Aug 21, 2017
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Twenty Two
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 (80) v Sydney (83)
This is why we love footy. A Friday night game between two of the best teams in the league played with a finals-like intensity.
It had everything, a lopsided free kick count favouring the home side, Adelaide missing easy shots at goal with alarming regularity and a dodgy fifty-meter penalty to Callum Mills to help the Swans seal it.
Despite the crazy umpiring, this was a thrilling game. Adelaide looked in trouble early, but proved their mental toughness by getting back into the game, something they’ve struggled with at times this season.
In many ways, they were the superior side but booting 11-14 is a good way of ensuring your opponent stays in the game.
Buddy Franklin kicked one of the goals of the season, running for kilometres, leaving defenders in his wake, before slotting it from the pocket. He even bounced the ball every 40 meters or so but who’s counting? The umpires certainly weren’t.
Bad umpiring and bad goal kicking seem to be two of the big themes of the season, right up there with no one knowing what’s going on.
Either way, if this is what the finals are going to be like, then as the kids say, it’s going to be ‘rad’.
The kids still say that right? Of course, they do, I’m hip to what’s going on.
Western Bulldogs (79) v Port Adelaide (96)
The Bulldogs brief but fun time as the best team in the AFL seems over. I remember those heady days like they were just last year.
It’s hard to know what’s gone wrong for the Bulldogs. Was last year a fluke? Was this year a hangover?
My bet is astrology is somehow involved.
Either way, this game summed up the Bulldogs season, good in parts, sloppy in others and just not quite good enough.
Losing Jake Stringer in the first quarter certainly didn’t help, as did not playing such an important game at home.
Port Adelaide are now certain to play finals and have a chance to be top four. The question for them is what are they going to be able to do when they’re there?
Are they pretenders? Well, that’s what we all are until we figure it out. Can Port fake it until they make it this year? Anything’s possible, but they’ll want to get a hurry on.
Collingwood (59) v Geelong (70)
Cats fans would have been having flashbacks to all their recent losses to the Pies when Collingwood opened a four-goal lead by quarter-time.
Geelong’s game plan of starting poorly and then waiting for Patrick Dangerfield to fix everything worked again. It’s why Chris Scott is one of the great tactical minds in the AFL.
Dangerfield had 32 disposals,12 clearances and booted two goals, including the key one for the Cats in the fourth.
The Cats rely on Dangerfield like my aunty relies on wine to get through the day.
You take him out of this side and would they have even made the finals?
Collingwood were competitive, but 59 points in a game isn’t going to get you across the line against anyone except Fremantle.
Even more amazingly, 59 points is hard to achieve when you have a 23-point lead at quarter-time.
One day, Collingwood might experiment with having a forward line, lots of teams are doing it these days.
Greater Western Sydney (81) v West Coast (60)
GWS’ Josh Kelly had a game so good that I expect there to be a huge number of stories about him going to various Victorian clubs this week.
He had 43 disposals and was the difference as the Giants struggle to overcome a dogged Eagles side.
This win means Giants have secured the double chance and judging by the way they played; they are going to need it.
They were terrible in parts of this, even making the Eagles appear competitive.
Still, GWS should be a big force in September, so you can see why Kelly would be so keen to go to North Melbourne.
While the Eagles did apply a lot of pressure, there’s a reason they're unlikely to play finals.
One of those main reasons is the fact that ‘Giants turnovers’ was probably the Eagles best player.
Gold Coast (57) v Essendon (90)
Essendon took a big step towards making finals with a relatively easy win on the weekend.
It means the dream of Brendon Goddard’s first feature film is still alive.
The downside for the Bombers is they really should have boosted their percentage by a lot more, kicking just 12-18.
It certainly wasn’t pressure that caused them to kick like that. The Suns seemed completely uninterested in this game.
‘Uninterested’ could be Gold Coast’s ‘brand’. Everyone apparently has a brand these days, and they can’t all be good ones.
It works for them too, not only are the players uninterested, so are the people of the Gold Coast.
The Bombers now must beat Fremantle next week to make sure they play finals.
That looks like a real possibility, as a team of backpackers playing the game for the first time could probably beat Fremantle these days.
Carlton (77) v Hawthorn (70)
Normally, anyone who ends Hawthorn’s finals chances would have my thanks but why did it have to be Carlton?
The Blues had not beaten Hawthorn since 2005, that’s 14 losses in a row.
The key factors in that trend had been Hawthorn being the best side in the competition and the Blues being one of the worst.
Carlton are still terrible, but the good news for them, is Hawthorn has managed to work their way down to their level.
I’ve said it before, that to beat Carlton you have to score 80 points, and surprisingly, Hawthorn found this difficult to do.
Tom Mitchell led by example again with 44 possessions but unfortunately, leading by example only works if others follow you.
It was a much-needed win for the Blues, who’s second half of the season has been, to use a technical term, hopeless.
You could sense it was a big deal when Blues supporters celebrated the win like one of those premierships they used to win over twenty years ago.
Melbourne (104) v Brisbane (91)
Life is not all cheese platters and smoked trout for Melbourne supporters, it’s the horror of watching your side almost blow it against the bottom side with finals on the line.
It was tenser at the MCG on Sunday than at a family Christmas, with Melbourne supporters watching on in horror as the Lions came again and again.
Like a family Christmas, this was a tension based on a lot of history. Melbourne stuffing up these games is usually something you can bet one of your beach houses on.
In that regard, while the win was hardly convincing, like a family Christmas with no fighting, people left relieved and saying ‘that wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be’.
The Lions would be disappointed in the result, but you can certainly see the signs of improvement occurring under Fagan.
They play North this week in what will be a battle for the number one draft pick. I have concerns about Brisbane’s ability to not accidentally beat North.
St Kilda (127) v North Melbourne (78)
In a game with little meaning, it was surprising to see both sides go at it on the quarter time siren.
Jake Carlisle was reported not once but twice during the scuffle, not the first time he’s been caught doing something silly on camera.
North Melbourne started off well enough but seemed to lose interest as the game went on. They weren’t alone there. Only Brad Scott’s facial expressions kept me watching.
The win was a nice home send off for Nick Riewoldt, who as well as being a champion of the game, should be remembered as someone who had to spend far too much time at Etihad Stadium.
Every player has to overcome some level of adversity but running on that surface as much as he did, is a burden no one should have to shoulder.
Fremantle (51) v Richmond (155)
I’d just like to remind everyone that Ross Lyon is a defensive specialist.
You might have forgotten that as the Tigers put 25 goals on the board in a display that will again have Dockers fans wondering why their board felt the need to give Lyon such a long contract.
It’s the third-time Fremantle have lost by 100 or more points this season, which means they’re playing balanced football, they can neither score or defend.
This was the Dockers last appearance at Domain Stadium, and ‘appearance’ would be the right word.
Like me at a party, they showed up briefly but didn’t participate in the festivities.
Richmond were very good, but they almost couldn’t have been anything else with the Dockers players seemed to be actively avoiding them.
Perhaps the only people to show real commitment in this game were the Freo supporters that stayed to the end. Now that took some effort.
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