The rounds are going past faster than your childrens’ birthdays as you rapidly approach an inevitable death. Let’s mark another one down as we continue to search for this year’s AFL premier, who will of course fall away into the dusty pages of time in the relative blink of an eye.
Life is meaningless.
HAWTHORN (14.12.96) DEFEATED ADELAIDE (12.10.82) BY 14 POINTS
Adelaide are worryingly inconsistent, as are Hawthorn but their inconsistency isn’t as worrying because they’re not in contention.
Adelaide have shown that on their day they can play the most exciting and damaging attacking football we’ve seen in years. On another day, they couldn’t kick a badger off a bridge (as the old saying goeth).
Hawthorn played well and applied great pressure, but Adelaide’s skills by foot and their decision making was at times woeful. At other times it was more woeful.
Tom Mitchell keeps the possession counter ticking over at a furious pace having collected 38 touches while for the Crows it was Matt Crouch again with 35. Ryan Burton was one of the best for Hawthorn, keeping Taylor Walker to a very quiet second half while popping up with two goals of his own at a critical stage of the third quarter.
"For whatever reason, our execution tonight was miles off the level that we've experienced,” said Adelaide coach Don Pyke. One is unsure if the use of the word ‘experienced’ refers to Hawthorn’s execution in the myriad of previous games Adelaide have lost agonisingly to the Hawks.
SYDNEY (11.20.86) DEFEATED ESSENDON (12.13.85) BY 1 POINT
One of the most remarkable finishes this year, Sydney have come from behind with the last three goals to snatch a victory from Essendon when it looked impossible.
It looked impossible when they needed three goals against the momentum with four minutes remaining. It looked impossible when Joe Daniher marked strongly in defence with Essendon a goal up in the final minute. It looked impossible when Essendon had possession from a behind with their team five points up and under 30 seconds remaining. When Brendon Goddard, veteran and noted efficient disposer was smothered after taking too long to release the ball from the kickout…well, it kinda looked possible then.
Josh Kennedy had 36 touches and Zach Merrett 33. Orazio Fantasia would be second-guessing himself after having kicked 1.4 for the match, possibly distracted by Brian Taylor’s desperate attempts to inject some form of life into one of the most lacklustre commentary teams ever assembled by loudly and violently mispronouncing his name.
Please come back Dennis Cometti. I would say ‘all is forgiven’ but you did nothing wrong for us to have to forgive. You were perfect. It hurts.
PORT ADELAIDE (13.15.93) DEFEATED COLLINGWOOD (9.8.62) BY 31 POINTS
Port Adelaide have churned out another pedestrian and monotonous win which, while disappointing for the neutral supporter and football blogger, is a great sign for the club and its fans.
Collingwood have been in a rather impressive clump of form having previously won three of their past four. They looked off the pace tonight, despite Port Adelaide playing on the MCG for the first time this season. It’s remarkable that in a competition that plays its most important game of the year at the MCG, a genuine finals contender has played in another country before playing at the ‘home of football’. It’s also remarkable how much iPads have killed the puzzle placemat industry so beloved at Pizza Hut restaurants of old, but that’s unrelated.
Robbie Gray was wonderful, kicking five goals and collecting 20 possessions in a display that Collingwood had no answer for. The Collingwood engine room of Pendlebury, Sidebottom, Adams and Treloar all had more touches than any individual player for the Power, but there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’, although there are the words ‘Pelican Wisdom’ in ‘Collingwood Magpies’ if you rearrange the letters.
"It's the best opposition we've had. They were really impressive," Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said, not counting doorstopping journalists.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY (22.14.146) DEFEATED BRISBANE (12.14.86) BY 60 POINTS
GWS have reclaimed top spot after dispatching with bottom placed Brisbane by ten goals at the Gabba.
Dayne Beams left the ground thanks to a Shane Mumford bump and was unable to play the majority of the match, and from that moment it was a foregone conclusion.
66 inside-50s for GWS to Brisbane’s 42 was a telling statistic, as well as 100 gamer Dylan Shiel’s 38 possessions.
Do you remember, dear reader, in the first few seasons of Port Adelaide’s AFL history The Footy Show would claim that every match between the Power and Fremantle was for the ‘Fat Rat’s Clacker Cup’, insinuating that no-one cared about the match? Despite the multitude of upsets this year…this game was a contender for that trophy.
"On the scoreboard we lost by 10 goals, but we had lots of little wins,” said Brisbane coach Chris Fagan. Rhys Mathieson’s career-high 32 touches was one, as well as the crowd reaching five figures.
Fantasy footballers who have stuck strong with Heath Shaw in defence after his stellar year last year would not count his 29 fantasy points as a little win, despite it being his 250th match.
