Aug 02, 2021
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Twenty
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.
St Kilda (81) v Carlton (112)
Life is full of mysteries, like the fact Carlton is still in the conversation for finals. Granted, it would be a pretty wide-ranging discussion but they're still there.
And thanks to Carlton, St Kilda are not in that discussion, their late-season flurry knocked on the head in this one.
This game underlined the frustration of Blues fans. How can a team that can play so well, has some excellent young talent yet phones in so many ordinary performances, then produce this?
It so often seems to be what mood the team is in, leading to that age-old question, how do you get them in the mood?
There were other positives for the Blues beyond the four points, Charlie Curnow’s return being the main one.
He hadn’t played in more than two years, which is a long time, but given the covid pandemic occurred in that period, it feels like he hasn’t played for two decades.
For St Kilda, this flat, lifeless performance really underlined their problems this year. It was a typical Saints season, start with hope, crush that, build up a bit of hope again, then lose to Carlton.
Saints supporters have seen this more than I’ve seen the Back to the Future Trilogy.
Western Bulldogs (105) v Adelaide (56)
The Crows travelled to Ballarat and based on this performance; they would have been better off visiting the local sights than turning up to this.
And there’s a lot to see in Ballarat. My favourite is Kryal Castle, a replica medieval castle built in 1975.
It’s gone through a few owners over the years, it turns out a replica medieval castle is not the massive money-spinner you’d expect. There was even talk a few years ago of turning it into a medieval-style brothel, but it never happened.
Talk about an opportunity missed. It would have stayed open in lockdown then.
For the Crows it’s probably lucky it didn’t happen, given based on this performance, they would be unable to organise use of its facilities.
The Doggies however have no time for faux-medieval infrastructure. They are on their way to the finals and their premiership window is more open than a 7-11.
North Melbourne (42) v Geelong (62)
While it was a loss, if you’re a North supporter, you’d have to be happy with the general trend line of the Kangaroos this season.
It’s gone from ‘let’s move them to Tasmania’, to ‘actually, these guys have quite the future.’
Against Geelong, a premiership favourite, they made life more difficult than changing border closures.
A highlight for me was Atu Bosenavulagi getting his first AFL goal. I wish him a long career, mainly for the joy he will bring me as I listen to AFL commentators struggle to pronounce his name. It’s going to be glorious.
Geelong may have had to work hard, but they just had that extra level of class.
A big reason for the win was the Guthrie Brothers which sounds like a seminal seventies band.
Collingwood (90) v West Coast (45)
West Coast showed real solidarity with those teams who had their games postponed on Saturday, refusing to play the first half.
While the sentiment was appreciated, Eagles fans would have preferred the Eagles had played that first half, it would have made this a close game.
After a few good weeks, the Eagles players appeared keen to show their terrible performances this year were not a blip.
The only interesting thing to do while watching them is working out which players won’t be there next year.
I feel for Nic Naitanui, it’s like watching Eddie Vedder having to perform on The Voice.
Collingwood have shown a significant amount of improvement under Robert Harvey in terms of their ball use. Harvey has blown the dust of the attacking manual and even opened it.
While he may not have yet done enough to have secured a permanent gig, at least there’s some hope on the field, even if there’s less off it.
Gold Coast (30) v Melbourne (128)
It appears sending Melbourne on a pointless flight the day before the game worked wonders.
While it appears the Dees have sorted out their scoring problems, the caveat is they did it against a side that was so poor a suburban D-grade team could have probably kicked a big score.
Credit where it’s due for Melbourne, their pressure was excellent all day, and this level of ruthlessness is something they’ve lacked this season.
As for Gold Coast, well, where to start?
There were multiple moments where Suns players got the ball with no pressure on them, only to seem genuinely perplexed as to what they should do with it.
If there was a gold medal for raising the white flag, the Suns would have won it in world record time.
Even as a Melbourne supporter who has seen some things over my lifetime, I was shocked at this performance from the Suns.
Hawthorn (92) v Brisbane (80)
To say Hawthorn had a bad week off the field would be underselling it slightly.
Winning this match seems to just underline the weirdness of Hawthorn’s handling of Alastair Clarkson.
Jeff Kennett may have won his long battle with Clarko over who the alpha of the club is, but Clarkson wins premierships, which is kind of the entire point of the whole enterprise.
If we needed reminding, he is a very good coach, this game certainly provided it.
The Hawks went out hard early, and for three quarters, they just outworked the Lions, who seemed surprised the four points weren’t theirs just by showing up.
By the fourth quarter, when the penny dropped, that they might need to work for it, it was too late, the horse had bolted, a feeling some in the Hawthorn hierarchy might be feeling this week.
For the Lions, this was a terrible loss, given the week Hawthorn had, and the fact the Lions are meant to be premiership contenders.
Being 53 points down to Hawthorn is not the sort of form you want to carry into the rest of the season.
Essendon (102) v Sydney (109)
Now this was a game. A shootout that was incredibly entertaining, especially if you were a neutral observer.
It was like two boxers slugging it out with little thought for defence.
The 12 goals third quarter was insane, if you blinked you missed a goal. It was the sort of free-flowing stuff the AFL dreams about and coaches seek to avoid.
For the Swans, Tom Papley kept working his magic up forward, only for Essendon’s Jake Stringer to create moments of brilliance for Essendon.
I kept waiting for the Bombers to drop away, but they kept hanging in there.
In the end, the Swans probably deserved it, but as an advertisement for the game, it doesn’t get much better.
Fremantle (55) v Richmond (51)
It’s a good time to be a Dockers supporter.
To start with, they looked amazing in their retro jumpers. I know their current design is more classy, more modern, but wow those old jumpers are sensational.
Just a riot of colours, a party happening in your eye that screams ‘graphic design is my passion.’
Secondly, they beat the reigning premiers to enter the eight, with the Giants unable to win on the weekend.
It was a great team effort (with no Nat Fyfe), but you must give a lot of credit to Andrew Brayshaw, who had 39 disposals and more importantly, cleared the ball twice from their defence in the last 20 seconds when the Tigers were coming.
He was just determined to not lose, and unlike most of us, has the talent to make that happen.
Richmond doesn’t look like making finals now. They came back hard but are nowhere near the ridiculously high level they’ve existed at in recent years.
Obviously, they need a boost. Perhaps they could get the Focus on Football board ticket to challenge again?
Greater Western Sydney (73) v Port Adelaide (100)
It says a lot about the fluid nature of the season, when the Giants have a home game in Queensland moved to Melbourne.
Things didn’t get much better for them on the field with Phil Davis going off with a neck injury and Jacob Hopper being stretchered off after being kicked in the head while attempting a smother.
This is the tough thing about doing the one-percenters, they often really, really hurt.
Down two men didn’t make this any easier, especially when the good Port Adelaide showed up.
The Power have now won three in a row and a top-four finish is well in reach, especially given they’ve got Adelaide this week, possibly in Adelaide.
For the Giants, this puts a real dent in their finals hopes. There’s still a chance but they’ve lost three of their last five and watching them play just further reinforced what a bad idea a wildcard finals round is.
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