Welcome to all our new Chinese readers! I hope this website can handle the sudden influx of an extra 1.3 billion regular visitors. If months of online sports reporting has taught us anything it’s that audiences are instantaneous and loyal so, with that information, we’ve added an extra 4000 servers which will surely pay for themselves in no time.
Round 8 is done and no-one knows who’s good. Let’s try figure it out.
WEST COAST (9.15.69) DEFEATED WESTERN BULLDOGS (8.13.61) BY 8 POINTS
Throughout the round there were a couple of games that would have genuinely excited a new viewer to our code, invigorated by fast moving and skillful football that highlights the elite standard of our competition. If you want to show someone a game that doesn’t make them want to headbutt a koala in frustration over inaccurate goalkicking, don’t show them this one.
Josh Kennedy kicked 3.6 for the West Coast Eagles who managed to hold on against the equally wayward Bulldogs with only one second half goal. 4.15 was kicked by both sides after the main break, despite conditions not being a major factor.
Andrew Gaff and Sam Mitchell patrolled the midfield for West Coast, picking up 35 and 33 touches respectively, while Jack Macrae was the Bulldogs’ highest with 32.
Jack Redpath kicked the first goal of the game after returning from a knee reconstruction, finishing with 3.1 which was admirable considering the figures from his colleagues and the face that his leg is held together with string.
West Coast have now moved to second on the ladder behind the faltering Crows, while the Bulldogs will now face an even more faltering Geelong next week. Falteringer.
HAWTHORN (17.11.113) DEFEATED BRISBANE (11.9.75) BY 38 POINTS
Hawthorn have sustained a couple of worrying injuries in their regulation victory over the Lions in Tasmania on Saturday.
Cyril Rioli is set to miss some football after leaving the field with a knee injury, as does Ben Stratton.
Dayne Zorko and Tom Rockliff were once again the shining lights for Brisbane, much like the 20th Century Fox spotlights in their company’s logo animation, shining powerfully but aimlessly into the sky occasionally illuminating the area around but still serving as solitary beacons before a mediocre display. They are the Fox searchlights, and the rest of the team is Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. Zorko had 31 touches and 11 tackles, while Rockliff had 30 and 13.
Tom Mitchell had 36 touches for the Hawks while Ricky Henderson kicked three.
Rockliff came off late in the game with a dislocated shoulder that the team doctor was able to push back into place, but he was replaced by Claye Beams for the remainder. In an unorthodox display Brisbane attempted to mould Dayne Zorko and Claye Beams together using a similar machine that saw the merging of Jeff Goldblum and a fly to try to make a Dayne Beams, but it didn’t work.
ST KILDA (12.13.85) DEFEATED CARLTON (10.6.66) BY 19 POINTS
Jack Billings has kicked five goals for the Saints in their three goal win against an enthusiastic Carlton side, taking them to 5-3 for the year and putting them firmly in the race for the finals.
Carlton managed to claim the lead early in the final quarter but St Kilda were able to steady and kick away, with Jack Newnes, Jack Steven, Jack Billings, Jack Steele and Seb-jack-tian Ross dominating possession. Patrick Cripps had 30 touches and kicked two goals for the Blues, while Marc Murphy was able to add two goals of his own in his 28 touches.
“It’s been building,” said St Kilda coach Alan Richardson about Jack Billings’ progression, perhaps in his own mind spelling it ‘billding’ in an attempt at a cheeky little pun.
"They've been able to strangle teams and we spoke about that – that this won't be a pretty game – (and) we'll get a lot of opportunities (and) we'll just have to persist,” continued Richardson, highlighting a physical tactic that has so far eluded the Match Review Panel and also the attention of Victorian police.
Nick Riewoldt was unable to take a contested mark which just shows that he’s useless.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY (15.12.102) DEFEATED COLLINGWOOD (15.9.99) BY 3 POINTS
Nathan Buckley could be seen trying to swallow the coach’s phone as Stevie Johnson kicked an opportunistic crumbing goal to give GWS a final minute win at Spotless Stadium.
