Jul 11, 2022
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Seventeen
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.
It’s the strangest stories from the history of sport and I can’t wait for you to all listen to it.
Geelong (91) v Melbourne (63)
Don’t be fooled by moments of closeness on the scoreboard. Geelong we’re so far ahead of Melbourne, it was like Melbourne hadn’t adjusted their watches since leaving South Australia.
Geelong booted 12.19, making the Cat’s inaccuracy the Demons best player and were cleaner, more physical and got more ball off the Demons rucks than Melbourne’s midfield did.
Melbourne, coming off a five-day break and playing down in Geelong can lean on those reasons for comfort, but it’s false comfort.
The truth is they’re a step below where they were last year. Their midfield gets beaten in the clearances more often than not, and their forward line functions like Kayo, sporadically and not in a logical fashion.
Melbourne’s defence is so good that these things go unnoticed as games remain close. It’s like someone being good-looking so people overlook their obvious, glaring flaws. At least that’s what I’ve heard happens, good-looking people tend not to talk to me.
The Dees have had these problems before, and have fixed them before, but they don’t have forever, especially when Clayton Oliver is set for surgery on his fractured, expensive thumb.
As for Geelong, they are right in this. They just need to do it in finals, which hasn’t been their preference in the past, but old cats can learn new tricks.
Sydney (120) v Western Bulldogs (67)
An apology to the Bulldogs. I refused to believe they were average, but they have gone out of their way to prove it.
The Swans had lost to the Bombers last week, so they came out angry, and Swans are nasty when they’re angry.
I know this from personal experience when one of them attacked me as a child at a family picnic. Only the quick actions of my nanny, our butler and our gamekeeper stopped me from coming to harm.
My nanny walked with a limp after that incident, which was sad because we had to let her go.
Seven goals to the Swans in the first term set the tone, as the Bulldogs experimented with a game plan that involved no tackling.
Chad Warner seemed a big benefactor of this approach, just running around like no one else was out there, while Tom Papley and Isaac Heeney had fun up forward.
The Bulldogs have had a terrible season. They seem more interested in things off the field than on.
Fans don’t care what’s happening off the field, as long as everything is going well on it.
The Bulldogs need to be less defensive off the field and more defensive on it.
Collingwood (88) v North Melbourne (81)
For a moment there, a miracle looked on the cards.
The Pies, a machine that churns out wins with an alarming regularity seemed to be malfunctioning.
It was like North Melbourne had stuck their wooden spoon in the gears.
I’d tuned in expecting to be tuning out at about quarter time, instead, I dared to believe that North could win this.
Luke Davies-Uniacke, played one of the best games by a hyphenated player in a long time, while Nick Larkey kicked five goals.
By halftime, I had the staff put a bottle of champagne on ice in anticipation, but I now suspect I jinxed it.
The Pies, trailing by 28 points in the third term, realised they were going to have to try to win, so they did.
It then became a slow process of watching Collingwood reel them in, with an inevitability that was depressing.
Personally, I blame those Diacos boys. They keep doing footballing things.
Unfortunately, the Pies have a lot of youngsters that can do footballing things. I was happy for Collingwood to Do Better, but not on the field.
As for David Noble, this performance has bought him another week, but next will they face an angry Richmond.
Gold Coast (94) v Richmond (92)
When people talk about footy being no good anymore (hello ranting incoherently, it is time for a lie-down Rex Hunt) I think of games like these.
You’d be hard press to find better drama outside of British politics than the two Saturday afternoon games.
It began with Shai Bolton ripping apart the Suns like a piñata, with him seeming to put together a career highlight reel in a single game. He would finish with 29 possessions and three goals.
The Bolton bus, far superior to the one Carlton once owned, saw Richmond up by as much as 40 points in the third quarter. And you’re not losing from there.
The Suns, who had put together one of their worst quarters of the year in the second, began showing something in the third, but still, they were down 29 points at three-quarter time.
And you’re not losing from there.
But then the fourth quarter happened. A mad scramble of football that saw the Suns chase down the Tigers with relentless effort.
And it was the youngsters that did it.
Gold Coast have built a strong team based on drafting and developing players like Mabior Chol.
Nothing underlined the fighting spirit of the Suns than when Jason Castagna was streaming into goal, only to have Charlie Ballard desperately smother the ball.
This proved to be key, as Noah Anderson ended up with the ball as the siren sounded.
His kick, which sailed through for a goal, gave the Suns not only a famous victory but a chance at finals, while for Richmond, like someone after a big night out, were left to try to piece together what just happened.
