A month of footy behind us, three teams remain undefeated, three teams remain winless. We might have thought Hawthorn would be in that first group, perhaps Richmond in the latter, but no, the world has been turned on its head and all of what we thought might happen in 2017 has been thrown out the window.
Let’s bust some myths, let’s disagree with some hard opinion, a lot of what many think is real is not, and a lot of what is being dismissed already should not be hastily so just yet.
1. Damien Barrett wrote a column on the AFL website suggesting Dion Prestia used his crystal ball and Medium qualities to see the future, to see that Richmond would start the season 4-0, Hawthorn 0-4, and thus chose the Tigers over the Hawks towards the end of last season. Rubbish. Richmond offered a young man more cash than Hawthorn did, it’s as easy as that. Who was so confident nine months ago that Richmond would start 2017 so much better than Hawthorn, who thought then too that the Tigers might be closer to a flag than the Hawks, who still thinks that now anyway? It was simply dollars Damo, don’t get sucked into sexy hindsight, for goodness sake.
2. Who has Richmond beaten? Carlton offered very little in Round One, narrowly edging Collingwood in 2017 is far from a glowing endorsement, West Coast in Melbourne in monsoonal rain will always be a coin toss and was anyone surprised in Brisbane losing another game? The Tigers are a fraudulent four and zero, let’s see how they are going in a month – they are still every chance to still miss the finals.
3. Before we move back to Hawthorn, who have Geelong beaten? Fremantle didn’t turn up this season until Round Three, North Melbourne found a way to lose a game they should have won, that’s the zero and four North Melbourne, Melbourne should have had Geelong all wrapped up by three-quarter-time yet somehow lost, and then the Cats defeated Hawthorn by as much as the Suns did the week prior. Still every chance to not make the finals as well.
4. So, the Hawks. Up the proverbial without an oar, paddle, boat, lifejacket, whatever you like, it doesn’t look good. To make matters worse, the compensation of a great pick in this year’s draft to facilitate the bounce back isn’t there because they have traded most of this year’s and last year’s good picks away to get O’Meara and Mitchell in. So they’ll need to be ruthless in the trade, and that means the likes of Rioli, Gunston, Smith, Puopolo and Breust. And if that sounds too fantastical, they’ve got form in moving big names, Mitchell and Lewis, so to not repeat the dose this year would be massively inconsistent, especially when it’s now even more important to do so.
5. David King is suggesting Jordan De Goey needs to come in ahead of time to help the Magpies out. De Goey did a seriously dumb thing and his three-match whack was on-point. To then say that he can come back early because the team needs him is awful – firstly, what kind of message is that sending about how strong your club is, and two – who made De Goey Chris Judd suddenly and that influential to a side with clearly more problems than just missing a 21-year old who hasn’t really proven anything yet?
6. And then Kingy’s second howler – sending Ben Reid forward. Sure, he is a nice catch of the ball and maybe a better target than White or Moore right now, but who’s to say he’ll kick any straighter, or even get a chance to hit the scoreboard with the way the Pies are butchering the ball going forward anyway? And even if Reid looks ok as a forward, what impact does it have the to the back six who are thin as it is for reinforcements. Not a good week for you David my man.
7. Any muppet who thought Jack Ziebell or Josh Gibson should have gotten weeks, a fine, anything for their hits, seriously needs to consider professional rubix cube or kite flying. Yes, protect the head, yes, heavily penalise those who take cheap shots or show a lack of sportsmanship. But a suspension, please, it’s a contact sport, sheparding and clean, fair hits are still promoted, I have no idea what’s going on sometimes.
8. The loser of Tuesday’s game is done for 2017. For Collingwood, to lose to an Essendon side that is vulnerable, beatable, and other than a rousing win in Round One are showing they are not yet on the way back up from 2016 – it would be the lowest of lows. Buckley will then be looking at when, not if, will be the right time to exit, during the year or at year’s end.
9. For Essendon, after that big win against the Hawks, it’s been flat since. Nothing gets a season back on track like a massive Anzac Day, and to take down Collingwood and get to 2-3 will be huge, the confidence it would provide the whole club can’t be measured. Lose though and its curtains.
10. How are the Demons not 4-0? Maybe ask Lewis and ol’ “Benson and Hedges” Hogan, but like I said earlier, they had Geelong on the ropes in the third quarter but still lost, and then Fremantle were admittedly great but the Dees should be winning that game every day of the week. They’re a good footy side, but they are dropping points which will hurt them down the road.
11. As for the Dockers, the eight is on track. They were MIA the first two weeks but should still win enough games to give seventh or eighth a real show. Any team that is coached by Lyon and has Fyfe, Mundy, Sandilands, Neale, Walters and now a couple of Hills will do well this year.
12. St Kilda are building a very strong case to maybe even host a final this year, let alone scrape in. They weren’t super last week against Collingwood but have all the ingredients to at worst win more games than they’ll lose, maybe even win 13-14..
13. A lot of talk about Collingwood’s pressure, especially the tackling. What’s been missed is the Sydney game was a false result. Because of the way the Swans dictate games you will always get more tackles than usual. So the mass spike in tackles by the Pies was not because of greater intensity but because of how that game was played. It’s like saying “oh, Richmond is usually great at set-shot accuracy but last week they were really bad, what’s gone wrong” if that game was played in the wet. So last week wasn’t so much a regression of effort per se against the Saint just that the week before was an outlier.
14. The Crows look great, but are they too hot too early? Can they sustain what they are doing, most certainly not. There’ll be a patch where they might cool off, but they need to make sure that when the whips are cracking they are able to turn the form they are currently showing back on, because it’ll win them a flag no question.
15. Hawthorn are in the dumps, and it’s a big fall from grace so I can get why it’s sexy. Yet, Isaac Smith kicks that goal after the siren in Week One of the finals and the Hawks make the Prelim. He doesn’t, and now they have won only two of their last eight games – not good.
16. However, how about North Melbourne just quietly. Many have forgotten their horror back-end to last year, so with their poor start to 2017 the Roos have now lost 14 of their last 16 games. They might be rebuilding, but still.
17. The third man up ruck rule fiasco is heating up. I like the new rule; it definitely helps ruckmen out. But the nominate thing, why do we need that, it’s just adding confusion. How about two ruckmen go for it, if a third player gets involved for whatever reason, free kick against? The nomination aspect seems totally excessive and redundant.
18. Three big games this week to highlight – firstly Melbourne against Richmond Monday night. Melbourne is a much better team, have been losing games they should not have, and Richmond is not too dissimilar to the likes of Geelong and Fremantle, so if they lose they’ve stuffed up big time.
19. Sydney take on the Giants on Saturday, the eighteenth franchise has never won at the SCG and in theory should do so quite easily however a slip up is a big chance. The Swans aren’t that bad, sure, the Giants are good, but has the potential for an upset this one.
20. St Kilda has Geelong this week in a monster game. The Saints are the superior team, no question. A reality check for Geelong backers is in store, St Kilda will show they have leapfrogged the once-mighty Cats.