AFL | Round Ten | 2022
Carlton (102) vs Sydney Swans (87)
As Carlton and Sydney went head to head playing off for a spot in the four, a record crowd between the two sides were there for one thing: $2 pie night at Marvel Stadium.
Sure there were probably some Blues fans there shocked that their side was in the top four almost halfway through the season for the first time in decades, but let's be real; it was probably the pies (and closed roof) that got the record across the line.
Sydney had a debutant who I think I heard BT call Golden, who had a really good game, including a pivotal goal. However, I feel his similarity in appearance - as well as wearing the same jumper as - Errol Gulden was a bit unfair on Carlton players and umpires alike.
As Carlton pulled away in the first half, tearing apart the Swans' defensive game, I was informed not once, not twice, but three times that it has "been years since we've seen Sydney torn apart like this," and by three different commentators no less!
James Brayshaw even went so far as to say Sydney are "never beaten,"
Which seemed strange to me, considering Sydney finished bottom four in two of the last three seasons, and haven't won a final since 2017 (and that was against Essendon, who finals games don't count against) - but I digress.
But as eager as the commentators seemed for Sydney to win - actively cheering for them as Buddy kicked a goal on the cusp of 3QT and then excitedly talking up the probability of a Carlton fade-out - the umpires seemed equally eager for Carlton to win, and Sydney had no qualms about helping them, tackling Carlton players high and low as much as possible.
The wish of a Carlton fade out was almost granted, as the Swans dominated the second half, with a complete swapping of the pressure vs errors roles we saw in the first half.
However, as we have seen on multiple occasions this year; Carlton held strong and saw out a victory that now sees them one game clear inside the top four.
Kennedy may face the tribunal during the week for clumsily assaulting a cancer survivor, however, he tore his hamstring in the process, so that likely won't bother him. Sydney however may struggle to replace one of the biggest contested beasts the game has ever known.
Geelong Cats (82) vs Port Adelaide (47)
Port Adelaide came into this game as the only team in the bottom sixteen with a four-game winning streak. Arguably it was helpful that they had the opportunity to play West Coast and North Melbourne in that patch, but win the games they did.
This game was a test for Kenstradamus who predicted a 5 win streak after their 0-5 start to the season. In their way was a ground Port Adelaide haven't won at since 2007, and have only won twice at in their history.
In Geelong's way was the ageing joints of their midfield group, and their inability to convert scoring opportunities into scores - particularly goals, which I am told are important.
Despite the second term being one of the most unwatchable for the round, Geelong did enough to get the job done, continuing their streak of W/L/W/L/W/L/W, which might see some fans nervous heading into next week's game, which thanks to a fixturing quirk sees Geelong play the two Adelaide teams at home in back to back games.
As for Port Adelaide, it's back to the drawing board, because while some teams like St Kilda, Melbourne and Geelong have proven they can win a game with one good quarter, Port Adelaide clearly cannot, with a miserly 2.2 recorded after half time.
If you didn't watch this game, and don't support Geelong, I would suggest doing something more beneficial with your day, like seeing how long you can hold a lighter up to your palm.
Western Bulldogs (106) vs Gold Coast Suns (87)
Two sides fighting to keep in touch with the top 8, both trying to prove themselves in one way or another, and we were left... pretty much where we started.
Most tipped the Bulldogs, but wanted to see some fight out of the Suns, and the Bulldogs won, despite a strong contest from the Suns that saw them draw the margin back to just seven points twice in the final term.
The problem is, I don't know if this was a close game because both of these sides are contenders, or a close game because neither of them are. All I do know is that it was far better than the last game played in Ballarat, which was arguably the worst game for the year. It is, however in some strong competition.
Importantly for the Bulldogs, after their horrid start to the season - during which they still seemed in shock after their Grand Final smashing at the hands of Melbourne - they now sit just one game outside the eight, with some pivotal games to come.
Their biggest issue still seems to be their ability to hold down scoring inside mids, with Petracca and Cripps both recording 35+ disposals and 2 goals, and Prestia and Boak 30 disposals and a goal. Even Keays managed 33 and 4 points and may have been equally as damaging. Every loss has come in a game where one player has completely dominated the Bulldogs midfield.
That felt too insightful for this blog, so allow me to pivot; the Bulldogs have only made Grand Finals when Bevo didn't have vaudevillian facial hair, and until he trims, they will continue to flail.
North Melbourne (53) vs Naarm (100)
The worst team played the best team, and the best team doubled the worst team's score.
I don't really know what you want from me in this one.
Naarm good. North not good. North first half promising. Second half yuck.
Melbourne this year have been like that one person who could put one day into a semester of study and somehow ace the test. They're just finding it a little too easy at the moment.
Adelaide Crows (69) vs St Kilda (90)
St Kilda winning games with a one-quarter burst is becoming a bit of a trend this year, and more often than not, King has been an important part of that quarter.
Is it sustainable? Well, that's the question. It was nowhere near good enough to beat Melbourne, but has been enough to see off Geelong and Fremantle, as well as a host of bottom ten sides. I guess we'll see come September.
