AFL | Round Three | 2022
Western Bulldogs (71) vs Sydney Swans (60)
With the Bulldogs stinging from wasting chances against Carlton, and Sydney rolling off of an inspiring - albeit chaotic - win against Geelong, the stage was set for a great game here.
Instead what we got was a very Buddy-Party hungover Sydney, and a Bulldogs team intent on repeating the same mistakes as last week.
By half time, the Bulldogs had recorded 4.10, and Sydney 1.3. Exemplified by a second term where Sydney went scoreless while the Bulldogs' eight shots on goal rendered them 1 goal 7. Scintillating stuff.
For a while there it looked like Sydney were going to benefit from an opposition's wayward kicking, as the Bulldogs failed to put Sydney to the sword, before a brilliant knock-on from Ugle-Hagan saw Bontempelli seal the match from 30 meters out.
Really, I think the most impressive thing about this game - or perhaps the only impressive thing about this game - was that Sydney didn't have any players miss with Covid, despite coming into contact with twenty-or-so-thousand members of the public (including one deceased member of the public).
The Bulldogs won one they had to, and Sydney lost one they were probably entitled to. Sometimes footy is easy.
Melbourne (99) vs Essendon (70)
If I was being fair to Essendon, I would say that if you laid out this season alphabetically, rather than in round order, you would have expected them to lose to Geelong, Melbourne and Brisbane - three of the strongest sides from last year.
However I have no interest in being fair, only hyperbolic, and it is clear that Essendon's season is over, as no side makes the 8 after winless streaks to start the season (despite recent years suggesting it is becoming very common for sides to make the finals after losing two or three games to kick things off, including GWS losing three to start last year, alongside Brisbane and Essendon themselves losing the first two).
This game wasn't much to write home about, and to be honest, unless you were:
writing a weekly blog about football
a Melbourne or Essendon fan
have free to air TV where for some reason they decided to air this game instead of the Showdown everywhere but in South Australia
doing a football podcast about defenders (or just a football podcast I suppose)
couldn't be bothered changing the game over on Kayo an hour after it started when the Showdown came on.
Then I have to say I'm not sure why you would have watched it.
Much like last week, Essendon managed to stick with Melbourne until late in this game before three late Melbourne goals put the result out of reach. Melbourne - with the exception of the ultimate team man, Brayshaw - didn't really break out of a canter, while Essendon have a bit more to go on with after two better performances.
Adelaide Crows (96) vs Port Adelaide (92)
Showdowns really are THE state-based rivalry. Forget the Derby (I wish I could), forget the Q-Clash, forget the uh... the... whatever they call the Sydney one. It's Showdown or bust.
Four of the last eight now decided by less than a kick, total scoreline now sitting at 26-25. As we learned last year when Port snuck home by a goal, form-lines mean nothing, it's passion and hatred. Why wasn't this televised again? What's that? Oh they're not Victorian, yeah I suppose that makes sense.
This was an interesting clash, with both sides missing key players - leaving Boak and Crouch as the only former Showdown medal winners on the ground. That didn't stop it being as fiery as usual, with five charges being laid by the MRP postgame.
In true 2022 form, this was a game of momentum, but it always looked like Port Adelaide were going to be able to keep the Crows at arms reach, as they were able to make their patches of control that little bit more valuable.
With Charlie Dixon (ankle), Robbie Gray (covid), Tex Walker (racist) missing, and Darcy Fogarty having a quiet day, it was great white hopes Todd Marshall and Elliot Himmelberg, along with third gamer Lachie Gollant who stood up as key forwards, kicking a whopping 13 goals between the three of them.
Travis Boak looked all set to pick up his fourth showdown medal, and thirteenth showdown victory before Jordan Dawson stepped up to steal both away from him. After Boak himself missed a chance to kick the sealer a high* tackle on Lachlan Murphy, Dawson was given the kick.
Should it have been a free kick? Questionable. Should Dawson have taken it? Who cares. As a neutral, seeing a kick after the siren decide a rivalry match between two winless sides is all I can ask for in footy. Drama is what makes these rivalries great.
*possibly not high, but might have been tackled without it? Who knows.
GWS Giants (83) vs Gold Coast Suns (57)
The clash of the expansion sides-that-we-should-probably-stop-calling-expansion-sides-because-West-Coast-Adelaide-Brisbane-and-Port-Adelaide-had-all-won-premierships-in-this-time-frame.
With Gold Coast usually hot for the first seven weeks of the season, and GWS starting their second consecutive year 0-2, Gold Coast would have fancied themselves here.
That was probably about as far as it got. With Brayden Preuss finally pulling on the witches' hat colours, The Giants' midfield proved too strong. With everyone's favourite ex-Freo pest in Matt DeBoer successfully tagging Miller out of the game, GWS' midfield did as they pleased.
