Mar 26, 2018
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round One
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.
Richmond (121) v Carlton (95)
Richmond may not have had a full premiership hangover, but they were a bit dusty.
Get it? It’s a bit of a play on words because Dustin Martin’s nickname is ‘Dusty’.
Clever huh? Even funnier now that I’ve explained it to you. All jokes are funnier if you have to explain them.
What’s that? You wish I’d never learnt to write and for only bad things to happen to me?
Calm down; it’s not like I sanded one side of a cricket ball with a tiny bit of yellow paper on international TV.
This time last year, Richmond had promised their fans to open the season with white horses trotting around the boundary as Daryl Braithwaite sang ‘Horses’.
The white horses got cancelled last year, and this year it appears Richmond couldn’t get Braithwaite either, which is strange as he seems to turn up and sing ‘Horses’ at the opening of an envelope.
Instead, the Tigers faithful had to settle for the unfurling of the Premiership flag.
They appeared to be totally fine with it.
Carlton seemed to have not read the script and set about trying to ruin Richmond’s night of celebrations, to the point the Tigers had to wake up late in the fourth to end that nonsense.
It was an impressive display by the Blues, and now I know the names of two Carlton players, with Charlie Curnow joining Patrick Cripps on that short list.
Can Carlton keep this up all year or was this a false positive against a Tigers team that was not exactly firing on all cylinders?
The idea that Carlton could be not awful is terrifying, but one thing I’ve always advised people is not to overreact to Round One results.
Essendon (99) v Adelaide (87)
The Crows season is over, and Essendon are Premiership favourites.
To be fair, Adelaide had a heap of players out and were playing away, so this was probably not indicative of their entire season, but the clock is ticking as there are only 22 rounds left for them to turn it around.
It does seem that having to give away their top players every single year is starting to hurt them, even with the Carlton talent pipeline.
The Crows were ahead by 20 points at three-quarter time, with their best performers being Essendon players, who kept turning the ball over with consummate ease.
In the fourth quarter, the Bombers tried a new tactic, kicking the ball to their own players and suddenly they were away.
The Crows looked out on their feet, which was strange given Essendon were the ones with a man down, after Richard Douglas took out Zach Merrett in the first quarter.
All the footy world is excited at the possibility of Essendon having a great season.
What a fairy tale it would be!
The Crows now fly home to face Richmond in a Grand Final Rematch with their entire season obviously on the line.
St Kilda (107) v Brisbane (82)
About twenty years ago, Australia went all in on the names Jack and Mitchell.
The Mitchells all coalesced around the Australian Cricket team, while the Jacks found their way to the AFL and mainly St Kilda.
Two of these Jacks saved the Saints from what could have been a somewhat embarrassing start to their season.
Jack Steven had 34 touches and repeatedly got the ball out of the middle, where Jack Billings set up scoring opportunities and took a couple himself.
It was lucky they did, as for long periods of the game, the Saints players seemed a lot less interested in getting the footy than the Lions.
Brisbane were much improved from last year, although their tactic of letting Luke Hodge do all the defending for whole periods of the game may not work out long term.
Hodge was like a patient primary school teacher, directing his teammates on where to stand and what to do.
The young Brisbane defenders seemed to really welcome his presence and the fact that for the first time, he wasn’t likely to flatten them against a goal post at some point.
The Lions effort was there, and as late as the fourth quarter they had Saints supporters wondering why they put themselves through this every year.
Hodge and Charlie Cameron were welcome additions and No.1 pick Cam Rayner showed enough to ensure the Melbourne sport media get the ‘which Victorian club is after Rayner?’ articles happening.
In the end, St Kilda was just slightly better than the Lions, which is not the most positive sentence for Saints fans.
Port Adelaide (110) V Fremantle (60)
The Power’s big offseason of acquisitions have paid off, or they were just playing Fremantle.
It’s hard to tell just yet, but it was a great day out for the Port Adelaide faithful, as Jack Watts, Steven Motlop and Tom Rockliff all performed well.
The absence of Robbie Gray underlined how dominant Port were, in this light training run against the Dockers.
Port’s only negative was that Paddy Ryder injured his Achilles, meaning he’ll miss next week against Sydney and who knows how much longer after that.
Fremantle certainly did everything possible to dampen any expectations their fans had of an improved season.
The Dockers were behind in every component of the game, and Ross Lyon’s five-year rebuild is starting to feel a bit like Terry Wallace’s.
Nat Fyfe struggled after crossing over from International Rules, while Lachie Neale was one of the few players who tried hard all game.
Fremantle fans may want to ‘strap themselves in’ this year and cover themselves in bubble wrap, put on a helmet and assume the brace position.
Gold Coast (55) v North Melbourne (39)
Who knew that scheduling a game in Cairns at this time of year is a bad idea?
AFL head office certainly didn’t, but you’d have to leave Melbourne to know what the weather is like in Northern Queensland.
The torrential rain made this an exciting game to watch, only due to the fact you wondered if someone would drown.
The Suns’ lifeguard colours had never seemed more appropriate.
