Fremantle vs. Collingwood (DS) 8.10pm (All AEST)
I could get used to these Thursday night games, although I spent last Friday thinking it was Saturday and then feeling bitter every time I realised it wasn’t.
Fremantle spent their bye wondering how in the world they almost lost to the Gold Coast and playing PlayStation. It was time well spent, as playing Grand Theft Auto is the perfect way to get in the mindset of their opponent this week.
Collingwood spent a lot of time during their bye getting angry about northern academies and how it’s ruining football for the tiny Melbourne clubs like the Pies.
Most of us are still getting our heads around the unpalatable truth that the Pies are better than we thought. Can they keep it up?
It’s entirely possible although I’m still getting my head around the fact Travis Cloke is kicking straight. It’s like gravity has been reversed or something.
It’s pretty unnerving when an iron law of nature just gets turned around like this.
Hopefully it’s like when magnetic north and magnetic south switch every now and then and soon everything will go back to normal.
It will be nice to have this on national TV as we can all see how many times the Channel Seven commentary team mention Nat Fyfe. I’m tipping 10,765 times but I often underestimate these things.
I’m also tipping Fremantle.
Sydney vs. Richmond (SCG) 7.50pm
Richmond supporters are a hardy lot, but those who travel for Sydney for this are a living tribute to the optimism that resides in all humans. Or they’re mad, just stark raving mad. Either way, I kind of respect them.
This week the Tigers announced they had reached 70,000 members which is an amazing achievement for an organisation who specialises in destroying dreams.
The Tigers loss to the Eagles last week was as inevitable as it was disappointing and it’s hard to see them troubling the Swans at the SCG.
It’s so good to have this at the SCG and not at the soulless monster that is ANZ Stadium. The quicker we hand that place off to the army for missile practice the better.
Sydney are on a six-game winning streak and I’m told they really enjoyed the bye by doing things people in Sydney do.
Being from Melbourne, I can only assume that’s sailing on the harbour and bribing a council to allow some property development to go through.
The Swans are sitting pretty in the top four and will be looking to secure a top two finish in the second half of the season. Imagine how good they could be if the AFL hadn’t arbitrarily decided on a whim to not let them trade this off-season.
Sydney should have no problems in this one and look for the pressure to come on Hardwick. He was pretty lucky Port lost to Carlton last weekend.
Hawthorn vs. Essendon (MCG) 1.40pm
I’m surprised that people made a fuss about James Hird preparing for this huge game by studying business administration in Europe.
As born-again Hird fan Brendon Goddard said “We’ve got no issue with it. If we were 7-4, it wouldn’t be talked about.”
He’s spot on about that, except the Bombers aren’t 7-4. They’re actually 4-7 and have looked awful.
On top of that, why is James in Europe finishing a ‘business administration’ course in the first place? That’s right it was part of his year-long suspension for his role in dragging this club into the worst AFL scandal in recent memory.
But really, what does it actually matter that Hird was not fully focused on this match? Hird’s not long for this caper and he could have spent the past fortnight in Alastair Clarkson’s office and it wouldn’t change a thing.
The Bombers may have beaten the Hawks in round two but that was pre-WADA’s appeal.
That appeal has sucked any motivation out of the players, which is pretty understandable really.
Still, I expect Hawthorn fans to give Hird a wonderful send off in the last game he coaches against them. A lot of goodwill between these two.
Brisbane vs. Adelaide (G) 4.35pm
The Crows may have found a team with worse disposal skills than them this week and not a moment too soon.
Sitting in seventh, Adelaide need a bit of a boost after a deeply unimpressive past month. That includes the bye too where Patrick Dangerfield went back to the Victorian surf coast to really stoke those Geelong rumours.
It’s going to be pretty hard for the Crows to match the lure of Geelong. While both Adelaide and Geelong share many traits, the collapse of manufacturing and a distrust of fashion to name a few, Geelong has the lure of family.
I can understand being homesick; although it’s something I would normally associate with a primary school kid on school camp and not a grown man.
Brisbane are still in a tight race with the Suns for the worst team in Queensland and therefore the league.
They can’t do anything silly like win this game if their going to achieve this and I’ve full confidence in them to not win.
St Kilda vs. Western Bulldogs (ES) 7.20pm
A Saturday night blockbuster! Sort of.
At least both of these teams give it there all. So, if like me, you have no plans for Saturday night (like none, not even a family event, let alone being invited to Jeff’s party, which it seems everyone else is going to) then this will have to do.
The Saints are coming off the bye and in a sign of how things have changed at Seaford, not one player was arrested. They also had a famous victory against Melbourne the week before so should come into this fresh and full of belief.
The Bulldogs destroyed Brisbane last week and continue to impress in their development. Tom Boyd was even nominated for the Rising Star, surely making him the highest paid nominee ever.
If Western (seriously go back to Footscray) are any chance of finals this is a much win game but it will be tough as they folded against the Saints last time they met, giving up a 55 point lead.
That’s quite a lot of points to give up and means no matter the lead this week, Bulldogs fans are going to be more nervous than Melbourne supporters were last week.
I think the Bulldogs can win it but I’m not as confident as I was when I tipped Port Adelaide and Geelong last week.
Carlton vs. Gold Coast (ES) 3.20pm
So the Blues are back! Pity they took that weird detour down into Malthouseland.
The whole AFL community is just thrilled they’re now doing the bare minimum required of AFL players. Even the Bryce Gibbs suspension hasn’t taken the glow off last week’s victory.
Dylan Buckley says the Blues won’t alter their tough tackling following the Gibbs suspension and why would they?
It’s a proud tradition that goes back two whole games now.
Apparently, John Barker has the Blues doing some tactical things that weren’t invented in the mid-nineties and that has made all the difference. I guess the world finally figured out Mick’ chipping around the boundary thing.
Gold Coast look like welcoming back Gary Ablett and it’s not a moment too soon.
This club is as stuffed as Gary’s shoulder and they need all the help they can get.
Still, it’s no sure thing he’ll be back and on top of that it seems like his shoulder is hardly going to be what it was.
Still, Ablett at 60 per cent is better than most players at 100 per cent. The Suns have really had the perfect storm this year, with a new coach, a ton of injuries to key players and the off-field discipline of Brendan Fevola.
I’m going to do something I haven’t done all year and tip the Blues to win this.
That felt weird. I need to go have a shower for a few hours.
Byes: Geelong, GWS Giants, Melbourne, North Melbourne, Port Adelaide, West Coast.
This post originally appeared on the Herald Sun website here.
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