Johnson was fumbling everything he touched, wasting every possession and making continuously poor decisions against a Collingwood side that took it to the early premiership favourites GWS. So, of course, when there was under a minute to go and the game in the balance, after predictions from the television commentators that it was ‘set up for Stevie J’, he read a pack perfectly, collected the ball while running at full pace and kicked a goal before doing an almost complete lap of honour in celebration.
Josh Kelly had 36 touches for the Giants and Taylor Adams hit 30 for the Magpies. Jeremy Cameron was the difference between the sides, taking 10 marks including five inside 50 and kicking six goals, when Collingwood again struggled to find a definitive forward target.
Jamie Elliott was their best with three goals.
The final quarter of the game was a lesson in perserverance, with GWS down to a solitary player on their bench after losing Aidan Corr, Sam Reid and Stephen Coniglio. Collingwood looked to be dead on their feet as well, after matching it for almost four quarters with one of the competition’s most youthful and electric midfields.
“We were good enough, but not for long enough,” said Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley. 43 seconds was the extra time they had to be good enough for, which will not haunt Buckley all week.
ESSENDON (17.8.110) DEFEATED GEELONG (13.15.93) BY 17 POINTS
With the exception of the beginning of the final quarter, Essendon dominated all game against a lethargic and static Geelong outfit who have now lost their last three matches.
A six goal to one first quarter from the Bombers set-up a lead that was never overcome, with Zach Merrett continuing his great form with 33 touches. Patrick Dangerfield was the only Cat to crack 30 possessions and also kicked two goals, but it was too little from too few in a display that coach Chris Scott described as “really, really poor”.
But, let’s talk Joe Daniher. He will be the best player in the competition for the next 10 years. He kicked five goals to make up for his wayward kicking for goal last week, but more than that he travelled everywhere on the ground. In the final quarter he was thrown back into defense for a portion as a mobile tall to try and stifle the momentum that Geelong were building. Not only was he effective in doing that, but his speed and workrate to work back up the field to kick one of the victory-sealing goals from outside 50 was inspirational. There are no jokes here – he’s a more versatile Lance Franklin.
Essendon also earned the achievement of having the largest ever tackle discrepancy in their favour with 81-40, another indicator of their commitment and Geelong’s apparent apathy.
To complete the first entirely serious game review of the year, James Kelly was chaired from the ground at the completion of his 300th game by Dyson Heppell and Joel Selwood, the two captains of the two sides he has played for. Great stuff.
MELBOURNE (17.5.107) DEFEATED ADELAIDE (9.12.66) BY 41 POINTS
Melbourne suffocated Adelaide to hand them their second successive loss at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night, sparking fears that the Crows may have had their code cracked after winning their first six matches of the season.
After a strong start by Melbourne, Adelaide were able to enter the main break with a 10 point lead before a 12 goals to three second half had Adelaide once again looking sloppy and panicked under great pressure.
Michael Hibberd, Christian Salem, Jack Viney and Clayton Oliver all had 30 or more possessions, with Clayton Oliver kicking a goal of the year contender from the pocket made famous by Eddie Betts. Surrounded by players and from one step, Oliver kicked a checkside while falling over the boundary to make Adelaide supporters around the ground tear at their knitted blankets in frustration. One supporter may have even damaged his all-in-one radio headphones, which are terribly hard to find nowadays.
Sam Jacobs claimed a record 74 hit outs but Melbourne still controlled the clearances with 49-38. The Demons had more inside-50s, more tackles and were able to limit the impact of Adelaide playmaker Rory Sloane.
An example of Melbourne’s commitment was shown in the third quarter when Jayden Hunt’s attack on Sam Jacobs was so enthusiastic that he tried to forcibly penetrate Jacobs’ shoulder with his own head, knocking himself out in the process.
In an example of the umpires’ commitment, the game finished with only two field umpires after Craig Fleer was concussed by a sneaky Bernie Vince headbutt while Rowan Hundertmark couldn’t see out the last quarter because of cramp.
In an example of my commitment as an Adelaide supporter, I may have sneakily watched the end of the Essendon-Geelong match when the opportunity presented itself.
