This week we had the top nine teams playing the bottom nine, which should result in some high scores for tipping. This year, however, has been like no other and even with the ladder as it was, you would have been better off just flipping a coin, or reading tea leaves, or buying an octopus and forcing it to make predictions wildly outside its area of expertise.
My octopus got eight out of nine this week.
Well done, Orville.
Round 19, you spineless mollusc.
HAWTHORN (10.12.72) DEFEATED SYDNEY (9.12.66) BY 6 POINTS
Hawthorn, to the fury of everyone, refuses to give up their finals hopes defeating the in-form Sydney for the second time this season by a one kick margin.
It was at times an angry affair, with Lance Franklin twice taking the opportunity to hit former teammate Luke Hodge in the head without committing an act bad enough to be reported for. First it was a very strong push that was towards Hodge’s chest but ‘accidentally’ went high. Second was a foolishly clumsy tackle attempt that resulted in a forearm to the back of Hodge’s head.
It was like watching the footballing equivalent of a man beating his wife with a phone book so as not to leave a bruise. Or his kids. Who the man is beating is not really important for the analogy to work.
Hawthorn won the inside-50 count 49-43 and had a +10 contested possession differential, which one would say is enough for a goal advantage. Liam Shiels topped the possessions with 28 but it was a very even spread with eight players getting 20+ possessions for the Hawks and four players kicking two goals each. Roughead stood up in the final quarter with 12 touches in a game total of 24.
A mild level of controversy in the final quarter as well with Liam Shiels claiming a soccered goal that went to a score review to see if the ball had touched a Sydney hand. The vision was inconclusive, which every person could have predicted before it was even replayed, which left John Longmire asking after the game if we could have replay footage that’s a bit better than the quality of footage commonly referred to on the Internet as ‘potato’. Whatever is one up from potato, at least. Sweet potato, probably. They’re taking over the chip world, despite being objectively worse tasting.
NORTH MELBOURNE (11.10.76) DEFEATED MELBOURNE (10.12.72) BY 4 POINTS
Melbourne hasn’t beaten North Melbourne in 11 years, and North Melbourne are famously terrible at winning close matches so we all looked on in bewildered anticipation as this game went down to the wire.
You know that joke about how cats always land on their feet, and buttered toast always lands buttered-side down, so if you strap a piece of buttered toast to the back of a cat and dropped them they would just hover, constantly spinning, above the ground? One wondered if this would be the same, with the Kangaroos and Demons kicking it back and forth to each other in the centre square for all eternity.
Ben Brown was at his loping best with four goals, while Luke McDonald’s pressure was immense with 10 tackles. For Melbourne, Clayton Oliver tried his best with 33 touches and 12 tackles, but even his 26 contested possessions, the second highest tally this year, weren’t enough.
“It’s what you build really strong clubs on,” said North Melbourne coach Brad Scott, beating a side in Tasmania that you haven’t lost to in over a decade.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY (13.20.98) DEFEATED FREMANTLE (13.8.86) BY 12 POINTS
GWS have come from behind in the last quarter to earn a much-needed win against Fremantle in a game that was filled with mistakes, like an orphanage.
Inaccurate kicking kept Fremantle in touching distance until the end, with the 12 point margin coming all from behinds. This is in direct contrast to most Fremantle matches, where Fremantle normally kick like a whole team of Daryl Pooles.
Nat Fyfe had 31 possessions and kicked two goals for Fremantle, who he has recently committed himself to for a few more years. GWS looked like they missed Toby Greene who was suspended and, by the way he’s played over his career, looks like something he has committed himself to for a few more years.
"There's no doubt that to compete with Adelaide, Geelong, Port, Richmond, Melbourne and so on, and I've probably missed a couple, we need to improve,” said Giants coach Leon Cameron. Over in Victoria, the Melbourne fans collectively said “aww, he remembered us”.
PORT ADELAIDE (9.9.63) DEFEATED ST KILDA (8.13.61) BY 2 POINTS
Three quarters of horrific, boring, error-riddled football followed by one quarter of still error-riddled football but with scoring, Port Adelaide have kicked two goals in the final minute to snatch a win from St Kilda.
Port Adelaide fans were streaming out of the stadium when their side went 10 points down with two minutes remaining. Port Adelaide’s ‘Never Tear Us Apart’, ‘never say die’, ‘March From The Mall’ supporters thought “screw this” and left when the game was still in the balance.
