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Nine quick takes from AFL Round 4

Josh Elliott Editor

By Josh Elliott, Josh Elliott is a Roar Editor


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    If five straight days of footy isn’t the right way to spend your long weekend, I don’t know what is. To wrap it up, here’s my quick takes from the round.

    Where have Hawthorn’s heros gone?
    I mean sure, we know where Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis are, but there are a lot of Hawthorn players who despite getting named every week have been hardly heard from.

    If a smashing from Gold Coast last week merited no better response than another uncompetitive performance against Geelong on Easter Monday it has to be asked who is offering leadership at the Hawks.

    Jarryd Roughead’s fairytale captaincy has turned into an absolute nightmare and too many blokes who we thought were elite seem to have fit more in the “looks good in a good team” category.

    The Hawks are riding the bumps at the moment but there’s no grinning involved, and it’s becoming hard to guess where something to lift this team could possibly come from.

    Luke Hodge Hawthorn Hawks AFL 2016

    Good Friday footy is here to stay
    How did it take the AFL 25 years to be convinced that a day everyone in the country has off (or ostensibly should) might be a good day to put a footy match one?

    The atmosphere at Etihad Stadium for the first of what will hopefully be many clashes between North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs was as good or better than any game I have attended there.

    There’s no doubt that Good Friday footy is an absolute must going forward, the only question being how it should continue to be formatted.

    I don’t mind the idea of changing it up a bit, but only if we also agree to change up ANZAC Day, Easter Monday, the season opener, et cetera et cetera. And we all know that won’t happen.

    If the AFL allows big clubs to keep annual marquee matches but forces North and the Dogs to shuffle on after one year it’ll be just another sign that there are different rules at league HQ for clubs depending on how much money they make.

    I wouldn’t be a fan of adding another game to the day either, the blockbuster concept will only work if it remains standalone. But make it a night game, not a twilight fixture, going forward.

    Also, a massive hand has to be given to both clubs for the effort they made to get behind the fundraising aspect of the fixture and remind us all of how important it is for footy to give back to the community.

    Jake Stringer Western Bulldogs AFL 2017 tall

    Did clubs miss the boat on Tom Rockliff?
    Tom Rockliff had a look at his options last off-season and there never really seemed to be anyone too keen – seemingly for lack of any better option to take, he decided to stick with Brisbane.

    33 disposals, 21 contested possessions, 15 clearances and 11 tackles, at 80+ per cent disposal efficiency – those were Rocky’s numbers on the weekend, and gee there’s a few clubs who could use that.

    Instead now though you’d think with Rockliff being named the vice-captain at the Lions and seeming to have found his best form again he will probably reject free agency and re-sign with the club he has always played with passion for.

    17 other AFL clubs should be red-faced over this one. They’ve missed a big fish.


    The Pies need a lot Moore from Darcy
    There was a fair bit of chatter on Friday when final teams for Sunday were revealed and it was shown that No.1 pick Patrick McCartin didn’t make the cut for St Kilda.

    However that’s more a sign of the good forward options the Saints have outside McCartin than it is any kind of damning indicment of his career to this stage.

    There’s no need to play him when he’s out of form or try to force his development, and instead they can do the best thing for him which is to send him to the lower level and let him build confidence.

    Not so Collingwood, who have tied the future of their forward line to Darcy Moore and only Darcy Moore, who so far has had no impact to speak of on the 2017 season.

    In four matches he has kicked a single goal and laid just four tackles. In a side that had anything remotely resembling forward-line depth, he would be playing VFL.

    That’s not meant to be a criticism of Darcy, though, he’s a third-year player who is being asked to be the big guy in a forward line that wants to play finals, which is ludicrous.

    It’s a hugely unrealistic amount of pressure to put on a player who has shown flashes of talent but only that so far in his career, and the longterm effects on his development may be catastrophic.

    Darcy Moore Collingwood Magpies AFL 2016

    Fremantle have flicked the switch
    Writing off Fremantle briefly became the national pastime after their horror Round 2 loss to Port Adelaide and I can’t pretend I thought any differently to the majority of pundits.

    However, the Dockers deserve a boatload of credit for the way they have responded over the past two weeks, with a thriller win over Melbourne on Saturday telling us that last week was not a one-game wonder.

    Lachie Neale played arguably the best game of an already excellent career, and David Mundy has fired back into his best form over the last fortnight. Cam McCarthy needs to work on his accuracy but kicked the winning goal, so no complaints.

    How long will it last? Only time will tell, but Dockers fans have good reason to be smiling.

