The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Two | Titus O'Reily

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The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round 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.

Richmond (99) v Collingwood (88)

There was a moment during the first half, where I hoped my eyes would just fall out of their sockets and I wouldn’t have to watch anymore.

The skill errors were just something to behold. To think that all these players do is train to play football and many of them couldn’t hit a target five metres away.

In fact, so bad was this game, I would not have judged Channel Seven if they had gone to a movie instead.

Surely, The Shawshank Redemption hasn’t had a run in a few days? Watching this match certainly made me felt like being trapped in prison and I would have welcomed a shiv.

Seven though decided to stick with it, and things did improve slightly, from ‘never played football before’ skills to ‘second year of Auskick’ level.

There was a lot of talk that Nathan Buckley and Damien Hardwick were both coaching for their futures, but that seems to suggest they both have them. It’s like a mate saying he’s working out to keep his chance of marrying Scarlett Johansson alive.

Sure, the pressure is on Buckley now, but the Tigers played some truly atrocious football against a terrible team. Even Richmond fans wouldn’t have come away from this with hope.

Western Bulldogs (110) v Sydney (87)

Let’s first address the three blind elephants in the room: the umpires. The Melbourne Comedy Festival might be on, but the biggest joke was a series of decisions handed out over this round.

I’m not sure how much of all this is the umpires' fault. The AFL’s love of changing interpretations makes umpiring our game one of the most difficult tasks on Earth.

The deliberate rushed behind rule is the perfect example. We’d had no problem for more than a century, then Hawthorn does something a few times, and it’s now a mess.

The resulting interpretation is like cutting off your leg because you once stubbed your toe.

Being able to rush a behind was always a tactic defenders could use. Why change it?

I don’t think the Swans would have won this game but the umpiring made them losing it a sure thing. Swans supporters must be wondering when the AFL are going to get over them pinching Buddy from the Giants?

The Bulldogs looked rusty again in this game, but it was against quality opposition, so a lot of that was a result of pressure. When Buddy went supernova at the start of the fourth quarter, they seemed in a lot of trouble.

Yet they showed significant poise, even discounting the umpiring assist from that free against Callum Mills. Surely an umpiring assist stat is well overdue in a sport where we measure almost everything?

Tom Liberatore was a star on the night with 16 tackles. He likes tackling almost as much as I like bacon and I expect we will both suffer health issues later in life as a result.

Sydney, it must be said, have a lot of good players currently out. They might be the best 0-2 team ever.

Revelations that Dan Hannebery giving up alcohol may be a factor in his lack of form certainly ring true. Drinking on the job is important, something my years driving taxis taught me.

Hawthorn (89) v Adelaide (113)

Adelaide fans loved this and would have been even happier if North had got up.

It was the first time Adelaide has beaten Hawthorn since 2011; this may be the year of teams breaking losing streaks against the Hawks.

Hawks fans need to go all the way back to 2009 for the last time they were still winless after round two. They say into every life some rain must fall, but this is like rain falling in the Sahara. Hawks fans aren’t built for it.

A Hawthorn fan rang me last night to ask for some tips on how to handle it and when I mentioned they could even miss finals; she said she wasn’t aware that was even possible. “You mean not every team plays in the finals each year?” she said, her voice breaking a little as the tears came.

Even Adelaide fans can’t believe how well their team is going and how many players are just getting better and better. It’s an odd thing when a club says they’re going to keep improving their existing players and then they do just that.

Eddie Betts was so good again that I found myself yelling out in surprise at what he was doing, even though I was home alone. Nothing says, ‘massive loser’ than trying to high five an empty room after a miraculous goal and then remembering you have no friends due to some deep-seated personality issues.

This sets up a great Showdown next week with the Adelaide teams one and two on the ladder. The Victorian fans can’t even complain about it - the South Australian teams don’t have academies; they don’t even have electricity.

Greater Western Sydney (160) v Gold Coast (58)

Who would have thought that the Karmichael Hunt era would be remembered as the golden age of the Suns?

Rodney Eade did a great job setting up Collingwood for their current run of success, and he’s taken his winning formula to the Gold Coast with even more devastating results.

I’ve argued since the Suns appointed him that Rodney Eade is never the answer to any question worth asking and this game just confirmed it.

The Suns are like a reality TV contestant: not well known, serving no real purpose and stuck on the Gold Coast.

Gary Ablett might as well be playing with a sign around him that says, ‘I’d rather be in Geelong’. I read this week that the Suns’ players are just playing for themselves, but I’m not sure they’re even doing that.

Greater Western Sydney just further highlighted what a disgrace the Suns are. People complain about all the help they got, but at least they didn’t waste it.

