Round 5 AFL preview – the Pies to own ANZAC day

23 April 2010

Written by: Matt de Neef

By now, the AFL public is starting to get an idea of where teams could end up at the end of the home-and-away season. But still, round four was a tipster’s nightmare. It was a mix of upsets, hamstring injuries and confirmation of where certain teams are at. Let’s look back at a fascinating weekend of football.

Five things we learnt from Round 4:

  1. Hamstring injuries are costing teams dearly. Over the last two weeks, three crucial players have gone down with serious hamstring injuries. Nick Riewoldt’s injury in round three has been well documented, with some saying that St. Kilda will struggle to win a premiership without him. Hawthorn’s new recruit Josh Gibson also succumbed in the same round to the same injury. But last Friday night, West Coast star Daniel Kerr became the latest casualty when he went for a mark and tore his hamstring in mid-air. Whether it’s due to the ferocious pace of the game or the stress on the players’ bodies, these serious hamstring injuries are costing teams crucial games and will continue to cost them in future weeks.
  2. Geelong are still serious premiership contenders. Against Port Adelaide last Sunday, the Cats piled on 11.7 to 1.0 in the third quarter in one of the most dominant quarters ever produced by this great team. The most impressive aspect of the Cats’ performance was their spread of goal kickers. Steve Johnson returned to form with six goals, mature-age recruit and new cult figure James Podsiadly kicked five while Gary Ablett, Cameron Mooney, Paul Chapman and Shannon Byrnes kicked nine goals between them. Word out of Geelong is that they are as confident as ever and that they strongly believe they can win a third flag in four years.
  3. Adelaide were overrated during the pre-season. Well respected AFL commentators, such as Gary Lyon, expected big things from the Crows in season 2010. Lyon thought Adelaide would make the grand final and that promising youngster Kurt Tippett would win the Coleman medal for the most goals kicked in a year. After four rounds, the Crows haven’t won a game and an injury-riddled Tippett has kicked 1.8. Adelaide has been bitterly disappointing so far and they look like they are going nowhere fast. It doesn’t get any easier for them either as they face the Western Bulldogs tonight at Etihad Stadium.
  4. Hawthorn needs to regroup. The Hawks have had it tough so far this year, losing to Geelong, Western Bulldogs and Collingwood- all top four contenders- in the last three weeks. They have been hurt significantly by injuries to star players such as Brad Sewell and Shaun Burgoyne and a costly suspension to Lance Franklin. The good news for Hawthorn is that the only way is up. They play North Melbourne, Essendon, West Coast and Richmond in the next four rounds and will regain Sewell this week and Rhan Hooper and Burgoyne in the next few weeks. They should still make the finals.
  5. Sydney can make the top eight. The Swans were given very little hope during the pre-season with many, including myself, saying that they would struggle to make finals. Haven’t they proved us wrong? A confident Sydney side took care of North Melbourne last Saturday, comfortably winning by 40 points at Etihad Stadium. Young gun Daniel Hannebery has put the infamous ‘egg-throwing’ incident behind him and proved to the football world that he is a star in the making with a best-on-ground performance.

Oh, and one more thing.

6. Never use me as a base for your AFL tipping.

What to look forward to in Round 5:

Only two games really stand out for me this weekend.

–          The traditional ANZAC Day game between Collingwood and Essendon is an annual highlight. In my opinion, it’s the best day of the year to go to the football besides finals time. The atmosphere is simply hair-raising when 90,000 people stand in silence at the MCG. But what is also wonderful about this game is that no matter where the Bombers or Magpies are on the ladder, they always produce an enthralling contest and play the game in terrific spirit. This weekend’s game should be no exception. However, Collingwood have played with more maturity over the first four weeks and should be good enough to win.

–          Brisbane venture down to Melbourne for the first time this season when they take on the Demons at the MCG on Saturday night. The Lions will be full of confidence after beating the more fancied Western Bulldogs last weekend at the Gabba. However, they do run into another confident side in Melbourne who, remarkably, have won their last two games. The beautiful thing about them is that they are still a young side and you never know what they are going to produce on any given day. What are they going to produce on Saturday night? Who knows.

Ben’s Tip Tally for 2010: 19 from 32

Ben’s Tips for Round 5:

Western Bulldogs to beat Adelaide

Sydney to beat West Coast

Brisbane to beat Melbourne

St.Kilda to beat Port Adelaide

Collingwood to beat Essendon

Hawthorn to beat North Melbourne

Fremantle to beat Richmond

Geelong to beat Carlton

Ben Waterworth is a prolific contributor to the upstart sports section and recently appeared on an episode of upcast. You can read more of his work at his blog.