We are getting closer and closer to the end of the Home and Away season and things are heating up. This week, someone else got 8 out of 9 on our tipping contest, the finals picture got muddled, and the fight to avoid the Wooden Spoon has a new contender! Let’s begin.
Welcome to Balls of Steel’s AFL Beat!
The Round started on Australian Friday Night Footy with what was the Match of the Round: First-placed Adelaide hosting the second-placed Geelong Cats. During the week there had been a lot of speculation as to whether best friends Patrick Dangerfield of the Cats (bone bruise) and Rory Sloane of the Crows (concussion) would play. Luckily, both passed last-minute tests and were in the starting lineups. Sadly for Cats fans, Dangerfield was less than his best but he was still one of the best Cats on the ground which tells you all you need to know about how this game went. The Crows won handily by 21 in a game that really wasn’t that close. Here are the highlights:
On proper Friday night, we had, as someone noted in the Sexy Friday open thread, a “cracker” of a match between the Essendon Bombers and the North Melbourne Kangaroos. The Roos fought really hard and it was back and forth all the way into the fourth quarter. I’m not sure if fatigue set in or what, but the Bombers took control and ended up winning the game 132-105. It really was a great game to watch. Here are the highlights:
Almost simultaneously, the Melbourne Demons were hosting the Port Adelaide Power in a match that would determine if the Power are legitimate finals contenders or simply flat-trackers like the West Coast Eagles are referred to. Well, chalk one up to the flat-tracker tag. I was surprised, but watching the game, it was obvious that Melbourne were better than Port on this night. Whether that means either team is able to do anything in finals is a different story, but for now the Demons came away with the 88-65 win. Here are the highlights:
Later that night, the Western Bulldogs hosted the Gold Coast Suns who are now in the midst of their yearly freefall down the ladder. There was no surprise to this one as the Doggies dominated and almost doubled the Suns’ score. The final was 110-56 and the young Suns are not doing much to help save Rodney Eade’s job. Here are the highlights:
As usual, we had two late late games on North American Friday night/Saturday morning. The first had the red-hot Sydney Swans taking on the fading St. Kilda Saints in a game that the Saints desperately needed to win to remain in finals contention. I have to say that the Saints are doing a REALLY good job of fulfilling Litre_cola’s prediction of finishing 10th. They are now 11th after this week’s 101-59 loss. Which means they’ll probably win next week. Here are the highlights:
Speaking of teams that are red-hot, the surging Hawthorn Hawks traveled to Perth to take on the Fremantle Dockers. Check that, they traveled to Perth to beat the crap out of the Fremantle Dockers. To the tune of 100-48. This now sets up a tantalizing matchup next week between the Hawks and Swans. Here are the highlights:
North American Saturday night brought three more games starting with the Match of the Round Jr. in which the Richmond Tigers were hosting the GWS Giants. Like the Power-Demons game, this game would prove whether the Tigers are for real and a force to be reckoned with come finals time. Well, consider the test passed as the Giants got off to an amazing start (22-2) but then the Tigers came roaring back (sorry!) to lead at the half and eventually win the game 64-45. The highlights are here:
Did I mention that West Coast were considered to be flat-trackers? That means they can win at home but not on the road. This week, they had the opportunity to prove the doubters wrong by traveling to Melbourne to take on the Collingwood Magpies at the MCG. A win there would boost their finals hopes and confidence. Well…
Yup, the Pies took it in a scintillating display and a courageous fourth-quarter comeback from 24 points down. This one ranks as one for the ages and, if you can, I recommend a rewatch of the fourth quarter. Here are the highlights:
The last match of the Round was the Brisbane Lions’ best chance to avoid the Wooden Spoon as they were hosting the young Carlton Blues in Queensland. This was a must-win game since the Kangaroos had already lost. The Lions did their coach proud and withstood a Blues comeback in the second half to come away with a 30 point win. Here are the highlights:
Let’s take a look at the ladder, shall we?
