Round 9 started with a fairly one-sided game, with the Bulldogs beating the Magpies by eight goals. Collingwood briefly tested their opponents’ depth, but the Bulldogs passed with flying colours, playing an attacking brand of footy.
On Saturday there were two exciting games that were relatively close. Hawthorn nearly caused an upset against the Tigers, while the Saints did cause an unlikely upset against the Cats. It was a game that appeared to be a regulation Cats win at halftime, but the Saints dug deep and fought their way to what may be a pivotal victory.
The highlight of the weekend is that the Suns are in contention to play finals in 2022, winning their fourth game from nine matches. Two of the four games have come against top-four opposition – the latest of which was the Dockers in Round 9, who currently sit third on the ladder, and also the Blues in Round 4 – by a combined margin of 11 goals. Gold Coast lost to the Demons by the second narrowest margin, just 13 points, in Round 3.
The football world has been waiting a long time for the Suns to be successful, and 2022 could be it.
Last but not least, Leon Cameron has brought a club that was on its knees to play in the finals and come close to the ultimate success. It was great to see a guard of honour for him but disappointing that the players didn’t give him the send-off he deserved: the four points for victory.
There was plenty of entertaining viewing over the weekend. Have a look at what each club can take away from Round 9.
Adelaide Crows: there’s a glimmer of hope
The Crows took the Lions by surprise in the first half, working tirelessly to stay competitive and take a three-point lead into halftime. It’s a game few people would’ve given Adelaide a chance of being competitive in, but in the first half they defied the critics. Brisbane were too classy in the premiership quarter, winning it by 25 points and with it the game. They have made some brave selection calls, which may have spurred the players on.
Brisbane Lions: they know how to win
The Lions were forced to play without two of their three key forwards in Round 9, with Daniel McStay and Joe Daniher unavailable due to injuries. They did regain Eric Hipwood from injury, which was a positive. They will want to review their Round 9 performance meticulously if they’re going to contend for a premiership. With no disrespect to the Crows, they are a developing team, yet the Lions had 22 scoring shots to 21. Who knows what could have happened if Adelaide had kicked straight when the game was in the balance.
Carlton Blues: a brave win against a team with plenty to play for
Carlton were the better team, having ten more scoring shots. Most people in the football world would’ve been barracking for Leon Cameron in his last game as the Giants coach. Despite having 29 fewer hit-outs, they had eight more clearances and 12 more stoppage clearances than the Giants. The Blues treated the game like a final; they put everything into it. Jack Silvagni was outstanding as the second tall forward in the absence of Harry McKay due to injury. Jacob Weitering was prolific at the other end of the ground. Unfortunately Zac Williams suffered an ankle injury, which would be a concern.
Collingwood Magpies: fly swatted
The Magpies played a brand of footy that will see them miss the finals. They weren’t at an acceprtable level, conceding the opening six goals of the game. There’s no disputing the flashes of brilliance from the likes of Jack Crisp, who kicked two goals in his 172nd game in a row, the tenth most of any player in the history of the game. Despite that, to rub salt into the wound, former Magpie Adam Treloar was best on ground.
Essendon Bombers: a week is a long time in football
The Bombers played like a local team that was out of their depth in Round 9 against the Swans, the week after a classy win over Hawthorn. To put it simply, the Bombers appeared to be disorientated and either not understanding the message from the coach or not following through with his instructions. They lost by 58 points to a hungry Swans outfit, but had Sydney kicked straight, it would’ve been a lot more. To put it bluntly, the Bombers have plenty of work to do.
Fremantle Dockers: the Suns dampen the Dockers spirit
The Dockers would be extremely unhappy with the manner in which they lost, as they failed to get momentum and grab the ascendancy at any point in the game. That shouldn’t occur when a team has an outstanding ruckman in Sean Darcy and a potential Brownlow Medallist in Andrew Brayshaw. The pleasing thing was they never threw in the towel; the opposition simply took them by surprise.
Geelong Cats: never underestimate your opponent
The Cats looked like they could win the game by halftime. Everything was in sync. Geelong’s defence was challenged in the third quarter as the Saints scored seven goals; in the second half they couldn’t deal with St Kilda’s smaller brigade either, with Jack Billings instrumental on his return when the game was there to be won. Despite that, the Cats lost by only ten points.
