May 17, 2021
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Nine
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.
St Kilda (47) v Geelong (68)
St Kilda are experts in frustrating their fans and on Friday night they proved that again, deciding that kicking goals are boring compared to butchering their opportunities in front of goal.
Kicking 5.17 isn’t going to win you many games, and especially against Geelong who despite not playing well, found a massive ally in the St Kilda forward line.
Max King was a big help kicking 1.5 in a display that had Saints supporters, wondering why they keep doing this to themselves.
When the Saints weren’t butchering it in front of goal they were doing it around the ground, proving they are at least flexible.
The Cats, who looked destined for a loss at numerous points, quickly adjusted their strategy from trying to get their own ball to feasting off St Kilda’s mistakes, and they didn’t go hungry.
Brett Ratten was extremely annoyed at the lack of holding the ball calls his side got, and he’s not wrong. Across the weekend holding the ball was a lucky dip.
It used to be if you got spun 360 degrees in a tackle it was holding the ball. Now it seems you can spin around more than a figure skater and there’s no call.
Even worse, sometimes someone will get tackled with no prior opportunity and it will be called against them.
Looking for consistency in AFL umpiring isn’t something that anyone who wants to be happy does, but on this issue, it’s hard to ignore.
Still, the umpires can’t kick the goals for the Saints, if they could, St Kilda probably would have won.
Sydney (72) v Collingwood (42)
Every footy fan knows Collingwood can’t kick goals. The Swans know that too, and even being three goals down at quarter time didn’t faze them, they knew they could kick a bigger score, and spoiler alert, they did.
Collingwood didn’t even manage to kick a goal in the second and third quarters and only kicked one in the second half.
That’s not good on the tactical or strategic level. Kicking goals is something you want your team to do and going entire quarters without them is something best avoided.
As if the Pies don’t have enough problems, Jordan De Goey decided groping Isaac Quaynor was a good idea.
Collingwood issued a statement saying, “neither the players nor the club believe inappropriate behaviour has occurred.”
Imagine if you stuck your finger in a co-worker’s bum? You wouldn’t have your employer coming out and defending you unless of course, you’re in the Cabinet.
For the Swans, this was an important win, solidifying their place in the top eight, but they’ll need to play better against sides that don’t limit goals to the first and fourth quarter.
Hawthorn (80) v North Melbourne (87)
The Kangaroos have done it, after 287-days, they’ve won a game of football, leaving the players coming to grips with the words of the team song.
While the win was much needed, the manner in which it came about was perhaps the most surprising thing.
Hawthorn, finding new depths each week, led by 32 points in this game.
Against North that should be enough, but the Hawks are currently redefining their brand, from Penfold Grange to West End.
It’s been a successful rebranding.
North, despite being down, obviously felt secure in the knowledge that finally, they were playing someone at their level, so they never gave up.
It even had commentators saying ‘shinboner spirit’, ah yes, that famous spirit that had just led to 287-days without a win.
For North, it was a glimpse of brighter days ahead, there’s at least a pulse, although they’re still on life support.
As for Hawthorn, they are a mess, Hawthorn fans are not happy, I know, I’ve been making a point of ringing them lately, just to have a chat about footy.
Gold Coast (51) v Brisbane (124)
When a team kicks 14 consecutive goals against you, people start to wonder if footy is really the sport for you.
The Suns have once again proved themselves to be the Suns. They now sit 14th on the ladder, and their biggest impact on the season will now be columns written speculating which young players will be poached by Victorian clubs.
Brisbane’s victory was marred by injuries to Darcy Gardiner and Ryan Lester, which is disappointing given this was basically circle work.
It’s hard to pick which quarter was the worst for the Suns, but I’d give a nod to the third.
Gold Coast just didn’t do anything. A lifetime shirking hard work means I can spot people doing it a mile away, and the Suns lack of effort was impressive in that it probably took more work appearing to be busy than actually working.
The Lions were good, but you can’t really take much out of a game where one side’s players seem more like ushers showing you the way to goal rather than opponents.