I get that every team has supporters that leave early, but very few teams have so many modern-day traditions designed to show fan dedication and solidarity. Port Adelaide fans have long-abused their Crows supporting counterparts, saying they’re old, go quiet when their team is losing, spend all their time knitting, etc. Moments like this, and images of Football Park when attendance was so low they had to block out entire bays of seating, just remind some that people in glass houses shouldn’t drink West End.
As far as stats go, Paddy Ryder won a tap and Robbie Gray kicked a goal.
"Good player, isn't he," Power coach Ken Hinkley said about Ryder, which roughly translates as “thank fuck we’ve got him because this season would be toast without him”.
RICHMOND (14.14.98) DEFEATED GOLD COAST (10.5.65) BY 33 POINTS
Richmond stay in the top four after defeating a Gold Coast side that has so many injuries they asked Warwick Capper to play because he lives nearby.
Ah Chee was concussed, Sexton was concussed, Ainsworth did his knee, Witts hurt his foot and shoulder but played on while Fiorini played on with a hamstring strain. Ablett, Barlow, Kolodjashnij, Matera, Thompson, Day, Lyons and a host of others sat on the sidelines.
Dustin Martin had 34 touches while Rioli, Castagna and Nankervis kicked three goals each for the Tigers. They had 45 inside-50s to Gold Coast’s 34, despite Aaron Hall’s best efforts with 40 disposals.
"We probably had eight or nine missing from our best team, so to be able to do what they did, I was extremely proud of them,” said Suns coach Rodney Eade, who many are saying may not be the best coaching fit for the team, but it must be hard when every game is like an episode of Roadrunner and Coyote. Where every effort to thwart the opposition ends with an injury like a torn hamstring, or a ruptured shoulder, or a stick of dynamite exploding in their shorts.
GEELONG (18.15.123) DEFEATED CARLTON (8.10.58) BY 65 POINTS
Worrying signs for Carlton who, while not expected to win this match, failed to maintain the pressure and intensity for which they’ve been admired for the second week in a row.
Tom Hawkins was at his best, some suggesting a ‘best’ that he has previously not shown. He had 27 touches and kicked six goals, which is up there with some of the great individual performances this year of players like Selwood, Ablett, Gray or Walters.
Patrick Dangerfield’s Brownlow hopes are on shaky ground after a tackle that saw Carlton’s Matthew Kreuzer concussed. It was a strong tackle that pinned the arms and took Kreuzer to ground. You know, like a good tackle, but Kreuzer hit his head in this one so it was a bad tackle.
"I think what you're seeing is a club that's in contention versus a club that's in its second year of a reset and on a different path right now," Carlton coach Brendon Bolton said. Really, there is only one path which is to a premiership, and the more accurate statement would have been that Geelong are much further down that path. If they were on a different path they would have been playing netball or something, which I guess they almost were.
WESTERN BULLDOGS (19.13.127) DEFEATED ESSENDON (13.19.97) BY 30 POINTS
Joe Daniher tried his best but couldn’t drag Essendon over the line against a Western Bulldogs side that was able to execute possession in a way it has struggled to do for a lot of the season in a free-flowing match by turning it over slightly less than Essendon.
Daniher kicked six goals while for the Bulldogs Jason Johannisen was able to continue his return to form with four.
It was the Bulldogs’ ability to win the clearances, 36-22, that saw them finish on top in what was a close match for most of the day, with there only being one goal the difference as late as the final term.
"No doubt it was a manic game and a really turnover orientated game,” said Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge.
"It was a pretty frenetic game and both teams were prepared to go really fast, which does mean there is a higher risk of turnovers," said Essendon coach John Worsfold.
“I hate apple turnovers!” said Brendon Goddard before angrily slamming his after-match snack into a passing child’s face.
The Bulldogs now sit ninth, separated from sixth only by percentage, while Orazio Fantasia sits at home, separated only from Brian Taylor by a restraining order.
COLLINGWOOD (15.13.103) DREW WITH ADELAIDE (16.7.103)
The third draw of the season and to many the most exciting, Adelaide have come back from 50 points down in the third quarter to salvage two premiership points with a goal after the siren.
Forever Crow Mitch McGovern took a trademark pack mark (trackmark?) with a second remaining and kicked true to complete the comeback.
Collingwood dominated the heel-footed and inefficient Crows in the first half, with Daniel Wells playing his best game for the club with 34 touches and three goals, equalling Taylor Adams’ tally. Matt Crouch had 36 touches for Adelaide, while Mitch McGovern’s four goals was their best.