    The only downer for them on the weekend was the unfortunate news regarding Harley Bennell. Fingers crossed he gets the help he clearly needs, because he could be the difference for this team and it would be a shame to see his immense talent go to waste.

    Brad Hill Fremantle Dockers 2017 AFL

    Bye-bye Brad? Tell ’em they’re dreaming
    The bizarre third-man-up free kick paid to the Bulldogs on Good Friday wasn’t the strangest thing I saw all day, no, it was North Melbourne fans musing about sacking Brad Scott on Twitter after the match.

    You must be kidding me right? The team fell just a few points short of beating the reigning premiers. If they had kicked one more goal fans would have been praising his name.

    Any North fan who didn’t expect an 0-4 start to the year given it started with matches against the Eagles, Cats, Giants and Dogs was kidding themselves. Plenty of teams will lose to all four of those sides this year.

    Yes, Brad is probably a bit too conservative with his choices at the selection table, and yes, North’s poor record in close matches under him will leave us all with Vietnam-style flashbacks for years to come.

    But personally I am looking at this first four weeks as being well above expectations, even if it is disappointing not to have gotten any reward for the effort put in. Let the Roos play some teams closer to their level and the results will come.

    North Melbourne coach Brad Scott

    Jack Darling needs a new role
    It’s bizarre how Jack Darling, a player who kicked an outstanding 53 goals in just the second year of his career, is now bordering on superfluous at the West Coast Eagles.

    To be fair, he did that in a year when Josh J Kennedy was absent due to an ACL injury, and hasn’t had the luxury of being the No.1 forward target since.

    However, it’d be fair to say that ever since his iconic (for all the wrong reasons) dropped mark in the 2015 AFL Grand Final, Darling just hasn’t been the same.

    With him missing as a late withdrawal on Thursday night and Jeremy McGovern sent forward, the Eagles seemed to function a lot better, and probably played their best game of the year to date.

    What’s clear from that is that it is time they put more effort into trialling Darling in other parts of the ground – he played midfield as an underager and that’s the logical place to start.

    The Eagles have enough forward talent, and the handy versatility of McGovern, that they can afford to experiment with Darling, and hopefully revitalise his career.

    Jack Darling West Coast Eagles AFL tall 2017

    Fiorini should be the Rising Star fave
    31 touches, six clearances and two goal assists – damn good numbers for a mature midfielder at the peak of his powers, ridiculous stuff from a kid playing his fourth AFL game.

    Brayden Fiorini may not be a household name just yet, having been hidden away up on the Gold Coast, but you can expect him to be soon.

    It’d be staggering if anyone else gets the nod as the Rising Star nominee this week and despite the Ken Sakata-led Sam Powell-Pepper fan club, he deserves to be the early favourite to take out the whole thing.

    Quick shout out to Anthony Wingard, who loves Fiorni more than Fiorini’s parents do, and will tell me off on Twitter if I don’t mention him here.

    Jon Patton will be 2017’s most-improved
    Jon Patton’s excellent form late in the 2016 season got him some regular mentions in my talking points and he gets another here after kicking a bag against Port Adelaide.

    In what was a tight match until the last term, having a player like Patton who could present a difficult match-up for the Port Adelaide defence proved a winner.

    It’s kind of a shame that the AFL doesn’t have an annual “most improved player” award because if it did I would be pretty confident that Patton can take it home this year.

    That said, if Brandon Matera keeps up like he has over the last two weeks then he would be a very strong challenger as well.

    Josh Elliott
    Josh Elliott

    Josh Elliott may be The Roar's Weekend Editor, but at heart he's just a rusted-on North Melbourne tragic with a penchant for pun headlines - and also abnormal alliteration, assuredly; assuming achievability. He once finished third in a hot chilli pie eating contest. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshElliott_29 and listen to him on The Roar's AFL Podcast.

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    The Crowd Says (131)

    • April 17th 2017 @ 6:25pm
      Don Freo said | April 17th 2017 @ 6:25pm | ! Report

      Just a challenge on David Mundy…His first game demolishing Paddy Dangerfield was excellent as well.

      I wonder if last year’s AA selectors feel vindicated by their judgement of Lachie Neale or…just maybe…they are embarrassed.

      • April 18th 2017 @ 1:44am
        Balthazar said | April 18th 2017 @ 1:44am | ! Report

        Yup. Lachie was robbed last year.

    • April 17th 2017 @ 6:25pm
      hal said | April 17th 2017 @ 6:25pm | ! Report

      Gold Coast Suns are the biggest front runners in the AFL. If they were playing a top team they would have got beaten. When the game was tight Carlton looked better but when GCS were able to run they got on top. Tom Lynch was their best player but he won’t have games like that every week.

