Aug 28, 2023
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Twenty Four
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.
Essendon (31) v Collingwood (101)
In a season that kept us guessing, at least Essendon were consistent.
After getting their fans' hopes up, the Bombers then reverted to type, dropping out of the eight, then finishing the season early by leaving for holidays a fortnight ago.
In the last two weeks, the Bombers have scored 67 points while their opponents scored 263 points.
I’m no stats expert like those at Champion Data, but that seems bad.
It can’t help that Carlton, the other ‘powerhouse Victorian club’ has finally turned things around. Brothers in mediocrity for so long, they have now split apart.
It’s like when your other loser friend suddenly gets a job and a girlfriend, starts going to the gym and finds success, and you’re still blogging about football.
For the Pies, this was a chance to clinch the minor premiership and get some form back ahead of finals.
The problem is, preparing for finals by playing Essendon, is like prepping for the 100 meters by going skydiving. You may go incredibly fast but it’s not really an accurate representation of what you’re going to be doing.
Hawthorn (56) v Fremantle (93)
A season of mediocrity finished for the Dockers on the weekend, with a win over the Hawks at the MCG, which was an achievement for them, such was their fall this year.
As the only AFL side in Western Australia, the Dockers obviously felt the pressure, and finishing fourteenth on the ladder is well under the talent on that roster.
As I always like to remind my Dockers friends, at least you got a top-five draft pick out of the season, so it's not a complete waste.
Like most nice people, I’ve enjoyed Hawthorn’s poor form this year, but it was tempered a bit by signs the Hawks are not going to be down for long.
Any dream of an Essendon-like decades-long malaise seems unlikely after the Hawks put together some impressive performances down the stretch.
As for the game, this was everything you’d expect 14th taking on 16th to be.
North Melbourne (132) v Gold Coast (97)
Thanks a lot Nick Larkey! If it weren’t for him, the Kangaroos would have the number one draft pick.
Instead, he kicked nine goals, in a remarkable display.
Larkey has booted 71 goals this year while playing for a side that was almost worse than the Eagles.
He finished third in the Coleman! That’s like coming third in an F1 Grand Prix on a scooter.
The win snapped a 20-game losing streak, and while it cost them the first pick, I’d argue it’s better for a club to never tank than try to game the system.
A losing culture is like having consultants advising you, it’s expensive and ultimately hurts you in the long run.
At some point you have to realise it’s up to you.
As for the Suns, they finished the season like they do every season, poorly.
Once again, finals are a land that they have never seen.
They are like a space program that can’t get to space, a factory that can’t make things, a tennis racket with no strings.
Damien Hardwick now needs to turn this all around. He says 80 per cent of their premiership side is already at the club.
I bet they’re down the back of the couch because I haven’t seen them.
Brisbane (72) v St Kilda (60)
Joe Daniher set the tone early, when he missed a set shot from the top of the goalsquare, as the Lions booted 18 behinds and made this a lot closer than it should have been.
That sort of inaccuracy doesn’t hurt you against St Kilda. They can’t score to save themselves. How odd for a Ross Lyon-coached side.
Getting to sixty points is overs for them. They are like a boxer who can’t throw a knockout punch.
Brisbane however, can’t afford to do that against many of the other finalists.
They may have gone the long way around, but the win gets them two finals at the Gabba and sees them avoid their traditional nemesis, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, for a few weeks.
The Saints may struggle up forward, but they’ve done well this season to finish sixth, especially after they started the season with everyone injured.
They even did that little fake out when it appeared they would drop out of the eight, only to secure their spot. What can they do next? Can they win the whole thing?
Geelong (79) v Western Bulldogs (104)
In the cruellest move of the season, the Western Bulldogs missed finals and made their fans want Carlton to win on the way out.
That is a horrible way to treat your supporters.
And to think, a win against the Eagles, and they would be playing finals. Or even a win against Hawthorn the week before the Eagles loss.
It’s almost like they didn’t want to play finals.
Even in this game they found it hard, and that was with a lot of Geelong’s top players already finished up for the year.
