Micro Noises - Issue 9
Our favourite combinations and permutations
With three weeks to go before the September action begins, the AFL's Ladder Predictor is probably going into overdrive, such is the number of possible results that could have an impact on the top two, top four and top eight in 2012. We've done a little bit of our own projecting and come up with what is possibly our favourite set of results for rounds 21 to 23. The following outcomes...
Round 21 winners: Geelong d St Kilda, Carlton d Essendon, GWS d Melbourne, Richmond d Fremantle, North Melbourne d Collingwood, Brisbane d Adelaide, Port Adelaide d West Coast, Western Bulldogs d Sydney, Gold Coast d Hawthorn
Round 22: Richmond d Essendon, St Kilda d GWS, Port Adelaide d Brisbane, Hawthorn d Sydney, West Coast d Collingwood, Carlton d Gold Coast, Geelong d Western Bulldogs, North Melbourne d Fremantle, Melbourne d Adelaide
Round 23: St Kilda d Carlton, Essendon d Collingwood, Richmond d Port Adelaide, West Coast d Hawthorn, Geelong d Sydney, Gold Coast d Adelaide, Western Bulldogs d Brisbane, North Melbourne d GWS, Fremantle d Melbourne
...would result in the Round 23 ladder looking something like this:
That would mean the top seven teams all finishing with 15 wins, and the next five finishing on 12 wins. Now that's a scenario that the AFL would surely be pleased with. What other lessons could we glean from that projection? For a start, it puts paid to a few myths. Don't let anybody tell you that
* Richmond can't make the eight
* St Kilda can't make the eight if they lose to Geelong
* percentage isn't important.
There is another combination of results that would also tickle our fancy. If the following teams win...
Round 21: Geelong, Essendon, GWS, Richmond, North Melbourne, Brisbane, West Coast, Sydney, Hawthorn
Round 22: Essendon, St Kilda , Port Adelaide, Sydney, West Coast, Carlton, Geelong, North Melbourne, Melbourne
Round 23: St Kilda, Essendon, Richmond, West Coast, Geelong, Gold Coast, Western Bulldogs, North Melbourne, Fremantle
...and the margins in several of those games are just right, we could end up with this ladder:
This final ladder wouldn't give us two such evenly grouped teams as the previous scenario but it would give us the following Week 1 finals fixture:
* Sydney v Geelong
* West Coast v Hawthorn
* Collingwood v Essendon
* Adelaide v North Melbourne
And what, you may ask, is so special about that roster of games? Well, besides giving us just one game in Melbourne, it also gives us three games in which the competing teams will have actually squared off against each other the week before! Sydney, having lost to Geelong at Kardinia Park in Round 23, would then get to host the Cats at ANZ Stadium the following week; West Coast having defeated Hawthorn at the MCG, would have earned the right to play them again, this time at Subiaco; and Essendon, victorious at the 'G against Collingwood in the final round, would face the Magpies again at the same venue a week later. All of which would make the last weekend of home and away games a pretty good "Rivalry Round".
Friday is not an "in-between" day
The Round 20 West Coast v Geelong thriller was the second Friday night game in a row to be decided by less than a goal, which prompted us to check just how many Friday night classics we've actually had this year. What we discovered is that, in 2012, Friday night seems to be "all or nothing" night. 13 of this year's 19 Friday night games thus far have been decided by under four goals (with eight of those by two goals or less), while six have seen a margin of 50 points or greater. Amazingly, there is nothing in between. Not one of the Friday night games in 2012 has given us a final margin in the 25- to 49-point range.
The latest news for streak freaks
In last week's Micro Noises, we mentioned that Geelong had now won nine consecutive matches against Hawthorn since losing to the Hawks in the 2008 Grand Final. The question was subsequently asked of us, has there been a longer unbeaten/winning streak by a team against a side that had knocked it off in a Grand Final? The answer is yes - and no! The key to which of those two answers is correct depends on whether we are considering a winning streak or an unbeaten streak. If we are looking at a winning streak, then Geelong's run of nine against Hawthorn is indeed the record. The next longest post-Grand Final loss winning streak is six games, achieved by Collingwood against South Melbourne after they lost the 1918 Grand Final to the Swans, and matched by Richmond against Collingwood after the 1919 Grand Final.
But if we expand our criteria to incorporate unbeaten streaks, then the record is not Geelong's at all. In fact Geelong's unbeaten streak of nine comes nowhere near the record, which belongs to Collingwood. In the 1926 Grand Final, the Magpies succumbed to Melbourne by 57 points. They then beat the Redlegs in their next two encounters, before the two sides drew in a 1928 semi-final. Collingwood then went on to win the next 13 in a row against Melbourne until, in 1935, the two sides tied again. The Magpies won another two before finally, after not beating Collingwood in any of 19 matches, Melbourne broke through to win by 25 points in Round 5, 1937. Geelong's nine-game unbeaten run is the second-highest, but the Cats have a lot more Hawk-whipping to do before they can get anywhere near Collingwood's record.
Bringing your "B" team to a football match wouldn't normally be seen as a good thing to do for a side seeking a win but in Round 20 it appeared to be a guarantee of victory. In all nine games last weekend, the winning team was the one that had more players in its line-up with first names beginning with B.
First Among Unequals
It wasn't a great start to an AFL coaching career for Garry Hocking. Despite some positive signs shown by Port Adelaide in their match against Hawthorn, the Power were eventually blown away by 72 points. But Hocking can at least hang his hat on the fact that his team was part of a first in VFL/AFL history. The loss was the first time in history that we have seen a game finish with a final score of 159-87. Adelaide's 119-91 win over Fremantle was also a first for that combination.
Fremantle's loss also allowed its score, 91, to move into equal-leadership in Score Wars. Along with 84, it has been a final score on eight occasions, one more than each 75, 79, 87 and 95.
Postcode of the week
In appointing Ross Lyon late last year, Fremantle signalled its intention of becoming a great Western Australian football team. It hasn't achieved that status yet, but its quarter-time and half-time scores against Adelaide on Saturday, 3.3 and 7.4, were a further indication of its goal. 3374 is the postcode of Great Western.
Ridiculous footy anagram of the week
The Gold Coast Suns broke through for their first ever win at Metricon Stadium last weekend, comfortably downing GWS. This is perhaps not surprising, given that, based on the players' average age, the Suns were more than a year older then their GWS Giant counterparts. None of that has anything to do with tonight's important clash between Geelong and St Kilda. How ironic, then, that GEELONG VERSUS SAINT KILDA is an anagram of OVER-AGE SUNS KILLED GIANTS.