Jun 13, 2023
The Tuesday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Thirteen
On a Tuesday, you want irrational reaction. You want emotion to trump reason.
What you really want is idiotic hysteria.
You've come to the right place.
Sydney (66) v St Kilda (80)
This game feels like it was about a month ago. That’s the AFL, slowly expanding to take over everything like the Borg. Soon footy will be 24/7, 365 days a year and I’ll never sleep again.
It’s great if they do, there are not enough betting ads on TV at the moment.
This was meant to be a celebration of the 350th game for the one AFL player Sydneysiders can name, Jesinta Franklin’s boyfriend, but it was ugly early and rarely reached any great heights.
Saints fans won’t care about that, after losing to Hawthorn, the Saints needed to go up to the SCG and come away with four points.
It didn’t need to be pretty, there are no style points in the AFL, something Ross Lyon is thankful for.
Franklin did overtake Doug Wade on the all-time goalkickers list, which is amazing given the era he has played in.
Back in my day, forwards rarely left the goal square, and they certainly didn’t know they were allowed to leave the forward fifty.
Buddy has had to participate in the constant running era and has still been one of the greatest goalkickers of all time.
Western Bulldogs (85) v Port Adelaide (107)
Alright Port Adelaide, we get it, you’re a good footy side. No need to keep reminding us. You’re coming on a little strong.
The Power have now won ten games in a row, in a game that was as entertaining as the Adelaide-West Coast game wasn’t.
The game started fast with the returning Charlie Dixon kicked a goal almost immediately, only for my favourite member of Dire Straits, Aaron Naughton, to respond straight away.
Then it was on. Tom Liberatore was in everything, while Zak Butters was just everywhere. When the game was on the line, he was an angry man, willing the Power back into it.
And he needed to because the Bulldogs threw everything at them, and the Doggies are good at throwing.
To prove the haters wrong, you first need to have haters, and then you must perform to such a high level the haters have to concede you’re pretty good.
I’ve always had plenty of haters, but the second bit, well, the second bit has been tricky.
Jason Horne-Francis seems to be nailing the first and second bit. He didn’t dominate the entire game, but he took had his moments and they were big.
Hawthorn (98) v Brisbane (73)
Hawthorn are not very good at tanking. Hopeless in fact.
It may even be the case that they are not tanking at all, but instead trying to get better, improve every player on the list and instil a winning culture in their young players. What an odd approach.
And it’s working, the Hawks are winning far more than I’d really like. Against Brisbane, they just outran them. They made the Lions look old and slow, which is impressive because the Lions aren’t old and slow.
The only negative for Hawthorn is that James Sicily is off to the Tribunal for his tackle on Hugh McCluggage. It seemed more an unfortunate series of events than a dangerous tackle but it’s hard to know these days.
My solution would be for every player to carry a pillow and a doona, so in a tackle you swing the pillow under your opponent’s head, and then tuck them in with the donna, making sure they’re comfortable and feeling safe.
One person who wasn’t happy with the tackle was Dayne Zorko, and if there’s one man who cares about a safe work environment on the field, its Dayne Zorko.
I thought the most dangerous thing was making Hugh McCluggage walk around the entire boundary line after the tackle. Surely you whack him on the stretcher. I mean, it was late in the game and it was obvious he wasn’t coming back before the end of the game.
While Hawthorn deserves a lot of credit for the result, that doesn’t change the fact that Brisbane handles the MCG as well as I handle social situations.
And yes, I know their one win in the past thirteen games at the MCG was against Melbourne in a final.
But I once went to a party and didn’t come across as aloof and awkward; that too was an anomaly.
Luckily for the Lions, the AFL is a truly national competition and doesn’t play all the major finals at the MCG.
Adelaide (174) v West Coast (52)
Once at school, a fight broke out, so I lay on the ground and got into a ball until the fight ended.
It’s a strategy West Coast adopted on the weekend, and I imagine many of their fans watching at home did the same.
Eagle Ryan Maric was working as a night-fill stacker at Woolworths a fortnight ago, and this week he was playing in this game, surely the greatest career downgrade in history.
Last year Jai Culley famously went from working in a chicken shop to playing for the Eagles.