Richmond (87) v Greater Western Sydney (83)
Daniel Rioli is making a habit of coming to the rescue lately.
Richmond seemed well on track for a loss, after Jesse Hogan broke the game wide open in the second quarter booting four goals.
It saw the Giants up by 28 points in the third term, before the Tigers remembered they are a rather good AFL side and dragged themselves back into the contest.
Perhaps most impressive was the Tigers midfield, which due to injuries was being held together with sticky tape.
In the comeback, Dustin Martin was everywhere, kicking goals, taking out goal umpires. He really was the difference.
It set up a tense final quarter.
In the dying moments, Jack Riewoldt managed to get the ball into space, with the ball bouncing in the friendliest manner for the Tigers, with Rioli finding the ball in his hands, followed by a wonderful snap to win the game.
It’s why you don’t punish players for nightclub brawls, they might win you a game.
While the Tigers heroics should be duly noted, I’m still scratching my head over how the Giants allowed this to all happen.
It seems questions over their willingness to fight will keep being asked because they’ve certainly not been answered.
Port Adelaide (77) v Western Bulldogs (96)
The Bulldogs have passed another big test with flying colours preventing Port from being able to make further statements through the medium of fashion.
Port’s big issue is they let the Bulldogs take the ball away from centre bounces like they were going for a stroll.
It wasn’t that Port didn’t try; it was just they couldn’t match the Doggies when it came to class.
Marcus Bontempelli put on a masterclass again, as is his way, while Aaron Naughton played arguably the best game of his career.
His pack crashing mark brought a tear to my eye, partially because it happened when I had just bit my tongue while eating a packet of corn chips.
Despite the injury, I kept watching because I’m a professional.
Port tried to come back, which made the Bulldogs win even more impressive, they handled the pressure perfectly.
It marks them as true premiership contenders, while Port look better at trolling than winning the big games.
Essendon (68) v Fremantle (61)
Bombers supporters haven’t had a lot to be happy about lately, but the continuing emergence of Darcy Parish as a top tier midfielder is something to smile about.
Against the Dockers, he gathered 39 possessions with a rather handy ten clearances.
Fremantle’s biggest problem was converting upfront, they missed chances, and their forward entries were a hot mess.
They certainly did enough in the midfield to win this, but time and again, Essendon could count on their opponents blowing it when it mattered.
It adds to Fremantle’s road problems, but the real issue is they just aren’t that good, they’re not that bad either, they’re just OK, which is a terrible thing to be in the AFL.
Essendon are just OK too, but there’s enough youth coming through to give Bombers supporters some hope, which is a dangerous thing.
Melbourne (94) v Carlton (68)
Not Melbourne’s best performance, but when you are well off your best and still handily winning, life is pretty good.
The Dees never looked in any real trouble, they controlled the game for most of the four quarters.
May and Lever sound like a law firm that specialises in counter suing.
Again and again, they picked off the Carlton midfield’s forward entries. Not that the Blues didn’t try something different, they sometimes kicked the ball to Max Gawn
The thing that struck me, is despite the Dees looking vulnerable in the third quarter, the Blues lack of urgency was astounding.
They seemed resigned to a loss long before that became a certainty. There was a lot not going well for Melbourne, Ben Brown was almost non-existent, and the midfield was getting beaten in clearances, but still, Carlton never looked threatening.
Tom McDonald did look threatening. He was not only the link-up man with the midfield, but he was also booting goals.
A lot of his success this year has been put down to diet and hard work.
That disappoints me. Seeing it work means I have no excuse to not pull my own life into order.
West Coast (106) v Adelaide (76)
Adelaide are not very good and West Coast are not that much better.
The big difference was Jack Darling, who kicked five goals in the second quarter.
Letting one player kick five goals on you in a quarter is a bad idea. Most defences work hard to not let that happen.
This should have set up the Eagles for a big win, but they couldn’t really put away the Crows.
It’s the fifth loss in a row for the Crows, who have worked hard to prove their strong start was a mirage.
Luckily for the Crows, their fans are a reasonable bunch, and I can’t see them flooding the Adelaide airwaves with their frustration.
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