AFL Round Four
Sydney Swans v Melbourne Much like the AFL's least favourite kind of contact, The Weekly Turnaround is a bit late this week, but we're hoping you'll let us off with an early guilty plea. Heading into this game, Melbourne were winless, and Sydney had recorded just a solitary win, which was against Carlton. Needless to say, this was not an easy one to pick. Melbourne have gone about destroying their 2019 season in alarming fashion, seemingly forgetting how to play football entirely over the last few weeks, whilst Sydney have done their best over the last year and a bit to drop as many home games as possible. This weekend's Stat of the Week™ brought to you by Channel 7 was that the Melbourne football club has never won a game against Buddy Franklin, in a total of fifteen outings. Possibly a more important stat is that Melbourne hasn't defeated Sydney since 2010, and haven't won at the SCG since 2006. That is in part due to the fact that they don't often travel to Sydney, but in fairness, nobody really wants to go to Sydney anyway. Midway through the second quarter, the Swans kicked away to a four goal lead, and it looked like it was going to be more of the same, before Nathan Jones, a man who is more the heart and soul of the Melbourne Football Club than Gosch's Paddock, a man who must bleed blue and red at this point, kicked two goals in a minute to ignite the Dees night. I'm pretty sure he is only as strong as he is from carrying the club for the last ten years. Melbourne only allowed Sydney three second half goals, on their way to a comfortable win, that may go some lengths to exorcise the Demons that have been hovering over them since last year's horror prelim loss. There are two possible takeaways from this game: Melbourne have returned to some vein of form, or Sydney's just bad. It could even be a combination of the two at this point. Collingwood v Western Bulldogs After losing for the second time in three games this season, Collingwood again firmed as premiership favourites with many media experts, because a four game losing streak at home to last year's premiers is certainly nothing to be concerned about. The Bulldogs however, have employed a new tactic in the last couple of rounds of only trying to win in the last quarter. They're one win and one loss from this tactic so far this year. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs' new tactics, they tried the novel approach of being in the lead at three quarter time, and it didn't work out too well for them. To call this game scrappy was an understatement - a feature that is becoming a consistent theme for Friday night football so far this season, but Collingwood managed to get across the line with the help of Brodie Grundy absolutely monstering Tim English in the ruck, with the Pies winning the hit-outs 60-6, however the Pies lack of ability to convert that to midfield dominance is almost like only just managing to beat a Getz in a lap race even though you're driving a Porsche. On the plus side for the Bulldogs, losing to Collingwood is much better than losing to Gold Coast. If you told someone you got beaten up by Michael Cera, it would sound much less cool than saying you got beat up by Jackie Chan - you have to take the little victories. Geelong Cats v GWS Giants Matt de Boer is becoming somewhat of a Giant killer in recent weeks (pun very much intended), having completely taken care of Dustin Martin last week, he this week turned his sights to both Patrick Dangerfield and Tim Kelly, following Kelly around the stoppages and Danger around the ground. Fremantle supporters must be sad seeing him do such a great job in another team's colours. I mean, Fremantle supporters are usually sad anyway, but this certainly wouldn't help. In four trips to Geelong, the Giants hadn't won once, and after losing spiritual leader Callan Ward to a ruptured ACL early on in this game, they may have been forgiven for dropping this game also, but in a show of grit not often seen from this Giants side; their midfielders dominated this game from quarter time onward to record an historic win. For most of the second half Geelong's defenders worked against the tide like sailors trying to save a sinking ship by scooping out the water with buckets, and while it held them together for a while, the result was almost inevitable. This game was the first of what turned out to be a string of close games this weekend in a true sign of balance between some truly awful (Collingwood, West Coast, North Melbourne) and some extremely exciting (GWS, Richmond, St Kilda). Geelong, however remain atop the ladder, though even on wins with five other sides. Essendon v Brisbane Lions Things went from "My gosh this season is going poorly, maybe we need to sack the coach," to "Wow that McDonald-Tipungwuti is a pretty good footballer, maybe we're a viable finals threat," so quickly for Essendon fans that I'm surprised they don't have whiplash. The last time these two clubs played a game at the MCG was in 2009. In 2009, Ke$ha had the longest running number one single in the country, and people still remembered who Susan Boyle was. Considering these two teams have to play each other at least once a year, it is a slightly remarkable piece of fixturing. Foolishly this game was scheduled at the same time as Winx final race, who unlike Brisbane, was able to continue her unbeaten streak. This game blew out to almost 50 points before half time, and unfortunately for Brisbane, though they were competitive throughout the second half, there was to be no fairytale comeback this weekend. McDonald-Tipungwuti, was destructive, kicking 7 goals alongside 20 disposals, while midfield beasts Zach Merrett and David Zaharakis were back to their best with 30+ disposal games, and with that, we no longer had any sides undefeated in 2019, with Brisbane slipping back to the rest of the pack. Port Adelaide v Richmond Now, if there was an ideal time to play Richmond, it would probably be at your home ground, while they're missing Alex Rance, Jack Riewoldt, Bachar Houli, Shaun Grigg, Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin. That was the scene set for Port Adelaide this week, and considering they beat them last season with most of those players available, this should have been a game their fans were quite confident about. However Port Adelaide have an incredible talent for finding new and creative ways to disappoint and confound their fans and tipsters. This was a game of Toms as Tom Lynch shone up