The only guide to the round that admits it’s completely unhelpful. What it lacks in insight, it makes up for with wild theories and detours onto unrelated topics.
It’s your unhelpful guide to Round Four.
Adelaide vs Collingwood (AO) 7:50 PM All Times AEST
As the news broke this morning that the MCG will host the Grand Final for the next forty years, I was surprised to read that Adelaide will be playing tonight in this Victorian competition.
In fact, a quick glance at the fixture and I discovered that there are numerous teams from outside Victoria in the VFL.
Weird. It’s almost like this is a national competition. Almost.
Collingwood proved they are Premiership contenders last week with a famous victory over Carlton.
In comparison, this should be a cakewalk.
Not that the Pies are letting things go to their heads. It was business as usual at Collingwood this week, which means soft tissue injuries.
Both Jamie Elliott and Taylor Adams did hamstrings in what must be a new record for injuries in a five year period.
These teams played a draw last time they met, and the Crows will remember they started slower that day than Cricket Australia responding to the ball-tampering scandal.
This time I can’t see them letting that happen.
Greater Western Sydney vs Fremantle (UNSW) 1:45 PM
The Giants are coming off a loss to cross-town rivals the Swans last week and now head to Canberra for a home game.
I’m increasingly becoming convinced AFL doesn’t know what the word ‘home’ actually means.
The Giants have dominated in Canberra, winning their last seven matches there. I guess a trip to the bright lights of Canberra can be pretty daunting for visiting teams.
Fremantle have improved this season, with Nat Fyfe back in sparkling form and the Dockers trying a new strategy of getting the ball through those big sticks now and then.
I hope Freo fans can handle the high-octane excitement of regularly scoring more than 60 points a game.
“I thought this was illegal,” I heard one remark as they kicked their 13th goal last week.
The Giants though should have the firepower here.
Richmond vs Brisbane (MCG) 2:10 PM
Richmond went past 90,000 members this week, a figure that is impressive and frightening in equal measure.
Watching their membership tally continually rise reminds me of that movie Contagion in which the cases of a devastating plague keeps rising, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.
It’s a huge membership base and is further evidence that the Tigers know what they are doing on and off the field. It’s a strange universe we now live in.
The good news is due to the AFL’s focus on fans, as many as seven of those 90,000 members should get tickets to the Grand Final if Richmond makes it back.
Brisbane, in contrast, have 23,649 members, which is actually not that bad considering what those members have been through recently.
It’s been like buying a membership to unhappiness and frustration.
Yet, the Lions are showing signs of turning things around but have yet to progress beyond the ‘gallant in defeat’ stage.
They’ll hope to progress to the ‘winning ugly’ stage next.
Richmond though, on the MCG should be able to run over the top of them. They will have seen how the Power went against them last week and will not be taking them lightly.
Western Bulldogs vs Sydney (ES) 4:35 PM
Are the Bulldogs back or did they just play Essendon last week?
This should be a good measure of that.
Essendon passed the ball to the Bulldogs more than their teammates and still had a chance to win the game, so I’m taking the ‘Bulldogs are back’ story with a grain of one of the four salts Etihad Stadium offers.
This is at Etihad Stadium, which the Victorian Government today announced would get $225 million for its redevelopment.
Apparently, they hope to develop it into a venue suitable for hosting sport and not just a place to blind people using the power of the sun.
In fact, with that sort of investment, they might even consider some sort of ticketing system that, oh I don’t know, makes it easy to get into the ground.
Sydney are coming off a very impressive victory, and you’d mark them down for a win here straight away if they were playing at home.
I still think they’ve got too much talent for the Bulldogs.
North Melbourne vs Carlton (BA) 7:25 PM
This is further proof the AFL hates Tasmania.
Sending them this game is an act of war and charging people to attend seems both cruel and unusual.
North have only beaten St Kilda this year, which seemed good at the time but with each week it seems less impressive.
Beating St Kilda though is a good sign you can beat Carlton, well, just turning up to the ground is a good sign of that.
Carlton’s lack of progress in recent years has Blues fans pretty flat at the moment.
I was chatting to a few of them recently, and they were so down I felt only medium levels of joy at their continual decline.
If ever Tasmania decides to leave the Federation and shut their borders, this is what will do it.
North to win.
West Coast vs Gold Coast (PS) 8:10 PM
West Coast takes on Western Australia’s third AFL team the Suns, who have spent so much time away from the Gold Coast that the locals have just assumed they no longer exist.
Well, I assume that’s what’s happened. It’s entirely possible they never knew they were there.
Gold Coast stayed in Perth this week to escape the madness of the Commonwealth Games.
Not being on the Gold Coast could start to appeal to the Suns.
The Eagles have been travelling along quite nicely considering Josh Kennedy has been out.
He’s back this week which the Suns must be thrilled about.
The Eagles will be excited to hear the VFL have locked in the MCG as the venue of the Grand Final for the next forty years.
Eagles to win this.
Essendon vs Port Adelaide (ES) 1:10 PM
The media this week declared Essendon are basically finished as a football club and will need to be shut down.
It was possibly an overreaction to their loss last week, but understandable given the pure awfulness of that display.
It would be pretty hard to turn in another performance that bad two weeks in a row, so I’d expect some improvement this week, and Essendon still have dangerous players.
Port are currently riding high, but the game against the Lions was probably a wakeup call they needed.
They’ll be without Sam Powell-Pepper who was suspended for being out past the Powers’ 2 am curfew. In fact, he was filmed wandering the street at 4 am.
This is not ideal, but in some good news, it shows Adelaide has a better nightlife than Sydney.
He’s not out of trouble yet; there’s also claims he assaulted a woman, but once again they AFL industry seems surprised this has happened and seems to have no standard way of managing these things.
Essendon to win this.
Hawthorn vs Melbourne (MCG) 3:20 PM
A big game for both teams with the winner going to 3-1, not a bad start to the year.
Melbourne overcame an at times bumbling performance against the Roos last week and will need to significantly improve their handling if they’re to beat Hawthorn here.
Hawthorn has slipped behind Richmond on the membership tally, with Hawks fans going through a tough time, not winning a premiership since 2015.
There’s improvement in the Hawks this year, which is great, they’ve been down too long.
The Demons have had some success against the Hawks recently, but Hawthorn’s midfield is far better this year and presents Melbourne with a real challenge.
A victory for Melbourne here would be the second blow to the Alpine regions this week, with the unseasonably warm weather being the other.
Melbourne to win.
Geelong vs St Kilda (GMHBA) 4:40 PM
These are two teams that have underdelivered on their promise this season, and the Cats will be hoping this presents a chance to start filling up their win column.
There have been calls for Alan Richardson to change up his forward line, like he has some amazing key forward just lying around that he’s forgotten to use.
It makes you realise that Nick Riewoldt was probably much better than we ever thought, like carry an entire team good.
Geelong have their own problems though. Ablett being out is as disappointing as it is predictable.
When fit, he’s as good as anyone in the game, but he is injured so often you’d suspect he’s been training with Collingwood.
Down in Geelong, at whatever nonsense they’re calling their stadium at the moment, the Cats are hard to beat, and I can’t see St Kilda improving that much in a week.
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