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.
Collingwood surprised everyone by beating up on Geelong – a 7 goal to none opening quarter meant that the Cats were always playing catch up, and though they closed to within 8 points in the last quarter – they’d used up too many petrol tickets, and the Pies steadied late to take a 4 goal win. A surprising result for many, and the Pies are starting to play the sort of footy I expected them to play pre-season, when I tipped them for a top 4 finish. I do think they’re too far back now to finish top 4 – but they showed today that their best is really good – certainly good enough to knock off a top 4 team, and if they make the top 8 by season’s end – in a wide open premiership race – you’d be foolish to suggest they can’t win. Sidebottom and Pendlebury were the best in black and white, while old boys Bartel and Enright were the best for the men from Geelong.
Gold Coast got thumped again. They now have a points differential of -359 from their last 4 games. Things are dismal up there right now, and while it’s easy enough to blame injuries for their results, I’m not sure it excuses their effort. It would be stupid to say they’re not trying, and coach Rodney Eade says the effort is there – but I’m inclined to disagree with him. Yes, the Suns had the top 3 contested possession getters on the ground – with Prestia, Lonergan, and Rischitelli all amongst it, but it’s the defensive run that isn’t there. They look a million bucks when they’re moving it forwards – plenty of run to support, and maybe receive a handball to kick a goal – but the turnover is killing them – they just don’t work back hard enough. In fact, the Suns were so deplorable, I haven’t even mentioned their opponent yet – the Crows, who were every bit good as the Suns were bad. Big Tex kicked 5, and Sloane was prominent, but it was the way the Crows spread the load that was the most impressive thing – half their players picked up over 20 possessions, as they just outworked the ordinary Suns to keep a hold on 8th spot on the ladder.
In what was the closest match of the round – the Eagles went over to Adelaide and rolled the Power by 8 points. Big Josh Kennedy kicked 7, as he weighed up whether being there for his first child to be born was more important than 4 points against Port Adelaide. Fortunately enough, Mrs Kennedy did the right thing and held off all birthing processes for Josh to dominate the Power. The biggest talking point of this match though was delivered in the third quarter, when Tom Jonas realised he was too late to stop Andrew Gaff taking a mark, so knocked him out cold instead. It was pretty stupid stuff from Jonas, who will likely get a 5 or 6 week holiday from the tribunal as a result. To Port’s credit, they fought bravely, and finished the stronger of the two sides – but couldn’t close the gap, as the Eagles held on for their first away victory in the last 7 attempts. Matty Priddis had 27 possessions – 26 of them contested, and was comfortably best on ground in my book, while NicNat and Lycett dominated the ruck against Jackson Trengove. Robbie Gray was good for the Power – but was reported for tripping – his third report of the season – and is likely to miss next week as a result.
North belted Carlton – despite my thinking that Carlton might have been a chance in this one. Of course, I forgot to factor in that Todd Goldstein is a more than handy ruckman, and Carlton were without their ruckman Matt Kreuzer, who is once again injured. Unsurprisingly – Goldstein delivered a best on ground performance with 45 hit outs and 3 goals, as he led the Roos to their best ever start to a season – now undefeated in 9 rounds. It was a good, even team performance from the Kangas – again doing what they needed to against a Carlton side that struggled in the midfield – despite the best efforts of Kerridge and Cripps.
The Freo Tankers lost again. This time in front of bugger all fans, and in horrible conditions. Just over 20,000 fans showed up for this one, despite almost 44,000 tickets being sold. The Tigers were too strong in the midfield with Captain Cotchin donning the lid to pick up 39 touches of the Sherrin, 18 contested, and 10 clearances. Martin and Miles were good, as was Riewoldt, as the Tigers took the honours by 38 points. It was a pretty awful game of footy to be completely honest – though the Tigers do appear to be building momentum – and there’s no better team in the AFL at riding a wave of momentum than the Yellow and Black mob from Punt Road. They have a good stretch of games coming up around their bye – Essendon, North Melbourne, Gold Coast, and Brisbane in the next 4 matches, and it’s conceivable that they could be 6-7 (or even 7-6 if they can upset the Roos) and flying by the time the dust settles on round 14. Was I too hasty in writing off the Tiges? Yes. Is it conceivable that they could finish in the 8? Yes. Does 9th position look on the cards again for Richmond? Yes.
The Demons gave the Lions a belting in the first of the Sunday matches, as they cruised to a 63 point win at the MCG. The Dees led early, and never lost the lead – as the Demons’ young brigade set up the win against a more experienced, but less talented Lions outfit. Watts, Bugg, Petracca (this kid is a superstar in the making…), Hogan, Stretch, and Harmes all put in really strong games – Hogan and Harmes booting 9 between them – as the Lions were simply outclassed all over the ground. The same old suspects played well for Brisbane – Zorko, Rich, and Robinson – but too much is left to too few for the Lions, and they are in desperate need of a talent injection to spread the load. It’s all well and good for the Lions to play their youngsters – but I still maintain that getting belted week in, week out does nothing for developing youngsters. Footy in Queensland stinks right now – and it’s hard to see a way out. At least Justin Leppitsch is mildly entertaining in his press conferences…
The Giants moved in to third on the ladder after accounting for the Bulldogs up at Spotless Stadium. They got out to 4 goal lead midway through the second quarter, and the Bulldogs could never pull them back, as the Giants tackled and pressured their way to an impressive victory. Former Bulldog Callan Ward was brilliant against his old side, while Heath Shaw was amazing across half back – 38 possessions, of which 36 were kicks – all of them effective, and Jeremy Cameron snagged 5 goals. The Bont was again one of the Dogs best (he’ll win a Brownlow before he’s through I reckon), as were Dahlhaus and Picken.
PATTONWATCH: 13 possessions, 9 marks, 0 goals in a “meh” type of performance from Big Jon.
The Saints finished off the round with a 46 point win over the Bombers at Etihad. Essendon put in a much improved first half performance this week, and went in to half time just 10 points off the pace. However, the Saints came out after the long break and blew the Bombers away with 6 unanswered goals. The Bombers couldn’t respond, and the Saints cruised home for a pretty easy win. Once again – the youngsters at the Saints did the job – Steven, Ross, and Bruce (yes – those are their surnames) were simply too good for the Dons – who did not receive a standing ovation for losing this week. For the Bombers, Kelly and Cooney were very good, as was McDonald-Tipungwuti, while Mitch Brown finished with 4 goals.
Seeing Things Segment
Jordan Lewis’ four finger salute to Heath Grundy is the first time I think I’ve ever seen the Hawks show a bit of “How good are we!” to anyone. Does it suggest that the Hawks veterans are a bit too happy with themselves? They’re usually ruthless, and focussed on what’s next rather than what’s been – perhaps there’s a little lack of hunger going on down Hawthorn way? Or maybe there’s a touch of complacency creeping in? Or – maybe I’m just seeing things.
Swans 69 def Hawks 55
Pies 104 def Cats 80
Crows 149 def Suns 74
Eagles 94 def Power 86
Roos 113 def Blues 46
Tigers 83 def Dockers 45
Demons 131 def Lions 68
Giants 98 def Dogs 73
Saints 109 def Dons 63
Friday May 27
Sydney vs North Melbourne (SCG)
Saturday May 28
Brisbane vs Hawthorn (G)
Melbourne vs Port Adelaide (TP)
St Kilda vs Fremantle (ES)
Essendon vs Richmond (MCG)
Adelaide vs GWS (AO)
Sunday May 29
Carlton vs Geelong (ES)
Collingwood vs Bulldogs (MCG)
WCE vs Gold Coast (DS)