May 07, 2018
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Seven
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.
Geelong (93) v Greater Western Sydney (32)
After last week’s capitulation, the Cats came out with a level of aggression lacking against the Swans.
From the opening bounce, the Cats hammered the Giants across the field. Even the umpires were not immune, with Tom Hawkins pushing away an umpire’s hand at one stage.
In a phrase often heard at workplaces, the umpire immediately said: "Hey, don't touch me."
Hawkins did apologise later, saying he mistook the umpire for an opponent, an easy thing to do given the umpire was subtly dressed in fluoro green.
While the Cats were dominant, the injury-plagued Giants were terrible. This was a performance so poor it made you wonder if there really is an AFL side in Western Sydney.
In fairness, having half your side out is never good, but it was the lack of effort that was truly shocking.
When players seem to view ‘running’ as an optional extra, you know something is wrong.
Western Bulldogs (81) v Gold Coast (72)
A crowd of 6833 turned up in Ballarat to watch this, and both teams apparently decided to get into the spirit of country football by dropping their skills to that level.
Things were certainly not helped by the windy conditions which made everyone’s skills look poor. At least, I think it was the wind; it’s hard to tell this season.
The Suns went into this with Tom Lynch, and Steven May both key outs and the Bulldogs matched them with Easton Wood and Marcus Bontempelli both missing.
Having all that class out certainly showed but it probably helped keep this close, something that made the Doggies fans decidedly nervous, especially as the Suns were leading well into the fourth quarter.
Despite the win, there’s no doubt the Dogs are an inconsistent bunch. They started this very slowly, with their intensity lower than a Benicio del Toro performance.
Essendon (67) v Hawthorn (90)
Essendon avoid third quarters like I avoid small talk, it’s pathological.
While not playing at all in the third quarter is frustrating, it’s almost worse in the other quarters, where the Bombers overuse handball like kicking was banned, and no one else got the memo.
Once again, the focus was on Joe Daniher, which is a bit unfair given about half the team are probably playing worse than he is and the service to the forward line is so bad it could be provided by a group of hungover teenagers working the local Maccas on a Sunday morning.
Hawthorn took a while to get on top in this one, but that seemed to be due to the fact they were in shock watching some of the things Essendon were doing.
The Hawks grew in confidence as the match went on, as they realised the Bombers weren’t doing any tackling, and they could therefore really take the game on.
Hawthorn went from strength to strength and showed what a special club they are, even having goals counted despite the siren already going before the kick.
You know you’re good when the laws of the game bend to accommodate you.
West Coast (102) v Port Adelaide (60)
After a good run against some of the lower teams, the Eagles got the job against some higher quality opposition, at least Port are meant to be higher quality. It’s often hard to tell.
This was a disaster for Port Adelaide, with only a good patch either side of three-quarter time giving it some respectability.
For the rest of the game, the Eagles just worked harder and were far better organised.
While the Eagles still need to be tested against some of the top teams, they are starting to impress.
In fact, in the Eastern States, we have a meeting scheduled to discuss mentioning them occasionally in the media.
No promises of course, but it’s a promising sign. If we start mentioning the 2006 drugs scandal in ‘exclusive’ stories, you’ll know the Eagles are getting really good.
Port play the Showdown next week. They’ll need to lift significantly if that’s not to become a huge setback for their hopes this year.
Sydney (66) v North Melbourne (68)
North Melbourne keep making me write nice things about them, and it’s a very difficult transition. I even like quite a lot of their players.
Didn’t the players read all the media predicting they’d be awful this year? It’s almost like none of us knows what we’re talking about.
That’s exactly what it is.
Being constantly reminded we have no clue about football is what I like about it.
It’s like life, the minute you think you’re figuring it out, all hell breaks loose, and you think ‘oh that’s right, I forgot I’m a massive idiot.’
What I like about North is they make you beat them. They won’t hand it to you. You must do the work.
The Swans certainly tried, but they just seemed a bit off all night, with a lot of the credit for that going to the Roos, who wouldn’t concede the stoppages to the Swans.
Not that Sydney couldn’t have won this, they had moments but their execution at times was poor in such a tight game.
