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.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A bit of trivia

Something that turned up from a google on Irishtown Football Club.

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.

Friday, May 05, 2006


This has been the hardest round to pick so far, with form reversals right and left.

Melbourne to beat Geelong by 6 (points). Perhaps.
Western Bulldogs to beat St Kilda (not a confident selection, may change in the morning).
West Coast to beat Fremantle.
Essendon to beat Richmond (looking for another form reversal).
Adelaide to beat Port.
Swans to beat the Lions. I hope.
Collingwood to beat Carlton.
Hawthon to beat Kangaroos. Subject to revision in case of another form reversal.

Commentators have been absent in droves lately for a variety of reasons including field trips, study leave and laziness.

The Bomber Report

Review of Week 5

Once again the Bombers were dead unlucky to lose. Nevertheless there were some very good signs given Hawthorn’s previous form. However, narrow losses are not a great help in climbing the ladder. Essendon was also heavily disadvantaged by the fact that Hawthorn had a much longer break between games. Once again there was no TV in Adelaide except the ridiculous Collingwood Port Adelaide game. At the time of writing the St Kilda v. Fremantle fiasco had yet to be resolved. It would be tough on Fremantle to lose but if the AFL apply the rules then it should be a draw. If they award the game to Fremantle, St Kilda may be entitled to take legal action.

Week 6
This week Essendon are playing Richmond, an inconsistent mob if ever there was. The outcome of the match may depend on which particular Richmond team turns up. However, having watched the error riddled game between Richmond and Carlton, Essendon should be able to win. Once again I think there will be no live TV coverage because in Adelaide we will be forced to watch the two South Australian teams beat each other up with their handbags. Predicted result: Essendon by 5 goals.