Half way through the season and we’ve just about shut the gate on the final 8. About 10, maybe 12 teams remain in the hunt for Red September, the rest just making up the TV numbers as inevitably season tickets are trashed, crowds stay home, pies end up in land fill and games reflect the tedium of ongoing defeat. The now lost joy of the new season for a bevy of also rans just a mangled wreck of resignation that no jaws of life can retrieve a spark of football life.
So what about the teams on the perimeter who have a sniff of a chance of September participation?
- Essendon’s chances despite only a game out of the eight have just taken a dive with the seasonal demise of leader and superstar Jobe Watson;
- the Adelaide Crows appear a show especially if can string together wins scaffolded off the Adelaide Oval novelty factor and only then if/when the much anticipated Gold Coast Suns bubble burst manifests itself;
- while West Coast and Carlton can’t collectively assemble an Ikea lazy Susan let alone consecutive quarters and yet….?
Of these four teams, the next 5 games will declare their pluck and dare. Coming up for each of them and their likely chances are:
Essendon – Melbourne (too close to call but Dons could get bored out of it), Adelaide (home win however Crows travel in packs of 4 and 20), Geelong (whipped soundly), Port Adelaide (an away shellacking of indignite intensity), Collingwood (like being ripped apart by wild Dogs)…so that’s 1 maybe 2 wins without the potential destructive effect of any supplements charges (though at current regulator’s speed likely to feel the impact of this in the 2019 season)…its not enough! Verdict? Buggered.
Adelaide – North Melbourne (if the real North Melbourne turn up, Crows are cactus), Essendon (away loss), Port Adelaide (Show Down – say goodnight Nurse), Greater Western Sydney (risky away from home if orange tails are up playing for their futures), Hawthorn (Hawk stars will be back and aligned – ouch!)… so that’s possibly 2 maybe 3 wins and already 2 games out of the eight require GoldCoast to take the gas. Verdict? Buggered.
West Coast – Gold Coast (at Patersons so giving this an Eagle win), St Kilda (at Etihad but Saints a snag thats laid on the barbie a round or two too long and splitting down the seam), Fremantle (Battle of Subiaco -forget it), Sydney ( B O O M ! ), Brisbane (tails up and at Gabba so hand in your badge)… so thats 2 possible 3 wins but given already 3 games out needs resurrection style miracle to be troubling the travel agent in early spring. Verdict? Buggered.
Carlton – Hawthorn (Mick pops eyeball from explosive release of frustration), Greater Western Sydney (Mick content goes easy on rookie journo’s dopey question premise), Collingwood (Mick doesn’t talk to Bucks pre game or anyone post), St Kilda (Mick allows himself a rare gin mixed with the Gatorade, apologises anew to Richo), Sydney (Mick pounds fist on desk, again and again and again and again while mouthing the types of frustrated diatribe that vision mixers love so well)…so that’s 2 wins at best and currently 3 out. Reliant of everyone above them to implode like Juddy’s hammy. Verdict? Buggered.
What of the Gold Coast? Currently sitting as 8th duck in the row and ordained as most likely to fold in the week ahead. Look out if they get a taste of it this year as the proverbial penny bunger in the cattle semi transport. Where could it go wrong in the next 5? They have – West Coast (long way from home on big ground), Geelong (at Metricon yet a slim outside hope), Hawthorn (in Tassie the Hawk Fort), Collingwood (at home and a chance if Pie’s injuries continue), Western Bulldogs (chalk it in)..so thats at least 2, perhaps 3 and if fortuned by upset, up to 4 possible wins. Enough to stay tight. Verdict? Not yet buggered.
What about the rest?
Richmond – After 15 wins last season and the promise of finals influence ahead confidence and skills lie shot to hell in Punt Road disconnect between coach, players, game plan, skills, expectations and passion.
Western Bulldogs – Collectively preferring the heat of the hearth to the sniff of the trail. No discernible improvement during a season of reverse osmosis where middle tier talent ossified by injury and lack of progression to the next level.
Melbourne – High as a kite on the Paul Roos juggernaut. Playing magnificently while stoned but community health nurses awaiting the hard yards of recovery from the next morning downer to come amidst some character challenging beltings that inevitably coming from League heavy weight pushers.
Brisbane – Decision to move on Voss last year looked initially shaky after early season catastrophes now looks vindicated as kids come through loud and proud into the system. Jonathon Brown’s decision to commit to one more season to put the paddle pop back into the Lion now an inspired act of leadership.
St Kilda – Kids coming through after years of neglect under Lyon and the other guy who came after him Scott Waters yet still over reliant on old stagers for goals (Evergreen career best form Reiwoldt) and clearances (In and under subterranean Hayes). Genuine kiddie midfield talent emerging. One to simmer on the back burner for a season or three.
GWS Giants – Bolstered by genuine experience in Shaw and Mumford yet failing to excite amidst some serious beltings most thought were behind them. Needs numbers at home games and wins to entice the young guns to stay and prosper in foreign territory and avoid total irrelevance.