Another round, another opportunity for sides to cement places in the eight, hold on for tight wins or fall to new lows.
Thanks for reading over the past three rounds. Normal programming will resume next Sunday when Josh returns, but you can join me on live blogs for the rest of the year.
Magpies’ season back on track
Collingwood fans around the nation could barely watch when their side went forward on Friday night, but breathed a sigh of relief as the Magpies held on to get their season back on track.
A rare game away from home and with their backs against the wall following two disappointing losses, Nathan Buckley’s men stood up in a one-point win over the West Coast Eagles.
The game was a tale of two halves: the first high-scoring and accurate, the second a tough slog with the Magpies getting across the line by a single point.
After a shootout in the opening half, Collingwood held the Eagles scoreless for nearly 45 minutes as they slowly reduced the margin. In fact, a rushed behind in the 27th minute of the final quarter was the only score for West Coast after the 10-minute mark of the third term.
Inaccurate goal-kicking almost killed any hope for the Magpies, who kicked 12 behinds, including six in the final term. However, a moment of Jordan De Goey brilliance and a great forward pressure to hold the ball inside 50 was enough to seal the Pies’ win.
Brody Mihocek got things going in the front half for the Magpies, supported well by Mason Cox who responded to a week of external criticism.
It was a brilliant game that had all the finals-like feel we enjoy and went down to the wire.
Collingwood will travel again next weekend, up to Sydney to face GWS at Giants Stadium. The Giants are struggling as well and the Magpies could just get home.
Teague’s training wheels holding Carlton upright
After Chris Judd said on Footy Classified on Monday night that the Blues did not want a coach “with training wheels on,” Carlton secured their fourth win of the season and a third under interim coach David Teague.
While Teague didn’t care much for the comments from Judd, who is currently Carlton’s director of football, fans enjoyed the running joke particularly after the seven-point win at the SCG.
I never knew so many training wheel gifs existed, but the people of Twitter brought them all to the table on Saturday afternoon.
While Judd did not state that Teague has training wheels on, he implied the football club was looking for more experience in a head coach and therefore seemed to rule out Teague.
Carlton CEO Cain Liddle said on SEN later in the week that Teague did not fall into the “training wheels” category and was still very much in the race for the top job.
Teague and Carlton are admittedly in a honeymoon period; there always is a release of pressure when a new and a not-yet-permanent coach is appointed and the Blues are currently relishing in an altered, fast-pace game style.
It was a breakthrough win for Carlton though, who had their first win at the SCG since 2011 and didn’t have to come from 30 points down to do so!
Teague is putting his best foot forward in the race for the senior coach position at Carlton, doing the job at present very well. Whether or not he keeps the role is a decision for the Carlton board in a couple of months.
Meanwhile, Sydney put an end to rumours of their senior coach moving to Carlton or North Melbourne at the end of the year, by se-signing John Longmire for a further three seasons.
If last week was bad, this week was worse
Gold Coast went one further this week, showing very little in response to their 92-point thumping at the hands of Richmond and losing by 95-points to Adelaide on Saturday night.
After Carlton’s win earlier in the day, Gold Coast will almost certainly hold the wooden spoon until the end of the season.
During the week Tony Cochrane said that the club would request a priority pick in this year’s AFL Draft, and with a bottom-place finish looming they will likely have first and second picks.
The Suns registered a grim two goals for the opening half, and allowed Adelaide’s forwards to regain their confidence piling on 12. Gold Coast were shocking and were lucky to pick up a four final quarter consolation goals to keep the margin under three-figures.
Twelve consecutive losses and two in-a-row over 90 points have taken a toll on Suns coach Stuart Dew, who took aim at the Crows’ coaching box in his post-match press conference.
Whatever you make of Don Pyke’s reaction to goal number 22 for the Crows, Dew simply has to draw from any place he can to flick the competitive switch for Gold Coast again.
“Look at the Crows’ coach’s box in the last quarter,” said Dew.
“They laughed in the last quarter, we’ve got to live with that.
“That stings, it’s got to sting.
“That’s where we’re at. That’s what they think of us.”
The margin was extended to 106-points with that goal; the Suns were shocking, lacking intensity and appearing ready for their relaxing post-season trips to all corners of the globe rather than a round 17 AFL match.
