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2009 Team Predictions

March 2nd 2009 06:53
Well it's just about that time of year again, and with the Pies, Dons, Cats and Blues all into the Semis of the NAB Cup, we know that the season proper is just another week closer. So for the first time ever, here are the footyweek.com.au 2009 Team Predictions!

Teams are in order of predicted ladder position at the end of the 2009 regular season.

1. Hawthorn - There's no reason the Hawks shouldn't back up this year. After a resounding Grand Final win, and a promising pre-season, the Hawks look like the team to beat this year. They've kept their big stars and Jaryd Roughhead has had a particularly nice NAB Cup. The Hawks will go two in a row this season.

2. Western Bulldogs - Top 4 last season and the Dogs will only improve. They have a realtively young side, sprinkled with seasoned stars like Johnson and Akermanis. Although a major impression in the finals is still a year or two off, the Sons of the West will do the late E.J Whitten proud this season.
3. Collingwood - The young Collingwood side showed plenty of heart last season typified in their 86 point thumping of Geelong. If the Magpies can consistently present even half the discipline they showed in that game, they will go a long way this year. With a side choc full of young guns and having gained a few more in the draft (Sidebottom, Beames), Footyweek is predicting the Pies to make the big one this year.
4. Geelong - The Cats are still a very, very good football team. They are now a beatable team though. They'll still make the prelims, with Ablett and Bartel still improving, but the Cats won't be the same force we saw last year, a la Essendon 2000-2001.
5. Carlton - A bold tip, but the Blues are rapidly gaining momentum every match they play. Having beaten the Magpies twice last year, as well as the Dogs once, the Blues showed they can perform in the big time games. Judd is still in his 20s and Brendan Fevola seems to get better with age. The Blues will upset again this year and will make an impression in the finals.

6. Brisbane - The Lions have a new coach and he will have a great first season. Michael Voss knows the game so well, he will bring this team in. They were unlucky not to make the Eight last year as they had some good wins over tough opponents. It all just fell away at the end for Brisbane. This year, with Voss at the helm, that shouldn't happen. Brown and Black are wonderfully talented and the Lions will return to the finals scene this year.
7. Richmond - Firstly, this is NOT because of Cousins. Personally, Footyweek thinks Cousins will get injured at some point midseason. He won't play 22 games in any case. Richmond will make the Eight because it's been about 4 years in the making. With a myriad of talent across all ages, Richmond have just been building towards this year. With a first round challenge against Carlton, the Tigers will be tested from the get-go. They'll upset once or twice, and beat all the teams they SHOULD, to make it to 7th.
8. North Melbourne - North seem to be all over the place in the last 3 years. I have them in the top eight merely because I feel they have a finals quality gameplan hidden in there somewhere. They lost a couple of inspirational stars last year but will be boosted by the appointment of Brent Harvey - a man who bleeds blue and white - as Captain. They'll just scrape in to the finals and they might just upset Carlton in the first round.
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9. Adelaide - Adelaide have been hanging on the edge for two seasons now and this year they will miss the finals on percentage. They lost a great backman in Nathan Bassett and their side will be completely crippled if either Simon Goodwin or Brett Burton get injured again.
10. St Kilda - St Kilda are another team that were on the fringes last year. They showed little consistency and managed to slip into the top 4 by the grace of God. This year, they won't be so lucky. With Nick Dal Santo out of favour, the club's hopes rely on Nick Riewoldt, the only Saint who can be trusted to deliver 95% of the time.
11. Sydney - Sydney have a whole lot of nothing going for them this year. They've lost their best defender in Tadghe Kennely, and they will be hoping more for discipline than goals from Barry Hall. They are without a star forward, and they only have one or two decent backmen. It's the end of an era for the Swans.
12. Essendon - You can see that Essendon are building toward something big. It won't come this season. It won't come in 2010, but expect the Bombers to be a force again in a couple of years' time. This season will be reserved for the occassional upset of a team like North Melbourne or Carlton. Watch out for the rookies this year (especially Kade Klemke) because they will make the impact in the next few years.
13. West Coast - West Coast will do a little better than last year but they will still suffer greatly from the loss of Judd, Cousins and Michael Braun. Cox and Kerr can only win them so many games.
14. Fremantle - Fremantle have somewhat exorcised the demons of last year with the retirement of the main trouble-makers at the club. But now they have a captaincy issue (it must be Pavlich, who else?) and Footyweek has the feeling that the Dockers won't know where their next win is coming from. A long period of rebuilding begins.
15. Melbourne - Still a long, long, long way from a finals berth, but Melbourne got a good young talent in Jack Watts, and with him, a tiny pinprick of light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. The Demons will improve on last year but will still scrape the bottom of the barrel for wins.
16. Port Adelaide - The Power have a good line-up. There is no doubting that. They just can't perform. Port will self-destruct mid-season, the coaching staff will be sacked and some big name players will move states. Port will suffer their worst losing streak ever and will crash to the bottom of the heap.


