The previews below are written by

The Previews will be a bit disjointed this week and will come in dribs and drabs since I have had little time to do them today however I hope that you get something out of them.

Friday 20 July

Geelong v Western Bulldogs
Telstra Dome @ 7:40pm

So the team with a history of bringing long sequences to an end is playing against the team with the longest current sequence. It has to be said that back when Footscray did bring both Carlton and Essendon to their respective knees in 2000, it had a different coach and many different players so there is little relevance to this statistic but the medja want you to believe differently.

The Cats are going along very nicely thank you very much. They haven’t won 11 in a row since before WWII apparently and they are on the cusp of greatness – at least down in Geelong. After the recent confirmation of mass sackings at Ford, the Football Club could well be the catalyst for a ‘footy-led-recovery”. Mind you it has taken Geelong many years to recover from the Pyramid fiasco and the Ford Follies will only serve to turn ‘sleepy hollow’ into a “snoozers hamlet” in a few years. Enough of the economic commentary Explosion, this is footy!

Footscray could be anything. Inconsistency is never easy to deal with
either as a player, a club or a supporter because you knew know what you’re gonna get. (Sorry to invoke bad memories of Forrest Gump to those old enough to remember it). Up one week and down the next has been a curse on the Doggies season and it seems unlikely that it will improve markedly this week.

This game will be a high quality contest between two very good sides IF Footscray comes focussed on doing its job properly. Just a few players not being at the top of their game will make life very tough for the Doggies to win, and the spray served upon some individual players by Rocket last week should still have enough venom in it to have these blokes really concentration on the task at hand.

West is back for the Doggies and slots straight back into the guts. His battle for control of the clearances with Bartel will be go a long way towards providing the ultimate victor. I wouldn’t imagine either will be tagged as both are free flowing players and their respective coaches will trust them to do what they do best and that is get the ball. How they use it however will be interesting. West likes to dish it off to his runners a lot, so the impetus will be Cooney, Boyd, Eagleton, Aker and Gilbee to get enough space from their direct opponents and provide running options. It won’t be easy against Ling, Wojcinski, Corey and Selwood. Speaking of Selwood – how good is he. Give him the Rising Star award right now because no-one, not even Pendlebury, deserves it as much. Ling should run with Cooney as a tagging option but this will probably be the only set match-up of the midfield rotations as both teams like to run and find space. Other possible cominations throughout the course of the night will be Corey on Higgins, Hargrave on Chapman, Hunt on Akermanis, and Mackie on Giansiracusa. With the amount of rotations in this day and age, specific match-ups don’t go the whole game anyway so it is highly irrelevant. What is relevant is what alternative plans each coach has if an opponent does the job on their man. Both are astute coaches and will have many supplementary plans ready.

At the end of the night however, I can see Footscray causing an upset to win by 8 points.

Backs: Milburn Scarlett Enright
Half-backs: Mackie Egan Harley
Centres: Corey Bartel Wojcinski
Half-forwards: Chapman Mooney Selwood
Forwards: S Johnson Hawkins Stokes
Followers: Ottens Ling Rover: G Ablett
Interchange: Blake Kelly Hunt Byrnes
Emergencies: D Johnson King Varcoe

Western Bulldogs
Backs: McMahon Harris Morris
Half-backs: Gilbee Williams Hargrave
Centres: Higgins West Akermanis
Half-forwards: Giansiracusa Johnson Hahn
Forwards: Eagleton Darcy Robbins
Followers: Street Cooney Rover: Boyd
Interchange: Everitt Harbrow Murphy Ray
Emergencies: Addison Skipper Wight

Saturday 21 July

Collingwood v Essendon
M.C.G @ 2:10pm

In all honesty there are only 3 groups of people who have any interest in these games between Collingwood and Essendon – those being Collingwood supporters, Essendon supporters and the AFL (plus catering groups) which is greedily rubbing their hands together at the amount of money that will fill its coffers from the zillions of supporters who attend the MCG. The huge crowd promises to be a boon for them all.

