BACK to back draws for the Giants, two Sunday epics and St Kilda had a weekend training session Saturday night, just another typical round in this immensely fascinating season.

Yet everyone was talking Collingwood come Monday, like it or lump it when the Pies move on their coach its big news, and we’re rapidly approaching a crescendo.

But it’s all set up for two other Victorian teams who are surging as likely candidates to do a 2016 Bulldogs this year.

1.    Let’s get Collingwood out of the way. Queen’s Birthday was disappointing but hypothetically it wasn’t all that bad at that point, the team was showing actual signs of emergence. Competitive in many games, could have been such a different story. It’s post the bye that really confirms the inevitable. Listless against Port Adelaide, no good at all against Hawthorn and then much the same against Essendon. Is it all Buckley’s fault, possibly not, has he shown many instances this year of coaching a side well, absolutely, but no matter whether you think he can coach well now, or eventually, or if there are other mitigating circumstances, the club needs a freshen up. To go on unchanged would be the long way round with no certainties. It’s been a long time since the 2011 season going 20-2 with such a young side. This will be a bottom four team crying out for a new start, it needs to, a club this big doesn’t do well languishing.

2.    Now Richmond, the other big loser from the weekend in a different way. We knew it. This column gives the slightest sniff that maybe the Tigers deserve some credibility and whooshka, the half-time Auskick kids would have provided better competition than whatever that was. Bloody awful. So where are they? They’ll make the finals, wins in the bank are wins in the bank. But you could argue come September they’ll be the least fancied premiership contender, the two only teams below them in the eight have provided their last two losses.

3.    So the Saints, and Demons for that matter too, look great. So much to get excited about. And their form looks trustworthy. Not to say they both play off in the big dance, this is all a fast rise and another step in the right direction. But St Kilda and Melbourne both have the weapons this year to win a final, in the least, and from there good luck. But as last year proved, winning form is good form, so winning a final from, say, 6th or 7th, can stack up. Get excited.

4.    And as for the eight, it’s done. The Eagles are a disappointment and we’ll address them later, and unfortunately for the Dogs and Dons, not to discredit their credentials but we just like the eight teams in there now more. Ideally we’d swap out Richmond for the Bulldogs, they’d probably be more likely in the Spring, but what’s done is done.

5.    Luke Hodge, four-time premiership player, two-time Norm Smith medallist, fair resume you have to concede. Also worth noting that in the two flags he won without taking home Norm, he actually polled medal votes on both occasions, so been properly influential in four winning Grand Finals, that’s beyond excellent. A walk up Hall of Famer as soon as he is allowed in.

6.    Good to see Jason Johannisen re-sign this week. You always felt that given the offers were so compelling yet he was no better than 50-50 staying was always a strong possibility . His loyalty was ever-present and in the end saw him say no to big money elsewhere.

7.    Quick one on the Hawks, their resurgence somewhat helping the embarrassment come the draft. Mind you, as it stands, the Saints still walk in with Picks 6 and 12, and no matter how you cut it, that’s way too much considering how much footy Jaeger O’Meara has played and how questionable his knee is going forward.

8.    On the flip side, Tom Mitchell has been brilliant for only one first rounder. Averaging 35 a game, ranked first in the comp., seven tackles a game, ranked 10th. He has had 30 and five 12 times this season, which for an inside mid is supreme. Credit where credit’s due.

9.    Geelong sit pretty in the top four, and a premiership fancy allegedly. But the percentage rule is always reliable, and despite their impressive win-loss, their 119% is not too dissimilar to the eighth place Sydney with 113%, who started the season 0-6. Come September, sure, home ground advantages and double chances matter, but I know who I’ll be rating higher by then.

10.  As for the flag, the Crows might have endured their lull and will come back strong in the run home to the finals. And Port Adelaide are looking very sound, a super performance over in Perth to get into the top four. And as per the last thought, percentage is always a good indicator, only two teams have a % over 120 and it’s both SA teams, 139% and 132% respectively.

11.  Two ones on luck – firstly GWS. Seven games under 10 points for four wins and two draws. They sit second on the ladder and will be a big threat deep in September, but had they lost all those close ones, they’d be sharing the same record as Hawthorn and Gold Coast right now.

12.  Conversely, the Roos, sitting second last with four wins. However, they’ve lost all five games under a goal, and had they succeeded in all of them, they’d be percentage out of the top four. Crazy.

13.  Just a diversion to television, the Front Bar may be the straw that breaks the Footy Show’s back. We expected Channel Seven’s offering to do ok, maybe peter off admirably. But after a first week showdown ratings victory, in the second week it actually increased its margin suggesting potential long-term success. If, and we won’t know yet, the audience votes with their remotes and sticks with the Front Bar, it’s curtains for one of the longest-running shows on Australian television.

14.  Back to the footy, two coaches not really in the spotlight, and perhaps rightly so, but it’s worth the question – Adam Simpson and Luke Beveridge. One is still in the finals race and the other has runs on the board with last year’s cup. Both are safe in their positions but the way things are tracking both will be at the helm for disappointing years, most certainly putting some pressure on starting well next year, absolutely.

15.  Looking at some of the trends in game, bloody hell the Crows have some room to improve staggeringly. They have only won five first terms, close to the worst in the league, yet sit atop the ladder. If they start well they are almost impossible to beat, having won 12 of 16 final terms.

16.  On the flip side, we always hear about the ‘premiership quarter’ – the worst team in third terms, Collingwood. Only won four third quarters all year. In fact their trends are so reflective of where they’re at: start poorly, have really good second terms in response, showing promise and encouragement, then go and become the worst side in football after the main break, totally eradicating any good work they’ve done.

17.  Onto some games this week, firstly Friday night, Saints vs. Bombers. The Dons aren’t without a show in this, the Saints will be coming down from a massive win and stranger things have happened. You’d really want to see St Kilda win and win well and show that they can become consistent. Essendon, are a good side and will test. Should be a cracker.

18.  Geelong takes on Hawthorn on Saturday and gee, find some loose change for the Hawks. They’ve found a groove, heck, it saw them defeat the ladder-leading Crows in Adelaide, and given how much this column rates the Cats, it will all be too fitting if the upset takes place. Gather all your loose change.

19.  What are we calling the Sydney derby? Battle of the Bridge or something? Who knows. Either way, a stellar matchup up there Saturday, the prize for the winner is huge. Giants win, they stifle their rival and really validate they are legit premiership fancies this year. But if the Swans can roll on and take another big scalp, they are coming with a bullet, a serious threat to go one better this year most definitely.

20.  And a belter up in the NT, the Darwin Demons taking on Adelaide. Similar to the Giants-Swans game, the winner gets so much. I don’t think the loser of this game loses out terribly, both teams have done enough they can rebound, but if Melbourne win they can seriously aim for top four where the world becomes their oyster. For the Crows, a big win against an up and coming side like the Dees, and the rest of the competition has their work cut out trying to stop this year’s flag heading to West Lakes.

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