AFL Round Nineteen
What started as a chore at work, and became a weekly hobby; It's The Weekly Turnaround!
Essendon vs Sydney Swans
An important game for both teams, with Sydney on the slide, and Essendon making a very late march for September. As someone who leaves everything to the last minute, I can certainly relate to their season this year. Zak Jones went about making the game interesting, by being reported before the ball was bounced at Etihad, and then made sure of it by getting reported again during the game. I admire that kind of commitment to not having to play Collingwood next week.
With Buddy well beaten for a second week in a row, Essendon's only real opposition was their own goal kicking accuracy, which kept Sydney in this until the final quarter. Essendon may find most of Australia on their side for the first time in a long time next week, as they'll endeavor to put the Hawks out of the runnings for the finals, while improving their own chances, while Sydney continue the hardest run home in the comp.
Collingwood vs Richmond
After all the talk and hyperbole about this being one of the highest attended home and away games of all time, it didn't even make enough numbers to be the highest crowd of this season, and in fairness, probably only the average number of teeth. It's almost like the media exaggerate things all the time. I don't have a source on this, but a good friend tells me it's true. If this was a Grand Final preview however, it was a ripper of one, with less than a goal in it at three quarter time, before the Magpies being two men short took its toll, and the Tigers yet again ran away with a game in the final quarter. Jack Higgins kicked arguably one of the most impressive goals of all time - even if every Collingwood fan says it was a throw. In Collingwood's defence, their VFL team did a great job of taking it up to the reigning premiers, but that couldn't stop Richmond from breaking the record for most consecutive wins at the MCG.
Geelong Cats vs Brisbane Lions
After destroying one teams fortress down in Tasmania, the Lions looked to continue their recent resurgence in form to try and destroy another. Welcoming back Andrews and Hodge to their backline, they did a good job in the first half, before another destructive performance from Tom Hawkins, who kicked another seven goals, and disappointed everyone watching by unselfishly passing off a chance for his eighth. Ablett again proved that he is much too old, and too injured to be playing AFL football being arguably the best midfielder on the ground with 38 disposals, and 16 contested. I would love to see a stat for how many games a Selwood has left the ground with the blood rule, as this week it was Scott splitting an eyebrow thanks to a stray knee.
All in all Geelong gained some much needed percentage before taking on the Tigers next week in another big clash at the MCG.
GWS Giants vs St Kilda
Earlier this year, these two teams played a draw. Earlier this year also, the Giants were the walking wounded, and St Kilda weren't yet fighting for a bottom four finish. I love watching St Kilda this year. It's like gambling at a casino. Sometimes they're really exciting and get on a roll, but they also usually lose. I'm glad I don't support them.
The Giants were lucky that St Kilda didn't capitalise on a strong first half, with the teams finishing equal on scoring shots, despite GWS running out 25 point winners. This game was much closer than the final scoreline made it look, but was a relative bruise free encounter, backing up a Giant second half the the season for GWS, with Kelly and Greene being instrumental in their form turnaround.
Gold Coast Suns vs Carlton
I watched this game, so you didn't have to. Sometimes I feel like I'm the Jesus of football reviews, and I have to suffer for everyone else's sins. This game - between the bottom two teams - was about as dull as you'd expect it to be, except the wrong team won. Carlton. Carlton won. I'm still slightly in shock. They kicked seven goals in a row at one point, for the first time in I don't know how long.
The recently re-signed Patrick Cripps continued his sensational season, with another clear best on ground performance, in his attempt to be only the third wooden spooner to win a Brownlow Medal. Don't you just hate overachievers? As someone who has never been one, people have to find other reasons to dislike me.
Thanks to the Suns miracle win over Sydney last week, even winning today keeps the Blues glued to the bottom of the ladder, and a potential backflip on the "we don't want a priority pick," call from earlier this season.
This result leaves Richmond as literally the only team in the AFL without an interstate win.
Adelaide Crows vs Melbourne
The Demons flew to Adelaide off the back of heartbreak last Saturday night, looking to sure up a spot in the final 8. Adelaide were looking to continue their form recovery, as they go through rehab from the cult they were briefly in, with still a sniff of making finals.
The home side were looking to upset the visiting team in torrential conditions, leading by a goal at them main break, before a seven goal to one Melbourne third quarter. The fourth quarter however, threatened to bring back Demons of last week, and cheeseboards Australia wide remained untouched in the final term, as the Crows got back to seven points before Neal-Bullen sealed the win with a goal in the last minute. The murder of Crows may rue murdering some easy shots in front of goal in their final term resurgence, kicking 37, and falling just short of Melbourne, and a chance at September action.
North Melbourne vs West Coast Eagles
With the Kangaroos looking to keep their September dreams alive, and West Coast looking to secure a top two spot, there was a lot on the line on this bitterly cold and wet Sunday morning. North Melbourne have a bizarrely good record in Tasmania, knocking over quality opposition there regularly in recent seasons, including that famous ten goal to nothing first quarter against Minor Premiers Adelaide as recently as last year. Today was no different, with their early ascendancy around the ball wasted, and giving the Eagles a sniff in the first half, before running out comfortable winners.
This game was the kind I would have stayed in bed for, with it being so cold that Shaun Higgins was steaming during his post game interview, and I can understand why half of the Eagles team didn't seem to turn up.
Western Bulldogs vs Port Adelaide Ryder
For the second time this year, the Western Bulldogs ventured out to Ballarat to play a home game. After struggling to beat the lowly Suns the last time they were here, they had their work cut out for them against a Port Adelaide side, bolstered by the return of Paddy Ryder. While the Suns were here last time, this time there was sporatic hail and showers throughout this game, which proved to be a very one sided contest in the end, with the Bulldogs kicking just one goal in the second half, and not registering a score in the final term. I have decided to rename the Power after Ryder, as they've now won nine of the eleven games he's played more than half of, and lost four of the seven he's missed all or half of. Either way, it was nice to see Port remember how to kick goals after their last two weeks of sub-sixty scores.
Hawthorn vs Fremantle
We finished the round with a game that I was sure could go either way, only for me to be really disappointed by Hawthorn playing like a dominant force for the second week in a row. The first quarter had me very confused as a Ross Lyon team was playing free flowing, high octane football. The solitary goal the managed over the next two quarters eased my confusion though, as the Hawks piled on nine in the same space of time, to crush any glimmer of hope Fremantle had of making the finals in 2018. It was almost as if Fremantle saw how good they went in the first quarter, thought "This is enough," and decided to go for a beer. Something I would have much rather been doing than watching Hawthorn win. Next week Fremantle have only pride to play for in a Derby out west, while the Hawks look to end Essendon's finals chances. I quite enjoyed silence from Hawthorn supporters last September, and would like more of the same, if it isn't too much to ask.