This week the Giants wanted to make a statement after last week’s insipid performance, but this was hard to do when they didn’t come up against any competition. Instead, they used this as a no-contact training session.

Brisbane (84) v Essendon (111)

A strange but enjoyable game. Brisbane are showing that having a coach who knows what they’re doing makes an enormous difference.

The Lions players seem to be trying, playing actual roles and coordinating their efforts. It’s a brave new world.

Unfortunately, their skills don’t quite match their ambitions but that’s OK; they weren’t expected to win the premiership this year or even a game, so they’re ahead.

Brisbane fans now have something they haven’t had in a long time: hope.

It looked over for them early on, with a 42-point deficit facing them in the second quarter. The fact the Lions got back in the lead, albeit briefly, shows this is not a team that’s going to just surrender the moment things get hard.

The Bombers though would be annoyed they let the Lions back in after playing some impressive football early. Avoiding disaster is nice, but it’s better to never be in that position.

Essendon’s biggest asset was their speed through the corridor. Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti was magnificent and is a rare footballer, an Essendon player everyone can like.  

Orazio Fantasia was also impressive booting five goals, which importantly means he may be more that a cult figure due to his name, he may be a good player.

West Coast (116) v St Kilda (97)

Now the umpiring in this was terrible, but it’s rarely good in Perth unless you’re an Eagles fan.

Despite all this, the Saints real problem was they kicked for goal with the accuracy of a Trump press conference. Who knew? Accuracy does count.

Kicking 19 behinds is never going to be good unless you’re playing Fremantle, where nineteen points might get the job done.

The real shame of this is the Saints played so well. After last week’s lacklustre outing, they needed to show they were the rising team everyone thought they were.

This did that in a way; they are again a rising team, just one that can’t kick straight.

Their fighting spirit though was exemplified by Jack Steven who played out the game with a punctured lung. That’s ridiculous.

I take a day off work if I just think I’m getting sick. Lucky for me, a punctured lung would take some doing while writing a blog. As readers of this column know, I did once injure my eye writing this column, when I rubbed some flavouring from Barbeque Shapes in my eye, so it’s not all plain sailing.

The Eagles looked very beatable in this. At home, free kick count to their advantage 23-8 and the other team spraying shots like that’s the aim of the game.

Most worrying was the skills of the Eagles players. You’d hope it was a collective off night because at times they were embarrassing.

The Eagles may be the worst 2-0 team in the competition. No hang on, that's Richmond.

Geelong (112) v North Melbourne (111)

In a round where several teams tried to ruin their supporters' lives, North found the most creative way.

While the Suns and the Dockers went the traditional ‘get thrashed’ approach, North decided on a loss in the dying seconds after leading all day, which requires more effort but hurts a lot more.

North got off to a flyer, showing that they won’t be the easy beats some predicted this year.

They displayed a desperate desire to win, to the point that Scott Thompson tried to kill Patrick Dangerfield by elbowing him in the face while he was on the ground.

It’s poor form, trying to kill someone on the footy field, but the bigger problem for the Kangaroos is it didn’t even work.

The Cats were 32 points down during the third quarter, and it seemed every time they were making a comeback the Kangaroos would get back on top.

Geelong decided in the fourth quarter that not relying on Dangerfield and Selwood obviously wasn’t working so they went back to that. Both had 11 possessions each in the final quarter, as the Cats edged closer and closer to North before finally overrunning them

It was a tough day for North supporters, but they can find solace in the fact they helped all our tips.

Melbourne (86) v Carlton (64)

Last week, Carlton produced a terrible banner that some PR firm wrote for them and everyone laughed at them, so they did the sensible thing and doubled down with an even worse one.

This week’s banner said:

Dees fans are about to have an off day like Bueller, you might have yachts but hovercrafts are cooler.

Now, who doesn’t love a Ferris Bueller reference even if it is shoehorned in there and makes no sense at all? The bit about hovercrafts is weird, though.

Remember, the Blues hovercraft sunk in the Yarra in 2015 in the perfect real life metaphor for Carlton as a club. On the other hand, none of my yachts have ever sunk on the Yarra or any other body of water.

I think it’s time to leave the funny banners to the Bulldogs. Especially considering when I offered my services to Melbourne, they said, and I quote “We’d rather die in a fire. No, wait, not us you.”

“So that’s a maybe?” I said.

For Melbourne fans, it’s strange that falling across the line against a team seen by many to be destined for the bottom of the ladder, felt like a breakthrough.

So bad have Melbourne been in games like this that when the Blues started to play with real commitment in the third quarter, Melbourne fans begun gathering their things and getting ready to beat the traffic home.

Carlton to their credit was good, but the Dees disposal was so poor it made me wonder if the fix was in.

It took four quarters but finally, Melbourne's strategy of waiting for Carlton to make more mistakes than them paid off.

