Greetings sports fans. At last the day, er, night has dawned. Round one is finally upon us so it’s time to finalise our fantasy sides, dust the mothballs off the scarf and beanie and suit up for another year of footy action. This year’s NABasketball competition has proven to be more inconclusive than ever and picking an upset this week might prove to be a difficult task.

Richmond v. Carlton The G

Despite what you may of heard the Tigers and the Blues will actually accompany Ben Cousins and Chris Judd respectively in the season opener. Both sides have leaped ahead of St Kilda as the ‘Summer hype’ specials this year and one of them is going into round two with a donut in the W column. Despite the fact that the Blues have several players underdone and are missing Nick Stevens I reckon it might be the Tigers who get done in this one. Despite all the hype at Tigerland this team still misses targets regularly and I have witnessed more improvement in Carlton from the football I have seen from them so far. So I am going against my traditional Blues bashing stance and I’m going to stick my neck out and select Carlton to win by 11 points.

Geelong v. Hawthorn The G

The Hawks go in severely underdone in this match and with the Cats chomping at the bit they will never get a better chance to put one over their bogey side the Hawks. The Cats would be up for this match regardless of who they played but to play against a team that has owned Geelong for many years first up is a gift from the footy gods. The Cats have won games in first gear in the pre-season but they seemed to move up a gear against the Pies. Expect them to move into third gear and run away from the Hawks in the end. Don’t expect cagey Hawk coach Al Clarkson to show Bomber any cards this early on. Cats to win this match, although revenge is a word that cannot be uttered until September. Geelong by 27 points.

Collingwood v. Adelaide The G

Expect the G to be filled for the third time in three days when the Pies host the Crows on Saturday. In recent clashes between the sides Adelaide have struggled to kick a winning score and with no Burton or Porplyzia this once again looks beyond them. With Presti looking pretty good in the central defender’s role and with a good pre-season behind them, the Pies look poised to open their account against a side that I believe can still make the eight this season. If this match was at the Dome I’d be a little more keen on the Fruit Tingles but at the G this one is all black and white. With Rutten unavailable I would expect Trav Cloke to have a significant impact on the game. It’s a Collingwood win by 23 points. Lock it in Eddie.

Brisbane v. West Coast The Gabba

Some people have been bullish on the Lions but I can’t have them as a contender this year and despite the home ground advantage I see a much closer match here than many expect. The Eagles are a proud side and will enjoy flying under the radar. The Eagles have the best ruckman in the game in Dean Cox and the Lion midfield is only slightly ahead and that’s if Simon Black plays. The Lions should salute but neither of these sides are Kings of the jungle anymore. Some are tipping a flogging but I reckon there’s another game where that is coming from and it’s not at the Gabbatoir. This will be a Brisbane win by 15 points in a match that might provide more questions than answers for Football fans.

St Kilda v. Sydney Whatiscalledthisyear Dome

Sydney are a sneaky chance to snaffle the points here with the Saints backline looking a little unsettled. Journeyman Zac Dawson has been given another shot but it would be a brave move by Rossy Lyon to shift him onto a fresh Bazza Hall at a ground where forwards can really prosper. The Swans however might not be able to take advantage of St Kilda’s personel problems as they have thier own issues down back. The loss of Kennelly, Barry and Nic Fosdike has exposed an underdeveloped Sydney list. Roos will pay the price for his loyalty to his seasoned core of veterans as the next generation doesn’t look ready yet. St Kilda should be too strong in this one and win by 20 points.

Melbourne v. North The G

When will the Demons ever get a break? With a lot of injures with their smaller defenders there would be two sides they wouldn’t want to play and North would be top of the list (with Port being the other). Guys like Thomas, Campbell and Harvey will all cause the Demons enormous problems with their zip and Bailey will be forced to use inexperienced options in the backline or risk going tall. At full strength I believe that the Dees are a chance against the Roos but at the moment they are too unsettled and I reckon the smaller Roos will hop over the Demons with a comfortable first up win. Roos by 61 points.

Port v. Essendon Football Park

There’s no secret that I rate Port to be this year’s big improvers just as much as I find Essendon amusing comic relief in an increasingly serious football world. With the Power’s top players going into the mechanics during the last few months of 2008 and coming off a season with a truly atrocious home record, the Power will not get a better chance to serve notice to the AFL that they are contenders with a thumping home win against the Dons. Expect the improvment to come from seasoned players Cornes, Salopek and Pearce as well as Westhoff and Gray up front to kick the extra goals. Like the Cats, the Power are on a mission: to win back the hearts of their supporters. Tanking is frowned upon by the Alberton faithful and the Port ethos will return in no uncertain manner this season. Port to turn the Power back on with a 68 point win.

Fremantle v. Western Bulldogs Subi

The bookies have Freo favourites but for the life of me I can’t work out why. Even though the Dockers are at home I reckon their coach is a bit clueless and that when he has his balls in his hands he loses count. During the pre-season it appears he has resorted to throwing the names up and just playing wherever they land on the magnetic board. The Freo list is short on class and I reckon it will be a long season anchored near the bottom of the ladder. While the Dockers are capable of playing periods of excellent football the young team will have difficulty sustaining it, and certainly won’t sustain it long enough to defeat the Western Bulldogs who have shown in the past they enjoy the space at Subi. The Dogs will be barking with a 29 point win.

So there you have it. I’ve selected Carlton. I feel so…..UNCLEAN. Unfortunately the odds on a Tiger win aren’t all that attractive so not much cash to be made after I put the kiss of death on the Blues. If you are a betting man you could do worse than plonk some coin on the Dogs or on the Power over 39. Just don’t blame me if you don’t collect ha ha.

Stay tuned for REB’s Game of the week report which will be Geelong v Hawthorn. Apparently they played off in the Grand Final last year…..or so they tell me.

Good luck to your team unless you are a Hawthorn supporter.