AFL – Round 23 Review. It’s Over. Mostly.

Eagles 100 def Crows 71
This one was a shock. With Naitanui out injured, I didn’t expect the Eagles to be able to put one over on the Crows – who had a top 2 spot and home final to play for. Adelaide’s much vaunted forward line really didn’t fire a shot, as their midfield couldn’t provide them the service they needed – out worked by the likes of Priddis, Gaff, and Shuey – while journeyman ruckman Jonathan Giles, in just his third game for the season, gave big Sam Jacobs a touch up in the ruck. The Crows will now have to win 4 games in a row to win the flag – slipping to fifth, and an elimination final against the Kangaroos. The Crows have been the form team of the comp – but maybe they’ve had us all fooled. The Crows record against top 8 teams this season is not great. They’ve won 4 and lost 6 – and conceded more points against top 8 teams than all the other finalists except North Melbourne. There will be some who say this is the loss they needed to have before the finals – but I disagree. You would much prefer finishing second to fifth.

Big Josh just Raisin the Roof

Cats 155 def Melbourne 44
Well, balance was restored to the force with this one – it went exactly as we expected – Patrick Freaking Dangerfield basically putting an exclamation point on his Brownlow win, and Mr Overrated Paul Roos departing the Demons with his biggest ever loss as coach. Really done some good work there Roosy! The Cats big win secured second spot on the ladder, as they tuned up for their finals tilt in impressive fashion – even booting ten goals in the last quarter, when they could have been forgiven for taking the foot off the pedal. They have the talent to win the flag – no doubt, but do they have the consistency? And perhaps even more interestingly – do they have the belief that they can knock the Hawks off in a final?

No Simon, you’re coaching them next year.

Bombers 103 def Blues 79
1933 was the last time the Bombers “won” the wooden spoon – and despite saving their best footy for the year until last – they were unable to close the percentage gap to the Lions, and claimed their first spoon in 83 years. The Bombers started slowly, but by quarter time had hit the lead, and then in the second and third quarter turned on a style of football that would have filled their supporters with a strange kind of happiness. The larger the lead became – the more conflicted the supporters became. Essendon has never had the number one draft pick (that’s usually Carlton’s territory), and as appealing as that is – did the black and red faithful really want to lose to Carlton? Did they really want to finish last? By three quarter time, it was looking as though the Bombers would leapfrog the Lions – however, with 11 scoring shots to 3 in the last quarter – the Blues were able to consign their enemies to the bottom of the table. Hugh McCluggage – come on down.

Big Joe celebrates a long bomb from the middle

Swans 164 def Tigers 51
Well, if you thought the Demons had turned in the worst game of the round – you clearly forgot to factor the Tigers in to the mix. 5 weeks ago, Damien Hardwick claimed that this Richmond list was the best he’s had in his 7 years in charge. He’s either lying, or stupid. On Saturday night – they were insipid. Rarely do I ever say a team isn’t trying (unless they’re Melbourne or Carlton from around round 18 most years) – but Richmond gave little to no effort on Saturday night. If the opposition scores 100 more points than you, and has 100 more possessions than you – how do you only stick 46 tackles? Richmond’s decision to extend Hardwick’s contract has now backed them into a corner they can’t get out of. To sack the coach would cost millions – and yet, they must surely know that after 7 years, Damien Hardwick does not even look like building a team that can win a premiership. As for the Swans – well, they’re going to win the flag I think. The midfield looks unstoppable – Franklin is firing on all cylinders, Tippett is fresh, and their defence is a lot more solid than I was anticipating.

Buddy does his best Joe Daniher impersonation

Power 89 def Suns 66
I can categorically say I didn’t watch a second of this match. For two reasons.
1) Richmond getting flogged was far more entertaining
2) It’s the Power vs the Suns. Who cares? No, really – who actually cares?
Anyhow – the Power won, half of Gold Coast’s players want to leave, and less than 10,000 showed up to Metricon Stadium again. Now might be a good idea for Gillon McLachlan to get on the Wikipedia and search for “Gold Coast Sports Curse”

Well, the Karmichael Hunt move bombed out – why not try UFC fighter Mark Hunt? You tell him he’s not playing this week!

