Well, I’ll admit that I certainly didn’t expect that.
On the one hand, we had Hawthorn. A team that made at least the preliminary finals five times in a row; a team that has given us Sam Mitchell, Jordan Lewis, Lance Franklin, Cyril Rioli, Jarryd Roughead, and others; a team that has won the absolutely astonishing total of 70% of its games since 2007. Without exaggeration or hyperbole, one of the greatest teams of all time.
Playing against them, we have Essendon. Some might point to the fact that they had their banned players back for the year, but none of them have played football for a year; they won the wooden spoon last year; and you had the sense that they wouldn’t be able to take on Hawthorn.
But they did.
They didn’t just take it to Hawthorn. They, to quote Ted Whitten, stuck it up ’em.
That was not the biggest upset of the season. But it was probably the most beautiful.
Like my note last week, the scores aren’t counted in the 62 words.
Carlton v Richmond
Richmond were too good for Carlton, looking on top throughout the whole game, but there were forty three players playing as a sideshow to one Dustin Martin, who had thirty three touches and kicked four goals, giving off two more. This made my dad’s preseason prediction he’d win the Coleman even better. The Brownlow second favouritism he’s rocketed to is well deserved. Richmond 20.12 (132) d Carlton 14.5 (89)
Collingwood v W Bulldogs
I was at this game, and I will tell you that I was not impressed by how the Bulldogs played. It’s either a good thing for the Pies or a bad thing for the Dogs that Collingwood just wouldn’t die in this game. They won respect, but not the game. Travis Cloke did kick a goal, driving the Collingwood cheer squad insane. W Bulldogs 15.10 (100) d Collingwood 12.14 (86)
St Kilda v Melbourne
Melbourne went some way to changing an abysmal record against both St Kilda (it was their first win against them since 2006) and at Docklands (prior to this, they had won one match there since 2008). They kicked ten in a row from the second quarter to grab the match by the scruff of the neck. Lewis impressed, Riewoldt injured a knee. Melbourne 18.12 (120) d St Kilda 13.12 (90)
Sydney v Pt Adelaide
After an even first half, the Power took over the match, kicking three more goals than Sydney in the third quarter and calmly keeping their lead in the fourth. Despite Kennedy (28 touches and 9 tackles) and Franklin (4.2) playing well, Port Adelaide have started the season well, and can be considered finals contenders. Disappointing for Sydney, who have to bounce back. Pt Adelaide 17.8 (110) d Sydney 12.10 (82)
Essendon v Hawthorn
This will go down in history as one of the great wins for Essendon. As I mentioned in the introduction, Essendon outperformed the Hawks, at one point kicking five goals in eleven minutes to go from 13 down to 16 up. In front of the biggest ever crowd for a home and away Essendon-Hawthorn game, Fantasia kicked four and Heppell captained excellently. Essendon 17.14 (116) d Hawthorn 12.19 (91)
Gold Coast v Brisbane
Chris Fagan must have thought the coaching job was easy after Brisbane kicked the first seven goals of the match on the way to a forty six point half time lead. The Suns replied with eight in the second quarter, but Brisbane hung on in the last term for a narrow victory. Dayne Beams won the Marcus Ashcroft (best on ground) Medal. Gold Coast 14.12 (96) d Brisbane 15.8 (98)
N Melbourne v West Coast
If Alastair Clarkson had a bad Saturday, it would have gotten even worse the next day as Sam Mitchell had a masterful thirty eight disposals as West Coast easily beat North. Josh Kennedy kicked seven to lead the Coleman as the Eagles gradually pulled away in the second half, but a hand fracture to Drew Petrie takes some of the gloss off. West Coast 21.10 (136) d N Melbourne 13.15 (93)
Adelaide v GWS Giants
Practically nobody would have tipped GWS to be last after the first round, but Adelaide beat them by the biggest margin of the round. Half of the Crows kicked a goal, Eddie Betts four, as GWS was outplayed massively in the second half. And this was without Taylor Walker, a late withdrawal. Injury-wise, GWS lost new recruit Tendai Mzungu to a hamstring. Adelaide 22.15 (147) d GWS Giants 14.7 (91)
Fremantle v Geelong
The last game of the round screwed me over in the footy tipping, simply because I run my family’s competition and this game was on Sunday night Melbourne time. Geelong were easily on top, making 50% more tackles than Fremantle despite having less of the ball. Patrick Dangerfield made nine of those, as well as kicking three goals. 1.5 from Cam McCarthy. Geelong 18.7 (115) d Fremantle 10.13 (73)
I got four tips right, with an average error of 34.4. I went closest in the Fremantle v Geelong game, being just six off the actual margin.