WESTERN BULLDOGS (15.17.107) DEFEATED NORTH MELBOURNE (16.10.106) BY 1 POINT
Every time there’s a match decided by under a goal, the AFL release the final 2 minutes of the game to stream from YouTube and their website. Each of these videos is sponsored by Tissot watches. They have got their money’s worth this year.
North Melbourne were able to tie the game at 106 apiece with just over a minute to go with a behind, and the resulting kick out found its way to Jake Stringer with only two kicks in between. North Melbourne have lost 16 of their past 20 games with a single digit final margin. Richmond must be wondering what they have to do to shake their reputation.
Ben Cunnington was the only player to collect more than 20 possessions for the Kangaroos, a statistic which seems like it would be really rare but I can’t be bothered doing the necessary research to verify. Let’s just say it’s never happened in the history of the universe.
Jack Macrae and Marcus Bontempelli were the best for the Bulldogs with 32 and 28 touches respectively, and Liam Picken’s 3.1 made him the highest scoreboard contributor.
"Any one-point result that you're on the wrong side of does (leave a sour taste in your mouth). You tend to go back and isolate certain things that let you down," Kangaroos coach Brad Scott said.
“Like all my fucking players.”
MELBOURNE (15.9.99) DEFEATED WEST COAST (14.12.96) BY 3 POINTS
I’ve been really thinking about getting a Tissot watch. I hear their build quality and workmanship is second to none.
Tom McDonald, holding off a tackle from literally every West Coast player, in the dying minutes, got boot to ball and snapped his fifth goal of the match to win the contest for Melbourne, their first victory over West Coast in their last 10 matches.
Clayton Oliver was the subject of a lot of scrutiny after milking contact more than Rivaldo at the 2002 World Cup. Rivaldo was getting ready for a corner kick when an opposition player kicked the ball to him a little harder than was polite. The ball hit him in the thigh and Rivaldo fell to the floor clutching his face. In fairness to him, the expectation that on a soccer field you would get hit on the legs with the ball is very low. It took him by surprise. Likewise, Oliver was surprised that Will Schofield had elbows and when the gentle breeze generated by one of them blew across his chin his natural reaction was to collapse faster than Richmond (editor note: change this to North Melbourne before print).
Melbourne look like they’re going to make the finals while West Coast look like they’re going to make the most of Drew Petrie and Sam Mitchell in the coming years.
GEELONG (10.14.74) DEFEATED FREMANTLE (11.6.72) BY 2 POINTS
Seriously, have you guys ever even seen a Tissot watch? They’re so luxurious and have an understated class that has no equal. I’ve ordered four. One for each arm and each leg.
Michael Walters missed a shot at goal from open play to bring Fremantle within two points but there was no time left to play as the siren sounded just as the umpire was signalling the minor score. It was heartbreaking for the Dockers who took it to Geelong all game at Geelong’s ‘fortress’.
Other stadiums described as ‘fortresses’ before this round include Adelaide Oval for the Crows and Domain Stadium for the Eagles. Based on this definition, other ‘fortresses’ may include Hitler’s bunker, Saddam Hussein’s foxhole and the house in Pakistan that Osama bin Laden used to wank in.
Geelong were without Joel Selwood for basically the whole match after he was knocked out in the first few minutes, before he awoke, ran off the field and probably yelled at his concussion to ‘fuck off’.
Tom Stewart also sustained an eye injury, Darcy Lang injured his leg and Scott Selwood had hamstring tightness. So basically Fremantle were able to defeat Patrick Dangerfield who continues to try and pull Geelong along single-handedly. It’s like if the reindeer were able to rise up against Santa Claus and, after years of servitude, forced him to pull their deadweight along as the sole sleigh-puller, while they all rode next to the toys as the elves forced Mrs Claus into a life of sex slavery.
That last bit wasn’t critical to the analogy, it’s just a personal dream.
"That is AFL footy,” said Fremantle coach Ross Lyon, or at least that’s how AFL.com are reporting it. Their punctuation may be incorrect, as I imagine he may have actually said ‘THAT is AFL footy?’.
RICHMOND (11.18.84) DEFEATED CARLTON (8.10.58) BY 28 POINTS
Why did I order so many fucking watches? That was stupid. I can’t afford four watches.
An anti-climactic game after a string of thrillers, Richmond controlled the game against a wasteful Carlton. Carlton won the clearances 35-25 but Richmond were able to capitalise on skill errors and pressured fumbles to send the ball inside their forward-50 62 times to 41.