Swans fans will rightly point out the Billy Hartung goal that looked touched on replay but relying on the AFL’s laughable score review system is never a great position to be in, and it doesn’t change the fact the Swans missed shots when they had their destiny in their own hands.
Still, for me, the score review system should be thrown in the bin, the whole point of it is to stop mistakes, not provide us with different ones.
Adelaide (125) v Carlton (70)
It’s slowly becoming not ‘when’ but ‘if’ Carlton will win a game this season.
What was most striking about this game is how much of a complete non-event it was.
The Crows were OK but hardly setting the world on fire and still, they looked in no danger at any point.
Carlton were simply as forgettable as their truly awful away uniform, which is so bad it is perhaps the perfect design for a season that is so grey and bleak.
The only shocking thing now about the Blues is that the media still refer to them as ‘rebuilding’.
There is no rebuilding going on here. ‘Boarded up hovel with several squatters living there’ would be a more accurate description of where Carlton are at.
For the Crows, this was a good enough performance, but I wouldn’t be surprised that after half time, the Adelaide coached box were already working on plans for next week’s showdown, occasionally looking up to check the score.
Richmond (110) v Fremantle (33)
I enjoy watching the Tigers. With all the whinging about the state of football, it’s nice to watch a club that has figured out that this has always been a team game, all the parts must work together to win.
That’s what Richmond do; they don’t try to be too flashy, they know that if they just consistently pressure you, if their defence is well structured, if their midfield works hard, the chances will come.
There is something beautiful about a well-oiled machine just grinding down an opponent until they can no longer compete. It’s not the Tigers fault, so many teams haven’t figured this all out.
Richmond have done this to a lot better teams than the Dockers, but the approach was the same.
Fremantle just couldn’t handle the pressure and scoring against Richmond is hard enough, but for the Dockers, who are like a boxer without a knockout blow, it was impossible.
If it wasn’t for Fremantle’s star ruckman Nat Fyfe, this could have even been worse, which is worrying.
Ross Lyon said the sexual harassment controversy hadn’t distracted the players, and it probably didn’t, but after this performance, the Dockers might want to pay everyone who saw this hush money never to mention it again.
St Kilda (67) v Melbourne (106)
I came away from this game shocked at how bad St Kilda really are.
The drop off from last year is astounding, and it is across every facet of the game.
Their kicking is terrible, their pressure is non-existent, and they have the confidence of a teenager with the worst case of acne in the history of time.
Every team that plays them can rely on them missing shots and then let them run the ball out of defence with ease.
Every miss at goal was greeted with groans from the Saints supporters, and the fact that there were St Kilda fans at the game is a testament to how much they love this club.
They’d be hurting right now because this was completely unacceptable.
Melbourne were good in this, but it’s hard to tell how much that was the fact they were never really challenged.
The Demons are good when they can play the game on their terms, what will be interesting is when they are against a team that doesn’t let them do that.
Still, nice to see Melbourne win a game they were meant to win. Some Demons fans were upset it wasn’t by a more significant margin, but I’m still happy when we win at Etihad and don’t go down five goals in the first ten minutes in games like this.
Brisbane (114) v Collingwood (121)
I had so many jokes ready.
But no, Collingwood had to go and ruin this for everyone.
At least this was an entertaining game, perhaps the first time entertaining football has been played at the Gabba since John Howard was Prime Minister.
In a close-run thing, it was Jordan De Goey who dragged the Pies over the line, and it was great to see him back in form after recovering from being flogged with a wet lettuce leaf earlier in the year.
While the Pies didn’t play as well as they have in recent weeks, they did have Scott Pendlebury out for a significant part of the second half and to pull a win out was at least a testament to their composure in the final few minutes.
The Lions though once again fall into the ‘gallant loss’ category, a category Brisbane fans are thoroughly sick of.
On the plus side, seeing Cam Rayner step up in some key moments would have Lions fans at least looking forward to the future, for the first time in a long time.
I have two new dates to announce for my show A Thoroughly Unhelpful History of Australian Sport. Exciting!
The first is 7.00pm Wednesday 6 June The Comic’s Lounge in Melbourne.
The second is 8.00pm Thu 7 June Arkaba Hotel Adelaide.
The last ten shows at the Melbourne Comedy Festival sold out so get in early.
Tickets for both shows available here: frontiercomedy.com/titusoreily
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