Richmond v Collingwood
Our first match of the week is needlessly on Thursday night, between two teams that impressed last week. Collingwood’s performance was against the reigning premiers, while Richmond was against cellar dwellars. Despite this, Richmond’s performance was overall more polished. This game last year was a thriller, Collingwood kicking the winner just in time, but doubt that they’ll be able to repeat it. Richmond by 8
W Bulldogs v Sydney
This is just the second time in history the Bulldogs have been able to unfurl a premiership flag. The last time, in 1955, they beat Richmond, but I doubt there will be a repeat performance. Sydney may not have played very well last week, but they’ve been a better team over the last few years. The Dogs have form on them, though. Sydney by 18.
Hawthorn v Adelaide
Lots of people seemed to forget about Adelaide. Had they not choked in the last round last year, they would have finished with a home qualifying final. Now, though, everyone’s paying attention after they hammered premiership favourites GWS, and Hawthorn was humbled by a resurgent Essendon. You would fully expect Adelaide to come out top and send Hawthorn to 0 and 2. Adelaide by 26.
GWS Giants v Gold Coast
The two expansion teams are leaps apart in where they are at. Gold Coast was third at one point in 2014, but have been a tale of mediocrity since then. Meanwhile, GWS have beaten every team but West Coast and Collingwood and are widely expected to win the premiership this year. Both teams lost last week, but GWS is a better team. GWS Giants by 32.
Brisbane Lions v Essendon
These teams were at the top of the tree sixteen years ago; last year, they were at the bottom. Both teams impressed in wins last week – Brisbane by protecting a lead they wouldn’t have last year, Essendon by (as we’ve mentioned countless times) thoroughly overrunning Hawthorn. The Bombers didn’t win a single game away from home last year, but times are changing. Essendon by 28.
West Coast v St Kilda
St Kilda’s hyping up of a rivalry against Melbourne may have backfired, after losing to them for the first time since 2006. West Coast, meanwhile, were dominant over North Melbourne, despite losing Drew Petrie to injury. The Eagles probably should have progressed further than they did last year, and it would be very impressive for the Saints to travel westward and win. West Coast by 40.
Geelong v N Melbourne
Had North Melbourne scored one more point last week, both teams could have had forty two point margins. However, one was a winner and another was a loser. North Melbourne has no chance of replicating their out of the blocks start to 2016, and indeed, they could be 0-2 compared to 2-0. Geelong, led by the hyped-up ‘Dangerwood’ combo, will likely win. Geelong by 36.
Melbourne v Carlton
One team played and lost to traditional rivals last week, the other played and beat a media one. Melbourne will be happy after easily overturning the nameless curse against St Kilda, and will fancy their chances of beating Carlton. Carlton know that this is going to be another long season, but they’ll hope that Brendon Bolton’s crew won’t be beaten too badly. Melbourne by 22.
Pt Adelaide v Fremantle
In a round where the reigning wooden spooners beat Hawthorn, Port Adelaide managed to out-upset that with a win over Sydney. Fremantle, meanwhile, were basically accused of tanking by Damian Barrett, who seemed to surprisingly not care. They lost to a stronger Geelong, and a similar thing’s going to happen this week. Port were hard to read, but now, they’ll make finals. Pt Adelaide by 26.
FADR did better than me, correctly predicting five of the results. Like me, it was closest for Fremantle v Geelong, being just three off on the margin.
A note here: for the Brisbane v Essendon game, it is rounded to having a draw. Essendon edges out Brisbane slightly, so I’m considering it a tip for Essendon to win by 0.
Here are the new predicted ladder and finals:
A few minor changes. Essendon’s predicted to win two wins more than they were last week, Hawthorn two less. That’s been enough to take them out of the finals, replaced by Port Adelaide. Sydney are still predicted to be the premiers, but taking a different path.