And then there were nine. And what a race for ninth spot it should be. Round 20 of the AFL saw an average winning margin of more than 10 goals.
Sydney versus Collingwood
Friday night at the SCG and as predicted Buddy Franklin didn’t take his place in the starting 22. He was needed to coach the reserves side and by all accounts made a good fist of it.
The first half was a mix of flooding, falling and fumbling. The experts called it pressure. Everyone else called it frustrating. The second half was much the same only they added scoring to it.
Collingwood’s Nathan Brown will be hoping his report for high contact against Luke Parker goes straight to the tribunal given Adam Cooney got one week for knocking out Stephen Coniglio and forcing him to miss a week.
On that basis Brown should only get a fine seeing as Luke got straight back up again only to have his leg all but snap off in the final quarter.
The difference in the end was accuracy, or Collingwood’s lack of it. The Pies’ season is over and based on what the Swans dished up they are only there to make up the numbers in September.
A big shout out to the review system who got it wrong again.
Adelaide versus Essendon
In another sign that the Bombers no longer listen to Bomber the team resisted the urge to play wearing snorkels. Once James Hird read the latest open letter from Paul Little at quarter time the game was effectively over.
Essendon surged back into the game in the first quarter when Brendon Goddard went off after he got his foot stuck in his mouth again. Once he came back, Essendon gave up.
In the third quarter Essendon looked insipid. The usual apologists in the commentary box stated it was confidence they lack. I’d add talent, desire, pride and respect to that list. Plus pace, game plan, a coach…
The final quarter was a crowtastrophe for Essendon in what was one of the finest example of dead horse floggings seen.
Conversely ‘lucky’ Adelaide looked good, really good. They have a bunch of young kids coming through and surely interim coach Scott Camporeale has done enough to be made full time. If Patrick Dangerfield was waiting for a sign to show how potent the Crows can be then he just got it. Someone give him a pen.
North Melbourne versus St Kilda
Was this the really real North Melbourne or just the real one with a bit of the not so real but somewhat real St Kilda thrown in? I really don’t know.
St Kilda had their chances but poor kicking in the second quarter cost them. Trailing by over three goals at the main break, the Kangas piled on nine goals to two when they discovered there was in fact a middle of the ground and not just those side bits at the new Mecca of football, Blundstone Arena.
Jack Ziebell faces the MRP and Chris Scott blamed the careless spoil on the stadium manager who yet again failed to close the roof. The usual suspects stood up on both sides in a match that very nearly didn’t go to script.
Port Adelaide versus Greater Western Sydney
A late withdrawal by Jay Schultz meant John Butcher replaced him and was made to wear a Charlie Dixon mask.
The opening quarter was fiery. More 50-metre penalties paid in one quarter than most weekends of matches. Whoever swapped their multivitamins for Alastair Clarkson’s horse pills could easily have been up on a murder charge. Fortunately no plaster board was hurt.
The match overflowed into half-time with both teams attempting to chest beat better than the other.
Port took a 10-point lead into a frenetic third quarter dominated by GWS clearances to give the Giants a two-point lead at the final break. Port magically rediscovered what defensive pressure is and with GWS players going down injured in all directions it was all over within five minutes. That Chad Wingard fella can play.
Not sure what Justin Westhoff was doing trying to bury Jeremy Cameron into the forward pocket but he’ll have a couple of weeks off to think it over. Once they dug Jeremy up he gave the thumbs up thinking he was the Fonz. The two later met up at AL’s Diner for a soda.
For GWS it’s more or less season done and dusted.
On a side note Ken Hinkley should know that ‘Game Plans R Us’ have a special this week. Buy plan B, get plan C half price. It’s good value, A whole lot better than the ‘go out and clobber them’ plan which wouldn’t work on most teams.
Congratulations to Rhys Palmer for his nomination for howler of the year. He’ll never run into an open goal bouncing again.
Geeong versus Hawthorn
The Cats needed a bunch of ‘horses’ if they had any chance of winning this one and unfortunately all they could find were clothes horses early.
The old war horses looked slow but began to peg back the reigning horse whisperers and by half-time trailed by a short half head.
Coming down the back straight they were neck and neck and coming round the final bend, the Hawks led by five lengths as Chris Scott went for the whip early. The final term merry-go-round had Geelong trying to peg back the ‘Hawkses’ but in the end it was all Hawthorn.
Cyril ‘Black Caviar’ Rioli had a night out with six straight. Another 19 and he can retire.
They say cats have nine lives and if Geelong want to play in their ninth straight finals series they will need to win their last three games. Hawthorn are just priming themselves for another shot at the title.
Brisbane versus Carlton
The blockbuster of the round and by that I mean we almost went to Blockbuster to rent a DVD instead of forcing ourselves to watch this.
Twelve goals in a row for Brisbane during the second and third quarters handed Carlton a 64-point caning and the number one draft pick, Josh Schache.
The Lions shocked everyone including themselves with direct fast paced football. Mitch Robinson reminded his former club how good he is but the MRP may come calling after he struck Michael Jamison, who refused to shake hands after the match.
Afterwards several Lions players asked for the words to the club song and once they memorised it, sang it with a ‘mighty roar’.
Richmond versus Gold Coast
The Suns should change their name to Cold Toast.
Whoever thought that replacing Guy McKenna with Rodney Eade should be sacked, rehired and sacked again. You can’t blame injuries when you can’t coach and clearly ‘Rocket’ was the wrong choice.
Richmond dominated this match after half-time and should try something called tackling, I hear it helps win matches. Not that they needed much of it today, but just in case they meet a real team in the future.
Richmond piled on the goals and did enough to stay in the race for fourth spot and another chance to beat Fremantle on their own deck again.
Western Bulldogs versus Melbourne
The D’s pulled an early surprise by replacing 21 players with the women who earlier won. Leaving Jesse Hogan in the goal square and right from the start you just knew Melbourne made the wrong choice when they gave up the first 12 goals of the game.
It’s the third time this round that a team had a 12-goal run. The Bulldogs joined Adelaide and Brisbane in doing it.
Melbourne’s only highlight was again Hogan and it won’t be long before Hawthorn make a play for him. That’s what they do. Let other clubs develop talent and then steal it. They stole that idea from Sydney.
Melbourne have been treading water for almost a decade and right now are going backwards. Their fans and the AFL must be tearing their hair out wondering when this will end. Ashley and Martin should seriously consider sponsoring the club. They would make a fortune.
The Bulldogs on the other hand are a breath of fresh air. They play hard and fast (say it with a Tony Greig accent, you know you want to) and are almost unbeatable at Etihad. Melbourne haven’t won there since about 1928 when it was effectively a cow paddock.
The Bulldogs no name players are the ones doing the most damage and eventually someone will work it out but it’s great watching them back themselves. Luke Beveridge is surely coach of the year.
Can the Bulldogs go all the way? I’m almost on the band wagon.
West Coast versus Fremantle
I don’t want to say I told you so, but for those who doubted, you can form a line to my left. I like the personal touch. No, really.
The match was effectively over at the 20-minute mark.
Fremantle have lost their way. Ross Lyon could be looking at a straight sets exit if he doesn’t turn it around quickly, starting with the really unreal North Melbourne next week.
Alex Silvagni surely will earn himself a rest after his off-the-ball clash with Jamie Cripps.
West Coast are the real deal. If they can get defenders to stop injuring themselves they have a chance to add a fourth premiership.
Right now it’s a Hawks/Eagles grand final. Only Western Bulldogs and Richmond have any kind of chance to spoil that party.