Aug 23, 2021
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Twenty Three
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.
Western Bulldogs (64) v Port Adelaide (66)
Well, that was a rather hectic end to the regular season, like a mad scramble in a game of musical chairs.
When the music stopped, only eight teams remained and weirdly, Essendon were one of them.
The Doggies would have liked the music to have stopped three weeks ago, before this three-game losing streak they’re on and before they proved Port Adelaide can beat a top team.
Things started off well for them, they led by 22 points in the first quarter, but like all things these days, the longer it went on, the more difficult it got.
Port Adelaide came into this with more baggage than most of us bring into a relationship. If there was a top team, the Power has proven they can lose to them.
It fell to the old firm of Travis Boak, Ollie Wines and Robbie Gray to change this.
In the dying stages, it was Port’s leaders who lead, which is a novel approach but seemed to work for them.
For the Doggies, the outcome couldn’t be worse, they had to rely on West Coast to keep them in the top four. That went as well as you’d expect.
Richmond (83) v Hawthorn (83)
Less a game and more an opportunity to say goodbye.
For Richmond fans, it was a chance to farewell David Astbury and Bachar Houli (who didn’t play but got chaired off).
Quite good players there, and Tigers supporters would be well within rights to be very emotional.
Being part of a team that turned Richmond from a laughingstock into a powerhouse is perhaps the greatest accomplishment ever achieved in the history of humanity.
Hawthorn fans would have been emotional too, with Shaun Burgoyne saying goodbye.
Burgoyne’s had the career every one of us dreamt about when we were kids, and he did it all while also being a nice person. Even his role in securing Hawthorn three premierships, traumatic experiences for us all, hasn’t stopped me admiring him.
While players retiring is always sad, it’s part of the game. What isn’t part of the game is sacking a coach who has won more premierships than any other current coach.
Is it a good decision? Probably not. The fact it’s made every opposition fan happy isn’t a great sign.
Sydney (136) v Gold Coast (49)
There may be no pre-final bye, but that didn’t mean the Swans didn’t get one anyway.
The Suns certainly live up to their name each season.
Like the real Sun, the Suns aren’t very strong in winter.
On Saturday, it was obvious Gold Coast were not exactly highly motivated, what with nothing on the line.
Ben King was good and Touk Miller again carried his team as far as he could, but the Suns finish the season the same as they’ve always been, and that’s not a good thing.
The Swans used the match to tune up. Buddy Franklin did this nicely booting six-goals.
Seven wins in their last eight matches makes the Swans a team no one will be keen to face in the Finals, especially on their home ground, the University of Tasmania Stadium.
Brisbane (125) v West Coast (87)
There was a remote chance of West Coast making the finals, but luckily for the football viewing public and the Eagles themselves, that didn’t happen.
The Eagles did have the chance to make life difficult for the Lions, who need to make up 0.1 per cent to finish in the four.
This really made the live ladder come into its own.
I was in shock Channel Seven didn’t have the live ladder taking up nine-tenths of the screen with the actual footy in a tiny box in the corner.
Brisbane never looked like losing this game, but the 0.1 percentage point seemed as elusive as true love or finding your car keys when you’re running late.
A big reason was Nic Naitanui, who seemed to have not read the memo that the Eagles’ season was shot.
At the start of the fourth quarter Jamie Cripps kicked the two first goals and it seemed the Lions had no chance of finishing in the top four.
But the Lions lifted, and when Lincoln McCarthy's managed a behind in the dying seconds, Brisbane had got their 0.1 percentage point.
Who says maths isn’t exciting?
Geelong (77) v Melbourne (81)
A bit to unpack here.
The Cats blew the Demons apart so easily in the second quarter, with a run of nine unanswered goals, that I thought not only was the Dees season effectively over, and so was any chance at happiness I’d ever have.
It just seemed like Melbourne had just forgotten to come out for the second quarter, something teams of previous years did quite regularly.
