Jul 16, 2023
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Eighteen
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.
Sydney (78) v Western Bulldogs (76)
Hey, has anyone heard of Errol Gulden? I’m in Victoria, so I haven’t heard of him before, but he seemed to be doing a very good job on Thursday night!
I wonder which Victorian team he could end up at. That’s how good he is.
He was in stark contrast to the Doggies, who were not doing a very good job.
Quite a few of them were not doing the job at all and have not been for some time.
The Bulldogs have been asleep at the wheel for over a month now. They’re 2-5 recently, and those two wins were against North and Fremantle.
It’s not the CV of a finalist.
It was Tom Papley’s birthday on Thursday, and people kept mentioning it, which was weird. I stopped noting my birthday when I was seven, but many adults seem to do it these days, even telling other adults when it's coming up.
Papley celebrated with four goals and bought his usual, ‘the kid in the class with ADHD’ energy to the game.
It proved too much for the Doggies, who now find themselves in that mix of about seven teams who are playing the Making Up the Numbers in September Sweepstakes.
Melbourne (105) v Brisbane (104)
This one went back and forth more than a couple trying to decide what to order for dinner.
“I’ll eat anything.”
“What do you want?”
“I’d eat Asian.”
“So, you’ll eat anything as long as it's Asian.”
“Look, you just get something. I won’t eat.”
After the match, Chris Fagan seemed as angry as someone who has just gone through the above conversation.
When Joe Daniher put the Lions up by 25 points early in the fourth quarter, the game seemed over.
The Lions had split the Dees apart in the middle two quarters, running all over them with abandon.
But after that Daniher goal, it seemed Greg Norman had stepped into the coaches’ box.
Not since my grade five teacher accidentally gave Joey Francis a peanut butter sandwich have I seen someone choke that hard.
Joey recovered, but I’m not as confident about Brisbane.
They’ll be having nightmares of a rather tall man with a shaved head and beard running amok like a Viking in an Irish monastery.
Everything had to go right for the Dees to come back in this one.
Christian Petracca had to move seamlessly between midfield and forward, Jack Viney had to rip the ball out of his opponent’s hands with casual ease, and Jake Melksham had to kick two clutch goals.
And all Brisbane had to do was tense up and hope they could hold on.
Collingwood (113) v Fremantle (67)
As if to underline their lack of interest in going near the finals this season, the Dockers quickly hoisted the white flag in the second quarter in this one.
Fremantle were so accommodating they even enabled the Pies to sub in Tom Mitchell early, so he could get a bit of a run in.
Collingwood’s 10-goal second quarter had Justin Longmuir looking like a dad being forced by the family to watch Dancing with the Stars when he had an episode of Yellowstone saved up.
The Dockers now sit fifteenth on the ladder, and based on this, they deserve it.
The Pies would have gotten out of this game about as much as they would get out of a light training session. They went through the gears, only to look back and see the Dockers didn’t have any.
Everyone was good, they all did Collingwood things, and the Pies faithful were very happy. It’s becoming boring.
They were even nice to Brett Rosebury, who became just the second person to umpire 500 VFL/AFL games.
The Collingwood midfielders all went up and congratulated him before the game.
What happened to threatening his family? I’ve heard Rosebury returned to his car after the game, and it hadn’t even been keyed.
These are dark days.
Gold Coast (77) v St Kilda (51)
While Fremantle have disappointed, the Saints feel like a team that is once again going to show everyone what true disappointment is.
In the past five games, they’ve had one win.
That win was against the Eagles, and it was hard fought. If you’re having hard-fought wins against West Coast, there should be more sirens going off than during a certain April night at Chernobyl.
To prove they really are serious about missing the finals, the Saints lost to the Suns, who just sacked their coach.
Losing to a team that just sacked its coach is an old tradition, but the worrying thing for the Saints fans was the lack of urgency from the St Kilda players and the ability to turn the ball over like it was a team goal.
Speaking of team goals, the Saints can’t kick them. They are to scoring what I was in my twenties. And thirties. And forties.
The Suns are now technically in the hunt for the finals. It would be amusing to see them make it from here, and a good idea would be to sack a coach each week; it seems to be the only thing that motivates the players.
