Round 4, like two of the three rounds before it, featured three games in which the margin at the end of the game was in single figures.
I believe that when a margin is that close luck on the day can have more to do with the result than any superiority displayed by one team over the other. Apart from the valuable four (or 2) points it brings – the game does nothing to suggest one team was better on the day.
An exception to this is the mayhem caused by injury to a key player which – in the modern game upsets the team balance, the rotations possible, the movement drills practised during the week and the key match ups planned.
With this in mind, it makes the Bulldogs’ win over Sydney even more meritorious with the loss of key forwards Aaron Naughton in the first quarter and Sam Lloyd in the third.
One injury that occurred too late in the Collingwood/GWS game to have much tactical effect on that game was a severe ACL injury to Jeremy Howe. Howe, since moving from Melbourne in 2016 has played 87 games for the Magpies and has steadily become a key Marshall across the back line and his season-ending injury will have the most impact of all injuries of the round.
The Collingwood defence has been the second most miserly in the competition, conceding only 173 points in the four games and the unheralded line up will need to lift even more to compensate for the loss of Howe.
The most miserly defence in the league is the all conquering Port Adelaide who had much to celebrate after another convincing victory. The Power defeated the hapless West Coast Eagles by eight goals in Brad Ebert’s 250th game and sit on top of the AFL ladder one game and over 100 percentage points clear of all rivals.
Ebert scored two goals in the game to take his total of goals at the Power to 101, making him the 18th centurion at the club.
Ebert – who started his career at the Eagles and still remains in the Top 100 game players and goal scorers at West Coast – passed the games totals of Gavin Wanganeen and Dean Brogan at Power.
To add to their celebrations, coach Ken Hickley passed the 162 game total of legendary Bulldog Charlie Sutton and into 44th position on the AFL Top 100 coaches list.
Fellow coach John Longmire equalled the record of games coached by another legend: Richmond’s Jack Dyer.
In other games, Gold Coast (!) and Brisbane did as expected while Carlton snuck home by one point in a minor upset against Essendon and the Hawks held off a late charge by North Melbourne to win in another close game. Richmond continued to disappoint, never finding their mojo against St Kilda.
The grandson of the recently departed Hawthorn legend, John Kennedy senior, celebrated his 250th AFL game playing for the Swans against Western Bulldogs.
Josh Kennedy started his career with 13 games at the Hawks and Hawthorn’s coach Alastair Clarkson readily admits he was “the one that got away”. The success of the third generation of the Kennedy dynasty sparked some debate over who should represent John senior at any Top 100 functions if they are held.
John junior would be a worthy representative of his father at the Top 100 coaches function where John senior is one of only 12 coaches to coach more than 400 games, but at the Hawthorn Top 100 functions he is also a member in both the games and goals categories, so the task may fall to Josh.
Both John junior and Josh can point out that they are also in the elite goal scorers at their respective clubs while John senior kicked only 29 goals in his VFL career.