Well my fears were realised with England showing they had much more improvement than Australia from the first to second test. However my fears for the game in Australia are even greater as the day after that galling loss in the most important cricket encounter our national team contests, Cricket Australia launch into the promotion of the domestic 20-20 competition. The IPL, BBL and any number of 20-20 tournaments can be played but they are oh so forgettable! Many would argue that 20-20 has been the key reason for the current plight of the Australian test team. I find it hard to argue against that with the gaping hole that the BBL put into the continuity of the Sheffield Shield season and with that any continuity of form for either the batsman or bowlers.
Another own goal this week is the continued delay, innuendo and general saga that is the Essendon drug drama – barely a day goes by without another revelation. It is now 6 months since the Bombers outed themselves –maybe that is how long ASADA/WADA takes but the AFL should have demanded action earlier. With all that they then watch 95,000 fans pack the MCG for effectively a practice match in a rival code. Vlad – time to get the house in order!
Not to mention Stuart O’Grady and his deflection into the net, whilst under plenty of pressure from the French attack! He may be providing the complete truth that he sourced and used EPO only in 1998 and nothing ever since – however taking 15 years to divulge this information has me skeptical.
Then Matthew Scarlett puts one right past his own keeper with his unedified assassination of Nick Maxwell and Robert Harvey. For someone who purports to live by “what happens on the field stays on the field”, he has taken quite a few liberties providing details of some of those encounters in print.
I seem to have been going on a bit, maybe in avoiding assessment of my performance last week. We had the shocks, but not the ones I selected. Could not find the Tigers, Suns or Crows as winners, but for some reason picked the Saints. But we look forward to this week with a smattering of interesting encounters, but more games of little consequence.
Good Evans ($3.45) vs Buddy ($1.40)
Why on earth is this game being played in the Loungeroom? Hirdy can’t wait to play in front of the loving throng – but that is not what the game is about in Melbourne. We want as many fans to access the game as possible irrespective of who they support. But it does give Essendon a better chance to win – except for the fact that the Hawks have not lost in their last eight matches there. Overall the teams line up closely, however I reckon the bottom end of the Hawks list is better than Essendon’s. With Watson still missing, the Bombers lack midfield fire power notwithstanding the outstanding Dyson Heppell. With that I am selecting the Hawks, but certainly feel that the Bombers should be closer to $3 than the current quote.
49er ($2.74) vs Still Waiting ($1.56)
Not sure Mick will be as brave as Bucks and let Gazza have 49 possessions, but he will also have to curb a few other influential players for the Suns to ensure the Blues do not succumb again. Gold Coast away has truly become a danger fixture, however the Blues have far too much to lose to let this one get out of control. The return of Charlie Dixon will put plenty of pressure on the Blues defense, but by the same token the work rate of Henderson and Rowe for the Blues has caused consternation for their opponents also. The return of Bootsma shows that Mick is thinking long term, but he is still persisting with a couple of other superannuates. The Blues will be wary of last week’s result but should have their house in order to deal with the Suns whose odds should be closer to $2.50.
The Other Jack ($16.00) vs It’ll be Close ($1.06)
The Dees and their new Jack of the Fitzpatrick variety take on the Kangas who continue to provide health challenges to their supporters. Watching North last week it was apparent to me that there are some key issues to be addressed. The vaunted midfield works hard but apart from Wells lacks brilliance. Their forward line has talent but does not ask enough questions, its structure is the same for the whole game and thus predictable. The backline win plenty of contests and share the ball well but opposing forwards don’t need much ball to hurt, collectively they look to slow. Most of all though as good an exponent of the rucking art as Goldstein is they must get him some help, he provides great service to the midfield but does not do much once the ruck contest is over. But as Brad Scott has pointed out win ½ the close ones and they are just about top four – not sure I buy that. The Demons look to match up fairly well despite the loss of Garland, however they have 2 factors working against them. Coming back from a game in the tropics will be challenging and North are fantastic at beating up on the sides below them. North will prove too good and I have not even mentioned how much Melbourne despise playing in the loungeroom! (and it is their home game)
Sunburnt ($1.02) vs Farewell to the G ($34)
Maxwell might not be the best player ever seen, but how would the Giants love to have someone like him in the trenches! Sheeds to coach his last game on the G and his team to be beaten by the Pies – the horror of the 1990 grand final comes to mind!
Choker Hold ($1.30) vs Miaowed ($4.20)
The Crows did so well to beat the Cats but are still $4.20 against Freo. The odds are pretty close to correct – with Freo back at home and keen to atone for the loss to Richmond. Adelaide are undermanned but have played some great games with last week’s result a reminder that with a full list available they will be a real threat. But I doubt they can repeat the performance this week.
Brain Snaps ($1.09) vs Muddy Watters ($11.00)
Expectations were that the Cats would snap into action and stamp out the Crow surge – but they didn’t and then through their own smugness two senior players use around the corner snaps for to miss simple set shots at goal. I am a Jimmy Bartel fan – brave, fair, skillful, always does the right things at the right time (A bit like S Black). Have seen him seal pressure games including grand finals with pure drop punts from tough angles, he doesn’t need the gimmicks – Harry Taylor’s was even closer. Too smug! But up against the Saints who almost pulled off another massive comeback. Down at Kardinia Park, I doubt the Saints will be within a bull’s roar by ½ time to dream about a comeback!
Cling On ($1.44) vs Darwin Premiers ($3.15)
No matter what is thrown at Port, they are clinging desperately to 8th place. I would usually give the Lions a significant chance in this fixture and would consider them closer to a $2.50 chance – however they also are coming of the match in Darwin and even though they have had an extra day I suspect they will tire. Port to win and maintain their place in the eight.
Hounds ($2.86) vs Wooshed ($1.51)
If the Roos are looking to get a spot in the finals from 9th then despite evidence to the contrary the Eagles must still be in the hunt. In fact despite their poor form they are only 2 games from 8th. Which make their team selection bemusing with the resting of Glass and Natanui. Are they raising the smugness factor above the Cats? Not sure they should be and particularly against the Dogs who have been playing well of late and ran very close to Essendon a couple of weeks ago. I reckon the signals sent out by the Eagles are all wrong and that the Dogs are in this up to their muzzles and can win the game.
Randwick ($1.30) vs Lock it in Dimma ($4.10)
3 games clear of 9th – surely the Tigers can believe! But that also provides my concern for this game – success for the Tigers will be to play in the finals, success for the Swans will be to be the premiers. Great effort by Richmond last week to beat Freo, yes they were undermanned but have been most of the year and always been hard to beat. Up against Sydney who they have a reasonable record against, but all that the G. Have not won in Sydney since 2004 – but haven’t been any good for a while either. While the Bloods are in their current form, Tiger misery in Sydney will continue.
A fantastic win by the Friars last week against Old Geelong – 54 point victory in conditions that would have had Noah looking to round up the various species. Great senior debuts from a couple of Under 19s who are in fact still at school in Hickey and Currie. OGS forfeited the Under 19 game. This week the Seniors (4th) take on Ormond (3rd) at Friar Park, a critical game where the winner will have the best opportunity to chase the coveted 2nd spot on the ladder and the loser back in the ruck clinging on to their finals place. The Under 19s travel across the city to Altona to take on Williamstown CTMS, where a win would place the lads 8 point clear of 3rd.
Go Friars, Go Blues