There is one week left and we are still not sure who among a few teams will make the Eight. It’s so nice that it comes down to the final week, isn’t it? Who got eliminated, who clinched, and who is in limbo? READ ON!
Welcome to Balls of Steel’s AFL Beat!
The Round started with the Match of the Round between the league-leading Adelaide Crows and the red-hot Sydney Swans at Adelaide Oval. Some (not me) were calling it a Grand Final preview. It was a thrilling game, no matter what, and it came down to the last quarter. While the Swans had dominated early in the first half, the Crows had come back to make it almost even at Half Time. From there, it was a tight game where no team was able to pull away by more than two goals. In the end, Sydney scored the last two goals of the game to pull out the 3 point win on the road. Here are the highlights:
Proper Friday night brought the usual slate of five games. The first one had Port Adelaide visiting Melbourne to take on the Western Bulldogs at the Etihad. This was a game the Doggies desperately needed in order to keep their slim finals hopes alive. Well, you can call Port the Vicks this week as they essentially toyed with them throughout the game, letting them build a lead and then taking it away, and snuffed out their hopes at the end with three straight goals. Here are the highlights:
The next game was of more importance to me as the Geelong Cats traveled up the M1 to take on the Collingwood Magpies at the MCG. I have tipped against the Cats two weeks in a row now and they have responded by beating the opposition in tough circumstances. This time, they were able to beat the Pies despite Collingwood starting the game strong and building a 31 point lead in the first quarter. Slowly, though, the Cats clawed their way back (sorry) and had the lead by Half Time. The second half was tight, but ultimately went to the Cats, who cut the Pies’ winning streak against them at 3. Here are the highlights:
The next game had GWS hosting the West Coast Eagles in a game the Eagles desperately needed to stay in finals contention. To their credit, the Eagles put up a fight after trailing heavily in the second quarter, but the Giants regrouped and held on for a comfortable 19 point win. Here are the highlights:
In the first of the Late Late games, the Essendon Bombers took care of business as I thought they would and handily beat the Gold Coast Suns at their own house 90-57. Here are the highlights:
The last game brought about a happy surprise as Hippo’s young Carlton Blues pulled off a big upset in beating the in-form Hawthorn Hawks and officially ending their season. In the process, the Blues have guaranteed that they will NOT win the Wooden Spoon. Here are the highlights:
North American Saturday night brought three more games and two more teams trying to keep their seasons alive. In the first game, the Melbourne Demons almost lost to the spirited Brisbane Lions squad but managed to hang on for a vitally important win that almost guarantees a trip to finals. The Lions will rue their inaccuracy in front of goal as that was the difference in a game that was close statistically. Here are the highlights:
While I do hate the Demons, I have to give major props to Jesse Hogan who has had a tumultous season to say the least but came back in this game to kick six goals and lead his team to victory in his 50th game. What has happened to Hogan this season? Oh, just a broken collarbone, testicular cancer, and his father’s death. NBD. Seriously, great respect for that guy.
Later on Saturday night, the St. Kilda Saints took on the North Melbourne Kangaroos in a game that would keep their VERY slim finals hopes alive. In reality, all pressure was off. So, what happened? Of course the Saints won and are now in, as Litre_cola has reminded us all season they will end up in, 10th place. Here are the highlights:
The last game of the Round had Richmond traveling to Perth to take on the Fremantle Dockers. Check that, to beat the crap out of the Fremantle Dockers. The Dockers received theirs second 104 point loss in a row and just cannot wait for the season to end. Here are the highlights:
Let’s take a look at the ladder, shall we?
|5||Port Adelaide Power||21||13||0||8||52||123.1|
|9||West Coast Eagles||21||11||0||10||44||104.3|
|10||St. Kilda Saints||21||11||0||10||44||98.9|
|16||Gold Coast Suns||21||6||0||15||24||79.8|
|17||North Melbourne Kangaroos||21||5||0||16||20||84.8|
And here is the updated Balls GraphTM:
This sets up a tantalizing final round of games next week. Here is how things stand:
Adelaide is guaranteed Top Two. Can drop to 2nd if they lose to West Coast and GWS beats Geelong.
