We’re getting towards the business end of the season. That’s what people say when things are close to finishing - that they’re getting to the ‘business end’. Like when the old guy sneaks into his wife’s room at her care facility in The Notebook and he lays down with her to die. That all happened at the ‘business end’.
This is round 20.
SYDNEY (16.11.107) DEFEATED GEELONG (8.13.61) BY 46 POINTS
It seems that Patrick Dangerfield wasn’t suspended, but rather as a punishment he was made to play the entire game behind a pane of glass. At least that’s the impression I got because every passage of play featured a shot of Patrick. It seems unfair for the cameras to treat Patrick this way. I mean, when Zac Dawson was suspended for one match in 2014 for tripping Brandon Matera in round 2, he wasn’t the subject of anywhere near as much scrutiny.
Anyway, Geelong missed Dangerfield terribly, and when Joel Selwood injured his ankle with Sydney already several goals ahead, the ending was already written.
Sydney were impressively efficient, having only 331 possessions to Geelong’s 375 and actually having one fewer inside-50. Sydney’s leading possession winner was Luke Parker with only 23, which I assume is the lowest leading possession total for a winning side this year, but I can’t be bothered checking. He also had 13 tackles.
Geelong have now failed to beat three of their biggest premiership rivals (Sydney, Adelaide and GWS) since the bye rounds which must be a concern, while Sydney have only failed to beat everyone who isn’t not Hawthorn since round 6, which can’t not not be a worry.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY (14.13.97) DEFEATED MELBOURNE (10.2.62) BY 35 POINTS
Accurate kicking for goal is the only thing that has saved face for Melbourne this week, with GWS having 27 scoring shots to Melbourne’s 12. GWS kicked more behinds than Melbourne kicked scores. In a standard AFL match, I can consume more slices of pizza than how many times Melbourne troubled the scorers.
Melbourne kicked the first three goals of the match but GWS returned fire kicking the next eight for the opening quarter and never looked troubled again, with Callan Ward finishing with 29 touches and Josh Kelly kicking three goals.
Giants coach Leon Cameron was especially pleased with his side’s tackling after they managed 119 tackles, ruckman Shane Mumford laying 13. Mumford manages so many tackles by using the same techniques that killer whales use to capture seals from ice floats. He charges at the player and creates such a vibration in the ground that, like a wave, knocks the player over and then it’s simply a matter of Mumford tackling the now grounded player, and then ripping their head off with his powerful jaws.
"Our tackle count tells the story because it's been up and down, actually it's been worse than up and down, over the last month," said Cameron. The only thing worse than ‘up and down’ is ‘down’, so I guess he means that.
ESSENDON (11.18.84) DEFEATED CARLTON (11.10.76) BY 8 POINTS
Essendon’s finals hopes stay alive after an extended scare, with the Bombers hitting the lead in the final few minutes thanks to a couple of goals from Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti.
Carlton led by as many as two goals midway through the final term but failed to close out the game again, a trend that coach Brendon Bolton believes will have a positive outcome in the long run.
“I think it's the sixth or seventh time that we've been in really tight situations and in front in last quarters and haven't been able to complete it,” said Bolton.
"That's frustrating, it hurts, but those moments will be great learning for our young group and pay us back. The more you're in them, the more you learn, the more often you're in them eventually they'll turn for us."
Take a look at North Melbourne, for example. After 3,000 matches where they kept stumbling at the finish line, they finally jagged a win last week thanks to all their close-game experience, and now they find themselves one spot ahead of Carlton in 16th place. Oh, what heights you’ll scale.
Dyson Heppell and David Zaharakis were the leading ballwinners for Essendon with 33 and 32 touches respectively, while usual suspects Marc Murphy and Bryce Gibbs were Carlton’s best with 32 and 29.
Cale Hooker kicked 2.5 and Josh Green kicked 1.4 for the Bombers, so more accurate goalkicking could have sealed the game sooner. This is a sentiment that I have expressed about 32 times this season with various games. I will continue to express it.
WESTERN BULLDOGS (14.19.103) DEFEATED BRISBANE (13.11.89) BY 14 POINTS
The Bulldogs, like Essendon, stay in the finals mix with a win over minnow Brisbane, but not without a scare. All these late twists and turns and scares this week, it’s like an M. Night Shyamalan movie. The twists and turns are like the end of his movies, and the scare is like being told you have to watch one of his movies.
The Bulldogs kicked 14.19 with Jack Redpath kicking 3.4 and Marcus Bontempelli kicking 2.4, so more accurate goalkicking could have sealed the game sooner. This is a sentiment that I have expressed about 33 times this season with various games. I will continue to express it.
Jack Macrae was the leading possession-getter, with 32, while Bob Murphy broke the record for the most use of the expression ‘late inclusion’ when referring to him. It’s lucky that he happened to be in Brisbane at the time, visiting the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. They’re so cute, and Bob just loves there’s a place where you can visit koalas that aren’t like the shitty chlamydia-ridden koalas you see in the wild.
“The bottom line was what happened after quarter time was that we equalled them in contested possession, which was critical,” said Brisbane coach Chris Fagan, unaware that the metric by which winners are determined has been changed to points scored.
COLLINGWOOD (16.15.111) DEFEATED NORTH MELBOURNE (7.15.57) BY 54 POINTS
This game opened with what was, objectively, the worst half of football ever witness by humankind.
As an example of the horrible skill level, terrible decision making and farcical team structures, Kangaroo Daniel Nielson officially had two disposals for the game and three clangers.
