It is about now that the final eight begins to take shape, with past seasons suggesting the first eight rounds typically depicts one’s season.
2017 has thrown plenty of spanners in the works and it will continue to do so with the competition being as close as it has been for some time. This, however, does not mean history should be ignored as the ‘anyone can bet anyone’ attitude of the season continues to deploy.
For example, the Kangaroos held the Crows scoreless in the first quarter in Round 7 and held on to win by 59 points. Surprising? Sure, it was for many given how dominant Adelaide had been in the opening six rounds, but North Melbourne have actually defeated Adelaide six of the last seven times the match wasn’t played in Adelaide. It’s a result the crystal ball and, with a little bit of research, you could have seen coming.
At least now everyone knows not to be taken by surprise when an upset is about to happen, because regardless of form, any team can win on any given day.
Here’s what history says is brewing for the next fortnight:
DOOMSDAY CREEPING UP ON BUCKLEY
History does not paint a pretty picture for Collingwood’s quest to rise up the ladder. The Pies have lost their last nine encounters against their Round 9 opponent, Hawthorn. The last time Collingwood defeated the Hawks was in the 2011 preliminary final. Given the tone of the season so far, the Pies will probably break the hoodoo which has lasted six years, but history is still against them.
CATS ARE BACK IN FORCE
The critics are circling at Geelong with three consecutive losses keeping the club on notice. The ‘Geelong could miss finals’ chatter has already begun following the Cats’ lack of appealing form of late, but rounds nine and ten are coming at the perfect time for Chris Scott with two consecutive games at Simonds Stadium likely to get his side back on track. Geelong has beaten the Western Bulldogs in 14 of its past 15 meetings against them, having not lost to the Dogs since 2009. History says they’ll be able to back it up with a strong performance against the Power in Round 10 also, with the Cats winning 16 of the last 18 matches against Ken Hinkley’s side who will be coming off an 11-day break.
FINALS STILL THE AIM FOR LACKLUSTRE SWANS
It’s safe to say Sydney haven’t had the best start to the season, but with two consecutive wins – albeit against two bottom four sides – it seems they have found the form their star-studded line-up have so desperately needed. The Swans face the in-form Saints at Etihad Stadium in Round 9 and, while St Kilda are playing an exciting brand of footy which should see them feature in September, they haven’t been able to beat the Swans on the last six occasions. In fact, Sydney have defeated St Kilda in eight of their past nine meetings, with an average winning margin of 74.25 points in the last four. It’s a step in the right direction for Sydney if they are able to take this scalp, but in Round 10 the Swans will host Hawthorn at the SCG, a ground they have won at 23 times in the past 27 games held at that venue, not including this season.
THE GIANT LEAP THAT FAILED
Like Collingwood before them, the Giants will be looking to break its last little hoodoo, the West Coast Eagles. Collingwood and West Coast were two sides the Giants had never beaten coming into the 2017 season. Round 8 the Giants managed to pip the Pies by three points to leave the Eagles in their sight just a fortnight later. The game of the round in Round 10 will see the red-hot Eagles host GWS at Domain Stadium. Again, this infrequent season could see the Giants defeat the boys from the West in what is a tough road trip, but the ghost of the past will linger at Subiaco that night with the Eagles averaging a winning margin of 75.8 points against them, including that one-point thriller last season.
INCONSISTENCY CONTINUES TO PLAGUE THE DEMONS
Melbourne, a team touted as a major finals contender in 2017, began the season emphatically with two wins against St Kilda and Carlton. They have since lost four of their next six games, with two of those by less than a kick triggering frustration among Demon fans who have had to sit through years of mediocrity and failure. The win against Adelaide in Round 8 was potentially the club’s best in this decade given the scope of the season and the way the Crows had previously been playing, sitting comfortably atop the ladder. A performance like that is great for the Melbourne faithful, but that frustration would have again been felt. Unfortunately for them, history is doing nothing but suggest it will be further heartache for the Demons as they face North Melbourne at the MCG in Round 9. North Melbourne have defeated the Demons 15 times in a row now, dating all the way back to 2007. An unfortunate time to hit form, perhaps?