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.
Final Scores: Hawthorn 17.10.112 def Adelaide 17.7.109
If you’re like me, you were hard pressed on Thursday night to pick winners for Saturday’s matches – it seemed like there were going to be a lot of close games that could go one way or the other. Well, that never really eventuated, as all of Saturday’s games were decided by more than 6 goals. The Swans kicked it off in the early game with a comprehensive dismissal of the Eagles, who only managed 7 goals for the game. I thought before the season that the Swans might struggle against the big forwards with a lack of key defenders, but once again – they’ve proved me wrong this year. I think it might be time to get on board the Swans – they are looking the goods for a top 4 finish, even this early in the season. The game on the weekend was a back and forth, tough slog of a match up until halfway through the third quarter, when the Swans finally started to break free of the Eagles grasp. From that point on, they kicked the final 6 goals of the game to win comfortably – even Teddy Richards found himself on the goalkickers list – his first goal in 71 matches. West Coast have now lost their last 5 away matches, but have Collingwood at home next week, while the Swans will take on Brisbane at the Gabba.
Final Scores: Sydney 12.16.88 def WCE 7.7.49
Gold Coast were expected to give the undefeated North Melbourne a tight contest up at Metricon, however the Kangaroos jumped the Suns early, and were never headed. The Suns drew within a kick in the third quarter, but from that point on, North rallied and stormed home with a 5 goal last quarter to win by 38 points in front of just 13,351 “fans” on the Gold Coast. Big Tom Lynch again kicked 4 for the Suns, while Ben Brown kicked 4 for North. North Melbourne’s pressure around the ground simply proved too much for Gold Coast in the end, and slight injuries to Saad and Ablett will have Rodney Eade slightly troubled heading into their round 6 clash with the Cats. North will have an anxious wait to see if Ben Cunnington escapes the wrath of the MRP for driving his knees into Gary Ablett’s back. I’ll go on record and suggest that he’ll get a fine, but no suspension. Low impact to the body doesn’t carry much of a punishment, even if it’s declared intentional. So he should be free to take on the Bulldogs in what should be a cracking Friday night encounter under the roof (which we assume will be closed, Brad) at Etihad Stadium next up.
Final Scores: North Melb 18.11.119 def Gold Coast 11.15.81
The Bulldogs warmed up for next Friday’s clash with a pretty comfortable victory over Brisbane. After the Lions held a small lead for much of the first quarter – the Dogs put their foot down from that point on, and the Lions never really threatened to close the gap. Matt Suckling sent Dogs fans hearts well into their mouths, landing awkwardly in the first quarter, though did reappear briefly in the second quarter, before calling it a night and not featuring after half time. The Dogs really don’t need another running defender injured, so Bulldog fans would be relieved at hearing Luke Beveridge say after the game he was free from any long term injury – though might be doubtful against North. Stringer and Bontempelli were dangerous up forward all night for the Bulldogs – Stringer even put in a contender for goal of the year, after breaking three tackles and snapping one home from 40 metres. The Package indeed, Brian. For the Lions, Dayne Zorko tried his heart out, as did Pearce Hanley and Mitch Robinson. There are good signs there for the Lions, but they are coming from a long way back in the field.
Final Scores: WB 17.18.120 def Brisbane 10.7.67
The Power started aggressively, jumping out to a 4 goal quarter time lead with some very physical play – Dangerfield and Selwood were getting gang tackled nearly every time they got the ball, and having no impact on the game. Unfortunately for the Power, they made a very grave error right on the quarter time siren. They woke the Cats up. Just as play was stopping following the siren, Tom Jonas decided to jump knees first into Paddy Dangerfields back. Of course, that didn’t sit well with the Geelong boys, and as they say in the classics: “It was on for young and old”. This pleased Brian Taylor, as he provided his best Fight Night commentary attempt (spoiler: wasn’t much good) as the players went at it during the interval. This served to fire the Cats up, who lifted their intensity after the break, and put the heat back on the Power. And, as has been the case so far this season – once the heat was turned up on Port, they went missing. The Cats banged on 6 goals to none in the second quarter in a very impressive return of serve, and took an eleven point lead into half time. In fact, the Power could only manage three goals after quarter time, while the Cats piled on 15 of their own to destroy an insipid Port Adelaide by 48 points. The Cats were well led by Dangerfield (of course) and Selwood, while for Port, only Wines and Boak could say they had a real go, while young Darcy Byrne-Jones could hold his head up high as well.
