After three rounds the AFL season is starting to take shape and we’re starting to get a gauge on who’s up and who’s down, who to look for and who we can ignore, who will be making a run for the eight and who will be the also-rans.
Just kidding. Fremantle beat the reigning premiers, Gold Coast thrashed Hawthorn and Carlton got over the line. Up is down, dogs are cats and Coke Life is the best Coca Cola variety. Nothing is as it seems.
COLLINGWOOD (11.14.80) DEFEATED SYDNEY (11.13.79) BY 1 POINT
Collingwood have held on for a gutsy one point win away from home against a Sydney side that, although depleted, would have loved to lift for Buddy Franklin’s 250th game.
Collingwood led for the vast majority of the game, sacrificing the lead midway through the final term before rebounding and scrapping out the final few minutes to prevent Sydney from walking through the door and Nathan Buckley from walking out of it.
I haven’t seen Buckley this happy since Strauchanie said that joke about being overweight and then smiled and looked around at everyone until they laughed.
Collingwood’s tackle count was very impressive at 115 to Sydney’s 88 and, as the contested possession count and clearance counts were basically at parity, this could be seen as the difference between the two sides. Not a single Collingwood player finished without a tackle to their name. Heath Grundy, for the Swans, was the only tackleless player. He didn’t wrap up an opposition player either. Strauchanie!
The AFL website reported that the Swans have been hit hard by early season injuries, forced to field five debutants already, but that Sydney coach John Longmire “made no excuses”.
"We always try to be competitive no matter how many young players we have in the team,” said Longmire, which sounds very suspiciously like a thinly-veiled excuse.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY (15.19.109) DEFEATED NORTH MELBOURNE (10.7.67) BY 42 POINTS
North Melbourne have now lost 14 of their last 17 games and are sitting winless this year after being comfortably defeated by the Giants in Hobart on Saturday.
Despite slightly leading the possession count, North Melbourne were unable to make decisive forward entries, resulting in a lopsided inside-50s count of 71-49 in Greater Western Sydney’s favour. Twice as many scoring shots, if it weren’t for some inaccurate kicking it would have been a bloodbath not seen at Arden Street since Anthony Stevens. The thing with the glass, not the personal turmoil.
Josh Kelly led the way for the Giants with 31 disposals and seven tackles, while Jeremy Cameron and Toby Greene kicked three goals each. Tim Taranto once again was the player with a name most resembling a lovable cartoon spider.
Tall Kangaroo Braydon Preuss impressed again in only his third game with two goals and 26 hit-outs, showing that Todd Goldstein may not leave such a big hole if he’s absent in the future.
“(He) took another step forward again today after a step forward last week,” said North Melbourne coach Brad Scott about the big man, equalling two steps forward which, with his 206cm gait, equals roughly 1.4 metres gained if at walking pace.
RICHMOND (11.10.76) DEFEATED WEST COAST (8.17.65) BY 11 POINTS
The first of a couple of wayward kicking victims on Saturday, West Coast have gone down to the Tigers by two goals despite having four more scoring shots.
With the weather turning from sunny to thunderous in the second half, Richmond held their nerve in a tough slog to keep them undefeated for 2017, their best opening to a season since 2013 when they also did nothing by the end.
Dustin Martin had 15 clearances despite a fractured cheekbone, with 40 disposals by the game’s end. Trent Cotchin finished with 34.
Daniel Rioli was exciting including a magnificent goal from the pocket after winning the ball on the boundary and evading two defenders and, with Richmond undefeated and Hawthorn without a win, ripping Bruce McAvaney’s heart in two in the process.
"I sort of get that you can't win every game,” said West Coast coach Adam Simpson.
GEELONG (20.6.126) DEFEATED MELBOURNE (13.19.97) BY 29 POINTS
Six more scoring shots and a five goal defeat is what met Melbourne at the MCG against Geelong on Saturday.
Melbourne had the chance to put their mark on the game with 12 more inside-50s to the Cats including 11 set shot misses. Leader Nathan Jones kicked 0.3, Dean Kent 2.3 and Jeff Garlett and Billy Stretch kicked 1.2 apiece. At the other end, Tom Hawkins looked good (despite his face full of attractive-when-looked-at-individually-but-don’t-really-work-together features) kicking five goals straight.
The major ballwinners were, as you’d expect, Joel Selwood and Patrick Dangerfield with 37 and 36 touches respectively. Another player to register over 100 fantasy football points was, as you’d expect, Sam Menegola after I’d traded him out of my team following two weeks of non-selection.
"It was frustrating. Clearly you've got to kick goals to win games of footy and we didn't do that today," Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin said, which is not strictly true. If they had have kicked the same score but were able to generate 30 more behinds, they would have just scraped over the line. ASW would suggest practising both their goalkicking and also a gameplan to generate 62 scoring shots over the coming week.
ADELAIDE (15.10.100) DEFEATED PORT ADELAIDE (12.11.83)
Adelaide have squared the Showdown ledger at 21 games apiece after handing Port Adelaide their first loss of the season at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night.
The Crows once again gave their opposition a head start before overtaking them as the game progressed, with Port Adelaide enjoying a four goal lead midway through the first term.
Matt Crouch and Rory Sloane were the major ballwinners for the victors, with 32 and 31 touches. Rory Sloane again led the tackle count for Adelaide with nine, equal with Curtly Hampton.
Taylor Walker provided inspiration as captain with four goals, including two from outside 50 metres in the final quarter, and ten marks.
For the Power Ollie Wines had 30 touches and Paddy Ryder had one big touch of Riley Knight late in the match, after the result was a foregone conclusion, because he is a big tough cookie.
The game was again soured by racism towards Eddie Betts, this time coming from social media where a Port Adelaide fan again made animal comparisons, while claims are also being investigated that a Crows fan made racial slurs against Paddy Ryder.
