I write this article bunkered down in a Melbourne hotel room, clutching tightly to my beloved Kyle Hartigan doll as I dream of being back in Adelaide, where Alex Rance is once again just a name mentioned just before the words ‘is not as good as Talia’. Where Cyril Rioli is the poor man’s Eddie Betts and where accusations of Mark Ricciuto’s bias from Victorian television viewers are drowned out by the similar criticisms Adelaide viewers can level at Every. Other. Commentator.
Speaking of biased commentary, here’s round 10.
GEELONG (11.15.81) DEFEATED PORT ADELAIDE (11.13.79) BY 2 POINTS
Geelong were celebrating their 2007 premiership’s 10th anniversary at their revamped Simonds Stadium on Thursday night as their Grand Final opponents, Port Adelaide, came within a kick of spoiling the party. The party wouldn’t have been spoiled for Steve Johnson, however, who was having a beer with the boys because he was out 'injured' this week (aka couldn't give a fuck). He cares not for protocol nowadays.
Port Adelaide famously lost this game after an unusual circumstance in which the 30-second rule was enforced while Charlie Dixon was lining up for a crucial goal. I’m not talking about the rule where something is still safe to ingest if its picked up from the ground quickly enough, like oranges at half-time for the players, or a party pie off the ground for Stevie J, or cocaine off the ground for Matthew Stokes.
Geelong dominated possession with 385-313 touches, and won the inside-50 count 58-44. Geelong led the inside-50s 18-8 at quarter time but inaccurate kicking kept the Power in front at the first break. Geelong led for the majority of the match but with Port leading in the final minutes a goal from Patrick Dangerfield snatched the lead back for a final time.
“I feel relieved when you win by 10 goals and I feel 10 (times) relieved when you win by two points when it looked for all intensive purposes like we were going to lose it late,” Geelong coach Chris Scott was quoted as saying in the Geelong Advertiser, whose transcriber has never heard the phrase ‘intents and purposes’.
“I think it would be unfair to say we stole it.”
You didn’t steal it, Scotty. The umpires stole it and you bought it. They’re different crimes. Possession of stolen goods instead of breaking and entering. Port Adelaide were entered.
HAWTHORN (12.9.81) DEFEATED SYDNEY (11.9.75) BY 6 POINTS
Sydney’s definite resurgence and guaranteed bullet to the top of the table has been stopped in its tracks by Hawthorn who capitalised on Sydney’s tactic of only playing for 5 -15 minutes of each quarter.
Lance Franklin, wearing #67 for the Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round was brilliant with five goals and almost single-handedly dragged Sydney over the line until Peter Burgoyne, wearing #67 for the Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round, kicked a crucial final quarter goal before Jarryd Roughead, wearing #2 for…identification purposes, kicked the sealer; both goals came from set shots outside 50.
Dan Hannebery had 35 touches for the Swans while Liam Shiels and Tom Mitchell topped the disposals for the Hawks with 31 each. Alastair Clarkson topped the ‘looking angered and stressed’ count between the coaches 461-3.
"I thought if we'd gotten our noses in front at the final siren it would have been an enormous effort, but unfortunately we didn't,” said Swans coach John Longmire, as Life by Des’ree played in the background.
WESTERN BULLDOGS (13.12.90) DEFEATED ST KILDA (7.8.50) BY 40 POINTS
The Western Bulldogs made the most of forwardline opportunities in a game that saw a lot of wayward forward entries from both teams, with Jake Stringer kicking five goals to lead the Dogs to a 40 point victory.
Stringer had returned from an injury that had seen him miss the previous two rounds, but there was no lethargy as the man nicknamed ‘The Package’ was left relatively unguarded throughout the first half, kicking four. In the modern world leaving a ‘package’ unguarded and unchecked is both negligent and downright dangerous.
Jason Johannisen topped the Bulldogs disposals with 29 while for St Kilda Jack Newnes had 35. The biggest negative from the game for the Bulldogs, however, was the loss of captain Bob Murphy with a hamstring injury. The upside is that means they’ll win the premiership now so, y’know, every cloud.
Nick Riewoldt left quite an obvious hole in St Kilda’s forwardline that they weren’t able to fill, much like Luke Beveridge’s shirt neck holes after they’ve been stretched by his massive head. The brains within Beveridge’s mutant cranium were very crafty in being able to limit St Kilda’s forward movement and to keep his team’s structured pressure constant. Big head, though.
MELBOURNE (18.14.122) DEFEATED GOLD COAST (13.9.87) BY 35 POINTS
This year has seen incredibly high score fluctuations within games and this one was no exception, with Gold Coast leading by five goals at one point in the third quarter before Melbourne over ran them to post an 11 goal turnaround and a six goal victory.
