AFL Round 13 (part one): Lions can’t lose, surely?

18 June 2010

Written by: Matt de Neef

The mid-season break in the 2010 AFL season has arrived. While six teams will have the weekend off, ten teams will battle it out across the country to try and gather some kind of momentum before their rest next week. But before we look at this weekend’s action, let’s reflect on an enthralling round 12.

Five things we learnt from Round 12:

1. Opinion is still divided about whether the draw should stay in the home-and-away season
2. Hawthorn are gathering momentum and are beginning to look dangerous
3. One player kicking 10 goals in a game is still a possibility
4. North Melbourne’s Lindsay Thomas is one of the most improved players in the competition this year
5. St. Kilda are still Geelong’s number one contender

Round 13 Matches:

Hawthorn v Essendon: Tonight- 7.40pm at MCG

It is said that the rivalry between the Hawks and the Bombers is the fiercest in the AFL so expect some fireworks as these two strong clubs meet under lights at the MCG tonight.

Last time they met, Essendon blew Hawthorn away with a final quarter that read 4.7 to zip in favour of the Bombers. But seven weeks on the Hawks are a different side and they have won their past five games in a row. Luke Hodge continues his career-best form and Cyril Rioli’s performance against Adelaide last week proved that he has the ability to turn a game in a short space of time.

Essendon held on for a half last week but were blown away by the Cats – mind you they aren’t the first team to receive that same treatment during the past four years. They do regain young full-back Cale Hooker for this game but are still missing the services of ruckman David Hille and small forward Angus Monfries.

It is always difficult for a side to perform well after a date with the hard bodies of Geelong the previous week. It is also interesting to note that Essendon is Lance Franklin’s favourite team to play against. Hawthorn to continue their good form.

Carlton v Fremantle: Saturday- 7.10pm at Etihad Stadium

Two teams struggling for consistency this season will go head-to-head on Saturday night in what should be the game of the round.

When you look at the ladder, Carlton are having a more than reasonable season. But the big issue for coach Brett Ratten and his team is that they just can’t seem to string wins together. Four times this year they have won two in a row then lost the next week. Against North Melbourne last week, they had one of those nights where nothing worked. They had little to no forward structure and Setanta O’hAilpin looking dazed and confused. Eddie Betts tried hard with five goals, but you can’t rely on a man of his height to be your main target inside 50.

Fremantle have been brought back to reality a little themselves, losing their last two games to Adelaide and St. Kilda. The big concern is that some of their younger players are starting to show signs of fatigue and that the physical effects of an AFL season are starting to take their toll. And we’re only half way through the year.

The Dockers’ record at Etihad Stadium is atrocious, winning just eight of their 31 appearances at the ground. Sure, Fremantle have improved dramatically this season, but they cannot wait for their mid-season break to come in what has been an exciting year for them so far. Carlton should bounce back, although Matthew Pavlich is due for a big game.

Brisbane v Richmond: Saturday- 7.10pm at Gabba

If these two teams met in round five earlier this year, you would’ve tipped the Lions without a hint of hesitation. But now, both teams seem evenly matched on form and tipsters are unsure of which way to lean.

It’s fair to say the Lions are in disarray after their loss to the Western Bulldogs last week. They are now also without star forward Jonathon Brown, as well as five defenders who would normally be walk-up starters if they were fit. Conversely, Richmond are on a massive high after their second win of the season against West Coast last Sunday. Jack Riewoldt booted 10 goals – a rare feat in today’s modern game – and continues to impress the football world.

The Tigers are up and about, but the Lions are a different and much more confident team at the Gabba; Brisbane…just.

North Melbourne v Port Adelaide: Sunday- 1.10pm at Etihad Stadium

For the Kangaroos to make a profit from playing a home game at Etihad Stadium, at least 25,000 must make their way through the turnstiles. They might not make a profit this Sunday, but they could certainly put on a show worthy of viewing from your lounge room chair.  

North had their best win of the season last week with a 29 point victory over Carlton in their first and only Friday night game for the year. The man that stole the show was Lindsay Thomas, who kicked seven goals from 20 possessions and announced himself as one of the most improved players in the competition. Port Adelaide are known as the ultimate enigma but they’ve now lost their last five games in a row and questions are being asked of coach Mark Williams.

North Melbourne to win pretty easily.

West Coast v Western Bulldogs: Sunday- 4.40pm at Subiaco Oval

The final game of this first week of the split round should be a walk in the park. But looking at some of the inconsistent form of both of these sides, who knows what’s going to happen?

The Bulldogs got back on the winners list last week with a comprehensive 65 point thrashing of the Lions. Barry Hall was at his menacing best booting six goals as he took the crippled Brisbane defence to the cleaners. It only gets better for the Bulldogs too with the inclusion of captain and veteran Brad Johnson into the team. Two weeks ago, the Eagles pushed Geelong to their absolute maximum, only to go down by four goals. But last week they were annihilated by Richmond to the tune of 49 points in one of the most insipid performances of the year.

Like many interstate sides, West Coast are a much better side when they are playing on home soil. But the Western Bulldogs are too good a side to let this game slip and should win comfortably.

Ben’s Tip Tally: 59 (Last week: 7)

Ben Waterworth is a regular contributor to upstart and you can read more of his work at his blog, A Short Sport Thought.