So, you know how I keep saying that this season is full of surprises and that you never know what’s going to happen on any particular week?
Follow me and I’ll show you some real crazy shit. Crazy enough to make Donovan McNabb lose his mind.
Welcome to Balls of Steel’s AFL Beat!
We start off the Round with the Australian Friday Night Footy clash of the Adelaide Crows hosting the defending Premiers, the Western Bulldogs. You would think this would be a close game, right? Yeah, not so much. It was close for a half, but then the Crows demolished the Doggies and ended up winning by 59. Seriously, the Doggies only scored ONE goal in the entire second half. Please fill in your own Mike Vick joke. Here are the highlights:
Later, on proper Friday night, the Hawthorn Hawks “hosted” the league-leading GWS Giants in Launceston, Tasmania. The Hawks have always done well in Tasmania and had been looking a lot better lately in reviving their season. The Giants, on the other hand, needed a win to solidify their Premiership credentials and get some confidence going into finals after last week’s tie with Geelong. What happened? Well…
Yes, this is now TWO TIES IN A ROW for the Giants as each team scored 97 points. It was a weird game as the Hawks dominated statistically but could not convert their scoring shots. At the same time, the Giants essentially went on two major runs that gave them the advantage. I watched the whole game and, in the end, it seemed a fair result. It certainly makes things interesting in the ladder. Here are the highlights:
The Collingwood Magpies – Essendon Bombers game started roughly a quarter into the GWS – Hawthorn match. I started watching both simultaneously (Giants-Hawks was on Fox Sports 2 and I had Pies-Bombers in the AFL Watch app) but pretty soon turned it off and focused only on Giants-Hawks. Collingwood started off the game pretty well but then they just got ran the fuck over. After the first half of the first quarter, Essendon took over and easily cruised to a 117-80 win. Here are the highlights:
The next game was Sydney Swans v Gold Coast but 1) I don’t really like either team and 2) It was late and I was tired from working out. Yup, I’m following my own advice! We’ll see how it goes… As for the game, Sydney dominated at home after a relatively tight first quarter. The final margin was 67. So close! Here are the highlights:
The two late late games were both blowouts but one was a surprise and the other not. Thanks to my digestive system and the fact that I usually wake up at 4:45 to go to work, I was actually awake for the fourth quarter of both games! Of course, since one of the games featured my Geelong Cats playing the Brisbane Lions in Queensland, I watched that game. It was nice to see that the strategy of flying directly to Queensland from Sydney after last week’s tie was effective as the Cats put up the highest score of any team this season and took care of business against the Lions in a 163-78 win. Here are the highlights:
That leaves the St. Kilda Saints – Richmond Tigers as the other blowout and the actual surprise. Remember how I thought that I had the Saints all figured out and that they seeminly lost games against good teams when they needed to win? Well, this week the Saints proved me wrong. There was a little something special to this game too as it was dubbed “Maddie’s Match 2.0” and extra efforts were made to fundraise for a cure for bone marrow disease from which Maddie Riewoldt passed away. Maddie was Saints star Nick Riewoldt’s mom and Tigers star Jack Riewoldt’s aunt.
The Saints started off the game strong and never looked back in a 138-71 victory. Here are the highlights:
North American Saturday night brought three more games for our viewing pleasure, starting with the North Melbourne Kangaroos hosting the free-falling Fremantle Dockers at the Etihad. I wasn’t planning on it, but I actually ended up watching almost the whole game. The Dockers were dominating, but could never stretch their lead beyond four goals as North would come back each time. Finally, in the fourth quarter, the Dockers looked like they were out of gas and the Roos took the lead.
It was at this point that I ignored the lesson I learned from the CFL and turned the game off. I figured the Roos had it. Well, take a look:
Yup. That’s gotta hurt. Moving on.
The next game on Saturday night was Carlton “hosting” the Demons at the MCG. Again, this is Melbourne’s home ground too, but the decorations were set up for the Blues. The Blues started off really well but then the Demons got back in it in the second and it became a see-saw game from there. In the end, the Demons took it by scoring the last two goals of the game. Here are the highlights:
The last game of the Round is traditionally in Perth and this time it was the West Coast Eagles hosting the Port Adelaide Power. Now, both of these teams have a reputation for being what they call in Australia “flat-track bullies”. This means that they can beat up on teams on their home turf but can’t win away. So, game in Perth, you knew what to expect, right? A big winning margin? Yes, you are correct but no you are incorrect in that it was the Power that beat up on the Eagles and not the other way around. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either. Here are the highlights:
Let’s take a look at the ladder, shall we?
|4||Port Adelaide Power||15||9||0||6||36||132.0|
|7||St. Kilda Saints||15||9||0||6||36||104.0|
|9||West Coast Eagles||15||8||0||7||32||99.9|
|14||Gold Coast Suns||15||6||0||9||24||85.5|
|17||North Melbourne Kangaroos||15||4||0||11||16||92.7|
The teams are starting to separate a bit as we can now differentiate between the pretenders and the contenders. Here is how I see things shaping up:
Teams most likely in the Eight: Adelaide, GWS, Geelong
Teams most likely out of it: Gold Coast, Collingwood, Carlton, North Melbourne, Brisbane
Teams in the hunt for 5 spots in the Eight: Port Adelaide, Melbourne, Richmond, St. Kilda, Sydney, West Coast, Essendon, Western, Fremantle, Hawthorn.