On the field is where it is all important and what the throng is going to see. (They certainly aren’t going for warm beer, cold pies, and overpriced buckets of chips!!!) Two huge clubs in a very important game that has the potential to spell the end of 2007 for one of them. Essendon is struggling a bit just at the moment. It has played some great footy over the course of the year but with some young under-developed legs and some important injuries from its bigger name players, it may just be running out of steam at the important part of the year.

Collingwood on the other hand seems to go from strength to strength. Whilst it has dropped a few games that it may have been expected to win, Malthouse cannot be overly disappointed with sitting 9-6 at this stage of the season. Maybe his young players are beginning to feel the strain a little as well and without great leadership from his top-line players, there may be a propensity to drop away coming into the end of the year.

Sheedy will be pleased Fletcher is back after suspension in order to provide some much needed stability down back. What was he thinking having Mal Michael upforward last week? Like his recruitment of Mal in the first place, it sadly backfired and was a pointless attempt to stop the haemorraghing down there. Mal will be needed down back again tonight to match up on Rocca. Now there would be a contest as exciting as watching a glacier move. It’s not entirely out of the question to suggest that NUTS Rocca is hanging onto his career by a thread and he should at least relish the opportunity to play on Mal and get a few touches. Collingwood has Presti slowly making his return to footy and this is another game that will strengthen their backline. He will probably play on Lucas from very early in the game (if not the start).

The big danger man for Collingwood seems to be Cloke who is getting a lot of the ball at the moment and even his wayward kicking has improved significantly in recent weeks. This is probably the week he will come out and kick 1 goal 5 from 12 shots and all his good work over the past few games will be undone in one fell swoop. McPhee should take him and should be able to get his hands on the ball a little on the rebound. McPhee has been disappointing this year. He started pretty well but is just going as a good ordinary player at the moment and needs to find some form and confidence. As a surprise move, he may even start up forward (as Welsh did a few weeks ago) and Lovett-Murray will take Cloke.

Essendon will only win this game if its under-rated players play beyond their capabilities and that is guys like Monfries, Dyson, Hislop, Nash and to an extent Lovett-Murray. When you consider that similary experienced Collingwood players are Goldsack, O’Brien, Thomas, Clarke, and Pendlebu
ry, well you would like the odd’s that the Collingwood boys are “better” than their Bombre counterparts. There is a lot riding on this game so Essendon should come out focused and firing for their coach who is on his last legs and waiting for the death-knell whilst Collingwood is looking at playing finals for its skipper. For that reason, Collingwood should win by 3 goals.


Backs: Johnson Wakelin O’Brien
Half-backs: H Shaw Goldsack Maxwell
Centres: Clarke Burns Licuria
Half-forwards: Thomas Cloke Davis
Forwards: Didak Rocca Lockyer
Followers: Fraser O’Bree Rover: Swan
Interchange: Richards Lonie Pendlebury Prestigiacomo
Emergencies: Dick Cox Iles

Backs: Nash Michael Slattery
Half-backs: Fletcher Welsh McPhee
Centres: Ramanauskas McVeigh Peverill
Half-forwards: Hislop Lloyd M Johnson
Forwards: Lucas Lovett Hille
Followers: Ryder Watson Rover: Stanton
Interchange: Dyson Laycock Monfries Lovett-Murray
Emergencies: J Johnson Bolton Bradley

Adelaide v Fremantle
AAMI Stadium @ 2:40pm
Turmoil!! Pandemonium!! Nihilism!! Disorder!! Maelstrom!! Bedlam!! Whichever synonym you wish to use, the result all adds up to one thing and that is the image projected at me when I searched for a list to use in my descriptions. That image is an anchor. And the anchor, as we know, is representative of the Fremantle Football Club.

