AFL

Meaningless AFL Preview: Round 8, 2020

Lachie Whitfield getting randomly blind-turned by a first-gamer in a Grand Final

Current Over/Under on me getting burnout from watching footy during the upcoming 20-day AFL ‘Big Bash’ Marathon: 4.5 days


Thursday


Gold Coast (7th) vs Western Bulldogs (9th) at Metricon Stadium, 7:40pm AEST

The first-ever weekday prime time game for the Gold Coast Suns in their history….

AND OF COURSE IT’S A FOX FOOTY EXCLUSIVE GAME.

Not that it actually matters to the folk of Queensland, who can just watch the game on 7Mate and not have to endure the Channel 7 commentary team.

The Suns come back home to Queensland after completing their quarantine in Wollongong, and they’re treading uncharted waters – Inside the Top 8 after 7 games, they’re actually winning games people expect them to win, and in a sign that the kids are alright, Noah Anderson was the Round 7 Rising Star, becoming the 4th Sun in 7 games to get a nod from the AFL.

It’s also at this point where I join the pile-on and bring up Hawthorn’s incompetent (And also blatantly racist) list management from the 1990s, given Noah is Dean Anderson’s son, who the Hawks traded to St Kilda a season short of him playing him the 100 club games needed for a father-son pick.

Meantime, the Doggies are right up there for the most watchable teams in 2020, simply because there’s no middle ground – One week they get ripped open like a chicken wing, the next week they’re the ones dishing it out.

Case in point, getting 100 points scored on them by Carlton and looking nowhere near Top 8 quality, then turning up against Essendon and playing like the kind of team the pre-season prognosticators expected them to be.

A truly unpredictable team in an unpredictable year.

In team news, Lachie Hunter was a surprising out for personal reasons, and on another note, this is also the battle of the “Who kicked a better goal with their first kick” club:

In the Red & Gold & Blue corner, it’s Izak Rankine:

In the Red, White & Blue corner, it’s Cody Weightman:

The Dogs will try and add Callum Porter to that list, as he becomes the 5th Bulldog to debut in 2020.


Friday


GWS Giants (13th) vs Richmond (4th) at GIANTS Stadium, 7:50pm AEST

After 10 months of waiting, it’s time for the Grand Final Rematch, and it’s at this point that I make the boring question why we’re bothering to call it a rematch, because the Grand Final hardly fit the definition of a match to begin with.

The Giants went in to the last Saturday in September looking as strong as a hessian sack with a hole in the bottom with all their injuries, and Richmond were immaculately dressed for the occasion.

The occasion being a re-enactment of the Thugee ceremony from Temple Of Doom.

Dusty ripping the heart out of a football club

Kali Ma, Kali Maaaa!

The Giants evidently haven’t recovered from the events of September 28, and with the heat back on Leon Cameron as the man with the keys to the Ferrari, Robbo managed to mix his words and call him a ‘Drop Punt’.

I think this once again shows that Fox Footy has a cultural problem with the C-word – Gerard Healy partially dropped it on-air describing the Suns in 2013, and Eddie McGuire slipped it in while talking to Kane Cornes in 2014, before correcting mid-flow to ‘Old Campaigner’.

Eddie was far from the last person to describe Kane as a campaigner.

If the Giants can’t get themselves up for a Grand Final rematch on their own deck, re-signing Leon Cameron for 2 more years is going to get blow-torched from the outset.

Meantime, the defending premiers, with 1/3 of the premiership team still missing (Add Josh Caddy to that list), have randomly climbed back into the Top 4 thanks to 3 consecutive wins against Melbourne, Sydney and North Melbourne, with only one of those teams showing a modicum of form before/after playing the Tigers, but, you can only beat whoever gets lumped in front of you.

The obvious sad note for the Tiges is the passing of Shane Tuck on Monday, and there isn’t a Tigers supporter alive that suffered through the 2000s that didn’t love Tucky throwing his weight around in the midfield, guiding the likes of Cotchin, Martin anand I’d hope that Noah Balta will wear that No.21 guernsey with pride on Friday night.


Saturday


North Melbourne (17th) vs Carlton (11th) at the Gabba, 1:05pm AEST

Let’s take a quick look at North’s injury situation:

If you squint your eyes enough you can see Nick Larkey.

The dear old Kangas were already starting to smell like roadkill before they kicked 2 goals against Richmond… It was just the Tigers made sure they went all the way and actually resembled it.

