Apr 26, 2021
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Six
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.
Greater Western Sydney (65) v Western Bulldogs (104)
Winning is really fun, but winning without injuries is better, and the Bulldogs managed to cop three in this game.
Josh Dunkley dislocated his shoulder, Tim English got a head knock and Lin Jong did his hamstring, which is not ideal.
Still, a win over the Giants is always worth celebrating for Bulldogs fans, who hate them like I hate listening to people tell me their dreams.
The Bulldogs midfield dominated the Giants with Jack Macrae grabbing a lazy 40 possessions and a goal and freebie Adam Treloar getting 35 possessions and a goal.
The game never got as spiteful as some of their earlier clashes, but as always, model citizen Toby Greene proved troublesome with four goals and his traditional scuffle with Marcus Bontempelli.
Bontempelli must look forward to seeing Greene with the enthusiasm normally reserved for extended family.
Despite the injuries, Bulldogs fans must be pretty excited about this whole ‘never losing’ thing.
Geelong (136) v West Coast (39)
West Coast’s team looks good on paper and is about as strong as paper on the field.
There is no good explanation why a side with so many good players got absolutely torched by a side that had looked rather ordinary until this week.
Geelong’s 13 consecutive goals after quarter time had Cats fans wondering where this had been all year.
There’s no doubt the debut of Jeremy Cameron made a big difference, he ‘straightened up’ their structure. At least I overheard someone at the pub say that and it sounded insightful.
But as good as Geelong were, the real heroes were West Coast’s players who seemed intent on helping the Cats play to their very best.
Across the field, Eagles players urged their opponents on, letting them get the ball with ease, not pressuring them and making sure they had lots of space to lead or run into. It was really nice of them.
West Coast players were so keen to see Geelong do well they even let Mitch Duncan kick four goals.
For Geelong, it suggests there’s still life in the proud club, but for West Coast there will be more soul searching than when Bruce Wayne was trapped in Bane’s underground prison.
The only difference is I was positive Bruce Wayne would eventually climb out.
Gold Coast (100) v Sydney (60)
The sleepy Swans were swept aside with relative ease by a Gold Coast team that lived up to its much-vaunted talent.
Sydney showed none of the energy that marked their start to the season, looking as energetic as someone recovering from a huge night out.
The Suns though showed their top draft picks are as advertised. Ben King kicked five goals and reminded me of a Joe Daniher who can kick straight.
Second pick overall in the 2019 draft Noah Anderson had 34 disposals and he looked like a player in his prime, not a twenty-year-old.
Add to that Ben Ainsworth’s 20 touches and three goals and Izak Rankine 18 possessions and two goals and Suns fans can see the future.
It’s a display the Suns needed after they looked like falling back into the bad habits that has marred their entire existence.
For the Swans, it’s a reminder that staying consistent in this league is harder than staying friends with someone who doesn’t like sport.
Carlton (85) v Brisbane (103)
When Liam Stocker attempted a pass from the back pocket, only to spray it off the side of his boot and through the big sticks for a rushed behind, he gave every Blues fan a visual representation of the past two decades.
Despite the Lions being routed by injuries, you can always rely on the Blues to do just enough to not win.
There are good players at the Blues, Cripps is obviously a star, Sam Walsh is a gun and Harry McKay booted six, against no less than Harris Andrews.
But they don’t perform as a team. There are too many players who seem to think their job is waiting for others to do theirs.
Brisbane will be happy with the win, but injuries soured the victory and Lachie Neale will come under review for touching an umpire.
It was a pretty innocuous incident; Neale was bleeding and was drawing attention to the fact and questioning how he got it.
Common sense would suggest he should just get a warning, meaning he’ll probably get rubbed out for the season by the AFL Tribunal.
Melbourne (82) v Richmond (48)
Something strange is happening at Melbourne. The one iron law of the Demons for many decades is no matter what, they will eventually stuff things up.
But that’s not happening this year, and while it’s early, and who knows where it will end up, for the first time in my life, I feel this team will write their own script, free from the ghosts of the past.
