Round 4 AFL Review
Where to start?
There’s a lot to digest right about now from this round of footy, and I’ve been going over and over this weekends happenings like a ruminant and its cud.
First and foremost – as an Essendon supporter (it’s out there now…) I would like to call out Dennis Cometti. After the Bombers loss to Geelong in the NAB cup – old Den thought it was his right to choose who should play on ANZAC Day, and suggested that Essendon don’t deserve to play. Based on a NAB cup result.
Well, I think that’s been put to bed now, as the Bombers matched (and at times outplayed) the Cats for 75% of their match on Saturday, before the Cats superior fitness saw them overrun the Bombers in the last quarter to win by 30 points. However, maybe it’s worth running the eye over the Bombers opponents for next Monday? The Pies have the same win/loss as the Bombers, and on current form, wouldn’t match the Bombers for work rate and/or effort.
They got absolutely mugged early on by Melbourne. The Dees came out with the intensity and pressure that they’ve shown in patches this season, and blew the Pies away, skipping out to a 30-point lead at quarter time and never looked like being headed, closing out with a comfortable 35 point victory.
There are real issues at the Pies, and such is the nature of a high profile club when it’s struggling – there are murmurs over Nathan Buckley’s future employment. Personally – I think the Bombers start favourites for Monday’s match, and I expect things to get really interesting at the Westpac Centre if the Pies go 1-4. One thing is for sure – the Bombers and Pies will fill the MCG again and all eyes will be on the clash. But perhaps Dennis thinks that St Kilda and GWS deserve it instead? I’m sure the AFL would love the gate takings from the 20,000 supporters that show up. ANZAC Day is, was, and always will be Essendon vs Collingwood.
Getting off my soapbox, let’s shift focus to Richmond. I don’t remember seeing such an uncommitted, weak Tigers outfit. They looked lost on Friday night against the Eagles and got blown off the park early. They were competitive enough to ensure that the margin didn’t get up to coach-sacking territory (100+), but a 68 point loss on the big stage of Friday night is embarrassing enough. Speaking of the coach, I don’t think his comments have helped of recent times:
April 9th: “We might have to take a little half step back to go two steps forward”
April 10th: “Don’t get me wrong, we will still make the eight as far as I am concerned”
April 16th: “We’ve got to mend the process. Obviously it’s broken at the moment”
Maybe instead of stopping the players from talking to the press, the Tiges would be better off stopping Dimma talking to them. The message coming out of the senior coach’s mouth at the moment is muddled, inconsistent, and unsure. Unsurprisingly – the team’s footy is exactly the same. This is a team lacking any real direction at the moment. Hardwick is unimaginative in the coach’s box, Cotchin is uninspiring as captain on the field. This team needs a leader or two to emerge, or things are going to get worse before they get better.
But if it’s bad for Richmond, it’s worse for Fremantle. As I predicted about 2 weeks ago, the Purple Haze has slipped to 0-4 and sit bottom of the ladder. Well not quite bottom – Carlton are there of course, but they’re right there next to them. This is a team that were talked about before the season as a top 4 side, but they look anything but that right now. Players like Fyfe, Barlow, Mayne, Neale and Pavlich are still putting in their usual performance, but it’s what’s underneath that must concern Ross Lyon. There’s not a lot of consistency coming from players 7-20 on the list, and there’s a twofold challenge Lyon faces with those players. 1) How to get these players to play good football. 2) How to get them to do it consistently. At the moment, he must enter matches not knowing what he’s going to get from a number of his players. And what happens if they lose at home to the Blues next week?
In comparison though – the Roos are flying, on top of the ladder for the first time in 17 years, and still undefeated. And yet… I’m still not convinced. I don’t know why, and I can’t put my finger on it – but I still don’t think they’re a premiership chance. Sorry North fans – I just don’t see you as a contender yet. Still too many players who are too inconsistent. I must say though, I think Jarrad Waite has taken his game up to the next level, now he just needs guys like Petrie, Thomas, Swallow and Higgins to join him there consistently – rather than just show the flashes of brilliance they’re renowned for.
The Giants posted their highest ever score and winning margin against the yo-yo like Port Adelaide, who continue to look a different side away from home. There’s just a glut of young superstars in that GWS line up, and they are a fast skilful side, reminiscent of the Western Bulldogs for mine. PattonWatch continued – and he was better this week, with 12 possessions, 9 marks, and a goal. I would think he holds his spot now, even if Jeremy Cameron does come straight back in to the side.
