The optics weren’t too good before and after Andrew Gaff’s practice shot on goal during training at Optus Stadium.
Round 9 is in the books, so lets take a look back at the best performances from the weekend in team of the week.
Back pocket – Nick Vlastuin (Richmond)
Another terrific performance from the backline general, Vlastuin was a rock in defence against the Hawks. He picked up 24 possessions, took four marks, laid nine tackles and kicked a big goal from outside 50 late in the match. He’s arguably leading Richmond’s best and fairest at this stage of the season.
Full back – Dane Rampe (Sydney)
A week on from his controversial antics in Round 8, Rampe did an enormous job on dangerous North Melbourne forward Ben Brown, who went into Saturday night’s clash with nine goals from his last two weeks. Brown had just a handful of touches and managed one goal, with Rampe hauling in four marks and getting the ball 18 times.
Back pocket – Tom Stewart (Geelong)
He continued his push for back-to-back All Australian selections with a terrific game against the Western Bulldogs on Saturday. He had 22 possessions at a perfect 100 per cent efficiency, while he took six grabs, one of which will go close to winning mark of the year, although he’ll be up against it given Liam Ryan provided a similar high-flying ‘specky’ on Friday night. Stewart’s was marginally better, in my opinion.
Half back – Shane Savage (St Kilda)
In his 150th game Savage was a solid performer for a brave St Kilda outfit who took it right up to the high-flying Magpies. He had 25 touches at 88 per cent efficiency, took four marks, laid four tackles and kicked an impressive goal.
Centre half back – Harris Andrews (Brisbane)
He controlled the game in the air against the Crows on Saturday, taking eight marks from his 15 disposals. After his direct opponent kicked the first goal of the day, Elliott Himmelberg had a tough day from then on.
Half back – Shannon Hurn (West Coast)
The reigning premiership captain was a colossus on Friday night in his side’s come-from-behind win over Melbourne. Hurn had a huge 33 possessions at a lethal 93 per cent efficiency, while he hauled in 13 grabs as his side notched their third win in a row.
Wing – Lachie Whitfield (Greater Western Sydney)
In his first game since Round 6 the former No. 1 draft pick was clearly desperate to get back out on the park, putting in a magical performance against a hapless Carlton outfit. For the second time this season Whitfield amassed 40 possessions in a match, using it at an impressive 77 per cent, while his ability to run and provide an option for his teammates was evident by the 18 marks he took. He also laid four tackles and booted three goals in what will be one of the most dominant performances from an individual player this season.
Centre – George Hewett (Sydney)
The Sydney stopper continued his good run of recent form with a hard-nosed performance against North Melbourne in Hobart on Saturday night. Without a tagging role, the 23-year-old racked up 29 disposals, 20 of them contested, while he won nine clearances and laid five tackles.
Wing – Zach Merrett (Essendon)
In a scrappy game, Merrett was Essendon’s best four-quarter performer, finishing the match with 35 touches – 13 of them contested – six marks and six tackles. No one would ever be able to re-live his performance, however, because all tapes of that game should be destroyed.
Half forward – Mitch Duncan (Geelong)
Continues to fly under the radar in the Geelong midfield, starring in the Cats’ win over the Bulldogs on Saturday. Had 25 disposals at 92 per cent efficiency, took 11 grabs and booted three goals.
Centre half forward – Brody Mihocek (Collingwood)
Another good game from Collingwood’s mature-age forward, who helped himself to four majors against the Saints. He had 14 touches and took eight marks, combining for seven goals with Ben Reid. Behind Brodie Grundy, Mihocek is the most important player for the Magpies.
Half forward – Gary Rohan (Geelong)
After a couple of quiet weeks, Rohan roared back to form on Saturday at GMHBA Stadium, booting three goals from 14 disposals and seven grabs. He’s not far off his best haul of goals in a season, and we’re only nine weeks in.
Forward pocket – Charlie Cameron (Brisbane)
Playing against his former side for the first time, Cameron was vibrant in the forward line. However, his goalkicking stopped him from having a career-best afternoon. He ended up with 16 possessions, five grabs, three tackles and 3.5 on the scoreboard.
Full forward – Jeremy Finlayson (Greater Western Sydney)
The lesser-known Jeremy in the GWS forward line got off the chain as the Giants massacred the Blues in front of a home crowd. With the Coleman Medal-leading Jeremy Cameron goalless for a second consecutive week, Finlayson chipped in with five majors from his 12 touches, three marks and four tackles.
Forward pocket – Tom Papley (Sydney)
He was a constant danger for the North Melbourne defence on Saturday night, with the pint-sized Swan booting four goals in a match for the second time in three weeks. With the final margin five points, it was a matchwinning performance.