Dustin Martin and Bryce Gibbs were the two players to reach 30 possessions for the two clubs, while Jack Riewoldt led the goalscoring with three. If you had have asked me before the game to predict the top goalscorer and the leading possession getter for each club, those three would be my guesses, so I don’t know why we even played this match.
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick admitted that the game was sloppy, but was happy with the win.
We've played better games but lost, if that makes sense.”
Yes, it makes complete sense. Games against really good teams, for example. It’s not a difficult suggestion for us to comprehend, Damien. Like all those games that you’re really, really famous for, where you somehow lose after dominating the whole game. The games sewn into the fabric of your every supporter’s being. Those games.
ST KILDA (14.19.103) DEFEATED GOLD COAST (10.12.72) BY 31 POINTS
I can’t afford these watches. I can barely afford one, let alone four. I can’t believe I’ve done this. I got carried away. I hope my wife doesn’t find out. Does anyone want to buy a Tissot watch?
They’re good, apparently. Or so I thought. I don’t know what I was thinking. A watch on each limb? Who the fuck does that? I may as well have bought shoes for my hands. A hat for my knee. Why didn’t I just buy a fucking crown for my neck? All that’s left for my neck is a noose.
Yeah, a noose. That’s the answer. All my financial problems could be solved by a noose. The debt collector can’t get me from beyond the grave! Or maybe I can jump off a bridge. I’ll jump off a bridge into the river and I’ll weigh myself down with all these fucking watches. Then when they dredge the canal they can see the life of excess I’ve irresponsibly lived and it could serve as a lesson to all those who come after.
They can call me Father Time. There’ll be stories for years to come. How the clocks all stopped when Father Time struck. Maybe my ghost could haunt the moors forevermore, the distant sound of four windswept alarms ringing from my floating water-ravaged limbs.
“Would anyone like to buy a watch?” I’ll hauntingly cry.
“I fucking hate watches.”
Jack Billings got 30 touches and Nick Riewoldt kicked three.
St Kilda have announced that they will celebrate their now officially legendary former coach, Malcolm Blight, by playing a testimonial match at Etihad Stadium later in the year.
Malcolm Blight was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame’s ‘Legends’ category at a ceremony in Adelaide earlier tonight. Blight’s most recent position in a playing or coaching capacity was at his beloved St Kilda where he successfully coached the side to three victories.
St Kilda Football Club President Peter Summers said that the club had been campaigning on Blight’s behalf for some time.
“When Malcolm came to the club we’d just had a horror season where we could only manage two wins and a draw. We needed improvement so we went for the best, and he didn’t disappoint,” said Summers.
“Malcolm led our side to three wins which, as only a cursory familiarity with the base-10 numerical system will tell you, is better than two wins. In 2000 we finished bottom, in 2001 we finished second to bottom which, again, by any metric, is an improvement.
“Malcolm managed all this in just 15 games for our club. His time here was short but his, dare I say it, legend lives on.”
Malcolm Blight was paid $1 million for his time at the Saints which was so effective the club felt that they had already received their money’s worth before the end of his first year, informing him that he didn’t have to finish the entire season.
The club was so sure that Blight’s shoes could not be filled that they replaced him with a coach who had no previous top-level coaching experience, Grant Thomas. This tradition continued for the next two coaches before finally hiring Allan Richardson who had coached Port Adelaide for one game previously, compared to Blight’s two premierships and five Grand Final appearances.
The testimonial match will be played at Etihad Stadium during the ‘rest week’ immediately preceding the 2017 AFL Finals Series. It will feature a mixture of handpicked players that Blight has coached over the years including such champions as Robert Harvey, Andrew McLeod, Barry Stoneham and Jason Traianidis.
The last of the bye rounds and the ladder once again has all teams having played an equal number of games. By now you normally have an idea of how the ladder may shape up as we move into the second half of the regular season, but not this year. Adelaide, on top, were handed their biggest loss by North Melbourne who are third from the bottom. Greater Western Sydney, second, were defeated by Carlton who are fourth from bottom. Richmond, who this year are in the top eight, have somehow managed to give their fans more heartache than any season previous.
Warwick Capper is still mental.
Round 13 wrap, coming up.
WEST COAST (11.17.83) DEFEATED GEELONG (10.10.70) BY 13 POINTS
West Coast, who play Domain Stadium like a man plays his own pool table at home (knowing which cushions rebound more, which pockets are more forgiving and how to play the slight tilt), defeated the Cats who had to travel out of Geelong for the first time in a month.
West Coast outplayed Geelong for the majority of the game despite the scoreline flattering Geelong due to some inaccurate kicking.