Firstly it was Sticky Thornton missing a simple shot in the final minute of last weeks game against North, then it was Chris Connolly walking the plank a few days later, quickly followed by even more trouble from the labourious Jeff Farmer, and culminating in Mark Harvey taking an eternity to decide if he wanted to take over as care-taker coach. It’s a bit of an understatement to say that ‘not is all rosey down there at Fremantle” The game is what is important here though. Just how will the Freo players react to the sacking/resignation of their former coach. If they are professional, they will forget about it and, for 3 hours on Saturday afternoon at least, will concentrate on the message being delivered by a different bloke.

In all honesty, not a lot will change. The message will be pretty much the same and the same blokes will be delivering it in their smaller groups. The main voice of Mark Harvey will really only be heard for about 15 minutes during the whole day. These players don’t owe Chris Connolly anything. However they do owe themselves something and that begins with a bit of pride and self-respect. The ONLY way to get it back is to play to their optimal potential, whether they win the game or not. They owe their supporters, sponsors and club a bit of a reality check and to somehow get back to playing the sort of football that they know they CAN play.

Adelaide would be hurting after last weeks result. After seemingly being in control 1/2 way through the second term, St. Kilda flicked a switch and Adelaide just couldn’t go with them in the end. It is a loss that can have more serious repurcussions in the long run than just losing the 4 points. Finals, percentage and even a home final are very much up for grabs and clubs need to be thinking about these things now instead of rounds 21 and 22.

Riccuito and Rutten are both big losses at each end of the ground which means that Bock will have to go back onto Pavlich and Stevens will have to pick up Tarrant. If ever there was a chance for Freo to hit Adelaide hard without two of it’s biggest guns, this is it. The key to this game could well be Brett Burton who slowly seems to be gaining confidence and self-assurance after returning from injury a few weeks ago. With a spark from the Birdman, Adelaide could turn on a scoring display up forward so expect Mundy to take him from the start. IF he gets on top of Mundy (who is not playing as well as he can), then Dodd should take him. Grover on Perrie also looms as a good match-up because Perrie is one of those players who is flashy and has an impact rather than a reliable, consistent performer.

We all know that Pav and Taz are the keys to the Dockers however if they are to win then I think Michael Johnson will have a huge say in it. whilst he looks ungainly in his kicking style (how does he hold the ball like that and kick it?) he has the ability to run the lines and give good delivery to the big name forwards. He may be a good match-up for Burton if the need arises however Harvey is more likely to use him in an attacking manner. Knights or van Berlo will need to be accountable. Speaking of Knights, how has this bloke gotten under everyone’s radar. He has received very little press here in Victoria and he is a quality player. Look out for him to feature in many discussions about the All-Australian Team at the end of the year. In fact he is so damaging that Freo will probably use M. Carr to tag him and disrupt him in Carr’s inimitable fashion. Adelaide has too much riding on this game and should win by 20-odd points.


Backs: Johncock Stevens Massie
Half-backs: McLeod Bock Torney
Centres: van Berlo Goodwin Knights
Half-forwards: Burton Perrie Reilly
Forwards: Welsh McGregor Douglas
Followers: Hudson Edwards Rover: Thompson
Interchange: Doughty Shirley Maric Mattner
Emergencies: Gill Jericho Campbell

Backs: Hayden McPharlin Thornton
Half-backs: Mundy Grover Dodd
Centres: M Carr J Carr Johnson
Half-forwards: Solomon Pavlich Crowley
Forwards: Drum Tarrant Black
Followers: Warnock Headland Rover: Bell
Interchange: Duffield Gilmore Hasleby McManus
Emergencies: Cook Haddrill Schammer