Final Scores: Geelong 16.11.107 def Port Adel 8.11.59
Sunday’s matches were always going to be interesting. Actually, maybe that’s not quite true – maybe the results were going to be of more interest than the games themselves. Specifically – what if Ross Lyon’s Fremantle lost at home to Carlton, and what if Damien Hardwick’s Richmond lost to Melbourne? Both coaches have long term contracts in place, and both have sides that are going backwards rapidly.
Well, happily for the folks who write about footy for the newspapers – both of those things came true – so they can continue to write about how “under pressure” these coaches are. (I don’t buy into that – but that’s another story for another day)
Before we get to the Disappointing Dockers and Terrible Tigers though – we should cover off the Saints v Giants clash from Etihad. This was an intriguing match up on paper – and proved to be that way for the first three quarters of the match anyway – as the Giants tried and tried to – but couldn’t quite – shake the plucky Saints. The Giants skipped out to an early 4 goal lead, and the margin basically stayed around that mark until the last quarter, when the hard running Giants finally broke the Saints down. Big Jezza Cameron returned from suspension with a 5 goal performance, and Toby Greene had a BOG with 31 possessions and 4 goals of his own. Stevie Johnson was Stevie Johnson, with a 19 possession, 4 goal game, and for the Saints – Riewoldt was again their best player with 25 possessions, 11 marks and 4 goals, while Ross, Newnes, Steven, and Armitage again had pretty solid days in the midfield.
Of course, no Giants game gets reviewed without PattonWatch – and it’s bad news for Patton fans – big Jonno was poor. Just 7 possessions and 3 marks for the 22 year old number 1 draft pick, and his spot in the side must be looking shaky now.
Final Scores: GWS 19.12.126 def St Kilda 12.7.79
OK – to the horror show out West, where Carlton and Fremantle carried out something resembling a game of football. This was the worst game I have seen this season – and possibly even longer than that too. I was watching the Essendon vs Collingwood VFL game (which the Bombers won by 85 points – Travis Cloke had 5 possesssions) and flicked to this game, and quite honestly – there was more skill involved in the VFL game. Put simply – the Blues were terrible, the Dockers were worse. There was no goal kicked until the 18 minute mark of the first quarter – as the Dockers kicked three behinds to start the game, then Carlton followed up with 5 behinds of their own. It was 4 goals apiece at half time, and quite frankly – if this game was being played in round 23 – you would accuse both sides of tanking. It was that bad. “Best” players were Barlow and Neale for the Dockers, and probably Cripps and Kerridge for the Blues. To my surprise Ross Lyon still had that patronising smile on his face at his press conference, and I’m actually starting to wonder if he genuinely doesn’t realise they’re losing matches. I didn’t see Brendan Bolton’s press conference, but I’m going to assume he was smiling – because Brendan Bolton is always smiling.
To make matters worse for the Dockers (and Supercoach Players everywhere), Nat Fyfe left the ground in the 2nd quarter, after a bump to the leg he fractured in last years prelim final. Early reports suggest that he has damaged the plate in his fibula and will need surgery to repair it. At this stage, he’ll be missing from the Dockers line up for the next 8 weeks.