P.S - This writer will try and update footyweek.com.au throughout the season but other commitments may prevent this.
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Grand Final Preview

September 24th 2008 05:54
Details: Geelong Cats vs. Hawthorn Hawks, Saturday 27th September 2008, 2pm.

Last time: Geelong 12.16.88 – Hawthorn 11.11.77, MCG/Rd 17, 2008.

Head to Head:
Geelong: 73 Hawthorn: 66 – 1 draw.

Latest Finals Meeting: 2000 1st Elim. Final – Hawthorn 14.8.92 def Geelong 12.11.83

Hawks


Strengths: The Hawks have the most potent forward line in the league. Lance Franklin and Jaryd Roughhead both finished in the top five for the Coleman Medal with the former taking the prize after cracking the ton in the last H&A round. Add to this the brilliance of Cyril Rioli, the rookie who is already kicking the type of freakish goals one would only expect from a more seasoned player, and Mark Williams who kicked 5 against the Saints and you have a recipe for a prolific attacking weapon. The Hawks have also accounted for themselves in the midfield department. Two of the most lethal kicks in the game, Sam Mitchell and Luke Hodge combine to clear the rucks and send the ball down to the danger forwards. Mitchell is a great organiser as well which is why he carries the mantle of Captain. Hodge can inspire a side to victory as he showed on Saturday night against St Kilda – playing the second half injured.
The Hawks’ defence generally suffices with players like Chance Bateman, Trent Croad and Brent Guerra covering most attacks.
Weaknesses: The Hawks main weakness was forgotten last week when Mark Williams kicked 5 goals. I’m referring to the occasional disappearance of Lance Franklin during a game. The Hawks dealt with this well on Saturday, taking advantage of the ‘on-fire’ Williams at the right stage and Roughhead helped, chipping in 4 of his own. The requirement of Franklin to kick goals was not desperate. The Hawks can not expect all of their forwards to be able to contribute on Saturday so Franklin will need to stand up and kick at least 4 I’d say. St Kilda bore no problem to Hawthorn on Saturday and they looked listless – as if they’d played their finals series already. Matching it physically with the Hawks is the key. The Cats are extremely capable of doing this so it may turn out to be a top-notch contest.

