How does the AFL season look after 6 rounds of fierce competition? Well, one side stands undefeated and only one side languishes without a win. There are 16 sides in between of varying levels of interest. Two of the sides are from Queensland. One side starts with an ‘E’. One side is an anagram of ‘Wrong Sluts Bleed’. I like corn chips. Red cars go faster. Hello.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY (11.9.75) DEFEATED WESTERN BULLDOGS (9.19.73) BY 2 POINTS
This match-up has been publicised as the newest rivalry in the AFL. This is only because the Western Bulldogs were Greater Western Sydney’s opponents in the most important contest in the Giants’ short history, last year’s preliminary final. Not because one of them had sex with the other one’s mum or anything.
It’s an arbitrary rivalry but, then again, all rivalries are arbitrary, really. They’re based on the fact that two teams have happened to exist for longer than anyone else, or they happen to have played more close games, or they happen to be geographically close. The only genuine rivalry is the one between Carlton and Collingwood because of the time Carlton dobbed on Collingwood after he stole the pie cooling on ol’ Mrs. Hamilton’s window sill and Collingwood had to churn butter for a week as punishment.
GWS had ruck domination but the Bulldogs still managed more inside-50s and scoring shots but were unable to make it count on the scoreboard.
Dylan Shiel had 29 touches to top the game’s possession count while Jeremy Cameron led the goalkicking with four. Bailey Dale once again led the ‘name that most sounds like a Spoonerism but isn’t’ rankings.
Also, Nick Haynes managed to do his hamstring for the Giants in a fashion that looked extremely painful. He unintentionally did the splits. Read that again. It’s horrific.
ST KILDA (19.16.130) DEFEATED HAWTHORN (8.7.55) BY 75 POINTS
Hawthorn hadn’t lost a game in Tasmania since 2012, winning 19 games in a row at their Launceston home. To be fair, they hadn’t lost many games at all since 2012. Alastair Clarkson, however, has achieved everything possible from the coaches’ box so he wanted to try something new this year – being uninspiringly average. He’s managed it with aplomb, and a new chapter in Hawthorn’s history has begun.
St Kilda were much more physical, more polished and more desperate than a Hawthorn team that looked tired, struggled to execute skills without constant errors and wished they were anywhere else.
The Saints had more possessions, clearances, inside-50s, contested possessions, tackles, hit-outs and interchanges.
“If we continue to have performances like that then there'll need to be catastrophic change, and that's not usually the way we go about doing things," said Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson. I don’t know if ‘catastrophic’ change is what you want, Clarko. ‘Catastrophic’ is defined as something causing great damage or suffering. Your trade negotiators have already done that. Maybe you should aim for ‘positive’ change, ‘redemptive’ change or ‘time traveling’ change.
A special mention must be made of Nick Riewoldt’s 700th AFL goal, pleasingly kicked in his state of origin, Tasmania. One of the greatest of his generation held down by the performances of the club around him, but tremendously loyal in his attempts to pull them up to his level.
CARLTON (15.7.97) DEFEATED SYDNEY (11.12.78) BY 19 POINTS
Sydney have now entered the 2017 season with the worst start of any previous Grand Finalist, racking up their sixth straight loss and being on the bottom of the ladder. Sydney supporters who have recently taken interest may not understand what the bottom of the ladder is. It means that Sydney are below Brisbane. They’re below Gold Coast. They’re below Essendon. Well, they’re below everyone. That’s how it works.
Sam Docherty was the star for Carlton with 39 touches, however the load was well spread with another seven Carlton players collecting over 20 possessions. For the Swans, Jake Lloyd had the most possessions but it was Isaac Heeney who was the most effective with 26 touches, six tackles and a goal.
Watching Sydney reveals a lot of similar faults that have crept into Hawthorn’s game. Players who in previous years had high efficiency are failing to hit targets, players are second and third to the ball rather than first and both wish Lance Franklin would come back and play like he used to.
"We've got guys of strong character, good resolve and resilience, particularly when we've got some youngsters mixed in our list at the moment,” said Carlton coach Brendon Bolton, marking the sixth week in succession he has made particular mention of their youth, this week as a further indication of deserved praise rather than the standard excuse it has been in weeks previous.
Sydney have Brisbane at the SCG next week. Last time Sydney went 0-7 at the beginning of the season it was to the Brisbane Bears in 1993. That year Brisbane kicked 33.21.219 to Sydney’s 8.9.57. Simon Minton-Connell kicked three. Roger Merrett and Michael Murphy kicked eight each. It was Brisbane’s highest ever score and biggest ever win. UNTIL NEXT WEEK?!? Probably not.
PORT ADELAIDE (22.18.150) DEFEATED BRISBANE (10.7.67) BY 83 POINTS
…and this is why Brisbane’s biggest ever win next week is unlikely. They’re not that good.
Port Adelaide had every base covered, which is baseball terminology. Port Adelaide could have actually been trying to play baseball and would still have probably beaten Brisbane at football. I don’t know how that would work but it feels like it would.
Chad Wingard had 31 touches while first-year Fantasy Football bargain Sam Powell-Pepper had 25 touches and two goals. Robbie Gray didn’t touch the ball as often as he normally does, but still managed to touch it four times with his foot through the goals. By that I mean he kicked four goals.
"We didn't see it all week, this coming, we'd trained well," Brisbane coach Chris Fagan said. He has promised to look at the fixture ahead of time from this point on.
NORTH MELBOURNE (16.11.107) DEFEATED GARY ABLETT (14.10.94) BY 13 POINTS
North Melbourne have won their first game since Waverley Park closed down with a gritty victory over Gary Ablett at Etihad Stadium.