Final Scores: Carlton 10.12.72 “defeated” Fremantle 9.14.68
Speaking of smiling, Damien Hardwick hasn’t for a while. And it doesn’t look like he will any time soon either. The Tigers are still serving up rubbish, and now occupy 13th position on the ladder after 4 straight losses. The great worry for Richmond is that they are heading down the same old Richmond path again – where their best 4 are genuine stars, they have 10 middle of the road players, and their bottom 6 players are really struggling. Without being too harsh, if Richmond is to be competitive against top 4 sides, they simply can’t have blokes like Jake Batchelor, Steven Morris, or Corey Ellis in their side. They’re simply not AFL standard players. Perhaps we’re doing Melbourne a disservice though. Yes, Richmond was horrible, but Melbourne were very, very good as well. Big Max Gawn dominated the ruck all night, and Jack Viney had a blinder as a result, as did Dom Tyson and Dean Kent. I like the way they’re shaping up at Melbourne – a couple of big key forwards, a tough midfield, and some solid key defenders. They may be missing some elite outside running ball users, but I genuinely think Melbourne can play finals this year, provided their best players stay fit and healthy. There was a really ugly incident at the end of this game, as Alex Rance, beaten in a marking contest by Jack Watts, decided to smash Watts in the back of his head as he lay on the ground. It was a really cheap shot from Rance, and being intentional high contact – he’s likely to get a 2 week holiday. Mind you, if you’re a Richmond defender at the moment – you could probably use a 2 week holiday. They have Port next – and if they lose that – then they can kiss finals footy goodbye.
Final Scores: Melbourne 20.9.129 def Richmond 14.12.96
In the final match of the round, Collingwood dispelled any notion that the Bombers would make ANZAC Day competitive, with an easy 69 point victory. The Pies smashed the Bombers with a 14 goal first half, and while the Bombers will console themselves with the knowledge that they won the second half – the game was over by half time. Steele Sidebottom was the Anzac Medallist with 33 possessions and 4 goals, while Treloar, Pendlebury and Adams basically did as they pleased in the midfield, and Fasolo added another 4 goals to his tally for the season. The Bombers were best served by Pops Kelly, Zaharakis, and promising youngster Orazio Fantasia. I’ve been really surprised by Collingwood’s topsy-turvy start to this season – as I expected them to be big improvers this year. Let’s see what a big win can do for them – they’ve got West Coast next week, and if they can win that, they can get on a roll, as they follow West Coast with relatively easy games against Carlton and Brisbane. No reason the Pies can’t be 5-3 after 8 rounds. As for the Bombers – well it was a disappointing first half for them. They were simply outworked and outclassed by a better opponent, but will still fancy themselves to bounce back and defeat Carlton next week.
Final Scores: Collingwood 22.10.142 def Essendon 11.7.73
So, with Buckley having a win – I imagine the footy writers will have to find something else to fill their rags with this week. Expect a few stories about the suspended Essendon players – as seems to be the case whenever there’s a shortage of footy stories. I wonder which club will be linked with which player this week? There will probably be some harsh words for Alex Rance, maybe a little column on the cheap shots that seem to be sneaking in to the game of late too. I imagine Richmond will cop it in Melbourne, likewise Fremantle in Perth. And with all the talk last week about the Grand Final replay being scrapped – we’ve all kind of forgotten about the fact that Nathan Bock and the Gold Coast were being investigated by ASADA. Nicely done AFL, nicely done.
MRP Update: So I should have realised that the late finish to the round would mean the review came out after the MRP meetings. As such, we can see whether my MRP guesses are correct or not:
Rance was offered two weeks, Trengove one, fines for Bugg, Cunnington, Gray, and Pittard, and other charges for the weekends melee participants: Hamish Hartlett, Cam O’Shea, Travis Boak, Jackson Trengove, Jimmy Toumpas, Rhys Stanley, Nakia Cockatoo, Josh Caddy, Tom Hawkins, Tom Ruggles, Corey Enright, Mark Blicavs, Jack Viney, Lynden Dunn, Jayden Hunt, Jake Batchelor, Tyrone Vickery, Daniel Rioli, Sam Lloyd, Kamdyn McIntosh, and Nathan Jones