One man who did enjoy the match was Isaac Smith. He looked happy throughout, and why wouldn’t he be? He leaves the game with four premierships.
At one stage he stood outside the boundary line to watch a teammate have a shot at goal, and later he almost hurdled Patrick Dangerfield to celebrate his Captain’s goal.
In life, try and find something that makes you as happy as Isaac Smith playing footy.
West Coast (78) v Adelaide (123)
West Coast managed to finally secure the wooden spoon on Saturday, with a loss to the Crows, who were banned from playing finals this year by the AFL.
It was an emotional night for all involved, with the Crows knowing they had been robbed, and despite their being grainy CCTV of the crime, no one was getting charged.
For the Eagles, it was a celebration of sorts, first of the season from hell being over, but secondly, saying goodbye to Shannon Hurn, Luke Shuey and Nic Naitanui.
I remember when the Demons drafted Jack Watts ahead of Nic Naitanui, and now that both players have retired, I’d have to say the Eagles probably won that one.
The game itself saw the Eagles perform a lot better than they have for most of this year.
The difference was Tex Walker who kicked nine goals to put an exclamation point on his unexpectedly brilliant season.
It makes me think that perhaps old people can be useful.
Port Adelaide (94) v Richmond (63)
Power fans would have been very happy with a third-place finish if you’d asked them in the first month of this season.
They’d be less thrilled to be off to Brisbane for week one, however, percentage being all that separates the two sides.
Richmond’s season came to an end with no Trent Cotchin or Jack Riewoldt, and Damien Hardwick long gone.
It truly is the end of an era.
The only person who didn’t seem to know this was Dustin Martin, who ran around gathering 33 disposals and a goal. He was like the Japanese soldier on an island who doesn’t know the war is over.
The Tigers now need to rebuild, but the way Martin is playing, he’ll keep them dangerous for some time.
Port now hopes it can get on another hot streak like they did through the middle of the season.
Finals can be about momentum and there is perhaps no greater momentum side in the eight.
Sydney (56) v Melbourne (77)
The Dees went into this knowing that no matter what, they would face Collingwood at the MCG in the first week of finals.
Despite this, they played like they were trying to secure a finals spot, in what was one of the grittiest wins I’ve seen from this side.
The Swans did have a home final on the line, and in the third quarter, they threw everything at the Demons.
As the crowd roared, they surged to a 17-point lead, as the Demons seemed overwhelmed.
Bayley Fritsch went off with what appeared to be a reinjured sore foot, and Jake Melksham got a knock on the knee and had to be subbed out of the game.
A big problem for the Dees was Errol Gulden, who finished with 42 disposals and two goals. The man is a freak.
Yet, the Dees, in arguably their best performance since their premiership win, reversed all the momentum, got the game back on their terms and won by 21 points.
It was helped by Fritsch coming back on and finishing with five goals.
For a side that had nothing to play for in terms of where and who they play in the first week of finals, it was a statement of pure intent.
The Swans themselves will be left to wonder how they let a home final get away.
It is worth mentioning the lap of honour Buddy Franklin did on the day. We are seeing one of the greats walk off into the sunset.
I’d go as far to say that he was a steal at pick five in the 2004 Draft. Fun fact, he started his career at Hawthorn before the Swans spotted his talent.
Carlton (73) v Greater Western Sydney (105)
Like Stone Cold Steve Austin crashing a Mike Tyson media conference, the Giants have stormed into the finals and in brutal fashion.
With Blues fans riding the wave of a nine-game winning streak and making finals for the first time in living memory, Carlton struggled with the Giants quick ball movement.
The Giants had way more to play for, and it showed, with them not only doing everything to win, but working hard to try and get their percentage up to play a home final.
They fell short of that, but you’d hate to play them in the finals, they are probably the true wildcard in the pack.
Carlton fans may even be happy to have a loss here, especially if you believe that you eventually have to have a loss.
Getting it out of the way here is better than in the finals.
It’s hard to know how Carlton will go in the finals. It’s not something you see that often.
It’s like sending a very experimental submarine into deep water.
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This week’s Sports Bizarre episode is A Drunken Le Mans: Part Two, available wherever you get your podcasts.