North Melbourne had more inside-50s and more clearances but their forward line looked like the scene from Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein when Costello is balancing on a stack of boxes that keep tipping and falling over, while Brad Scott (the Bud Abbott in this outdated comparison) hurls abuse and scorn without any constructive advice.
I don’t care about the stats, this game was the pits, ya dig?
"It was a bit of a yuck game for some of it,” said Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley, which is like the captain of the Titanic describing its maiden voyage as ‘a bit of a tits up’.
FREMANTLE (12.18.90) DEFEATED GOLD COAST (10.7.67) BY 23 POINTS
Fremantle notched up their highest score since round 7, when they scored 116 against Essendon, to register a commanding and bruising 90 point total to defeat the Suns.
It was a game that, realistically, meant nothing in the context of the AFL season and, thusly, Fremantle turned up with 76 tackles to Gold Coast’s 42, a differential that was the best indicator of Fremantle’s dominance.
Cam McCarthy kicked four goals in his best performance for the Dockers, while Gary Ablett topped the disposals for Gold Coast in his best performance for the Suns in a round 20 clash with Fremantle at Domain Stadium.
"It's always good to have a win and sing the song,” said Fremantle coach Ross Lyon, proving he’s forgotten what Fremantle’s song sounds like.
ST KILDA (15.13.103) DEFEATED WEST COAST (14.11.95) BY 8 POINTS
Some people might say that football pundits are starting to sound like a broken record when they keep commenting on West Coast’s inability to perform away from home. The problem with that analogy is that it’s assuming that the record keeps skipping and replaying the same piece of audio. It’s definitely looking more like the record is playing perfectly, and that’s just what the record sounds like.
West Coast led by two goals in the final quarter before two goals to Jack Billings and goals to Jack Steele and Shane Savage reclaimed the lead. Jack Steele and Shane Savage sound like a tag team from the WWE, while two of West Coast’s final quarter goalkickers, Jack Darling and Mark LeCras, sound like the two leads in a cabaret show about the rise to power of Justin Trudeau.
Blake Acres touched it the most for the Saints, 30 times in fact, while Andrew Gaff was West Coast’s best with 30 as well. It was the second-tier players’ ability to win the ball for St Kilda that was the difference, with the Saints winning the overall possession count 427-340, including 34 more contested possessions.
"It was one of those games where just for the players to be able to get the satisfaction of being able to come in and sing the song after working so hard is really pleasing, and they thoroughly deserved it,” said St Kilda coach Alan Richardson, continuing this round’s theme of players yearning to sing.
If the players love singing so much, they should check out this cool new cabaret show that’s opened recently. It’s about the rise to power of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau. It’s touring around Australia although, to be honest, the actors seem a bit flat when they’ve been travelling.
RICHMOND (13.15.93) DEFEATED HAWTHORN (9.10.64) BY 29 POINTS
Hawthorn’s finals hopes have been dashed by Richmond who find themselves third on the ladder after a dominant performance against the most feared 13th placed team in modern history.
2017 Brownlow medallist Dustin Martin had 32 possessions for Richmond, while Hawthorn’s midfield, Tom Mitchell, had 35. Hawthorn missed suspended leader Luke Hodge as Richmond were able to pinpoint players in their forwardline which didn’t seem to suffer the loss of Jack Riewoldt to an eye injury.
"There are a lot of sides thankful for us beating them, because they were coming and playing those guys in September is a bit of a concern, so it was a good win,” said Richmond coach Damien Hardwick.
It’s remarkable the grip that reputation has on football fans, that Richmond are third and Hawthorn are 13th, yet if you were to ask most who they’d like to play in the finals this year they’d choose Richmond. Hawthorn are VHS and Richmond are Betamax. Richmond are objectively better this year, but our hearts still sing for VHS because we’ve known it for so long.
GWS are laserdisc. The newest thing and higher quality than the rest, but there’s no market for it because people have to buy all new equipment and, to be honest, we’re just waiting to see if it really catches on before we make any decisions.
ADELAIDE (18.22.130) DEFEATED PORT ADELAIDE (7.4.46) BY 84 POINTS
In this match, Adelaide were Blu-Ray while Port Adelaide were a phenakistoscope.
Adelaide kicked 1.9 to 1.1 in the first quarter, with the ten total scoring shots to Port Adelaide’s two telling a more accurate story of dominance than the eight point lead would suggest.
More accurate goalkicking could have sealed the game sooner…blah blah blah…
81 inside-50s to 31. 55 clearances to 35. 181 contested possessions to 135. This was the most dominating Showdown performance of all time, and it highlighted the enormous chasm that seems to be between Port Adelaide and the elite teams of the top four.
Since the moment when Collingwood held a 50 point lead in the third quarter last week, Adelaide have kicked 134 more points than their opponents in five and a half quarters. Since the beginning of last week’s match against St Kilda, which they won, Port Adelaide have kicked 109 points in eight quarters. Total.
"That was terrible, it was a really poor performance, we were dominated from the start to the end," Power coach Ken Hinkley said.
"I'm incredibly disappointed and I find it inexcusable to play that poorly in a game of football."
A lot of jokes have been made about Elon Musk and his efforts to help the ‘power’ situation in South Australia. I think there’s more to it than that. If anyone in the world could invent a time machine, with his knowledge and resources it would be Musk. If Power fans left with two minutes remaining last week with the game in the balance, I imagine this week most of them could have used a time machine to travel back in time and leave before they even arrived. If it ripped a hole in the space-time continuum, then no matter. The destruction of the universe would have been preferred by most Power fans than that display.