While both team shared the points, Adelaide finished the much happier with many counting them out of the contest in the third quarter. Collingwood hit the post twice in the last quarter and the frustration on Nathan Buckley’s face after the siren was apparent. Well, it wasn’t immediately apparent, because his head was in his hands, holding on as firmly as a McGovern brother holds a speccy.
"When we tried to go a little faster we tried to put a fire out by putting petrol on it, basically through the third quarter and early into the last," Buckley said, forgetting that Adelaide runs out at Adelaide Oval surrounded by literal flames and that their supporters bring flares to the ground.
"I always think were a chance and I encouraged the players to keep believing and hanging in there and sometimes it changes," said Adelaide coach Don Pyke.
“They’re just a bunch of small-town boys, and we’re looking forward to the midnight train home. Sometimes we’ll win, sometimes we’ll lose, sometimes we’ll sing the blues, but we’ll always hold onto that feeling.”
WEST COAST (17.11.113) DEFEATED BRISBANE (6.9.45) BY 68 POINTS
Josh Kennedy kicked six and Andrew Gaff touched it 30 times.
Dayne Beams touched it 41 times.
I touched it three times just to check I could still feel anything.
"Flat-track bullies, are we?" Eagles coach Adam Simpson challenged at the post-match press conference. Beating the bottom team at home is not the time to challenge that assertion, Adam.
It seems like I barely have time to have a shit and a shave before the next round of football is upon us! I’m serious, I’m in constant pain and my beard is to my navel.
ADELAIDE (13.13.91) DEFEATED GEELONG (10.10.70) BY 21 POINTS
Dangerfield recovered from an exploded leg and Sloane recovered from a decapitation to face off in a top of the table Friday night clash that saw Adelaide run out winners in convincing fashion.
Adelaide were far cleaner in possession, often managing to extricate themselves from tricky positions with a quickfire series of handpasses. Meanwhile, Geelong looked often like patients in physical rehabilitation after losing spatial awareness and hand-eye coordination with the amount of balls they fumbled and mishandled.
Rory Sloane, as mentioned, overcame a complete frontal lobotomy within a week to register 28 touches, three goals and seven tackles in a best on ground performance. Harry Taylor tried to lift the Cats to victory with five second half goals but despite Adelaide’s terrible kicking for goal (they kicked 0.8 with their last eight scoring shots, right after Bruce McAvaney complimented their goal-kicking accuracy, because he exhibits powers of voodoo), Adelaide were able to keep the margin comfortable.
Not content with allowing the top two sides to have the spotlight, the umpires also thought they’d make a mark by awarding 61 free kicks, probably the most in the history of the universe.
"We were minus 19 clearances at three-quarter time, that was the biggest reason we were six or seven goals down,” said Geelong coach Chris Scott. I’m sceptical that the biggest reason for the goal discrepancy was Adelaide getting the ball away from stoppages. I think the bigger reason may have been Adelaide getting the ball through the goals.
ESSENDON (20.12.132) DEFEATED NORTH MELBOURNE (16.9.105) BY 27 POINTS
Five goals from Cale Hooker has got Essendon across the line against a North Melbourne side that came out strong but couldn’t hold on, like the final minutes of Hans Gruber’s life.
Hooker was well supported by the twin un-towers of Orazio Fantasia and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti who kicked four and three goals respectively.
Essendon dominated the clearances 50-27, with Zach Merrett contributing nine by himself.
The main talking point of this match was Brad Scott going ballistic on the phone to Majak Daw, who had been outmuscled in a contest. To be fair, Majak Daw is the strongest and fastest man in the AFL, and he gets tossed around like a rag doll. His strength is his biggest strength, and he doesn’t use it. Brad Scott’s strength is his anger and if he didn’t use it he’d be a hypocrite. Imagine how angry Daw would have been if instead of getting yelled at by Brad Scott, he got coached and his team’s game plan was tactically tightened.
MELBOURNE (13.10.88) DEFEATED PORT ADELAIDE (9.11.65) BY 23 POINTS
Melbourne kept Port Adelaide goalless for the majority of the first half to set up a commanding lead that the Power was never able to overcome, securing their spot in the top eight for another week.
Melbourne applied a contested pressure that has been missing in various games throughout this season but is undoubtedly one of their great strengths.
