Just two home and away games to go, and the clustermuck at the top of the ladder is still no closer to sorting itself out. As we’ve postulated for weeks here at Holding Steadfast – percentage looks ever more likely to be the difference between your side having a double chance, or potentially having to take on the Eagles in Perth in an elimination final. An intriguing couple of weeks await us, and the big names of the competition are starting to really dial in – match winners like Franklin, Betts and Rioli are really starting to hit peak form, and we’re going to get a good look at some of the young GWS stars in a finals atmosphere. I’m looking forward to the finals this year – even if my team looks desperately unlucky to make the cut despite winning on the weekend. Just percentage and 10 wins short… there’s always next year I guess. But more on Essendon later.
First up this week – the Pies were desperate to knock off a finals contender, and took it right up to the injury riddled Bulldogs, skipping out to a 3 goal lead halfway through the third quarter off the back of some really good footy from the Pies midfield. Aish, Treloar, and Pendlebury all had plenty of the footy and were giving the Pies Cloke-less forward line plenty of opportunity. Darcy Moore had a good game – though would be hoping not to headbutt too many more advertising boards, while Sidebottom and DeGoey were both getting forward of midfield to hit the scoreboard. For the Dogs, it was FBMMB (future Brownlow Medallist Marcus Bontempelli) who was once again their best player, but he was well supported by the likes of Hunter, Boyd, and Dahlhaus – all of whom had good games for the Scray and helped them over the line to a 3 point win.
Dogs 95 def
Luke Beveridge Quote of the Week: “Collingwood threw the kitchen sink at us and it was an enormous effort in the end to arrest it”
Carlton went up to the Gabbatoir and got sliced up early (I’m not even sorry…) by a Lions outfit who clearly forgot they asked the AFL for a priority pick. (Yes – the team who last year traded away pick 5 is asking for a priority pick…) Brisbane led by as much as 7 goals early in the third quarter, largely off the back of Dayne Zorko’s first half effort (10 inside 50’s, 3 goals, and 4 goal assists) but a quick phone call from Greg Swann to the coaches box reminding big Leppa of his responsibility soon put a stop to the Lions run on. Brisbane kicked just 3 goals in the second half, as the Blues came storming home, attempting to stave off their 9th successive defeat. The Blues had the chance to snatch the win, but unfortunately for Brisbane “fans” – Dale Thomas missed from the pocket with just a couple of minutes remaining, ensuring Brisbane would record their third win of the season.
Lions 99 def
Leppa’s text to the Lions board: “they… obviously had enough opportunities to win it.”
“Need I remind you? Priority Pick!”
The Kangas talked the talk about taking the physical challenge up to the Hawks, and only succeeded in giving the Hawks some motivation, as the Poosandwees came out and spanked the Roos into oblivion in the first quarter. The Hawks kicked 7 before the Roos even registered their first – and that was pretty much all she wrote from there. Sure there were some scuffles, and the Kangas basically held their own after quarter time – in fact they drew within 2 goals in the third quarter, but the facts are that North Melbourne once again lost to a top 8 side, and still haven’t guaranteed their spot in the 8. They better barrack hard against the Demons for the next two weeks, because the Dees are still (wait for it…) a mathematical possibility of making finals. The Hawks small forwards ran rampant – 8 goals between Breust, Puopolo and Rioli, while old stagers Mitchell and Lewis turned in solid performances and look to be building nicely for their September campaign.
Hawks 96 def
Fun Fact: No player has ever won in their 429th game.
The 4th game of the round was the third one to finish within a one goal margin, as Nic Naitanui took it upon himself to lift the Weagles to a rare away win at Spotless Stadium in the Saturday twilight game. GWS basically led this match for 95%, and then big Nic Nat came along and spoiled their fun, snapping truly from a stoppage and bumping GWS out of the top 4. The Giants had earlier threatened to pull away a couple of times – twice opening up a 4 goal lead – however, the Eagles reigned them back in every time the Giants got a run on, and booted 6 goals to 2 in the last quarter as the young Giants ran out of legs in the last 15 minutes. It’s been a long season for a lot of these youngsters, and I’m not surprised to see them struggling to run out games of late.
