May 20, 2019
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Nine
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.
West Coast (85) v Melbourne (69)
As a highly disgruntled Demons supporter can I say I found the umpiring in this perplexing to say the least, but I would add several caveats:
1. It didn’t impact the result
2. Umpiring remains awful across the board and there were strange decisions for the Eagles too
3. It’s all the AFL’s fault not the umpires. Head office have made this game a nightmare to officiate
As for the game itself, the Demons have no one to blame for losing a highly winnable game than themselves.
Once again, they butchered their forward entries in a manner so idiotic it makes you wonder if they’re doing it on purpose.
When they did manage a good forward entry, their forwards managed to somehow manufacture behinds out of certain goals.
No wonder my doctor has me on heart medication ‘just in case’.
To give you a sense of how bad Melbourne’s forwards entries were, for the entire game, I thought Shannon Hurn and Jeremy McGovern must have become our key forwards in some unannounced midseason trade.
So often did the Demons’ midfield target them directly, often without a Demon player is sight.
Eagles fans wouldn’t exactly be thrilled with their performance either, they did manage to pull it together when it counted but they were lucky to be in the position to do that.
Liam Ryan’s mark was a highlight of the night and showed that the Eagles had the extra X factor the Demons currently lack.
Nathan Vardy earnt the ultimate criticism though, when Bruce McAvaney said he hated Vardy’s push on Max Gawn when Max was lying on the ground.
If Bruce doesn’t like how you’ve behaved, I think you get suspended for eight weeks. I’m not 100 per cent sure as it’s never happened before.
Collingwood (112) v St Kilda (71)
For three quarters, this was an entertaining, free flowing game as both sides traded goals.
But in the fourth quarter, Collingwood remembered they were playing St Kilda and turned on a brutal display of firepower, encapsulated by Jaidyn Stephenson launching a torpedo from the edge of the centre square that sailed through the goals.
The fourth quarter felt more like watching Collingwood goal kicking practice than a game of footy.
Saints supporters, who would have been very pleased with the effort up until three quarter time, would have been right in wondering if their team had forgot there was a fourth quarter.
In fact, they would be wondering if their team forgot there were games after Round Five.
The sad news out of this game, is that the Pies have not been playing at their best and are still winning. They’re second on the ladder, a situation that terrifies me to the point that I’ve asked the staff to begin boarding up the windows in the East wing of the house that I don’t use much and putting a years’ worth of food in the larder.
Brisbane (93) v Adelaide (92)
It’s games like this that remind me of why I love football, despite my own club’s frequent attempts to ruin it for me.
With the Lions up by 26 points at the 10-minute mark of the final term, the Crows realised they would have to return to an angry mob in Adelaide and in a panic launched a full-scale assault on the Lions.
And it almost worked, leading many Adelaide fans to wonder what would have happened if that sort of enthusiasm had been brought to bear earlier in the game.
This isn’t to take away from the Lions, who outplayed the Crows for most of the game, with Lachie Neale gathering 39 disposals, with 22 of them contested and 12 clearances.
Neale had more contested possessions that 17 Crows players had possessions. That tells you how good Neale is and what some of the Crows problems are.
Lions fans look like they are on track to experience the joy that is dealing with Ticketek at finals time. Exciting times up North.
Geelong (133) v Western Bulldogs (89)
The Cats continue to be a fair bit better than the rest of the competition and may be the only thing that stands between us and a Collingwood premiership.
The Bulldogs biggest mistake was getting into a shootout with the Cats. It was like bringing a knife to a gunfight.
The only negative for the Cats, who really accelerated in the last quarter like a Ferrari going past a Ford Fiesta, was an injury to Patrick Dangerfield.
Some people accused Dangerfield of overplaying his injuries but the fact that ‘horrific death’ got downgraded to a ‘mildly rolled ankle’ can be explained away as just the support staff getting a better chance to examine the injury.
I did think preparing the grave site ‘just in case’ was overkill.
The Bulldogs would have been thinking at during this that they could be the ones to deliver Geelong the loss they are apparently due to have, but in reality, they never got close.
Like Gary Ablett being looked at by the Match Review Officer, Geelong really never felt threatened.
Essendon (60) v Fremantle (53)
Both these sides seem to be going out of their way to frustrate their fans and they are both doing a spectacular job.
They fall into the category of teams where if you ask their fans what team they hate the most in the competition, they name their own.
My eyes have not yet recovered from the horror of watching this. I was once tear gassed in Peru, and that was less painful than this.
Fremantle’s Ross Lyon seems to have viewed the AFL’s new rules and the arrival of some key forwards as a challenge to make his side even more boring, and low scoring and he is more than meeting this challenge.
The only thing lower than Fremantle’s average score is Labor’s primary vote.
Essendon didn’t exactly set the world on fire either, but it shows that if you get above 60 points, you’re in with a really chance of beating the Dockers.