What is amazing is, after 20 years of competition, how Port Adelaide games can still inspire headline writers everywhere to use their team name, the ‘Power’, in never tiring play-on-words. ‘Power outage’! ‘Port Adelaide Power-less!’ Port Adelaide lose against a top eight side again because they lack Power!’. Clever stuff.
Michael Hibberd had 36 possessions and Clayton Oliver 30 to command control, with the latter picking up 20 contested possessions. Travis Boak did his best to lead his team with 24 touches and four goals but his Power of influence were Powerless against the Power of Melbourne who were Demons-trably better.
"It was probably the way we played (that was most pleasing),” said Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin, helpfully.
"We were just totally outplayed,” said Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley, corroborating claims.
WESTERN BULLDOGS (16.14.110) DEFEATED GOLD COAST (8.8.56) BY 54 POINTS
A nine-goal thrashing of the Suns has come at the right time for the Bulldogs who have been looking for a game to jumpstart their season back into life after languishing mid-table for the better part of the year.
Liam Picken kicked six goals in the Bulldogs’ first win outside of Victoria this year, in the famous stronghold of Cairns.
The Ablett-less Suns had no midfield spark, while Lachie Hunter collected 31 possessions for the Dogs.
There’s nothing of any note to report here. If you can’t beat an Ablett-less Suns at what is essentially a neutral ground, there would be alarm bells ringing. Even the AFL website’s match report has no comment from Luke Beveridge on the game’s result, instead quoting him on how sad it is for Dale Morris, who broke his arm in a marking contest.
"It's a pretty serious injury,” said Beveridge.
SYDNEY (14.17.101) DEFEATED ST KILDA (9.5.59) BY 42 POINTS
Sydney were given a 0% chance of making the finals after their 0-6 start, and now they have a 150% chance of making the finals after finishing the round 10-7, which just highlights exactly how fallible maths is.
Kurt Tippett kicked five goals in the curtain-raiser, putting up his hand for selection with Callum Sinclair looking like the man most likely to make way. At this, Callum Sinclair said ‘hold my beer’, like in that internet meme, and kicked five of his own, then probably did the Harlem Shake. He wasn’t a grumpy cat!
It was a great team performance from Sydney who have almost 22 even contributors who are coming together with great cooperation and belief. Like the opposite of the Republican party in America.
Memes and politics, I’m scraping here.
"Our 18-man defence was pretty strong for the entire game, the opposition is always going to have a turn at some point, but I though we pushed back pretty well and our work was first rate,” said Sydney coach John Longmire, but with an 18-man defence as well as Franklin and Sinclair up forward that equals 20 men, so he may have given up his side’s secret weapon – cheating.
"Sydney's defence was outstanding. We just struggled to get through,” said Saints coach Alan Richardson, but when the other team have 25 men on the field, it’s hard.
"Given we only had 37 entries, I wouldn't blame the forwards.”
37 entries is a very low number, but navigating the 38 players Sydney had on the field was always going to require precision and their execution just wasn’t up to it. Sydney, with their 62-man zone, were able to rebound quickly and efficiently, which will make it tough for Kurt Tippett to find a man to replace in next week’s 116-man squad.
HAWTHORN (15.10.100) DEFEATED FREMANTLE (7.6.48) BY 52 POINTS
Pavlich is gone, Walters is now injured, McCarthy can’t hold a mark and Ross Lyon is coach. That Fremantle managed seven goals at all is a miracle.
The Dockers look like a team without a goal. Well, without many literal goals, most games, but in a more ideological sense it’s hard to see where they’re heading.
The Dockers languished at the bottom of the ladder last year and their fellow cellar-dwellers (Brisbane, Essendon, Carlton, and so on) are all making definite steps towards a culture and a game plan that looks, potentially, to be moving them towards success in coming years. Fremantle look like, to give an appropriate maritime analogy, they’re on the Titanic moving slowly towards the iceberg. However, unlike the Titanic, they can see it ahead of time, they can plan to avoid it, they can steer around it, but instead they’ve chosen to try and duck under it, betraying the laws of buoyancy and the ill-equipped nature of their ship to act like a submarine.
Tom Mitchell again topped the possession count with 37 touches including 78 handballs, while Jack Gunston also chipped in with 35 touches to give Alistair Clarkson a win in his 300th game as coach.
“Irrespective of ladder positions it's always a tough game in Perth, and we are really pleased with the way the boys went about it,” said Clarkson, which was a telling statement as prior to the match Fremantle were actually ahead of Hawthorn on the ladder. Only mathematically, though.
