Jun 03, 2019
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Eleven
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.
North Melbourne (99) v Richmond (62)
So it turns out coaching North isn’t as hard as Brad Scott made it look over all those years.
On Friday night, it looked like there wasn’t just a new coach but an entirely new set of players.
While much was made of the players being sad Brad was gone, they obviously realised pretty quickly that not being coached by Brad Scott is way better than being coached by Brad Scott.
North suddenly seemed like a team motivated to play, perhaps they realised they’re all a chance to be traded. I guess they all wanted to impress future suitors.
“If I play really well, I may get out of here.”
Cameron Zurhaar was an example; he became a tackling machine, with five in the first quarter.
Richmond players started to keep an eye out for him across the whole field. It was like watching the swimmers inJaws when the shark enters the estuary on the Fourth of July weekend.
The Tigers didn’t really seem very Tiger-y. Even with Trent Cotchin back, they seemed to have no presence around the ball, and their skills would have reminded their fans of the bad old days.
They were probably due for an off night, but they’d want to respond a bit better to this level of pressure in the future.
I mean, Rhyce Shaw may be a master coach, but this was still North.
Collingwood (75) v Fremantle (79)
Now we need to acknowledge a couple of things up front. Firstly, the continuing amateur hour that is the AFL’s goal review system.
The second, is the fact Collingwood had the chance to win this, but Fremantle were just better anyway.
To their credit, Collingwood didn’t whinge about the goal review that missed Chris Mayne touching Michael Walters snap at goal in the third quarter.
Nathan Buckley simply said his team just didn’t deserve the win.
The AFL said the score review officer couldn’t see the footage that was shown to the broadcast due to ‘technical difficulties’.
I’m convinced the AFL seek out people to do the score review officer job who find remote controls confusing and share a single email address with their spouse.
Fremantle would be rightly annoyed that people are trying to take the shine off what was a truly magnificent win.
It’s not their fault the AFL are a bit hopeless, and they still had to do an enormous amount of work to win this.
For the second week in a row, a Dockers game has been not only watchable but entertaining. What’s next? Does Jackie O get charisma?
It was also the second week in a row when Michael Walters managed to be the man of the hour, this time kicking a goal with about 30 seconds left on the clock.
The win means we have to start taking the Dockers a bit more seriously, which is disappointing. On the positive side, perhaps the Pies won’t win the Premiership this year. Do we dare to dream?
Greater Western Sydney (126) v Gold Coast (43)
Only 7581 people showed up to watch this game, which means more people in China went to an AFL game this weekend than in Sydney.
I suppose the difference is the Chinese aren’t openly hostile towards the code.
To think Tasmania can’t get a team. I guess they can’t financially work, unlike the Suns and the Giants who have only needed 100s of millions of dollars poured into them to prop them up.
The arguments against a Tasmanian side would have a lot more potency to them, like the size of the state, the financial viability, if the Suns and Giants didn’t exist.
And I know Western Sydney and the Gold Coast are some of the fastest growing places in Australia while Tasmania isn’t.
The only problem is the only thing not growing is their interest in AFL.
It’s probably for the best that few people saw this, as it was a training run for the Giants after quarter time.
Geelong (85) v Sydney (63)
With Gary Ablett confined to punching and elbowing people off the field this week, it was nice to see Tom Hawkins pay him homage with a weird strike to Jordan Dawson’s head.
Will Hawkins get suspended? Well, give the consistency of the Match Review Officer, he could be offered anything from life in jail to the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Cats seemed vulnerable to a Sydney team that was showing signs of getting its act together, and at times in the match, Geelong fans would have suspected this may be their long overdue loss.
Unfortunately for Swans fans, that improvement was a mirage, as Patrick Dangerfield was moved into the middle and things started to turn the Cats way.
Other players stood up too, like Tim Kelly. He better calm down, or the Eagles aren’t going to be able to afford him at the end of the year.
While the Cats’ midfield deserves a lot of credit, so too does the Swans embarrassing goalkicking, ending with 8.15.
They’ll rue their accuracy, but on the plus side, it meant it wasn’t close, so Dane Rampe couldn’t do anything stupid this week.
Brisbane (85) v Hawthorn (66)
Perhaps the biggest talking point to come out of this was the weird school boy chant the Lions rolled out at three-quarter time when about 100 Marist College Ashgrove students came out on the ground.
One had a microphone and another a drum. The one with the microphone would chant something, completely incomprehensible, while the drum beat randomly, and the rest of the boys would repeat what the kid with the microphone said, although this time it was even harder to understand what was being yelled.
It was like most things that go on between private school boys, amusing to them, utterly perplexing to everyone else.
I did briefly wish the proposed live lion Brisbane wanted at their games was there and was let loose in the middle of it.
A lot of people seemed to enjoy it, though. I’d be a bit careful approving it just yet; I would like to know what they were actually saying before judging, they could have been yelling out sections of Mein Kampf for all we know.
As for the game itself, this was a clear indication of how far Brisbane have come. Hawthorn threw everything at them in the first quarter, kicking the first five goals and leading by 25 at the first break.
