Round 19 Review
Quite ironic - the week we declare we have to be ultra-cautious given some additional factors in the performance of teams at the moment (Covid protocols, fixture changes, no crowds etc), we end up going 8/9 for the round.
We missed the Blues losing to North. Even though the preview was written with McKay in the side, not sure if we would've had the courage to pick North regardless. Still pleased to get the rest of the games correct in a tricky week for tipsters - finding Adelaide, GWS and the Bulldogs as outsiders.
We also gave Fremantle a fair chance and they burst out of the blocks before losing Fyfe and Walters to injury and fading fast. Hard to know whether they could've held on, or whether the Swans onslaught would have nailed them regardless.
Get ready for Carlton to dominate the media this week. Might save the likes of Fremantle and Gold Coast from the blowtorch a fair bit. Easier to go after a coach under the pump than the teams arguably underperforming, perhaps.
Looks like the Herald Sun has dropped off publishing expected scores for a few games recently. Might be in Olympic mode instead. We've been able to fill the gaps through the good folks on Twitter, but hopefully the numbers return to the paper from next week.
An uncompromised finals series is on a knife's edge at the moment. Really hoping things somehow improve in Victoria and Sydney in particular. Will we get to at least 50% crowds and give some home ground advantage to those who have earned it? Bloody hope so. Crucial last four weeks - would probably sacrifice games in the regular season being played elsewhere if it meant we could buy some certainty for the finals...
Who Won The Round?
Tricky one - we will go with GWS. We had them as our team under pressure this round, given they had lost three of their past four matches. Granted, they met Essendon at a vulnerable moment, but kept them to only 55 points and only a single goal in the second half. Credit where it's due. Thanks to other results, they're now in the eight...
Who Lost The Round?
This one isn't so hard - Carlton. Even though we have been critical of the pile-on when Carlton were losing to good sides by under four goals, this time they don't have much of an excuse other than missing their full forward.
Defensively they have been saved by Weitering and Jones for too long. When those two had an off day and were soundly beaten, the floodgates opened. Big month for Carlton, and the coach in particular.
Port Adelaide 97 def Collingwood 69
Expected score: 105 v 71
Pretty predictable result here, with Port Adelaide just too good at the turnover game. A couple of turnover goals from their defensive 50 plus a few quick ones from their forward 50 was basically the difference.
Collingwood in real danger of tapering off - big watch on their last four games.
North Melbourne 116 def Carlton 77
Expected score: 92 v 77
Even though the scoreline probably flattered North Melbourne, the Blues have no excuses. Their 166 pressure rating isn't even in their top five worst numbers this season. Completely unsustainable for a team at least meant to be in the finals hunt for most of the year.
North Melbourne look like they're having way more fun than Carlton, despite winning three fewer games. Credit to the coaching, because the list still needs a heap of work. Good to see Stephenson, Thomas, LDU and Larkey dominating.
Brisbane 120 def Gold Coast 71
Expected score: 133 v 84
Tale of two halves, this one. The Lions basically didn't show up for the first half, posting the worst pressure rating of any side over the first two quarters. It didn't improve dramatically in the second half either, but offensively they found a way to completely carve up the Suns defence.
Thirteen goals to one after half time. Something went horribly wrong for the Suns. A large portion of the Lions scores came from forward 50 chains - 5.2 from winning the ball back in their own forward 50 is a massive number.
The Lions were +31 contested possession in the second half. No other side had a better differential on the weekend. They only managed to break even in that area in the first half.
Big result for Brisbane after falling behind in a pretty crucial game for their top four hopes. The Suns are still among the most disappointing teams of 2021 in our book.
West Coast 94 def St Kilda 86
Expected score: 78 v 73
We mentioned the key defensive vulnerabilities of the Saints being a key factor in this one. As the game played out, it became obvious we missed the real story up the other end - West Coast's inability to defend in the air themselves.
The Saints took 14 contested marks in their forward half on the weekend. Ten of them in their forward 50. The number is even more strange given they only took one uncontested mark down there, for the MATCH.
Only five other teams have managed a single uncontested mark in their forward 50 this season. All of them have lost, all of them significantly.
