Round 10 – Preview: The road from purgatory

purgatory

noun

  1. (mainly RC Church) a state or place in which the souls of those who have died in a state of grace are believed to undergo a limited amount of suffering to expiate their venial sins and become purified of the remaining effects of mortal sin
  2. a place or condition of suffering or torment, especially one that is temporary

Greetings All,

Not sure that the church’s definition is completely apt in the footy sense, but the alternative is certainly alive and well in the AFL.  Also known as the Twilight Zone – it is that period of time when clubs delude themselves of being in or close to contention.  There are teams that have risen above, the likes of Hawthorn, Sydney, Fremantle and Port are all confident that they can challenge for a premiership and have the cattle to get there.  Certainly some questions about Port and even Hawthorn, but by and large most pundits rate these teams.  For the remainder the questions are not for the pundits but for clubs themselves to recognise when they are in footy purgatory and make plans to step up.

The glaring case is the Blues who failed to recognise that they were short of the top echelon in 2011 and have taken till now to start taking their medicine, it is a temporary state but the Blues certainly have extended their time there.  The Cats also provide an interesting case study – they seem firmly of the belief that they do not need to bottom out to rise again.  Are the likes of Murdoch, Cockatoo, Duncan, Blicavs etc good enough to compete at the level we saw from Johnson, Ablett, Bartel, Scarlett?  A look at the teams at the top of tree says that they have it wrong, aside from Sydney the other three all did their time at the foot of the table and picked up the cream of the crop.  Sydney have utilised their salary cap advantages most judiciously and maintain a very strong competitive culture.

The Pies and West Coast have been the beneficiaries of the fixture so far in 2015.  Are they in purgatory?  These clubs along with GWS and maybe the Bulldogs are on the way up and would hope to be challenging for glory in the next couple of years.  They won’t all make it as contenders – the challenge will be recognising when they can’t get there.  Nathan Buckley copped a bit as Collingwood seasons have fallen away lately, but he was always playing the long game and might have them on the right trajectory.

As an aside is this first time ever when both coaches from one game are out injured the next?

Adelaide, Richmond and North appear in denial to me, they are good teams on their day but lack the consistency and polish to consistently match it with the best, not averse to delivering “an absolute shocker” also.  North have tried to fill holes with the likes of Dal Santo, Waite and Higgins – but they haven’t addressed their biggest weakness down back.  Compare that to Hawthorn who have targeted specific areas on an annual basis that has netted Gunston, Gibson, Lake, McEvoy and Frawley.

The remainder have all hopefully recognised where their lists are.  They should get the cream of the draft, but that alone will not get them up the table.  These clubs need to set standards that are adhered to on and off the field and provide an environment that not only nurtures young players but also becomes an attractive proposition for free agents and players coming off contract.

The first couple of games this weekend have hot favourites, but a number of the other games are the proverbial eight point games.

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Freo ($1.20, but $2 special offer at Ladbrokes) vs Dreamweavers ($5.20)

The Tigers will have a tougher dream up against the all-conquering Dockers.  They had a tough game in Adelaide and may have been slightly suspect in the wet but still did enough.  A sign of a good team – that struggles but still wins.  The Tigers have won their last two at Subi, but both were against the other tenants.  Their last victory over Freo here was in 2009, not thinking the record is going to improve.

Kruezing ($4.20) vs Roring Along ($1.25)

Matthew Kruezer returns for the Blues with the state of their season it should be in baby steps.  Heartening to sees standards being enforced with Yarran’s lackadaisical attitude to punctuality being punished – time for on field standards to be enforced, some punishment for not putting your body on the line when it is required.  Murphy and Judd add to the mix, but Rory back is a big plus for Adelaide.  Expect the Blues to take another step forward, but not enough to get over the Crows.

Two Pots Please ($13.50) vs Jolly Goodes Show ($1.07)

Adam takes his message to the Gold Coast, but the Suns need a few other messages.  They will get a lesson in discipline and work rate from the Swans.

Back to the Portress ($1.28) vs The Drinks are Back on ($4.30)

Port are back on the winners list as are Luke Beveridge’s Dogs, this will be a great test for both teams.  In particular Port who really need to win this if they are genuinely in the window as suggested in the opening salvo.  A loss and they drop to 4-6, it will be time for the purgatory question?  A win for the Dogs really sets them up, but a bad loss will expose the inconsistency they need to remove from their game to seriously push up the ladder.  Port in a close one.

Welcome to my Nightmare ($2.20) vs Any more lives? ($1.80)

The Bombers need to get their dream alive again, but the loss of Fletcher and Watson is troubling.  The Cats lose Clark who is important in their structure especially if the Blicavs/Stanley combination is struggling.  A really tough game to pick, the Geelong defence at their best can contain most attacks but it can be shaky.  Bellchambers will be the best ruckman on the ground but is it enough to swing it for the Bombers.  Tomahawk looks frightening for the Bomber defence.  Picking the Dons but mostly on the 6 day turnaround factor for Geelong.

Dog Food ($1.12) vs Snack Time ($8.50)

The Giants might have swallowed a bit too much of their own bathwater as the Dogs feasted on them last week, meanwhile anyone driving on the Gabba should keep their windows closed!  But there are a few too many wounded Lions as now not only is structure challenged but talent is thinner.  Giants to prevail.

Hobart ($2.20) vs Soaring ($1.67)

The High Flying Eagles travel to Hobart to face the Roos, enough has been said of their coaches spine operation and the teams backbone.  But they will need to show a bit and maybe the fabled spirit might return.  The Eagles midfield is firing and have taken on anything put in front of them.  Both these teams will not appreciate the anticipated wet conditions, expecting North to throw everything at this one to get across the line but a very tough game to predict.

The Aspirants ($13.00) vs The Benchmark ($1.07)

St Kilda are progressing nicely, a big test against The Hawks this week.  Quite a few years behind them still and will be quite a few goals behind them at the end of this one.

HR Infraction ($4.20) vs Great Dane ($1.25)

If Mick was concerned about the Carlton players with the rebuild talk then the Demons must be in panic after Paul Roos’ HR gaffe.  Hogwash, if Melbourne (and Carlton) players don’t know they are under the pump they are clearly delusional, they test themselves against the Pies.  Again last week we saw the genius of Dane Swan, does not have all physical attributes but can just play footy.  Could he play the Leigh Matthews role up forward for the next couple of years?  Or has the game changed too much?  Anyway the Pies will win.

Friar Time

The Seniors overcame a sluggish start to hand out a solid victory over Old Mentonians, but the Under 19s were jumped early by Old Brighton and were unable to make any further impact.  No games this week as the Ammos take to the slopes for the Queen’s Birthday – radios tuned to the Coodabeens at 10:00am for their annual ritual playing Snow Complications.

Go Blues, Go Skiing,

Cheers, Sal

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