May 16, 2016
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Eight
Footy is a passion, not some cold hearted, spread sheet dominated rational exercise.
On a Monday you want irrational reaction. You want emotion to trump reason.
What you really want is idiotic hysteria.
You’ve come to the right place.
Adelaide (72) v Geelong (98)
This was a huge match and it wasn’t just because Patrick Dangerfield returning to face his old club, the winner also got to keep their car industry.
I had more question marks over Geelong this year than I did over Eurovision’s new voting system. One by one those questions are slowly being answered.
Firstly, Eurovision is rigged and the continuing decline of Europe is something I now welcome.
Secondly, the Cats seem to have not only improved in the midfield, with Dangerfield helping spread the load but they’ve also fixed a lot of the problems that hurt them last year.
Geelong’s only blemish was their inaccuracy. It would be difficult to replicate if you were actively trying to.
It meant that instead of this being over in the second quarter, the Crows hung around and at times looked like they would make the Cats pay.
What the Crows probably lacked in the end was a ‘Patrick Dangerfield type’ in their midfield.
It’s wonderful to see that a club like Geelong, starved for success for so long can attract such a big name. Equalisation is working a treat.
Essendon (60) v North Melbourne (74)
Brad Scott said this felt like a loss. Has it been that long that he’s forgotten what a loss feels like? Ask Justin Leppitsch or Alan Richardson, they’ll tell you what a loss feels like.
North actually did pretty well considering they didn’t even bother to come back out for the second half.
This was so one sided in the first half that I almost started to feel sorry for Essendon fans. To give you an idea of how one–sided the first half was, Brad Scott said, “We kept Essendon to their lowest half-time score in 100 years so that clearly was a good part of the game for us.”
I hate to point this out Brad but this Essendon side is not exactly one you can fairly compare to history. You may have missed it but there’s a few extenuating circumstances involved here.
Keeping Essendon to their lowest score in a century at the half might have been impressive, if the Kangaroos didn’t then turn in one of their worst performances ever.
The Bombers should be applauded for their second half effort as they were the only ones out there who were trying.
Darcy Parish showed again that St Kilda’s trade for Jake Carlisle gets funnier as the weeks go by, except for Saints fans who have every right to be getting angrier.
In the end, it was lucky North had such a big buffer from the first half or this could have been one of the biggest upsets in 100 years.
Hawthorn (116) v Fremantle (75)
The struggling Hawks, now in free fall at 6-2 and sitting a lowly 6th on the ladder, managed to chalk up another win despite NOT BEING ABLE TO WIN THE PREMIERSHIP.
Seriously, don’t these guys read the media? Clarkson obviously needs to go.
Fremantle put in a bit more effort than in recent weeks and even led at halftime but that’s because Ross Lyon is smart enough to tank, without looking like he’s tanking.
Come the third quarter, the Hawks eased into fourth gear while the Dockers kicked it into neutral.
The real question is; can the Dockers hold off Essendon in the race for the wooden spoon?
The two teams face off in round eleven in a crucial match. A win here and this could all be for nothing for Freo.
The other hurdle the Dockers face is they haven’t played Melbourne yet and risk getting a win there.
Greater Western Sydney (149) v Gold Coast (58)
Well, the Gold Coast Suns have been $200 million dollars well spent. The AFL probably only needs another $50 million to get them back on track, so a bargain really.
It’s a pity Tasmania isn’t able to be as wonderfully financially viable as the Gold Coast is. Just think what $200 million is in Tasmanian dollars.
Probably the best path now for the Suns is to get Fijian Sevens star Jarryd Hayne to play for them. An NRL star would work miracles up there. I wonder if there’s a precedent for that?
The Giants are obviously very good but belting the Suns is not something that should send shockwaves throughout the AFL. Melbourne after all destroyed them.
It’s like the Suns players have no pride in the rich history of the club and the honour in wearing that awful jumper that looks like a year ten graphic design class came up with.
Apart from Tom Lynch, this is a side that looks more checked out than Andrew Demetriou in his last three years as AFL CEO.
That doesn’t mean we should just give up on footy on the Gold Coast, we just need more good money to throw after bad.
Luckily, in contrast, the Giants are winning on the field and their crowd of 8308 people shows the people of Western Sydney are just flocking to see them play. I’d like to see a Tasmanian side pull such a big crowd!
Just remember, these expansion teams are ‘generational projects’. We must pour generations of money into them.
Brisbane (65) v Collingwood (143)
When you make this Collingwood side look good, serious questions need to be asked.
Justin Leppitsch did learn the coaching craft at Richmond under Damien Hardwick, so this shouldn’t be that surprising.
He’s probably getting all his steps backwards out of the way early before the huge steps forward.
Couple this with the Suns performance and this was the blackest day in Queensland football, which is now actually a weekly event.
The fact is, Brisbane continues to struggle in the post-Aish era.
