up.
Grenache Guzzlers ($1.69) vs Yogi Bear ($2.36)
The Boo Boos will be on the other side for West Coast this week as they travel to Adelaide and face the Crows. West Coast once again dropping a game at Subiaco, it would be a friendly place if teams did not have to play Freo there. Meanwhile Adelaide had too much class and desire for the Suns, they will need to find it again this week against what should be a desperate Eagles. They should have been more desperate last week. The loser will be virtually out of finals contention. West Lakes on a Saturday night can be ugly and I am selecting Adelaide purely based on playing at home. Another 50-50 game though so West Coast at $2.30 or above is pretty good.
10-zip ($2.40) vs Important 1 from 11 ($1.70)
Will the Kennett curse come to an end? The Hawks get back Cyril and Bailey and have all their prime movers up and going – the Cats on the other hand will be missing StevieJ and Paul Chapman. They are not only great players, they have pulled out some extraordinary feats to maintain the curse! They do have plenty of quality in their place, this will be a real test for some of the young Cats and we should get a great gauge on their real capability. So far Hawthorn have met every challenge thrown at them, they are mostly healthy, no one can match up on Roughead – I am predicting and end to the curse. The Cats though are fair value at anything over $2.30.
Deelighted ($20.00) vs Raining Premiers ($1.04)
The Dees get on the winning list but not after a scare, meanwhile the Swans dealt appropriately with feisty opposition. This is an important game for Sydney, their last game at the G before finals. On form they will win and it would be brave to predict otherwise despite the buoyancy in the Melbourne camp this week. The other factor of note is the Melbourne-Sydney record at the G – Sydney’s last victory being in 2006 – however they have only played their twice since for a draw and a loss. Bloods to reign!
Figure Four Leglock ($1.06) vs Ain’t it Saad ($16.00)
Saints get to take on their old coach on his new turf. I think they will be impressed. Freo have some significant inclusions in Pav, Herman, Mundy and Barlow – they will be pretty close to full strength and will strangle the Saints to the lowest score of the round.
Ryding High ($1.34) vs Under the Koch ($4.00)
The round closes with another crucial clash, if Port can get over the Bombers that could almost lock them in a finals berth. They have surprised most with their last three games, beating two highly fancied opponents but on their home deck. Can they beat Essendon in their loungeroom? Not for mine, they have broken records this year but their record in the loungeroom is lousy losing their last seven and only three wins since 2007.
Back on the winners list with a tight victory over Prahran Assumption and climbing back into the four. But a very tight competition with only one game separating 3rd to 8th. The Under 19s handed out an 80 point lesson to Old Camberwell, lifting them into 3rd position. The Ammos have the representative games this week, so a week off before the run into the finals!