Cats

Strengths: Geelong have the extremely rare distinction of being strong all over the field. Their midfield is their best attribute with the likes of Ablett, Bartel, Corey and Selwood all contributing prolific numbers on a good day. The intense pressure Geelong place on all the teams they play gives them about a 3 goal advantage even in a tied contest. Eventually other teams tire and fade away but the difference between a team that can really compete against the Cats and another ‘also-ran’ is the ability to return that pressure and somehow use it against them. Collingwood did it in round 9 (winning by 86) and Fremantle did it in round 5 eventually going down by only 2 points. Geelong’s defence is superb and rarely allows more than 80 points scored against it. Matthew Scarlett is considered by some to be one of the greatest defenders of all time and he is rarely beaten. He will most likely get the job on Franklin and it is my belief that the winner of that contest will receive a Premiership medallion.
Weaknesses: Pressure. Last week, the Bulldogs pressured Geelong and caused a few hiccups. Two things went wrong for the Dogs, their goalkicking and Geelong’s professionalism. The Dogs kicked 7.12 and with a better conversion rate, I could have been writing about them instead. If a team does not take these opportunities to rattle them, the Cats will make them pay. That is professionalism. Resilience and the ability to carry a lead to the final siren is something coach Mark Thompson has drilled his players on, and boy do they do it well. Hawthorn will need to play the game of their life in terms of pressure against Geelong. Not one Hawk should be left standing on that field after the final siren has sounded. They must run the Cats ragged.

X Factor

Hawks: It’s simply Lance Franklin. This team has so much depth, but without 102 regular season goals, where would they be? He must have a solid outing on Saturday to give his side a very good chance. Early impact will be the key – one or two goals in the first quarter will set him up for the game.

Cats: Gary Ablett. Many players say that individual honours mean very little to them, but it will be interesting to learn how affected, if at all, Ablett will be by missing out on the Brownlow for the second time in a row after going in favourite. Knowing the professionalism of Ablett Jr., he will bounce back and contribute greatly. But it will remain of interest until the first bounce.

Key Contests

Matthew Scarlett vs. Lance Franklin
One of the most interesting stories that will unfold throughout the course of the game. The Coleman Medallist and All-Australian full forward against the All-Australian fullback is a mouth-watering Grand Final prospect.

Cameron Ling vs. Sam Mitchell
The defender turned midfielder Ling may just get the job on the Hawks skipper and will need to do his best to hamper the impact of the number 5.

Chance Bateman vs. Gary Ablett
Bateman is a very reliable defender/midfielder. He may take on a more defensive role if he get's the job on the brilliant Ablett. If Bateman can defeat his opponent, it will be like cutting an artery to Geelong goals.

Prediction

The Cats returned with relative ease to the Grandest Stage of All with two defeats of quality sides by decent margins. They have done all this before and in fact many compare this side to last year’s and consider it more powerful. The Hawks also advanced through the finals with two big wins and it seems that this year’s clash is set to be the best of recent years. Both sides have a multitude of stars (Ablett, Bartel, Scarlett/Mitchell, Hodge, Franklin) and both appear capable of physically and mentally pressuring their opponents. Hawthorn have the edge in goal kicking prowess whereas Geelong’s defence is at times impenetrable. Both teams have equal midfields considered the best in the league. It is basically a stalemate. But on paper, this should go down as one of the great Grand Finals of the decade let alone all time. I believe that Geelong will just be a little too strong for the Hawks, who feature in the Big One for the first time since their 1991 triumph. One thing is for sure, this will be a good game.

Premier, 2008: Geelong by 9 points
Norm Smith Medallist: Matthew Scarlett
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AFL Round 16 Previews

July 17th 2008 00:11
We are hitting crunch time in the AFL with only 6 weeks remaining in the regular season. Let's see what Round 16 has in store:

Friday 18th July, 2008 – Telstra Dome, 7:40pm
COLLINGWOOD vs. NORTH MELBOURNE


An interesting match-up as both teams have recorded opposite mid-season results. The Kangaroos have slid somewhat in the last few weeks to 9th while Collingwood have enjoyed two very pleasing wins over difficult opponents to see themselves a mere 2 points out of the top 4. One component of Collingwood’s play to look out for here is their use of the ball up the wings. Collingwood are one of the most effective teams in moving the ball from the kick-in to a scoring position as they often surprise teams with their efficiency up the flanks. North Melbourne will also need to be wary of the switch to the open side of the field as the Magpies have plenty of speed in the midfield. Where the Kangaroos can apply some serious pressure is with Collingwood’s indecisiveness. Kicking and handballing backwards and to marked players often leads to turnovers and with the Kangaroos’ defence, it could pose a problem to the Pies. Dale Thomas and Paul Medhurst have both found form of recent for the Pies while Daniel Harris and Adam Simpson’s defensive work and of course Brent Harvey’s attack could pose a problem for the Black and Whites. Last time they met, it was the Roos by 7. With both teams coming off difficult wins, this could be a thriller.
Tip: Collingwood by 8