Giants 100 def Roos 63
First of all – I’ve used this column to pretty much bag the Kangaroos every week. I’m going to do it again – but this time, I reckon I’ll have a few Roos supporters on my side. The way Brent Harvey was handled this week was a disgrace. I’m not saying he shouldn’t have been delisted – I actually think that was the right decision. What I’m saying is when the GAMES RECORD HOLDER is getting delisted – it deserves more than three sentences in a damn press release. Get your act together off the field Kangaroos. And on the field for that matter (Segue King). I mentioned the Crows poor record against the rest of the top 8 before – well, the Kangas are worse. They’ve gone 2 and 9 against the top 8 this season. Even Collingwood has a better record against the finalists. Anyhow – the Roos have all but thrown in the towel this year, while the Giants have secured a top 4 spot and (as speculated here earlier in the season) will take on the Swans in the first ever Finals Edition of the Battle of the Bridge.
PATTONWATCH: Two blinders in a row for big Jon, this week he had 17 possessions, 9 marks, and 5 goals. Maybe they won’t trade him???

Big Jon: Momentum

Saints 161 def Lions 103
How good is Nick Riewoldt? His last game as skipper of his beloved Saints, and he pulls in a career high 21 marks, has 26 possessions, and kicks 9 goals to absolutely tear big Sauce Merrett a new one, and destroy the Lions. Unfortunately, not by enough to keep the Bombers from winning the spoon! Not really anything of significance to come out of this game other than Spoonwatch – though eyes will be on Brisbane this week. I imagine Justin Leppitsch will be unemployed this time next week. Who knows, maybe crazy Vossy will be back?

Leppa’s Last Stand?

Hawks 112 def Magpies 111
Of course they did. Of course they scored with 30 seconds to go to clinch a top 4 spot. It’s what they always do. Anyhow – this was a really good game to watch. The Pies played the type of footy I expected them to play at the start of the season, and the Hawks are playing like the prize-fighter nearing the end of his career. It took all of Hawthorn’s best players to get them over the line on this one – Mitchell, Rioli, Hodge, Lewis, Burgoyne, and Birchall all digging deep to see off a surprisingly competitive Collingwood in a match that suggested to me that Hawthorn’s best might not be enough to win the flag this year. When the Pies moved the ball quickly, and took risks with the footy – they caught the older, slower Hawks out of position regularly – they might be a side to watch next year. Can the Hawks still win the flag? Yes, of course they can. But I don’t think they will.

You wot mate?

Dockers 69 def
Bulldogs 49
I had a delicious scotch fillet steak for dinner, with some nice fresh vegies, and a curried egg and potato salad. So yeah, I didn’t get to see this one either. But it was good for the Dockers to send Pav off into retirement a winner – even if the scoreline suggests it wasn’t exactly a classic for the ages to remember for him. At least he kicked a goal though. The Dogs? Well, they now get to fly home from Perth, only to turn around and fly right back there in 11 days time for a do or die clash with the Eagles. “Everybody’s Favourite Team” have had a tough run with injuries this season, and I can’t see them knocking over the Eagles in Perth – even with Naitanui out injured.

So long Pav.

Next Week:
Nothing. No football. Go watch the VFL/WAFL/SANFL/Country Footy

Finals Week 1:
Thursday September 8, 6.10pm at Domain Stadium
Second elimination final – West Coast v Western Bulldogs

Friday September 9, 7.50pm at the MCG
Second qualifying final – Geelong v Hawthorn

Saturday September 10, 3.20pm at ANZ Stadium
First qualifying final – Sydney Swans v Greater Western Sydney

Saturday September 10, 7.10pm at Adelaide Oval
First elimination final – Adelaide v North Melbourne

Article Name
AFL - Round 23 Review. It's Over. Mostly.
The season proper is done and dusted, all that is left is the real stuff.
Publisher Name
Holding Steadfast

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