While everyone loves a story like this, the fact people can go from working in a normal job to playing for an AFL side in weeks is not a good sign for the AFL club.
Adelaide certainly enjoyed this. Taylor Walker celebrated his 250th match, kicking ten goals, and it would be easy to say, ‘but it was against West Coast’, easy and true.
Because West Coast are to football what Ben Simmons is to a jump shot.
Fremantle (70) v Richmond (85)
Richmond travelled to Perth and managed to steal the four points.
In difficult conditions, the Tigers showed they are not completely done this season; in fact, they just needed to get rid of Damien Hardwick, obviously a hopeless coach.
The Tigers thrived in the wet conditions, while the Dockers responded only slightly better than suede.
With conditions terrible, the Dockers decided that overusing the ball was a good idea. It was not.
Shai Bolton might sound like a character from The Marvellous Mrs Maisel, but he is a talisman for the Tigers. His final quarter was a big reason they held off the Dockers.
Fremantle shouldn’t be too despondent, they responded well after a slow start, but their problem is they began the season so badly, they don’t have a lot of room for error.
It’s a reminder not to leave things to the last minute, a lesson I will one day get around to learning.
North Melbourne (75) v Greater Western Sydney (103)
Now the Kangaroos know how to tank. While the Hawks are winning too much, and the Eagles have given up the sport, North are just right.
Again, North’s younger players impressed. I’m all in on George Wardlaw. He attacks stoppages like an American attacks a buffet.
Tarryn Thomas ended the game with three goals and it’s nice to see a team overlook a person’s behaviour and just focus on their footballing ability for once.
The Giants themselves are an average team, who happen to have Toby Greene, who almost wills them across the line every week.
With a crowd of just 5,025 at Blundstone Arena, even the Giants players were wondering where everyone was.
To be fair, they were at home waiting for the Tasmanian team to come along and play in that new stadium that everyone seems to love down there.
Carlton (52) v Essendon (86)
Like a plane that can’t fly or a boat that can’t float, Carlton has a football team that can’t play football.
Perhaps that’s harsh. It’s not that they can’t play football; it’s that they don’t seem to want to.
Nothing showed that more than the fact that Essendon finished with 64 tackles, while Carlton had just 33.
The Blues even led early on, but when it got hard, the Bombers booted eight unanswered goals as the Blues disappeared like introverts at a party.
It certainly doesn’t help that when they do play well, they aren’t rewarded for it. They kicked 6.16, with claims Carlton has a forward line seeming like false advertising.
Essendon had no such problems, with the returning Peter Wright booting five goals, and this was his first game this season. Carlton only beat him by one goal.
The Bombers were just better in every single department, and they can’t miss finals from here. I’m locking them in as a sure thing. You’re welcome Bombers fans!
Carlton will miss finals again but it’s the effort that will have Blues fans furious.
Like consistency at the Tribunal, it’s just not there.
Melbourne v Collingwood
If you didn’t have a tear in your eye when Neale Daniher walked off the ground with a guard of honour, you are probably a sociopath.
The Big Freeze was once again a highlight of the footy calendar, but the guard of honour was something else.
And the game lived up to the moment too, with a match that was never in doubt for the Dees, except for all the times it was.
Which was a lot.
The Pies are top of the table for a reason, they are a phenomenal side and this loss, while disappointing, will not be season-defining.
For the Dees it was. They haven’t been at the top of their game since their winning streak at the start of last season.
To end the Pies’ winning streak was always going to be difficult, but Simon Goodwin had a master plan.
What if instead of kicking more goals than Collingwood, a ploy they would see coming, Melbourne drowns them in points?
It proved Goodwin was playing 4D chess.
Like a bad Uber driver, the Melbourne Football Club took the longest route possible to get to their destination. It was frustrating, and unnecessarily stressful, but they did get there in the end.
The key for the Dees, was their effort and their control. They stopped Collingwood doing what they wanted to do, like a chaperone at a school social.
With the Pies not able to get their run game going, the Dees defence was able to time and again set up behind the ball stop most attacks.
That was until the last two minutes, two of the most stressful moments of my life, and I saw Aliens when I was eight.
In the end the Dees hung on for a victory that shows they’ve still got it. Now to find it regularly. And kick straight.
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