As a football fan in South Australia, I can understand the racism. After all, from Port Adelaide’s point of view, apart from inaugural club captain Gavin Wanganeen, Norm Smith medallist Byron Pickett, current star and former club champion Chad Wingard, previously mentioned ruckman Paddy Ryder, last year’s Gavin Wanganeen medallist for best player under 21 Jarman Impey, and countless others throughout the years, the Power have never been well served by indigenous players.
Likewise, Adelaide have never been exposed to Aboriginal talent, with the notable exceptions of arguably their greatest player Andrew McLeod, current crowd cult favourite complete with cardboard face cutouts and personalised chant Eddie Betts, five-time club champion top 5 finisher Graham Johncock and explosive Mark Bickley Emerging Talent award winner Charlie Cameron, amongst others.
FREMANTLE (13.11.89) DEFEATED WESTERN BULLDOGS (10.13.73) BY 16 POINTS
“Lyon: Freo beat Dogs at own game”
That’s one of the headlines accompanying Fremantle coach Ross Lyon’s post-match press conference on the AFL website.
The game is football, and Fremantle played it this week, with goals and handballs and guernseys and everything.
Stephen Hill, Nat Fyfe, Lachie Neale and David Mundy all had 30+ possessions in a Fremantle side that shared the workload wonderfully and were able to shut down the run of the Bulldogs midfielders.
Fremantle fielded a team that included two debutants, Griffin Logue and Harley Balic (who both have turn-of-the-millenium names if ever I’ve heard them), and didn’t include Zac Dawson. If Zac Dawson and Ty Vickery played a game together, I think all their teammates would die of scurvy by half-time, such is their influence.
Ross Lyon, while obviously pleased with the win, was philosophical in keeping the match in perspective.
"One swallow doesn't make a summer, does it?” questioned Lyon, either as an example of Fremantle not getting ahead of themselves, or a genuine enquiry into birds and the seasons.
A heavy focus on the migratory habits of swallows may explain the previous lack of evolution in Fremantle’s on-field performance, but now that there is clarification for the Dockers, the future should look brighter.
Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge was quite matter of fact about his side’s poor game.
"They jumped us obviously, clear as day,” said Beveridge.
ASW is unsure if the clear day was a summer’s day or just a clear day amidst the throes of spring, autumn or winter. No swallow data was available for further analysis.
ST KILDA (14.23.107) DEFEATED BRISBANE (11.10.76) BY 31 POINTS
Another potentially massive margin has been limited by inaccurate kicking for goal, but St Kilda have earned their first win of the season against the Lions at Etihad Stadium.
Nick Riewoldt was the star, collecting 28 touches including 12 marks and three goals on his way back from a knee injury, proving once and for all that he is a valuable member of this team. I won’t hear any arguments to the contrary.
While the 59-46 inside-50 count to St Kilda was obviously indicative of their superiority, the marks-inside-50 count was far more damning at 22-6 in the Saints favour.
"It was one of those games where when we actually did what we planned to do against St Kilda, we were well and truly in the game," Brisbane coach Chris Fagan said, which was true. The bus arrived when they planned it to arrive, they fielded the necessary number of players and all of them wore boots.
Truthfully, Brisbane have surprised many with their competitiveness this year and if it weren’t for Nick Riewoldt grabbing the entire club and dragging them slowly across the line for the billionth time in his career, the game could very well have gone the other way. It’s a good thing Riewoldt has seven years left in him.
CARLTON (7.15.57) DEFEATED ESSENDON (6.6.42) BY 15 POINTS
Captain Marc Murphy has led Carlton to their first win of the season as the only multiple goalkicker with 32 touches and ten tackles, beating Essendon in sloppy conditions at the MCG.
Despite the low-scoring affair Carlton had almost twice as many scoring shots as the Bombers which, if they’d converted more consistently, if you haven’t already got the idea after I’ve mentioned this multiple times this article already, could have resulted in a larger margin.
AFL.com.au reported that “coach John Worsfold said the Bombers are still finding the chemistry required to sustain their performances” which is the worst possible phrase to use in Essendon’s circumstances.
Bryce Gibbs had 35 touches in the wet and Sam Docherty had 20 touches, all kicks, which is the highest kick:handball ratio this year at infinity.
There were few highlights in this game, which means I’ve had to resort to maths-based humour.
GOLD COAST (21.13.139) DEFEATED HAWTHORN (7.11.53) BY 86 POINTS
This round has just furthered confusion as to where we should be ranking each team in our expectations. Port Adelaide were on a high after defeating Sydney at the SCG in round 1, but Collingwood have now done it as well. Fremantle were completely dismantled by Port Adelaide last round, but now they’ve defeated the reigning premiers. Essendon were on the way up after their first two games but have come unstuck against the winless Blues.
Hawthorn look fucked.
This was the biggest win in Gold Coast’s club history. Hawthorn are bottom of the ladder.
Brandon Matera was dominant around the goals with six, while Gary Ablett collected 36 touches and kicked two goals in one of the best ‘Fuck You’ performances in recent memory after a week of criticism.
"We were challenged publicly, and obviously internally, so I thought it was a great response," Suns coach Rodney Eade said, in the second best performance.
"We played against a side that were just a bit hungrier and more desperate than we were tonight and that was evident around the ball," Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said. And around the goals. And the kiosks. And the bars. And at least 20km from Metricon Stadium in every direction.
Gold Coast had 498 disposals to Hawthorn’s 343. 51 clearances to Hawthorn’s 26. 64 inside-50s to Hawthorn’s 36. Hawthorn couldn’t touch the ball. They couldn’t touch the Suns. They couldn’t reach them. They weren’t quick enough. They’re not going to get quicker this year.