Ruckman – Max Gawn (Melbourne)
Despite West Coast opting to play two ruckmen against him, Gawn was simply too powerful and too good, dominating in the ruck with a monster 56 hit-outs. He also had 15 disposals, laid four tackles and won seven clearances. However, his night ended on a sour note, with Liam Ryan soaring on his shoulders to take a huge grab as the Demons let slip a very winnable game.
Ruck-rover – Dustin Martin (Richmond)
He returned to the very best we are so used to seeing from Dusty, who dominated the Hawks on Sunday afternoon. He racked up 37 possessions, the most amount of ball he’s found in nearly two years, had ten clearances, took six marks, laid three tackles and, impressively, got forward to kick two important goals in a great win.
Rover – Lachie Neale (Brisbane)
The Brisbane ball magnet had a massive afternoon on Saturday as he helped the Lions to their first win over the Crows in seven years. He amassed a monster 39 disposals, 22 of them contested, won 12 clearances and laid six tackles.
Interchange – Rory Sloane (Adelaide)
He worked hard all afternoon but was particularly impressive late in the game as the Crows mounted a comeback. He finished with 28 touches – 21 of them contested – six clearances, four marks, seven tackles and a goal.
Interchange – Elliot Yeo (West Coast)
He showed a lot of grunt on Friday night, with the two-time reigning John Worsfold Medallist winning 26 touches – 18 of them contested – seven clearances and laying a massive 16 tackles.
Interchange – Steele Sidebottom (Collingwood)
He was very good for a second consecutive week, with the veteran picking up 29 possessions at 79 per cent efficiency, taking six grabs, laying three tackles and slotting two goals.
Interchange – Travis Boak (Port Adelaide)
In tough conditions the former Power skipper thrived, continuing his outstanding season with 36 disposals – 22 of them contested – seven clearances and four tackles. At this stage of the season I expect him to be close to the Brownlow Medal leaderboard.
Emergency – Brayden Fiorini (Gold Coast)
The impressive youngster from the Suns was brilliant all afternoon against the Power, winning 38 touches, 13 of them contested, taking four marks, laying five tackles and booting a goal.
Emergency – Brodie Grundy (Collingwood)
He fought an entertaining battle with emerging St Kilda ruckman Rowan Marshall and again showed that if he isn’t the best ruckman in the competition, he is a very close second. He had 24 possessions – 18 of them contested – won seven clearances, took four grabs, laid six tackles and won a monster 49 hit-outs.
Emergency – Matt de Boer (Greater Western Sydney)
He did what no player has been able to do in the past: put the clamps on Carlton star Patrick Cripps. The Blues co-captain was held to just 12 disposals, his lowest tally since his debut season of 2014, with De Boer helping himself to 27 touches, four marks and six tackles.
Emergency – Dylan Shiel (Essendon)
He was very good for the Bombers against the Dockers, winning 25 possessions and four clearances, taking three marks, laying five tackles and, most importantly, kicking two goals, his first majors for the club. But, again, those goals should never see the light of day again.
FB: Nick Vlastuin (Richmond), Dane Rampe (Sydney), Tom Stewart (Geelong)
HB: Shane Savage (St Kilda), Harris Andrews (Brisbane), Shannon Hurn (West Coast)
C: Lachie Whitfield (Greater Western Sydney), George Hewett (Sydney), Zach Merrett (Essendon)
HF: Mitch Duncan (Geelong), Brody Mihocek (Collingwood), Gary Rohan (Geelong)
FF: Charlie Cameron (Brisbane), Jeremy Finlayson (Greater Western Sydney), Tom Papley (Sydney)
R: Max Gawn (Melbourne), Dustin Martin (Richmond), Lachie Neale (Brisbane)
IC: Rory Sloane (Adelaide), Elliot Yeo (West Coast), Steele Sidebottom (Collingwood), Travis Boak (Port Adelaide)
EMG: Brayden Fiorini (Gold Coast), Brodie Grundy (Collingwood), Matt De Boer (Greater Western Sydney), Dylan Shiel (Essendon)
Adelaide: Sloane (1)
Brisbane: Andrews, Cameron, Neale (3)
Carlton: Nil (0)
Collingwood: Mihocek, Sidebottom (2)
Essendon: Merrett (1)
Fremantle: Nil (0)
Geelong: Stewart, Duncan, Rohan (3)
Gold Coast: Nil (0)
Greater Western Sydney: Whitfield, Finlayson (2)
Hawthorn: Nil (0)
Melbourne: Gawn (1)
North Melbourne: Nil (0)
Port Adelaide: Boak (1)
Richmond: Vlastuin, Martin (2)
St Kilda: Savage (1)
Sydney: Rampe, Hewett, Papley (3)
West Coast: Hurn, Yeo (2)
Western Bulldogs: Nil (0)