Jul 19, 2021
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Eighteen
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.
Fremantle (31) v Geelong (100)
First off, an apology for not getting the columns out last week, a combination of my computer dying, waiting for a new one, being incredibly unwell, getting a covid test, finding out I didn’t have covid, going into lockdown, then losing the will to live, all conspired against me.
Speaking of losing the will to live, Dockers fans certainly had their fair share of that during this routing.
For a team travelling quite well, this was a brutal reality check, with the Cats booting seven unanswered goals either side of quarter-time, when the Dockers forgot how to play football.
You know it’s not going well when your opponents have 123 more disposals and 72 more marks than you.
When the Dockers did get the ball, they took it forward with the confidence I bring to small talk. They were awkward, hesitant, and left a lot to be desired.
It was a brutal reminder that there’s a fair drop off from the top few teams.
Richmond (106) v Brisbane (86)
Going into this, the signs weren’t good for Richmond, coming off four losses to ordinary opposition, the game moved from the MCG to the Gold Coast, and then traffic to preventing the game from starting on time.
You know something is deeply wrong with our country when footy games can’t start on time.
But for Jack Riewoldt’s 300th game, the Tigers found that energy of old, with Riewoldt turning back the clock and booting six.
Yet the positive return of Richmond’s high-pressure came at a cost, Dustin Martin will miss the rest of the season with a kidney injury.
Many Australians know how he feels, all these lockdowns have done similar damage to our livers.
For the Lions, after last week’s performance against St Kilda, a top-four finish is now looking about as likely as Sydney getting out of lockdown this year.
St Kilda (61) v Port Adelaide (74)
The Saints late charge for the eight hit a hurdle on the weekend, once again reminding us that leaving everything to the last minute has its dangers.
St Kilda’s Dan McKenzie was an early casualty, when during a tackle, Mitch Georgiades landed on top of him. It’s a reminder of the inherent danger of AFL when even an opponent landing on you can knock you unconscious.
Despite us all knowing this, we fans still reserve the right to call players soft, even though most of us would die if tackled by an AFL player. Being a footy fan is not a logical exercise, it is the polar opposite.
You could tell there was no real crowd at this because after the many misses for goal there wasn’t groaning. The fake crowd noises don’t have people losing their minds, which seems an oversight. It’s not like there isn’t plenty of such incidents on tape.
The win for Port keeps them in the top four, keeping their chances of losing to the top teams in the finals alive.
Gold Coast (79) v Western Bulldogs (90)
Who knows what time the Bulldogs’ bus left for Metricon Stadium after Richmond’s problems the night before?
Personally, I like to always leave early so I’m not late. This is always easily achievable due to me not having much on. When I open my calendar, there’s so little in it, I’m always struck by the thought that there’s no need for me to have a calendar.
Adding to that, repeat lockdowns mean I barely know what day it is let alone the month. Since early 2020, my mind just thinks of time as one mess surrounded by a solar system of other messes.
At least for Bulldogs fans got a moment to enjoy the work of their number one draft pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, who took some nice marks and kicked three goals.
Personally, after his first game, I’d written off his entire career, but it turns out I might have been hasty.
The Suns continued to show improvement, the last time these two met in Round five the Bulldogs destroyed them.
This time the Suns put up a real fight, with Touk Miller once again dragging his teammates along.
He had 38 disposals and surely he must now be seen as one of the best players in the game. He gets around more than patient zero for a covid outbreak.
Melbourne (79) v Hawthorn (79)
What the hell Melbourne.
In a season where they’re top of the ladder and we fans should be joyously happy; the Dees still find ways to torture us.
Hawthorn made this game messy, and the Dees seemed not that keen on getting messy.
Non-stop pressure can narrow the gap between the best teams and the worst.
Time and again, the Hawks just outworked the Dees at the contest, and this created their own luck, every bounce seemed to go their way, which happens when you are just putting in more effort.
A lot has been made of the Dees losing to the lower teams, but that distracts from the real problem, which is their last six weeks have been poor, especially when it comes to winning the ball at stoppages.