There were several moments when the Suns' cheer squad waved their flags, only to have all the players try to swim between them.
A game between these two in pristine conditions would be a tough ask to watch, but with the ground under more water than the Titanic, it was horrible.
In fact, all of the twelve goals scored occurred at the one end, due to the fact that was the way the current was running.
The less said about this game, the better, but one takeaway is that Stuart Dew is one hell of a water polo coach.
Hawthorn (101) v Collingwood (67)
A quick look at the score and you could be forgiven for thinking Hawthorn were good.
But in a familiar sight, no matter how low an opponent sets the bar, the Pies still managed to miraculously limbo under it.
There was a five-minute passage in this game, that was so bad I felt like I was watching the 2009 Demons play an intraclub match.
The Hawks looked seriously poor in parts but could always rely on the Pies to get them out of trouble.
Collingwood’s skills are painful to watch.
Simple handballs sail past teammates and kicks seem to have no intended target, all to the soundtrack of Pies supporters groaning with resignation. They have seen this all before.
Tom Mitchell was allowed to do whatever he wanted, racking up 54 possessions, in a display that could only be explained by Nathan Buckley having Mitchell in his SuperCoach team.
Why else would no one go on him?
Buckley has said before it’s because Mitchell’s possessions don’t hurt them, and I guess that’s true if you don’t look at the scoreboard. Or what’s happening on the field.
Perhaps the Collingwood coaching box were all too busy looking at seek.com on their computers to notice what was going on.
The Pies seem to still weirdly think Mason Cox is someone to build around, they play Darcy Moore out of position, and even Pendlebury looked less Porsche and more something a Collingwood fan would drive.
Collingwood under Buckley is like Breaking Bad, it gets better with every season, and you know there’s no happy ending.
Greater Western Sydney (133) v Western Bulldogs (51)
The Bulldogs season came to an end on Sunday at the hands of the Giants, in a display so brutal it should reopen the debate around a mercy rule.
The Western Bulldogs pre-season approach of focusing on who writes their banners and which gates Susan Alberti can and can’t use seems to have backfired.
To add injury to insult, Tom Liberatore ruptured his ACL in what is a heartbreaking outcome, given he had a knee reconstruction on his other knee just a couple of years ago.
It’s hard to fathom that the same coach who guided the Bulldogs to their first premiership in decades, is playing Easton Wood up forward, for a return of a lousy seven possessions and no goals.
This was while Toby Greene and Jeremey Cameron were running amok in the Giants forward line, booting ten goals between them.
The Giants didn’t seem to even break a sweat in this performance, often looking around at each other in surprise at how easy coast-to-coast goals came.
The only positive for the Bulldogs is barely anyone saw this.
Melbourne (94) v Geelong (97)
Melbourne once again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, in a display that is becoming more formulaic than CSI.
Despite forgetting to play defence in the first half and conceding 80 points, the Demons fought back to the point where Max Gawn hat a shot 30 meters out, dead in front with less than a minute to go to take the lead, only to miss.
Both sides had big outs, with Patrick Dangerfield, Jack Viney and Tom McDonald all injured and Harry Taylor going down to injury early.
It was a pulsating game for a lot of the day, with a lot of free-flowing play yet in the second quarter, the Cats started to make the Demons pay for their mistakes.
Gary Ablett showed that if he can stay healthy, he can live up to the hype of his return and Geelong’s performance without Dangerfield was heartening for Cats supporters, especially as some people have been very mean, saying they only have three players.
Not me of course, I would never stoop that low.
Christian Petracca was the spark for the Demons, as they clawed back into contention in the third to have a chance to win it late.
In the end, it came down to execution in critical moments.
As Max Gawn’s kick sailed through for a point, I thought, this is better than the Neeld years sure, but it hurts, it really hurts.
West Coast (86) v Sydney (115)
The AFL schedulers managed to bury the Eagles opening Optus Stadium late on a Sunday, but it’s OK because it was against a non-Victorian team and who cares about those games?
What’s that? A national competition? Since when?
The Eagles decided to christen their beautiful new stadium by having Perth boy Buddy Franklin boot eight goals.
It was an odd choice, and I suspect a West Coast win would have probably been preferred by the crowd, who seemed very pro-Eagles.
The Swans experimented last year by starting the season 0-6 and they obvious identified that as not ideal in their end of season debrief.
Instead, they decided that winning in the first rounds would be worth a go and thanks to Luke Parker performing a circus trick scissor kick, they got it done.
West Coast seemed off most of the night but kept on coming, only for the Swans to always edge ahead when the Eagles got close.
Nic Naitanui returned from an injury layoff that seemed longer than and certainly improved the Eagles midfield but was regularly rested, which negated some of his impact.
It wasn’t a great night for the Eagles, but they’ll get Josh Kennedy back, Naitanui will get his fitness up, and they’ve got a nice new stadium, even if they’ve never won an AFL game in it.
Titus will be performing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and the Sydney Comedy Festival.
Tickets Here: https://www.frontiercomedy.com/titusoreily
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