That’s all this game was, two teams challenging each other to see who could turn over the ball more. Finally, it appears Melbourne are no longer the best in the world at this.

It’s the first time since 2005 that Melbourne are 2-0 at the start of the season. That’s a long time. 2005 was the year the New Horizons probe was completed. That means in the time it’s taken to rebuild Melbourne; the human race has built a spaceship and flown it to Pluto.

Port Adelaide (145) v Fremantle (56)

Oh dear.

That extension to Ross Lyon’s contract is looking like a bigger disaster than Speed 2: Cruise Control.

Fremantle turned in one of the great terrible performances of recent memory. They can’t kick, can’t handball, can’t defend and even running seems problematic.

The pressure must be on Lyon because this wasn’t even close to what this team should be doing. The idea that they need a four to five-year rebuild is one of the greatest myths going around. Spin needs to be based in at least some fact.

Ross Lyon is meant to be a defensive genius, but the Power slammed on 145 points.

Now Port are much improved but a team working together at AFL level shouldn’t be letting them do that. You have to be going out of your way to not work together to enable that.

The only question remaining for Fremantle is where will Nat Fyfe play next year?

The Power on the other hand are having the sort of start to the season that even they couldn’t have imagined. A win in Sydney was great but destroying a terrible team and showing them no mercy was a wonderful confidence booster.

The idea they would be 2-0 after trips to Sydney was unthinkable just a fortnight ago.

They had stars everywhere, which happens when you play a team that seems to be actively trying to help you win.

Robbie Gray had six goals and 30 possessions, which against the Dockers is technically a poor game.

It sets up an exciting Ramsgate Cup next week: whoever wins that will win the keys to the city, which is a big deal in Adelaide given everything is closed most of the time.

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Marcus Schivo 3 April 2017

"In a round where several teams tried to ruin their supporters lives, North found the most creative way."

That's ok, they only have about 17 lives that they ruined yesterday. Although it was an effort that Richmond would be proud of. The perfect troll job.

Alexander 3 April 2017

Pfft, bloody copycats. Richmond coughed up a 35 point against Geelong to lose by 6 in the same fashion late last year. A fact I was reminded of a few days ago after I successfully repressed that memory.

facts_guy 3 April 2017

unthinkable because Port didn't travel to Perth

TOVO 3 April 2017

Well noted. It might have been better if Freo didn't travel to Adelaide either.

Alistair clarkson 3 April 2017

My team need a good break Titus, there old and we need draft picks being able to get picks 99 and 100 takes its toll
Finals still in site

Benj 3 April 2017

Not sure if the poor spelling and grammar is intentional here...

Crab 3 April 2017

If I were as drunk as I know he was, I would not have been awake long enough to finish the piece. I think he did well.

(Freo) Frank LeFaucheur 3 April 2017

'You da man' Titus - haste some of what you are saying about the Dockers but it is eerily accurate !!!! really entertaining stuff - LUV YOR WERK !

Tommy Thunder 3 April 2017

'The idea they would be 2-0 after trips to Sydney and Perth was unthinkable just a fortnight ago. ' Port played at home Sunday......

Alexander 3 April 2017

"The idea they would be 2-0 after trips to Sydney and Perth was unthinkable just a fortnight ago"
The Port vs Freo game was played in Adelaide. Port didn't travel to Perth.

Deets 3 April 2017

Has anyone mentioned yet, that Port didnt travel to Perth...

Matty 3 April 2017

Nope, but they probably should.

Jaymond 3 April 2017

I saw a great explanation of the Freo game plan. They had implemented the survive a wild bear attack in the woods by playing dead tactic.

Holden Broke 3 April 2017

"Fremantle turned in one of the great terrible performances of recent memory.
They can’t kick, can’t handball, can’t defend and even running seems problematic."

Uncannily accurate and remarkably concise summary.
Ever thought of doing this stuff for a living?

keith 3 April 2017

Thanks Titus. Why aren't the dogs barking about John Longmire? They've lost their last 3 games. Clearly that premiership and all those finals were flukes.

Nick 3 April 2017

The Port v Freo game was in Adelaide not Perth.

Ryan 3 April 2017

"Never let facts get in the way of a good story"

Captain Copy 3 April 2017

Titus - I am sure you've glazed over these comments, and in case you haven't seen the fine fact checking commentary above, Port played at home. Near Adelaide. In between Melbourne and Perth. Not on the road.

It's an easy mistake to make - I was taught in Primary school that the only thing between Melbourne and Perth is a train track, not a football team or two.