      Well done to Zac Tuohy playing in his first ever win against Hawthorn. It was great to see Geelong have such an emphatic win without Dangerfield and Selwood dominating. Guthrie, Duncan, and Motlop were our best. Good to see Parsons kick his first goal in AFL football and then get a second. At the moment I can only see Hawthorn beating Brisbane and Carlton, which means they will avoid the wooden spoon.

      • April 17th 2017 @ 6:40pm
        George said | April 17th 2017 @ 6:40pm | ! Report

        I actually see Carton best 22 beating Hawks. They have very good coach and good system. Carlton played quite well until Suns took the risks in 3 Q and spread them out. Suns hanged in there in first half mainly due to fantastic kicking by Lynch. They had 2 players (Barlow and Swallow) on one leg from 1 Q then May injured hamstring early in the last Q so pretty good win for them, I would say.

      • Roar Guru

        April 17th 2017 @ 6:45pm
        Paul D said | April 17th 2017 @ 6:45pm | ! Report

        Gold Coast had more pace. Lynch will probably kick like that most weeks. Best full forward in the competition.

        • April 17th 2017 @ 6:55pm
          George said | April 17th 2017 @ 6:55pm | ! Report

          I was very happy with delivery to Lynch contrary to first game vs Lions. Even more shocking also from Matera. Agree with you on Matera, I would be really surprised if he can keep it up.

      • April 17th 2017 @ 7:06pm
        Nick J said | April 17th 2017 @ 7:06pm | ! Report

        On Motlop- he butchered the ball badly on several occasions in the first half of the game. Geelong get on top and he kicks three goals. Probably an unpopular stance but I think he is far from deserving any accolades for this game.

        • Roar Guru

          April 17th 2017 @ 8:42pm
          Cat said | April 17th 2017 @ 8:42pm | ! Report

          Not saying he didn’t make mistakes – no player is perfect – but I’ll take a stat line of 33 disposals at 81.8%, 3 goals, 1 behind, 4 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 2 goals assists and 6 bounces every single week.

      • April 17th 2017 @ 7:17pm
        Bruce said | April 17th 2017 @ 7:17pm | ! Report

        I would probably back Brisbane in Brisbane, but in Tassie Hawks should win.

    • April 17th 2017 @ 6:31pm
      George said | April 17th 2017 @ 6:31pm | ! Report

      Hawthorn year is turning ugly, faster than anybody expected. Fiorini was draft pick 20 which Suns got in Bennell deal. Looking great deal now for Suns. Bennell may never play AFL game again, he’s a wreck physically and attitude wise.

    • April 17th 2017 @ 6:32pm
      tibor nagy (big four sticks) said | April 17th 2017 @ 6:32pm | ! Report

      To half time David Astbury had 12 possessions. He was our top possession getter. Our ball movement is so much purer this year. We are taking the game on and we don’t worry if we make mistakes, we just get back in there and win the ball. Of the three undefeated teams Richmond is the only one that looks like premiership material. They know we are coming! The rest of the AFL is on notice; under rate Richmond at your peril because it’s Tiger time folks!

      • Roar Rookie

        April 17th 2017 @ 8:13pm
        bdosi said | April 17th 2017 @ 8:13pm | ! Report

        LOL LOL LOL
        I think the crows might have built up some flag kudos wouldn’t you say.
        Crows will smack Richmond in a few weeks.
        You have played no one!!

        • April 17th 2017 @ 8:36pm
          tibor nagy (big four sticks) said | April 17th 2017 @ 8:36pm | ! Report

          Adelaide are down hill skiers who have an easy draw while Richmond are the real deal. On April 30 the whole football world will be singing the praises of the Tigers when we will be the only undefeated team. We are the Leicester City of the AFL. Rance will keep Betts goaless, Nankervis will dominate in the ruck, Dusty will carve them up, Butler will earn a rising star nomination as he will run the Crouch brothers off their feet, and Big Jack will kick a bag.

        • April 18th 2017 @ 7:24am
          Sammy said | April 18th 2017 @ 7:24am | ! Report

          @bdosi…tibor nagy is having a lend and is very easy to tell by the way he worded his posts. He knows how far fetched those comments are ?

