Apr 12, 2021
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Four
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 (83) v Essendon (80)
It would appear that Sydney are the real deal and Essendon aren’t the basket case they seemed to be just two weeks ago.
Such is season 2021, where footy is changing, and we’re all still figuring out how and why.
It reminds me of puberty, it’s confusing and I often find myself crying for no real reason.
Unlike earlier, the Swans didn’t just run all over the Bombers, instead, they were down by 25 points in the second quarter only to fight back.
Essendon’s improvement this year is due to a range of reasons, but perhaps playing Darcy Parish in the midfield is one of the big ones.
Who knew that playing him in the centre was a good idea? Only every Essendon supporter I’ve spoken to in the past few years.
But the Swans showed they can do it tough and come from behind, and it was the man who lives rent-free in Bombers supporters’ minds, Buddy Franklin, who bobbed up at the end to kick the clincher.
It was the 950th goal of his career, which is a lot of goals for someone who took the last two years off. It was also his 73rd goal against Essendon, that’s more than any he has kicked against any other club.
Bombers fans will be frustrated at the loss, they certainly had some choice words for the umpires, but it finally seems they have some young players who are actually good at football.
It’s a new approach for them but seems promising.
Port Adelaide (79) v Richmond (77)
Richmond has now lost two games in a row. Poor Richmond fans, all they have to console themselves is three of the last four premierships.
So sad was the loss, that a Port Adelaide fan even offered Damien Hardwick a tissue after the game. Amazingly, that fan is still alive.
Most pleasing for Port fans is they got this done despite a host of injuries.
Zak Butters was subbed off with an ankle injury, Connor Rozee and Tom Clurey suffered corkies, Orazio Fantasia rolled his ankle and Xavier Duursma injured his knee in the final minutes.
It was carnage.
Richmond’s defence remains a concern. Where once they dominated games, now they’ve become an issue. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not terrible, but they’ve gone down a level.
That’s the problem with being really, really good at something, the only way is down. I’ve never had that problem.
Power supporters were excited to see Lachie Jones debut.
Watching his mullet flowing in the wind proves their still great beauty in this world. I’ve watched the sunrise over Machu Picchu, flown over the Grand Canyon and watched the Northern Lights, and they all pale in comparison to that thick, black mane.
Western Bulldogs (73) v Brisbane (54)
Joe Daniher shows the danger in importing a bit of Essendon into your club. He would have expected four rounds in, that the Lions would be above the Bombers on the ladder, but they sit in lowly 16th place.
You can’t blame it all on Joe, this start has been a team effort.
The Lions have multiple problems but perhaps their biggest concern is they made Tim English look like Tony Lockett for parts of this game.
Collingwood’s Adam Treloar played his best game for the Bulldogs, causing Pies fans to question again why they traded better players away than the ones they kept and also paid for the privilege of doing so.
Adding Treloar has opened up the entire Bulldogs side, allowing them to do more interesting things in the midfield and pushing other players forward when required.
At the moment, Treloar is leading the Copeland Trophy voting.
St Kilda (102) v West Coast (82)
Being 33-points up in the third quarter against the Saints is usually a recipe for success, so it took some effort for the Eagles to manufacture a loss from there.
But they did it, and Eagles fans would still be trying to figure out how.
A big reason was the Saints suddenly remembered how to play football. It was like watching the scene in The Matrix when Neo finally realises he is The One.
With relentless pressure, the Saints gave the Eagles a light shove in the final quarter, only to watch the Eagles fall over, roll down a hill and onto a freeway.
It’s hard to convey in words just how poorly the Eagles managed the Saints pressure. They looked more disorganised than the government’s vaccine rollout.
The Saints should take a lot out of this game. One of their key ‘learnings’, to use that phrase stupid people use to sound smart, is that if you try, you’re a chance to win games.
Gold Coast (59) v Carlton (70)
While the Covid 19 pandemic still has much of the world’s attention, we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to the fact Carlton now sit in the top eight.
It’s a terrifying realisation and you can’t help but feel complacency has seeped in.
As someone who remembers the last time Carlton was good, this terrifies me.
Many people in their twenties don’t remember the last time Carlton was good and let me tell you, it was terrifying.
Think Hawthorn and Richmond fans became arrogant? That was nothing, like comparing a mild cold with Ebola.
