Sep 05, 2022
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Finals Week One
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.
Brisbane (106) v Richmond (104)
Well, that was a rather intense few days of football, but it’s nice just to feel something again, even if it was heartache and pain.
We began with this game, where the two teams tested the theory ‘what if we just didn’t bother with defending?’.
The answer is you get an exciting game, 17 lead changes and Joe Daniher gets a chance to play a role in a final.
The Lions got off to a horrible start, when their ruckman, Oscar McInerney, went off concussed three minutes in, which you file under ‘things I certainly don’t want to happen when my team is playing in the finals.’
Without a ruckman, Brisbane had no chance, except this was Richmond, a team that made ‘almost but not quite’ their motto this year.
When Dion Prestia was subbed out with a hamstring injury late in the second quarter, a lot of Richmond’s momentum went with him, but there was still hope for the Tigers, being they were playing the Lions.
And it could have gone so well, except Tom Lynch missed a chance to seal the victory, with the goal umpire calling it a goal, only for the AFL Review Centre (ARC) to overrule it.
People need to admire the fact that the AFL can get things wrong in both digital and analogue forms, quite the achievement.
If the AFL had been in charge of building the ark in the Bible, not a single thing would be alive today.
The ARC was of course correct, because the AFL is never wrong, and if you think it has ever been, you’re breaking several laws, even more, if you’re in one of the Southern states.
But in the most alarming moment of the night, after the ball was failed to be punched through the goal by the Richmond defence, Joe Daniher managed to get a foot to the ball for a goal.
Moments later the siren went, and so shocked was everyone at this turn of events, they played the Richmond theme song like this was a Crows pre-season camp.
There have been people pardoned on death row who have looked less relieved than Chris Fagan did on Thursday night.
Melbourne (69) v Sydney (91)
There are some moments in life that are just brutal, finding out your parents don’t love you, watching your team lose a final, and discovering you forgot to drink your tea and it’s now cold.
In the past week, I’ve had all three happen to me. The tea thing really hurt.
The Swans repeated their efforts of earlier in the year by pressuring Melbourne into making mistakes, and the Demons obliged by making a lot of them, not least of all moving the ball forward with the pace of a glacier.
While part of the problem was the fact that Melbourne’s forward line is firing as well as NASA’s Artemis 1, the constant fumbling and dropping of marks further up the field didn’t help.
This was all due to the Swans relentless pressure and their ability to handle the Dees attempts to pressure them.
It looked like the Dees were playing in slippery, wet conditions, while the Swans were playing in the purest sunshine ever to grace the surface of the earth.
Steven May blanketed Buddy all night, but the difference was Buddy’s supporting cast were more than up to the task of lifting around him.
The Dees, instead of lifting when it counted, looked bruised and battered, with Christian Petracca playing with a hairline fracture, which is less than ideal in a finals series.
Personally, if I had a hairline fracture, I would be lying on the floor crying hysterically, but Petracca decided to play on, which is a legitimate option too I guess.
You can overcomplicate these review things; Sydney was simply better and more desperate, Robbie Fox proved that several times in his Gandalf moment.
Geelong (78) v Collingwood (72)
It’s September, which means it’s Gary Rohan time.
In one of the greatest finals games ever streamed on Kayo, Geelong and Collingwood stood toe to toe and threw haymakers at each other, and it was a shame there had to be a loser, even if Craig McRae doesn’t think there was.
In front of an enormous crowd, this was the brash young challenger up against the wily veteran.
There were so many factors in the Geelong win, and it could easily have gone the other way, but Jeremy Cameron was a big one.
When Cameron decided to leave the Giants, he had so many options, and I’m just glad he chose Geelong, a team starved of success for so long.
Collingwood certainly gave themselves every chance, and for one single reason, they were relentless in their pressure.
Like a newspaper columnist writing about gender identity, they had a singular, unwavering focus and had no interest in deviating from their preconceived plan.
This meant Geelong couldn’t really get their own game going, which is a testament to their victory because despite that, they still got the job done.
This was certainly helped by Taylor Adams going off injured in a moment that made even the hardest Pies hater feel sympathy.
He tore his groin right off the bone, a phrase you never want to hear.
If this is a preview of the Grand Final, we are in for a classic.
Fremantle (73) v Western Bulldogs (60)
To be a Dockers supporter is to experience a lot of emotions, and this game crammed them all into one game.
Fremantle fans looked mortified when their team failed to run out in the first quarter, and it was a terrible oversight.
Against any other team this could have been fatal, but in finals, the Bulldogs don’t play four quarters in Perth.
And that’s what is going to sting, up by 41 points in the second quarter and playing a team that has delighted in letting their fans down, this seemed a chance at another miracle run.
But this Dockers side seemed keen to not send their supporters home with tears in their eyes, and instead booted 11 of the last 13 goals, which is a great way not to lose a game.
Not that it was easy, the Dockers themselves were the very definition of their worst enemy, missing easy shots and seeming more nervous than Prince Andrew receiving a new subpoena.
Finally, they pulled it together, with Caleb Serong and Andrew Brayshaw driving the turnaround, while their defence just put up the ‘closed’ sign in the second half.
Fremantle’s faithful looked shocked. They liked what was happening, but they didn’t really understand it.
What looked like a belting suddenly turned into a character-defining victory.
As the final siren went, the crowd went wild, and then news started to filter out that there is a second week of finals, and their team would be participating in it.
Ahhh finals. Where sleep brings dreams of home.
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