Only eight games this week thanks to the post-China bye for Gold Coast and Port Adelaide, which returns us to the glory days of fixture scheduling before the expansion teams, when Karmichael Hunt was an exciting prospect and Nathan Bock was still a domestic violence exponent back in Adelaide. Glory days.
Here’s the round.
GEELONG (16.8.104) DEFEATED WESTERN BULLDOGS (12.9.81) BY 23 POINTS
A game of momentum swings as the Bulldogs had a quarter time lead before being held scoreless in the second quarter, then regaining ascendancy for three quarter time before Geelong overran them once more. It wasn’t unexpected for all the scoring to be at one end of the ground, however, as with the newly installed stand at Simonds Stadium, the tradesman had forgot to reinstall the goals at one end.
Patrick Dangerfield had a first half of the ages to set up the win, finishing with 36 touches and four goals, including one on his left from the boundary that showed everyone what he was capable of.
Likewise, Geelong’s tackle count of 134, a club record, showed what they’re capable of. Some may ask why the same application wasn’t present for the three weeks before. Is ‘Didn’t wanna?’ an acceptable answer?
Likewise, Harry Taylor’s five goals showed what he is capable of once in four years.
"It's pretty simple, the superficial part, if you're not close enough you can't get them,” said Geelong coach Chris Scott, referring to his team’s willingness to attack the ball and man in the contest, finally giving up his search for a telekinetic super-race of remote tacklers.
SYDNEY (18.10.118) DEFEATED ST KILDA (10.8.68) BY 50 POINTS
Sydney are showing what can happen when they have the best part of their top-22 on the field, dismantling an in-form St Kilda at Etihad Stadium.
Despite his team losing the clearances 28-37, Josh Kennedy was at his best with eight clearances of his own, 35 touches and a goal. Jake Lloyd joined him with 35 touches, while for the Saints Seb Ross had 37.
Sydney were able to apply physical pressure where it counted, with Jack Steven being cloaked by Sydney’s midfield, and St Kilda’s forwards were unable to find space from their defenders claiming only six marks inside-50.
Jack Newnes also got concussed early in his 100th game and was ruled out after failing the concussion test, while the rest of his team failed the ‘kick it to your own players’ test for most of the game.
Sydney now sit 3-6, which historically gives them just over 11% chance of making the finals. If you’ll remember three weeks ago, when they were 0-6, they were historically given a 0% chance which just goes to prove that Lance Franklin can transcend time and maths.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY (11.12.78) DEFEATED RICHMOND (10.15.75) BY 3 POINTS
For the second week in a row, and for the 8210th in their club history, Richmond have lost a game by under a goal after leading in the final minutes.
What do stats matter? Richmond did a bunch of things, the Giants did a bunch of things and then, at the end when Richmond were meant to keep doing things, they didn’t. GWS kicked five goals to zero in the final quarter. They thought they’d kicked a goal to seal the game with just over a minute to go, but a score review showed that it was touched off the boot after a minute or two delay because the football gods have a superb sense of humour.
Not only have Richmond continued their habit of losing at the last moment, this is the second week in a row GWS have won in the final moments. Based on past results, this was like if Steven Bradbury played Greg Norman in some sort of Ice Golf Open.
“Richmond should have won the game,” said Giants coach Leon Cameron.
“We probably should have won,” said Richmond coach Damien Hardwick.
“Tell my family I love them,” said numerous Richmond supporters.
ADELAIDE (21.14.140) DEFEATED BRISBANE (7.18.60) BY 80 POINTS
Adelaide have returned to the winners list with a post-quarter time demolition of Brisbane which, given the result was expected, may serve to confirm fears about Adelaide’s ability to start a match well.
Adelaide trailed at quarter time before kicking 18 goals to four in the remaining three quarters, led by Charlie Cameron kicking four, all coming from an explosive third quarter, and Tom Lynch, Taylor Walker, Eddie Betts, and debutant Hugh Greenwood, all kicking three.
For Brisbane Dayne Beams had 40 possessions while Rory Laird topped the Crows list with 37.
Eddie Betts kicked a trademark opportunist goal along the ground from the pocket to the cheers of an appreciative Adelaide crowd, whose supporters outnumbered Brisbane’s 13,800 to 2.
“It’s just a shame that we’re stuck in this rebuilding phase that’s going to take a few years, but I’m confident we’ll pull through,” said one Brisbane fan as he browsed the Tasmanian property market on his phone.
“I’m with him,” said the other.
