AFL

Meaningless AFL Preview: Round 4, 2020

To a neanderthal like me, trying to follow this storyline of ‘Did Conor McKenna Actually Test Positive In The First Place And When Did He Test Positive’ is harder than trying to solve the family tree of the narrator from ‘I’m My Own Grandpa’.

He married a widow, then his father married his stepdaughter… hang on, start again

So…. McKenna had the positive test from Friday that was announced by Gillon on Saturday, the day McKenna returned another positive test, but he was negative on Wednesday and Thursday, but there was apparently a “low grade irregularity” in his Friday test, causing the possibility of a false positive and dodgy testing, only for Essendon to confirm his Friday and Saturday tests were definitely positive, and his latest test from Tuesday was negative, which brings up the question of how he could have two isolated positives, and which tests are the actual results.

It could be possible that Irish people have strange immune systems, he had that classic case of Weekend-COVID that’s been doing the rounds, he manufactured a fake nose, or probably just used some boogers he bought at the Melbourne Markets, or at that open house inspection.

Well, on the bright side, this is an Essendon saga that won’t take 3 years to come to a resolution.


Thursday


Sydney Swas vs Western Bulldogs at the SCG, 7:40pm AEST

In light of Melbourne’s COVID situation currently resembling a half-eaten rotting apple, Premier Gladys Berejiklian is trying to revive of The Ancient Mystic Society of No Victorians (Where do I sign up), but the Swans, and the Giants to that extent, are clearly interacting with the Mexicans.

I suppose the Swans just wanted to get Josh Kennedy’s 250th game done, because he’s been a deadset champion for the Swans and he’s more than earned a chairng off.

Just on JPK, folks can say that Hawthorn made a bad error letting him go for nothing, especially with the Kennedy name having such gravitas at the club, but he would never have developed into the player he’s been at the Swans, simply because he’d have spent years wasting away behind Sam Mitchell, Brad Sewell, Jordan Lewis & Luke Hodge in the pecking order.

That, and he had perfect incentive to go after the Hawks gave him a shit contract.

Anyway, it also would’ve been the 100th game for Sam Gray if he was picked, but who cares about Sam Gray…. Port Adelaide certainly don’t.

Despite continued predictions of a slump, the Swans rebounded with another win in the absence of big Buddy, with North Melbourne at Docklands once again proving a regulation 4 points, as the Roos had no answer to Will Hayward’s ability to fight blind.

Unfortunately, they do have the small problem of having to play games at the SCG.

Meanwhile, the Dogs got Libba back for their date with destiny against GWS, and his impact was definitely felt, as the Scraggers beat up a Giants team who had a set plan to beat them up first, in another chapter of their genuine rivalry.

Going the knuckle may have worked last year, but without the Greene Machine to rip out a few eyeballs, Bevo wasn’t going to get fooled again.

While the Dogs attack is still in need of a bit of Viagra after only producing 57 points, their defence still held the Giants to 4 goals, which should be turned into a positive.

Anyway, I’ll end this bit in the style of the commentary from AFL Live 2004:

“Welcome to this match at the SYDNEY FOOTBALL GROUND between *SYDNEY*, and, THE *WESTERN BULLDOGS*.”

“I’m Dennis Cometti, and joining me as always is Melbourne football legend, Gerard Healy.”

“Thanks Dennis, I’m looking forward to this match.”

“Your thoughts on the match tonight Gerard?”

“I’ll tip *SYDNEY*.”

“I disagree Gerard, I’ll tip *SYDNEY*.”


Friday


Greater Western Sydney vs Collingwood at GIANTS Stadium, 7:50pm AEST

Once again, we’ve got a team who definitely doesn’t want a bar of the The Ancient Mystic Society of No Victorians displaying open defiance to the Premier, especially after she

The Giants do have a good reason to give the government the finger, because this is the HISTORIC first Friday night game at their actual home ground, and some followers of the rugba leeg may remember that the old Showgrounds do have a history with Friday, given the Canterbury Bulldogs played there during their heady years of salary cap cheating and sexual misdemeanors in the early 2000s.

It’s also the first Giants-Pies meeting since last year’s Preliminary Final, a clash that was partially redeemed because of how close the finish was, after the Giants successfully stopped the Pies to a crawl for long enough to win.

Mysteriously, the Giants didn’t play another game in 2019, and the only time they’ve been sighted since was once in March.

To state the obvious, after their past 2 performances, the Giants are underdone and out-of-form, which was the exact same position they were in before they played the Pies in Round 18 last year.

