May 31, 2021
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Eleven
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.
Western Bulldogs (59) v Melbourne (87)
Usually, the city of Melbourne is flying, and the Melbourne Football Club is a basket case.
Now they’ve swapped. Melbourne the city is again in lockdown, an event that has resulted in me hearing the word ‘triggered’ more than I care to.
Luckily for me, the Melbourne Football Club continued their rather extraordinary season, defeating a Bulldogs side that was seen as another premiership favourite.
The Dees came out firing, with Bailey Dale and Tom Liberatore slotting into the Melbourne forward line perfectly, helping set up several goals for the Dees early.
Every time the Dogs tried to switch, which they did well past the point it seemed sensible, they pinpointed a Melbourne forward.
Down the other end, the Dogs best key forward was Jake Lever, their midfield kept hitting him time and time again with a delivery most key forwards only dream about.
Dogs fans at home were left wondering why you would keep kicking the ball to your opponents, but the same thought obviously never occur to their players on the ground.
The win is a huge response for Melbourne after the loss to Adelaide, but now they face Brisbane, perhaps an even greater test.
If only the city of Melbourne was travelling this well.
Collingwood (51) v Geelong (61)
The torturous conditions of lockdown are hard to explain to those that have never experienced them, but I’ll try; watching this game was the best option I had on Saturday.
This was a game so ugly, not even its parents could love it.
The first half saw Collingwood go goalless, as they once again showed that kicking goals is not really their thing.
Their impotence was triggering for me.
While things were dire for the Pies, the Cats didn’t look that much better, seemingly climbing down to the level of their opponents. It was a long climb down.
The Pies did start to rally in the second half but taking much out of it would be false hope, they were running at full speed and Geelong was strolling, and the Cats still never looked like winning.
By the time the game ended, I was pouring salt into my eyes to make them feel better.
Brisbane (129) v Greater Western Sydney (65)
Brisbane’s season is very much on.
The Giants have been in good form, but the Lions just destroyed them, with an intensity on the level of myself when I stumble across a plate of those Peking duck pancakes.
Just thinking about those pancakes makes me want to order some. I could eat a hundred, and that sauce! Delicious.
Anyway, I should review this game, but duck pancakes are more interesting, as the Lions mauled the Giants like they were a tourist who didn’t listen to the instructions not to get out of the car while in the Safari Park.
The only thing that made this watchable was the skill of the Lions, who looked like they were just showing off for long parts of the game.
Brisbane must now be close to premiership favourites. They’ve even got some of their best players out, yet they didn’t even look troubled.
As has been the case so often over the years, a Melbourne-Brisbane game will tell us a lot about the premiership race.
St Kilda (88) v North Melbourne (68)
Yes, I watched this game too, and as someone already feeling flat about this latest lockdown, it was a bad move.
St Kilda fans would have been hoping for a response after losing by 111 points to the Bulldogs, and they got one, not a positive response, but a response nonetheless.
Sure, they won, but that’s only because this was against North, a team who has only stop falling because they’ve hit the rock bottom.
St Kilda still looked terrible, it was only the fact that whenever they stuffed up, North made sure to stuff up more.
Numerous times while watching this I found myself letting out an involuntary scream.
North isn’t just on the bottom of the ladder; they’ve started to decorate 18th place to make it truly their own.
Gold Coast (113) v Hawthorn (76)
The only threat to North winning the wooden spoon is Hawthorn’s campaign.
The Hawks are so far off their usual high standards, they look like they’re playing a different sport entirely, and whatever that sport is, they don’t play it well.
Gold Coast haven’t been setting the world on fire recently, but against the Hawks they looked like a real footy team.
Izak Rankine and Ben King flourished playing a team that sees the basics of footy as stretch targets.
Not that we should get too excited by the Suns, beating Hawthorn is like showering, the only times you can’t do it is when you can’t be bothered.
West Coast (71) v Essendon (87)
Well, you can’t accuse West Coast of being flat-track bullies.
On a flat track and up by 29 points in the second quarter, the Eagles had everything go wrong.
Tim Kelly and Oscar Allen both went off injured and given Kelly has basically been the Eagles’ midfield this season, this caused a few problems.
Essendon, who mix brilliance with averageness, managed to get their averageness out of the way early and back end their brilliance for the second half.
And in that second half, they really were brilliant, hassling West Coast everywhere, with Darcy Parish running riot, supported strongly by Zach Merrett and Andrew McGrath.
Adding to the Eagles fans pain, Jake Stringer was key to the victory, running amok in the second half, a sight no opposition fan wants to see. The only thing worse than Stringer destroying your team is his tattoos.
It was a truly momentous victory for the Bombers, while for West Coast, they’ve now got more questions marks than wins.
Richmond (111) v Adelaide (83)
Jack Graham’s kick sailed into the forward fifty towards a quickly forming pack.
Of all the players likely to contest the mark, Jack Riewoldt seemed the most unlikely.
For starters he was far off where the ball was going to land, and even worse, facing the wrong way.
As he approached the pack at full speed, unable to see the ball due to it being behind him, Riewoldt leaped, with no thought for his own safety.
“That young man is going to hurt himself,” I exclaimed out loud.
As he hit the rising pack, they lifted him up, a seething mass of rapidly ascending humanity.
As they hung in the air, Riewoldt managed to turn his body, suddenly he was facing the incoming kick.
All this seemed to defy the known laws of physics, but there he was, hanging at the front of the oncoming pack of players.
Then, he actually marked it, the ball hitting his chest and his arms grasping it tighter than a baby boomer holding on to their franking credits.
And he kept holding it, as the pack's momentum, approaching from the other direction to him drove him forward and into the dirt.
“What a mark,” I yelled, duck pancake spilling from my mouth.
Some say the greatest sights are in the Louvre, some say they are in nature, others argue in the celestial sphere above our heads. But I know the greatest sight humanity has ever witnessed, occurred on Sunday at Giants Stadium.
And that’s why the Tigers won.
Sydney (100) v Carlton (78)
You must admire the Blues commitment to not being good.
For more than twenty years, Carlton have been more consistent than any team, constantly losing winnable game, or as they’re often termed ‘honourable losses.’
But there’s nothing honourable about the way Carlton time and again make their fans sit through this sort of nonsense.
The Swans only led by three points at three-quarter time, but we all knew what was coming, and it unfolded exactly as you’d expect.
Carlton’s defence is built for three quarters, which is bad in a four-quarter game.
That’s not good, especially when your own side can only manufacture three goals after halftime.
Swans fans will be excited by Isaac Heeney’s performance, he was everywhere, and his constant ability to menace the Blues defence opened up more opportunities for Buddy Franklin and Tom Papley.
In the end, though, the Swans strategy seemed to be waiting for Carlton to curate another win, and like a Japanese train, that’s something you can always rely on.
Port Adelaide (115) v Fremantle (69)
In footy, it’s much better to kick the ball between the two big sticks rather than between a big and little one. That seems obvious, but it’s worth restating.
Only once this season have Fremantle kicked more goals than points, suggesting they don’t know this.
Port do know this. They booted seven goals to zero in the opening quarter, a quarter in which Fremantle kicked seven behinds.
Fremantle did keep trying all game, but they just didn’t have the skill to match Port, who in a display of maturity, didn’t use the prison bar jumper and claim it was their indigenous one.
Port’s Ollie Wines and Travis Boak just did what they liked in the middle, and up forward Port scored pretty easily.
The only problem for Port is they didn’t put Freo away by a lot more, it certainly seemed like they would earlier on.
But in football, not losing is the key, if you do that often enough, you’ll go far.
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