5 defeats in a row for the Shinboners, meanwhile, we all know what happened to Carlton on their most recent visit to the Gabba.

To their credit, the Blues put in the kind of performance that would once again suggest that yes, they can definitely make the Top 8, given they were ahead of Port Adelaide as the final siren sounded.

It was just that Robbie Gray had the ball in his hands in the right forward pocket.

Fair to say that there’s no such thing as a dull 3 hours with Carlton – 4 games decided by a goal in 6 weeks, making them the leading cause of heart attacks in Victoria this year, and the Bulldogs game in Round 6 was an exhibition on how to counterattack.

They could be anywhere from 5-2 to 1-5…. but they’ve split it down the middle at 3-4, and in a milestone 2 years and 2 ACL tearsin the making, Blues co-captain Sam Docherty plays his 100th game, and I can see his teammates making it a good day out.

The only win a North Melbourne coach has experienced in the last 5 weeks – Denis Pagan training Frankie Two Angels to win Race 1 at Sandown today.

Of course, that was the only win a Carlton coach has experienced in the past week as well.

Sydney (16th) vs Hawthorn (14th) at the SCG, 3:35pm AEST

As recently as Round 23 of 2018, Sydney and Hawthorn games were literally deciding spots in the Top 4.

In 2020, they’ll decide Pick 4 in the draft.

The times, they are a changin’.

What an entrancingly awful contest on paper – the Swans have half the team out, but Horse have given the kids a go and they actually acquit themselves well in defeat, while the Dad’s Army Hawks are closer to a pensioner’s card than a finals spot, they’ve got no forward targets except for a not fully-fit Mitchell ‘Sam Jordan’ Lewis, Jack Gunston (200 games for Norman this week), and Chad Wingard, a small-forward turned midfielder turned back into a small-forward.

The only thing that could make the game worse is if the SCG failed a ground inspection on Friday/Saturday, and the game was moved to GIANTS Stadium.


Port Adelaide (1st) vs St Kilda (6th) at the Adelaide Oval, 7:10pm ACST

Fresh off their first win against a South Australian team in 9 years, and their first-ever win at the Adelaide Oval, St Kilda have flown back to what I assume was Sunny Coast Airport, driven 40 minutes by bus to Noosa, spent 5 days at the resort, and now have to travel 40 minutes by bus back to Sunny Coast airport to fly 3 hours to Adelaide.

The obvious answer from the Saints is that they

In a sea of frighteningly strange umpiring that most of the country didn’t see on Monday night, the Saints were always ahead after Quarter Time, and withstood a much-improved Crows thanks to 3 goals to Dan Butler, and the forward prowess of Dean Kent disguised as Tim Membrey, and Tim Membrey disguised as Dean Kent.

Come on Eddie, they can’t be that hard to distinguish – Only one of them has short brown hair and two full sleeves of tattoos.

As for Port, they probably should’ve had Carlton done to a dinner with the glut of chances they had in the last 10 minutes, but shattering them after the siren to snatch the 4 points will have to do.

Of course, Robbie Gray’s goal wasn’t the first time he’d kicked the winning goal with no time to spare…. Saints fans would know that.

All-Australian ruck work from Paddy Ryder

The Saints lose at the Adelaide Oval with Paddy Ryder in the ruck… With Port’s recent record against St Kilda, that probably won’t change.


Sunday


Adelaide (18th) vs Essington (10th) at the Adelaide Oval, 12:35pm ACST

An Essington video combined with Arsenal Fan TV – Herbatron’s latest work of art

Comparing Arsenal and Essendon – Arsenal haven’t won a league title since 2004…. Essendon haven’t won a final since 2004.

Obviously the major difference is Arsenal have won a final in the last 16 years.

One week ago, Essendon were 4th with one defeat for the year.

As of Monday evening, following yet another Bulldog bathing, they are 10th with a percentage at a numerical figure slightly below Sir Donald Bradman’s batting average.

It really does go to show how weird this season is…. and how easy it is for Essendon to turn back into ‘Essington’.

With Rory Sloane gone and Tex wanting no part of a leadership role again, the Crows had to hand the captaincy over to promising young defender Tom Doedee, who still sounds like a child’s word for a number two, or part of a Manfred Mann song title.

There he was, just walking down the street, singing Doedee-diddy-diddy-dum-diddy-doo.