forward, continuing to impress in his debut season for the Yellow and Black, kicking six goals, whilst Tom Rockliff showed little signs of concussion symptoms from last week racking up another lazy 37 touches. One of Lynch's goals came from a decision that I'm sure Port Adelaide fans won't remind us about for the rest of the season, coming from a free kick on the goal line allowing him to kick two goals in thirty seconds. What was most remarkable about the second half of this game was that Port Adelaide's midfielders seemed to be under the impression that Dylan Grimes and David Astbury playing for them, and not for Richmond, constantly kicking the ball directly to them, and at times completely uncontested. You have to forgive them for that as Richmond's bright yellow away jumper is nearly indistinguishable from the black Port Adelaide home guernsey. North Melbourne v Adelaide Crows Most people, including myself, had Adelaide on the improve this season after the disaster that was 2018, but the club seems to be on a path to prove that last year's calamity was no fluke. North Melbourne however, after a more impressive campaign than most expected last year, are out to show that adding depth to your team, and finally breaking out the fabled "war-chest" to nab Jared Polec, doesn't necessarily make you a good team, heading into this game winless. From five minutes into the third quarter, Adelaide managed just the one goal for the rest of the game, watching their four goal lead disappear faster than the hopes and dreams of the average twenty something year old Australian with an eye on the environment and housing market. To North Melbourne's credit, they did everything they could to keep Adelaide in this game, recording a woeful 9.17 scorecard on their way to one of the least convincing wins of the season. The only silver lining for Adelaide supporters, after the bitter taste this game would have left in their mouths is the fact that Port Adelaide also lost a game that they certainly should not have. At least Adelaide fans have been getting pretty used to disappointment in recent times, a personality trait they have in common with all of my friends and family. West Coast Eagles v Fremantle I can only imagine that Fremantle players have had nightmares more enjoyable than the prospect of playing in a derby against a West Coast team fresh off a premiership, who have just added Gaff back to the side. And that's before you factor in the loss of Nat Fyfe. To the their credit, they were able to force the Eagles to play football on Fremantle's terms - and Fremantle's terms are; awful. It was incredibly generous of West Coast, when they realised they had kicked five goals to zero in the first quarter, to forget how to use the most basic ball skills for the rest of the game in order to make it a more even contest. It was as if the players had made an agreement with the North Melbourne and Adelaide game to see who could play the ugliest game of the day, and much like the two games in question, it was a very close result. Surprising nobody, West Coast won this game, proving that an ugly win is still a win - which is also coincidentally my least effective pickup line. Shannon Hurn won his third Ross Glendenning medal, coming off the back of captaining a premiership, and being named All Australian last season, and I still managed to see an article about how Dylan Grimes might be the best defender in the country. At first I thought this might be down to Vic bias, but then of course, I was reminded that that was just a myth, much like Wayne Carey's criminal history, and the Melbourne tanking saga. Gold Coast Suns v Carlton Now I'm not too sure about you, but if, in an entire weekend of football, only two games fell on the Sunday, you would probably be able to find a way to not put them on at the same time, correct? Well, that may be the case for a more capable governing body than the AFL, but it's their mission statement to endlessly disappoint their fans in the most creative ways possible. That, at least is one thing that the AFL and Carlton have in common. The Gold Coast Suns are close to the feel good story of the season so far - perhaps fractionally behind their northern brothers in Brisbane. After losing in round one by just a solitary point, they have managed to grind out games and hang on by less than a goal for three weeks in a row now. Carlton looked like they were going to win this for sure after an inspirational Cripps goal snatched them the lead back in time on after several missed chances by The Suns to kick away in the final term. But with less than fifteen seconds on the clock, enter 31 gamer Jack Bowes (no, not Jack Bauer, also famous for working against the clock in difficult conditions) with a scrappy panic kick over the top of the pack that tumbled through for a goal that broke the hearts of Blues fans nationwide. Carlton attempted one more inside 50, but the kick from Marc Murphy was hurried and the ball was intercepted before the siren sounded, ringing out another week of misery for Carlton supporters. One Carlton supporter I know was so upset that he forgot to call his mum to say happy birthday. The club has a lot to answer for. St Kilda v Hawthorn Hawthorn appear to be fighting with Richmond for the title of "Yellow Melbourne Based Football Team With the Most Injuries to Key Personnel," in a contest that is becoming increasingly competitive, adding Jaeger O'Meara to casualties before this weeks game, joining names such as Birchall, Burgoyne, Shiels and Mitchell in an increasingly crowded sidelined group. I hear they're forming their own boy band. St Kilda however, in a strange turn of events, seem determined to not eternally depress their supporters through consistent underachievement this year, trying to novel task of actually winning a few games, having won almost as many as last season in just four weeks. Much like the Bulldogs two weeks ago, the Saints were blessed with a few Hawthorn injuries, limiting their rotations in the second half of the match, with key players such as Stratton and Frawley unable to take any further part in the game. St Kilda will look to try their hand at this winning thing again next week, when they face Melbourne, who will attempt to prove that their first win of the season on Thursday night was not a fluke, whilst Hawthorn will head incredibly undermanned to the traditional Easter Monday duel with Geelong, who, unfortunately for the Hawks look to be in quite good form, and relatively injury free.