Luke Shuey and Andrew Gaff were the leading ballwinners for West Coast with 32 apiece while, for Geelong, Patrick Dangerfield had 34. The usually dominant Joel Selwood was largely ineffective, apart from that time when he rammed the back of Sam Mitchell’s head. It was high contact and Mitchell didn’t even raise the arm up to force it. Joel Selwood had never seen that happen before.
"We thought that we didn't really read the conditions really well,” said Geelong coach Chris Scott which looks like an acceptable sentence but the more you read it the more it frustrates.
We THOUGHT that we didn’t REALLY read the conditions REALLY well. That’s the modern day equivalent of the old ‘Single Mum With A Daughter’ lean beef television advertisement when the woman says ‘Well, sometimes the weather…’ to explain her lethargy.
ST KILDA (12.17.89) DEFEATED NORTH MELBOURNE (10.12.72) BY 17 POINTS
Not only does a Thursday night game take away from the exciting ‘opening of the round’ spectacle of a Friday night match, but games like this take away the ‘professional sportsmen being good’ spectacle of the sport.
North Melbourne were a ball of mistakes who actually led St Kilda in clearances and had similar disposal and inside-50 numbers. Jack Ziebell who had the most contested possessions for the Kangaroos with 14 operated at 50% disposal efficiency.
Seb Ross led the charge for the Saints with 32 touches while Billy Longer again took the award for ‘most pornstar name’, just edging out Mason Wood.
"We knew the Kangaroos would come,” said St Kilda coach Alan Richardson, continuing a heavy night of sexual innuendo and filth.
“I’ve come to clean the pool,” said North Melbourne’s Ben Brown, before having the door closed in his displeasing face.
SYDNEY (12.8.80) DEFEATED RICHMOND (10.11.71) BY 9 POINTS
With the exception of their round 6 loss to Adelade, the other four matches Richmond has lost have been by a single digit margin. This is, at once, humorous and heartbreaking. Richmond supporters, after years of frustrating mediocrity and a constant yearning for their team to be A Genuine Contender, have been granted a wish by the footballing gods with a side that has looked able to match it with anyone. For three quarters and 25 minutes.
It’s like the movie Bedazzled where Richmond supporters have said to the Devil ‘Look, I just want us to play competitive football’ and the Devil has decided to teach them a lesson because they never said anything about winning.
Bachar Houli and Trent Cotchin led disposals for the Tigers with 28 each in a side that dominated the first half of football, leading by 36 points during the second term. Sydney started a charge in the second half led by Dan Hanneberry who had 16 second half possessions, but Richmond’s star defender Alex Rance looked to be shutting down most of Sydney’s forward entries. Seeing this, every other Richmond player stopped.
Truthfully, if not for Rance Richmond would have lost this game much earlier. He negated most of Lance Franklin’s influence and frustrated the big man who lashed out and gave away a free kick for pushing Rance over. Of course, this may have been in retaliation to Rance doing the exact same thing to Franklin literally one second before, but we’ll never know. Still, the Rance-Franklin battle (which sounds uncomfortably like a racist accent joke) will be one that will interest everyone over the coming years, like the Jakovich-Carey battles of old, or the Law Enforcement-Carey battles of not as old.
PORT ADELAIDE (18.13.121) DEFEATED BRISBANE (12.9.81) BY 40 POINTS
AFL games that have been expected formalities this year have often surprised and shocked with underdog upsets and engaging battles. This one didn’t.
"We made some mistakes, they made some mistakes, but to come out at the end of the game with a 40-point victory, you've just got to move on,” said Power coach Ken Hinkley, whose unbridled passion and enthusiasm for the result of this game can only be described as ‘palpable’.
Ollie Wines had 29 touches and Chad Wingard kicked three goals but as Hinkley says, you’ve just got to move on.
CARLTON (12.11.83) DEFEATED GOLD COAST (11.7.73) BY 10 POINTS
Bryce Gibbs has defeated the Suns at Metricon Stadium with 43 touches, two goals, 10 tackles, seven clearances, eight marks and adding 50% difficulty to his desired move home to Adelaide.
He’s making it harder for himself, but that’s his nature. Like in the story of the scorpion and the frog, he cannot be helped. He is drowning with a frog, is what I’m saying.
Carlton led for the majority of the match and by as much as five goals on occasion, but Gold Coast were able to hit the lead in the final quarter before two steadying goals each from the reliable legs of both Gibbs and Jack Silvagni sealed the deal.
Also, one of Michael Barlow’s unreliable legs snapped in half.
"It was very poor, wasn't it?" said Suns coach Rodney Eade, referring to both the quality of his side’s performance and the feeling everyone had when they saw Barlow’s leg hanging in his sock.
With the remarkably inconsistent and even performances of all the teams this year, Carlton and the Gold Coast are now both, despite looking like absolute basket cases on occasion, only one game outside the top eight.