RICHMOND (9.10.64) DEFEATED GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY (6.9.45) BY 19 POINTS
In a low-scoring wet-weather affair, Richmond out-muscled and out-pressured GWS to claim the victory despite being held goalless in the first term.
Richmond held their position in the top four, now a game ahead of the fifth-placed Power, and equalled GWS on points after GWS failed to win in their fifth game of their last six.
Dustin Martin pushed his contract negotiation figure higher again, if possible, with a 31 possession performance when most were struggling to deal with the conditions. Nick Vlastuin was valuable down back for the Tigers with 21 disposals including 11 marks and his rebound was pivotal.
Toby Greene was once again thrust into the spotlight for something other than his play, with the mini, Snickers-less, Joe Pesci wannabe reported for striking Alex Rance in the first quarter.
“It flattens you,” said Giants coach Leon Cameron, describing his reaction to seeing Toby Greene again show a violent lack of restraint, and describing Greene’s intentions towards everyone who makes fun of his 12 year-old haircut.
Steve Johnson also tried punching Alex Rance later in the game, but he tried to punch him in the stomach which meant he just broke his hand.
"I was really impressed with Trent and Dustin and Alex and Jack,” said Richmond coach Damien Hardwick, which is like Phil Jackson saying, at the height of the Chicago Bulls, that he’s really impressed with Jordan, Pippen and Rodman. Yeah, I think they may be good players, Damien.
COLLINGWOOD (13.15.93) DEFEATED WEST COAST (13.7.85) BY 8 POINTS
Oh boy. West Coast conceded five goals to one in the final term to be overrun by Collingwood.
Jordan de Goey kicked four goals, all in the second half, and Adam Treloar collected 35 possessions to overpower a West Coast team that seemingly can’t win away, or at home, or against a side outside the eight with a four goal head start with 20 minutes to play.
"We were able to hang in there and that was enough," Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said, a perfect allegory for his coaching tenure.
Controversy in the final minutes, however, when Jeremy McGovern was judged to have infringed on Ben Reid in a marking contest by simply ‘being at the same venue’, resulting in a direct kick and goal for the Magpies player, sealing the win.
It’s obvious that Jeremy McGovern is not a natural fit in West Coast’s backline and he should really come to Adelaide to play with his brother, Mitch (said by an Adelaide supporter trying to flip the narrative of Mitch returning to Perth, and who witnessed Geelong fans cheering Dangerfield on in his last game for the Crows at Kardinia Park, knowing he would go to Geelong, after years and years of unsuccessfully trying the same thing with Matthew Pavlich and Bryce Gibbs).
BRISBANE (17.10.112) DEFEATED CARLTON (11.16.82) BY 30 POINTS
Brisbane are disgusting. They’re on the bottom of the ladder, they’ve had years without success, their crowd numbers are poor but yet for some reason their youngsters (Hipwood, Mathieson, Cox, etc.) actually seem to be enjoying playing football.
Brisbane, thanks to a monster first half where they kicked 12 goals to three, have moved to within percentage of avoiding the wooden spoon.
Dayne Beams had 30 touches, Dayne Zorko had 26 touches, and both kicked three goals. Tom Rockliff, the one I chose for my Fantasy team, had 10 touches and kicked no goals.
Brisbane had 381 disposals to Carlton’s 292, and despite the inside-50s being practically even, Brisbane were able to run the ball and move it to much greater effect. Bryce Gibbs only had eight touches, which just proves that he’s not a natural fit in Carlton’s midfield and he should really come back to Adelaide to play with Jeremy McGovern, his not at all brother.
"Our guys, like usual, showed character and fought really hard,” said Carlton coach Brendon Bolton, worried at the growing budget required for all the ‘Best Team Man’ and ‘Most Improved’ trophies he’s going to have to give out.
North Melbourne coach Brad Scott has been criticised after footage has surfaced of what looks like an over-reactive torrent of abuse directed at a 3 year old child.
Scott’s anger appeared to be triggered when cameras focussed on a young spectator who felt it appropriate to put tomato sauce on the donut he was eating, a situation that drew the attention of the game’s commentators who referred to the incident jokingly.
Scott was less jovial, and immediately contacted one of his players, Majak Daw, to pass on a message to the youngster. While no audio has been made available of Scott’s outburst, ASW has shown the footage to lip-reading experts who have offered the following interpretation of what Scott may have said.