It got to the point that in the third quarter, Geelong had a 44-point lead and Melbourne supporters felt that old inferiority complex rising to the fore.
But this Melbourne team is not like Melbourne teams of the last few decades.
It’s got a heart, a spine and all the other vital organs.
There was a surprising lack of panic. The Dees just stuck to their game plan of tight, accountable footy. There had been a wobble, but now they just needed to get back to work.
Of course, that’s not how I felt at the time. Unlike the Dees players, I was rage sulking, although I do that a lot in lockdown.
While the Dees were getting back to playing at their standard, led magnificently by Max Gawn and Clayton Oliver, the Cats seemed to be fading.
Yet with a 32-point lead at three quarter time, Geelong should have been able to pilot the ship home.
The fourth quarter though was all the Dees, and numerous Cats had gone missing.
One look at me and you can tell I’m no expert on fitness, but the Cats seemed out on their feet, and key players spent a lot of time off the field, Patrick Dangerfield being the main one.
Nothing summed up Geelong’s woes more than when Jeremy Cameron and Lachie Henderson collided going for a loose ball, taking not only each other out, but also a probable goal.
The last two minutes had everything as Geelong tried to hold off the Dees.
Umpires made good and bad calls, depending on who you barrack for, and then it ended up in Max Gawn’s hands when the siren went and all he had to do was kick straight for the minor premiership.
It is the most exciting Demons victory I have ever seen, and I’ll never forgive the fake Geelong crowd for drowning out Max Gawn’s post-match interview.
Carlton (75) v Greater Western Sydney (89)
Carlton said goodbye to Eddie Betts in their traditional way, by losing.
It’s a shame because Eddie is a true champion of the game. In fact, there is no greater compliment I can give Eddie Betts than to note he played for Carlton and Adelaide, and I still really like him.
This was a little tighter than the Giants would have liked, with inaccurate goalkicking making this appear closer than it really was.
Luckily for the Giants, Carlton’s skill errors offset their poor goalkicking.
For all the weirdness going on at Carlton, playing Paddy Cripps was a strange one. He had seventeen possessions but wouldn’t kick the ball, only handball, before being subbed out in the third quarter.
It’s almost as if running a star player into the ground creates bad outcomes.
The Blues are likely to get a new coach soon, and I would recommend a complete rebranding.
They should move away from the Carlton name for something with a better reputation. I hear the AstraZeneca brand is now free.
St Kilda (107) v Fremantle (49)
Knowing finals were potentially on the line for Fremantle and nothing was on the line for St Kilda explains this result.
The Dockers seemed to have less interest in this match than I did. St Kilda though seemed super keen to help get Essendon into the finals, something Essendon teams of the past two decades haven’t been interested in.
Fremantle missed Adam Cerra who withdrew from this game and from the entire club.
Despite the result, the Dockers did stick to their ‘brand’, woeful goalkicking, booting 6.13.
It was a disappointing end for Fremantle’s season and a disappointing season for St Kilda, but on the plus side, let’s hope when these two play again their fans will all be able to go see it.
Essendon (102) v Collingwood (64)
The minute Fremantle lost, I lost all interest in this game, as it seemed did Collingwood.
Essendon players already knew they were in the finals, so the main priority was to do enough to get selected for next week, but also not get injured.
Bombers fans were overjoyed, because there is nothing better than not sucking, and your club achieving something.
Collingwood’s real season starts now. They need new players, a new coach and probably a new board, but not necessarily the alternative on offer.
Can they turn it around this offseason? I think the most Collingwood fans can hope for is they don’t do themselves further damage.
Adelaide (98) v North Melbourne (54)
How to make an illusion shaker:
45 mL Midori
15 mL Vodka
15 mL Cointreau or Triple Sec
45 mL Pineapple Juice
15 mL Lemon Juice
1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice
2. Add all the ingredients
3. Shake thoroughly
4. Strain over fresh ice into a glass
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