AFL Round 15 Preview – Escaping Melbourne Winters

Greetings all,


The news was not shocking and somewhat inevitable but the retirement of the Lion King is a great loss to the game.  Jonathon Brown played his footy hard and fearless and for most part fair.  It is hard to say he copped what he dished out but that was mainly due to his ‘fear of the retribution’ – the retribution was often on the scoreboard.  He was pivotal to the Lions three flags and has remained a beacon for the club in the ensuing years.  He has tormented clubs and none more so than mine but you watched him in awe and a sense of inevitability rather than some of the invective other well performing  players might receive.  His courage is stuff of legend but the other quality that stood out to me was his honesty as a player.  No matter how hurt he played or if his form was off, his efforts were never in doubt.  The rules on the Hall of Fame are wrong here, Jonathon Brown is one player who deserves his spot there immediately – Well Played!


Plenty of other items bobbing up in the AFL world, but nothing surpasses the World Cup.  Footy forums have spent much of the year lamenting the style and quality of the game and it came to a head last Friday with the abysmal showing of Sydney, Richmond and the Umpires.  The common lament was that the umpires took too long before they made the decision to have a ball up.  Quick ball ups do not fix the crowding problem as the ball does not move far enough, they must pay more free kicks and they are there.  Josh Kennedy took the rules to a new level dragging multiple tacklers along with him before handing the ball to a teammate in Rugby Union style – please make them handball or kick.


But back to the main point, soccer has been lamented as being a defensive and dour game – of which it can be.  But this tournament shows that the defensive mentality has been replaced with attacking flair.  Also noting how much the game further opens up late as players tire and being in good physical condition is a key facet of the game.  The only injuries I see from players being fatigued are players suffering from cramp, none of the soft tissue issues that the AFLPA fear with the reduction of interchange.


On to this week’s matches with a couple of interesting tests.


Purr-gatory ($1.39) vs Snappy Chappy ($3.50)


The Cats have put together a lack-lustre few weeks that came to a head last week with the massive turn around by the Suns, they have added motivation this week as they come up against Paul Chapman.  Chappy will have his own motivation to prove he should have still be a required player.  Whilst the individuals make the story, this is much more about the plight of the two teams.  The Bombers have been inconsistent but were dragged across the line last week by Brendan Goddard who filled in admirably for Jobe.  The Cat’s record in the Loungeroom is good, they don’t lose two in a row often and their best is better than the Bombers.  On the other hand they will really miss the clean ball handling of Stokes and Essendon don’t mind the venue either.  Selecting the Cats to bounce back, but it might of the dead cat variety.  Not completely discounting Essendon who represent fair value at $3 or better.


Tassie Tax ($1.22) vs Bluey’s Boys ($5.30)


The Hawks not only reap all the benefits of a second stronghold but they get paid to play there as well!  The predicted arctic conditions will further enhance their prospects against the Suns who are unlikely to see much of it!  The Hawks to continue cruising, but Bluey’s chargers will throw out the challenge.


The Billings Method ($5.70) vs Kitchenware Candidates ($1.20)


Saints fans must look at Jack Billings with mixed emotions.  He will be a beauty and a cornerstone from which to build from, but a glance over at their immediate competition will see the GWS with young players of Jack’s promise loaded across every part of the ground.  Their more immediate competition are the Tigers who are in territory that few would have foreseen in March.  St Kilda will be primed for a huge effort in a game they think they can win, however with eight losses on the trot I am not sure they know how to and the Tigers will be good enough to escape from the pantry where the spoon is kept.


The Fyfedom (1.30) vs Cox-waning ($4.20)


Freo managed to take Nathan Fyfe off the table – I suspect there might be a few other clubs with extra dollars to spend now.  Great news for the Dockers before the Derby where West Coast get Big Cox back into the team but with questions on whether he may go the way of Darren Glass.  He would be a huge loss but they are one club that has some handy reserve rucking stocks.  This game used to be unpredictable but the evenness of Freo’s performances has stifled some of the emotional factor and invariably Freo wins – as they will again here.


The Reign is Over ($5.80) vs Boom Boom ($1.19)


The Lions need to work out life after JB – it won’t be easy but they must find a way.  They get to test themselves against a team with their own aging marvel, although one wonders whether Brent Harvey is actually Benjamin Button.  His capacity to run games out at high pace has not waned.  Some may say he gets plenty of cheap stats with lots of return handballs off the 1-2 play.  The difference is that Boomer is usually running forward and breaking lines where as other accumulators are running sideways.  I suspect he will get plenty of it over the Lions this week as his Roos should prove too strong, although at home Brisbane can produce so would happy if $6 could be available.


Bondi ($1.12) vs Harbour Champs ($9.20)


GWS got the chocolates in round one and have regained their form with victories over the Lions and the Blues.  There was much gnashing of teeth on the Lions as they put on a few shockers – but in reality they had injuries to critical players.  They now have a few of those back especially Mumford and Davis and they are playing very competitive footy as they did in Round 1.  Can they produce it again against their Eastern Suburbs rival?  I see no reason why not but the Swans are in better nick but and have Tippett, but will need to put up something better than the turgid display from last week.  The Swans should win, but GWS are more than fair value at the moment, I would have thought they are close to a $7 chance.


Subbed Out ($1.71) vs Crossed Out ($2.38)


A couple of really important outs for both teams – the Dogs lose their Super Sub in Gia and most importantly their skipper in Griffen but to balance that Melbourne lose a couple of their heart ‘n soul players in Daniel Cross and Jordie McKenzie.  But it doesn’t quite balance as Ryan Griffen is one the outstanding ball winners in the competition.  It should almost make this a 50-50 game, however the one factor that sways me to the Dogs is the Loungeroom factor and Melbourne’s horrendous record there.  By the same token they must have some chance and might be worth a shekel if we could squeeze $2.40 from the satchel swingers.


Back to the Goon ($3.35) vs I Know Nothing ($1.42)


Sergeant Shulz came to the fore last with eight majors – a great effort in these of spreading the scoring power.  He and his Port teammates take on their fierce rivals in the Crows whose supporters have been left reaching for cardboard boxes at their local botte shops this week after another loss on the road.  But Adelaide have also built a fortress at the Portress so both teams should be at the top of their games.  But Port have produced form on a more regular basis and for that reason are deserving of my selection and would wanted at least $3.50 on the Crows for any consideration.


Hawk’s Prey ($1.31) vs Giant Fodder ($4.20)


This is used to be a fixture that either side could win irrespective of their position on the ladder but the current plight and importantly skill level of the Blues will make this a very difficult task.  Inability to get the ball to a teammate has been an issue all year but exploded last week with handballs at the grass and kicks missing targets by metres – not sure Mighty Mick can fix that in a week.  The Pies faced their nemesis last week and performed credibly and on that form should account for Carlton.  The odds are a long way apart for this fixture, but I could not possibly entertain backing Carlton.


Friar Time


Another loss has the Friars in fight to stay in D1 and have a critical game against Old Mentone, they can ill afford the lapse of last week’s second quarter.  The Under 19 registered a sound win over the Caulfield but face stiffer opposition in Mazenod away, a great test for the lads.


Go Blues, Go Friars, Gone to ‘Nam


Cheers, Sal


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