“Listen up Majak! You find that f___ing kid, and you tell him that in my country, we don’t put f___ing sauce on f___ing donuts, ok!? You push his f___ing dad out the way and you tell him that if I see him grab that sauce one more time, I’m coming down there!! COME ON MAJ!”
While North Melbourne have not made Scott or Daw available for comment, ASW have managed to contact the child, who we have decided to keep anonymous for his own safety.
“My dad said I could have a donut, and they had sprinkles on it, but then my dad didn’t eat a donut, but he said I could! Dad likes sauce, too, when we have dinner but mummy didn’t come ‘cos she didn’t…I have a car and it’s at home but it’s the same colour with my dad’s one,” said the boy.
The boy has been banned from attending AFL fixtures for life.
Just days after Kane Cornes accused Patrick Dangerfield of regularly 'exaggerating injuries' on the football field, Cornes has announced that he suspects Dangerfield of exaggerating other facets of his footballing career.
Dangerfield sustained a lower leg injury in Geelong's match against Hawthorn on Saturday, prompting Cornes to claim on the Sunday Footy Show that Dangerfield has a habit of 'exaggerating injuries'. Dangerfield responded yesterday by holding a press conference with deliberately excessive bandages and medical apparatus, sarcastically playing up to the accusations.
Cornes, who was the first AFL player to be investigated for staging, has now told ASW that Dangerfield has greatly exaggerated most of his footballing achievements, too. In an email correspondence, Cornes provided a list of his perceived Dangerfield embellishments, which we have collected in bulletpoint form.
While Dangerfield has so far appeared to take the accusations in good humour, many football experts and fans are worried about the possible escalation of the Cornes-Dangerfield feud.
One Geelong fan expressed concern in the lead-up to his team's next match on Friday night.
"It's not Dangerfield that I'm worried about," said the fan, who asked to remain anonymous.
"It's what he might do to Cornes if he snaps. Did you know that Paddy (Dangerfield) is the greatest kung fu master in the world, and used to work as a secret agent for the UN? Once he killed six men using only his mind. At least that's what he told me."
Dangerfield will undergo further tests throughout the week to see if he will be able to play against Adelaide on Friday.
I LIKE FOOTY A WHOLE BUNCH,
I LIKE FOOTY MORE THAN LUNCH!
I LIKE FOOTY WHEN THEY KICK,
I EVEN LIKE FOOTY WHEN I’M SICK!
I LIKE FOOTY WHEN I’M WEARING SOCKS,
I LIKE FOOTY, I THINK IT ROCKS!
I LIKE FOOTY, OH YES I DO,
I LIKE FOOTY MORE THAN YOU!
I LIKE FOOTY MORE THAN LIFE,
I LIKE FOOTY MORE THAN MY WIFE!
BUT THERE’S ONE THING ABOUT FOOTY I WOULDN’T MISS,
Round 17, you frothy toads.
ESSENDON (17.16.118) DEFEATED ST KILDA (7.15.57) BY 61 POINTS
The wild rollercoaster ride that is season 2017 continues, but it’s a roller coaster ride where you can’t see the track ahead of you, the people running the ride don’t know where the track goes, no-one knows how to secure you in the carriage and somehow the carriages keep changing order.
Basically it’s like a ride at the Royal Adelaide Show.
St Kilda, fresh from their demolition of top 4 Richmond, were demolished by Essendon, who admittedly are on the way back up after being beaten by the bottom side two rounds previous.
Zach Merrett had 37 touches and David Zaharakis continued his great recent form with 32. Joe Daniher kicked four goals which was greatly helped by Essendon’s 61-44 inside-50 count, and his ability to use Jake Carlisle like Wonderwoman uses her shield in order to kill Nazis. Wonderwoman kills Nazis, not Daniher. Although I don’t think he’s a sympathiser. That’s highly doubtful.
"I've seen this group improving across the year," said Essendon coach John Worsfold, confirming that he is watching.
"There's no doubt our footy over the last three or four weeks has been better than what it was in the first four weeks of the year … so we have improved throughout the year,” he continued, including their loss to Brisbane in that timeframe, and immediately throwing doubt over whether he’s been watching EVERY week.
GEELONG (13.10.88) DEFEATED HAWTHORN (12.13.85) BY 3 POINTS
Luke Hodge’s 300th game after announcing his plans to retire was always going to be one filled with emotion.
When Dangerfield went down with a leg injury in the first quarter it looked like Hawthorn may have been able to take advantage. Then Dangerfield moved to full forward and kicked five goals to seemingly carry the Cats to victory! He had a chance to put the game beyond doubt with roughly two minutes to go, but hit the post!
