We are at the halfway point, the dreaded byes are over, and we can finally make some definitive statements about this year’s competition and the prospects for every team going forward. This is going to be fun. Let’s dive in!
Welcome to Balls of Steel’s AFL Beat!
Let’s start things off by recapping this week’s action:
On Australian Thursday Night (North American Wednesday late night/Thursday morning), the Geelong Cats were in Perth to take on the West Coast Eagles. The Cats had already won in Perth this season, beating the Dockers in the season opener and the Eagles were missing superstars Nic Natanui (out all season due to injury) and Josh Kennedy (out for the last few weeks due to a calf injury). The Cats were also coming off a bye, which lately has not worked out too well for them as they started lethargically and turned it on in the third and fourth. Unfortunately for Cats’ fans, it was a case of too little too late as they fell by 13. Yes, I woke up early for this, saw that the Cats were trailing by a lot at Half Time, then went back to sleep for another half hour. I caught the fourth quarter and went, frustrated, to work.
Here are the highlights:
On Australian Friday Night Footy (North American Thursday late night/Friday morning), the North Melbourne Kangaroos were “hosting” the St. Kilda Saints at both teams’ home stadium, the Etihad. The Roos were the better team going by recent form, but the Saints were desperate to keep their season alive. And alive it is, after a 89-72 win that really wasn’t as close as the score indicates. I think I’m getting the hang of what the Saints are all about. Just when you think they are going to roll over and die, they play brilliantly. When you expect them to play well and make leaps, they shit the bed. I’ll adjust my Footy Tipping accordingly. Here are the highlights:
Another team that refuses to roll over and die is the Sydney Swans. After starting off the season 0-6, they have rolled off 5 wins in 6 games to get to 5-7. Yes, that includes this week’s win over the Richmond Tigers at the MCG. I watched the whole game live and even when the Tigers were up over 30, they never really put Sydney away and the Swans just kept scratching and clawing their way back until they got the lead. I don’t care who you are, that’s impressive. If the Swans can continue this form, they have a very good chance of getting into the Eight and making some noise. Here are the highlights:
The next game on North American Friday Night was Port Adelaide against Brisbane and if you think I was going to stay up to watch that after waking up at 4:30 to catch the tail end of the North Melbourne-St. Kilda game, you must be crazy.
As I expected, the Power rolled over the Lions, although the final margin of 40 wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. For WhyEaglesWhy and those of you into snuff porn, here are the highlights:
The Late Late game on Friday night/Saturday morning had the Carlton Blues visiting the Gold Coast Suns in sunny and beautiful Queensland. Do you want to talk about a team with a bright future? As bright as the Gold Coast Sun? Well, you are talking about the Carlton Blues! They won a tight game, 83-73, and the strategy of playing the youngsters is paying off as they are getting better and better each week. On the sad but not surprising side, the Suns suffered another major injury as Michael Barlow suffered a broken leg during the match and is out for the year. I’m one of those squeamish people that don’t like videos of people getting hurt, so I’ll just present the highlights with a heads-up that the injury is shown:
In the last game of the Round, the Western Bulldogs hosted the Melbourne Demons at the Etihad with a spot in the Eight on the line. When I woke up on Sunday morning, I saw that somehow someway the Demons destroyed da Doggies (alliteration!) 113-56. Yeah, I know. Here are the highlights:
Let’s take a look at the ladder, shall we?
|4||Port Adelaide Power||12||7||0||5||28||134.4|
|7||West Coast Eagles||12||7||0||5||28||102.6|
|10||St. Kilda Saints||12||6||0||6||24||95.0|
|14||Gold Coast Suns||12||5||0||7||20||88.1|
|16||North Melbourne Kangaroos||12||4||0||8||16||92.9|
And here is the updated Balls GraphTM:
Now that everyone has played the same number of games, we can make some definitive statements about the season:
Definitive Statement #1
There is no clear-cut favorite to win the premiership.
