Aug 06, 2018
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Twenty
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 (85) v Geelong (82)
As the AFL has spent the year carefully arguing that football is broken and only they can save our once great game, footy gives us one of the greatest rounds ever.
This had everything, great games, close finishes, controversy and a finals race that is coming down to the wire.
In fact, this year is shaping up to be one of the most exciting finishes to a season ever.
It’s almost like footy is not broken at all but AFL House is.
Friday night got us started with the Tigers at their beloved MCG taking on the Cats.
Geelong surprised many, especially the Richmond players, with their ability to apply pressure in their forward fifty. It was Richmond-like.
It seemed the Tigers were ahead most of the game and the Cats were just managing to hang in there.
At the start of the fourth quarter though, Richmond seemed to suddenly think, ‘gee, we better get moving’ and poured on the goals. It was like when you spend a day slacking and then suddenly fire off about fifty emails to give an impression of effort.
The general feeling at the ground was that it was over, but the Cats kept coming and by the 26thminute mark of the fourth quarter they were just four points down.
At this point, you could see the ghosts of Richmond past appearing before the Tigers fans’ eyes.
As Gary Ablett swooped in with a shot at goal from 35 meters out, it was tenser at the MCG than if you’d dropped a self-aware person amongst the contestants of Love Island.
But this is the new Richmond and not only are they very good, they are lucky, and Ablett missed.
It led to a scrambling last few minutes, but the Tigers hung on.
The loss leaves the Cats in ninth spot, in a season where they seem to be living and dying off close finishes.
Hawthorn (107) v Essendon (103)
As if Friday night had thrown down the gauntlet for exciting games, Hawthorn and Essendon picked it up and ran with it.
These two teams already have enough amazing games between them, but they decided to add one more anyway, as the lead changed constantly as one side would put on a brilliant display of football, only for the momentum to swing and the other would return serve.
This was heart in your mouth, what’s going to happen next, edge of your seat stuff.
Watching the free-flowing, high scoring, exciting footy at the MCG would have given the architects of proposed rule changes, Steve Hocking, David Rath and James Podsiadly second thoughts, except they were all at Piranha Park in Coburg watching bottom four sides VFL Werribee and Coburg try out their new rules.
Nothing sums up better the yawning gap between where the AFL hierarchy and the game itself.
Such a great game deserved a frenetic finish and the Bombers launch another counter attack, coming home fast, only for James Worpel to keep his feet against Michael Hurley and boot a clutch goal in the final minute.
It was a wonderful day of footy and Saturday was just getting started.
Brisbane (104) v North Melbourne (107)
Like a great album, the hits kept coming as the Lions hosted North at the Gabba.
Brisbane fans are currently in a position of knowing their team is going to be good but would like them to be good right now.
They’ve so far sat through five-point losses to the Suns, the Crows and the Power and lost by seven points to the Pies.
At first, this seemed like they were cruising to a serious loss, as the Kangaroos controlled the game, especially in the first half and had built a 24-point lead by the early fourth quarter.
It was at this point North’s players headed off to the airport to fly home, leaving the Lions to mount a fightback that resulted in them almost snatching the game.
With the Kangaroos absent, the Lions got to within less than a goal, only for Cam Rayner to miss a shot late. The Kangaroos had dodged a bullet and Brisbane fans looking forward to the day these become wins not close losses.
Adelaide (96) v Port Adelaide (93)
Twice this year the Showdown has delivered us everything you’d want in a footy match, so wouldn’t it be great if these were occasionally show in primetime and on free-to-air around the country?
I know it’s a radical thought, but I’ve done some research on this and there are actually eight teams located outside of Victoria! I’ve penned a short memo to the AFL to let them know about this exciting discovery.
The intensity of a Showdown is something to behold when you’re in Adelaide, it needs no more controversy to make get people fired up, but why not have some more anyway?
This Showdown’s controversy comes from the AFL’s cheap and ineffective goal review system, which gave Josh Jenkins a goal in the dying moments, despite appearing to hit the post.
The AFL’s score review system is like the Blair Witch Project, grainy footage, odd angles and ‘we’re doing this on a tiny budget’ feel.
It’s things like the goal review system that cause the fans to have little confidence in any potential further tweaking of the game.
It’s not that fans are all in the ‘no to everything’ camp, as the AFL and sections of the media try to paint them, like fans are backwards idiots that don’t understand the game.
It’s that most of us are in the ‘we don’t have a lot of faith you’ll get things right, even the good ideas’ camp.
It’s hardly a crazy position to hold.
We’ve seen in recent years the substitute rule come and go, the sliding rule badly implemented, the countdown clock and its weird interpretation of thirty seconds, the physics defying interpretation of the protected zone, the spellbindingly idiotic ruck nomination rule and the Gold Coast Suns.
So spare us the criticism of us all been unnecessarily negative about the latest ‘ideas salad’ to come out of the last consultant run workshop.
It was a disappointing incident in an otherwise terrific game and the Crows keep their slim finals chances alive, while the Power rue the AFL’s decision to only use two old VHS and a camera from 1974.
St Kilda (68) v Western Bulldogs (103)
A day of amazing footy was marred somewhat by this game but luckily, no one saw it.
