Greetings viewers. Back to my normal form last week, selecting the top heavy Roos in the wet and getting sucked in by both Port and the Crows as was pointed out to me after I wrote my preseason prediction. Some excellent encounters coming up this weekend and it all starts with the blockbuster between the Cats and one of their few bogey teams Collingwood….
Geelong vs. Collingwood The G
I’ve seen a lot of people selecting the Cats for this one but I don’t see us getting up tonight. The Pies have been played back into form by the Demons and the Cats have started to cop a few injuries. Ottens out is a massive blow at a time when Josh Fraser seems to be in pretty good nick. The Cats also had Harry Taylor and Max Rooke looking worse for wear and there have been whispers about Gary Ablett not playing as well as Joel Selwood if you believe all the rumours. The Cats look ripe to beaten for mine and if the Pies come out of the blocks quickly the Cats won’t be able to bridge the gap. With the Cats looking a touch wobbly, the Pies will be looking to add the Catter notch to their belts one more time. Collingwood by 16 points.
St Kilda vs. West Coast The Dome
The Saints have had an understated lead in to the year as opposed to the at times hsysterical overrating of this team of previous seasons. However this year, with Dal Santo in top form and Kosi going even better and with the inclusion of a fit Goddard and Baker the Saints are starting to once again gather plaudits. I have read recently that ‘St Kilda are the best side in it’. If any Saints fan read that line they might have groaned inwardly as this is the sort of statement that usually accompanies a string of injuries. Like Collingwood St Kilda go better as the underdog. That is not what they will be this week against an improved West Coast this weekend though. The Eagles have surprised many East of the border with their start to the season but you can guarantee that Ross the boss would have done his homework. The Saints rucks look formidable with King and Gardiner playing well enough to relase Kosi to the forward lines. With plan A in place for the Saints, they should go on to record their third win of the year with a 41 point victory.
Brisbane vs. Sydney The Gabba
In recent years the Swans have proven to be the immovable object as far as the Lions are concerned. Brisbane has not beaten the Swans for five years but this week could be the game where the Lions get one back on their bogey side. The Swans were impressive last week but you have to consider the massive list of outs that the Hawks had. I can’t see Sydney scoring 22 goals at the Gabba tonight. The Lions have suffered a loss though in that Jamie Charman will not suit up so Darren Jolly might have another big match for the bloods. I think that the Lions can turn the tables due to the disruption of the Swans back half with Leo Barry and Tagdh Kennelly not being available. Trying to find match ups for Brown and Bradshaw will prove to be a challenge for coach Roos and I’m not convinced about the fitness of spearhead Barry Hall. The Lions will put the bite on the Swannies with an 11 point win at home.
Carlton vs. Essendon The G
Essendon have a good recent record against Carlton but it won’t count for much tonight. I expect the Carlton midfield to dominate in this match and with the return of Nick Stevens there is another willing helper in the Bluebaggers’ engine room. The Bombers will turn on the afterburners at times tonight but won’t be able to play enough good football to keep pace with the Blues who are currently enjoying the view at the top of the ladder. I expect a much improved performance from David Hille who has had to face Aaron Sandilands Dean Brogan and Brendon Lade so far this season but I don’t think players such as Stanton and Watson can match the output of Judd, Gibbs and Murphy. Carlton to remain unbeaten with a 31 point win.
Port vs. Melbourne Football Park
A red faced Port Adelaide will take out their frustrations by pounding the Demons at home. Melbourne hasn’t won in South Australia in its past 12 starts and go in without skipper McDonald who pulled out this morning. Despite the improvement in the red and blue, there is still too much improvement ahead of this group to envisage a victory against a side wanting to hit back after last weeks poor performance. The Power have lost Justin Westhoff to injury but their forward line still looks a lot better than Melbournes at the moment. With more motivation and on familiar territory, expect the Power to hit back with a 56 point victory.
North Melbourne vs. Hawthorn The Dome
Hawthorn have started the road back by welcoming back Travis Tuck and Stephen Gillham but still the back half looks a worry without Trent Croad. The Hawks won’t be as bad as they were last week but when several players come back in at once a side can fall away towards the end of the game. The Roos went in top heavy in the wet last week against one of the fastest teams in the comp and paid the price. The Roos left out the giant Goldstein and have recalled Corey Jones who will be pretty keen to make his mark against the Hawks as he has done successfully in the past. I expect an improved effort from a desperate Hawthorn but I think the Roos can hold them out. Kangaroos by 15 points.
Fremantle vs. Adelaide Subiaco
Fremantle would have to improve to become below average. The kicking skills have been terrible and there doesn’t appear to be enough senior players on board to guide the promising youngsters. To be beaten so easily by an undermanned Essendon last week is a damming indictment of where this club currently sits. However, this week I reckon the Dockers will come out to play. The Crows were tackled into submisision by the Saints last week so it will be interesting to see the level of pressure the Dockers apply to the visitors. I reckon the Crows will get up in this match as they have too much class for the home side even if the Crow forward line doesn’t look all that threatening. Adelaide to win another on the road with a 9 point win at Subi.
Western Bulldogs vs. Richmond
People sure do like talking up the Tigers. Apparently they played well last week, well enough to knock off the Bulldogs. No way, I’m not buying it. If the Bulldogs lose their Ruckman in the first quarter and have three hurt players on the bench in the last quarter they might be able to lose by 20 points. For the life of me I can’t figure out the Tiger love. Richo and Nathan Brown and Deledio are quality players but after that the list of gun players looks a bit light on. The Bulldogs have been methodical this season and have beaten a top eight side as well as racking up an away victory in Perth. It will take a better side than Richmond to bring them undone. Dogs by 33 points.
Off to a flyer with the Pies although most of these games look fairly straight foward. The Lions v Sydney game is the toughest to pick with the Swannies traditionaly owning Brisbane. The Hawks will give plenty of cheek but the Roos normally play quite well against them. The selection of Jones could prove to be a master stroke.