As this half-season has shown, everyone can beat everyone and everyone can lose to everyone on any given day. It’s just a matter of who plays at their best and who doesn’t.
Definitive Statement #2
The Brisbane Lions AFL Women’s team will have more points than the men.
I’ve said this all season and there is no reason to back away from it now. From 12 games, the Lions Men’s team have 8 points (2 wins). In 7 games, the AFL Women’s team had 26 points from 6 wins and a draw.
Definitive Statement #3
Every team except for Brisbane can get into the Eight.
It’s really weird, but true. Only 2 games separate 17th-placed Hawthorn from 8th-placed Essendon. Considering there are 10 games left in the Home and Away season, anything truly can happen.
Definitive Statement #4
I have no idea what I’m doing in the Tipping Contest.
Great segue! Let’s take a look at the standings:
|PLACE||TIPPER||Round Tips||Round Margin||TOTAL Tips||TOTAL Margin|
As you can see, we have a NEW TIPPER! Everyone please give a hearty welcome to long-time lurker-first-time-tipper-in-our-contest Dolph Ucker! He even kicked my ass the first time around. That’s two weeks in a row of only one correct pick for ole Balls. I’m telling you, I’m losing it…As always
DON’T FORGET TO PUT THE FOOTY TIP IN!
NO MORE BYES!
Here is the FULL schedule (all times Pacific):
Thursday, June 22, 2017
2:50 AM – Adelaide Crows v Hawthorn Hawks at Adelaide Oval
This figures to be a good game. This is essentially the last chance the Hawks have to salvage this season. Win this game and they are right in the thick of it. Lose it, and the Hawks can start making vacation plans.
Friday, June 23, 2017
2:50 AM – Sydney Swans v Essendon Bombers at the SCG
The Bombers need to win this game. Period. For everyone’s sake and to put the Swans’ season in peril. Of course, that means it won’t happen.
8:45 PM – Collingwood Magpies v Port Adelaide Power at the MCG
This one shapes up to be quite the interesting matchup. Port doesn’t play as well away from home, but that doesn’t mean they’re West Coast either. Are the Pies for real?
11:35 PM – Brisbane Lions v GWS Giants at the Gabba
Another late Friday night in North America and another opportunity for me to go to sleep at a decent hour. Only BFC and his Giants-guernsey-wearing-girlfriend will be watching this one live. And sexiness will surely ensue.
Saturday, June 24, 2017
2:25 AM – Western Bulldogs v North Melbourne Kangaroos at the Etihad
I’ve honestly got no idea who will win. Absolutely no idea. The Doggies barely showed up in losing to Melbourne. Will they show up this week?
2:40 AM – West Coast Eagles v Melbourne Demons at Domain Stadium
The Eagles rarely lose in Perth. I feel that’s all that needs to be written about this game.
8:10 PM – Geelong Cats v Fremantle Dockers at Simonds Stadium
Wait, you’re telling me that I can watch the Cats at a decent hour, watch the whole entire game, watch the Cats at home, and have a reasonably good chance that they will win? Is it my birthday or something?
10:20 PM – Richmond Tigers v Carlton Blues at the MCG
The Tigers will look to lick their wounds against the young and improving Blues. The Blues are learning to win close games while the Tigers thought they learned that lesson after close losses in the beginning of the season. Who has really learned best?
11:40 PM – St. Kilda Saints v Gold Coast Suns at the Etihad
Having the game in Melbourne gives a massive advantage to the Saints, but we know what happens when they are favored to win. Could it possibly be a tie?
Team By Team Outlook for the rest of the season
Adelaide Crows: The Crows are well-positioned to finish in the Top Two. The Double Chance would be huge in the finals as they can definitely be beaten on any given day. Anything less than a Preliminary Final would be a disappointment.
Brisbane Lions: The goal is to get more points than the AFL Women. It’s not going to happen. Thank God that part of Australia is beautiful!