MELBOURNE (17.11.113) DEFEATED WESTERN BULLDOGS (8.8.56) BY 57 POINTS
The Western Bulldogs have looked lethargic, disorganised and calamitous for the second week in a row, being soundly beaten by Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.
Last week the Bulldogs only managed 6.6.42 against Sydney, to go with their 8.8.56 this week, to give a total of 14.14.98 over the last two weeks. You know how there’s that theory that the first team to reach 100 points has a statistically high chance of winning? That doesn’t apply if it’s 100 points over three games.
The Demons won every quarter, starting with a goalless first term from the Dogs. Tom Liberatore topped the possessions in his comeback game for the Dogs with 29 while Jordan Lewis had 31 for Melbourne.
To add injury to insult, Lin Jong looked to injure his knee quite badly, while Jason Johannisen again had no influence on the game. Jack Watts topped the goalscoring with three which must make Johannisen feel extra bad, because in the 2017 trio of ‘fucking awful hair dye decisions’, Jack Watts and Rory Atkins have both captured match-winning form while Johanissen has not.
If you’re going to bleach your hair a terrible blonde you want to perform, like the AFL poster boy for horrific bleached hair, Jason Akermanis. You don’t want to perform like the entertainment industry’s poster boy for horrific bleached hair, the lead singer of Smash Mouth.
“They looked a bit better across the ground and we couldn't find our footy,” said Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge, perhaps highlighting why the Western Bulldogs have failed to post competitive scores in recent weeks, as they’re mistakenly looking for their own football not realising that both teams have to use the same one.
Midway through the bye rounds and we’re just getting used to spreading all the games over the longest amount of time possible so that the supporters of teams who aren’t playing can really wallow in the long periods of uninterest and disinterest. If only Brian Taylor could constantly roam the changing rooms of our mind, interrupting our conversations and dreams to remind us that football is on and potentially stumble upon our most guarded secrets.
SYDNEY (12.16.88) DEFEATED WESTERN BULLDOGS (6.6.42) BY 46 POINTS
A pairing of teams that have somehow become traditional rivals over the last couple of years because, y’know, they played some good games against each other, and this match was not one of them.
The Bulldogs didn’t turn up and if it weren’t for some inaccurate kicking, Sydney would have made this defeat simply embarrassing. Lance Franklin kicked 3.5 for the night, so over half the Bulldogs score, and Josh Kennedy had 37 touches including a goal. Isaac Heeney and Jake Lloyd also broke the 30 possessions barrier with 31 each while Jack Macrae was the only Dog to do so.
71 inside-50s to 39 in Sydney’s favour shows the dominance they had, and Jason Johannisen’s nine touches shows the dominance he didn’t. George Hewett completely negated the Bulldogs livewire despite his explosive potential. It was like Australia’s NBN network – a quick and electrifying asset shut down by constant pressure from a private school kid living in New South Wales.
Sydney now have the best percentage outside the top eight while the Western Bulldogs sit just inside the eight on percentage. The Bulldogs will want to push in the second half of the year if they want to reach their traditional premiership winning position of top seven.
ADELAIDE (16.15.111) DEFEATED ST KILDA (7.12.54) BY 57 POINTS
One of the worst Friday night games of the season, Adelaide just slowly and methodically progressed to a comfortable win against a listless, luckless and Riewoldtless Saints.
Seb Ross’s 39 touches was a career high for him, while Rory Laird again reliably gained 34 possessions just a couple of weeks after him failing to do so cost me $800 in winnings. I was very happy for him.
"We had way too many passengers," Saints coach Alan Richardson said.
"We were badly beaten around the ball,” he continued, to which he meant a 55 metre radius around the ball at all times.
St Kilda have now lost eight of its last nine matches without Nick Riewoldt, and have a positive record of 5-3 in the games inbetween. They also only had one goalkicker to three quarter time, Josh Bruce, who finished with four.
Remember when most of the regular cast left Scrubs and they tried to prolong the life of the show with less talented but more youthful actors? It got cancelled after a year. St Kilda are looking scarily like Scrubs but thankfully without a ham-fisted moral message at the end or a distracting sound effects track. Also, I apologise to Riewoldt for comparing him to Zach Braff in this analogy.
GOLD COAST (13.17.95) DEFEATED HAWTHORN (12.7.79) BY 16 POINTS
Given that Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson felt obliged to punch an opposition supporter in seasons past when Hawthorn were at the top end of the table, every supporter must feel appreciative that he hasn’t opened the coaches’ box window and toasted everyone with a flamethrower given Hawthorn’s horrifically unpredictable and frequently disappointing current form.
