Round 2 has been completed and a far easier round for tipping this week. It was also a far easier week for tipping off the edge of mental stability if you’re a Gold Coast or Fremantle supporter. Luckily, the Gold Coast only have 14 supporters and the Fremantle supporters have just started barracking for Pavlich’s commentary career, so no big loss.
RICHMOND (14.15.99) DEFEATED COLLINGWOOD (11.14.80) BY 19 POINTS
Richmond have been the benefactor of an extended pre-season, having made it to round 3 with two wins under the belt and yet to play an AFL opponent. This latest game against Collingwood was marred by skill errors from both sides early, before continuing with skill errors midway through the match and finishing strongly with some skill errors in the final quarter.
Despite Adam Treloar and Scott Pendlebury both collecting 30+ possessions each for the Magpies, it was Richmond captain Trent Cotchin that had the most influence with his 26 possessions, two goals and seven tackles including some vital defensive efforts in the final quarter.
This game was shit.
"We certainly won't be rushing to the video store to get that first half on tape," Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said, despite that never being a thing ever.
Collingwood, as unbelievable as everyone in the world would think this to be, looked like they were missing Travis Cloke for the second week in a row, or at least a strong focal point to structure their forward attacks around. Let’s hope, for their sake, that Cloke isn’t performing well at whichever club he’s at now.
WESTERN BULLDOGS (16.14.110) DEFEATED SYDNEY (13.9.87) BY 23 POINTS
The Western Bulldogs have once again backed up their 2016 premiership with another win, this time against the Grand Final rivals, Sydney.
Jake Stringer and Travis Cloke (sorry, Collingwood) led the goalkicking for the Bulldogs in a typically well spread effort and, despite a last quarter burst of brilliance from Lance Franklin, were able to contain and counter any momentum Sydney could generate throughout the match.
Marcus Bontempelli had 30 touches and kicked two goals, while it would be unfair not to mention Sam Reid’s six goals for the Swans.
The Bulldogs led the possession count, the inside-50s, the clearances, the tackles, the hit outs, and the free kick count.
Oh, the free kick count.
Inconsistency in holding the ball decisions, a controversial deliberate rushed behind, missed throws…at one point Bontempelli brandished a machete and was penalised, but Dan Hannebery was able to slice Tom Liberatore with a cleaver and was called to play on. Such is the ambiguous nature of the league’s knife rules.
"We're clearly doing it the wrong way, so we need to sharpen up on that,” said Swans coach John Longmire.
ADELAIDE (16.17.113) DEFEATED HAWTHORN (13.11.89) BY 24 POINTS
Adelaide were able to break a six-year hoodoo against the Hawks with an over-running four goal victory at the MCG.
Hawthorn have now lost the first two games of a season for the first time since 2009, the year Hawthorn last missed the finals. Adelaide have won the first two games for the first time since probably really recently, it’s very hard to check.
Reversing a four goal deficit at quarter-time, Sam Jacobs, Tom Lynch and Rory Sloane were among the visitors’ best, while Eddie Betts again led the way with three goals, joined by David Mackay with three critical and impressive goals of his own (editor’s note: Hey, can we just check that it was definitely David Mackay before we go to print? Seems unlikely. Cheers.)
For Hawthorn, Tom Mitchell again starred with 38 touches but it was too much left for too few for the Hawks as Adelaide were able to limit the run that they showed in the first quarter.
"Credit to the players: they were able make that adjustment in the game and bring a bit more energy around the ball," said Adelaide coach Don Pyke.
A major talking point was a free kick and goal given to Paul Puopolo for an in the back indiscretion against David Mackay (editor’s note: This one seems correct.) despite everyone’s opinion to the contrary.
Paul Roos described the decision as “bad a decision that you’ll see on a footy field”, forgetting that Fremantle were yet to play this weekend.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY (24.16.160) DEFEATED GOLD COAST (8.10.58) BY 102 POINTS
The first 100+ point margin of the year and one that every person could have predicted from three years ago, the expansion team that’s still expanding made light work of Gary Ablett, Jr.’s weekend community group.
Jeremy Cameron kicked six goals, Toby Greene five and Callan Ward had 32 touches in a game that saw the Giants have 23 more inside-50s, 13 more clearances and nine more supporters in attendance.
Gold Coast spearhead Tom Lynch was kept goalless by Giants co-captain Phil Davis to highlight the Giants’ dominance at both ends of the ground.
"It's really pleasing, he's obviously our captain, but (Tom) Lynch is a terrific player," said GWS coach Leon Cameron.
"I think he's building his game by not just defending really well, he wants the ball in his hands a little bit more as well, so it was a pleasing game from him."
Suns coach Rodney Eade was understandably disappointed but kept a level-headed approach to what his side need to do.
"We've got eight days now. That's the best way I know - hard work. There's no magic formula. You can't go down the street and buy some confidence from the shop," said Eade.
