AFL Round Sixteen
What started as a chore at work, and became a weekly hobby; It's The Weekly Turnaround!
Sydney Swans vs Geelong Cats
Sydney have only won two games at home this year. In one of those games they spent two quarters goalless, and the other one was against Carlton. I guess what I'm trying to say is that their track record at the SCG isn't exactly great. On the other hand Geelong haven't looked like a football team for half of this season, so this game really wasn't easy to pick.
Sydney seemed to dominate posession in the first quarter, going in four points up at the first change, but then Geelong seemed to remember what players were in their midfield, taking control in the second quarter, but wasting their dominance registering 4.11 in the first half. All in all the final twelve point margin was pretty flattering to the Swans, who, considering their record at home this year, would probably do best without a top two finish anyway. In other news Harry Taylor kicked the sealer, and I love him again.
Richmond vs Adelaide Crows
This was the Grand Final replay, and the sequel went down about as well as the original, only this time, instead of Adelaide choking, Richmond were just terrifyingly better in every possible aspect of the game. In good news for Crows fans though, they lost by one point less this time, and as we all know, improvement is key.
In fairness to the AFL scheduling department, for once this would have looked like a great Friday night game before the Adelaide Crows joined a cult utilised the services of Collected Mind over the off season. There was some fight in this game in the first quarter, but nothing from there on, as we continue to face the reality that Richmond are very good, and will almost definitely be playing in the Grand Final this year, and judging by their record streak of wins there, they're pretty likely to win it too.
Brisbane Lions vs Carlton
Buckle up and get ready for one of the least entertaining Saturdays of football in recent memory. Only four games, thanks to the Thursday night game, and it all started off with this ripper, 17th vs 18th. The Jack Lukosius cup. Things looked bleak for Carlton when the heart and soul of the club in Kade Simpson was a late withdrawal, and looked even worse during the eleven goal to two stretch across the second and third quarters. Remarkably Carlton were probably the better team in the first quarter, but quickly remembered that they were bottom of the ladder for a reason, and allowed Brisbane to run anywhere with ease. Eric Hipwood played the best game of his career, in a dominant performance, slotting six goals. Brisbane now face the idea of not finishing in the bottom two - in fact if they win the next Q-clash not even the bottom three. It's all very exciting stuff up in Brisbane.
Port Adelaide vs St Kilda
Boy oh boy, this game was actually so boring that I fell asleep during the third quarter, woke up at the start of the fourth and was convinced that the scores hadn't changed. It turns out I was only slightly wrong, and the sides had kicked one goal each in a 25 minute stretch that I'm sure that they will now use as an interrogation tactic at Guantanamo bay. I'm not sure anyone really gave St Kilda a hope of winning this game, but even then, the lack of fight they showed after quarter time was alarming. Motlop was sensational in his 150th game, showing on several occasions that it doesn't matter if you have no left foot, when you can kick a 50 meter banana off the outside of your right that hits a teammate on the chest. At some points it looked like he was just showing off - which, being Steven Motlop, he probably was. With this win Port Adelaide cement themselves as a top four contender, leaving us with a remarkable chance of three of the most rabid supporter bases in the country all having their teams in the top four. Just as long as nobody lets them into the Medallion Bar at Etihad, we should be okay.
Western Bulldogs vs Hawthorn
Before I start this one, I just want to say that all jokes aside, Cyril Rioli's retirement is a sad day for the game. He's the type of footballer people pay money to see. The type of player that kids watch, and want to be like, and he will be truly missed. Now I'm going to stop being nice to a Hawthorn player before I go in to septic shock.
Before the weekend started, this game was expected to be one of the games of the round, and I suppose it was, until Hawthorn kicked nine unanswered goals with the help of an alarmingly good Luke Breust, and the Bulldogs of the first half of the season seemed to be back. This was an important win for Hawthorn, and a disappointing one for everyone else, as it sees them back in the top eight. See, the joke is that we all like to hate Hawthorn because they're better than everyone else, and we have no other way of covering up our inherent jealousy at their last 30 years of success.
Melbourne vs Fremantle
This game was played in Darwin because of reasons. I'm not saying people in Darwin shouldn't get to see the football, I'm just saying that maybe they deserve to see better games, and that players should play in slightly more humane conditions. It was so hot and humid for this game, that the players all looked like they'd hopped out of the shower just before the starting bounce. The only thing that kept this game interesting was waiting to see if Melbourne would learn to kick goals at any point of the game, as they missed almost every chance they had, no matter how easy. Only one of Melbourne's 23 behinds was rushed, and Max Gawn even gave everyone a sequel to the goal he missed from 15 meters out in round one against Geelong. The scoreline, whilst anything but flattering, still managed to flatter the Dockers, who without Fyfe and Sandilands managed a mere 13 scoring shots to the Demons 37. This was a game best watched from down the road, at the pub, with a pint in hand, and something that wasn't this game on TV instead.
North Melbourne vs Gold Coast Suns
This game was one of only two games played under a closed roof this weekend, and from the quality of it, it should have also been played behind closed doors. The last time these two teams played, it was like a very complex game of water polo where you had to score with your feet. This time thankfully it was a little drier. Gold Coast, like many of their games this year, weren't bad enough that you noticed that they were getting belted, but were bad enough that you'd check the score, and go; "Oh god this is bad. Maybe there's a reason they've only won two games this year."
North Melbourne really just did all they had to do here, without putting in too much effort, and have kept themselves in touch with the top eight, only percentage between them and sixth place. Not bad for a team who many, including myself, tipped for the wooden spoon.
Collingwood vs Essendon
It feels like it's been a long time since this rivalry actually meant anything, but with Collingwood fighting for a top two spot, and Essendon fighting for a top 8 spot, and arguably being the two (other than Richmond) form sides in the competition there was a reason to tune in. I know, scary stuff. The interesting thing about this game is that nobody was sure if Collingwood can beat top 8 teams, and nobody was sure if Essendon is going to be a top eight team. It made it very hard to tip.
Before the bounce, it looked like it was going to be a bad day for Essendon fans and Brian Taylor alike when Orazio Fantasia was a late out, and the misery for the Bombers faithful continued, as the Pies kicked four goals straight to finish the first quarter. But the Bombers weren't out of fuel yet, keeping the Pies goalless in the second term to go into the main break, and after that, three quarter time one point up.
However a big last quarter from the umPires and De Goey, celebrating his new contract, ended the game, and Essendon's season. The win slots Collingwood back into the top two, keeping the race for the four ever interesting. West Coast Eagles vs GWS Giants This was the only game televised on Free to Air TV today, in an experience that would have been very uncomfortable for many Victorian fans. Not only were they reminded that interstate teams exist, but they were also reminded that they play each other sometimes too.
These two teams combined seem to have as many injured key players as the rest of the comp put together, but nevertheless this was an important game for the structure of the top four, and eight.
In a game that was close for much of the first half, the deadly accurate kicking of the Eagles pushed the game out of reach of an errant Giants outfit, who for the second week in a row wasted many of their chances in front of goal. In the end the Giants fell less than two goals short, despite registering eight more scoring shots. The Eagles now remain in touch with that coveted top two spot, and a home final, and it gets that little bit harder for the Giants to make the final eight.