GWS can finish as high as #1 and as low as #4 depending on results.
Geelong can finish #2 if they beat the Giants or #4 if they lose and Richmond win.
Richmond, Port Adelaide, and Sydney are guaranteed to be in the Eight.
The last two remaining spots in the Eight are up for grabs between Melbourne, Essendon, West Coast, St. Kilda, and Western. Realistically, Melbourne is in as Western and St. Kilda are so far behind in percentage that only 100+ point victories and teams above them losing will get them in ahead of the Demons. Will that happen?
The real battle is actually for the final spot in the Eight. If any team loses, they are out. Each team will look to win and win big so that they can overcome percentage deficits. It will be quite the intriguing week. Let’s look at the schedule (all times Pacific):
Friday, August 25, 2017
2:50 AM – Hawthorn Hawks v Western Bulldogs at the Etihad
The Hawks would love nothing less than to end the season on a high note and knock a team out of the Eight in the same way that they themselves got knocked out by the Blues this week. Even if the Doggies win, they would need three teams ahead of them to lose.
8:45 PM – Collingwood Magpies v Melbourne Demons at the MCG
Yes, the Demons won a game they absolutely needed to win, but they did not look impressive doing it. A more seasoned and experienced team (like the Pies!) would have beaten them this week. A loss here will probably not kill their chances, so I think the Pies pull the upset.
9:10 PM – Brisbane Lions v North Melbourne Kangaroos at the Gabba
This, strangely, will be the best game of the week to watch. This is the Wooden Spoon Bowl and the loser will “win” the Wooden Spoon. If the Lions can somehow win this, they will tie the AFL Women’s team in victories for the year!
11:35 PM – Sydney Swans v Carlton Blues at the SCG
It’s nice that the Blues were able to beat the Hawks this week because they sure as hell are not repeating that feat against the Swans in Sydney. For the Swans, this will be a nice opportunity to rest players and get ready for finals.
Saturday, August 26, 2017
2:25 AM – Geelong Cats v GWS Giants at Simonds Stadium
It really sucks that one of the Matches of the Round will be on in the middle of the night. I’ll have to wake up on Sunday and see whether the result sets up a rematch in the exact same stadium in two weeks or if the Cats have to travel to Adelaide.
2:40 AM – Port Adelaide Power v Gold Coast Suns at Adelaide Oval
The Suns simply cannot wait for the season to end. This will be ugly. Very ugly. On the bright side, the Power will have a nice tune-up for finals and may be able to boost their percentage.
8:10 PM – Essendon Bombers v Fremantle Dockers at the Etihad
The Bomber are in with a win. Luckily for them, they get the sad Dockers that have lost by over a hundred two games in a row. Will it be three?
10:20 PM – Richmond Tigers v St. Kilda Saints at the MCG
In an alternate universe where the Saints come up big in the clutch, they would win this. As it is, the Tigers will be looking to move into third position with a win and a possible Cats loss. 10th place beckons for the Saints.
11:40 PM – West Coast Eagles v Adelaide Crows at Domain Stadium
The Eagles will know by the first bounce whether they are in or out. The Crows will also know whether they will lose their top spot with a loss. I do not think that will happen and the Crows will cruise.
Footy Tipping Contest
Here are the standings after this week’s games:
|PLACE||TIPPER||Round Tips||Round Margin||TOTAL Tips||TOTAL Margin|
I have to give props this week to Dolph Ucker who, although he joined us midway through the season, has almost caught up to Blax on total tips! Well done, good sir! And well done to all of you that remembered to put your Footy Tips in! I guess I’ll have to keep the foot fetish pictures in the special folder for another week…
DON’T FORGET TO PUT THE FOOTY TIPS IN!
That’s all for this week. This is the last week of the regular season and then there will be a Bye Week before finals start. Don’t you worry, though, as I’ll have a full finals preview during the Bye Week and I’ll also compare my pre-season predictions with how the season played out. Hint:
Have a good week, everyone!
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