For Hawthorn, it showed what a great coach they have. They’re such a rare commodity, and when you’ve got when you should never let them go.
As for the draw, people say we should get rid of them and replace them with a penalty shoot out equivalent.
I hate that idea. A goal-kicking contest would be like deciding the final of MasterChef by seeing who can order from a Maccas drive-thru the fastest.
North Melbourne (74) v Essendon (92)
This was another game shifted to the Gold Coast due to Covid. If only the AFL had listened to Jaidyn ‘Professor Science’ Stephenson, they could have stayed in Melbourne.
According to the good doctor, if the media reported on Covid less, it wouldn’t be ‘such a big thing’.
It’s right out of Trump’s ‘if we tested less, we’d have fewer cases’ theory.
It’s a reminder that listening to footballers, ex-footballers, their partners and reality TV stars when it comes to Covid, is like listening to your mate’s theories on footy. It’s amusing but you don’t take them seriously.
Essendon got the win in this despite spending the first half casually strolling around the field.
It occurred to them in the second half that this wouldn’t get the job done, especially against a North side that is improving every week.
Jake Stringer and Darcy Parish were key to turning things around, and their example of breaking out of a light jog inspired their teammates.
It wasn’t a convincing victory, but when the other teams contesting for the top eight keep falling over, it’s just enough to stay on your feet.
Collingwood (62) v Carlton (91)
Sam Walsh is so good, it’s hard to believe he plays for Carlton.
In this game, it was like a Ferrari had been dropped into a go-kart race.
A go-kart race where all the go-karts are painted the same colour so you can’t tell them apart.
Collingwood’s refusal to have an alternate strip made this look terrible but to their credit, as the game went on, their general play was what made it look terrible.
The Pies had the upper hand early, and the Blues fans were already calling for blood on Twitter before the Pies just stopped.
It’s like any time Collingwood get around 60 to 70 points, they slam on the breaks like there’s a speed limit or something.
The Blues, seeming to realise this, just kept getting better and better, and with the passing of Sergio Silvagni, and his grandson Jack playing a very good game in an emotional week, I felt happy for the Blues when they won.
I know. I’m not sure what’s wrong with me. I guess the pressure of lockdown V is getting to me. Not as much as Lockdown IV did, but more than Lockdown III.
Man, I wish I couldn’t rank lockdowns by the impact on my psychological health, but here we all are.
Adelaide (56) v West Coast (98)
West Coast have done an abrupt turnaround and decided they will continue with season 2021 after all.
I’m glad they had a change of heart. Refusing to play footy the last few weeks seemed an unnecessary overreaction to the troubles we all face.
And a big thank you to the Crows for taking the time to build up the Eagles self-confidence back up. Sometimes in life, it’s about lifting others up, and in this game, the Crows certainly did that.
The Crows have now lost four in a row, taking the gloss off some good performances early on.
The good news for the Crows is they can just quietly work on things, what with the Adelaide media being pretty forgiving towards them.
Greater Western Sydney (72) v Sydney (98)
What a chaotic end to the round. First off, we learnt AFL players went to a Rugby Union game. Where’s the loyalty?
If you’re going to go to a tier-one or two sites, make it AFL.
I think that’s why the AFL had no sympathy that eight players were unavailable for the game.
Plus, it wasn’t Victorian teams, so no biggie.
It’s the biggest threat Rugby Union has presented to the AFL since the early 2000s.
With so many players missing, it was hard to know what was going to happen and early on it seemed the Swans have 20 players not able to play.
But at halftime, I think more Giants players got told they’d been at tier two sites, because they didn’t participate in the game any further as the Swans came from 35 points back to smash them.
It was all one-way traffic in the second half, with the Swans kicking 12 of the last 14 goals as the Giants defence became as effective as Sydney’s lockdown.
The game was a reminder of just how fragile the footy season is. You get the feeling we’ll be lucky to get to the end.
The emotion was on full display when John Longmire wiped tears away from his eyes after the game.
You know times are tough when even football coaches are crying.
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