Jul 11, 2016


The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Sixteen


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.

Port Adelaide (79) v Hawthorn (101)

So that Clarko seems to know what he’s doing. He’s not just an angry demolisher of drywall, he’s a master motivator of men aged 18-35.

By accurately pointing out something everybody knows, that Port can’t consistently bring toughness, he motivated his own men to play some of their ‘unsociable football’.

Of course, we all know ‘unsociable football’ really means ‘against the rules if they were enforced properly’.

Footy pundits acted like they’d figured out how to crack the enigma code when they realised Clarkson was talking to his own troops and not actually about Port. This is next level thinking in AFL circles.

It was classic Hawks this. Get their opponent all emotional, appear emotional too but then go all coldly rational and smash your opponent while they are still busy being worked up.

It’s basically any good negotiating strategy. Make your opponent think they have to win something that’s not actually that important, then zero in on what matters.

What’s amazing is how often it works.

Hawthorn also have the rather important ability to not turn over the ball too often and to play four quarters regularly. It’s the thing that separates them from the rest. The others talk about it but Hawthorn actually do it.

For Port, it was another display of good but not good enough. There’s a reason they’re sitting in ninth. I’m sure Kochie is ready to throw his players under the bus again so that should help things.

Geelong (60) v Sydney (98)

I tell you what, Cameron Ling gave it his all to get the Cats home on Friday night.
In fact, he barracked a lot harder than the Geelong cheer squad. Alas, biased commentary only really works for Hawthorn.

Unfortunately for the Cats, the same passion wasn’t displayed on the field, where Sydney’s relentless pressure made a lot of Geelong players disappear in a way they usually reserve for when they play sides outside the eight.

They’re a strange side the Cats of 2016. At times they appear the best team in the competition and then there are these displays, were they look a lot like the 2015 Cats.

Of course the difference this season is Patrick Dangerfield and he almost seemed to be enough in the early stages to turn things the Cats way.

But AFL is a team game and one player can’t do it all. As the game wore on, Dangerfield needed help but it wasn’t coming.

When you consider the Swans were coming off a six-day break and playing away, this was a significant result.

Suddenly, Sydney are in the top two, while Geelong drop to sixth. Imagine if we got to see a Sydney-Hawthorn Grand Final again! What a time to be alive.

Greater Western Sydney (93) v Collingwood (125)


I thought Greater Western Sydney couldn’t lose this if they tried but they sure proved me wrong.

Not only did they not try, they made Collingwood look like the team Collingwood thinks it has.

Suddenly, Travis Cloke and Jesse White are a dangerous one-two punch and the Pies are an organised team with enormous discipline and self-belief. They were even hard at the ball and appeared to have defined roles.

The only negative for Collingwood at all was this performance kind of undermines Eddie’s argument that the Giants are too strong for Victorian teams to compete against.

It also makes you wonder why it took until round 16 for the Pies to show this kind of endeavour.

For the Giants, they better hope this was just an off week. They were strong early and it looked like it was going to be an easy day at the office right until it wasn’t and suddenly the Giants looked like it was all a bit hard.

Leon Cameron said it was his team’s worse performance of the season and he’s spot on there. Anytime you make this Collingwood team look like Hawthorn should ring alarm bells.

Gold Coast (139) v Brisbane (113)

13,528 people showed up to watch this apparently, which is both amazing and further proof the AFL’s crowd figures need some serious auditing.

In typical Queensland AFL fashion, even the winner lost, with Michael Rischitelli going down with an ACL tear and Gary Ablett hurting his shoulder again.

If the aim of the game was injuries, the Suns would be arguably the best team ever.

While the Suns were way better, they still struggled to put away a terrible Lions side which only underlines the problems they have.

Brisbane at least kept trying all game but they’ve got too many players that need to be moved on or significantly lift.

Look at ‘half a million-dollar man’ Lewis Taylor who’s 11 disposals showed he’s in Fairyland to think he’s getting a big payday from anyone.

He’d struggle to win The Recruit based on this performance.

Western Bulldogs (85) v Richmond (75)

Much like Collingwood supporters, Richmond fans will be asking ‘where was this during the first half of the season?’

But really, the Tigers pulling out this sort of performance and still losing is classic Richmond. That’s the thing about the Tigers, they walk that fine line between good and terrible, never really settling on either.

It’s what keeps Tigers supporters off balance and drives them crazy.

I caught up with a Richmond fan straight after this and it’s the eyes that get you. They have a look in them that is a weird combination of madness and resignation.

The Bulldogs were lucky to come away with the win. Their decision making at time reminded me of someone at 3am on a big night out, strange and not in their best interests.

Probably the big difference was Marcus Bontempelli whose 25 disposals included 16 contested. He was huge and when Jake Stringer decided to play one of his famous cameo appearances it made the difference.

If Stringer ever learns consistency, he will be scary.