Saturday 21 July

West Coast v Sydney Swans
Subiaco @ 5:40pm

Whilst all the medja are talking this game up as another close game, I have a feeling it will blow out to about 4 goals in the end. I can’t see the scores staying as close as the last 6 games between the two sides. Just who is going to come out on top however, I have NO idea.
Both sides have had their share of trouble this year. West Coast has had the much-publicised off-field shenanigans as well as on-field problems with injuries and suspensions to key personnel. Sydney has started slowly but appears to be at least heading in the right direction. That being said however, I don’t think you can read a whole lot into last weeks result against an undermanned and insipid Carlton unit.
The West Coast inclusions reads a bit like their table at the Brownlow Medal should be. Cousins, Kerr, Hansen, Stenglein and Staker. All quality players who were instrumental in their Premiership last year. It will be interesting to see how the most discussed groin since Ron Jeremy retired from business will react to the hard running on the Subiaco Oval.
Sydney will be hoping that Barry Hall can find some space on the huge expanses of Subi. Even though he kicked 4 last week he was beaten in general play be Jarrad Waite. If Sydney are to really go places this year, Barry needs to get cracking and find some form. Peter (Kenny) Everitt teams very well with Darren Jolly in the ruck however they won’t find it a walk in the park this week as they did against the Blues. Cox is one of the premier ruckmen in the comp and he won’t allow the two Swans find as much room to create forward options.
Malceski also won’t find it as easy as last week and will probably run with Braun. He should have the Eagles’ measure and can be very damaging with tha
t raking left foot. Ablett will likely go with Embley as a negating type of player on the other wing.
As with most games recently between these two, the clearances will be vitally important. Roos will have to treat Cousins as a player who has been playing all year, yet one who is fresh and at his prime and this could be dangerous. Kirk will probably be used as a tagger although Malceski is another option who may be able to keep up with the dangerous Eagle.
Gee, the match-ups are so even all over the ground and how each coach reacts to the other’s moves will be better than watching Olympic Chess. (yes, I know there is no such thing but there SHOULD be).
I have a feeling that the game breaker in this game could be someone that no-one would ever expect – a really unusual suspect. There is one bloke from each side who could provide the spark and get under their opponents guard. For West Coast, I reckon it could be Lecras. The kid is a beautiful kick for goal and a great mark for his size so if Dempster or even Bevan are not on their mettle, it could spell trouble. For the SWannies, I have a feeling that McVeigh could provide a lot of spark up forward as well. He doesn’t get the plaudits that his more fancied team mates get but he is reliable and skilled and could prove dangerous if given a job to do. He is a difficult match up for Waters or Jones/Staker and may give an exciting option if the main forwards are being held. OF course there is always Ted Richards who will be keen to make amends for his pathetic 7 dreamteam points last week. You’ve been sacked from most of the DT’s you are in after last week’s game mate.

I tip Sydney by 4 goals.

West Coast
Backs: Staker Glass Selwood
Half-backs: Waters Hunter B Jones
Centres: Embley Judd Braun
Half-forwards: Chick Hansen Stenglein
Forwards: LeCras Lynch Seaby
Followers: Cox Cousins Rover: Kerr
Interchange: Hurn R Jones Priddis Rosa
Emergencies: Armstrong Fletcher Mackenzie

Backs: Richards Barry Dempster
Half-backs: Bevan C Bolton Mathews
Centres: Ablett Kirk Malceski
Half-forwards: O’Keefe O’Loughlin Goodes
Forwards: Schneider Hall Everitt
Followers: Jolly J Bolton Rover: Fosdike
Interchange: Davis Kennelly McVeigh Schmidt
Emergencies: Grundy Phillips Vogels

Saturday 21 July

St Kilda v Hawthorn
Telstra Dome @ 7:10pm

Two of my most detested teams for season 2007. Those that almost made it (The Saints) and those that almost will. Actually of the two sides, Hawthorn is the least detestable because they haven’t gotten too far ahead of themselves before their time. The medja darlings of 2002-2007 have failed to take their opportunities and they don’t deserve any success at all – ever!
Back in your box you blokes. Wake up for your centenary celebrations in 2066.
However that being said, this could well be one of the games of the year, to counter the pathetic effort these two squads put n earlier in the year. The less said about that game the better.
Great for St. Kilda that Hudghton is back to help stiffen up the backline. In fact, this would be the best St.Kilda side (on paper) that it’s supporters have seen in many years I would hasten. It’s back 6 are the best it can put on the park and it will need to be playing at it’s optimal level against a very tall attacking forward line. The medja is salivating at the prospects of Maguire on Roughead, Hudghton on Dixon (to ease him into the game), Fisher on Franklin and the other Fisher or Gram running off Thorp.
In St. Kilda’s forward line, the possibilities are exciting as well. Croad on NUTS Revolt (although after re-signing this week, Nikki is anything but revolting to the St. Kilda cause) The other St. Nick (Dal Santa Clause) has also resigned but I hope for his sake he is on more than NUTS. He deserves it more. Well done to young Rix for re-signing as well and getting sweet FA recognition about it in the medja.
Gilham should take Gehrig, Ladson on Milne, Guerra on the X-man, and Brown will probably run around without an opponent as Lyon will play a loose man in defence in an attempt to stop the Hawks from scoring easily.

