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by John Loffler

(Last week 3 from 8 total 97 from 160 = 61.2%)

The game of tipping is measured in points. An absolute hopeless effort last week with 3 correct and no doubt those that follow my previews religiously (are there any of you actually out there?) would have been cursing me apart from the Collingwood versus Melbourne game which I tipped against the Pies for psychological reasons. Really though, look at the results and see Essendon’s Lloyd kick a goal between his legs, Robran kick a goal for Port Adelaide almost on the siren and Brisbane draw with Sydney rather than being a 6 point Swans victory, reverse those results and you go from a measly three correct to 6 or 7. The competition leaders come a cropper and you’re up there fluffing your chest feathers and about 2 points off the lead with two rounds to go. Well, it’s still a game of points but with two rounds to go and 7 points off the pace all I can say is: “What’s the point?!” None mate, none.

In the footy world the season is working up to a climax with still a number of teams vying for the top 8 and another group pushing for a top four finish. Those teams unexpectedly in the top eight still leave us tipsters with doubts and it will be interesting to see how they fare over the next two rounds. Young bodies and young minds start feeling the pressure as they approach the finals. Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, Collingwood and the Kangaroos will need to be at their best to fight off the experienced challenge of West Coast, Sydney and Adelaide who have all been there and of course there’s Geelong who have an experienced team but need to win a final. Without significant injuries the Cats do look good for the flag but they will be constantly reminded of 1992 and 1994.

Personalites? Akers is still in the poo as he was ever since leaving the Lions but the man will be playing his 300th game. Buckley is back for Collingwood and not a week too soon as the Pies are showing signs of wilting at the pointy end of the season but folks, what’s new about that? The loss of Johnson for 6 weeks is a major blow. Kerr out for the Eagles will test their depth of which they seem to have plenty. Rattan is to coach the Blues and help put their “arrogant strut” back into the club. Let’s not remind him that it was just that arrogance that made them flout the AFL rules and has them where they are today. Harvey will have the Dorks and that should help age him prematurely with or without Sheedy – methinks without. And who will coach Melbourne? Who knows? Who cares? Not even the supporters, all they want is to win some games of footy and avoid the possibility that they become the home club of Fiji or the Solomon Islands. Good luck this week may the results fall your way.

St Kilda V West Coast Eagles Telstra Dome Friday Night

Judd may not play, Cousins is sore, Kerr is out for the rest of the season but the Eagles do have depth in their squad. Funnily, even with that depth they have elected to initiate another new player to the joy of playing in Melbourne under the protective roof of Telstra Dome. It’s an away game for the Eagles but you have to give them every consideration. The Saints are on a bit of a roll but this is somewhat harder than last week’s game against the Dorks. Tipsters, if you’re a few points down then the Eagles might be the non-favourite particularly with Judd and Kerr out of the line-up. Will Baker convince the tribunal that 7 weeks for allegedly snotting Farmer is a bit of a dark decision and he can get off to play in this match?

West Coast by 17

Carlton V Kangaroos Telstra Dome Saturday Arvo

I was congratulating myself on my decision to tip Carlton last week about 23 minutes into the last quarter but, as usual the Blues forgot to post a score while Essendon rushed through a couple of quick goals. To be honest, I read that Hird would not play and that was the difference in making that decision to tip Carlton. When I saw him line up for the Bombers an icy cold fear gripped my heart. I was right but couldn’t change my tip without arousing unnecessary interest. Darn, another point lost. Not this week will I tip Carlton even though we have Ratten officially coaching as the Blues new appointment.

Kangaroos by 21

Fremantle V Melbourne at Subiaco Saturday Afternoon

Freo haven’t done too badly at home so lucky for them that this game is at Subi. Melbourne have been shamelessly bad after last year. Here’s a game in which the fortune of the two coaches seems to be more important than the football teams. I agree with that.

Fremantle by 18

Collingwood V Sydney at the MCG Saturday Night

This is one of the games of the round. Now it’s been statistically announced that the Pies need about 52553 people at this game to break an all time AFL attendance record. The guy that comes through the gate and is the record breaker will get a full year’s Collingwood membership and a trip to the Gold Coast. One can only hope that this person is a Collingwood supporter!! Bucks is back for the Pies but even at the MCG this is a big ask against the Swans who don’t mind a tight game or two at the ‘G”. Low scoring and brutal might be an apt description of how this game will be played. I like to tip against the Pies and am happy to get the tip wrong but the way they are playing at the moment it will take a significant form reversal to beat the Swans who have been travelling all over the country of late to play a bit of AFL. Both teams have a lot to play for but the experience of Sydney might be a bit too much for Collingwood. There’ll be tears!!

Sydney by 15

Adelaide V Brisbane Lions At AAMI Stadium Saturday night

My mind is getting tired trying to pick winners so far and this game is not any easier. Brisbane have really improved over the past few weeks and just keep winning (or drawing) to make life for teams above them somewhat difficult. Will Riccuito come back to play his last game in front of his adoring home crowd or will the decision to play him just for sentimental reasons be canned? At the start of the season we all said that Brisbane would be competitive but certainly wouldn’t make the finals while Adelaide would be up there. Let’s go back to early season basics huh?

Adealide by 22

Western Bulldogs V Hawthorn Telstra Dome Sunday

Even Rocket reckons the Bullies have been disappointing this season after such a barnstorming finish to season 2006. On the other hand the Hawks have been pretty good all season although the last gasp loss to Port last week has been a speed bump in their road to success. The Bulldogs lack a bit in defence and against the Hawks that will be murder. In what will be a high scoring game at Telstra I expect the Hawks to consolidate their ladder position and start thinking about finals footy.

Hawthorn by 29

Geelong V Port Adelaide at Skilled Stadium Sunday

And so the difficulty in selections this week continues. Can Geelong do the almost impossible and win 16 games in a row in this modern era of AFL footy? The Cats are so far ahead at the top of the ladder that it’s reminiscent of the Eagles and of late the….wait for it….Power who didn’t win the premiership either year they finished top. The game is at Skilled so it would be difficult to tip against Geelong in their last game at home in front of their supporters. I still don’t believe the Power are in quite the same class as Geelong and that should be evident when the final scores are posted.

Geelong by 33

Essendon V Richmond at MCG Sunday evening

Both these teams are at the bottom end of the ladder but the importance of a win to the Bombers should not be ignored. Essendon can still make the finals but I have said all along that they wouldn’t and I’m sure those Essendon supporters out there will make a big deal of it if I’m proven wrong. Win this one Bombers and you face the Eagles in Perth in the last game. The Sheedy Hird thing is getting bigger with every passing week and this match will be their last together in Melbourne. Rumour has it that already over 65000 tickets have been sold for the game. Melbourne just loves its sport I tell you. The Tigers were very competitive against the Eagles last week and you can expect the same from them this week but will they be good enough to beat the Bombers in front of a huge crowd? If the Tigers can win their last two games they won’t finish on the bottom! Hard to believe but it all starts this week.

Richmond by 12

Article last changed on Thursday, August 23, 2007 - 5:32 PM EDT

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