Gold Coast dominated the clearances 42-27 on their way to an away-from-home victory with Gary Ablett’s 37 touches, 10 tackles and two goals.
Tom Mitchell had 39 possessions for the Hawks and Jack Gunston kicked five goals, but besides a period in the second half when Hawthorn kicked six unanswered goals, the Suns outplayed the Hawks at every turn.
"Our polish with the ball wasn't quite the standard you need against Gold Coast,” said Clarkson, elevating Gold Coast to some unique standard that is only befitting of a team that finished the round sitting in 13th place. Other champion teams that have finished in 13th place include no-one and that’s it.
The inflation of their opposition’s performance was also evident in Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade’s post-match press conference.
"Their pressure in the last quarter was as good as I've seen,” said Eade, who seems to have never seen Hawthorn play in any game of the past 5 years. Or Adelaide or Geelong this year. Or never seen AFL football in general.
BRISBANE (18.13.121) DEFEATED FREMANTLE (9.10.64) BY 57 POINTS
Despite the commentators, special comments guys and also Dermott Brereton trying to talk up Fremantle’s chances even midway through the third quarter, this game was a rout from beginning to end.
Brisbane have a midfield. Dayne Beams and Dayne Zorko are two elite players, rivalling Adelaide’s Rorys, St Kilda’s Jacks and Essendon’s Dysons (Heppell and the vacuum that cleans up the pretzel salt from the changeroom floors).
Beams had 36 touches and a goal while Zorko had 30 and two goals.
"I thought our midfield got obliterated. They couldn't get near them,” said Fremantle coach Ross Lyon, correctly.
"We need to go to the break, we need to re-assess and we need to make some changes, because we can't just roll along."
Fremantle have been just rolling along since 2015, and the changes they’ve made in that time include Matthew Pavlich retiring and nothing else. Their gameplan is the same and their personnel are the same. I had the good fortune of bumping into Tony Modra at the Adelaide v St Kilda match and he could honestly inject more dynamism into their forwardline right now than McCarthy is currently showing. Clive Waterhouse could. Dare I say it, even Chris Groom could.
A special mention also has to be made for Rhys Mathieson whose celebrations are some of the most cringe inducing celebrations I’ve seen. While many admire his enthusiasm and pluck, his celebrations just look lame. Eddie Betts with arms outstretched to his admiring fans in the pocket, Lance Franklin with a steely gaze running with his finger pointing to the stands, Jarryd Roughead pointing to the skies and purposefully nodding his head as his teammates surround him. Rhys Mathieson hyperextending his arms and prancing around with his head violently bobbing like a literal show pony that has been crossbred with a goose.
ESSENDON (19.17.131) DEFEATED PORT ADELAIDE (8.13.61) BY 70 POINTS
Essendon blew Port Adelaide away with a seven goals to one first quarter that the Power could never recover from to make their way into the top eight with only percentage separating them from fifth position.
Essendon’s forward line worked with much-maligned ‘project’ Cale Hooker kicking five goals, star Joe Daniher and club favourite Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti kicking four each and Hooker and Daniher taking 18 marks between them.
Cale Hooker was so dominant in the first half that Ken Hinkley had to change his opponent from Jack Hombsch to Troy Clurey which confused Cale Hooker immensely. He’d never had a defensive opponent switched on him mid-game and so for a moment he thought he’d travelled through a portal to a different dimension like in that show Sliders, but instead Port Adelaide were just changing their personnel to try and hold off their imminent destruction, like they did with the cast in that show Sliders. It didn’t work, like in that show, Scrubs.
"It was really good pressure on them and we were obviously getting the ball forward quick, (but) I certainly didn't expect to be that far in front at quarter-time,” said Essendon coach John Worsfold, which is a really nice way of saying ‘holy hell, we’re not that good’.
CARLTON (10.11.71) DEFEATED GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY (9.16.70) BY 1 POINT
A wonderfully tense game that made you forget how mediocre the rest of the round was, Carlton overcame premiership contenders Greater Western Sydney thanks to a voodoo curse placed on Toby Greene.
Greene kicked 0.5 for the day including a running shot for goal in the final minutes that looked like a shot for goal from one of the under-12’s matches I see on the way to my train on a Saturday morning. It was bizarre for an AFL footballer. He followed it up with a pass to absolutely no one deep in the pocket in the final minute. It’s like his feet were being controlled independently from the rest of his body, like in the game Octodad.
Just to confirm, by the way, I have to go past the underage matches to get to my train station at that time for work. I don’t stop and I certainly don’t take pictures. That would be ludicrous.