Saturday 19th July, 2008 – Skilled Stadium, 2:10pm
GEELONG vs. WESTERN BULLDOGS


With Gary Ablett Jr. and Cameron Ling out, this is shaping up to be a match of the year candidate. Both teams are looking to secure top 2 spots on the ladder. With a win here, the Bulldogs can claim the mantle of ‘top dogs’ in the competition. Geelong are simply brilliant all across the field. Their defence is outstanding, second only to Sydney, the midfield is one of the best in the league – sporting last year’s Brownlow medallist – and their forward line is second only to the Bulldogs in terms of points scored. Losing Ablett will be a huge blow not only to the Cats point scoring and ball-movement, but also mentally. Ablett is the type of player that adds massive amounts of confidence to a team. Also, with Ling gone for 3-4 weeks, the Cats suffer a great loss as he is one of the better defenders in the league.
As was mentioned earlier, the Bulldogs have scored the most points in the league. With an average losing margin of only 3 points, they have an enormous chance of defeating the Cats. I believe that if they can do it, they may just claim the minor premiership this year. A re-invented Jason Akermanis, Ryan Griffen and Brad Johnson make-up the imposing forward line, while Adam Cooney and Daniel Cross provide support in the midfield. Hopefully for the Dogs, they will be lifted by the possible return of Mitch Hahn. The Bulldogs must apply tackling pressure if they are to beat the Cats.
Tip: Bulldogs by 9

Saturday 19th July, 2008 – MCG, 2:10pm
RICHMOND vs. ESSENDON


11th plays 12th here as the Tigers, who thumped West Coast last week, take on the Bombers who, in defeating the Lions last match, won their fourth game in a row. The Bombers are tipped to be possible dark horses this year. By the end of round 21, is it possible that the Dons could be in the 8? Another win here will definitely have teams like Carlton, North Melbourne and St Kilda hot under the collar. Essendon can only replace Richmond on the ladder should they upset come Saturday. The Tigers have had mixed fortunes over the last couple of weeks. After losing to Carlton in round 14, their captain Graeme Polak was hit by a tram and placed in a coma. Then they came out last week and put 152 points on the struggling West Coast Eagles in a 77 point demolition at Subiaco. This week, the Tigers face the very real possibility that by the end of NEXT week, they could be in the top 8. The last time Richmond were in the top half of the ladder after round 16 was in 2005. The Dons also thumped Brisbane last week but have fared worse than the Tigers in the latter part of recent seasons - the last time they were in the 8 after this round was 2004. It’s hard to say who will win this game. The forward and midfield aggression from the Tigers will combat the solid defence of Essendon. Matthew Richardson and Jake King from the Tigers will both undergo tests for their injuries.
Brent Stanton had a brilliant showing for the Dons last week while Jack Riewoldt picked up the Rising Star nomination for his effort for the Tigers and will be one to watch. Essendon also have an imposing injury list including Mark McVeigh (3-5 weeks).
Tip: Richmond by 17

