Round 12: Sal’s thoughts and predictions

Greetings All,


I had the privilege to go and watch Rugby League’s finest at the State of Origin game at the MCG.  For the northern code – club comess second to these blockbusters.  The AFL ditched State of Origin at the behest of the clubs and the players who ruled themselves out of the games.  Supporters in general didn’t mind either and they were pretty keen to ensure their best players stayed fit and healthy.  Is it a time now to revisit?  The AFL talent is now spread thinly across the 18 clubs and we don’t see as many club-on-club blockbusters.  A week of the best on the best would be well worth it.


Play the games over a week and include an Under 21 competition to have more players involved.  Then everyone has the following week off, before the next part of the season kicks off thus removing the ridiculous bye after the final home and away round.  Ensure clubs and players are appropriately rewarded for their players’ participation.  Players being rewarded financially is simple: clubs could be rewarded in the same manner receiving so much for each player that participates – or what if clubs received a certain amount of salary cap relief based on the number of players selected to play in the games.  Some issues with advantages to the better teams, however, the league have so much more to do to resolve the current issues with balance and the salary cap.


We have seven games up for decision this week, let’s see which ones might be blockbusters.


Houston, we have a problem ($1.76) vs Left for Dust ($2.28)


The opener might just qualify as a blockbuster with Port taking on the Premiers in Adelaide.  Richmond will be tested without  superstar Dustin Martin, and although he has not been as dominant of late, his Tigers have still been very good.  The pressure from the Richmond attack could cause a few challenges for Dan Houston and his fellow defenders, by the same token the Port attack has the talent to challenge Rance and his fellow thespians.  Charlie Dixon will need to have one of his good game and really compete strongly.  Port will be smarting after coughing up the game last week to Hawthorn, Richmond will be keen to prove they are not dependent on Dusty.  At their best the Tigers win, however they have lost both games on the road this year and think they might chalk up the hat-trick.


Sun Downers ($1.48) vs To the Four? ($3.00)


After dishing out a good walloping to the Suns, Geelong host North in what could be a critical game for both teams chances of winning a top four position for the finals.  The Cats clicked last week albeit against ordinary opposition and North just keep on defying the footy world.  If the Roos can supply enough footy into Ben Brown they could get enough on the board to win, anything over $2.80 would be a handy proposition.  Geelong are back on their beloved boutique stadium and should win enough possession to take the critical four points.


They Might be ($1.09) vs Come what May ($11.00)


The franchises clash as they head in opposite directions.  The Giants served it up to Adelaide last week and showed they might just have the fight required to challenge this year – but a few things still need to go right.  The Suns shone early but have faded badly, their effort last week particularly poor given their first game in the mansion for the season.  Their injury list is getting nasty with Steven May going down for a few weeks.  No Coniglio hurts GWS but not enough to lose this one.


Paddy ($4.30) vs Tom ($1.27)


The McCartin boys face off with St Kilda hosting the Swans in the Loungeroom. Not much more on this one – Sydney will do enough to win.


Life without Charlie ($2.38) vs Tiger Tested ($1.71)


The Bombers showed promise, but went under the Tiger examination and came up short. The examination this week will not be quite as difficult, without discounting that the Lions at home have been very good.  If Essendon regain their intensity from the previous weeks they should win, consistency has not been a strong point in 2018.  The Lions will need to do it without Charlie Cameron as their injury list starts to build, yet they still have enough depth around the ball to win this.


Fyfed ($3.20) vs Lynched ($1.44)


Freo lose their lynchpin with Nat Fyfe being suspended while Adelaide lose their Lynch along with Laird to add to their injury woes.  Potentially partly offset if Taylor Walker has re-completed his pre-season.  Sandilands back helps Freo and they are back at home. The injuries seem to have caught up with the Crows over the last couple of weeks.  They were valiant against the Giants, yet just could not hold on. If they reproduce that level they will be good enough to beat Fremantle without Fyfe.