Step up Luke Hodge who, with great poise and skill, kicked a goal from near on 50m to bring the game within a kick! You couldn’t write a script like this!
Although you could, because they reused the script from last year when Isaac Smith missed with the last kick of the game to lose to Geelong. Lazy screenwriting. Overused tropes.
Tom Mitchell had 43 touches including 27 handballs. He’s like Wayne Gretzky. In ice hockey they count goals and assists as ‘points’ when compiling individual statistics. If you eliminated all of Gretzky’s goals, he would still have more ‘points’ than anyone else in the NHL. Tom Mitchell has 578 touches this year, 351 of which are handballs. 351 disposals would place him above Jobe Watson, or Heath Shaw, or Dayne Beams, or 10 Aliir Aliirs.
That’s 20 Aliirs.
PORT ADELAIDE (19.13.127) DEFEATED NORTH MELBOURNE (8.9.57) BY 70 POINTS
Port Adelaide edged their percentage closer to their crosstown rivals with a thrashing of North Melbourne, leaving the Kangaroos just one game above cellar dwellers Brisbane.
Sam Gray kicked four goals and collected 25 disposals to rival Chad Wingard’s three goals and 30 disposals as the main wrecking crew. For North Melbourne Ben Cunnington was the only player who didn’t look like they were suffering an asthma attack, with 33 touches.
"You don't have 88 tackles if you're not having a crack, so we kept working really hard to stay in the game, but Port were just too good," said Kangaroos coach Brad Scott, although his team had 91 tackles but no-one splits hairs when you lose by 12 goals.
Port Adelaide celebrated after the match by heading to the Cumberland Arms Hotel in Adelaide. I know this because I was there. Robbie Gray was walking around the packed venue looking like he was trying to see someone in the distance but couldn’t and was getting frustrated, which is what his face always looks like. Charlie Dixon looked like he was commanding attention, like he always does, and Ollie Wines looked like he’d drunk too much and his face had swollen, like it always does.
COLLINGWOOD (15.13.103) DEFEATED GOLD COAST (13.10.88) BY 15 POINTS
“My only real motivation is not to be hassled, that and the fear of losing my job but…y’know Bob?...that’ll only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.”
- Peter Gibbons, ‘Office Space’
Nathan Buckley continues to find 1-up mushrooms mere moments before being attacked by koopa troopas to stay in the game for another week. This week the mushroom came in the form of a win away from home at Metricon Stadium against a Gold Coast side that’s also languishing in the bottom half of the ladder.
Gary Ablett again showed that he may be the only thing currently holding the Gold Coast together and preventing them from slipping further down the ladder and further down the country to Tasmania. He had 41 touches, but on the whole Collingwood had much more of the football. The final possession count was 408-332 in the Magpies’ favour.
Oh yeah, and Gold Coast were playing without Steven May and Jarryd Lyons for the second half, so Collingwood weren’t really convincing, per se.
"We were able to finish pretty strong, benefited by the fact they had a couple out - obviously their skipper and a bloke who's been playing pretty well through the midfield," Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said.
"So the footy gods were smiling on us tonight and we were able to take advantage of it in the last quarter."
Doesn’t that sound like the words of a man who is literally looking up at the heavens during each game and just asking ‘please’?
SYDNEY (14.12.96) DEFEATED GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY (12.11.83) BY 13 POINTS
After starting the season with six consecutive losses, Sydney are now within a game and percentage of the top four. This is a remarkable achievement, considering they started the season 0-6. Certainly, the way they’re playing is not way you’d expect a side that started the year with six winless rounds to play!
Sydney were much more effective with their disposal efficiency, unlike how they played for their first six matches. Their midfield of Hannebery, Kennedy, Lloyd and Parker is gelling well, which they were unable to do for the first month and a half of the season due to injuries and interruption. Some feel that these challenges contributed to their opening losing streak, and the fact that the team has been able to play mainly uninterrupted as a unit since then has resulted in an upturn in form since all those defeats.
Sydney look to be a premiership contender, but they previously didn’t because they kept losing.
Sydney are the in-form side of the competition, which is quite impressive given their out-of-form beginning to the year.
Sydney lost a bunch at first, but now they’re not.
0-6, 0-6, 0-6, 0-6, 0-6.
SYDNEY GOOD NOW.
