All of this, the AFLW Grand Final, the results of the Lady Footy Tipping Contest, the standings of the NEW Footy Tipping Contest, and all the AFL Round 1 action on
Welcome to Balls of Steel’s AFL Beat!
AFL Round One
Since 2008, the AFL season opener has featured the Richmond Tigers taking on the Carlton Blues on a Thursday night (late Wednesday night in North America) at the MCG. This year, the game took on more significance as Richmond are the reigning premiers and they unfurled their championship flag in the pre-game ceremonies before over 90,000 fans.
This all meant diddly-poo to Carlton as they stormed out in the first quarter, scored 5 goals, and took a a nice lead halfway through the first. Alas, the Tigers woke up and proceeded to chip away at the lead. At the Three Quarter mark, the Tigers took the lead for good and then rolled to a 26 point win. Here are the highlights:
The following night (Australian Friday night/North American late Thursday night), the Essendon Bombers hosted the Grand Final runners-up Adelaide Crows at the Etihad. It was a close game throughout with the Bombers leading most of the first half and the Crows taking the lead back in the Third Quarter. Once the fourth quarter rolled around, though, it was all Essendon. The Bombers overpowered the Crows, took the lead back, and held on to a 2 goal win. Here are the highlights:
On proper Friday night, the St. Kilda Saints hosted the Brisbane Lions, also at the Etihad. The Saints took a lead in the first half but the Lions came roaring back (sorry!) to go ahead midway through the third. Alas, they could not keep up the pace and the Saints took control late in the third and throughout the fourth to go home with the 25 point win. Here are the highlights:
The second evening game between the Port Adelaide Power and the Fremantle Dockers was never in doubt as the Power completely dominated from start to finish. At the end, the margin was 50 and questions are again arising about whether the Dockers are going in the right direction. Two things to keep in mind: 1) The game was in Adelaide, where the Power play best, and 2) The Power play best against teams that are worse than them. We’ll have to wait another couple of weeks to decide if the Dockers are really in crisis mode. Meanwhile, here are the highlights:
As you saw in the images above, the game in Cairns between Gold Coast and North Melbourne was wet. Like super wet. Like Cytheria wet. The Suns had plenty of experience playing in those conditions during the preseason, so they were better-prepared although the Roos started out with the lead. In the second, the Suns roared forward and in the third the Roos roared back when the rain abated somewhat, so the game was there for the taking in the fourth. Unfortunately for the Roos, the heavy rains returned and the Suns adapted best. At the end, the Suns took it by 16. Here are the highlights:
The last of the late late Friday night games had Hawthorn meeting the Pies at the MCG. Much was expected of Collingwood’s American Pie Mason Cox (ok, I’m REALLY sorry about that one!) and he, like the U.S. Men’s National soccer team, greatly disappointed. He was expected to lead the offence, but only had 6 disposals, no goals, and struggled to make a mark. The Hawks rolled to a 34 point win that was never really in doubt. Highlights:
I was greatly anticipating watching the GWS Giants take on the Western Bulldogs live on Saturday night. I was not disappointed. The GWS Giants proved that the hype laid on them this year is not for naught as they continuously fought for the footy and moved the ball better through the ground. The Doggies had a brief glimpse of competence late in the first quarter, but the rest of the game was all Giants. At the end, they delivered the biggest margin of the round, winning by 82, 133-51. Yeah, it was that kind of destruction. Here are the highlights:
I really wanted to watch my Geelong Cats play their first game of the season, but I had a big dinner and I’d worked out super hard early in the day and… well… I fell asleep. It’s probably a good thing, too, because the ending of the game was a heart-stopper. The two teams had battled hard all day with Geelong holding a big lead at Half Time. However, the Demons pushed back and took control in the third and fourth quarters. As they got to the final minutes, they were within a goal of taking the lead. Let’s take a look at what happened:
You can call that a comedy of errors and yes that was Cats coach Chris Scott getting up and going to the bathroom as the potential game-winning kick was being kicked. In truth, both teams were dead tired, but still. Here are the full highlights for the Cats’ win:
The last game of the Round featured the official AFL debut of Perth’s new Optus Stadium, the new home of the Fremantle Dockers and the West Coast Eagles. The Eagles got the right to host the first game and the excited crowd helped them stay right with the Sydney Swans most of the first quarter. They also helped the Eagles come back in the third to make the game close in the fourth. It wasn’t until late in the fourth quarter that Sydney ran off three consecutive goals to seal the 29 point win. Here are the highlights:
Let’s take a look at the ladder, shall we?
|2||Port Adelaide Power||1||0||0||4||183.3|
|4||Gold Coast Suns||1||0||0||4||141.0|
|6||St. Kilda Saints||1||0||0||4||130.5|
|14||West Coast Eagles||0||1||0||0||74.8|
|15||North Melbourne Kangaroos||0||1||0||0||70.9|
It’s only Round 1, so there is not much to say about positions. As the year goes on, I’ll break out my patented Balls Graph (TM) and track the movements. Let’s just say the Suns got lucky they got to play the Roos first…
One pattern I did notice was that the teams that got fatigued in the fourth quarter ended up losing their games. This happened to Carlton, Adelaide, Brisbane, and West Coast. The sole exception was Geelong and that was only because the Cats got lucky that Gawn missed the last minute shot as the Demons were also tired. Given that the preseason was cut down to two games and many players didn’t participate in AFLX, this is probably a good lesson learned for the teams going forwards. This lack of conditioning cost teams 4 points and should prompt them to improve their off-season conditioning programs.
