Just a quick round review from me this week – once again, time has got the best of me this weekend!
The first of the bye rounds is in the books, we have a new ladder leader, and a couple of teams found a bit out about themselves, as the season enters its back half.
Round 12 AFL Review
Just a brief run down of this week’s AFL action – nothing like a long weekend to keep one away from the computer for a weekend.
11 rounds in and the premiership race is still wide open, though the race for the top 8 seems to be drawing to a close for a couple of teams.
Being named Josh Kennedy seems to be an advantage if you want to play professional football.
Image: Getty Images
Nearing the halfway point of the season, and I’ve gotta say that I have no bloody idea who’s going to win the flag. 2 weeks ago, Geelong were my premiership favourites (more on them later), with Sydney a close second, and I was preparing to write the Hawks off. I still don’t rate North Melbourne a chance – and was not surprised that Sydney ended their unbeaten streak. Maybe Sydney are my new flag favourites? They have the big bodied midfield, they have the gun forwards, and solid defenders. I’m confident they’ll finish top 4, and I’m confident that if Buddy turns it on in September, they’ll be thereabouts.
Round 9 is in the books as we move closer to the mid season bye period. We began the round with Jordan Lewis’ perfect sledge return, showing Sydney players a butcher’s handful of premiership wins in response to a scoreboard taunt. More of that later… Sydney’s second match at the MCG in 6 days was a lot more rewarding for them this week, as they won a scrappy affair by 14 points. Not much to write about this game, Gunston and Tippett kicked 4, and Buddy didn’t. He finished with 3, and takes his total to 37 from 9 games. If he keeps going at this rate, and the Swans play a couple of finals – we may be seeing a 90-100 goal season coming up from big Bud. And I for one would welcome it. I miss the days of seeing Gary Ablett kick 14 in a losing effort, or Dunstall putting 17 past Richmond. Anyhow – the Swans move into the top 4, and are starting to put together a decent Premiership challenge. Parker and Hanneberry again had 30 plus possessions, while Liam Shiels was again top of the tackle count for the Hawks.
Round 8 kicked off in Adelaide – as the Crows hosted Geelong and, more importantly in the eyes of the media – Patrick Dangerfield. Much was made of the former Crow’s return to Adelaide – even though the Cats had played the Power in Adelaide in round 5 – a fact forgotten by a few amongst the media types. It was a successful return for Dangerfield, as the Cats kicked away late in the last quarter to secure a 26 point victory. The Cats had led the whole game, but couldn’t ever put the Crows away as Sloane, Atkins, and the Crouch brothers more than held their own against Dangerfield, Selwood, Guthrie, and Bartel. Steven Motlop kicked four for the Cats to be the leading goalkicker on the ground, and had more of his teammates kicked straight – it could have been a much bigger win. The Cats had almost double the Crows scoring opportunities – 33 to 17, and really should have won by more.
Round 7 is in the books, and pretty much all games went as expected – no real surprises to speak of. Probably the biggest surprise of the round was the Demons demolition job on the Gold Coast up at Metricon – but more on that a bit later. The Giants continue on their merry way, and a number of teams are starting to rack up some pretty daunting losing streaks – the Dockers are now winless from 7, the Bombers have lost their last 5, as have the Tigers, and the Lions are now at 3 losses in a row. Meanwhile – Carlton made it three wins in a row for the first time in a few years, North remain undefeated, and the Cats are looking ominous with 5 in a row, comfortably dispatching last years Grand Finalists in the Eagles.
6 rounds down and we’re over a quarter of the way through the regular season. So what, if anything, have we gleaned from the first 6 weeks of season 2016?
Well, for one – the Hawks are not invincible. They never really have been, especially early in the season, but as we know – if they’re around the mark when the whips are cracking, they’re going to be hard to beat. We know they’ll be welcoming back players later in the season – and I really get the sense that there might be a few Hawks players starting to think that this could be Last Chance Saloon in respects to Premiership Glory. We’re already seeing some contenders start to raise their hands – perennial finalists Sydney and Geelong are sitting 2nd and 3rd respectively, and they’re joined in the top 4 by the Kangas and Doggies – somewhat surprisingly for me to be perfectly honest. I wasn’t expecting either side to feature in the top 4, yet both have made great starts to the year. It will get harder for the Dogs from here on in, with their ever increasing injury list starting to test their depth. This might be a blessing in disguise actually – I don’t think this was going to be their year for ultimate glory anyway – and with their injuries – now they have a chance to really build some squad depth for a crack at the flag next year. The Giants, Eagles, Crows, and Hawks round out the top 8, and all 4 sides have played impressive footy at times this year. Could this be the year someone wins the flag from outside the top 4? Potentially. I feel like at this stage – we’ve got a really even competition, and we’re no closer to knowing which two clubs will be playing off in the last game of the season. I like Sydney and Geelong at this point – both teams have tough, hard midfields, capable key forwards, and solid defenders, but honestly – it’s a futile exercise in round 6.
Round 5 began with match of the round. Finally, a Friday night contest worth tuning in for as the Hawks and Crows faced off at the MCG in front of 45,781 fans. And they were treated to a fantastic game of footy, as the game ebbed and flowed for much of the contest, only for Hawthorn to do a Hawthorn, and kick the last 3 goals of the game to snatch a victory from an impressive Adelaide outfit, which proved their credentials on the big stage. A lot of talk since then about Hawthorn getting a cosy ride from the umpires – but truth be told, I don’t think there was much to write about from that point. Plus, I’d prefer to focus on what was a really good game of footy. First and foremost – Paul Puopolo is a gun. Easily best on ground – 5 goals to go with 23 possessions, 6 tackles and 5 clearances is an enormous night of footy. How this bloke had to wait until he was 23 to be drafted (and even then, not until pick 66) staggers me. Mitchell and Hodge were once again good for the Hawks, and had a brilliant midfield battle against Sloane and Thompson – both in the best players for the Crows.