|5||Port Adelaide Power||17||10||0||7||40||132.1|
|9||West Coast Eagles||17||9||0||8||36||101.4|
|11||St. Kilda Saints||17||9||0||8||36||96.7|
|15||Gold Coast Suns||17||6||0||11||24||83.3|
|17||North Melbourne Kangaroos||17||4||0||13||16||88.3|
Here is the updated Balls GraphTM:
Just because I think Hawthorn is capable of winning the rest of their games, I am keeping them in contention for finals. The Crows did no harm to the Cats as they remain in the same places as they started the weekend. The results of the Round, though, mean that the competition has tightened up. One game separates 5th place from 11th. Here are my updated predictions
Teams most likely in the Eight: Adelaide, GWS, Geelong, Richmond
Teams most likely out of it: Fremantle, Gold Coast, Collingwood, Carlton, North Melbourne, Brisbane
Teams in the hunt for 4 spots in the Eight: Port Adelaide, Sydney, Essendon, West Coast, Melbourne, St. Kilda, Western, Hawthorn.
The game against Sydney this week is hugely important for both the Hawks and the rest of the competition. Should the Hawks lose, they are out of contention and Sydney is now in line for a Top Four spot. Which is remarkable given their 0-6 start.
Footy Tipping Contest
Here are the standing after this week:
|PLACE||TIPPER||Round Tips||Round Margin||TOTAL Tips||TOTAL Margin|
As you can see, I was the one that got 8 out of 9 this week. I really hope I don’t mess up next week..
This week you had 2 count them TWO tippers that forgot to put their tips in. I’m sorry, but I have to do this:
DON’T FORGET TO PUT THE FOOTY TIPS IN!
Here is next week’s schedule (all times Pacific):
Friday, July 28, 2017
2:50 AM – Hawthorn Hawks v Sydney Swans at the MCG
This is probably the Match of the Season. It is a YUUUGEEly important game for both teams and it also helps that they are hated rivals. It’s really a shame it will be on in the middle of the night. I’ll need to wake up a little earlier to catch the second half.
8:45 PM – North Melbourne Kangaroos v Melbourne Demons at Blundstone Arean in Tasmania
Another one of those “home” games that are hosted in Tasmania. This time, it’s the Roos’ turn. The Demons are on fire and if the Roos keep losing, they are in danger of getting the Wooden Spoon. Must win? Yeah, pretty much.
9:10 PM – GWS Giants v Fremantle Dockers at Spotless Stadium
The Giants have a good chance here to get back to the win column and solidify their Top Four standing, but Toby Greene will most likely be on the sidelines as a punch to the face of a Richmond Tiger will mean he will be suspended for at least this game.
11:35 PM – Port Adelaide Power v St. Kilda Saints at Adelaide Oval
The Power are back at home where they feel comfortable and the Saints are back in the middle of the pack where they feel comfortable. So, I think you know which way this match will go, right?
Saturday, July 29, 2017
2:25 AM – Gold Coast Suns v Richmond Tigers at Metricon Stadium
The Tigers travel to Queensland after their huge win against the Giants, but they need to be careful as the Suns have pulled off upsets of top teams at home. Logic should rule, but in this crazy season, anything is possible.
2:25 AM – Carlton Blues v Geelong Cats at the Etihad
The Cats will want to make up for last week’s loss to the Crows and should take it out on the young Blues. However, the Blues have played everyone hard and this will probably be closer than most expect. The Blues may actually have a chance to win at the end.
8:10 PM – Western Bulldogs v Essendon Bombers at the Etihad
Back to back games at the Etihad again and this one shapes up to be a super matchup. If the Bombers can win it, they not only solidify their spot, but also possibly knock the defending champions off the finals chase.
10:20 PM – Collingwood Magpies v Adelaide Crows at the MCG
Can the Pies win again at home against superior competition? Even though the standings show the Pies in 13th, their percentage of 96.7 shows they have not been blown out by anyone. I expect them to keep this game close, again, and possibly nip it in the end if the Crows are feeling too good about themselves after the win over the Cats.
11:40 PM – West Coast Eagles v Brisbane Lions at Domain Stadium
Lightning rarely strikes twice in the same spot and the Eagles are at home here, so I expect them to win and for the Wooden Spoon drama to carry on for another week.
That’s all for this week. As I’ve mentioned before, I highly recommend that you all tune in now. The season is coming down to the most important games and the intensity has ratcheted up a few notches. Plus, with the AFL Watch app’s half-season package, it’s less expensive now to watch.
See you next week!