Rick Montiadis 5 April 2017

Maybe your teacher was illiterate & certainly no historian. Adelaide has produced according to th AFL records the most Suuccessful team in Australia ThePortAdelaide FC
38 premierships, 4 champions of Australia, 3 consecutive Me Clennan trophies( a task no other club has achieved in the VFL /AFL history & 3 Ascort Cups . 6 consecutive premierships . No other club in the AFL has come close.

Jamjam 3 April 2017

On Port - "The idea they would be 2-0 after trips to Sydney and Perth was unthinkable just a fortnight ago."

They played Freo at home. They have not travelled to Perth.

Flava Flave 3 April 2017

You had me at Scar-Jo!
Love your work Titus.

justin 3 April 2017

I think you have raised a pertinent point re the bulldogs and the umpires. The AFL would be smart to have a quiet word with the umpiring dept. and nip it in the bud now. Can you imagine the embarrassment of Mike Fitzpatrick, Gillon McLachlan and the whole AFL if the bulldogs won a premiership on the back of some fairly dubious umpiring? Hard to believe I know, but stranger things have happened. They did make a 5th Die Hard movie after all....

Pablo Lorenz 3 April 2017

Well, I can sleep secure in knowing that my club is up there, right up there in terms of being the worst managed club in the comp.
Asking Andrew McCleod if he thinks he has what it takes to be a Docker, Damian Drum, Chris Connolly, letting Chris Scott get away, Signing a five year deal with Ross Lyon (who I never wanted at the club, consistency and finals notwithstanding).

22 years and not a great deal of success if any. I'm just about done with this club.

Jona 3 April 2017

Just about done with the club? You sound like a 'supporter' who has never been with it at all.

TOVO 3 April 2017

22 years with no success whatsoever. Making the Grand Final once does not constitute success. I love Ross Lyon and hope he stays put. Whenever my team loses I can always improve my mood by reminding myself that it could be worse, I could barrack for Fremantle.

Hank 3 April 2017

I think Freo is in the Saint space. Whoever did list management at the Saints followed Ross over. Ross the Finisher is quite a ride. Ross the rebuilder needs to go back to tafe and get some qualifications. Freooo old and slow....

Timmy G 3 April 2017

Roll on Showdown, looking forward to putting the mob from Ethelton firmly back into their wine boxes!

JohnB 3 April 2017

Was the hovercraft full of eels?

Robert Lebleu 3 April 2017

Sadly, this joke was lost in translation.

Clive Waterhouse's underpants 3 April 2017

Having two South Australian teams on top of the ladder is very disturbing. Can the AFL use the Port v GCoast game in China to re-home the umpires from the West Coast game?

The Hopper 3 April 2017

Carlton's Ferris Bueller reference was woefully off the mark. Bueller didn't have an 'off' day, as Carlton were suggesting. He had a magnificent day out. So wishing that on your competitor is just baffling.

crowfan65 3 April 2017

Love your work Titus. Always get a giggle even when you bag out the city of Adelaide, where I live.
Back to peddling the bike to get the electricity running again

Jona 3 April 2017

I agree with all the sentiment on here. Clearly anyone can see the Dockers have a skilful and capable defence and a mature and potent forward line. It seems having a shedload of gun mids and a dominant ruckman (except when the Umps penalise him for standing still and being too tall) are not enough to win games (who knew Brad Lloyd?). Our media guru Luke Morphesse is a sly one - to suggest we need a 4 year rebuild is clearly's not like all we do is draft midfielders and then hope a rookie or two who's never played football before like Matt Taberner can play key positions...

WARNEY 3 April 2017

So comparatively who do you think has done more damage as a coach? Neeld or Malthouse? As a Melbourne fan I have to say Malthouse, he managed to eff Carlton and Melbourne, and in the years to come this will be seen as Eddies' great triumph!

Mac Hawk 3 April 2017

What's the other option - marrying Scarlett Johansson dead ?

Sandra Sully 3 April 2017

With the late news, Port played at home...I only saw 30 comments pointing this out and thought 2 more should do the trick...

Sandra Sully 3 April 2017

As per above

The Donald 3 April 2017

References above to Titus saying the weekends game between Port and Freo was in Perth is fake news ... read what he said again ... "The idea they would be 2-0 after trips to Sydney was unthinkable just a fortnight ago" Untidy maybe but no suggestion the game was not in Adelaide. Tidy it up for them Spicer ... and bring me my slippers.

Marc 4 April 2017

Just to be sure, did Port play at home?

Knox 4 April 2017

The team fell in front of the bus and Garlett tackled them away just in time

Rick Montiadis 6 April 2017

It appears to me that both the AFL & the umpires are seduced by the romanticism of the Buldogs last year and this year. Mostly they are given a ride. When coaching genius Alistair Clarkson says that Hawthorne made 100 tackles and only 3 frees paid for holding the ball against the Bulldogs last year speaks louder than most learned scribes.

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