After Gold Coast were fairly competitive through the first half of the season, they were at times witches’ hats on Saturday night. For these last six weeks to be at all worthwhile, Dew needs to fire up the camp and maybe his comments on Saturday can do just that.
A positive for the Suns this week was the extension of Izak Rankine’s contact through to the end of 2022. The exciting youngster has not yet played an AFL game due to injury. Fellow round one draft picks Jack Lukosius and Ben King are yet to do the same.
Ross and Richo not happy with the umpires
Feeling the pressure after losses on Saturday, both Ross Lyon and Alan Richardson had comments to make regarding the umpiring in their respective games.
Both coaches are feeling the heat and when their teams failed to perform for all four terms, Lyon and Richardson felt the umpires needed some criticism thrown back on them.
The free kick count in Fremantle’s match against Hawthorn was 18 to 17 in favour of the Hawks. However, Lyon felt his captain was not looked after well enough by the umpires.
Nat Fyfe had two free kicks for and one against on Saturday, but when he is carrying the Fremantle side and doing so with a sore shoulder, of course Hawthorn were going to go after him.
If you stop Nat Fyfe, you stop Fremantle.
“He got checked off the ball heavily… we’d like him to be looked after more,” said Lyon in his post-match press conference.
Lyon went on to admit that the players might have to take matters into their own hands and protect their captain. The playing group cannot rely on the individual efforts of Fyfe to keep them in the game and should do more to help him at the contest.
Richardson also mentioned the umpiring standards after his troupes failed to capitalise against Geelong on Saturday night.
St Kilda matched Geelong in the opening half, and even had the advantage in the aerial battle and contested game. They failed to finish on the scoreboard though and eventually fell away to a 27-point loss.
Richardson and St Kilda felt the pain of a lop-sided free kick count at GMHBA Stadium, which finished 26 to 14 in favour of the home side.
“I don’t think the umps had a great night,” said Richardson post-match.
Perhaps Richardson’s description of “inconsistent” is best. The club will seek further clarification from the umpiring department following the skewed count; the Saints had help from the umpires during the week after giving away seven free kicks against in front of goals in Tasmania in round 16.
Could the Tigers run be better than ’17?
The Tigers are hunting and they move into fifth place on the AFL ladder with a win over the Giants.
Picking up traction throughout the week was a snapshot of Richmond’s position two years ago, compared to their position in 2019.
In every way except percentage, Richmond went into this round in the same place they were in 2017, their premiership year.
Richmond are back nearing full-strength, well as full-strength as they are likely to get with Alex Rance very much an outside chance to return this year, and threatening to return to their 2017 ways.
In the opening term the Tigers got away to fast start, kicking four goals and holding the Giants to just two behinds.
Richmond fought off a Giant recovery, and pressed on in the second half to run out 27-point winners.
While the Tigers didn’t win the footy in the middle as much as they would like, they pressured the Giants into turning the footy over and plenty of options for 59 inside 50s.
Trent Cotchin stuck nine tackles, while Bachar Houli picked up 30 disposals and five inside 50s. Shai Bolton, a young lad who has really had to earn his spot in the side, followed with 29 disposals, a goal and six tackles.
The run home isn’t easy, Richmond face Port Adelaide next, with Collingwood, Melbourne, Carlton, West Coast and Brisbane to follow. However, they hold a home-ground advantage over four out of six of those opponents and should get the job done against Melbourne.
Could the Tigers even sneak a double-chance?
Brisbane not just a threat, but a premiership contender
Brisbane absolutely blitzed Port Adelaide in the opening term, it was as dominant as you could get. Seven unanswered goals to start the game and it was over before the quarter-time siren.
In wet and slippery conditions, Port were again outplayed on their home turf to continue the frustrating see-saw season that is 2019.
Tempers flared from the opening bounce, with ex-Fremantle teammates Lachie Neale and Cam Sutcliffe going head-to-head as expected. Even Chris Fagan from the back bench of the Lions’ interchange had words for Sutcliffe and his niggly tag on Neale.
Lincoln McCarthy was busy up forward early with two goals, Charlie Cameron also slotted a few over the match, while Jarryd Lyons and Dayne Zorko got to work in the middle.
If there is one person you want on your team when things get physical, it is Mitch Robinson. Robinson was never far away when the game was at its hottest.
Port Adelaide were rather undisciplined with their treatment of Neale, giving away multiple free kicks early.
