Alas! The fears of many Demons fans have been allayed – no post split-round capitulation just yet. The Dees look to be a real threat this year– especially considering the finals that matter most are played at the G.
The class of Bruce, Green, Johnstone, Yze and Davey, combined with the toughness of Neitz, McDonald and Pickett (the acquisition of the year) is the foundation for one the most rounded lists in the league. Critics will say they beat an average team on home soil, but Port had won four in a row prior to Saturday, including an easy victory over the Eagles last week.
Henry’s baggers nearly made the Lions pay for their woeful inaccuracy, however, in accordance with the past fortnight the Blues went missing in the final 20 minutes, allowing Brisbane a 15-point victory. In an error-riddled match, Brisbane was noticeably the better side, but with a combined score of 15.37 in perfect conditions, it was a game where highlights were few and far between.
The Dees cash in on their annual “home” game this week at the Gabba, but unlike past years, it looks like it won’t come at a price of four premiership points. The Lions have been far too inconsistent of late to challenge the red-hot Demons, who should win by 5-8 goals.
Emerging from the weekend is the question of which team is most deserved of the eighth spot on the ladder? The top seven teams at the end of round 13 – Adelaide, West Coast, Collingwood, Melbourne, Sydney, Bulldogs and the Saints – will all be there come finals time (see Henry’s mid-season report card for more info), but who, out of Port, Fremantle, Richmond, Geelong and Brisbane will join them?
Let’s see if this week’s form gives us a clearer picture:
• Port Adelaide: defeated by 38 points against Melbourne.
• Fremantle: defeated by 33 points against the Swannies after leading by 1 point at three-quarter time.
• Brisbane: kicked 8.23 in perfect conditions, just managing to beat the 15th placed Blues.
• Geelong: following consecutive victories against lesser likes Essendon and Freo, the Catters copped a 92-point hiding off the Crows.
• Richmond: bucked the trend with a disciplined display against the fancied Pies, resulting in a comprehensive 47-point victory.
The mug punter’s philosophy of picking a winner by choosing their favourite colours may need to be utilised if this sort of form line continues. Perhaps Henry could lobby for a final seven for 2006. Whatever the case, there is a finals position up for grabs that only Richmond seems to want at the moment. Hopefully the other contenders will realise this during the week and play at a standard worthy of a finals team.
We can only wait and see…
Note: Congratulations to Rodney Eade and his pups out west who, despite a mountain of injuries, became the first Victorian team to knock off the Eagles at the House of Pain since 2002 (“Should have been the Blues a couple weeks back,” Henry notes). The Doggies now join Collingwood and Melbourne in equal third position.