ADELAIDE (17.14.116) DEFEATED MELBOURNE (10.10.70) BY 46 POINTS
Adelaide have reclaimed top spot after travelling all the way to Darwin to meet the home side, Melbourne, whose home ground advantage wasn’t enough in the humid NT weather.
Melbourne playing a home game in Darwin, in the second half of the season when bodies are getting more battered and bruised, is silly. The long distance travel really exacerbates the gap between two teams, as was evidenced here, as well as earlier in the year when Port played Gold Coast in China. I can only imagine when Sydney play North Melbourne on the surface of the moon, Buddy may kick a bag.
Rory Laird and Matt Crouch were again the major ball-winners for the Crows with 34 and 31 possessions respectively.
A major talking point came in the form of a head injury to Rory Sloane following an awkward landing in a Dean Kent tackle. Sloane fought with his own medical staff to stay on the field despite being clearly dazed, and it took Taylor Walker and Eddie Betts to convince him to head to the bench. He will undergo testing during the week to see the extent of the concussion.
Tom Lynch was another big star for the Crows, collecting 27 touches and kicking three goals just two weeks after being in intensive care with viral meningitis.
Given Lynch’s turnaround time, recovery and performance, we can reasonably expect Rory Sloane’s cognitive capacity to rapidly improve and he should be able to crack cold fusion by next Tuesday and perfect a perpetual motion machine come finals time.
RICHMOND (16.16.112) DEFEATED BRISBANE (12.9.81) BY 31 POINTS
After Richmond’s wake-up call against St Kilda last week, no conclusions were ever going to be reached against the bottom side, Brisbane. The best they could hope for would be to grind out a win and try to play themselves back into some kind of form.
They did some kind of version of that.
Dustin Martin again cracked the 40 possession mark, as well as kicking two goals. Jack Riewoldt topped the goalscoring with four of his own.
So, essentially, Richmond beat the bottom side, Dustin Martin was by far their best midfielder and Jack Riewoldt by far their best forward option. Like I was saying, we learned nothing.
Watching this game was like watching an episode of Geordie Shore. You knew how it was going to end, with everyone drunk, disappointed and screaming, and you weren’t that interested in how it got to that stage.
WESTERN BULLDOGS (12.10.82) DEFEATED CARLTON (9.8.62) BY 20 POINTS
The Bulldogs have grinded out a win against a Carlton side that was again able to maintain pressure against a team with finals aspirations before failing to take that final step.
Carlton had opportunities to bridge the margin but failed to capitalise efficiently in their forward 50. One of the best examples of this was in the final quarter when Levi Casboult hit the post from a set shot at the top of the goalsquare.
For an AFL footballer to miss a goal from the goalsquare…I can’t even fathom how that happens. That’s like if Gordon Ramsay, instead of cooking a delicious beef bourguignon, accidentally vomited into the outstretched hands of a homeless orphan. Gordon Ramsay’s job is to cook food for people that want food, and Levi Casboult’s job is to kick goals. He did the exact opposite when that was the harder thing to do.
Jack Macrae and Marcus Bontempelli were the Bulldogs’ two main ball-winners, with the latter kicking two goals.
Luke Beveridge and Brendon Bolton are two of the most matter-of-fact and honest coaches in their post-match interviews, so it’s very hard to make fun of anything they say. So, for the sake of this article, let’s pretend that Beveridge had his fly undone and Bolton had sauce all over his cheek.
WEST COAST (11.8.74) DEFEATED FREMANTLE (5.14.44) BY 30 POINTS
Remember last game when I described Levi Casboult’s terrible goalkicking attempt? Now how about you imagine a team of Levi Casboults, and instead of kicking with lovely football boots they all kick with boots made entirely from Rubik’s cubes. That’s what Fremantle’s goalkicking was like.
Shannon Hurn was unstoppable with 34 touches and 14 marks, most of them intercept marks. Honestly, if Fremantle had just imagined that Shannon Hurn was standing in between the goalposts every time they kicked for goal, they would have won by plenty.
Andrew Gaff also collected 35 touches in what was the final WA derby at Subiaco oval, a match that will go down in footballing history as ‘whatever’.
"I wouldn't say it was the complete game," Eagles coach Adam Simpson said.
You’re right there, Simmo. The complete game would be a game like Monopoly, a combination of luck, skill, tactics and betrayal, and a great big boot. If we were to compare this match to a boardgame, it would be more like a boardgame where the players all have flesh-eating bacterial diseases that prevent them from having the necessary dexterity to roll the dice.