They are adrift on a sea of misery and it doesn’t seem there is a friendly shore in sight. The destruction of the club under former chairman Angus Johnson has basically put the Lions back to being an expansion club again. It’s going to take that much effort and investment to turn it around.
In this game, they put in a performance usually reserved for a team that is throwing a match.
Not that I think they threw this; if they were doing that they would have at least faked trying, something they didn’t bother to do.
The pressure should now well and truly be off Nathan Buckley after this commanding win over the 16th team on the ladder. Sitting in 12th, the tope four will be nervously looking over their shoulders.
“It was the next step in our recovery,” said Buckley after the game. Recovery from what? His turning over the list? Being not very good at football?
Next week, the Pies take on Geelong at the MCG, so this recovery may be over before it really begins.
Richmond (101) v Sydney (100)
Even as I write this on a Sunday night, I’m confident there’s no way the Swans can lose this game in the dying minutes. They just needed to chip it around a bit. They’ll be fine.
But they didn’t do that. In fact, they did a Richmond.
The fact the Swans were even in the position to lose this to a kick after the siren was testament to the Sydney players commitment to turning the ball over throughout the game with alarming regularity.
All match, John Longmire looked like me when I’m having a frustrating game of FIFA. I could almost hear him yelling ‘but I’m pushing the button! I’m pushing the button! Oh, now they score!!! I pressed tackle! This remote must be broken’.
What the Richmond faithful are now feeling is ‘happiness’, something they’ve had only a passing acquaintance with in recent times.
There were so many moments in this game where I was sure the Tigers would stuff this up after teasing their fans that a win was possible.
But when Sam Lloyd marked and the siren went, I knew he’d kick it the minute I remembered this wasn’t a final.
As the ball sailed through for a goal, I instantly had a feeling of happiness for Richmond fans, followed by many hours of shame that only abated after a long shower, during which I consumed an entire bottle of whiskey.
This means Richmond now storm into 15th position and send a message to their supporters ‘you should be really confused about everything now. Again’.
Carlton (93) v Port Adelaide (91)
Carlton are obviously impossible to defeat. I don’t want to get Blues supporters hopes up but I can’t see them losing again this year.
Brendon Bolton is certainly working wonders at the Blues. It’s like Alastair Clarkson’s protégés are like Mick Malthouse’s but good.
He seems to be both excellent at motivating people and at footy tactics. It’s a while since those traits have been in evidence at the Blues.
Carlton even overcame a string of injuries during the game, including to Levi Casboult, to show Port Adelaide are one of the biggest disappointments since the Star Wars prequels.
Port looked reactionary all game, counterattacking more than creating. Where the Blues showed grit and tenacity, the Power looked frustrated that this was proving so difficult.
The old saying that one side just wanted it more couldn’t be more apt in this case.
Considering some had Port, Collingwood and Richmond in the eight at the start of the year, it’s a reminder that footy was invented to make our predictions look stupid.
Melbourne (82) v Western Bulldogs (114)
The big gap between these sides is that when the Bulldogs had the ball, they knew how to use it.
There were 19 tackles from Tom Liberatore, matching the record for a game. He basically just handed the ball to Melbourne players so he could ground them into the dirt.
He was also helped by the Demons players regularly hand balling to a teammate who already had an opponent all over him. An odd tactic and one that probably won’t catch on.
That was the obvious difference in the game, where the Bulldogs would hands in close were fast and accurate, the Dees too often either missed a target or hand balled to a flatfooted teammate with a Bulldogs opponent ready to hammer them.
Melbourne seem to also be trying to do some sort of defensive zone, except instead of defending an area, the defenders just let opponents run into massive ‘zones’ with no one in them. Conveniently, these ‘zones’ seem to always be dead in front of goal.
The Bulldogs just play better as a coordinated unit compared to the Dees. It’s a credit to them the final margin was as big as it was, as Melbourne weren’t horrendous (they weren’t great either) and kept trying, the Bulldogs are just better drilled.
The Bulldogs take on GWS next week in a game that should be well worth watching.
West Coast (132) v St Kilda (29)
How was your Sunday evening? Mine was terrible because I watched this.
By half way through the first quarter, Domain Stadium was declared a natural disaster zone and it then got worse.
It’s never going to be a great outcome when you Josh Kennedy piles on five goals in the opening quarter. That’s not in anyone’s game plan, not even West Coast’s.
“We had a good day today,” said Adam Simpson after the game in perhaps the biggest understatement since history began.
Alan Richardson instead said “I didn’t see that coming. They just smashed us,” which reminded me of Ron Burgundy exclaiming ‘I’m not even mad, that’s amazing!’
Basically, this was a game so one-sided you can’t read anything into it. The Saints were unprepared and by the time they figured out what was happening it was over.
The Eagles should be happy but smashing sides at home isn’t really their issue.