Mar 21, 2022
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round One
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.
Melbourne (97) v Western Bulldogs (71)
The evening began with Melbourne hoisting the Premiership flag and ended with Luke Beveridge having a meltdown in the post-match media conference.
I'd say it's good to have football back, but you can't anymore.
Not because of the AFLW, but because in the modern era, footy never really ends regardless of gender.
In between the flag raising and the meltdown, there was quite a good match, eerily like last year's Grand Final, with momentum shifts usually not seen outside of a 1980s WWF tag team match.
To begin at the beginning, the unveiling of the flag had Melbourne fans as excited as discovering you somehow hadn't been named in the Panama Papers.
It was just lovely to be back in the MCG with a crowd, and I hadn't realised how much I'd missed footy fans sledging each other mercilessly, in-between buying each other drinks.
On the field, however, the problems for the Bulldogs were the same as last year, with the Doggies just not being able to go with the Dees when they hit top gear.
Worryingly for the Dogs was that this time, the Dees backline was so depleted they were asking people in the stands if they had a pair of boots.
You'd think these on-field issues would be the focus of the post-match media conference, but not for Luke Beveridge, who used the time to attack Tom Morris, at the time of Fox Footy, about his reporting on the club.
Tom Morris didn't know it then, but Luke Beveridge chewing him out in public would turn out to be the high point of his week.
No sooner had the media conference ended than media types rushed to the defence of poor old Tom, and it was fun watching them try to stretch the word journalism to include Tom Morris.
I thought the real problem with Beveridge's media conference is it showed his head isn't really where it should be.
Tom Morris isn't the Bulldogs' biggest issue; it's the fact that Christian Petracca again ran around gathering 38 disposals and two goals.
Of course, the next few days saw another momentum shift, as it was revealed Morris is a horrible person who has said racist and misogynistic things and, in a nod to his IQ, said them on camera.
Even sadder, the footage showed his sexism and racism isn't even original; you could tell he was just parroting things he'd heard others say to sound tough or worse still 'to be one of the boys' a desire no one should aspire to.
Suddenly the media had to do a tricky little manoeuvre of defending Tom from Wednesday while not defending him for the rest of his career.
All in all, there were no real winners. Beveridge looked silly on Wednesday night, Tom is silly, and other media types said things like 'this is a learning moment for us all,' like we didn't already know the things he said were wrong.
I think 'learning time' is over and has been for some time.
Carlton (101) v Richmond (76)
Carlton fans celebrated the 2022 Premiership on Thursday night as they finally defeated Richmond.
It would be fair to say that the win came from the fresh thinking of new coach Michael Voss, who has come up with the bold new strategy of having Patrick Cripps pick up his team and carry them across the line.
Why has no one else thought of this before?
Cripps had 30 disposals, eight clearances, 12 contested possessions and booted three goals to prove that even at 27, his 48-year-old body can still get the job done.
The icing on the cake for Blues fans was in the second quarter when Sam Docherty kicked a goal on his return from cancer.
Damn Sam Docherty. After two bouts of cancer and two knee reconstructions, seeing that goal made me happy for a Carlton player. What has he done to me?
For Richmond fans, losing to Carlton, who didn't even have Sam Walsh playing, showed just how far they had fallen.
I don't want to overreact, but this performance showed Richmond won't win another game this year, and the gloss has been taken off their recent premierships to the point they may have well not even won them.
Jack Hayes (85) v Collingwood (102)
I had Josh Daicos down as the most influential player in this match before someone pointed out that there are now two Diacos (what's the plural for Diacos? Is it Diacosi?) playing for Collingwood.
Yes, the debut of Nick Daicos had slipped under the radar due to the lack of hype and the commentators barely mentioning him.
Still, the kid can play a bit, and he was undoubtedly helped by being eased into the AFL by playing the Saints first, a team more focused on upsetting their own fans than their opponents.
The Saints obviously decided to celebrate the return of their fans to the stands by playing their greatest hits.
This was all going to plan until Jack Hayes went against the setlist and started playing some new stuff, which the Saints fans seemed to quite like.
Unfortunately, his teammates didn't seem as keen.
I love a feel-good story, but it's a worry when a 25-year-old from the SANFL can walk into your club and be your best player.
Luckily for Collingwood, they managed to remain on top, partly due to Jordan De Goey playing well.
This led to some fun moments with the commentators trying to balance being excited for his retur, with not being too excited because of the whole' court case in New York' thing.
Geelong (138) v Essendon (72)
In a result eerily reminiscent of the game in Wangaratta when Essendon's plane didn't land, the Bombers were no shows for Round One.
You wouldn't have known they were even out there except for when Jeremy Cameron collided with Jayden Laverde and was subsequently taken to hospital.
That was undoubtedly the first moment I noticed the Bombers players, like when the brother-in-law in Field of Dreams can suddenly see the players.