This should have been a bigger win. The Blues were highly inaccurate in front of goal, and the Suns, while never really a threat, never went away.
The Suns certainly work to a script.
They appear to be about to turn the corner at the start of every season, get people excited, then sink faster than the ratings for Ultimate Tag.
Collingwood (60) v Greater Western Sydney (90)
To lose to this injury-plagued Giants team enables footy journalists to use the word ‘crisis’ a lot this week in regards to Collingwood.
So injury-depleted are the Giants that Toby Greene is captain, and he tortured the Pies with five goals.
For the Giants, this was a victory full of guts and pressure, something missing from this Collingwood side.
Brodie Grundy was comprehensively beaten, and more worrying for Pies fans, is the amount of dollars he is hoovering up under the salary cap.
When you’re forced to trade players, who are performing very well elsewhere, to have your million-dollar man beaten by a player so old you measure his career in geological eras, you have every right to question the club’s list management.
And again, Collingwood proved that not having a forward line is a strategic mistake, not that any other club feels that’s a strategy that needed proving.
But despite the Pies woes, this was a great win by the Giants, showing us they have something they’ve been accused of not having, character.
North Melbourne (68) v Adelaide (109)
After the crucifixion on Good Friday, it appeared a resurrection was on the cards for the Kangaroos, with a huge third quarter.
With the Crows looking well in control, the Kangaroos held the Crows goalless in the third and led by four points at three-quarter time.
It appeared all the momentum was with North, who were suddenly running all over the Crows.
Yet as the fourth quarter started, Adelaide remembered they were playing North Melbourne and wrested control back.
They booted eight goals to one in the final quarter to run all over the Roos and sending waves of relief back to Adelaide, where Crows fans had watched the third quarter with increasing levels of panic.
It wasn’t a good result for the Roos, but while it was no resurrection, there at least appears to now be signs of life at Arden Street.
Melbourne (85) v Geelong (60)
For the first time since 1994, Melbourne has started the season 4-0. It’s forced Dees fans into a panic in an attempt to suppress this rising hope.
Hope is what hurts us, and sitting second on the ladder four games in, terrifies us.
Dees fans didn’t know the ladder went that high.
Geelong was not at full strength, but the Dees also managed to cover the loss of Steven May after a sort of accidental wild swinging elbow from Tom Hawkins caught his eye.
Hawkins should get the benefit of the doubt. He’s only been cited for striking seven times in the last five seasons.
What’s been most surprising about this year’s Dees, is when the other side has the momentum, they don’t give up runs of six to eight goals.
This makes a huge difference and is an exciting new development.
A huge part of this new ability was the play of May and Lever, and with May out, Lever just lifted to a whole other level. He was everywhere and it’s almost like all the moves the club has made to address their shortcoming over the last few years has actually worked. I’m not sure how to handle this sort of competency.
In fact, the biggest change is the Dees play as a team, and each player knows what’s required of them and just does that. Fans of other teams may not think this is particularly surprising, but it is revolutionary at Melbourne.
The Cats just never really seemed in this, they challenged at times, but they got smashed around the contest and seemed slower than even the wet conditions would indicate.
The number of times Ed Langdon just ran away from Cats players would have had Geelong fans tearing their hair out.
With the Demons now 4-0, we’re in new territory. I’m not sure how to feel about all this. I feel mainly happy, but also very confused.
Fremantle (96) v Hawthorn (81)
This was a rather brutal affair with both sides fighting to keep their seasons going.
It ended up closer than it should have, with the Dockers booting 13.18, making things a lot more difficult than they should have been.
Nat Fyfe, in his return, had 31 possessions but kicked 0.6. After the game, he even took goalkicking practice. A nice touch but it probably would have been more helpful before the match.
The Hawks certainly gave it their all, but the Dockers were just better in the middle.
It’s almost like you aren’t as good a team if you don’t have as good players as you used to have. I know you appreciate these deep insights.
Hawthorn at least showed plenty of fight, but there’s just no flow between their midfield and forward line.
They’re now 17th on the ladder. I saw a Hawks fan look that up on their phone and exclaim out loud, ‘the ladder’s upside down.’
It really is with Melbourne, Adelaide, Carlton and Sydney all in it this year.
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