Gold Coast were without Gary Ablett, who is one of the greatest midfielders this game has ever seen, so it made an impact. Melbourne were without a win in two weeks, so it was time for them to alternate their level of effort once again and win this time around, continuing the frustrating fluctuating win cycle that Melbourne have trademarked over the past 45 years.
Clayton Oliver continued his breakout season form with 35 touches while Aaron Hall was one of the lone contributors for Gold Coast with 29. Jeff Garlett was another indigenous player who rose to this week’s occasion, kicking five goals.
"It was just our turnovers, we gave the ball back to them," Suns coach Rodney Eade said. Melbourne won the clearances and the contested possessions, so it might have been a bit of that as well.
The game was played in Alice Springs to a crowd of just over 5,000, so it’s possible Gold Coast were overcome by the occasion, playing their second consecutive game in the most remote of locations. Heavens knows how they’ll handle their game next week against West Coast in the Earth’s core.
RICHMOND (11.15.81) DEFEATED ESSENDON (10.6.66) BY 15 POINTS
Despite the entire footballing community collectively willing Essendon to a last minute victory all in the name of schadenfreude, Richmond have held on in a seesawing contest to post their first win since round five.
The lead changed hands nine times in the first three quarters and with minutes to go the game was still within two kicks, which equalled more than the aggregate margin of Richmond’s last three defeats.
Trent Cotchin, Brandon Ellis and Dustin Martin all had 30+ possessions for the Tigers, and David Zaharakis was the only Bomber to break the 30 barrier with 35.
There are rumours that Dustin Martin may be going to Essendon next year, but there’s nothing to say that he wants to leave Richmond at all. A lot of ongoing long-time contract negotiations end in happiness for the original club. Well, not always. Adelaide were pretty dirty on Dangerfield, and I guess West Coast wouldn’t mind Scott Selwood back. It seems if Dustin Martin is linked to Geelong, that’s when Richmond should start to worry. That being said, Richmond have had a great history with free agency, as was evidenced in the Ty Vickery move.
"We had 52 forward half turnovers, which is an enormous number, but we just couldn't get the scoreboard reward we were after,” said Richmond coach Damien Hardwick about his team’s first half. 52 is a huge number, but not as huge as 5,000,000. It’s bigger than 3, though.
ADELAIDE (20.23.143) DEFEATED FREMANTLE (6.7.43) BY 100 POINTS
I went to this match. In the cold. In the rain. I was there.
This was Ross Lyon’s first ever 100-point defeat, Nat Fyfe broke the record for the most clangers in a match, and I didn’t win $800 on my bet that Laird would get 30 possessions and Milera would kick three goals. It was a miserable night.
"We embarrassed ourselves,” said Fremantle coach Ross Lyon.
There were 72-40 inside-50s in the Crows’ favour and Adelaide had 102 more disposals. It was the most boring 100 point win I’ve ever witnessed.
For the Crows, Rory Atkins, Rory Sloane, Matt Crouch and Brad Crouch all had 30+ possessions which, on average, means Rory Crouch got a lot of the ball.
COLLINGWOOD (18.21.129) DEFEATED BRISBANE (13.6.84) BY 45 POINTS
Brisbane just aren’t very good. There’s no in depth analysis needed, no state-of-the-union address that needs to be declared from up on high, no crisis meetings that need to be held. They just need to keep playing until they’re better. Or until they don’t exist anymore. One of those two things.
Collingwood stays in touch with the top 8 and Nathan Buckley stays in touch with his personal car park and security clearance.
It’s remarkable that you could take the midfield stars of both these sides and they would be stars in any other side. Steele Sidebottom, Taylor Adams, Scott Pendlebury and Adam Treloar would displace a lot of the established midfields from higher placed sides, and Dayne Zorko, Tom Rockliff and Dayne Beams would be stars in any team. It’s just a shame that outside the midfield it’s a world of horror for both teams, like the centre square is the real world and outside its boundaries is the upside down world where nothing good can ever come.
Even Eric Hipwood who is The Most Exciting Prospect In The World only had six disposals and kicked one goal, albeit a good one.
“I thought we responded pretty well in the second quarter and for the most part after that, played the way that we wanted to play,” said Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley, after his side conceded the first two goals of the match. The way they want to play each week is ‘against the bottom team’.
NORTH MELBOURNE (17.11.113) DEFEATED CARLTON (15.6.96) BY 17 POINTS
Carlton have given North Melbourne a real fright, coming back from 45 points down to lead during the final quarter before two Mason Wood goals regained control for the Kangaroos and the four points.
Bryce Gibbs had 38 touches for the Blues, which is amazing considering everyone decided at the beginning of the season that he wouldn’t try.