Carlton (122) v Port Adelaide (72)
It’s well-documented how little belief I have in the Carlton Football Club. This is based on decades of evidence.
But footy always provided a chance that things could turn around.
Could this be the moment? The Blues ending the Power’s 13-game winning streak and powering into the finals?
I just got chills. Like the ghost of Carlton premierships past just entered the room.
Yet, there’s still hope. Nothing would be more on brand for 21st Century Carlton than to give some hope before tearing it down.
It shouldn’t be, though. If they can play like they did against Port they could cause some trouble.
Apparently, this has all come from the players sitting around a campfire and chatting. Why couldn’t it have rained that night?
As for Port, they should obviously sack Ken Hinkley and head back to the drawing board. A disaster of a season.
Geelong (122) v Essendon (45)
Essendon must have thought this was a final.
So rarely do they visit Geelong they obviously had trouble finding the place, not arriving at the ground until quarter time.
By then, the Cats had booted seven goals and led by 46 points.
Things didn’t really change in the remaining three quarters as the Bombers gave off real ‘deer in the headlights’ vibes.
Imagine if this had been a full Kardinia Park? Essendon may never have got off the bus.
It turned out the AFL refusing to move the game to the MCG saved a lot of Bomber fans a waster Saturday night.
Essendon captain Zach Merrett was fined for staging, but really all the Bombers were staging, all pretending to be a football side.
It makes you wonder how good are Geelong or was this just the Bombers panicking because September is approaching, and they are still unable to book a flight to Thailand?
Tom Hawkins booted five goals, and he didn’t even kick a goal in the first-quarter barrage.
If this is the level Geelong is at, then we have a new contender in the mix, that contender being the reigning premiers.
As for Essendon, their spot in the eight is now under threat, and they play the Bulldogs next in the battle of the disappointments.
Adelaide (57) v Greater Western Sydney (71)
Oh, Adelaide. I’m not mad; I’m disappointed.
Things were looking so promising, but two losses in a row see you plummet to twelfth on the ladder and in danger of dropping out of the Making Up the Numbers in September Sweepstakes.
This was an angry clash, with lots of spot fires and Josh Rachele losing his mind.
But the Crows had things in hand, except for that pesky fourth quarter when the Crows booted a solitary point while the Giants piled on five goals.
Adelaide’s fans looked on in horror as the Giants found another gear and the Crows found neutral.
It was horrendous stuff from the Crows.
Adam Kingsley has really turned the Giants around. They’ve won five in a row and now sit in ninth, with Essendon, the Bulldogs and St Kilda looking wobbly above them.
There is a big, big sound from west of the town, but there’s also a big, big sound from South Australia, it’s the sound of Crows fans blowing up talkback radio.
North Melbourne (40) v Hawthorn (88)
The AFL know how to schedule.
An entire Sunday and nothing but absolute rubbish. This game was rubbish, and the next game was rubbish too.
The only thing interesting about this was seeing if the Hawks could lose by goal-kicking inaccuracy alone.
At half-time, they were 3.13 to North’s 4.1, and it was close. I mean, it was close on the scoreboard.
On the field, it was a horrible mess, with North playing so poorly, it had to be seen to be believed.
Missed tackles, turnovers and skills that would make the crowd at a fifth-division suburban game laugh.
Hawthorn played a lot better, but they couldn’t kick straight the minute the ball entered the forward fifty.
They sorted that out in the second half, leaving me only watching because I have nothing else in my life.
West Coast (60) v Richmond (98)
Then I had to watch this nonsense. I mean, how are we expanding this competition? There are not enough skilful players to fill 16 teams, let alone the eighteen we have. So, let’s add another?
I’m all for a team in Tasmania but I couldn’t hate the idea of having nineteen teams more.
That’s because I watch all these games. West Coast are a disaster, they just aren’t even close to being competitive in this League and North are not that much better.
We get to finals, and everyone says, ‘Wow how exciting are these games?’
Yeah, because all the bottom teams aren’t there anymore, and the teams are not a quarter full of sub-par players.
What we really have is a competition with about two secret byes built in; this year, it’s North and West Coast.
The AFL is basically charging the fans and the broadcasters for two glorified training runs.
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This week’s Sports Bizarre episode is The Footballer Who Wasn’t, available wherever you get your podcasts.