Bernie Vince was given a nice reception after the match having played his 200th game, a type of game that completely negated Sloane’s impact. Each clap from the Adelaide supporters was dripping with the desire for the former Crows club champion to return, but unfortunately Adelaide has reached its blonde midfielder cap.
"I just thought the boys tonight were terrific,” said Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin, and promised to take them all out for McDonalds after.
FREMANTLE (10.12.72) DEFEATED RICHMOND (10.10.70) BY 2 POINTS
David Mundy has kicked a goal after the siren to defeat Richmond after Richmond hit the lead with 23 seconds remaining. That was the most Richmond sentence that could ever be typed.
After coming into the final quarter with a 30 point lead, Fremantle went goalless for the entire regulation 20 minutes of play before Mundy, who had missed in a similar scenario against Geelong in 2014, kicked true from 30m out. While Mundy’s miss against Geelong was truly after the siren, he had kicked a final minute winner against Richmond in 2015 which left Richmond fans wondering how he was able to take an uncontested mark this time around.
Shaun Grigg had 31 touches for Richmond while for the victors, Michael Walters had a commanding 38.
After Richmond kicked the goal to gain the lead in the final minute, Fremantle coach Ross Lyon threw down his headphones, swore like a sailor and left the box only to be caught in an elevator when Mundy took the final mark. He had to watch the final kick from a television in the stadium concourse. Maybe if your team is within a goal, in a centre bounce situation with enough time on the clock, you might stay and watch in the future?
"For 75 per cent, I thought we were fantastic. For 24.99 per cent in the last quarter (we weren't) and then I will take that last little bit,” said Lyon. It’s nice that Lyon has agreed to ‘take that last little bit’. Richmond supporters have been left asking if they can reject the last little bit. No, you can’t.
"We didn't defend particularly well and you look at the last 20 seconds and there are some things we can do better in that situation, too,” said Richmond coach Damien Hardwick. The things that they could have done better involved touching the ball, manning their opposition and committing harikari.
Also, for everything boneheaded, bigoted and ignorant Eddie McGuire has ever said, when watching the last two minutes of the match you can’t deny that he knows how to build excitement. Dwayne Russell sounded like he’d been tranquilised in contrast.
PORT ADELAIDE (16.14.110) DEFEATED GOLD COAST (4.14.38) BY 72 POINTS
The highlight of this match was the idea of this match.
Bruce McAvaney was at a level of excitement never before seen, able to reel off facts about China’s history, interview Gillon McLachlan about the success of the venture and even drop a ‘Confucius say…’ reference that made me physically uncomfortable.
Rodney Eade looked like the whole thing was the most painful experience he’d ever gone through.
Port Adelaide had 28 more inside-50s and 20 more contested possessions, with Brad Ebert collecting 31 touches to lead their tally. Aaron Hall had 37 touches for the Suns but it meant nothing.
For the sake of trivia, Michael Barlow kicked the first ever goal in China with an accurately representative goalmouth scramble that went to a score review. The review seemed to show the ball touch a Power defender’s leg before crossing the line but the review umpire was not confident enough to overturn the on-field goal call. How exciting for our Chinese friends!
This game sucked but the venture has been deemed a success, which makes me think that in the future Port Adelaide should just go over and play a scratch match and be given the win.
SYDNEY (18.12.120) DEFEATED NORTH MELBOURNE (11.12.78) BY 42 POINTS
Sydney have collected their second win after their dismal 0-6 start to the season against a Kangaroos side that was starting to build momentum.
Josh Kennedy had 26 touches in the first half for the Swans while Ben Cunnington and Sam Gibson were the only Kangaroos players able to better that tally for the whole game.
Kennedy finished with 37 and Luke Parker had 36. Nic Newman had 35 and Dan Hanneberry had 33. That’s a lot of football, right there.
Isaac Heeney also showed why his absence at the beginning of the year was so damaging, picking up 25 touches, two goals and nine marks. I was at a Mother’s Day lunch with family on Sunday and our waiter looked like Isaac Heeney, and I reckon he was 15. This means nothing, but I don’t have much more insight into this game so I thought it worth mentioning.