    • Roar Guru

      April 17th 2017 @ 6:44pm
      Paul D said | April 17th 2017 @ 6:44pm | ! Report

      Hawks are mainly being exposed through lack of speed and lack of class. The new players coming through can’t sustain the consistency of output of their predecessors and the team just looks slow full stop, outside of a few outliers. They’ve got a few luxury players running around who can’t function at their best without the foundations, a lot of kids and a few aging veterans. They’ve also got a tough draw this year for where they are actually at, based on where they finished last year. They’re playing like a club in a state of flux, where a few guys aren’t sure if they’re going to go round again next season. It should be pointed out plenty of clubs have had seasons like this in recent years, it’s just news because it’s Hawthorn.

      Good Friday game was great & agree it should be a regular fixture for these two sides.

      Easy in hindsight to say Rockliff was going to come good but there were no guarantees. I’d also add that it’s credit to the seemingly excellent motivational and people skills of our coach that he has bounced back so well, no guarantees that would have been the case had he come in elsewhere.

      Agree Moore is being thrown to the wolves but look at some of the blokes playing around him up forward – White is garbage, Elliott is just back from injury, Fasolo goes alright but drifts in and out, Blair is a pressure defender only, Varcoe is a flake and then you’ve got guys like Goldsack and Grundy pinch hitting – fundamentally Collingwood’s forward line just isn’t very good.

      Very happy for Freo, Brad should hang on mainly because you’d struggle to attract anyone better, Jack Darling needs a new club, haven’t seen much of Fiorini until the game against Carlton and my word he was good. Hold fast on Matera – inconsistency is his trademark. Rivals Jarrad Waite for peaks and troughs

      • April 17th 2017 @ 7:18pm
        Bruce said | April 17th 2017 @ 7:18pm | ! Report

        They don’t look hard enough either. Only time I saw Burgoyne go in hard was to push someone in the back after Hodge got slung.

        • Roar Guru

          April 17th 2017 @ 7:44pm
          Paul D said | April 17th 2017 @ 7:44pm | ! Report

          Not really the job of your 34 year old finesse merchant to go in and fly the flag. Where are all the kids at Hawthorn?

          • Roar Guru

            April 17th 2017 @ 8:09pm
            Peppsy said | April 17th 2017 @ 8:09pm | ! Report

            At other clubs after getting no games for 5 years

            • April 17th 2017 @ 9:10pm
              Gags said | April 17th 2017 @ 9:10pm | ! Report

              Nah, lots got a go but none have stepped up, Stratton probably the only one who has.

            • April 17th 2017 @ 10:43pm
              Birdman said | April 17th 2017 @ 10:43pm | ! Report

              yeah, no former young Hawks ripping it up at other clubs – only Brad Hill currently being missed.

              • April 17th 2017 @ 11:21pm
                Steve009 said | April 17th 2017 @ 11:21pm | ! Report

                Sam Mitchell is one of the best footballers we’ve seen in a long time

              • April 18th 2017 @ 2:05pm
                Birdman said | April 18th 2017 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

                true but we were discussing young Hawks players

              • April 18th 2017 @ 5:48pm
                Steve009 said | April 18th 2017 @ 5:48pm | ! Report

                Mitchell and Lewis made alot of those young players around him look a little better than they were. (Hodge as well)

    • April 17th 2017 @ 6:48pm
      SmithHatesMaxwell said | April 17th 2017 @ 6:48pm | ! Report

      Roughie just isn’t captaincy material. Clarkson has lost the players by the look of it. His unsentimental treatment of loyal servants seems to have affected morale. Hawthorn are old and slow, but beatings like these are purely about attitude.

      I wonder if they players don’t believe in what Clarko is telling them.

      Last year he was busy telling everyone he didn’t give a toss about contested ball. The players followed him down that rabbit-hole it ended badly for them with a straight sets exit in the finals. If it wasn’t for getting lucky in close games in 2016 they wouldn’t even have been close to finishing top 4 any way.

      Now he’s trying to instruct his players that contested ball is important. Talk about mixed messages and 2016 being a wasted opportunity because of Clarko’s tactical blunder.

      • Roar Guru

        April 17th 2017 @ 6:52pm
        Paul D said | April 17th 2017 @ 6:52pm | ! Report

        You’re just an expert on everything hey. What a shame no-one listens to you

        • Roar Guru

          April 17th 2017 @ 6:57pm
          AdelaideDocker said | April 17th 2017 @ 6:57pm | ! Report

          And to think that I thought, for the longest time, that Anon was a Hawks fan..

      • April 17th 2017 @ 10:44pm
        Birdman said | April 17th 2017 @ 10:44pm | ! Report

        haha. clueless as usual.

      • April 17th 2017 @ 11:25pm
        Steve009 said | April 17th 2017 @ 11:25pm | ! Report

        Clarkson prioritised control of the ball over contested ball, which I agree with, now they have neither.