The midfield, as always will have a huge say in who wins this game. Hodge/Lewis/Smith and Dana-Sewell along with Bateman may not find as much space as they have in most games this year. Kris Kringle (Dal Santo),Fiora, Hayes, Ball and Montagna have actually stepped up to take a lot more responsibility from Harvey in the past few games and the Saints are better for it.
Watch for Kosi to get right amongst the play and move forward to exploit Taylor and Campbell. While you would expect Sewell to tag Dal Santo, and for Hodge to be accountable for Hayes.

I hope for football’s sake that this game is open and free-flowing as I don’t think the reputations of either club could cope with another effort like the earlier one this year. Will the Saints continue their recent good form and cause an upset.

Just possibly – but I think Clarkson has his boys playing some committed footy and they should win by 3 goals.

St Kilda
Backs: Blake Maguire Hudghton
Half-backs: Gram S Fisher L Fisher
Centres: Fiora Hayes Montagna
Half-forwards: Harvey Riewoldt X Clarke
Forwards: Milne Gehrig Gilbert
Followers: Koschitzke Dal Santo Rover: Ball
Interchange: Attard Baker Birss Rix
Emergencies: M Clarke R Clarke Ferguson

Backs: Guerra Gilham Ladson
Half-backs: Birchall Croad Brown
Centres: Hodge Lewis Smith
Half-forwards: Mitchell Thorp Crawford
Forwards: Dixon Roughead Franklin
Followers: Campbell Sewell Rover: Bateman
Interchange: Ellis McGlynn Taylor Young
Emergencies: Little Renouf Tuck