In the last fortnight Brisbane have defeated GWS and now Port Adelaide, and have done so comfortably. While they’ve dropped the odd game throughout the year, the Lions have been switched on, found ways to score, and lately they’ve had a confidence about them.
While this year has shown that no game is secure and on their day any team can beat another, Brisbane should start favourites in their next four matches. The Lions must simply win these contests.
Games against Geelong and Richmond will finish the Lions’ home and away season, and a win in either will certainly ensure Brisbane are considered a contender this September.
Adelaide Crows (9-7)
On a night when the forwards found their mojo once again, Eddie Betts hit the scoreboard with six goals. After calls for him to be dropped following a couple of goalless games, Betts responded.
Brisbane Lions (10-5)
Lachie Neale might be the recruit of the year for Brisbane, but Jarryd Lyons is right behind him. Huge today without Hugh McCluggage out and Lachie Neale tagged, picking up 30-plus disposals and hit the scoreboard too.
Carlton Blues (4-12)
Matthew Kreuzer dominated the ruck contest with 45 hit-outs, including 13 to advantage. His performance allowed the Blues to finish plus-13 in clearances and move the footy forward from the stoppage.
Collingwood Magpies (11-5)
On a sour note, both Darcy Moore and Scott Pendlebury will be on the sidelines for a couple of weeks at the least in a double-injury blow. Moore did another hamstring (hopefully low-grade) and Pendlebury had surgery on the middle finger on his left hand.
Essendon Bombers (9-7)
Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti is a match-winner and he did it again on Saturday afternoon! A little bit of brilliance to end a thriller under the roof of Marvel Stadium.
Fremantle Dockers (7-9)
Nat Fyfe doing Nat Fyfe things. Honestly, what else can you say. Goes off the ground with a shoulder injury, gets re-strapped, returns to the forward line and kicks three straight to keep his side in it at half-time.
Geelong Cats (13-3)
Patrick Dangerfield entered another gear on Saturday night when his side needed it. His explosive speed out the centre was brilliant, in a 32 disposal, nine clearance and one goal performance from the midfielder.
Gold Coast Suns (3-13)
Alarm bells are ringing at AFL House. What else can they do to help the Gold Coast Suns? It might seem selfish, but they really do need to throw everything into turning this around.
GWS Giants (9-7)
The left knee of Stephen Coniglio was heavily strapped pre-game, after he hurt it against the Lions. In the opening minutes Coniglio’s day ended with one move, the extent of the injury to be determined.
Hawthorn Hawks (7-9)
Hawthorn’s record in Launceston is very nice; highlight of the day for Hawks fans though, was the return of Grant Birchall to the senior side. He finished with 21 disposals and was clean moving the footy out of the back half.
Melbourne Demons (5-11)
Melbourne fought hard, but fell short again. Seems to be the story of the Dees’ season, unfortunately. So much expectation and they’ll likely finish in the bottom four, rather than the top four.
North Melbourne Kangaroos (6-10)
Ben Brown is back! Six goals and into second on the Coleman Medal leader board with 43 for the season so far.
Port Adelaide Power (8-7)
Should it really come as a surprise that this was a ‘down’ week on the Port Adelaide rollercoaster? Will they rise again next week against Richmond at the MCG? Everyone, criticise them, shine a spotlight and ask them to respond… Please!
Richmond Tigers (10-6)
Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt forward together was a sight to excite all Richmond fans. Good communication between the two, rarely tried to jump at the same footy and will continue to build.
St Kilda Saints (6-10)
Rowan Marshall impressed again on Saturday night, with 31 hit-outs, 22 disposals, six clearances and a goal. Surely the Saints aren’t serious about paying big bucks for a ruckman who has passed 30.
Sydney Swans (6-10)
Jordan Dawson’s bump into Paddy Dow could come under Match Review scrutiny, but the young Swan will also face feedback from his team for a poor turnover on half-back pretty much ended any chance for the Swans to make a comeback.
West Coast Eagles (11-5)
Jarrod Cameron is another young gem for the Eagles up forward. Brother of Lion Charlie Cameron, Jarrod was very lively in the first half with four goals and accurate too.
Western Bulldogs (7-8)
His brother might have kicked a goal over his head, but Josh Dunkley was the best player on the ground today. Dunkley had 39 disposals, 15 tackles, nine clearances and two goals, racking up a massive 189 fantasy points.