Unleveraged ($1.61) vs Unproven ($2.50)


Scott Pendlebury reckons the Pies don’t need to beat Melbourne to prove their credentials.  That is probably correct, but they can’t be blown of the paddock by them either. A win puts them fairly and squarely in the top four discussion.  For the Dees, the stakes are higher: a loss might not destroy credentials, but will put them back in the ruck. They also need to show they have the loss of Jake Lever covered.  His return to form has been a major factor in their surge; the best option as his replacement appears to be Jordan Lewis.  Like Jake, he can read the game well, is a great decision maker and has exquisite distribution skills – will be lacking in the aerial sector which is where the rest of the team will need to assist.  The two best ruckmen in the game go at it and will make it a ripper. Grundy’s around the ground exploits will test Max – even though he has his own set of tricks.  This is a genuine blockbuster and I have Melbourne selected in what is almost a flip of the coin game so the Pies represent great value.


Friar Time


Well – not really with the Ammos taking a break for the opening of ski season.  Back on the winners list last week with a hard fought win over the Unicorns, while seconds were no match for the Unicorn reserves who remain undefeated.  The Under 19s suffered the fate of most teams that travel to the Runway against PEGS, while the girls had a big win over De La Salle with other results conspiring to have them sitting atop of the ladder.


Go Blues (no), Go Friars (no), Going to Bonnie Doon,


Cheers, Sal


  1. Cats and Kangas; and the Monday Pies/Demons clash (last week was the WA public holiday) look worthwhile. Surprised how disinterested I am in AFL this week without my Eagles playing. Swan Districts v Claremont looks the go for me this week.
    Fox Footy’s replay of the last quarters of 4 seminal State of Origin games on Wednesday night was brilliant. Much better than whatever the no-necks were dishing up at the MCG. ’86 at Subiaco was fast running/marking footy at its best. Dermie at his strutting best, and Rioli and Narkle for WA. Sublime.
    Would love to see it back just for the reminder of what footy can be without the defensive mindset.
    Your ideas are worth exploring and I agree with you about the proliferation of mundane games. But the injury risk (eg Tony Hall’s career ending knee from a Hawthorn team mates tackle in the MCG mud) means clubs and coaches will never allow it. Malthouse ensured nearly all the Eagles broke out in life threatening carbuncles or bedsores on the eve of SOO games.
    I reckon the way free agency has favoured the stronger clubs needs to be reviewed and compensations made. Onya Sal – the thinking man’s tipster.

  2. MGLFerguson says

    [i]”…Would love to see it back just for the reminder of what footy can be without the defensive mindset….”[/i]

    It’s interesting (to me at least) that my reaction to watching those State of Origin last quarters was pretty much the opposite, bearing in mind that I am somebody from the other side of the world who came to the game late in life: I was really taken aback at how virtually no organized defense was played, even taking into account that these were all-star games – though it was really clear how much commitment to the game there was from all of the participants. It appeared (again, constrained by the blinkered view that is what one gets through the TV camera lens) that everything was simple man-to-man. Even over here, I had heard of the term “aerial ping-pong” used as a disparagement of Australian football; I still think it’s unjust, but watching the 80s and 90s State of Origin quarters gave me my first glimmer of understanding of what people are about when they say that.

    The contrast with the Port/Richmond game this morning (for me, last night for you) was really striking, and I confess to having found the latter much more compelling viewing. When there are so many numbers around the ball, breaking out of congestion (in either direction: turnovers are deadly) tends to produce an exhilarating sprint down the field. Today’s game – at least, a good one: “congestion” and “rolling maul” are not synonymous to me – is emotionally more like watching a soccer game with its buildup of tension and the magnificent release of a goal being scored.

    The other thing that really stood out for me about those older games is how much better the set-shot kicking for goal was. Even accounting for the fact that it was the best of the best playing in those games, it was really clear that kicking skills have suffered.

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