Still, if there are positives, Harry ‘Don’t Pay The’ Perryman has displaced Jeremy Cameron as the Giants’, and the competition’s premier forward, leading the Coleman Medal with 8 goals straight, and the Orange Soviets should regain Toby Greene and Josh Kelly, while Lachie Whitfield looks set to play, and the best part is he can’t even remember last week’s performance.

Lucky bastard.

Elsewhere, Collingwood are showing just how good they can be with a near full-strength backline, mercilessly pressuring St Kilda into oblivion, keeping yet another opponent to below 40 points, also becoming just the fourth team ever, and the first since the 1990 Collingwood premiership team, to go three consecutive games without conceding a 4th Quarter goal.

In fact, the last time Collingwood conceded a 4th Quarter goal was Jeremy Cameron in that Prelim, which ultimately proved the game winner.

I’m going to tip the Pies, and watch as GWS somehow turn things around, because it’s 2020 and the Giants seem to have a thing for Collingwood.


Saturday


Port Adelaide vs West Coast Eagles at Metricon Stadium, 1:45pm AEST

The Eagles are clearly struggling with their equivalent of the Vietnam War in South East Queensland, and no amount of goals after the siren, random good Jack Petruccelle performances, nor some Adelaide Oval voodoo bullshit, can save them against a rampaging Port Adelaide.

Then again, it didn’t save them in Perth last year, either.

Last week, the Power turned deadly when the rain came in the 2nd Quarter, electrocuting Freo with 5.4 to no score, in a superb display of adapting to conditions, which proved the difference after hilariously staying bone dry in the other 3 quarters, so they’re still undefeated, and they’re the first Gold Coast ‘hubble’ based team to actually win a game after setting up camp.

That almost deserves a trophy.

And the good news keeps rolling in, as the Ebert family bring up another Port milestone, as Brad Ebert plays game 250, perhaps ironically against the team that drafted him.

Remember when Brad Ebert played for West Coast?

It was only 9 seasons ago.

Still, Port did lose a whopping 46.8% of percentage from a game they won easily, and they lost Xavier Duursma, master of the bow ‘n arrow, who had a major problem with his hamstring, rather than his bow string.

Pluck Yew, his body seemed to tell him.

Meanwhile, the Eagles were asked for a comment from Channel 7 about how they’re still finding life on the Gold Coast, after their latest flat performance against the Lions:

“We gotta get out of this place, if it’s the last thing we ever do.”

“We gotta get out of this place – Girl there’s a better life, for me and you.”

Apparently Mark McGowan actually heard the Eagles cry this time, because the WA teams only have to play twice more in Queensland, before they can go home and quarantine for a packed out Western Derby in 3 weeks, by which time their season will be completely down the drain at 1-5.

As for some small positives, the great enigma Jack Darling reaches a whopper of a 200th game, barely a fortnight after turning 28:

As does Lewis Jetta, and my favourite Lewis Jetta fact is this:

He played in a Premiership at the Swans with Josh Kennedy.

Then he went to the Eagles…. and played in a Premiership with Josh Kennedy.


St Kilda vs Richmond at Marvel Stadium, 4:35pm AEST

Despite some doubt it would go ahead, Saints will indeed be donning the Black, White and Purple for the annual Maddie’s Match in 2020, although they were left black and blue after Collingwood were done with them on Saturday, played in the backdrop of Gillon’s battle with train drivers blaring their horns on the way to Richmond station while he announced the McKenna positive.

After convincingly beating the Bulldogs to get a win on the board, the upstart Saints were hoping to use their performance against the Pies as a barometer for how close they are to some of the actual contending teams in 2020.

The answer was quite clear.

NOT REALLY.

And, in fairness to Brett Ratten, the Saints, right now, are one of a dozen.

Fortunately, they’ve got a softball matchup against a languishing Richmond this week, so they should be able to rebound.

Ever since the resumption, the Tiges have looked ordinary, having failed to reach 40 points in a game for 3 months, and the absence of Dusty really exposed their depth in a convincing loss to Dad’s Army, aka Hawthorn, ending their 12 month unbeaten run.

Marlion Pickett, the honeymoon is over baby, and it’s never gonna be that waaaaaaaay, again.

I’m left absolutely believing the wild theory that the players love feeding off the energy of the Tiger Army, which seems to hold weight if you look at the past 3 years (Prime example: That 2017 QF against Geelong), and with fans next to no chance of being allowed into games in Melbourne, there’s been some players who at times look like they’re lacking the motivation to scratch their own arse, let alone play football.

The absence of crowds… explains why Richmond achieved Jacques Merde for 37 years.