Carlton Blues: Even if the Blues don’t make the Eight, the season has to be considered a success already as the infusion of youth into the lineup and the way they have responded ensure that the rebuilding will be shorter than expected.
Collingwood Magpies: The Pies are the ultimate enigma. They have played very well and can hang with any team in the competition, but have struggled to pull out wins. There is no reason why they couldn’t turn the corner, get on a roll, and make the Eight.
Essendon Bombers: The Bombers have to be the most exciting team in the league this year. No one knew quite what to expect after getting all the players back from suspension, but in my book they have exceeded even the most optimistic expectations. They have the ability to be in the Eight and play any team tough.
Fremantle Dockers: The Dockers started bad, got good, and got bad again. It’s been a roller-coaster season and it figures to remain that way until the end. If the Dockers can get good again, they are in position to possibly make the Eight. As the Bulldogs showed last year, if you get good at the right time, good things can happen.
Geelong Cats: At their best, the Cats can beat any team anywhere. The problem is that the Cats do not consistently play at their best. They should make the Top Four and enjoy the Double Chance that goes along with that. A Preliminary Final is the floor but they have the talent and coaching to win it all.
Gold Coast Suns: If the Magpies are an enigma, the Suns are a riddle. They manage to play well and upset good teams but they also get hurt a lot and lose to teams. A lot. They are in the pack, so they have a chance, but, like it seems happens every season, the injuries are mounting and it’s only a matter of time until they fall back down the ladder.
GWS Giants: This is the team. If there is any team that should win it all, it is this one. They have managed to win despite multiple players being out for injury or disciplinary reasons. Once every player gets back in, the coach will have the luxury of resting players for finals. If the Giants don’t make the Grand Final, I will be shocked.
Hawthorn Hawks: Falls from grace are rarely pretty. This is not the same Hawks team as in previous years yet they are somehow within 2 games of the Eight. There is enough memory of how to play well in this team that it makes them dangerous. They have to prove it on the field, though.
Melbourne Demons: I have an irrational hatred of the Demons. I really do not know why. Luckily for me, they play well and contend and then, for some reason, shit the bed at crunch time. They will be in the finals picture for sure, but the eventual bed-shitting will be fun to watch.
North Melbourne Kangaroos: The Roos were set for a big fall after letting go a large number of players from last year. To their credit, they have played very well and have been unlucky to lose some close games. Their recent form is worrisome, though, and they need to get back to the effort they showed at the beginning of the season in order to make something of this crazy year.
Port Adelaide Power: The Power are right up there with the top teams in the Eight, but something feels off. Good teams don’t get blown out by large margins like the Power did. Is it a lack of killer instinct? Lack of mental toughness? This is my pick for the first team in the Top Four to get eliminated.
Richmond Tigers: The Tigers have been wonderful all year when they play their game. When they are forced to play another team’s game (like happened with Sydney this week), they retreat into shells and lose close games. That doesn’t bode well for finals success. If the Tigers make the Top Four, they will, like I said of the Power above, be out fairly quickly.
St. Kilda Saints: The St. Kilda Saints will finish 10th. So Litre_cola has written and so it shall be done.
Sydney Swans: On the bright side, the Swans have turned around their season and have a great chance to get into the Eight and do some damage. On the not-so-bright-side, how was it that the Swans lost 6 in a row to start the year? Something doesn’t jive.
West Coast Eagles: The Eagles will be in fine shape until they leave Perth. Then, the season will be over.
Western Bulldogs: The reigning champs have been inconsistent all year. Then again, that happened last year and you saw what happened. They could just as easily repeat last year’s feat as they could miss the Eight.
That’s all for this week. A hearty welcome to Dolph Ucker and a reminder to you all that it’s not too late to get in on the fun. The season is halfway over, but the excitement is building and the positioning for finals spots will make the games even better.
Besides, what are you going to do, watch baseball?
See you next week!