The only negative for the Hawks in the first quarter was an off the ball incident when James Sicily appeared to punch Lincoln McCarthy in the stomach.
James would have been better off elbowing McCarthy in the stomach; you can get away with that.
After the first quarter, like someone who’s late to work and knows they need to make it up, the Lions fought their way back into the game, setting up a close last quarter.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, the Lions by then had all the momentum, plus Hawthorn had lost Chad Wingard to a hamstring injury, not that that changed his usual impact on the field since joining Hawthorn.
Melbourne (88) v Adelaide (90)
What's being a Melbourne fan like? Well, imagine the love of your life breaking up with you every weekend but in new and unusual ways each time.
The Demons started the game well enough, doing something new, actually converting their inside 50 chances. There were even kicks going straight to their own forwards.
It saw Melbourne leap ahead and look like they were on the way to a big win.
Adelaide it has to be said were bad. Embarrassingly bad at times, and as the Demons shot ahead to a 31-point lead in the third quarter, there was no way the Crows, playing as they were, could come back.
Especially with Rory Sloane off the ground with a hamstring injury from the second quarter.
But like Houdini, just when you think there’s no way they can escape the inevitable, the real Melbourne showed up. Sure, the Crows lifted in the third, but it was Melbourne’s stunning ineptitude that lost them this game.
With the Crows closing in the, Melbourne had nine scoring shots in the last quarter, managing just one goal. 1.8, I mean seriously, this is meant to be a professional team, and the game was on the line.
It was like each Melbourne player was taking turns to display how they could play a starring role in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Jeff Garlett dropped an easy chest mark on the goal line, Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Tim Smith and James Harmes all missed good chances, only for Jayden Hunt to show them all up and kicked one out on the full.
Add to that, Melbourne’s defence decided to make Tom Lynch look like Wayne Carey at his peak.
When Sam Weideman missed a set shot in the dying moments, it made it easy to focus on him, but he was simply building on the work of many of his teammates, who for some reason decided Melbourne fans have not suffered enough.
St Kilda (69) v Port Adelaide (139)
If this exciting game didn’t win over the people of China to our great sport, I don’t know what will.
This was a thrashing so brutal, members of the Chinese Communist Party started accusing the AFL of human rights breaches.
With an ‘official crowd’ of 9412, Jiangwan Stadium must have been the least crowded place in China.
Apparently, this was once again a sell-out, but you wouldn’t know it by all the empty seats.
Perhaps they were a result of the rabbit terrine served before the game, not a lack of interest.
I actually have no problem with a game in China, let’s just call it what it is, an attempt to get as much soft diplomacy money from Chinese interests as possible.
But the idea this is winning over Chinese fans is as absurd as they idea Steve Hocking knows what he’s doing.
And this game will not have done much for the China experiment. A boring destruction of St Kilda, who lost Jarryn Geary in the process, it was more likely to lose hardcore fans than gain new ones.
St Kilda’s nightmare trip, which saw several players fall ill before the game, would make every club wonder why you would embark on the jaunt.
Sure, short term there’s some money, but at what cost?
Essendon (74) v Carlton (33)
In one of the most astounding sights I’ve ever seen, 50,423 turned up to watch this game in freezing conditions and pouring rain.
That’s an astounding crowd considering the quality of the sides, and these brave souls who turned out were rewarded with one of the most awful games of footy ever committed to memory.
If the AFL was serious about dynamic ticketing, everyone there would receive a few thousand dollars.
This was a true race to the bottom, with both sides displaying an ineptitude that was at times breathtaking.
Like all races to the bottom, Carlton won, the one thing they can win at, but don’t let that fool you into thinking Essendon were in any way competent.
Both sides seemed to have only practised ‘kicking out of bounds on the full’ at training this week.
It’s an old story, but Carlton are to terrible footy what Grange is to wine.
I’m a Melbourne supporter so I can recognise greatness in both those areas.
Blues fans have every right to be furious; there is no sign of forward momentum at this club at all. In fact, with Patrick Cripps getting just 11 touches, alarm bells should be ringing.
It’s the great myth of the rebuild, the idea that a club knows what it’s doing, when all signs scream ‘they have no idea what they’re doing’.
I bet the captain of the Titanic was yelling ‘we’re rebuilding’ as the ship sunk beneath the dark, cold waters of the North Atlantic.
It’s got so bad that Blues fans now watch Chernobyl to cheer themselves up.
West Coast (133) v Western Bulldogs (72)
On the positive side for the Bulldogs, they didn’t have to go to China for their beat down.
The Doggies fall from top of the league has been as swift as it has been brutal.
This week they played Ryan Gardner who they only just picked up in the midseason draft.
From reigning premiers a few years ago to a side where someone drafted midyear can walk into your best 22.
For the Eagles, they finally got everything working together and for the first time this year actually looked like the reigning premiers.
West Coast’s forward line was back to its best with Jack Darling booting six goals and Josh Kennedy three.
All the Eagles need to do is show this kind of form against a good side.
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