Round 7 Review
Updated: May 3, 2021
This round absolutely confirmed where you can find an edge in AFL tipping/betting/analysis at the moment. Week-by-week overreactions are still providing an amazing opportunity to look beyond recency bias and find winners (and value).
It usually takes five or six weeks of strong data to be able to spot the mistakes - no surprise that Round 7 was the sweet spot for some amazing market errors this week. (Behind The Footy is deliberately built to focus on analysis and selections rather than betting, but a few seem to have used it to have a bit of fun with their spare change. Good luck to them!).
Will try and keep the review fairly brief this week...
Footy is a simple game. In his coaching, Paul Roos often referenced two seemingly arbitrary numbers as a way to measure team success - missed tackles and fumbles. So much so that his teams would collect those numbers in-game. So many years later, it definitely still applies. Richmond stuck their tackles in the second half against the Bulldogs after being a step away for two quarters. Gold Coast made every tackle count against the Pies. Brisbane slipped an incredible number of Port Adelaide tackles on Saturday night. Both Hawthorn and North Melbourne were let down by critical fumble errors over the weekend. Success in modern footy is still shaped by tackling pressure and execution, particularly when finals roll around.
Speaking of hidden elements in the game - how often does a player bounce the ball almost immediately after receiving it and get into trouble? Too many examples to mention here but it's amazing how much it happens. You only have to look at Patrick Cripps' goal against Essendon as an example of how to take your full 15m allocation and do serious damage without having to take an unnecessary bounce in between.
One hunch to follow at the moment: good teams who play a poor team the previous week don't have the best platform to tackle another good team the week after (if that makes sense). It even might apply to teams who aren't necessarily poor but just put in a shocker - Port faced a lacklustre Saints team then had to front up against a Lions side who were travelling OK. Geelong obliterated West Coast and might have been softened up a little for the Swans who came to play. And so on...
All of these injuries at the moment suck. On the surface they seem to be more prevalent. Will be interesting to see the annual injury study at the end of the year to see any evidence of an increase.
Who Won The Round?
Brisbane - it was a close weekend for the round winner, but we have settled on the Lions. In the preview we mentioned they might have another gear to go to, even in the absence of Lachie Neale. It's been a slow build for the Lions but they are starting to look like last year's preliminary finalists again.
Who Lost The Round?
Collingwood - credit to the Suns, but the Pies were horrible. One of our highest rated defences at the start of the season, they don't look anything like that right now. The skill level has dropped off significantly, they seem to be far less predictable through the middle so their offensive connection has suffered, and Isaac Quaynor looks to be the only genuine creative player in their side at the moment.
For the neutral fan, it does set up for a fascinating clash with North Melbourne this weekend. Spare a thought for the Holden Centre if they drop that game...
Richmond 77 def Western Bulldogs 55
Expected score: 81 v 63
A win for those who read the preview, but it certainly looked shaky early on. The Dogs just gave all the opposition teams a full half of A-grade vision on how to beat them. The Tigers nailed their pressure in the third quarter (203) and finally capitalised on the scoreboard (5.2 to 1.1), forcing the Dogs into panic mode for most of the second half.
The Dogs will be fine. The Tigers are still capable of anything.
Gold Coast 79 def Collingwood 55
Expected score: 70 v 65
This game is the perfect example of how the Suns want to play - if you let them. Super tackling pressure, more bodies around the ball, win it back and go like hell up the other end to an open forward line. They did all of that because Collingwood were terrible defensively and failed to hit their targets on offence.
The Moore experiment forward was the right decision - he just doesn't seem to move like he does when defending. Plenty of examples of the Pies mids looking up to a pretty stagnant forward line with very little movement. Mihocek ended up with for goals simply because he was the one attracting the ball by actually moving around and finding space.
Perhaps a good spot to be against the Suns next week, but we will wait and see.
GWS 106 def Adelaide 39
Expected score: 123 v 77
We made a case for the Giants to win it, but filthy for not pulling the trigger and selecting them outright. After fading the Crows two weeks running we really should have just continued that trend here.
The Giants kept the Crows to a predictably low total by turning the first half into a high-pressure grind they don't enjoy. And given the Crows defence will always give you plenty of chances, GWS finally posted a 100+ total for the first time this year.