Oh, by the way, Hugh Greenwood, who I mentioned earlier, has a basketball background which you probably won’t hear about much.
COLLINGWOOD (13.12.90) DEFEATED HAWTHORN (11.6.72)
Collingwood trailed the Hawks by 43 points midway through the second quarter before a nine goal to one second half saw them claim the win.
With so many results this season flying in the face of previous form, a close, seesawing match between these two teams really gets us no closer to understanding what to expect from either. This is exactly the feeling coach Nathan Buckley has before each match, as well; he has no idea which Collingwood to expect.
Scott Pendlebury was again the best through Collingwood’s midfield with 36 touches, while Tom Mitchell had 50 touches for the Hawks, which just goes to show how high the possession stats are in the modern game when a player can get 50 touches yet his side doesn’t dominate.
“It was an excellent response to a scoreboard that looked unfavourable,” said Buckley, using the word ‘unfavourable’ to describe a seven-goal deficit which gives us a small insight into his expectations.
“We stuck to our plan really well and got ourselves in a winning position, then forfeited it in the second half," Hawthorn coach Alistair Clarkson said.
"Some of that is credit to Collingwood,” he continued, throwing hella shade, fam.
ESSENDON (19.11.125) DEFEATED WEST COAST (8.16.64) BY 61 POINTS
West Coast once again fall prey to their east coast hoodoo, travelling to Melbourne for a short two-day layover before flying back home refreshed for the next game of football they care about.
Essendon continue to play impressive football with Zach Merrett continuing his stellar season with another 37 touch match and Joe Daniher kicking five goals.
Joe Daniher is going to be the best player of his generation over the next 10 years. I said that to a workmate who scoffed and told me that he was going to record that so we could revisit it in 10 years time. So far, since I made that comment, Joe Daniher has played one game and kicked five goals which, at an average of 5.0 goals a game, puts him only behind Peter Hudson (5.64) and John Coleman (5.48), so I guess my friend looks pretty stupid right about now.
West Coast looked disinterested, and uninterested, and anti-interested if such a thing exists.
“It was terrible. We have to give a fair bit of credit to Essendon and their mind-set and attitude, but we were well off in all areas,” said West Coast coach Adam Simpson, which at least highlights what he’ll need to work on over the coming week – everything.
Essendon had 119 more disposals, six more clearances, 31 more contested possessions, and their forward line efficiency was outstanding kicking 11 goals more than West Coast from only one extra inside-50.
Sam Mitchell was booed by the Essendon crowd at every opportunity because of a gesture he made while playing for Hawthorn in a previous season that eluded to the Essendon substance scandal of which they were found guilty and a heap of players were suspended for and the club were heavily penalised for. That’s like if Richard Nixon supporters heavily booed Deep Throat for talking about something that Nixon definitely did. Sorry, for the outdated reference, I can think of no modern day political equivalent.
This also marked the first game that has ever featured a field umpire named Eleni.
NORTH MELBOURNE (15.14.104) DEFEATED MELBOURNE (13.12.90) BY 14 POINTS
North Melbourne have now defeated Melbourne 16 times in a row. I don’t know whether they should keep playing each other. Even the Harlem Globetrotters and the Washington Generals stopped playing each other in 2015.
While the lead fluctuated between one goal and five throughout the match, North Melbourne always looked in control, with the exception of a period at the beginning of the third quarter when the Demons kicked the first three goals.
Ben Brown kicked five goals in what was a great team performance, with only two Kangaroos collecting more than 25 possessions (Ben Cunnington and Sam Gibson).
"The boys set the win up pretty well in the first quarter, probably if we kicked straighter it could have been a bigger margin,” said North Melbourne coach Brad Scott, grasping the scoring structure of AFL football.
There were a series of small melees throughout the afternoon, with jumper punches liberally spread over the course of the game, because these players are big strong boys and they do big strong things.
FREMANTLE (13.8.86) DEFEATED CARLTON (7.9.51) BY 35 POINTS
It rained for a bit and then it didn’t and then it did again and Fremantle did better football despite trailing by almost five goals again.
"It was really pleasing,” said Fremantle’s Ross Lyon.
“What is a litmus test?” he also said when questioned about the match next week against the Crows. The reporter, while doing a disappointing job of explaining it, described it as a test “to see how good you’re going, or not.”
“Yeah, ok, it’s a good litmus test,” responded Ross Lyon in a way that instantly highlighted the way that there could be no insightful answer to that question, or many questions asked in these press conferences. I think I’m starting to like him.