“I mean, the AFL can buy you confidence but we used all our confidence on Karmichael Hunt which, we were assured, would grow into a wonderful beanstalk. I think the real magical beans were given to the Giants. The clue is in their fucking name.”
ESSENDON (17.9.111) DEFEATED BRISBANE (12.12.84) BY 27 POINTS
Essendon, after winning for most of the match, were able to hold off a determined Brisbane outfit, who snatched the lead in the final quarter, by 27 points at the Gabba on Saturday.
Orazio Fantasia was instrumental (and my favourite ice-cream flavour) with five goals including two to seal the deal in the final quarter.
Jobe Watson continued his fairytale comeback with 33 disposals (the fairytale about the prince who took drugs and was banished from the land, was stripped of his crown and was forced to comfortably twiddle his thumbs for a while before returning to the same kingdom with the same followers and virtually no lasting consequences), while Zach Merrett had 32.
"I was just really disappointed with their effort in the second quarter, the fact that Essendon were able to get some ascendancy," said Brisbane coach Chris Fagan.
"Unfortunately we had to play catch-up from that point onwards and we did a great job to get back in front and then couldn’t sustain it.
"That is a lesson for us."
The lesson is that you have to score more points for the whole match. It sounds like an obvious lesson but Fagan can’t take anything for granted. Queensland, as a whole, has turned back to rugby.
WEST COAST (18.8.116) DEFEATED ST KILDA (13.19.97) BY 19 POINTS
St Kilda will be rueing missed opportunities after going down to West Coast by three goals despite having more scoring shots and a lead for the majority of the match.
Three final quarter goals from Josh Kennedy helped his side outmuscle the Saints late in the match, while Andrew Gaff, Matt Priddis and Luke Shuey shone with the ball. Elliot Yeo was also integral to West Coast’s win, collecting 25 touches and an impressive 13 marks across half-back.
For St Kilda Seb Ross had 29 possessions.
The major talking point was the lopsided free-kick count, with West Coast earning 23 free kicks to St Kilda’s 8.
The best thing about constantly inconsistent umpiring interpretations is gradually, as is happening throughout this article, pundits start running out of interesting and unique things to say about the state of umpiring and so the issue slowly disappears into the background, like how after months of Donald Trump saying horrifically insensitive things, we’ve all started moving on with our lives and eating sandwiches again.
GEELONG (17.10.112) DEFEATED NORTH MELBOURNE (17.9.111) BY 1 POINT
Geelong have snatched victory from the jaws of a rapidly depression-filling Kangaroo of defeat with a one point victory despite trailing for the entire match.
With one minute remaining, George Horlin-Smith (or, as Sandy Roberts called him, “the hyphen from Cat-land” proving once and for all that Dennis Cometti has hardly been replaced) goaled from a free kick to give Geelong the one point ascendancy that gave them the four premiership points.
For Geelong, Patrick Dangerfield had 37 disposals, Tom Hawkins and Daniel Menzel kicked four goals each and Joel Selwood had 26 touches including eight tackles.
For the Kangaroos, Robbie Tarrant and Ben Cunnington had 28 touches each while Braydon Preuss, a late replacement for Todd Goldstein, dominated the ruck with 46 hit outs.
Goldstein wouldn’t have been one point better, would he?
One of the Scott brothers said his side did well to win while the other Scott brother said his side was disappointed to lose. I can’t remember which is which.
MELBOURNE (13.8.86) DEFEATED CARLTON (9.10.64) BY 22 POINTS
Another scrappy match that saw a couple of second-half lead changes, the Demons saw off the Blues in a low scoring affair at the MCG.
Clayton Oliver had 35 touches for Melbourne including nine tackles, and Dom Tyson 32 touches including 12 marks.
Marc Murphy continued his good form for Carlton, collecting 31 possessions.
There is nothing else to say about this match.
"We have high expectations of this group,” said Carlton coach Brendon Bolton, standing by himself on a desolate island of opinion.
“I know us as coaches, the supporters and also players are really frustrated that they didn't get a result."
Not as frustrated as Bryce Gibbs, who was spotted reading Barossa Valley tour guides and checking the Glenelg tram timetable.
PORT ADELAIDE (22.13.145) DEFEATED FREMANTLE (8.8.56) BY 89 POINTS
A percentage boost that launched Port Adelaide to top spot after two rounds, Ross Lyon’s Dockers sent out a strong message to the competition this week, and that message was ‘hmm?’.
Robbie Gray was electric with 30 touches and six goals, Ollie Wines was thunderous with 31 touches and Charlie Dixon powerful with four goals up forward.
For Fremantle everyone contracted scurvy and drowned.
26 more inside-50s for the Power, 34 more contested possessions and 15 more tackles shows their physical dominance and direct attacking pressure.
This picture shows the pressure on Fremantle.
"If you have high expectations and don't deliver, there's going to be disappointment,” said Dockers coach Ross Lyon, the subtext of which can be read as ‘lower your expectations’.
I can’t Ross. I literally can’t.