Matthew Kreuzer put on a commanding performance in his 150th match with 33 hit outs, 21 disposals and even eight tackles from the big man. Sam Docherty led the disposals with 35.
MELBOURNE (15.14.104) DEFEATED COLLINGWOOD (15.10.100) BY 4 POINTS
Melbourne have overcome a 28 point deficit in the second quarter to beat the in-form Magpies on the Queen’s birthday, which is fitting because, without any evidence or statistics, Melbourne definitely have the most monarchist fans.
This public holiday has now, with inspiration from Neale Daniher, become a traditional Motor Neurone Disease fundraising day with the ‘Freeze’ promotion in which celebrities slide into an ice bath for the charity.
Collingwood decided to ‘freeze’ in the third quarter, conceding six goals to two (editor’s note: LOLOLOL GOOD ONE).
The possessions were evenly spread for the Demons with eight players collecting between 21-26 touches, while for the Magpies Steele Sidebottom was the only man to break 30. Jack Watts and Christian Petracca kicked three goals each, including the sealer from the former.
“The siren went at the wrong time,” said Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley, although the final siren very rarely goes in the second quarter.
That still doesn’t stop hilarious fans, however, calling for the timekeeper to ‘blow the bloody siren’ whenever their team is in front and they’re not confident of holding the lead. At that point they look around to the surrounding supporters who look over and chuckle while the jokester takes a sip from their thermos and waits for death.
Only six games this week, or five and a half if you don’t count Hawthorn’s first half, so it’s a short, sharp one.
Let’s do it. Round 11.
PORT ADELAIDE (13.20.98) DEFEATED HAWTHORN (7.5.47) BY 51 POINTS
This was Hawthorn’s worst first half of football of all time. It was painful to watch. The last time a club looked so far from the mark over an entire half of football was back in the final days of Fitzroy when their last two seasons saw a win-loss record of 3-39. Even then they only failed to kick a goal in the first half once, against Essendon in 1995 when they didn’t score at all.
I guess what I’m saying is that Hawthorn are worse than Fitzroy were and that just proves that Hawthorn should have been part of a merger all those years ago because, as history has shown, it’s just been a constant procession of failure since then.
A lot of commentators and pundits have said that Port Adelaide let their foot off the pedal in the second half, which may be true, but Port Adelaide kicked 4.12 in the second half compared to 7.2 for Hawthorn. They still had 16 scoring shots to 9 and if they’d kicked straighter it could have easily been a 100 point margin.
Charlie Dixon rebounded brilliantly from his final quarter hiccup against Geelong to kick four goals and collect 20 possessions, including eight marks and six tackles. For Hawthorn, (editor: Look up something Hawthorn did and insert before print. There has to have been something, right?).
“We couldn't have had a worse start," Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson said, in another shameful attempt from an AFL representative to erase Fitzroy from history.
The game also saw the first time Port Adelaide have kept a team scoreless in the first quarter, which is understandable because the Power played their first game in 1997 and Fitzroy played their last in 1996.
God, Fitzroy were shit.
GEELONG (13.18.96) DEFEATED ADELAIDE (10.14.74) BY 22 POINTS
Adelaide can’t beat Geelong. Adelaide especially can’t beat Geelong at Kardinia Park. The last time Adelaide beat Geelong in Geelong was in 2003, when Gary Ayres was coach. Ayres understood the gravity of an Adelaide win in Geelong as is evidenced by this level-headed reaction to a three-point win there in 2002.
Adelaide succumbed to superior ball pressure and a tougher attack on contested possession, with Joel Selwood the perfect example collecting 35 touches including 21 contested with his head leaking blood.
Rory Sloane was again shut down which has been a common thread in Adelaide’s three losses. Tom Hawkins may be in trouble for a jumper punch very shortly after the AFL announced they were taking a harsher stance on jumper punches, which has been a common thread in people with eyes so close together.
It’s one of those games that makes it very hard to judge where the teams are at because Adelaide never play well in Geelong, and Geelong have had three games in a row at their stadium so they’re in peak condition. Apart from Selwood whose head is still dripping.
GOLD COAST (11.14.80) DEFEATED WEST COAST (11.11.77) BY 3 POINTS
“OK Colin, you haven’t put in your tips for this week!”
“Oh, right. Well, West Coast are objectively better than Gold Coast so they should walk this in…
...wait, where’s the game? Do West Coast have to fly beyond Adelaide? They do? Here, bring the sheet back over.”
This was Gold Coast’s first ever win again West Coast which is surprising given that the Gold Coast has always been on the opposite side of the country to Perth.
Gary Ablett had 36 touches and was uncontainable in his return match from a shoulder complaint, while Sam Mitchell had 33 for West Coast, a player that the Eagles can really build their future around.
