Buddy Franklin plays his 300th game this weekend for Sydney against St Kilda. He may have been rushed back from his hamstring injury to squeeze his 300th into this season, just in case he retires in the off season with three expensive years left on his contract. Aliir Aliir plays his 50th game – a good story from the West Australian. He has come a long way after starting life in a Kenyan refugee camp. Sam Rowe will run out of the St Kilda rooms for his debut for St Kilda and 100th AFL game in take four. This has been quite the saga for the journeyman defender but this time he has been named in the 22, so unless St Kilda do something extra shifty (and cruel), he will play his 100th. Well done to three very different football stories.
Under the Radar
Unless you’re a Tasmanian who is starved of top level Australian Rules football, there isn’t a lot to see here. The weather, predicted to hit a balmy midwinter 17C, could have the teams scuttling for the shade of the light towers of Blundstone Arena.
The real story here will be post season. Surely if there is an underachiever this year, it’s Melbourne and Simon Goodwin’s path could not have been more different to that of his counterpart Rhyce Shaw. Melbourne have dropped 13 spots on the ladder and somehow, Goodwin on the back of his relatively new contract has avoided the axe that has fallen on others whose team’s performances were statistically better. It’s hard to fathom how a team can fall so dramatically. Many other clubs would have (and have) performed the ritual burning at the stake already.
The Cats have a bad rap after the bye. Who’d have thought at the bye that Geelong, three games and percentage clear on top would have a tough match against Carlton to be a chance to take back top spot? Geelong doubled down on their perceived post bye blues and not only lost the game after the bye as predicted but have now surrendered top spot to Brisbane. A win over the Blues gets Geelong top spot back only if Brisbane loses to Richmond. It has been a fun end to the season – and we’ve still got finals to come.
It was likely predetermined but there are a few selectors smirking like primary school children at a fart joke this week. Jarrod Roughead got a send off last week and promptly kicked six goals, albeit against a battling Suns outfit. He’s probably not in “Jason Gillespie’s last test innings was a double hundred before we was omitted” territory though. It’s good he wasn’t dropped but was instead “managed” – in that he “managed” to get the weekend off – well deserved
There are so many things still to play out this weekend. The Eagles could get a home final but that would rely on them beating Hawthorn by about ten goals and Brisbane losing to Richmond by about six goals. Both of these outcomes are not unlikely. The bad news for Brisbane is if Geelong, West Coast and Richmond all win, they drop to 3rd and have to head over to WA for their semi. Ideal for West Coast, not so for the Lions. But WCE have to win this first – a good win for Hawthorn could see them in the finals if other results pan out.
One thing I’m definitely looking forward to is the last game of the year for the Suns. After some glimpses early in the season, the Suns have fallen away. It hasn’t been good to watch and contrary to Tony Cochrane’s assertions it’s hard to see GC being a going concern for much longer. No one wants to go there. For a high draftee, it’s like new teachers going bush for a couple of years to drill into their HECS debt while they get some training in the field. It’s penance.
GWS can’t move out of 6th so will host either Essendon or Bulldogs in two weeks at a ground in NSW somewhere.
The Western Bulldogs will win this game against Adelaide – I’ve never been more certain of anything. This doesn’t auger well for them but I think they can overcome my unreliable tipping. No one wants to face them in finals. Their midfield is challenging for the title of best in the AFL, up and coming forwards and a dashing, if a little short, backline. Their form is irresistible but their spot in the four is not guaranteed. Hawthorn, Adelaide and Port all possibilities.
Adelaide conversely are creeping into basket case territory. It seems they have not recovered from “that” pre season camp. Horribly inconsistent and missing in action against Collingwood last week. Despite all this doom and gloom, a five goal win here puts Adelaide back in contention.
If you try and tell me that as a little kid, you never wondered which would win a “fight” between a Tiger and a Lion I will treat you with suspicion. This game is the closest we will ever see to that fight but it could be as epic as we imagined this feline flight might be.
The lion in this fight is strong and fast but young and unproven in this class. The tiger has been here before, many times. A win for the Lions locks away top spot and a final at the Gabba. Richmond win and they lock away fourth spot and the double chance. Very high stakes and a great way to finish the weekend.
So you’re saying there’s a chance?
But wait, there’s more. Port are still in the finals race but need Adelaide to beat the Western Bulldogs which is not completely off the cards. Port then need to beat Fremantle by about six goals. That’s a real possibility. This could be one of those final rounds where final positions are not known until the last minutes of the last quarter of the last game.