Sunday 22 July

Brisbane Lions v Carlton
Gabba @ 1:10pm

Surely no-one in their right mind could possibly imagine that Carlton can win this game can they? CAN THEY? Only the most optimistic of Blues supporters would give their mob even an outside chance so all the money is on the Lions and they should canter away with this game comfortably.
Brisbane has won two on the trott – courtesy mainly of playing an “AWAY” game at the Gabba last week against Melbourne. What a ridiculous idea that is Melbourne. Forget any ideas that other teams playing for a position in the 8 might be disadvantaged by Brisbane picking up an almost-guaranteed 4 points, what about Carlton who want early draft picks next year. Surely selling a game interstate should be against the rules because a guaranteed loss means that Carlton might not finish 2nd last and so Melbourne will pick up 2nd pick instead of
the Blues! Disgraceful. Oh well, the Blues may screw the whole comp yet by not winning another game and picking up the prized Priority Pick at 1st choice.
This game will be blown away early purely on the back of one J.Brown. He seems to be moving into some good form at the moment and it is in no small part to the better delivery he is receiving as opposed to the rubbish that some of the less-known players were serving up to him. Having Nigel Lappin back in 5th gear humming along helps all the midfielders stand a bit taller and helps their disposal skills no-end. Expect Carlos Santan
a to play on Brown and to rekindle some of the ‘argy-bargy’ Carlos tried to imprint on him in their first meeting this year.
Another revelation in recent weeks has been Joel Patful in the backline. Whilst he showed a little bit up forward early in the year, his youth and inconsistency meant that he was not getting enough of the ball to justify his inclusion in the side. The move to the backline has worked two-fold. Patful is getting touches, and he plays as an extra mobile bigger man down there. Expect to see him match up on Brad Fisher.
Speaking of Fisher, this bloke is as under-rated amongst the whole footballing community as much as he is by a lot of Carlton supporters.
He has a great leap and a fantastic pair of mits on him and as he offers another attacking option up there, he is being used more and more. His once unreliable kicking has improved out of sight in ‘07 and he is a player of exceptional quality.
Delving into the respective midfields will give you some idea as to why Brisbane should literally run away with this game quite easily. Lappin, Black, Power, Notting, Stiller against M. Lappin, Simpson, Murphy, Carazzo and Bentick just reeks of utter domination, and whilst the young Blues will try hard when attacking, their defensive mindset is pretty well non-existent and the ball will rebound over their heads with relative ease. And talk about leg-speed. The Blues ball carriers just don’t seem to have any. It is a huge problem and one that will not be countered in this game.
Copeland would normally match up on Murphy but the bearded Lion has been playing his role up forward with aplomb the last two weeks so expect to see him up there again. Adcock may well be the guy who runs with the young Blue. Merrett on Fevola will be interesting as all the red-headed Lion has to do is get inside Fevalio’s head once and he will be on top of him. Focus is not one of Fev’s strongest attributes.
Waite may take Leuenberger if he plays down back, but expect Thornton to do that, and for Thornton to tackle Brisbanes first draftee from the 06 draft. Wiggins and Bannister really need to start playing solid and accountable football on a consistent basis over the next 7 weeks if they are to save their careers – they at least have chance to do so against Rischitelli, and Copeland.
While part of the Blues attitude doesn’t want to win this game so they can chase that dreaded draft pick through tanking, the pride of the coach, and the players will dictate that they at least have a dip and try for a half. Brisbane should overpower them after half time and run away to a 34 point victory.

Brisbane Lions
Backs: Macdonald Merrett Roe
Half-backs: Adcock Drummond Patfull
Centres: Notting Lappin Stiller
Half-forwards: Copeland Brown Selwood
Forwards: Rischitelli Leuenberger Brennan
Followers: Charman Black Rover: Power
Interchange: From: McGrath Hamill Mills Hooper Hadley Harding Clark

Backs: Bannister Waite Thornton
Half-backs: Wiggins Koutoufides Scotland
Centres: Lappin Houlihan Simpson
Half-forwards: Carrazzo Fisher Murphy
Forwards: Gibbs Fevola Kennedy
Followers: Ackland Walker Rover: Bentick
Interchange: From: Betts Bower Blackwell S O’hAilpin Russell Saddington Young

Sunday 22 July

Richmond v Port Adelaide
M.C.G @ 2:10pm

As with the previous game, the expectation is that this game is all over before it even starts. It’s strange but for a team sitting down the bottom with only a win and a draw to its credit, I have to say that I am surprised. The Tiger has not so much as “unleashed the Geisch” but rather has unleashed a decent group of solid young players that will form the core of a strong list going forwards.
Port Adelaide on the other hand is already there! And like Richmond, the new injection of young players is already paying dividends in a sensational manner. Choco and his team have done a great job at recruiting quality players that can have a real impact for the here and now, not in 2011.
The big difference between these teams is that Richmonds ’stars’ and second tier players really aquitted themselves with aplomb over the past few years whether that be through form, injury or ability and as a result, the current Richmond team finds itself wallowing where it has spent much of the past 25 years.
There is however a lot to like about the Tigers going forward. We have spoken on many occasions about Foley and King, but add to that Howat, McGuane, Tuck, Jackson and Edwards, and this group could return the Tiges to their former glory. It’s a long bow I know, and new quality players also will need to be joined in the future by exceptionally talented key position players but the basis is there.
It won’t matter in this game however because Port in their current form will run riot over the Tiges who by this stage are paying for draft picks. Thursfield on Westhoff could present the young Power player with another 4 goals, Ebert is due for a few as well and could find space against Newman. Will Polak actually have an opponent this week – he should take Tredrea but if Wallace persists in his tactic of playing a loose man in defence, then Polak will run loose – this will be to his the detriment of his side. And just what will Wallace do with The Chad, The Brother and The Other Brothers? He may as well throw caution to the wind and use Johnson on The Chad, King on The Brother, and Tuck on S. Burgoyne. Brown might be a challenge for P. Burgoyne
however I think the Port boy may find a bit too much run from defence and Brownie can still be a bit lazy on the rebound.
The only bloke that Williams really needs to worry about is Circus Foley’s and his duel with Pearce will be great to watch. Pearce is getting back to his electric best and will present a real challenge so Foley will need to get a lot of the ball to counter what Pearce will do.
There is not much that Richmond can do right in this game and they will try hard. They may even be in the game at 3/4 time but in the end, Port will over-run them and win by 8 goals.