An interesting matchup next week for the Giants against the Bombers at home - another side who will give you some great looks up forward. Could they post 100+ for the second week running?
The Crows crash into a seething Power in the Showdown in Round 8. Ouch.
St Kilda 128 def Hawthorn 59
Expected score: 120 v 52
Felt quite ill being so confident in the Saints. Thankfully it was a painless watch as they never looked like losing to the Hawks. It was a perfect bounce-back spot for St Kilda with a seriously soft matchup. The market somehow didn't catch on - even though the Saints started warm favourites, they should have been much shorter in hindsight.
The Hawks are just super average defensively and lack a lot of leg speed through the middle. The Saints won their first clearance count since Round 4, thanks largely to Paddy Ryder. He didn't look like he'd missed any footy at all, but the big test might be how he backs up next week as a 33 year-old.
Brisbane 93 def Port Adelaide 44
Expected score: 99 v 60
Two road trips against good sides for Port Adelaide, two total disasters.
Port will be looking at their pre-game prep with CSI precision - the warm-up, the pre-game meal, the coaching messages, any player who looked like they were mucking around before the match, everything.
Something will change in their preparation for sure. Usually it's more of a placebo than anything. The 148-146 pressure number in the first quarter played right into the hands of Brisbane - 4.5 to 1.2 and it was nearly game over already.
Another top contender puts in a shocker! This season continues to surprise.
Sydney 90 def Geelong 88
Expected score: 76 v 111
One for the Expected Score Hall Of Fame here. What should've been a comfortable Cats victory somehow turns into a 2-point loss out of nowhere.
A lot said about the non-mark to Jeremy Cameron in the final 10 seconds. Not enough said about the free kick given away by Jordan Clark in the middle of the ground which lead to Papley's winning goal. Incredibly sloppy by Clark to infringe in a crucial moment and give the Swans an uncontested forward 50 entry.
The statistical dominance of the Cats was incredible: +26 Inside 50s, +33 contested possession, 28 scoring shots to 20. And a loss. Still can't believe they didn't win. A whopping 10 missed shots at goal doesn't help.
Melbourne 103 def North Melbourne 73
Expected score: 88 v 69
Too many people we know had a cheeky $5 on North Melbourne in case the Dees lost this one. It looked a much more likely scenario after the first two quarters, but ultimately the Roos just couldn't sustain their pressure and hit the scoreboard on offence. Again.
Melbourne seemed to dial up the pressure in the second half to give them a lot more energy. Crucially, they found an open forward line for Fritsch, Pickett and the midfielders to get to work. It wasn't pretty, but they got the job done. Undefeated at Round 7 for the first time since 1965, on top of the ladder for the first time since 2005.
Are we convinced yet? Nah, but they should lock up a finals spot in a few weeks which is a great starting point. Their sights should be firmly focused on a top four spot from there.
Carlton 123 def Essendon 107
Expected score: Not Published
An old-school classic between these two. End to end footy with plenty of goals and plenty of errors in front of a vocal crowd - is there anything better?
It looked like the Bombers could run away with it in the first half (off the back of a 200+ pressure rating) but the Blues lifted. Sam Walsh was unbelievable, basically wrestling back control through the middle on his own.
This was the perfect game for the Blues to show they can do some damage against the weaker defences. Their biggest issues lie in the balance between defence and attack. Can they get it right against the better teams? We might find out next week when they face the Bulldogs.
West Coast 132 def Fremantle 73
Expected score: 103 v 59
Couldn't believe this game was nearly a coin-flip in the market. Our preview declared West Coast as near certainties prior to the game. It took a 9 goal to 2 second half to get the job done but never really looked in doubt given the way the game was played.
In such an open game where every single player seemed to have as much time as they needed to find a target, the Eagles thrived. 17 marks inside 50 as we predicted, with their tall forwards kicking 12 goals between them (Allen was up the other end but Brander and Waterman chipped in down there and hit the scoreboard).
Fremantle again struggled to find avenues to goal outside of Matt Taberner, so 73 points was never going to be enough in a contest that resembled circle-work at times.
Another big preview for Round 8 coming up. The Tigers v Cats on Friday night already looks like the match of the round, with a few other tricky matchups to follow. Check back on Thursday for the game-by-game preview.