Melbourne (87) v Fremantle (55)

Ross Lyon said this week he wanted his players to focus more on penetration rather than perfection. While it seems Ross may be straying into areas beyond his remit, it’s also terrible advice.

My whole twenties (OK and thirties) proved you need to focus a bit on both or people start to talk.

This game really underlined to me just how bad the Dockers are this year. They are bad. They have avoided a lot of the heat that would normally come on a team due to Ross having a long extension and all the injuries.

There’s a sense that they’ll come good next year once everyone is back. If that doesn’t happen expect things to get ugly fast.

Melbourne at least managed to win this, something they rarely do in the Territory.

The club announced a new agreement that the Demons would play four home and away matches in the Northern Territory in 2017-18.

It was greeted by Melbourne’s fans with the enthusiasm of an increase in the inheritance tax.

I mean, sure they may need the money but Melbourne fans hate the deal more than they hate Etihad Stadium.

Carlton (47) v Adelaide (107)

Dennis Armfield deserved his three goals in the first quarter, all booted from outside the fifty, which is an amazing feat.

It’s amazing considering he also recently suffered a split testicle injury, a combination of three words you never want to hear. Hearing things like that makes me admire the risks these guys take. More than anything else.

If you told me there was a job where you could earn good money and fame but it required risking a split testicle, I’d say no thank you every time. I’m soft like that and so are my testicles.

Unfortunately, the Blues offense was pretty useless outside of that. The only other offensive highlight was Jack Silvagni booting his first goal.

Adelaide just controlled the whole game. It was like a boxing match when someone knows their opponent can’t knock them out. The Crows didn’t rush but they didn’t fear Carlton kicking a winning score either.

West Coast (104) v North Melbourne (72)

Aside from being told by police that their T-Shirt cannon is banned, this loss was the worst thing to happened to the Kangaroos this week.

Everyone suspected that North would plummet down the ladder when their draw got hard but predictions in footy rarely come true and not as spot on as this.

The Kangaroos have now lost five of their last six, all against top-eight opponents and they really helped the Eagles here with four goals coming from North 50m penalties.

North weren’t terrible, they just weren’t good enough, a theme for them recently.

The Eagles were pretty aggressive early on. Drew Petrie was almost thrown over the fence by trampoline connoisseur Sharrod Wellingham in a move reminiscent of the Royal Rumble.

I came away from this match with the firm belief that neither of these sides are doing much come finals.

Essendon (98) v St Kilda (109)

So, so close. One thing I’ll say about Essendon, they don’t give up, even when it’s in their best interests.

They gave this everything and this really could have gone either way. A held mark, some straight kicking and Melbourne fans could have celebrated not being the only team to lose to the Bombers. Trust me, I was getting ready.

The Saints though, managed to take the opportunities when it mattered. Imagine being a Saints fan and having to put up with the painful experience that is Etihad Stadium on a Sunday evening to lose to the Bombers.

There would have been a riot the likes of which we haven’t seen since the darts.

Bombers fans left wondering what if Joe Daniher could kick straight, although I imagine that’s what Bombers fans usually leave a game wondering.

Saints fans would have wondered what’s going on at their club. Impressive sometimes, terrible others. Pick one Saints, this isn’t Richmond.

Titus O’Reily Live on Stage tickets


Gary Bruce

Jul 11, 2016

Graham Cornes briefly popped his sopping thumb out of his mouth to write a thoughtful & insightful piece for the SA papers about how, in a Thursday night match with uniformly shithouse umpiring, the umps totes have it in for Port & love the Hawks so much they want to marry them. Port can never catch a break and Hawthorn gets everything. It's not fair. As evidenced by the lopsided 28/30 free kick count.


Jul 11, 2016

Gary Bruce The head of umpires just reviewed the round on the afl site and of 4 decisions reviewed 3 were from last Thursday's game. Rioli's non  mark was correctly decided, Westhoff's wasnt correct in being judged to have hit the ground and Dixon's free was incorrectly over ruled because he facetiously clapped the umpire. So, 2 at least poor decisions that changed momentum in the game for Port. Not saying they would have won but the umpiring was not good at that game.


Jul 11, 2016

judemcbain Gary Bruce I saw a game once where I'm sure the umpires made a wrong decision.  I can't remember which game it was, but I definitely remember thinking at the time, that's the wrong decision ump!

roberto of oz

Jul 11, 2016

Wow you whingers sound like a bunch of Collingwood supporters. It's almost as if you are the Magpies. Oh, I forgot that you were once.

roberto of oz

Jul 11, 2016

Equalisation seems to be working. Hopefully this year, the Swans, Eagles and Freo will not play us in the GF. OK, Freo is out of the equation.  If another team plays us in the GF, it will mean that ANY side in the AFL has an equal chance of being beaten by the Hawks.


Jul 11, 2016

On penetration versus perfection.

"My whole twenties (OK and thirties) proved you need to focus a bit on both or people start to talk."
Gold, Titus, Gold!

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