Backs: J Bowden Thursfield King
Half-backs: Raines Polak Newman
Centres: Tivendale Tuck Edwards
Half-forwards: Pettifer Richardson Hyde
Forwards: Brown Schulz Jackson
Followers: Pattison Johnson Rover: Foley
Interchange: From: Simmonds Hughes McGuane Graham Riewoldt Tambling Howat

Port Adelaide
Backs: Surjan Carlile Wilson
Half-backs: P Burgoyne Thustans Cassisi
Centres: Lonie S Burgoyne K Cornes
Half-forwards: Rodan Tredrea Ebert
Forwards: Lade Westhoff Motlop
Followers: Brogan C Cornes Rover: Pearce
Interchange: From: Bentley Boak Chaplin Gray Krakouer Pettigrew Thomson

Sunday 22 July

Kangaroos v Melbourne
Telstra Dome @ 5:10pm

Thank God there is only one more preview to write for this week. These are becoming more and more difficult and probably more and more repetitive as we get deeper into the season but nonetheless, we have to get them done.
North Melbourne seems to be the antithesis of what people expected this
year. Whilst the majority of the medja and the public expected them to
finish bottom 4, th
e fact that Laidley has them playing as a well-drilled, united group is a credit to his abilities, and to his players for playing for him.
As for the Dee’s, after a tumultuous 16 rounds so far, Riley has to find something that will offer his club and it’s supporters some level of hope for 2008. Since ‘07 is a dead loss, the only thing he can offer is player development and high draft picks.
North has a lot going for it. The continued development of McIntosh, Swallow, Whyman, Green and McMahon has strengthened the resolve of the older players and Firrito down back deserves all the plaudits he isgetting.
Melbourne may have a new coach but they have the same old problems and
the main one is no Clint Bartram. Good that Master Bate has taken on some more responsibility this year and he is a reliable sort of player. Nuggety is the word. They would love to have a few of his type running off half-back at the moment. Nathan Brown will probably run with Grant who has surprisingly been off-song recently and not his elusive best.
Wheatley on Jones will also be an interesting match-up if it occurs. Corey Jones is also an under-rated player outside of North Melbourne, and always gives his best. David Hale like most of the Roos has been playing above his weight in recent weeks and acting not only as a reliable back-up for McIntosh, but forging a reputation of his own in the forward line. Good on him too.

It’s likely that Carroll will take Petrie if the Dish plays forward and since he is not likely to be needed down back, this could be interesting in the result of the match.

The way North is playing at the moment, you can’t imagine Melbourne getting close and I expect the Dees to win by 25 points.

Backs: Watt Firrito Pratt
Half-backs: Archer Smith McMahon
Centres: Simpson Rawlings Green
Half-forwards: Harvey Hale Grant
Forwards: Jones Petrie Whyman
Followers: McIntosh Harris Rover: Swallow
Interchange: From: Sinclair Thomas Brown Lower Edwards Sansbury Adams

Backs: Ward Carroll Frawley
Half-backs: Wheatley Miller Brown
Centres: Green McDonald Bizzell
Half-forwards: Godfrey Robertson Bate
Forwards: Sylvia Neitz P Johnson
Followers: White McLean Rover: Jones
Interchange: From: Moloney C Johnson Dunn Buckley Newton Holland Garland