"Do not sell this farm, Ray."
So bad were Essendon that it's hard to believe they spent all summer preparing for this.
The only Essendon player who seemed to realise there was a game scheduled for Saturday was debutant Nic Martin, who finished with five goals and 27 touches.
In many ways, this just made the performance of his teammates look even worse.
Geelong just did as they pleased.
Patrick Dangerfield, took time out from his lifeguard duties to amass 31 disposals, and Tom Hawkins took full advantage of Essendon, opting to not defend in this match.
It's hard to even gauge how good Geelong are, given their lack of an opponent, but it's fair to say that age doesn't appear to have wearied them.
Greater Western Sydney (92) v Sydney (112)
This was a cracker of a match, as both sides played exciting high tempo footy, only for Phil Davis not to get the message that this was meant to be Buddy's day.
Davis stuck so tight to Buddy all game that if this was any other workplace, he'd have been given three warnings and then been told to pack up his desk.
Luke Parker also didn't get the memo this was Buddy's game, deciding to boot five goals instead in what was surely the winning performance.
For Swans fans, the day was further enriched by Paddy McCartin making a promising return to footy. As one of the unluckiest players going around, surely, he is due some good luck.
Giants fans would have been overall happy with what they saw, especially with the predictions of doom for their team this year.
If only the Giants had a goalkicking small forward. That would have made a considerable difference to the result.
Brisbane (80) v Port Adelaide (69)
Great actors are said to have an enormous range. They can play any role, and so too can Joe Daniher, one minute playing the role of worst forward in the league, and the next minute, doing a fair impression of the best.
Just before halftime, Daniher took a spectacular grab just 15m from goal only to give the handpass off to Nakia Cockatoo, just as the halftime siren sounded.
It was vintage Joe, as were his four goals and three behinds.
Even more predictable, at least for Port fans, was the sense they were going to get run over in the last quarter of this game.
It certainly wasn't helpful that they were short two players.
Mitch Robinson, taking a break from swimming in sewerage, clashed heavily with Xavier Duursma, breaking Duursma's collarbone and getting reported for his trouble.
Duursma may need to get all his shots, as well as his collarbone, looked at.
With Trent McKenzie also off with a knee injury, Port's momentum, such as it was, fell away.
Hawthorn (78) v North Melbourne (58)
Hawthorn remains undefeated under Sam Mitchell. I wanted to write that quickly, as given they struggled with North Melbourne, I'm guessing I won't be able to write that for much longer.
It was really a case of Hawthorn just having more experienced players, especially up forward.
In fact, this game was the least surprising game of the round.
Hawthorn showed they're better than North but not enough to get too excited, and Kangaroos supporters got to see Jason Horne-Francis run around and leave confident they didn't waste their number one draft pick.
North showed again they can give effort but not skill, and Kangaroos fans will be looking forward to getting to know this year's top draft prospects.
Adelaide (82) v Fremantle (83)
With Melbourne relinquishing its hold on the 'team doing the most damage to their fans' mental health' title, a sneaky challenger to the belt has emerged in recent years, the Adelaide Football Club.
Playing at home, the Crows managed to engineer a scenario where they lost by a solitary point after giving up the last three goals of the match.
Like all sides that truly mess with their fans, Adelaide gave them hope first, with Josh Rachele making his debut and kicking five goals in a display that said, "What is AFL meant to be hard?"
But AFL is hard, especially when your team seems hellbent on ruining what should have been an enjoyable day at the footy.
For the Dockers, this shouldn't have been so dramatic.
Once again, they kicked for goal like those fans who are picked out of the crowd, made to spin around a cricket bat until they are dizzy and then have a shot at goal to win a car.
Kicking 11.17 isn't going to win you too many games, as you, unfortunately, can't play the Crows every week.
West Coast (80) v Gold Coast (107)
I'm old enough to remember when it was hard to beat the Eagles in Perth. It was back in the day when you could jump online in the morning and not be hit with an overwhelming sense that we are currently living through the end times.
Perth is no fortress for the Eagles anymore; why even the Gold Coast Suns can win there.
The Eagles in fairness had two things going against them this week, a ton of injuries and the fact they aren't very good.
As footy so often does, a moment in the game summed up the entirety of the contest.
In the third quarter, Matt Rowell was cleaned up by Willie Rioli, only to will himself back into the contest.
It showed the Suns weren't going to be the easy beats of previous seasons.
So courageous was the moment that Stuart Dew showed the clip to the team after the game.
Proving once again that Matt Rowell is not only a great player but also the teacher's pet.
I'm sure Rowell was thrilled to celebrate the win by watching himself being cleaned up.
The Eagles can at least find some solace in the number of injuries they had.
So bad is their injury list that before the game, retiring premiership players Mark Hutchings and Dan Venables were honoured with a lap of the ground only to be asked by Adam Simpson when it finished if they wouldn't mind playing.
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