Monday, May 15, 2006

Round Seven

My predictions

Saints by six points over Geelong.
Melbourne over Freo (not a confident pick)
Swans over Richmond (could be close)
Adelaide over North
Hawthorn over Lions (not a confident selection)
Western Bulldogs over Port (unless Port play four quarters)
Essendon over Carlton ( a dangerous pick, supporting the Bomber)
Eagles over Collingwood (but Collingwood to be competetive)

Five out of eight, not likely to improve my standing in the tipping competition.

Yet another failure to check the injuries, Saints and Bombers short-staffed, silly picks. Fevola the difference for the Blues, arguably the most dangerous full forward in the competition on his day, not that he had many days last season.

The Bomber Report

Not a lot to be said really—very disappointing to lose to Carlton at any time. This week was particularly depressing because Essendon probably should have won the previous two matches. However, “should haves” are of little value. Given the fact that Fletcher, Rioli and McVeigh did not play and Hird only lasted ten minutes, Essendon were always going to struggle. Why Joel Reynolds was left at full back almost all day is a mystery; he is a competent wingman, but he is simply not big enough to deal with Fevola. Is it time to consider the unthinkable, i.e. a change of coach?

Round 8

This week Essendon play West Coast. About the only thing going for Essendon is that the game is in Melbourne. Having watched some of the West Coast v. Collingwood game all I can say is that it will take a miracle for the Bombers to beat the Eagles. No prediction will be made this week, but if Essendon lose they will remain on the bottom—not sure when Essendon was last on the bottom after Round 8

The Carlton Report from Old Blue Stager

Carlton won the battle of the once mighty now brought low at the MCG. Both teams have worked at re-defining ineptitude this season, but Essendon were further drained of resources when Fletcher, McVeigh and Rioli had to withdraw from an already-weakened selected side, and Hird (hamstring) limped off early in the first quarter. As well, many of their previously effective players - Solomon, Welsh, Peverill, Lucas and Johnsons, M. & J. - are struggling for form and confidence.

This situation is all too familiar to Blues' fans, as good players struggling to get a kick themselves are unable to smooth the path for the lesser lights and/or inexperienced teammates.Carlton these days have to take what they can get, so even this scratchy performance was gratifying. The fierce rivalry between the two clubs through much of the last quarter century means that the result carries significance greater than a bottom of the ladder scrap normally would.

The Blues played with an intensity and team ethic which was sufficient to paper over the many skill deficiencies of contemporary Carlton. Resolute tackling, chasing and backing up eventually had an impact on a weakened opponent.Whitnall and Thornton were superb defenders, while Scotland played an effective linking role coming off half-back and through the middle. Murphy demonstrates a rare maturity in a newcomer in a very poor side. His skills are matched by a fine work ethic. Fevola, capitalising on the absence of Fletcher and (mis-)matched by Reynolds, had a rare day out. He exploited his advantages and capitalised with accurate kicking.

Carlton were quickly out of the blocks, but an early two goal break was given up before quarter time.

In the second quarter an early Essendon flurry was soon overcome, as Carlton dominated possession, and surged to a three goal break at half-time.

Essendon rallied in the third quarter and again at the beginning of the last, but each time the Blues had enough steadying influences to enable them to draw away for a comfortable win.

It might have been different, as Lovett had the sort of opportunity which junior footballers dream about, receiving the ball 10 metres from goal and fifteen metres from an opponent, but he somehow managed to slip over before he could put boot to ball. A goal would have brought Essendon to within three points, with the momentum on their side. In the event the ball was scrambled away swept to the other end, where Carlton scored a decisive goal. Game over.

While this broke a run of five losses, it's unlikely to be a turning point. Carlton face St. Kilda this Sunday for a reality check. There is a chasm between the skills of the top sides (and indeed the middle bracket) and those scrabbling around at the bottom of the ladder. However, the win over even a depleted Essendon was a welcome circuit breaker after narrow losses against Sydney and Richmond, and dismal efforts against Hawthorn and Collingwood.


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