The game was in the balance for the majority of its duration with Gary Ablett taking a one goal lead into quarter time, North Melbourne a two point lead at half time before kicking one extra goal in each of the final two quarters to snatch the win.
Ben Brown was the hero for the Kangaroos with six goals including three in the final quarter. Shaun Higgins led the possessions for North Melbourne with 28 while for Gary Ablett, Gary Ablett topped the tally with 45.
"I thought some players were unbelievable in what they had to do against big odds,” said Suns coach Rodney Eade, showing praise for Gary Ablett despite his loss.
"It was good reward, not just for the effort tonight but the first six weeks of the season," North coach Brad Scott said, happy that six weeks of constant training, analysis and physical conditioning was enough for his side to beat Gary Ablett.
WEST COAST (16.7.103) DEFEATED FREMANTLE (9.8.62) BY 41 POINTS
The western derby was not as hotly anticipated as previous contests and, thankfully, West Coast kicked seven goals to one in the first quarter to guarantee that neutral supporters lost interest instantly.
Fremantle have scraped through with a couple of very close (and admittedly gutsy) wins in the last couple of weeks but West Coast dominated possession to walk out easy winners.
West Coast had four 30+ possession winners in Elliott Yeo, Matt Priddis, Chris Masten and Andrew Gaff. Fremantle had just one with Ed Langdon. Josh Kennedy kicked six goals to return to the top of the goalkicking ladder.
Aaron Sandilands tapped down a massive 52 hit outs that just goes to show that whoever gets their hands on the ball first is often the tallest.
"The first quarter (was where) the game was won and lost," Dockers coach Ross Lyon said.
"That’s often the case, after that I thought our endeavour didn’t wane, if anything it stepped up throughout the game so that was pleasing."
Of course the endeavour stepped up after quarter time. If it didn’t they would have lost by 24 goals and the ghost of Clive Waterhouse would have haunted their nightmares forever. It was self-preservation.
MELBOURNE (17.10.112) DEFEATED ESSENDON (10.14.74) BY 38 POINTS
Melbourne have rebounded from a string of three losses to overcome an Essendon side still on a high from their ANZAC Day victory.
It was 4.6 to 4.8 at half-time in Essendon’s favour, but Melbourne were able to sharpen their skills in the second half after both teams were incredibly wasteful in the first.
Joe Daniher kicked 1.6 for the match including 0.6 from his first seven set shots at goal. The only worst set shot was Port Adelaide’s Daryl Poole, but he could only see out of one eye.
Darryl Poole now runs a women’s fitness business and the first question in his ‘About Me’ section on his website asks “What’s my vision?”. Legally, about 50% I reckon, Darryl.
Anyway, Christian Petracca and Jack Watts had four goals each for the Demons while Clayton Oliver was the major ballwinner with 33. Cameron Pedersen managed 18 hit outs as Melbourne’s ruckman because he can reach tall shelves, was available on the weekend and everyone else is dead.
COLLINGWOOD (15.17.107) DEFEATED GEELONG (11.12.78) BY 29 POINTS
This was the worst result for everyone. Buckley can’t be sacked, Geelong have been partially exposed and Brandon Parfitt tore his hamstring without even obtaining the injury in a comical position.
Scott Pendlebury was criticised after his ANZAC Day performance but silenced the critics with a 33 possession match. Taylor Adams had 36 touches and a host of other Magpies contributed through the midfield to show that Collingwood are as good as any through the middle of the ground.
For Geelong, their dynamic duo of Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood were kept to 38 touches between them. To put that in context, that’s fewer possessions than Selwood had last week on his own. To put that in further context, Adelaide were watching the game and giggling at a few of these facts.
“We were bolder and we were prepared to take more risks with our legs,” said Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley.
One of the major risks they took was to swap all of their legs with the re-animated legs of the 1930 Collingwood side which had won their fourth straight VFL premiership. It was a maverick move, but it paid dividends this weekend.
ADELAIDE (21.14.140) DEFEATED RICHMOND (10.4.64) BY 76 POINTS
The battle of the top of the table turned out to be a battle for about one quarter. Richmond went into quarter time with a nine point lead, looking for all intents and purposes the better team.
Like an early Power Rangers episode, however, Adelaide were able to assemble all their requisite parts to form their behemoth machine after the first quarter and squashed Richmond who were waiting desperately for Rita Repulsa’s wand to pierce the earth but it never came. What the fuck am I talking about? For a few of you it makes sense, but for the rest of you…well, this is the last game so you haven’t got long to go.
Matt Crouch had 38 touches, Rory Laird 34 and Rory Sloane continued his season as Adelaide’s midfield engine with 33 touches and three goals. For Richmond, Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin again gathered the most ball, but were held to only 26 and 25 touches respectively. Sam Jacobs, Adelaide’s ruckman and quite possibly the slowest man on the field, also had 26 touches. That sums up the game.
"To play that way after quarter-time, yeah, it's exciting," Adelaide coach Don Pyke said, which is almost enough of a comment to blow the lid well and truly off for Adelaide supporters like me.
"I sit back in the box at times and some of the ball movement we were able to execute, it's a real credit to players and I'm sure our fans are loving watching it."
It must really hurt for some coaches to hear Don Pyke say in his second season in charge he literally sits back as a spectator and watches his players run rings around the opposition.
I’ve heard the word ‘scary’ used to describe the way Adelaide have been playing multiple times in the past 24 hours, which is unfair. ‘Scary’ is something like the ‘itsumade’, a fire-breathing bird-like monster from Japanese folklore. A bird that breathes fire! That’s scary as shit. The Crows just play football good.