Sunday, May 21, 2006

Round Eight

My selections for this round.

Melbourne over Hawthorn by 10 points.
Adelaide over Richmond.
Collingwood over Geelong
Freo over Norths
Lions over Port
Western Bulldogs over Sydney (not a confident pick)
Saints over Carlton
West Coast over Essendon (Essendon to be competitive)

6 out of 8. Who could have picked Richmond? But backing the Bulldogs was a bit of a punt.

Some of the margins blew out, showing the power of momentum against a team that has momentarily lost its touch.

The Melbourne/Hawthorn contest was truly memorable from the Demon's point of view with captain Neitz running down the great Norm Smith for the goal kicking record and closing on the record number of games. It also meant four on the trot, placing the Demons rather nicely in (sort of) fourth place behind Wests, Collingwood and Adelaide.

The game itself had some interesting moments, especially when the Hawks blew a great start and let the Demons back with some really silly play. For a while the action off the ball was the main attraction until the end of the quarter saw the Hawks regain some momentum and almost draw level with a late goal that was very much against the run of play.

The second session was all Melbourne but they only managed to register 4/6 to 1/2 . As the commentators remarked, the Hawks were doing remarkably well to be only five goals down in view of Melboourne's dominance.

The third quarter was an arm wrestle with both sides adding 3/3. As they changed ends for the last time, optimistic Hawks supporters were looking for a quick goal or two to make a match of it. In fact it was all one way traffic with the Demons getting value from every player. Hawthorn had some players who flashed into the play in midfield but they fell down in the last line at each end of the ground. The Hawks failed to score while the Demons added 7/4. Davey broke away after he was well held early, Neitz kept taking front position and kicking goals and the only nasty moment was a shoulder in the head that sidelined Russell Robertson.

The Bomber Report

Review of Round 8

Yet another frustrating narrow loss, although I suspect most Essendon supporters would have expected a bigger loss than 21 points against West Coast. It was good to see younger players such as Watson and Laycock continue to develop. Even the Bendigo Bombers in the VFL improved and had their first win for the season. The Richmond v. Adelaide game was certainly a weird effort, but one would have thought that Adelaide should have manned up a lot earlier—it is not rocket science!

Round 9

This week it is Port Adelaide, a game that is certainly winnable for Essendon, although it looks like a couple of the Essendon players will be suspended. On the other hand Port Adelaide has suffered a couple of significant injuries, so that will even things up. The game is in Melbourne, so that is an advantage for Essendon. It is not good to rely on injuries to other teams, because the incoming players are flat out to prove that they are worth a place, but given that Peter Burgoyne, Adam Kingsley and Chad Cornes all look like missing, Essendon should win by a couple of goals.

The Old Blue Stager

St. Kilda 126 d. Carlton 34

St. Kilda blew Carlton out of the water at the MCG on Sunday. While the result was fairly predictable, the scale of the Saints' domination was perhaps unexpected. This was more a consequence of their previous erratic form. When they play to their potential - as they did in spades on Sunday - they are probably the Victorian side best placed to challenge West Coast, Adelaide and maybe Sydney who seem to be positioning themselves as premiership favourites.

The game was over 24 minutes into the first quarter, with the score 42-8. This actually flattered Carlton, as some wayward kicking at goal had prevented the Saints from taking full advantage of their dominance across the ground. Nick Riewoldt was a particular early offender with his goal-kicking yips, but he had already established the parameters of his benefit match. He provided a master class in marking, including the near-extinct contested mark, and as the afternoon wore on his kicking straightened up as his confidence grew. He finished with nine goals three behinds, after kicking 3.3 in the first forty minutes of the game.

Riewoldt and his fellow forwards had a picnic with silver service provided by an absolutely dominant midfield, in which Hayes was outstanding, but Dal Santo, Baker and Montagna all featured prominently. This was a dire day from a Carlton perspective, the final siren the only relief.

Fevola was the only player who might have broken even with his oppponent, with no-one else coming close. A handful of triers, Scotland, Lappin, Whitnall and Wiggins were outpointed. Murphy and first-gamer Blackwell showed some glimpses of ability and spirit, but the rest might as well not have turned up; not so much passengers a stowaways.

This match lent support for my hypothesis that there is an absoltue gulf between top and bottom, although Richmond's outsmarting Adelaide and Essendon's serious challenge to West Coast provided contrary evidence. Carlton would seem to be without a prayer this week in Adelaide, although there is some reason for confidence about the following round's match against Port Adelaide in Melbourne.


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