AFL Round 20 Review: Tighter than a fish’s… well, you know.
I’m back from my 2 week self imposed sanction – and after a relaxing ten days in the South Pacific, isn’t it great to be back in the beautiful state of Victoria enjoying cold weather and footy? That’s rhetorical – I really don’t need you to answer that.
Here we are reviewing round 20, as we head towards September. Finals footy is in the air, but for 10 clubs, well they just have three weeks of another wasted season to go. For 8 clubs, it’s jostling time, as percentage still decides 4 spots on the ladder, and only 2 games separates 1st from 7th. And then there’s North in 8th.
2 of those non-finals bound teams squared off on Friday night, and before the season, we would have looked at this one and given it “blockbuster” status, probably expecting both these sides to be jostling for positions in the top 8. Well that didn’t quite pan out – as less than 50,000 fans showed up to the MCG to watch Richmond produce what looked strangely like effort, as they defeated Collingwood by 15 points. For the time being at least, the natives down at Punt Road are becalmed. The board and coaches will likely survive should Richmond finish the year showing the same effort. That said – I’d be nervous if I wore a Richmond polo shirt to work should the players lose badly any time in the last 3 games. The yellow and black love nothing more than sacking a coach.
Richmond 14.8.92 def
The Match in Four Words: Rance and Martin dominated.
Rance has his coaches back at least…
Sydney tightened their hold on a top 4 spot with a big win against a disappointing Power, and are probably the best hope the league has of avoiding seeing poo and wee coloured confetti fill the air at the MCG around 6:00 pm on the 1st of October. The Swans were irresistible on Saturday, and with Parker, Mitchell, Hanneberry, and Kennedy all at the peaks of their powers, I think they have the best midfield in the competition. Save us Sydney, you are our only hope.
Sydney 14.16.100 def
Port Adelaide 4.9.33
Ken Hinkley’s Match Review: Outworked, Outmuscled, Outplayed
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised at the result of the Melbourne vs Hawthorn game – after all, their meeting earlier in the year probably should have gone that way too, however #freekickhawthorn was in vogue back then, and the Hawks pinched a win from a physical Demons team. Not this time around. The Dees led from go to whoa, and when the inevitable last quarter surge came from the Hawks, the Dees stood up to be counted, as big Maxy Gawn and his on ball brigade of Nathan Jones and Jack Viney took it up to the Hawks and gave them a bit of a touch up around the clearances.
Melbourne 17.8.110 def
Two Sentence Summary: Nathan Jones hadn’t played in a win against Hawthorn in his 13 matches against them up until Saturday. Hawthorn are still top – but the signs of vulnerability are still there, and next weeks match against North will be watched keenly.
Is he… alright?
The expansion clubs played against each other in front of what the AFL is reporting as 9,108 fans at Metricon Stadium – and it was actually a pretty entertaining game. The embattled Suns took it up to the Giants for the entire match, and very nearly created an enormous upset. It was without doubt the Suns best performance since they knocked off Essendon earlier in the season, and the Giants were probably lucky to win in the end.
GWS 14.8.92 def
Gold Coast 13.6.84
PATTONWATCH: This was probably big Jon’s best game for the year, as he pulled in 8 marks and kicked a couple of goals, and actually had some impact on the game. This will please Leon Cameron, who must surely be hoping to trade Patton to some poor sucker club at an over inflated price.
North lost to a top 8 side. Again. North vs Bulldogs was a dour, scrappy match. Again. At least there was a bit of spice with the Roos trying to rough up The Bont. That said, if they were hoping to put him off his game, well… nope. The Bont was once again best on ground for the Dogs, and I may actually start referring to him as Future Brownlow Medallist Marcus Bontempelli (or FBMMB for short), because there’s not a shadow of doubt in my mind that this kid is going to win a Charlie at some point. He copped a pounding from the Kangaroos “hard men” and rose above it with class to be the standout midfielder on the ground.
Western Bulldogs 9.7.61 def
North Melbourne 7.5.47
Brad Scott Quote of the Week: “You just end up butting head for a large portion of the game”
You can’t stop FBMMB
I’m not writing in depth about the next “match” except to say I told you all how good the Crows were earlier in the year. They smacked the Lions on Saturday night.
Adelaide 27.15.177 def
Justin Leppitsch Quote of the Week: “Half our team shouldn’t be playing”
Leppa turns his back on his players.
The Saints hope like the rest of us that North keep losing, as they kept their mathematical possibility to make finals alive with a belting over a poor Carlton at the G on Sunday arvo. The Saints have been my “Big Improver” this year, and when you add in Jake Carlisle next year as well, they must surely be a chance at finals footy next year. They certainly showed that they’re a longer way along the development path than the Bluebaggers, who were never in the game against a high pressure Saints outfit. The Saints are building a nice arsenal of key position players, and have some talented young mids as well. I like the way they’re building their list, and I like the way Alan Richardson coaches. As for the Blues… sorry Carlton fans, you’re still a long way off top 8 footy.
St Kilda 19.8.122 def
Brendan Bolton Coaching Tip of the Week: “The job is to give players guidance and leaders to give other players guidance…”
Geelong missed an opportunity to boost its percentage against Essendon in what was a really bad game of footy. The Cats picked up a 66 point victory, but it really should have been a lot more after they booted the first 7 goals of the match. Bombers fans, you’ll be pleased to know there’s only 3 weeks left of your annus horribilis, and you might even sneak a win next week if the Suns don’t turn up to play. We’ll do a season review on the teams after round 23 – but there are still a lot of positives for the Bombers to take out of this year. For the Cats, well, they still sit fifth – just a game and percentage behind top spot – so they need to find some consistency as we head towards September – and with Richmond, Brisbane, and Melbourne to come, they’re every chance of doing just that. I’m not writing them off just yet – they have the talent to win the flag, but they will need all 22 playing their best footy, and probably need the opposition to have a poor day at the same time to do so.
Geelong 15.10.100 def
Record of the Day: Joe Daniher’s 35th goal of the season means he has now kicked more goals in a season than any Essendon player since Matthew Lloyd’s 34 in 2009.
Here’s a TIPPA!(TM) photo for no reason other than TIPPA!(TM)
The Eagles cruised to a 46 point victory against the Dockers, and big Josh Kennedy moved 6 clear of Buddy in the Coleman with a big 7 goal haul against a Fremantle side that really missed Zac Dawson. Ah, but seriously folks…
This was actually a good contest up until half time – however it all turned pear-shaped after that for Ross Lyon’s men, who lacked forward targets, and the ability to even get the ball down there a lot of the time. The Eagles’ pressure was outstanding, forcing turnover after turnover, and kicking 13 of their 17 goals directly from turnovers. The next challenge for West Coast is to put it all together against the better sides if they want to find themselves going deep into September.
West Coast 17.8.110 def
Fun Stat: Matthew Pavlich has played in 34 of the 44 Western Derby’s – a record for any player.
This man is going to win a medal:
Dogs v Pies, Lions v Blues, Hawks v Roos, Giants v Eagles, Saints v Swans, Power v Demons, Bombers v Suns, Tigers v Cats, Dockers v Crows