AFL Round 16 – Preview: Explain to me the Maths of getting beaten time and time again but remaining the best team in the competition

JTH has a look at Round 16.

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About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. Should they meet in the finals, as I see it, all the pressure will be on Geelong. Lose that and who cares about 11 straight loses in the home and away.

  2. Peter Flynn says

    Hawthorn will start favourite in the next encounter.

  3. Rick Kane says

    Several things, if I may.

    Can I make a slight adjustment to the first sentence concerning the Cats and Hawks? Your sentence reads: The Cats were just too good again – to make it eleven in a row. I would suggest the more historically accurate sentence would read: The Cats were too good again, just – to make it eleven in a row.

    Second, you seem to confuse the notion of the public with whatever the collective noun is for people who gamble. And your assertion that in the public imagination Hawthorn has always been regarded as the better side probably needs a context or time reference. I reckon your premise is slippery if you are referring to the last 8 years. If you are referring to the last 50 years then I’d probably agree. In current times (I would think) the Cats would well and truly be regarded as the better team (in fact the best team) in the public imagination (not to be confused with the punting fraternity). The Cats have been the yard stick of the comp in recent years, as Brisbane was before them and so on.

    That you scratch your head about punter’s logic re the Hawks probably says as much as anything to non-punters about punting and about logic as you could say. It also reminds us why the best person to be in the punting equation is the bookmaker. As with Insurance companies (which is, in a perverse way, gambling – we bet the insurance company that we will get hurt and they hold the odds against it happening), so the betting house is usually located in a much better part of town than where most punters reside.

    Finally, can I question your inference that the Cats dominated the match (nicely packing the inference into your description of the first quarter). Of course Clarko went defensive. That’s coaching 101. What followed is worth unpacking for the next time they meet. The Hawks clawed their way back into the game and then wrestled control from the Cats. The Hawks didn’t gain control (unfrickinfortunately) but they did turn it into a battle that a lesser side could not have done.

    Whatever has been the case about previous games between the two great sides this time around the Hawks were rightly favourites. Now that the Cats have beaten the Hawks twice this year (and 11 times in a row) it has opened up the odds on who will be top of the ladder. There is no clear favourite but I would suspect in 7 weeks time the odds will be with the Cats, Swannies and Hawks.

    Cheers, from a still upset Hawker

  4. G’day Rick, I didn’t think my fish’n’chips wrapper (parochial)column would ever stimulate such rational thought.

    Good point re the public imagination and the imagination of punters.

    I don’t like insurance. The Handicapper does.

    The Cats were ‘too good again, just,’ is a very sensible way of looking at the Geelong-Hawthorn situation, especially given the last 11 results.

    The Cats dominated the first quarter when the game was quite open. The Cats kicked 1.13 thereafter. The Hawks nearly pinched it.

  5. By the way, a quick survey at the Brian Matthews dinner last night resulted on an almost unanimous view that the Hawks are the best side in 2013.

  6. Rick Kane says

    Trying to rationalise the game on Saturday night was the last thing I had going as I watched the Hawks get trapped by yet another great Cats game. It didn’t work by the way. In the last, when your lot hit a 33 point lead I really thought we were in for a dakking. Then we come alive. WTF? You can’t rationalise that.

    I think the Hawks have been the standout side in 2013 (by a whisker). And, of course, every team can be beaten on the day. But the Hawks must be able to beat the Cats to get to the GF and so far …

    What the next seven to ten week will tell is who can consistently win and who is improving as the season goes on. In that sense, I think the Cats are developing nicely, as are the Swans. I fret that the Hawks may have peaked too early.

    The most telling stat to me was the difference in marks up until half time. The Cats had doubled the Hawks, suggesting they had the ball. Little by little we worried the ball out of the Cats grasp. In the end it was too little, too late.

    Anyway, onward we go. Cheers

  7. Lindsay Symons says

    I don’t know about other Cats tragics out there, but for me the scars of the ’80s (especially ’89), ’90s and 2008 run deep, so whenever the Cats take on the Hawks the Hawks ALWAYS start favourites in my book. I would also agree that Hawthorn has been the best team so far this season. The miracle of the last 11 outings is that the Cats won any of them, let alone the lot. So the joy that comes from our boys beating the nemesis is unbounded. And getting up Jeff’s nose is a bonus.

    So I have very mixed feelings about the possibility of meeting Hawthorn in the GF. Fortunately, the non-human universe is a pretty rational place and my damaged psyche clearly has zero influence on the Geelong players.

  8. David Zampatti says

    The mists must be bad on the Nullarbor this year, Harmsy, because there’s not much clarity getting through to the Pacific coast. Time you visited.

    Fair crack, how can the derby be the game of the round? 5th (really equal 3rd) playing 9th (and that only by courtesy of wins – some very dicey – against 10th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th). Freo, with only three of their top 22 out, against a team missing nine or ten of theirs. Admittedly McPharlin is a big loss, but the Eagles list is looking like someone at St Kilda told them it wasn’t worth taking a full squad all the way to Subi Oval just to get pantsed, and the Eegs forgot they were already there. No Hurn or Waters makes stopping Mayne, Walters, Ballantyne and now Pavlich tough, and even tougher rebounding if West Coast get the ball in defence. Sure Kennedy, LeCras, Hill and Darling are a danger, but they’ve got to get it first, and that will be a problem with pressure coming down the ground and Ibbotson, Johnson, Spurr and Clancee Pearce the league’s premiere intercept squad.
    But it’s the middle where the wreckage will be done. Sandilands looked rusty and ponderous last week, but he’ll be better (and he’s always been more than a match for the Eagles battery), and Clarke is now a bona fide ruckman. Cox, in his ungraceful career twilight, is now pretty much reduced to waving his arms around hoping to catch the umpires’ attention, while Naitanui has become West Coast’s promotions department and is starting to look a bit Fijian here and there.
    Around the battery, Mundy, Barlow, Fyfe, Crowley, Hill, Mzungu, De Boer and Suban will, frankly, slaughter a crippled Eagles midfield with only Priddis and a bunch of hacks who are only stars in The West Australian.
    There’ll be no salvation from the home crowd either, because most of them will have left by 3/4 time, and those who remain will have quietly slipped on their Dockers scarf (“we barrack for both our WA teams…”) or be booing their own players.
    So c’mon. This isn’t an 11-point game. This is human sacrifice. Freo by miles.

  9. David – I’ll see that spray – and raise you.
    I promise to be there in blue and gold screaming abuse at Ballantyne to the very end.
    Yours in enmity,
    PB (Is Ashton Agar the skinny younger brother of Nat Fyfe? He is the only Docker I enjoy watching.)

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