Gold Coast won the contested possession count for the fourth time this year. This was also their fourth win. Try and guess if there’s a correlation between those two statistics…hint: there is.
“We haven't been able to close it out last week or this week. We need to find a way,” said West Coast coach Adam Simpson. One way may have been that guy that stands at the front and kicks all the goals, but he’s injured so I think you may be shit out of luck until he gets back.
Another way might be to get an injection of pace and exuberance in the midfield. I’ve been hearing heaps about some gun midfielder called Ben Cousins who used to play over in WA. Maybe they should look into him.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY (18.9.117) DEFEATED ESSENDON (15.11.101) BY 16 POINTS
Remember in Rocky Balboa, the sixth Rocky film, when Rocky is an old grizzled man who’s been out of the game for a little while but he has a fight against the plucky, young champion who’s just hitting his prime?
In the film, Rocky gives a respectable performance and leaves the fight happy, despite ultimately losing while the young victor has a hollow victory that doesn’t really teach him anything about himself.
That was this game.
Brendon Goddard celebrated his 300th game by being a lovable guy who’s been around the block trying his best but still struggling to find success. He threw a tantrum in the rooms and knocked a bowl of food on the floor in a fit of rage, so he’s susceptible to flights of anger and will often blame those close to him, but at the end of the day he’ll be there for you.
So he’s Paulie.
In this comparison, so far, Essendon is Rocky Balboa, GWS is Mason Dixon and Brendon Goddard is Paulie. I haven’t yet mentioned Josh Kelly, who almost single-handedly won this game with 38 touches, 10 tackles, a goal and three goal assists.
So, I guess that would make Josh Kelly ‘Dutch’, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character in Predator. It’s a different film franchise but it still checks out.
“He's a very good player (but) we weren't prepared to just put a straight stopper on him,” said Bombers coach John Worsfold about Kelly.
“I mean, when the meteor is headed for Earth in Armageddon, do they send a crew to try and stop it? No, they don’t. They let it hit the Earth and everyone dies, and we took a lesson from that.”
RICHMOND (14.17.101) DEFEATED NORTH MELBOURNE (9.12.66) BY 35 POINTS
Richmond may actually be a genuinely good side. They’re 7-4 after 11 matches, and of the four games they’ve lost only one of them has been by more than a goal. Some may argue that really good sides don’t lose close matches, but I also argue that not good sides lose all their matches, often by lots. I am a sports expert.
Dustin Martin was clearly the best, and often looked like he was just turning it on when he needed to, which is scary. 38 touches, nine clearances, two goals and six tackles. To put that in perspective, for North Melbourne, Jarrad Waite was shit.
When the game was in the balance and Waite was clear on goal directly in front from 25 metres out he opted for a dribble kick. Given that I’m writing about it, we all know how this story ends. North coach Brad Scott looked like someone had stolen a delicious spoonful of soup on its way to his mouth as he looked around in disbelief, anger and sadness.
When Todd Goldstein tried to snap a goal on his left boot in the dying minutes from 15 metres out and missed everything, Scott laughed. He laughed in the way Donnie Darko laughs as he waits for the plane to kill him.
"We got slaughtered in the centre bounces 18-8 with what should have been a dominant ruckman, we got outworked in transition, we were terrible with our ball use going forward (and) we succumbed to pressure,” said Scott.
"There wasn't much to like about tonight,” he continued, besides the fact that he was able to figure out how to most effectively use Dustin Martin in his own team’s line-up next year.
COLLINGWOOD (15.15.105) DEFEATED FREMANTLE (12.13.85) BY 20 POINTS
Collingwood kicked the last four goals of the game to defeat Fremantle in WA despite every Magpie on the field being injured.
Daniel Wells injured his calf, Jamie Elliott did his ankle, Tyson Goldsack did his shoulder and Levi Greenwood had a corkie.
The final quarter, when it was in the balance, saw the second tier of players step up with Will Hoskin-Elliott having a stellar quarter, while Fremantle’s players made costly errors, like Bradley Hill’s open goal miss from 20 metres out directly in front on the run.
Without a word of a lie, after seeing Goldstein and Waite’s terrible goal attempts for the Kangaroos, and Hill’s guff for the Dockers, I took my wife and the dog down to the oval today to kick the football for the first time in about 8 years. If you discount the speed they were travelling at compared to how fast I can run, discount the lack of pressure and discount the fact that I wasn’t using a regulation football, I can safely say with hand on heart…
‘I could have kicked those.’
“I thought we were a bit helter-skelter with our ball use - a lack of composure,” said Fremantle coach Ross Lyon. I’m here if you need, Ross.