The Eagles are in an interesting spot - good enough for finals, yet still so far off the better teams. Hard to see them turning it around unless their stars can carry them, or they find a way to lift in pressure and contested possession to keep the ball away from their defence long enough.
Western Bulldogs 85 def Melbourne 65
Expected score: 77 v 77
The weather made this a genuine coin flip, and expected score suggests that's exactly what we got. The Dees offence still has trouble posting a good enough score to assist their solid defence. The Dogs weren't exactly suited to the conditions either but managed a few more goals from their midfield to give them an edge.
It was good to see the Bulldogs able to win a different way than their usual method. No one has taken more forward 50 marks than the Bulldogs this season - on Saturday night they could only find six marks in slippery conditions. Their pressure (a 199 figure, basically finals standard) and their ability to win some important clearances replaced their usual free-flowing possession game, a very good sign for the finals.
The Dees don't need to panic. Ben Brown is looking fine and will benefit from a dry game for once soon enough. The same with Tom McDonald and Bayley Fritsch. Melbourne's ability to turn the ball over hasn't disappeared, so when the weather starts to play a bit more nicely it will play to their strengths like it did earlier in the season.
Adelaide 102 def Hawthorn 83
Expected score: 83 v 78
On the night it felt like the Crows couldn't miss. They certainly outperformed expected score. They were able to post their highest score since Round 4 through a mix of their accuracy and the fact Hawthorn allowed them 15 marks inside 50.
Remarkably, those figures above were on the back of only 48 inside 50s for the Crows. The Hawks had 59 inside 50s (19 in the final term) but grabbed only seven marks up forward. The difference in the game right there.
Neither side will trouble the winners list much in the run home.
Sydney 98 def Fremantle 58
Expected score: 105 v 69
A case of "What If" for the Dockers - what if Fyfe and Walters (and to a lesser extent Sean Darcy) weren't missing for large periods? More importantly, what if they didn't go back in their shells once they held a lead against the Swans?
We saw something similar from the Dockers against the Blues when they had them on the ropes. When you expect them to continue to play with a bit of dare, they do the opposite. A key learning from the season that will hopefully be ironed out by next year.
Some have mentioned the Dockers have been disappointing this season - in some ways that's correct, but next year will be the real test for them when they really should be pressing hard for a finals spot. They aren't out of the picture yet, even though a few teams seem to be travelling a little better at this stage of the season.
The Swans just continue to bank wins. Good luck to anyone who they face in a finals series. They could do anything.
Geelong 95 def Richmond 57
Expected score: 81 v 66
As Cats tend to do, they toyed with their prey for a little while before pouncing. Keeping any side to 1.4 in a half is pretty good going, let alone a Tigers forward line still stacked with talent.
In terms of Geelong's flag hopes, if you stack up the Cats and another top four side in Melbourne, for example, the clear difference is Geelong's ability to post a big total at the moment. Melbourne haven't hit 95 since Round 12. The Cats have done it four times, and three of their past four games (two and a half of those without Jeremy Cameron). It's the reason Geelong are now into outright favourite for the flag.
The Tigers might best be suited missing the finals this year, as strange as it sounds. Regroup for a 2022 season where the Tiger Army can hopefully return in droves, along with some fresh blood and a fully fit squad. A happy Tiger outfit is a scary proposition. This won't be the year for them.
GWS 66 def Essendon 53
Expected score: 78 v 71
Pleased to pick the upset in this one after seeing signs the Bombers weren't defending like they should against North Melbourne. The Giants are equally hard to trust (particularly with Greene still house-bound), yet they piled on six goals to one in the second half.
A low-pressure game was the kind of contest we thought the Bombers would thrive in. But with Parish held to a season-low disposal count and Zach Merrett and Dylan Shiel also quiet, the Giants mids were basically the difference. Did Tom Green cement his spot as Rising Star favourite? Hopefully the voters were watching this one...
Looks like the Round 20 fixture might have just been set (we hope), so a preview should drop on Thursday without anything in danger of changing. Hoping to go one better and pick all nine games correctly next week. Fingers crossed. Check back Thursday.