While some players can get weighed down, getting the captaincy seemed to elevate Tommy on Monday night, and for the first time since Round 1, the Crows didn’t look awful, and with 10 minutes to go, they were within single figures of the Saints.

Still, they lost, and that’s now a club record 10 defeats in a row dating back to Round 21 of last season, but, unlike at least 5 of the other 6 defeats in 2020, the Crows weren’t awful, and that’s something.

Dons fans may be convinced that they’ll play Adelaide into form, but I say they haven’t seen Adelaide play this year.

West Coast Eagles (8th) vs Collingwood (3rd) at Optus Stadium, 1:35pm AWST

“You ****s know what happened” – Mark LeCras

The 2nd Most Recent Grand Final rematch, as West Coast return to the Top 8 having won 3 games in a row without really setting the world on fire – Sydney, Adelaide, followed by their usual free 4 points in the Derby, mostly defined by their defensive efforts – Freo kicked 1 goal in the 2nd Half.

Purely due to home ground advantage, the Eagles will start the favourites, and there’s a chance they’ll get Luke Shuey back, although on paper, Collingwood look the more in-form team, especially with the way they kept Geelong to 5 goals.

It’s actually a testament to Collingwood’s medical team that as hamstrings go ping around Australia, Darcy Moore has managed to play every game without a problem.

Still, just wait until they play 4 games in a fortnight…. It’ll be like the hamstring injury edition of Murderer’s Row.

The big story from Thursday was Jordan de Goey, who overcame a bad hiccup to come back and kick 5 goals, only to realise one of fingers that was taped during the game resembled Ian Healy’s after 20 years of wicket keeping, and following surgery he’s out for 6-8 weeks.

Suddenly, the people talking about “Why is Jordan de Goey allowed to play” are now back to talking about how insensitive and out of touch the AFL media is.

Insensitive and out of touch he says, as he cites a complete lack of evidence.

With the bulk of Collingwood’s scoring power gone, and the fact that their defence is the gold standard in a year where scoring is down to historically low levels, 40 points might be enough to win this.

Melbourne (12th) vs Brisbane Lions (2nd) at Metricon Stadium, 6:10pm AEST

My deepest sympathies to Lions supporters:

Ball don’t lie…. Although it is Melbourne, so it probably will.


Monday


Fremantle (15th) vs Geelong (5th) at Optus Stadium, 6:10pm AWST (8:10)

In Monday Night prime time, it’s the ‘Our Captain Is Out With A Hamstring Injury’ Cup.

Freo losing a Derby is like death and taxes by this point in history, but after going with a modicum of confidence, the damage was pretty much done when Nat Fyfe withdrew midweek, and in the actual game they at least kept the Eagles close in the 1st Half, but after that, not taking their chances at various stages wrecked them.

Rory Lobb tried the old Fred Flintstone run-up that Josh Kennedy had success with, but all Rory did was shank a set shot 20m out in front, and Matt Taberner…..

Spud would’ve had a field day on Don’t Come Monday.

Fyfe missing for another week is huge, considering he was best afield in Round 20 last year with 27 disposals and 2 goals, when Freo pulled the rug out from underneath the top-placed Cats and won by 34 points.

As for the other team who kicked 5 goals last week, after the defeat against Collingwood on Thursday night, the Cats still haven’t won at Optus Stadium, with the first plausible reason for that being that because of training on a long and narrow ground like Kardinia Park, they don’t enjoy playing on wide open grounds, which apparently holds water when you look at their recent MCG performances.

5.5-35 was the Cats’ lowest score since Round 22 of 2001, best remembered as Garry Hocking’s last game, and the day when Darren Milburn ‘jumped into’ Stephen Silvagni and needed a police escort out of Princes Park to escape the wrath of angry Blues supporters.

Should’ve just thrown a beer at him – It’s a waste of money, but it’s more civil.

Obviously Selwood is gone for 3 weeks, and his absence showed immediately with the Cats getting hammered by Razor Ray and friends, the other obvious piece of bad news from a team sense is that Gazza flew back home to be with his son Levi, with no time frame on his return in what is his last season, so desperate times call for desperate measures, and Tom Stewart will make his return from a collarbone injury, and East Perth product Mitch Duncan looks set to return 2 weeks after his hamstring strain again Brisbane.

With the way rushing back key players back from hamstrings has gone in 2020, there’s a good chance Mitch could randomly suffer another one by half-time, which would be no good for anyone.

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