Saturday 19th July- Gabba, 7:10pm
BRISBANE LIONS vs. WEST COAST


Both teams received thorough beatings last week with Brisbane’s being the most surprising. They have now lost 2 in a row to underdog teams. The Lions really should have defeated Melbourne two matches ago, when they lost it was considered a lucky break. But losing in the manner they did to Essendon last week left many wondering where the seemingly high-flying Lions are headed in the back end of the season? Jonathan Brown and Daniel Bradshaw kicked 5 and 4 goals respectively last week so what went wrong? Essendon simply had more ball and more hunger for points. They scored 8 goals to four in the opening quarter and continued to pile on goals including 7 in the fourth quarter. Only three players for Essendon racked up less than 10 disposals. Brisbane’s stars need to fire this week against West Coast. Simon Black (test/shoulder), Travis Johnstone and Luke Power have to return to form and lead the Lions back into a consolidated position within the top 8. West Coast were awful against Richmond last week. A 77 point trouncing speaks for itself. The 11.1 (67) score in the second quarter was the highest scoring quarter of any team in the competition this season. West Coast are floundering at the bottom of the ladder this season and their star players are non apparent. Daniel Kerr has suffered injuries and fought suspension while Dean Cox looks worn out on field. Michael Braun announced his retirement during the week, adding more woe to the Eagles’ locker room. Brisbane couldn’t hope for a better game to get back on track than this one.
Tip: Brisbane by 53

Saturday 19th July – Telstra Dome, 7:10pm
ST KILDA vs. HAWTHORN


Two rosters jam-packed with stars meet in this all important clash as the Saints cling to the 8. St Kilda were re-invigorated with their hard fought win over Carlton last week and proved that they can still be a force in the top 8 after a shaky first half to the season. Jason Gram had a very good game against the Blues and has established himself as one of the Saints myriad of key players. Speaking of those players, does someone want to explain to me why Saints dropped Stephen Milne? The forward/midfielder kicked 5 last week in a shining effort for his side and is on track to win the club’s best and fairest. He will be a threat this week along with Nick Dal Santo and Leigh Montagna. Xavier Clarke may miss, he will undergo a hamstring test. Hawthorn returned to form with a solid outing against Sydney and fought off a spirited fight-back by the Swans to eventually triumph by 31 points. Lance Franklin only managed 4 goals to his 7 behinds this time but was constantly up the field helping out his midfielders. Luke Hodge also had an important game, kicking a superb running goal. Hawthorn may also be lifted by the possible return of star Chance Bateman. The Hawks can advance to 2nd with a win should the Bulldogs lose this week. Saints can potentially move as high as 6th. Shaping up to be a decent encounter, although with the Hawks’ disposal of Sydney last week, I can’t see the Saints winning this one.
Tip: Hawthorn by 39



Sunday 20th July, 2008 – Telstra Dome, 1:10pm
SYDNEY vs. CARLTON


Both teams suffered hard defeats last week with Sydney barely clinging to the top 4 after 2 straight losses. The Swans aren’t coming up against a soft side here either. The Blues are a very unpredictable team and with players the likes of Judd, Fevola and young Bryce Gibbs, they are a difficult side to play. Sydney’s interstate record is about even with 4 wins, 3 losses and a draw. But Carlton’s home record is a worry at 2-5.
More controversy surrounding boom goal-kicker Brendan Fevola emerged this week with rumours he may be heading to Sydney talked down by the star himself. This has been met with suggestions by the club that he sign or walk. Will this affect the game on Saturday? With the professionalism of Fevola, it’s hard to imagine. Sydney know they need a win to consolidate their top 4 position and although it is likely against Carlton, it is not certain. Look for Ryan O’Keefe and Adam Goodes to combine here with young Craig Bird to stand up as well. It’s crunch time for the Blues who need just a win to make the top 8. Perhaps it will happen here?
Tip: Carlton by 12