If you’re doing the math, that’s 10 teams looking at 5 spots. There is still a LOT to play for.
Here are the Balls GraphsTM for this week and last:
Footy Tipping Contest
Here are the positions in our Footy Tipping Contest:
|PLACE||TIPPER||Round Tips||Round Margin||TOTAL Tips||TOTAL Margin|
Litre_cola has re-taken the lead on total margin while I have also retaken fourth place based on total margin. Special shout out to Blax who got 8 out of 9 correct this week! Nicely done!
As always, DON’T FORGET TO PUT THE FOOTY TIP IN!
Next week is the Rural Round with special events and activities surrounding the games celebrating the role of Australia’s rural communities in modern Australian society. It’s an interesting subject because I’ve been reading Jared Diamond’s Collapse and he stipulates that the soil in Australia cannot sustain the extent of agriculture currently present in the country. Essentially, ways of thinking have to change around agriculture in order to make ecological changes that will prevent a food disaster. On the one hand, the government has changed policies to improve things but on the other a certain “reveration” for the rural life in Australia gets in the way of other changes. The Rural Round celebrations are a great example of what he’s talking about.
Here is the schedule for next week’s games (all times Pacific):
Friday, July 14, 2017
2:50 AM – St. Kilda Saints v Essendon Bombers at the Etihad
This could be the Bombers’ last chance to get back into the finals picture. If the Saints win, they can practically taste a finals spot. It’s a tough one to call, especially since I apparently don’t know anything about the Saints anymore.
8:45 PM – Geelong Cats v Hawthorn Hawks at the MCG
This is a “home” game for the Cats but played in Hawthorn’s home ground. That doesn’t seem fair, now does it? It’s a hugely important game for the Cats as a win keeps them in the fight for a Top Two spot and at the same time serves to possibly keep the Hawks out of the Eight. You don’t want Hawthorn to turn into last year’s Western Bulldogs.
9:10 PM – Port Adelaide Power v North Melbourne Kangaroos at Adelaide Oval
This should be an easy game for Port but the Roos played Fremantle hard until the end and could have easily won the game if not for that set-shot miss in the last minute.
11:35 PM – Gold Coast Suns v Collingwood Magpies at Metricon Stadium
This is a battle between two teams that are essentially out of it. If the Pies can win, they will force Gold Coast to officially think about next year and ask some difficult questions about which players stay and which go.
Saturday, July 15, 2017
2:25 AM – GWS Giants v Sydney Swans
This is the match of the Round. The Sydney Derby looms large in a similar way to the Geelong-Hawthorn match. If the Giants can avoid a third straight tie and actually win, that will have the double effect of dimming the Swans’ finals hopes and keeping the Giants on track for a Top Two spot.
2:40 AM – Melbourne Demons v Adelaide Crows at TIO Stadium
This could be a weirdly and hugely crucial game for both teams. The Demons are playing at one of their “alternate” home sites and may be getting some key players back from injury. I don’t know why, but I feel the Crows could slip here if they are not careful.
8:10 PM – Richmond Tigers v Brisbane Lions at the Etihad
Both teams were on the bad end of blowouts this week and look to heal their wounds. Unfortunately for the Lions, the Tigers are at home and are the better team.
10:20 PM – Carlton Blues v Western Bulldogs at the MCG
The Doggies look down and out. The Blues are still playing hard and improving each week. Are the Doggies now on vacation planning mode or do they have some pride left?
11:40 PM – Fremantle Dockers v West Coast Eagles at Domain Stadium
The Dockers are the “hosts” for this version of the Perth Derby. Like all good derbies, you can count on the old cliche of “you can throw out the records when these two get together”. A spot in the Eight is probably at stake here.
That’s all for this week. I do, however, want to point your attention to an Australian show I recently discovered on Netflix called “Laid”. It apparently aired about five years ago and just made it to the States now. I found out that some network bought the rights to adapt it in the US, but it never happened. It’s just as well as I have no idea how they could do it without ruining it.
The premise is that a girl in her thirties finds out that an ex-boyfriend has died. She then discovers he’s not the only one. It goes on from there and features some really dark and funny humor. I highly recommend it.
Here is the opening to the show:
If that doesn’t make you want to watch at least the first show, I don’t know what will. Well, what if I told you that fans of Justified will get a nice surprise in Season 2? Watch it!
And watch AFL. Seriously, the competition is tense and even, the games are fun to watch, and the announcers are millions of times better than NFL announcers. I couldn’t find a video online, but the stadium audio in the Hawthorn-GWS game could pick up a guy in the stands very clearly rooting for his team and saying funny things. The announcers were cracking up just like we would. Reason #430 why the AFL is run better than the NFL.
See you next week!