John Worsfold said after the game that ‘our best footy is ahead of us’. He’d want it to be. You would hope that losing three in a row and then delivering whatever this was, isn’t the high point of your season.
The question is, will Worsfold still be there in this hypothetically better future?
North Melbourne (72) v Sydney (77)
This game had it all, niggle, questionable umpiring, Tasmanians and a tight finish.
North’s major problem was a stretch in the second quarter when they conceded seven goals to two.
From there, it was all uphill as they fought back.
All North supporters could do is watch on and say ‘thank god for Jack Ziebell’ because without him North could be below Carlton on the ladder.
I think ‘thank god for Jack Ziebell’ is their membership campaign slogan this year.
The Kangaroos would have to be considering Brad Scott’s future, but in the ‘post-Hardwick won a premiership and Buckley has come good’ era no club wants to sack anyone.
Just as sacking coaches all the time doesn’t work, never sacking coaches probably doesn’t work either.
Each situation is different and requires two things, thinking and judgement.
Unfortunately, these two things are in short supply in the AFL. If only the AFL industry had those qualities in the same quantity as they have confidence.
Sydney will be thrilled they managed this great escape. They’ve now won two in a row and probably only need to win another ten in a row to play finals.
Port Adelaide (89) v Gold Coast (51)
Always good for Port fans to know that while they aren’t going to set the world on fire this year, they can still beat arch rivals the Gold Coast Suns.
The most interesting thing about this game was the weather, which at times turned into a heavy downpour. Unfortunately, it never got heavy enough to obscure the actual game on TV, so I had to watch it all.
Port actually trailed for the first half of the game, leaving many Power fans to wonder why they were sitting in the rain watching their apparently far superior team stink up the joint.
All the Port fans I’ve met are pessimists, under the old premise that it saves time, and you could certainly sense the natives were restless as the first half ended with the Suns up by four points.
But the Suns are just a bunch of honest triers at this stage, while the effort is often there, the skill isn’t.
That’s not an insult. Many clubs around them have all the talent but not the attitude. You can at least improve skills.
In the end, this was a much-needed win to snap a two-game losing streak by the Power, as they cling to the bottom of the eight like the cat in one of those ‘hang in there!’ posters.
Richmond (95) v Hawthorn (59)
So here’s the thing, Richmond have a host of key players out injured but have won five of their last sixth.
It’s so confusing; I was told that injuries are a valid excuse for not doing too well. Did Richmond not get the memo?
The Tigers announced this week that Shaun Grigg would retire immediately.
Grigg, like so many players, was at Carlton before getting a chance in the AFL.
He helped the Tigers win a premiership and played a bit in the ruck in that game.
No one ever mentions that.
Hawthorn, who still haven’t won two games in a row this season, helped play Dusty Martin back into form, another reason to not like the Hawks.
He finished with 37 disposals, ten clearances and two goals. Channel Seven weirdly talked about what boot brand Dusty was or wasn’t signed to all game in a mistaken belief that any of us cared.
The Hawks were about what you expect of them this year, professional but lacking the skills their game plan requires.
There were more missed targets than I’ve probably seen at Hawthorn in the past ten years combined.
Roughead would be watching on wondering why he can’t crack this side.
I really feel for Hawthorn supporters. It can’t be easy going through such dark times. They’re a stoic lot.
Greater Western Sydney (138) v Carlton (45)
Carlton have to concede that getting Bill Shorten to give the pre-game speech was a mistake.
At least no pollster had them winning, so this wasn’t a surprise.
What probably was a surprise is that after all this time under Bolton, the Blues players can still produce some of the most shameful footy you’ll see.
And shameful it was. All supporters want to see is effort, but against the Giants, the Blues players sized up early on that this was going to be all too hard and abandoned their game plan quicker than the French abandoned the Maginot Line.
It was every man for himself as the Giants stormed the barricades only to find the defensive structures completely empty.
There is no way the Blues players can claim they tried hard when you consider the stats of their opponents.
Lachie Whitfield had 40 possessions, 18 marks and three goals. Now he’s a really good player, but that’s ridiculous, especially when Tim Taranto had 38 possessions and Josh Kelly 35.
The Giants even won the tackle count which was amazing considering I barely saw a Carlton player touch the ball.
Perhaps the most amazing part of the game was that Harry McKay managed to kick three goals. Considering the situation, that was like kicking 18 goals in a normal game.
So, what to make of the result? Well for the Giants, nothing, they would train harder than this.
For Carlton, also nothing, they are exactly where they’ve always been and that’s the problem.
It certainly doesn’t help that if you successfully tag Cripps, you are effectively tagging Carlton.
I used to enjoy making jokes at Carlton’s expense, but the fun has gone out of it. I’d say it’s because it’s like shooting fish in a barrel, but at least the fish offer a moving target.
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