AFL Finals Week One
What started as a chore at work, and became a weekly hobby; It's The Weekly Turnaround!
First Qualifying Final: Richmond vs Hawthorn
Welcome back to Football. I spent the last weekend doing strange things like talking with my friends and family, socialising, and doing my job. It was an uncomfortable experience, and I for one, am glad it's over.
Richmond went in to this game big favourites, but some Hawthorn fans and other Richmond naysayers were allowing themselves to believe that the Hawks were a chance here, and while the Hawks hung in until half time, once the second half started, they looked much like I did last weekend - lost. It wasn't so much that the Hawks were bad, more that the Tigers were terrifyingly good, as even at the points of the game that the scores were close, they were threatening to blow the game apart. When Dustin Martin kicked one of the best finals goals you'll ever see, the Richmond fans were up and about, and they celebrated in true Richmond style, by bashing two men in the street on their way home. Last year, I though Richmond had just won a grand final in that space between great sides. I'm coming to the horrible realisation that Richmond might just be that great side.
Losing the Hawks as a dominant force, and gaining Richmond feels like losing one wealthy boss who gloated about their wealth, to have them replaced by a cashed up bogan with no idea how they got there, but they own ten Commodores.
First Elimination Final: Melbourne vs Geelong Cats
Melbourne supporters have waited twelve years between finals series. I've never waited twelve years for anything in my life, and if I have, I certainly forgot what it was before the twelve years was over. I can imagine Melbourne supporters felt the same, wondering what they were doing at the MCG in September.
Melbourne started this game like madmen, applying Richmond like frenzied intensity, kicking five goals to zero in the first quarter. The margin remained there for much of the game, with each team kicking with the efficiency of Ticketmaster's website. Geelong looked at several times as if they were going to do the usual Geelong thing and kick all of their goals at once, but it all just went wrong, with Menzel running into an open goal and missing, Menegola taking advantage 15m out and hitting the post, and Selwood giving away a free kick near the interchange while Hawkins was lining up for a likely goal.
As a Cats supporter, I've become reasonably used to Geelong losing finals, having won only two of their last nine. It doesn't hurt anymore, it's more just a numbness at this point.
Second Elimination Final: Sydney vs GWS Giants
This is actually becoming a remarkable finals rivalry, as in just seven seasons, we've already seen two Sydney Derbies fall in September. To put that into perspective, there's never been a Western Derby in September, and only one Showdown. Oh and neither Queensland club has made finals in that time, but we'll just ignore that. That's what the AFL likes to do.
The last two times these teams met, Sydney won on the back of Buddy Franklin masterclasses, but it wasn't to be this time as Phil Davis wore him like that new sweater you bought and should probably wash, but it's really comfortable, keeping him goalless and to just 8 disposals. Sydney went goalless this year in more quarters than any other top 8 side, and again on Saturday went goalless in both the second and third quarters, allowing the Giants to completely run away with the game. Possibly the most interesting part of this game after quarter time was seeing how many times Toby Greene could get away with fly kicking opponents and get away with it.
I'd say I'm sad to see Sydney out of the finals, after they've made the last twenty odd in a row, but that would be a lie.
Second Qualifying Final: West Coast Eagles vs Collingwood
To slightly misquote Gordon Ramsay: Finally, some good fucking football.
Of all the games this weekend, this one threatened to be the most likely to be a blowout, and turned out to be the only one that wasn't. It was exciting from start to finish, with West Coast threatening to break the game apart, before Collingwood reeled them back in to lead at half time. The West Coast fans seemed very upset that the 23-23 Free Kick count clearly favoured the opposition, booing the umpires at every turn. Collingwood rolled the dice at selection, bringing back several players back from injury with no match time, and it almost paid off with Treloar and Goldsack playing hugely influential first halves, before Kennedy broke the shackles to kick two super important goals in the second half, to seal victory for his team. My highlight of the game was watching Andrew Gaff watching sadly from the coaches box as Jack Darling kicked an important goal, as Simpson was celebrating next to him.
Simpson: Come on! *Gaff stares into the distance* *Simpson shakes Gaff's shoulder in celebration* Gaff (with the same forced smile you make at the offensive joke your coworker just made to leave the conversation as soon as you can): Yeah..! Between Tony Jones coming out this week and saying it's bad for football if the Eagels make the Grand final, and Robert Walls saying they'd make the spoon, I just about want to see them win it out of spite alone.
Week one of the finals is over, and as has been the case since the Bye was implemented, only one game was worth watching, with West Coast again saving the day like last year. Post bye finals rounds have an average margin of six goals, with only three games being decided by less than three goals in that time. But it makes for better football of course, just ask Gill.