The Lions surprised most by defeating the Suns in a close one. Realistically, they should have won by more but for poor kicking on goal (again!). 13 more scoring shots would usually see a minimum 5 or 6 goal win – but their ordinary kicking kept the Suns in the contest for a lot longer than they should have been. Of course none of that mattered – because the only thing we’re talking about after this game was the massive hit put on Stefan Martin by big Steve May. He just ironed him out with a good old fashioned shirtfront. Of course, it didn’t help matters that Martin couldn’t arrest his momentum thanks to a sneaky little shove from one G. Ablett directly into May, but I doubt that May will be able to use that in his defense. May took his eyes off the ball, ran past the ball, jumped into the air, and hit Martin fair down the middle, with a forearm/elbow to the head for good measure. He’s looking at a lengthy stay on the sidelines. If he can argue his conduct was careless, not intentional, and have it classed as high impact, not severe – he could get away with 3 matches That would then be down to 2 with an early plea. I think the MRP will classify his conduct as intentional and because the impact was to the head, it won’t matter if it was high or severe – either will send him straight to the tribunal. Regardless of the outcome – it has certainly served to make sure the Q-Clash will have a bit of meaning in the next few meetings. In a way, it’s fortunate for Gold Coast that we’re all talking about May’s bump, because it’s just taken the focus off what would be considered a very disappointing loss for them. Yes, it was their first for the season – but these are the ones they will need to win if they are to play finals this year.
Hawthorn battled all day to beat the Saints by less than a kick down in Tassie, the margin never more than 4 goals to either side. The Hawks remain unconvincing at the moment, and yet they’ve still started the season 3-1. They will improve as the year goes on, and start to get players back – so I still have them as my flag favourites, but not with any real certainty, I must admit. The Saints were impressive – Riewoldt was great again, as was Montagna, but it was guys like Steven, Billings, Newnes, Ross and Armitage that are starting to show the way for the Saints – and there’s still a lot of improvement to come from them. I like how they’re going about it.
The Swans took on the Crows in Adelaide, and played probably the match of the round. The lead changed hands eleven times throughout this one, and when the Crows got out to an 18 point lead in the third quarter, that was the biggest margin of the match. Both teams scored over 100, in what was a really good game of footy to watch. Stats wise – nothing of note. The teams were evenly matched in just about every area of the game. Dan Hanneberry had a massive game for the Swans with 38 possessions, and Rory Sloane was equally good for the Crows, with a game high 19 contested possessions, to go with 10 tackles. Buddy kicked 4 (doesn’t he always?) as did Heeney for the Swans, and Eddie Betts was Eddie Betts, with 4 of his own as well. No real talking point from this one – maybe the umpiring gets a mention I guess – in particular the 15m rule. This seemed to be a contentious one all round actually, making me wonder if there’d been a bit of chat about it during the week.
The Dogs accounted for Carlton comfortably – despite a hamstring injury to Jason Johanisen, as well as some minor injuries to Matt Suckling and million dollar baby Tom Boyd. With a 43 point half time lead, it looked like another 10 goal defeat was on the cards for Carlton – who just can’t kick goals, however they managed to stop the trademark Western Bulldogs Run N Gun in the second half, and actually win the half by 7 points, to finish the game within 6 goals. Carlton’s biggest issue right now is kicking goals, and it must make Carlton supporters just die a little inside when they see that former Blues Waite, Betts, and Kennedy are all in the top 6 for goals kicked this season. It’s hard to see how they turn that around with the current list. They simply have to go to the trade table at the end of this season and try and prise a key forward out from somewhere.
Watch for: Damien Hardwick to be very careful with his words this week, Steven May to get 6 weeks on the sidelines, Bucks and Eddie to be misquoted in the press, and the Perth press to gun for Ross Lyon.
WCE 18.17.125 def Richmond 9.3.57
Geelong 9.18.72 def Essendon 6.6.42
Hawthorn 13.9.87 def St Kilda 13.6.84
Brisbane 14.23.107 def Gold Coast 14.10.94
Bulldogs 13.7.85 def Carlton 7.7.49
Adelaide 16.7.113 def Sydney 15.13.103
GWS 22.19.151 def Port Adelaide 9.11.65
Melbourne 16.6.102 def Collingwood 9.13.67
North Melb 20.12.132 def Fremantle 14.17.101