Still, the Tigers started slow last year, and it ended quite well for them, so to write them off this early would be foolhardy, and you just get the feeling that Dimma will find a rocket in the Punt Road Storage room and absolutely light it up the clacker of his playing group to get a response.

Gold Coast vs Fremantle at Metricon Stadium, 7:40pm AEST

Huge historical ramifications for this one- If the Gold Coast win, it’s their 50th win all-time, and if Fremantle win, it’s their 250th win all-time.

Dear God, the scenes when Matt Rowell and Nat Fyfe clash….

Excuse me, I’ll be back in a moment.

Proving that 2020 isn’t done throwing up shocking realities, the Suns are playing an exciting brand of footy that they basically never played during the peak of the Ablett years, backing up the massive Eagles win by blowing the doors off a really piss poor Crows team, finally completing their set of at least one win against the other 17 teams.

They also held a team scoreless in a quarter for the first time, a nice bit of caviar for the cake.

And, with those massive percentage gains, they’re up to 3rd on the ladder, and as an outsider, it looks like there’s finally a genuine hope for a club made to serve as a farm system for Victorian clubs.

I think what would make Stewie Dew chuffed, aside from a 5 piece feed with a Pepsi, is that the young guns have given the team a huge lift.

Rowell, who already had big wraps at Pick 1, shattered the record for the fewest career games to poll perfect 10s in the Coaches Votes, after his second best on ground in game 3, half-back Connor Budarig, a Suns Academy player, made it back to back Rising Star nominations, Ben King looks like a much-needed successor to Tom Lynch up forward, and Darcy Macpherson can do this for fun.

It’s taken 3 years, but they’ve fully embraced Dewdaism on the Gold Coast.

Meanwhile, winless Freo are left to wallow in the dungeons alongside the Crows, although their on-field performances, and the reactions to them, couldn’t be any more different.

The Crows have looked like wooden spooners, while the Port game continued a reoccurring theme for the Dockers – They’ve have been right in their 3 games this season, then comes an extended period where they go missing/get dominated and the opposition kicks 4 or 5 goals on them, and they’re left playing an unsuccessful game of catch up.

It was really that extremely unfortunate massive band of rain that only stuck around for the 2nd Quarter that decided the game – In the other 3 Quarters, it was 6.5-41 to 5.6-36 in favour of Freo, showing that it was mostly an even contest.

But yes, a team named the Power getting mixed with water…. It was very very deadly for the Dockers.

Anyway, Rowell vs Fyfe.


Essendon vs Carlton at the MCG, 7:40pm AEST

As we all know, Essendon have become the unwitting victims of Ireland’s greatest indiscretion against the league since Jim Stynes ran through the mark after the siren in the 1987 Preliminary Final, giving a 15m penalty to Gary Buckenara, directly costing Melbourne a Grand Final spot when Bucky was brought within range and goaled.

But, the positive for the Bombers is that from fears of dozens of players headed for quarantine, the only player of importance required to isolate and actually miss any games is Conor McKenna (Not Conor McGregor, as The Morning Show claimed), unless you consider James Stewart important to the VFL team.

From what I saw of that footage of Essendon training, Adam Saad was one complete tackle away from joining Stewart in isolation.

It appears Conor will be back in the future, despite Cam Mooney thinking he’d never play Australian rules again, and David King genuinely believing he wouldn’t play again in 2020, which isn’t even Kingy’s most inaccurate prediction on Fox Footy.

This was his 2014 Grand Final Tip:

Slightly wrong again, Kingy.

In amidst all this, it’s as if we forgot that Essendon, despite winning both games by a goal, haven’t trailed at any point in 2020, and Dyson Heppell’s season is up the creek after another ankle problem.

Meanwhile, the Blues actually played last week, and you still can’t use enough superlatives to describe them pulling off their first win at Kardinia Park since Sticks Kernahan was charging out of full forward with his mullet flapping like a cape.

Crippa, outstanding as always leading the charge in the midfield, and in the dying moments as the Cats were about to complete a 7 goal comeback, there was Eddie Betts, standing up to the racist pricks of social media through his actions on the field, by pulling a Fraser Brown-esque tackle to win the game, to go with 2 goals and 3 goal assists.

That’s a bloke doing what he loves – Playing great footy and still smiling.

Defeating Geelong in Geelong probably did show something unsurprising about this Blues team.

If they actually remember to start playing when the opening bounce occurs, then they can actually show the sort of promise that they’ve been selling ever since Brendan Bolton started blabbering on about sprouting green shoots.