This just feels new. The opening barrage from Richmond was the sort that would see previous Demons teams wilt and give up six or so goals.
But this team didn’t.
When they were falling behind early, individuals would normally try to do flashy things to try and get the team back into it.
But they didn’t, they just worked hard as a team, sticking to what has worked for them this year.
The Tigers had moments of skill, but Melbourne didn’t let them play like they wanted to.
I’ve never seen a Demons side just control a game so much, just preventing their opponents from doing what they wanted by outworking them across the field.
A big reason was Melbourne’s defence which is stingier than that one friend everyone has when it’s their turn in a shout.
Nathan Jones, in his 300th game, deserved nothing less than this result, and for Dees fans, well aware things don’t always go to plan, at least feel the future now has multiple options, not just the dead ends of the past.
Fremantle (99) v North Melbourne (48)
Watching this game without any fans is a stark reminder that our slow vaccine rollout has real consequences. Football is being affected.
It’s another reminder that footy isn’t as fun without the fans, and my thoughts with everyone in Perth; lockdowns, to use a technical turn, suck.
For North, this season was already hard enough, and now they have to quarantine at home and face uncertainty about their game in Tasmania.
The Kangaroos showed a lot of effort, but they lack the skill and the organisation to win at the top level.
This is now their worst start in 49 years. David Noble may need another 49 years to turn things around.
For Fremantle fans, aside from having to worry about the lockdown, the only major issue was Nat Fyfe was once again inaccurate in front of goal, kicking 0.4.
Fyfe famously went out after the Hawthorn game, when he kicked 0.6, and did goalkicking practice, where he did slot them with ease.
He later admitted he downed a “couple frothies” before that session, further evidence for my theory that all AFL players should play drunk.
Hawthorn (102) v Adelaide (99)
Being up by 32 points in the third quarter is usually a position you can make work for you.
For the Crows, it was just a platform to antagonise their fans once again.
Still, there’s no shame in letting Jacob Koschitzke kick five on you.
At least the Crows fans got to see Riley Thilthorpe kick five as well, so there’s some hope for the future.
But the way Hawthorn rallied back, and the Crows inability to take their chances in the fourth quarter will sting.
As will picking an injured player as their injury sub. It’s called an injury sub because the person is there to replace someone injured, not because the sub is injured. An awkward misunderstanding of the rules by the Crows.
This was Hawthorn’s first win since round one, when they came from 39 points down to beat Essendon.
Perhaps that should be Hawthorn’s new strategy, rest in the first half, let their opponent lull themselves into a false sense of security, then storm home.
Collingwood (85) v Essendon (109)
Losing the ANZAC Day clash is another thing the Collingwood board can tick of their highly successful ‘Frustrate our own fans’ strategy.
As so often is the case, the Pies tried but are simply not good enough to kick a winning score regularly.
Collingwood now sits 17th on the ladder and have to be thankful North Melbourne exist.
The Pies backline will have nightmares about Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, who destroyed them with five goals and intense pressure all game.
The real stand out for Essendon though was Darcy Parish who used the MCG as his own personal canvas to paint a true work of art.
His 42 disposals, nine clearances, two goals and nine score involvements were a thing of beauty, a pinnacle of the craft.
Even against Collingwood, it was very impressive.
Port Adelaide (93) v St Kilda (39)
Injuries, a lack of ability and an intense shortage of effort have turned the Saints season into a normal Saints season.
There’s not much to review here, there was a really good side and there was St Kilda.
At no point did the Power look anything but in control, it more seemed they were just deciding whether to put in enough effort to win or to really, really win.
For long stretches of the game, I forgot the Saints even had a forward fifty.
Port are travelling along very nicely, perfectly positioned for this point of the season and flying under the radar for the majority of the slightly Melbourne-centric footy media.
Nothing was sadder than talking to a Saints supporter this morning who said of the season, ‘unfortunately, I’m built for this nonsense.’
You can help support me in producing this ridiculous nonsense I churn out on a regular basis. Find out more here: https://titusoreily.com/support-titus