At some point this season, one week, there must surely be a round where the favourites win. A round where each team plays to their previous form. A round where fans, pundits, coaches and journalists can look at the results and say, with confidence, ‘this makes sense’.
A round where the betting companies can make a ton of easy money from predictable results and lessen the need for constant advertisements at every turn, roping in all manner of ex-footballers to talk about where there’s ‘good money’ and their best bets as if gambling has never been a professional sportsperson’s problem.
Once again, this wasn’t the week.
SYDNEY (11.19.85) DEFEATED MELBOURNE (7.8.50) BY 35 POINTS
The first quarter saw two remarkable tactics emerge from both of the sides in what was expected to be a great game. Sydney attempted to try and win the game on behinds alone, kicking 1.8 to 4.0 in the first quarter to go into the first break at a 10-point deficit despite dominating play.
Melbourne, or rather Tom Bugg, tried to channel the spirit of the visiting Manny Pacquiao and defeat Sydney with left jabs, taking out Callum Mills for the remainder of the game.
Sydney let their game plan roll for another quarter, finishing the half on 5.15 before deciding that kicking goals would be a lot quicker. Buddy Franklin kicked four of them, while Luke Parker dominated possession with 38 touches, including 19 contested possessions.
Melbourne looked far from the side that has previously beaten premiership contenders Adelaide and were looking for their fifth straight win. Bizarrely, Clayton Oliver spent the first 10 minutes off the ground and, after his reaction to a chin graze weeks previously when he famously flopped to the ground, I can only imagine that his time off the field was because of concussion from the shockwave of Tomas Bugg’s punch.
WEST COAST (12.15.87) DEFEATED WESTERN BULLDOGS (11.14.80) BY 7 POINTS
The Western Bulldogs are in trouble this year. Admittedly their run for the premiership last year was a surprise given that they finished 7th, but despite injuries they always looked dangerous. At the moment they only look dangerous in extremely short bursts, like The Hulk. When they’re firing they look like they can crash through anyone but when they’re not they look like a meek, softly spoken, and wonky-mouthed Mark Ruffalo.
West Coast smashed the Bulldogs in the clearances, winning the count 45-29. Andrew Gaff had a career-high 42 possessions and Jack Darling and Malcolm Karpany kicked three goals apiece.
Jason Johannisen, who has been spoken about a lot in the past few weeks, will continue to be spoken about after another very uninspiring 12 touches. He’s under as much doubt as George Pell’s word at the moment, having dipped well below his average output for the past 5-6 weeks.
"We don't need him to get 30 possessions to win. He is doing his best to fight against it… as long as he plays the team-based game," Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said. Well, he’s not getting 30 possessions and you’re not winning. Maybe he should try to get 30 possessions and we’ll see if that helps.
ADELAIDE (13.11.89) DEFEATED CARLTON (12.5.77) BY 12 POINTS
Adelaide, while not winning convincingly, will be pleased with their first close-call win of the season against a tenacious Carlton side who curbed Adelaide’s run after they’d kicked the first four goals.
Inside-50s were even at 50-50 (Cameron Mooney’s just ejaculated into his cereal) and it was only a three goal burst in the final ten minutes that saw Adelaide through, after Carlton hit the lead midway through the last quarter.
Bryce Gibbs laid an impressive 15 tackles which highlights the midfield pressure Adelaide were under, while Richard Douglas had a disposal efficiency of 40% from 25 touches, which highlights how the Crows responded to the pressure.
When asked what his side could have done better, Carlton coach Brendon Bolton said it was little things.
"They're not big things, they're an accumulation of little things: misconnection with the footy, maybe not taking ground under pressure when required, missed tackles.”
Yeah, little things. Not kicking it properly, not tackling well, whatever that middle thing means. Football things.
GOLD COAST (18.10.118) DEFEATED NORTH MELBOURNE (14.15.99) BY 19 POINTS
Gary Ablett’s 300th game seemed to be the little boost that he needed to finally feel confident in playing his own game, collecting 37 touches including 10 clearances and seven inside-50s.
North Melbourne, who are rapidly cementing their place at the bottom end of the ladder, were beaten by a disappointing second quarter and could never mount a decent comeback.
No segue to this, but Ben Brown has the worst turning circle I have ever seen. He’d be better off doing the equivalent of a swimmer’s tumble turn, but on land, to change direction. If he just collapsed to the ground and got back up again facing the other way it would be quicker than watching him run the slow motion parabola he insists on doing.
Jarryd Lyons had 39 touches, by the way.
"They had all the momentum and we made a couple of silly errors, like usual,” said Suns coach Rodney Eade about North Melbourne’s improvement after half-time, in the most passive-aggressive comment of the year.
“…and then to kick those two, maybe three goals in the last six minutes, I think it showed the fight in the group," he continued, narrowly covering his bitchy tone.
“"I thought about going next door to the timekeepers to see if we could try and bring half time forward,” said Kangaroos coach Brad Scott about his side’s second quarter. Had he been successful in carrying out this plan it would have been one of the greatest controversies in AFL football since Shane Crawford exposed Sam Newman’s cock on television.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY (10.8.68) DREW WITH GEELONG (10.8.68)
ME: Hey, I think I’m getting a hold of this tipping thing, finally. Plus, I’m really looking forward to seeing who has the upperhand between these two genuine premiership contenders.
FOOTBALL GOD: Check this out.
Tom Hawkins missed a kick for goal after the siren to ensure the scores finished level in this enthralling battle for top of the table positioning. Hawkins has all the necessary features for his face to be attractive and satisfying yet somehow they don’t all come together properly, which is kind of like how this game played out.
