As I alluded to in the Saturday morning Open Thread, this has been another crazy weekend in the AFL. There is lots to cover. Let’s get right to it.
Welcome to Balls of Steel’s AFL Beat!
Last week, I dubbed this week’s Friday Night Footy the Match of the Round. It did not disappoint. I woke up early to catch the last quarter and I was riveted to my TV. Yes, this match was that good that I put it on the Chromecast. It was a thrilling close contest and, you know what, let’s just watch the last two minutes:
The Hawks managed to barely hang on and beat the surging Swans by 6. They also hang on to their finals aspirations which are truly alive. I said before that the Hawks could run the table and I think they still can. Depending on whether results fall their way, they could get in finals and make some noise.
On proper Friday night, the 17th-placed North Melbourne Kangaroos “hosted” the 7th-placed Melbourne Demons in Blundstone Arena in Tasmania. As I mentioned, the Roos are tough to beat in this windy stadium. One thing I did not mention in my preview last week is that the Demons had not beaten the Roos in the last 11 years. What happened?
Another close finish and a YUUUGE upset as the Roos beat the Demons. AGAIN.
At roughly the same time, the GWS Giants were hosting the Fremantle Dockers and I thought it was a no brainer that the Giants would win. They actually did, but the game was much tougher than expected and, if not for a few mistakes, the Dockers could have taken it. Here are the highlights:
Later that night, Port Adelaide hosted the St. Kilda Saints in another game that I expected to be a blowout. Not only was it NOT a blowout, the Saints actually led for almost the whole game! And then two bottles of nitro stout exploded in Litre_cola’s basement as this happened:
Wow. Talk about snagging defeat from the jaws of victory. That’s the Saints for you.
The two late late games did hold true to form as the Richmond Tigers took care of the Gold Coast Suns on the road and the Geelong Cats REALLY took care of the Carlton Blues on the “road” of the Etihad. Here are the highlights:
North American Saturday night brought three more games and another set of thrilling finishes. The first game up was the clash between the Essendon Bombers and the Western Bulldogs in a game that was crucial to both teams’ chances of getting into the Eight. The Bombers and Doggies fought hard all night and then something clicked in the waning moments of the fourth quarter as the Doggies scored the last four goals of the game to win by 30. The Bombers will certainly be disappointed in their kicking as they had golden opportunities but let them slip by. Here are the highlights:
The next game. Oh, the next game. It started in the middle of the night but by some stroke of luck I couldn’t sleep, so I was able to watch the beginning and the very end. If I told you that the Collingwood Magpies had a 50 point lead at one point in the third quarter over the league-leading Adelaide Crows, would you think I was having weird dreams? It’s true though! And the dreams turned into a nightmare for Crows coach Nathan Buckley as the Crows came all the way back to TIE the game with a kick after the siren. Unbelievable. Yes, that merits this:
Here are the highlights:
I still can’t believe that happened. It certainly makes things interesting at the top of the ladder…
In the last game, the West Coast
Flat-trackers Eagles hosted the lowly Brisbane Lions. Yes, I don’t even have to finish this paragraph as you know what happened. Here are the highlights:
Let’s take a look at the ladder, shall we?
|5||Port Adelaide Power||18||11||0||7||44||130.8|
|8||West Coast Eagles||18||10||0||8||40||105.9|
|11||St. Kilda Saints||18||9||0||9||36||96.7|
|15||Gold Coast Suns||18||6||0||12||24||82.4|
|16||North Melbourne Kangaroos||18||5||0||13||20||89.0|
Here is the updated Balls GraphTM:
Although the overall ladder positions didn’t really change much, things got a lot tighter and the contenders are closer to the leaders. Here are my updated predictions for the end of the season:
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.
It’s pretty much the same as last week, but one more loss and I drop the St. Kilda Saints and the Hawthorn Hawks. Only one of those teams is likely to win next week.
Footy Tipping Contest
Here are the standing after this week:
|PLACE||TIPPER||Round Tips||Round Margin||TOTAL Tips||TOTAL Margin|
We are back in a three-way tie for third. To continue the 3 theme, as you can probably tell, three count them THREE tippers did not stick the footy tip in! You know what that means!
DON’T FORGET TO PUT THE FOOTY TIPS IN!!
Here is next week’s schedule (all times Pacific):
Friday, August 4, 2017
2:50 AM – Geelong Cats v Sydney Swans at Simonds Stadium
Match of the Season Part Deux. It is a YUUUGEEly important game for both teams. If the Cats can pull this one out, they will have helped out a lot of teams trying to get into the Eight. It will be a good test to see how good the Cats really are.
8:45 PM – GWS Giants v Melbourne Demons at UNSW Canberra Oval in Canberra
Another one of those “home” games that are hosted elsewhere. This time, it’s the Giants’ turn. They play a few games a year in the nation’s capital. This is, I believe, the game where the Giants remember who they are and so do the Demons.
9:10 PM – Essendon Bombers v Carlton Blues at the MCG
The Bombers have a good chance to get well and forget about this week against the plucky Blues. This week’s loss to the Cats was the first in a very long time in which the Blues were not competitive. Can it be that so much effort without reward is getting to the young Blues?
11:35 PM – Brisbane Lions v Western Bulldogs at the Gabba
If the Doggies play as well as they did against the Bombers, this will be a blowout. However, I think Essendon played into Western’s hands a bit. If Brisbane slow things down and don’t get into a track meet with the Dogs, they have a chance.
Saturday, August 5, 2017
2:25 AM – North Melbourne Kangaroos v Collingwood Magpies at the Etihad
The high of the win in Tasmania will be in the back of the Roos’ minds while the disappointing tie to the Crows will be in the Pies’. One thing is for sure: Both teams will try hard to win.
2:40 AM – Fremantle Dockers v Gold Coast Suns at Domain Stadium
It’s a good thing the shitty game of the week is on in the middle of the night. I’ll probably wake up on Sunday morning to find out that the Dockers won.
8:10 PM – St. Kilda Saints v West Coast Eagles
The Saints get the flat-trackers at home, which gives them a fighting chance. They absolutely must win this or their season is over.
10:20 PM – Richmond Tigers v Hawthorn Hawks at the MCG
This is the game that will tell us if the Tigers are for real or not. It essentially is an Elimination Final for the Hawks, as are all of their games going forward. This is by far the toughest. Win this and they can easily run the table and get in.
11:40 PM – Adelaide Crows v Port Adelaide Power at Adelaide Oval
This edition of the Showdown has more meaning than the last ten Showdowns combined. Should the Crows lose and the Cats win, first place would be up for grabs for the rest of the season. Port has shown flashes of brilliance but need to beat their rivals in order to convice everyone that they are a force to be reckoned with come finals time.
That’s all for this week. This has been a sensational phenomenal amazing season and you really need to get in on the action now. Seriously, everyone in Australia is talking about this as one of the best seasons ever. You need to watch.
See you next week!
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