Gold Coast Suns: Dew outshines Longmuir
The Suns were too good from start to finish. They clearly went to work on Fremantle’s deficiencies, which was epitomised by Jarrod Witts, who kicked the opening goal of the game despite rarely scoring goals. Izak Rankine and Mabior Chol were outstanding, as was each and every member of the Suns 22. Touk Miller has taken to the co-captaincy role like a duck to water, as he led by example for the entire game. He just doesn’t stop working. Sam Collins should be in the conversation for All Australian.
Greater Western Sydney Giants: they failed to get the job done
The Giants had an obligation to work relentlessly for coach Leon Cameron given he has helped build the club up from a start-up club to a finals team in previous seasons. They couldn’t get it done.
Hawthorn Hawks: too erratic
Hawthorn lost by 23 points against the Tigers despite leading by 25 points in the second quarter. The stats don’t lie. Hawthorn had 21 fewer inside 50s than the Tigers as well as eight fewer scoring shots for the match. Despite that, the Hawks got within ten points late in the game, only to throw it away. Their hopes of making the finals this season are all but over.
Melbourne Demons; they did what they had to do
The scoreboard reads that the Demons won the game by 74 points despite winning only the second and third quarters by a combined total of nine points. But when the game was there to be won in the first and last quarters they kicked a combined total of 13 goals. The only concern would be a possible hamstring injury to James Harmes, who was subbed off.
North Melbourne Kangaroos: it’s going to be a long journey
The Kangaroos were down on troops, and to make things worse, they lost Jy Simpkin, who won their best and fairest in 2021, through illness as a late out. Despite having 16 scoring shots, the most goals they kicked in a quarter was two, which they kicked in the second and third quarters. A positive would be that in the second and third quarters combined both them and the Power scored four goals and six behinds each. Every cloud has a silver lining, as they blooded plenty of youngsters.
Port Adelaide Power: don’t write them off
The Power failed to win the second and third quarters combined but won the game by 69 points and their fourth game in a row after losing their first five. It was a team effort, as they had six multiple goal kickers: Mitch Georgiades, Todd Marshall, Jeremy Finlayson, Xavier Duursma, Steven Motlop and Ollie Wines. There’s plenty for them to work on, but it’s incredible that they’ve won their last four games.
Richmond Tigers: getting back to their best
The Tigers overcame a deficit of 25 points in the second quarter to win by 23 points. They allowed Hawthorn to restrict their lead to ten points late in the game. Richmond had five multiple goal kickers: Tom Lynch, Dustin Martin, Jack Riewoldt, Shai Bolton and Ivan Soldo. They had 14 more centre clearances than Hawthorn. Richmond’s pressure was outstanding, as they had 21 more tackles than Hawthorn. There’s no doubt that the Tigers are a better team with Dusty in it.
St Kilda Saints: a win for the ages
The Saints played with different gears, At times they played scintillating footy and at other times they chipped the ball around. It was an even game in terms of scoring shots, with both teams having 25. Paddy Ryder played a pivotal role with 22 hit-outs and three goals for the game. The third term, when they put their foot on the accelerator, was a game changer. Their attack on the footy was relentless, as it was a hard-earned win that could be season defining.
Sydney Swans: like a training drill
The Swans put on a clinic. It was partly due to them playing team-first footy, but unfortunately the other part was the Bombers had a bad day at the office. Sydney would be disappointed that they didn’t win by more than 58 points, as they had 35 scoring shots to Essendon’s 17. The Swans missed opportunities that would’ve made the game a complete and utter obliteration. Even the great Buddy Franklin kicked two goals and four behinds. In the end it didn’t matter; he was unselfish and the entire team was selfless.
West Coast Eagles: bruised and battered
The Eagles fielded a team missing many of their best 22. They still put up a fight in the second and third quarters. Despite that, Melbourne’s class shone through on the ground on which they won the 2021 premiership. That made matters worse for the Eagles. The one moment of brilliance was when Bailey Williams kicked a banana from the pocket in the third quarter.
Western Bulldogs: a showcase of the way footy should be played
The Bulldogs had ten players missing from their grand final team of 2021 but took the game on from start to finish. Their brand of footy was extremely attacking. It was also a showcase of their depth. At their best they have the best midfield in the competition; they also hit the scoreboard, with Adam Treloar and Josh Dunkley kicking three goals each.