Geelong were without Joel Selwood, who had been ruled out with concussion, and Dan Menzel, who injured his knee in the warm-up. Along with the expected debut of Zach Guthrie, these withdrawals also signalled the debuts of both Sam Simpson and Wylie Buzza for Cats. His name is Wylie Buzza, which I think is also the name of those prank handshake devices from the 1950’s.
Patrick Dangerfield had 45 possessions in another Dangerfield-esque performance while Jonathon Patton kicked four goals for the Giants.
"I suppose it's two points,” said Giants coach Leon Cameron after the match, obviously not well acquainted with the ladder points situation for anything less than a win, which is what GWS were expecting from every game this year.
“Obviously the draw’s better than the loss,” said Geelong coach Chris Scott, a comment that made his brother Brad react with ‘wait, there’s something better than a loss?’.
RICHMOND (11.10.76) DEFEATED PORT ADELAIDE (8.15.63) BY 13 POINTS
Richmond keep giving reasons for the footballing community to see them as a genuine contender, despite the footballing community’s protests, this time defeating Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval.
Port coach Ken Hinkley labelled his side ‘pretenders’ after another failed attempt to beat a top 8 team. This is fitting, as so many songs released by the band The Pretenders have titles that apply to their season.
Port Adelaide’s efforts were Middle of the Road, unable to Hold a Candle to This pressure applied by Richmond. They lacked a Sense of Purpose and, Don’t Get Me Wrong, while they certainly had moments of quality, they had too many passengers leaving Hinkley wondering ‘Where Has Everybody Gone?’. Perhaps they shouldn’t have played with the equipment they picked up during their international match against Gold Coast…you know…their Boots of Chinese Plastic.
Fans of The Pretenders are absolutely soiling themselves with laughter at this point. They also have a song called The Losing but I don’t know how that applies…
Dustin Martin again was Richmond’s best with 36 touches and breaking the record for breaking the most tackles in a game with eight. Kane Lambert had 33 touches and applied the most tackles of the game with 10. When you have one player tackling everyone and another that no-one can tackle, it’s a pretty potent combination.
Chad Wingard had 39 touches.
BRISBANE (13.12.90) DEFEATED ESSENDON (11.16.82) BY 8 POINTS
Essendon have given up a commanding lead in the final quarter for the second time in as many weeks, losing to the bottom-placed Brisbane Lions.
Brisbane kicked six of the last seven goals to defeat the Bombers, including a goal from near the 50 metre boundary from hamburger-shaped head Eric Hipwood who kicked four for the match, and a big pack mark and goal from Ryan Lester to seal the win.
"We'll probably milk it for all it's worth this week. But then we get on to the fact we face Geelong on Saturday night. The game sobers you up pretty quickly. We'll enjoy the win briefly,” said Lions coach Chris Fagan who looked elated as his side claimed the win, and has now suggested that they’re back to fucked for next week.
Dayne Zorko toppe the possessions for the Lions with 30 while second-gamer Alex Witherden picked up 29. Brendon Goddard had 31 for the Bombers, which I’m sure would alleviate his anger levels.
HAWTHORN (18.10.118) DEFEATED COLLINGWOOD (14.10.94) BY 24 POINTS
Collingwood’s finals hopes are all but over, while Hawthorn’s somehow remain flickering. On the one hand, I’m pleased and on the other hand I want to cut both my hands off and have no hands.
Last time these two sides met Collingwood overcame a 43 point deficit to defeat the Hawks, but buoyed with a self-belief after defeating top-of-the-table Adelaide last week, Hawthorn were able to withstand anything Collingwood through at them. I, most likely, couldn’t withstand anything anyone threw at me because I made the stupid decision to remove both my hands.
Ryan Burton continued his great form with 29 touches while Tom Mitchell again topped the tally with 35. Jordan de Goey, having rebounded wonderfully from punching dogs, topped Collingwood’s disposal count with 32.
"I reckon we had colour-blindness in the second half – we kicked more to them than we did to us, unfortunately," said Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley, so frustrated with his inability to rectify a slipping season that he’s blaming hereditary eyesight conditions.
ST KILDA (12.17.89) DEFEATED FREMANTLE (12.8.80) BY 9 POINTS
St Kilda have come out on top after a back and forth, goal for goal contest that was only broken apart by two late goals at Domain Stadium.
Like, literally goal for goal. St Kilda kicked the first two goals of the second quarter, and then it was one goal to St Kilda and one goal to Michael Walters alternating for the rest of the match.
Michael Walters had 32 touches and six goals. While nowhere near the highest disposal tally this year, it was undeniably one of the most dominating and influential single player performances. If the ball came near him, he got it and did something with it.
Unlike Nick Riewoldt who, when the ball came near him, let it fall on the floor and then complained to the umpire and then laughed all the way back to Melbourne.
Special mention to Jack Steele who had 17 tackles for the Saints, and Aaron Sandilands who’s valiantly trying to play on at the age of 34 with a body that not only is struggling to withstand the rigour of AFL football but I dare say would struggle to withstand the rigour of public transport or air travel.
"It wasn't pretty, it was a real arm-wrestle. That's always the way against Freo, they're a tough team to beat," said Saints coach Alan Richardson, which sounds awfully like a disguised insult.
"We slaughtered the ball. We put our butcher's apron on and away we went,” said Fremantle coach Ross Lyon, which sounds like a pretty explicit insult.