Based on last year’s Bombers-Blues game, there’s half a chance that Dylan Clarke will be recalled into the Dons team just to tag Patrick Cripps, given he held Crippa to only 11 disposals and 2 clearances and helped get Bolton the flick as coach, but based on the recent history between the grand rivals, the Blues will win again, because if you look at the results since 2015:

Round 11, 2019 – Essendon win

Round 8, 2018 – Carlton win

Round 20, 2017 – Essendon win

Round 3, 2017 – Carlton Win

Round 23, 2016 – Essendon win

Round 6, 2016 – Carlton win

Round 3, 2015 – Essendon win


Sunday


Brisbane Lions vs Adelaide at Woolloongabba, 1:05pm AEST

Things just keep going from bad to worse at the Crowies GC hub:

They were in a world of hurt after the Suns ironed them out and Hugh Greenwood took out Mark Ricciuto in a Twitter stoush, but this is just a body blow that few can recover from.

While the flaccid Crows have problems that have been detailed in the media better than most murders, the Lions are back in town, having successfully dispatched both WA teams, with the 2nd Half against the Eagles being so good that the good Lord Fagan was literally firing out a “You f**king beauty!” on the bench.

Lord Fagan hath spoken.

Amen.

So to cut the bullshit, this looks like another Lions win, and this is also the 50th game for 2017’s No.1 Draft Pick Cam Rayner, who hasn’t missed a game since the Lions drafted him, such is his ability to learn from the religious footballing leader of Queensland.


Melbourne vs Geelong at the MCG, 3:35pm AEST

Another interesting contest between a team who defeated Carlton by jumping them early and hanging on for dear life, versus the team who were jumped early by Carlton and lost while making Carlton hang on for dear life.

And a team founded in 1858, versus a team founded in 1859.

After Gil postponed the clash against the Bombers 24 hours before the bounce, the Dees did show up to the MCG on Sunday for a scratch match, and given it was a game between Melbourne players, there was at least one scuffle.

That scratch match also meant Nathan Jones technically wasn’t dropped from the Dees side, and he’ll still be in the selection mix, while Kosi Pickett can return after his COVID breach ban, but it appears Charlie Spargo will probably be missing on a technicality, as his COVID suspension was for 2 games, and they’ve still only played 1.

Meanwhile, Geelong turned up to Kardinia Park thinking they could just show up and win against the Bluebaggers, because the apparent gulf between the teams was so big, and KP is the greatest home ground advantage in the game.

They didn’t.

The end result of losing to the Blues is that it’s now ticked past a full year since the Cats won back-to-back games, which sounds absolutely crazy, considering they played in a Prelim Final last September, and they’re definitely a premiership chance for now.

Still, it is true, and since that win against Richmond in Round 12 of last year, when they went 2 games clear on top at 11-1, the Cats aren’t even batting at 50%, with 7 wins from their last 16 games (6-7 to end 2019, 1-2 this year)

Against a team coming off what is effectively a bye in terms of time between games, the Cats should be winning here.

Should be.


Hawthorn vs North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium, 6:10pm AEST

Lions, Cats, Tigers – Hawthorn finally aren’t playing a big cat.

Another epic renewal of the great rivalry of the 1970s, and the unofficial Battle of Tasmania between Launceston and Hobart, and already, the integrity of the contest has been rocked MASSIVE news from the AFL:

THE GAME HAS BEEN PUSHED BACK BY 5 MINUTES.

Obviously trying to give fans more time to get to the ground.

Anyway, the performance of both the Hawks and Roos told us once again that a week is a long time in footy, especially in the year 2020.

After getting pumped by Geelong at The Cattery fielding the oldest team by average age in the history of the game, the Hawks, minus Paul Puopolo, strolled out with the 20th oldest team in the history of the game against Richmond, and that injection of youth (Jaeger O’Meara and Jack Scrimshaw) revitalised Clarkson’s Commandos, more accurately named Dad’s Army, who drove the defending premiers into the ground like a tent peg on the back of their defensive unit, O’Meara and Isaaac Smith in the middle, and the Tigers defence giving away several blatant free kicks Inside 50 that resulted in the Hawks kicking goal after goal.

It also helped that Tom Lynch did indeed miss this:

Meanwhile, after defeating GWS in Sydney, North were 2-0 and playing Sydney in a seemingly winnable game to go 3-0.

They lost Ben Cunnington before the bounce.

They weren’t undefeated 2 hours later, despite sending out the message to Bee Bee Aggressive in the final quarter.

They were also Bee Grade for most of the game.

Another game that does look fairly even on paper, and if the Hawks-Roos rivalry still has any signs of historical life, there’s going to be at least one stoush during the game.

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