I watched it on replay and only because I had to write this review. People often accuse me of not watching all the games and I love them for thinking I have something better to do.
The Bulldogs tried something different this week. Instead of not coming out for the third quarter, they decided to put their missing quarter up front, not kicking a goal in the first quarter and being 28 points down in the second quarter.
Against St Kilda, you can give up such a head start and still win comfortably, like letting a child run ahead of you in a race before overtaking them and crushing their spirit to remind them that they’re hopeless.
The Saints undid their early good work by appearing to develop an intolerance to scoring after quarter time, booting just three for the rest of the game.
In the third quarter, Marcus Bontempelli booted four goals, outscoring the Saints efforts over the final three quarters.
It was dismal stuff from the Saints.
Sydney (73) v Collingwood (71)
Meanwhile, over at the game everyone was watching, our fourth classic of the round was being played out.
These teams hate each other. Collingwood hate Sydney because they think they’ve had unfair advantages, while Sydney hate Collingwood because they have Eddie McGuire.
The intensity in this one was only magnified by the fact both are in finals contention and the Swans were desperate to turn around a month of mediocrity.
Enter the return of Alex Johnson for some inspiration and every Collingwood player being injured and the Swans were back in form.
Collingwood currently has 37 of their best 22 injured and as to be expected, added Darcy Moore to the list before the first half had finished.
The Pies had the upper hand early, but their major problem was Buddy Franklin, who put on one of his trademark performances, booting 6.4.
Collingwood though, after falling behind, launched a frenetic comeback, reeling in the Swans and overtaking them.
It took a goal from Tom McCartin, who was lying on the ground as he kicked it, to secure the Swans victory and even after that there was some white knuckle defending required.
While it was a disappointing end for Pies fans, Saturday had been a great day for footy.
Carlton (46) v Greater Western Sydney (151)
And then came Sunday.
While Saturday had given us everything we could have asked for and more, Carlton had to come along and ruin it for everyone.
Words can’t really convey how bad Carlton are, but I’ll give it a shot.
The Giants, it had to be said, gave the Blues a real chance, with Brett Deledio, Toby Greene, Dawson Simpson and Sam Taylor all going off injured.
It meant the Giants had no one on the bench at all for almost the entire second half.
So, what do you do? Have no interchanges? Not if you’re playing Carlton.
Just have two players come off for rests and play with sixteen players.
There has been no greater signal of how little an AFL side thinks of their opponent than this.
Despite this being the case for most of the fourth quarter, the Blues still only managed one goal. The Giants kicked seven.
There’s not much more you can say about Carlton than that.
Melbourne (143) v Gold Coast (47)
David Bowie and Queen sang all about what pressure on the footy field does to an opponent, but it’s a lesson the Gold Coast Suns seem to have forgotten.
The Demons pretty much did as they liked in this one, with a nine goal to one opening quarter in which the Suns players seemed to have forgotten to break from their warm up.
When you lead by 51 points at quarter time, it’s hard to stay focused and the Dees had moments in the second and third quarters when they seemed to muck around with the ball a bit too much, simply because they could.
Watching the Suns reminded me very much of Melbourne in the recent Dark Ages.
They have the urgency of sloths, rarely break out of a slow jog and seem to be confused about what to do if they do accidentally find themselves in possession of a football.
Melbourne will be thrilled they got this done. They now face Sydney, West Coast in Perth and the Giants.
This was their bye week; finals start now.
West Coast (142) v Fremantle (84)
I have no idea what he was thinking.
Andrew Gaff’s punch, which left Andrew Brayshaw with terrible injuries, really took the gloss off what was a terrific weekend of football.
The punch, way off the ball and to the head was the sort of thing that society has been struggling to eradicate in recent times, with the knowledge that it can kill someone.
It makes the claims of it being ‘out of character’ ring hollow. How about not doing it in the first place?
What was just downright strange was the fact Gaff’s teammates all rallied around him in later in the game after a goal like he was Alex Johnson coming back from injury. The crowd also gave him a standing ovation when he went to the bench.
I remember when Tom Bugg punched Callum Mills for no reason and there was no standing ovation in the crowd that day, just disgust from his own supporters.
Tribalism is understandable but surely, we as footy fans can agree this was a terrible act, and the colours a player is wearing is irrelevant?
It led to the rest of what was a one-sided contest becoming repeated attempts at square ups, with Michael Johnson looking like facing some sanction for crunching Gaff later on.
Unfortunately, after a weekend when all our thoughts should be on how great the game is and how exciting the run to finals will be, our thoughts are with Andrew Brayshaw, who needed surgery to repair a broken jaw and three displaced lower teeth.
He won’t be able to eat solid food for a month.
Titus has a new live show ‘Manifestly Inadequate’and new dates to announce.
They are his traditional bye round tour wrapping up the 2018 season and previewing the finals.
The dates are:
4 August- Hobart
27 August- Canberra
29 August- Perth
31 August- Sydney
1 September- Melbourne
2 September- Adelaide
5 September- Brisbane
Ticket available here: http://www.frontiercomedy.com/titusoreily
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