Adelaide, however, experienced another honourable loss, which is becoming somewhat of a trend for them this year, not quite good enough to match it with the top sides for a whole game.
Fittingly, Taylor Walker couldn't find it in himself to play the role of inspirational matchwinner during the first of the Doug Nicholls Rounds. A coincidence? Perhaps. Perhaps not.
Adelaide's reward is that they now get to play Geelong in Kardinia Park, which is a tough ask for most sides, let alone one that has only won there three times in 21 attempts, their last victory coming in 2003 - when Josh Rachele was 2 months old.
St Kilda now sit just percentage outside of the top four, and with hopes to regain Steele before season's end are building a respectable campaign.
King now has 29 goals, and sits equal third in the Coleman Medal. The last two Coleman Medallists for the Saints were Fraser Gherig and Tony Lockett, and I'm not sure you could find two footballers more different from Max King if you tried.
Richmond (80) vs Essendon (48)
Another year, another opportunity for Essendon to provide an alternate strip that clashes so bad you have no idea what's going on. Some years it's ANZAC Day, some years it's Dreamtime, some years it's both. This year, both sides went with "so black you can't tell there's a second colour on there on the average TV during play."
Essendon wore white shorts, yes, but as white is not one of their colours, this didn't really help much either. Makes you wonder how hard it would be for the AFL to check these things off before the game starts. Maybe a screen test of sorts?
Possibly the most entertaining part of this game was watching flying elbows thrown around like it was a WWE tryout, with Redman and Lynch each trying their hand at various moments.
Lynch, you expect it from every week, as he knows full well he won't be suspended as long as he only does grub acts rather than dog acts. Redman I assume was simply showing his frustration at being the only Essendon player to try every week, and was fairly rewarded with a week off.
Tom Lynch also showed that the biggest threat to winning the Coleman Medal is himself, kicking 0.4 and injuring his hamstring before missing the final term.
Richmond got the job done without being too convincing, and Essendon showed more fight without being convincing at all. This marked 12 consecutive wins for Richmond against the Bombers, with the Dreamtime game becoming somewhat of a formality at this point.
GWS Giants (138) vs West Coast Eagles (86)
West Coast came into this game off the back of five consecutive ten goal losses, and GWS came in with a new coach.
The best thing about playing West Coast this year, many teams have found, is that you can basically do what you want and try out new things. Mark McVeigh did this by putting his team's leading goalscorer for the year at full back. Which admittedly worked quite well, in what is - to be fair - a very limited training environment.
While West Coast avoided a sixth consecutive 10 goal loss - which I believe hasn't happened to a team since war times - they were only 8 points off of it, and after fielding one of the oldest teams of the weekend, one must wonder where they go from here.
The West Coast Eagles AFLW, AFLM and WAFL teams have currently recorded a total of two wins this year, and may take home an incredibly unwanted trifecta of wooden spoons.
It's getting to the point where you wonder why West Coast don't simply forfeit and get some game time in the WAFL. Or at the very least play the youth on their list, to at least try and prepare for the future.
Hawthorn (117) vs Brisbane Lions (112)
Just as thousands across the country were mentally preparing for a perfect 9/9 week of tipping; enter Hawthorn to ruin it for everyone.
Which if you ask me, is just typical Hawks behaviour. Even when they're not good, they still find a way to ruin your day.
This is exactly why we need an AFL team in Tasmania. To prevent Hawthorn from getting cheap wins on what is foreign soil for most sides.
There were also moments in this game that make the word "over-umpired" feel nowhere near strong enough, with free kicks being paid for slight pushes to the chest.
Other top 8 sides, however, would likely thank Hawthorn for pulling Brisbane back into the chasing pack, and Melbourne would thank them for giving them a two-game breather at the top of the ladder - not that positioning typically matters for MCG home sides.
Jai Newcombe continued to prove that if you have more remaining salary cap room, and sign on a player who refuses to sign for less salary than you have left cap room, and result in the AFL changing the rules for the mid-season draft, then you too can have a quality young player on your list!
Fremantle (44) vs Collingwood (80)
Fremantle would have to be glad it doesn't often rain much in September.
After a brilliant start to the season, dropping just one of their first eight games - and that one to a top-four contender by less than a goal - Fremantle have come crashing down to earth after back to back losses against bottom ten sides in the wet.
You would be willing to forgive the loss to Gold Coast at Metricon, as they have been playing well there this year, but a home loss to Collingwood is troubling.
As for Collingwood, their fans must be feeling a bit confused and frustrated - and not just at the fact that One Nation and Palmer United didn't win any seats at the election.
Collingwood now have wins against Fremantle (4th) and St Kilda (5th), as well as narrow losses to Geelong (6th) and Brisbane (2nd), but they are languishing outside the eight, thanks to a loss to West Coast, who most teams are treating as a Bye Round.
While of course, it does delight me to see Collingwood suffer, I would prefer it if they did so in such a way that didn't involve the possibility of them playing in September, and with Carlton next week now firming as a blockbuster, I'm sure some Melburnians are having PTSD flashbacks to decades past.