Eagles 97 def
PATTONWATCH: Big Jon was ordinary – 4 kicks, 3 marks, 2 goals, 1 tackle.
The Swans turned in a second half to behold against the Saints as they romped to a percentage boosting 70 point win – keeping themselves ensconced in the top 2. It was the Buddy Franklin show for mine – the big man booting 6 goals from 28 possessions and 9 marks to be easily the best on ground, and sending shivers down the spines of key defenders from every other top 8 team. He’s ready to deliver folks, and when he’s on – the Swans are a completely different team. Full credit to the Saints, they pressured and harassed the Swans magnificently in the first half – and to me, they’ll be big improvers next year, however the Swans just “did Sydney” after half time, and blew the youngsters away. Parker, Hanneberry, and Kennedy all dominating – while Callum Mills turned in another stellar performance – probably locking up the Rising Star award for this year in the process.
Swans 146 def
Fun Stat: The Swans kicked 17 of the last 20 goals.
The other Saturday night match featured the Power and the Demons in a game to see who could keep their mathematical possibility alive. Would it be Port – with a superior percentage to Melbourne – or would Melbourne go interstate and bring home the points.
Well – I didn’t watch any of this game – but Melbourne won, so Port’s season is now officially over. Never tear up the tarps.
Demons 94 def
Ken Hinkley is already planning his delistings: “there are some people that aren’t capable of getting it to where we need it to be”
And now, ladies and gentlemen – you’ll excuse me if I become emotional, (perhaps choosing to write a weekly footy blog in a year where my side has been getting annihilated on a weekly basis was not my brightest idea) but hold the presses – BOMBERS WIN!
Yes – after 17 long weeks, the Dons finally broke through for their second win of the season – knocking off the Suns by a goal on Sunday afternoon. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t a great game of footy – but for the fans who have turned up week in, week out this year, it was a fitting reward. The long suffering supporters got to see Zach Merrett become Essendon’s third youngest captain behind Tim Watson and Simon Madden (reasonable company) and club legend Michael Long’s son Jake play his first game. They also got to see fight from the Bombers, who got a sniff early – and played with some real tenacity, holding on for the win while the Suns peppered the goals.
Bombers 75 def
Why Wouldn’t You: Tag David Zaharakis?
Despite everything that happens, all the changes that are made, and all the comings and goings in the AFL – there’s one thing you can always count on. Richmond will always be Richmond. The Tigers gave up a 35 point three quarter time margin to lose to a wayward Geelong by 4 points in a game that had little riding on it for the Tigers, but everything for the Cats. Geelong’s kicking for goal has been a talking point all year, and it was once again horrendous, as the Cats kicked just 10 goals from 32 scoring shots. Geelong have been up and down all season long, struggling to put so-called easy beats away – and Sunday afternoon was no different, as they struggled to put a score on the board, despite absolutely towelling the Tigers up in the Inside 50 department. I really struggle to judge Geelong – on their day, I think they can beat anyone in the comp – yet they seem to have poor days far too often. Underestimate them at your peril though – they have a steady back 6, guns in the middle, a couple of big key forwards, and some X factor and outside run that is capable of really exciting footy.
Cats 82 def
Chris Scott Excuse of the Week: “Richmond played a different style to the one that they have played for most of this year and it made it hard for us”
“Please don’t leave Alex…”
I didn’t watch the final game of the round – because I was watching the Essendon win on replay (it’s been a long season…) but the Crows went to Perth and beat up on the Dockers by 12 goals. Have I mentioned I rate the Crows??? Betts kicked half a dozen for the Crows, Jenkins picked up a handful as well, while Walters also managed 5 of the Dockers 11 goals.
Crows 142 def
Ross Lyon Quote of the Week: “To the best of my knowledge, Hayden has never asked me for a trade”