Sunday 20th July, 2008 – AAMI Stadium, 2:40pm
PORT ADELAIDE vs. ADELAIDE


The biggest rivalry in South Australia unleashes its fury at AAMI on Sunday. Showdown XXV will be underway at 2:40pm and it is more important than ever for the Crows especially.
Adelaide find themselves fighting desperately to stay in the top 8 after a 32 point loss to Collingwood. To compound their problem, Brett Burton requires a full knee reconstruction after collapsing on the field last week and will be sidelined for 12 months. Their other major goal-kicker, Jason Porplyzia, went off the field with a shoulder injury and is likely to miss. These events could not have come at a worse time for the Crows who were sitting in the top 4 only 3 weeks ago. With a loss here, they could drop out of finals contention. Simon Goodwin must lead his team against their arch-enemies Port. The Power are struggling this year and showed that last week against the Kangaroos at home. They have a decent line-up but it hasn’t delivered them the wins they need this season. Daniel Motlop has kicked 40 goals this season – 8th in the league – and will be a threat. As far as the winner is concerned, this could go either way as Adelaide certainly don’t look like a finals team. Port have been blessed with the loss of Brett Burton and may be a chance here.
Tip: Adelaide by 6

Sunday 20th July, 2008 – Subiaco, 2:40pm
FREMANTLE vs. MELBOURNE


Clash of the lightweights here as 14th takes on dead last. Can’t see this being much of a game although the two teams are lucky that this match is being held in round 16 so to avoid ‘tanking’ claims that emerged last season (pish tosh). Dean Solomon (FRE) was this week suspended for 8 weeks for his elbow strike on Cameron Ling. The Demons come into this match after a solid showing against the Bulldogs losing by only 31 points while Fremantle were smashed by 74 points against a rampant Geelong. Cameron Bruce had a brilliant game as always for the Dees and must be controlled on Sunday. Rhys Palmer from Freo has had a great rookie season and must fire against Melbourne if his side will win.
Tip: Fremantle by 16



Last Week 6/8
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AFL Round 15 Previews

July 10th 2008 02:30
With the half-way point of the season gone, there are a few teams now striving for a finals berth. Let's preview all the action for Round 15 of the AFL


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Big, Bad Barry Hits Rock Bottom

July 7th 2008 10:35
As Barry Hall stood at the media table, everyone wondered what he would say next. It was the day after the Swans defeat of West Coast by 62 points at ANZ Stadium. Hall was attempting to explain his clobbering of the Eagles' Brent Staker and it seemed there was really no excuse for his actions.
"Certainly, watching the vision afterwards, it looked terrible" Hall said.
"I certainly didn't mean to hit him high or to cause any damage the way I did for him to be off the field for the rest of the game". Hall outright denied there and then that his actions were deliberate. But it gets worse: asked if he had an anger-management problem, Hall responded


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AFL Round 13 Previews

June 18th 2008 11:20
AFL Previews

Friday/7:40pm/Telstra Dome
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Round 9 AFL Previews

May 22nd 2008 04:26
We had a great week last week and Indigenous Round in the AFL this week should be no different. With "Boomer" Harvey playing his 250th for the Roos and Shaun Burgoyne gone for 3 weeks, it will be an interesting week!

Collingwood vs. Geelong – Friday 7:10pm MCG
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Franklin everybody's "Buddy"

May 20th 2008 05:51
Ok, I'll admit it. He is a fine kick at goal. He is an incredible kick at goal. At 196cm and just over 100kg, the man has kicked 42 goals in just 8 games. Lance "Buddy" Franklin is the man I am referring to. However, I will not call him Buddy in this post or any other - not due to jealousy of this prodigy being a Hawk, but simply out of protest.

Where the nickname 'Buddy' originated, I have no clue. I have a strong sense it is of inter-club birth, though. This is a name his team mates and possibly friends outside of football christened him with. There would be a deeper meaning to the name but I am not here to talk about that. What I will talk about is the frequent, almost gratuitous over-use of the nickname. Not by you and me. Not by fans. Not by teammates. But by the media. Every newspaper that has any interest in AFL will repeatedly refer to him simply as Buddy. Radio personalities, TV hosts and commentators all refer to this goalkicking phenomenon as "Buddy


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AFL Previews: Round 8

May 14th 2008 11:44
Should be a good round so let's get straight into it:

Collingwood vs. St Kilda – Friday/7:40pm, Telstra Dome
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AFL round 7 previews

April 30th 2008 09:03
Previews (all times local)
For all you tippers out there, here's my take on things.

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