"They're no pushover, Carlton. The opposition has to play well to beat them and if the opposition's off their game, they get done," said North Melbourne coach Brad Scott, accurately describing the situation in every elite professional sporting competition that can be applied to any team anywhere in the world.
No team this year is a pushover as results have proven but, realistically, the season has gone on long enough that we can be pretty comfortable knowing that neither of these teams are going to be big players in September. With that in mind, realistically, this review has gone on long enough that we can be pretty comfortable knowing that I have no interest and I’m going to move on.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY (14.14.98) DEFEATED WEST COAST (14.6.90) BY 8 POINTS
A thrilling finish that saw Toby Greene kick two late goals to prove that West Coast’s dominance is restricted to not only their home ground but also the year 2016.
The lead swapped hands eight times in the last quarter, like a man with an excited dog on a thin and unforgiving leash. Callan Ward had 33 touches for the Giants while the Eagles had Andrew Gaff at the top with 35. Lewis Jetta was a solid contributor with 28 touches and two goals.
Josh Kennedy’s leg exploded, which wasn’t good for the Eagles either.
GWS had 54 clearances to West Coast’s 31 which seems like a crazily lop-sided number, and it is, but if it weren’t for the final five minutes of play, West Coast could have still won with such a deficit which proves that statistics mean nothing, nothing means anything, life is meaningless and we’re all wasting our time.
"To lose the clearances by (21) and win contested possession … there were some good signs there I thought,” said Eagles coach Adam Simpson, unfazed by the futility of existence.
Port Adelaide's Charlie Dixon has been left stranded in Victoria following their game against Geelong on Thursday night after missing his team's scheduled flight home to South Australia.
Witnesses say that Dixon, who had checked in on time and wasn't separated from his colleagues, was a second late to the boarding gate and airline staff refused to let him on.
"Normally if someone hasn't boarded on time they'll hold the plane up for a second, but they just took off instantly," a witness said.
"I'm not even sure if they called his name over the PA, or if they did it was very late."
Airline staff are adamant that they made the correct call by instantly ceasing the boarding process, despite allegations that they differed from their standard protocol that most travellers are accustomed to.
Traditionally, staff have a countdown clock to determine when the boarding gate will close that they are expected to keep track of mentally in their head. There are different interpretations as to when the countdown begins as each staff member has varying levels of leniency, but once their mental timer reaches zero they're expected to take action.
In nearly every circumstance previous, staff have warned travellers who are tardy to attend their gate well in advance. On this occasion, it's alleged, staff broke with protocol and warned Dixon with 9 seconds remaining, rather than the traditional 15.
Another allegation made was against the pilots, who are alleged to have been extremely close to take-off before the boarding gate had closed, despite regulations stating that there must be a certain distance between the last traveller to board and the commencement of take-off. They call this buffer area the 'protected zone', so-called so as to prevent the situation where a traveller is only just stepping onto the flight as it takes off, ripping their legs off instantly.
This was not the only event that soured Port Adelaide's flight home, as footage has surfaced of forward Robbie Gray, who was just trying to stow his bags in the overhead locker, being pulled back violently into his seat before the bag was anywhere near stowed.
The authorities are expected to investigate these incidents over the coming days, and then do nothing.
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.
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.
Port Adelaide Chairman David Koch, in the days leading up to the historic AFL fixture to be played in China, has announced that next year the club will be pushing to play a premiership fixture in Botswana.
Left jaded by the mix-up that has resulted in the Gold Coast Suns being able to play the Chinese fixture, for which Koch was the major instigator, in their home guernsey which shares China's national colours, Koch has vowed to not make the same mistake twice.
"It's been a bit of a headache and while this game remains very lucrative for our club in a business sense, we still want to grow international support for our brand with the fans," said Koch to ASW on Friday.
"Most Chinese viewers will naturally gravitate towards Gold Coast, and that's unfortunate. We're not making the same mistake twice, so that's why next year Botswana is the front runner with their teal, black and white flag. It was either them or Estonia, and I really don't like kama (Estonia's traditional finely milled flour mixture that can be made into a snack by mixing with lard)."
Botswana is one of Africa's most sparsely populated countries but has one of the fastest growing economies which is likely one of the main reasons behind the choice. A source in Port Adelaide's inner sanctum, however, has revealed it wasn't always the first choice.
"Our first choice was to play the next Showdown in Armenia because Chad (Wingard) really enjoys the traditional music of Djivan Gasparyan on the duduk, but we realised last minute that we'd be falling into the same trap," said the source.
"The next suggestion was to move our Richmond fixture to 19th century Austria, during the days of the Habsburg Monarchy, but that would have been foolish and logistically impossible."
Koch is expected to present the Botswana proposal to the AFL in the coming weeks, as they prepare to roll their eyes and slap him on the hand while tersely yelling 'No!'.