Footy Tipping Contest
Another year, another contest and this time we have a full field of 12 contestants! As I promised, I will provide a nice prize to the winner. Here is where we are after Round 1:
|P||TIPPER||Round Tips||Round Margin||TOTAL Tips||TOTAL Margin|
|6||Joliet Jake Delhomme||7||11||7||11|
|12||Game Time Decision||1||36||1||36|
Big props to almost all of you as 8 or 7 out of 9 in the first round is a very difficult feat! Also, big props to ALL of you for getting your tips in! Well done and keep up the good work!
If you want to get in on the fun, there is still time! Here is the link:
DON’T FORGET TO PUT THE FOOTY TIPS IN!
AFLW Grand Final
Well, I suppose I had to talk about this eventually. My social media darlings, the Brisbane Lions, managed to get into the Grand Final against the Western Bulldogs last week thanks to a multitude of outcomes that went in their favor. One more thing went in their favor during the week leading up to the Grand Final as Doggies captain Katie Brennan was suspended by the AFLW for a hit in their Round 7 game and could not play in the Grand Final. The Doggies appealed and lost. There was controversy and talk they would take the case to the courts and the Human Rights Commission, but ultimately the Grand Final rolled around and Katie was on the sidelines.
This was doubly important for us here as nomonkeyfun and I were locked in a TENSE battle for the Lady Footy Tipping Contest! We were tied with 10 points of margin giving nomonkeyfun the advantage. If we picked opposite sides, the winner would take all. It turns out that is exactly what happened. I chose the Brisbane Lions (damn you, soft heart!) and nomonkeyfun chose the Western Bulldogs.
Everything started out well when I tuned in on Friday night after a long day of work to find that the Lions were ahead 7-1 at Quarter Time. The low score was due to the wet conditions as a big storm was blowing through Melbourne and the game was smack in the middle of it. The second quarter was scoreless even though the Lions had the better of possession and looked the tougher side. They were made to pay for not converting that advantage into points as the Doggies scored a quick two goals plus a behind to nothing for the Lions and took the lead. The Lions did fight back in the fourth and looked to tie or take the lead after getting the deficit down to 5, but the Doggies scored a final behind and held on to the six point win. Here are the highlights:
Congratulations to the Doggies for a well-deserved win. I wish the Lions could have converted some opportunites, but, as they say in soccer, El que perdona, pierde.
Lady Footy Tipping Contest
Here are the final standings for this year’s contest:
|P||TIPPER||Round Tips||Round Margin||TOTAL Tips||TOTAL Margin|
Congratulations to nomonkeyfun for the big win! I sent you an email this Saturday to get details from you so I can send you your prize. Check your junk folder just in case it ended up there.
Thanks to everyone for playing along and especially to those that joined late and still finished above BFC. That’s good hustle!
AFL Round 2
Here is the schedule for this week (all times Pacific):
Thursday, March 29, 2018
1:50 AM (Late Wednesday Night) – Adelaide Crows v Richmond Tigers at Adelaide Oval
The Grand Final re-match happens early this year and the Crows are coming off a surprising loss. Can the Tigers improve as their coach said they needed to?
10:20 PM – North Melbourne Kangaroos v St. Kilda Saints at Etihad Stadium
The teams play a special Good Friday day game which work out great for us in North America as we get a rare Thursday night game. How far will the Roos fall and how good are the Saints? I’m thinking this game won’t answer these questions at all.
Friday, March 30, 2018
7:45 PM – Carlton Blues v Gold Coast Suns at Etihad Stadium
Back-to-back games at the Etihad again this week. This time, the Suns won’t have the benefit of the rains. However, they do have the benefit of taking on one of the weaker sides from last season. Can they make it two wins in a row?
10:35 PM – Collingwood Magpies v GWS Giants at the MCG
If the Giants want to really show people they are legitimate Premiership contenders, they have to win at the MCG. This will be a big test for them, despite the fact that Collingwood lost in the first round.
Saturday, March 31, 2018
1:25 AM (Late Friday Night) – Brisbane Lions v Melbourne Demons at the Gabba
Can the Demons rebound from a demoralizing loss to the Cats? Can the Lions rebound from their painful loss to the Saints? Loser is in the lead for the Wooden Spoon…
1:40 AM (Late Friday Night) – Fremantle Dockers v Essendon Bombers at Optus Stadium
Another debut for the new stadium as the Dockers play their first official game there. You would think they would play better than last week. It is still to be determined if the new stadium will provide as much of a home-field advantage as the old stadium used to.
10:20 PM – Western Bulldogs v West Coast Eagles at Etihad Stadium
Another game between Round 1 losers that neither team wants to lose and get closer to the Wooden Spoon. Shall we call it the “West” derby? Sure, why not. I’m thinking the Doggies have the advantage playing at home, but, having watched their game against GWS, maybe not…
11:40 PM – Sydney Swans v Port Adelaide Power at the SCG
I’m thinking this is the game that shows who are really contenders this season and who are pretenders. The game is in Sydney, so it should be fairly obvious what should happen, but you never know…
Monday, April 1, 2018
10:20 PM – Geelong Cats v Hawthorn Hawks at the MCG
This week, we get a special Easter Monday day game which we in North America will get on Sunday night. Depending on how things go, this may end up either delaying the AFL Beat or it may run pretending this game didn’t take place. I think you know what I’m rooting for.
That’s all for me today. Lots of good games are on tap this Easter week. If you’re taking any time off, take advantage, stay up late and catch a game! I mystified a waiter this week when I was watching a game at dinner and he kept asking what it was. Maybe you can too. See you next week!