St Kilda (70) v Fremantle (111)
They’ve done it again those cheeky Saints. They gave their fans some hope last week against Carlton and then they smashed it into a thousand pieces against Fremantle.
Cleverly, the Saints gave their fans even more hope by controlling proceedings in the first half and looking like they’d turned up to play.
Yet despite almost winning every centre clearance, St Kilda led by just eight points at halftime.
Some strange umpiring gifted the Dockers a goal before halftime, but that became a bit of a moot point in the second half, as the Dockers moved small forward Nat Fyfe into the midfield, in what proved to be a masterstroke.
Seven straight goals flipped the game on its head, and even Rory Lobb managed to shake off being attacked with a bottle of peroxide earlier in the week and work himself into the game.
Anyone who reads these columns regularly knows how little I know about football, but even I can tell the Dockers are a serious footy side.
The Saints however look to be throwing away what looked to be a promising season. At least no one can say they don’t know their brand.
Port Adelaide (84) v Greater Western Sydney (29)
If you’re relatively new to footy, you’re correct in noting 29 points is a very low score for a professional football side.
Even more worrying was the fact Connor Rozee finished with more goals than the Giants entire side.
With nothing to really play for, the Giants played like that was the case, fulfilling their contractual obligations by turning up and going through the motions.
The Power have kept their finals chanced alive, partly due to St Kilda and the Bulldogs opting out of playing finals.
Those five straight losses to start the season will haunt Port, like the time I accidentally served a Nerello Mascalese when I meant to pour an Agiorgitiko. I still wince when I think about it.
People assured me they hadn’t noticed but their eyes told a different story.
Port have got a tough run home and I can’t see them making it from where they are. It would require St Kilda totally bottling it (very likely) and Richmond too (less likely), and the Suns to go behind a cloud (fifty-fifty).
Brisbane (90) v Essendon (100)
Two wins in a row! Look at Essendon getting all fancy and stuff.
Sure, the Lions had nine changes from the week before, due to injuries and covid, but these are trivial details to Essendon supporters.
I mean, Essendon have looked like a real-life AFL side in the past few weeks. Sure, it’s taken until the last bit of the season, but it’s nice they decided to show up eventually.
And there were some excellent performances from Bombers players, such as Peter Wright, who booted five and is no longer only known for being tall.
Jye Caldwell also did a nice job on Lachie Neale while also having a big impact like himself, it’s the best performance by someone called Jye outside an outer suburbs nightclub.
For Lions supporters, all the outs were not trivial but huge details. It seems covid is already having an impact on finals.
Staying healthy is going to be key to any finals run and putting players in hermetically sealed containers after every game seems like a smart approach.
The Bombers now have a clear path to victory, have most of their opponent’s top players not play.
Hawthorn (86) v Adelaide (54)
Poor Adelaide. If it wasn’t for some historically bad season, they could be in the mix for the wooden spoon.
Against Hawthorn, who had lost five in a row, the Crows produced some truly awful football, before waking up in the third.
While fighting back was nice and all, losing like this had Adelaide talk back sounding like the end of the world had just happened, which if you’re a Crows supporter it had.
Hawthorn were certainly helped by the return of Ben McEvoy, who worked incredibly hard to get back from injury to play again this season.
To do everything to get back for this particular Hawthorn season proves McEvoy must really love this club a lot.
Personally, I would have taken the year off, but I’m inherently lazy.
West Coast (53) v Carlton (116)
Not ideal for the Eagles, who seemed to be turning a corner but instead found themselves in an alley surrounded by Carlton players wielding baseball bats.
The Blues seemed to be doing an old-school Carlton in the middle of this game, conceding seven goals in a quarter, one of them being Josh Kennedy’s 700th goal as an Eagle.
Kicking it against his old team was a bit of karma, and you’d have to say that the trade that got him there has certainly worked out for the Eagles.
But while the Blues seemed to be reverting to type, they showed they are not the team that used to go to water the moment things started going against them.
Instead, they fought back, and they fought back hard.
Five goal performances from both Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay would be giving defences across the AFL nightmares.
And then there’s the Blues midfield, with players like George Hewett and Adam Cerra proving again that the best way to be a good team is to have good players.
The fourth quarter was a dream come true for Blues supporters, as West Coast went from active participants to inactive audience members.
It’s time we all faced up to the fact that Carlton are going to play finals, and Voss is the first Blues coach in two decades to not look like a hostage in the coaching box.
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