Ten players recorded more than 20 touches in this game, and seven of them had orange on. Perhaps the witches' hat colours fooled Gold Coast into thinking they were at training, who knows.
Three junk time goals to Mabior Chol got the scoreline a little closer, but before the consolation scoring the Giants led twelve goals to four, as the Spectre of Alastair Clarkson (also the name of my jazz band's upcoming album) looms ever larger over Metricon.
Things don't get much better for Gold Coast, as they now face an undefeated Carlton side, who, after holding off two late comebacks in a row, probably believe they can do anything.
Collingwood (91) vs Geelong Cats (104)
In a game where Joel Selwood broke the record for most games captained - and is on track to break the record for most wins captained later this year - Collingwood did as Collingwood do: booed everyone.
The match started with light booing of Dangerfield, as the Pies membership pack states:
Players who get arrested for assault and nonconsensual groping: Good
Players who save families from drowning: Bad
Joel Selwood, however, decided to celebrate his big day by playing one of the worst games of his career, and putting young pie Jack Ginnivan in a headlock - a decision that made me wonder if Kane Cornes has him on payroll - which then led to him also getting booed.
Later, after Selwood got run down taking a Sunday stroll across the defensive 50, leading to a pies goal, Tom Atkins also remonstrated with Ginnivan, leading to back to back scores. However, Pies fans got their Toms confused after Tom Stewart stood the mark, and proceeded to boo them both.
I can't recall, but I think a Collingwood favourite son once said "shame on anyone that booed a champion." Can't quite recall though.
From that point Collingwood looked to have the game all wrapped up, leading by 37 points late in the third term - no, I'm serious... yes the above score is correct... no, I'm not sure what happened either - before Jeremy Cameron dropped a slice of arrogance backed up with talent in the changerooms along the lines of "we can win this, just pass it to me."
Pass it to him Geelong did, and win the game Geelong did, as three goals from Cameron helped the Cats kick the last eight of the game. Funny game footy.
Brisbane Lions (156) vs North Melbourne (48)
"The Brisbane Lions invited some aspiring AFL footballers up to the Gabba for a training run and showcased their skills in front of a crowd of adoring fans."
This was like a Tarantino movie. Bloody and violent, but very hard to look away from. If Cameron and Rayner hadn't kicked 2.9 between them, this scoreline might have been even worse.
After all the goodwill North Melbourne manufactured toward the tail end of last year, followed up by a close loss and a win to start 2022, it seemed as if they had put the cue in the rack for this one.
There was no part of this game Brisbane didn't dominate, recording almost double the inside 50's of their hapless counterparts. Actually that's not fair; North Melbourne had 25 more turnovers than Brisbane.
Lachie Neale took a backseat, and Dayne Zorko took a back flank, as Lyons and McLuggage ran the ball through the corridor, like an uncle refusing to take it easy on the kids at Easter.
What to make of this game? No idea. Are Brisbane good or are North just bad? Both? Probably.
Carlton (74) vs Hawthorn (73)
A top of the table clash between undefeated Carlton and Hawthorn sides. What a strange and unfamiliar sentence for me to type. After Carlton brushed aside Richmond, and held off a fast-finishing Bulldogs, and Hawthorn had convincing wins against two very unconvincing sides, it was time for this game to help me continue to have no idea where these two teams sit.
With Carlton kicking seven goals to one in the first term, and taking a strong lead into the long break, my Carlton friend messaged me. "we're going to lose this"
Such mental trauma has this side committed on its fans over the last decade, that even a lead such as this after two convincing wins had them full of doubt.
The worst part? They were absolutely right.
The second half was all Hawthorn - one could even argue it started about halfway through the second quarter. From Charlie Curnow's second goal just six minutes into the second term, Carlton would manage just two more goals for the match, and then Hawthorn hit the lead early in the final term it looked to be a formality. But a Silvagni goal, and two very valuable behinds allowed them to hang on to a memorable win.
The good news for Hawthorn is that nobody is talking about this loss, due to everyone talking about uh *checks notes* the club president and former leadership group being racist.
St Kilda (117) vs Richmond (84)
Last year when these two sides played, the scoreline was Richmond 2.10 22 vs St Kilda 9.8 62. I watch and remember these awful awful games so that you don't have to.
This time Richmond had already surpassed that score by 18 at quarter time, and the match total of 84 (ironically the score Richmond finished on) had been surpassed less than two minutes into the second quarter. Scoring is back baby.
Richmond looked like they had this won midway through the third term, opening up a four-goal lead through Hugo Ralphsmith, however it was carnage from there on. Grimes went off injured, and St Kilda ran rampant.
Ten unanswered St Kilda goals including four to Max King, saw St Kilda run out very comfortable 33 point winners.
Richmond have now only won three games since their Round 12 win against Essendon last year, two of those coming against North Melbourne and Greater Western Sydney.
Turns out it's hard to win without your captain, your best player and your fourth all-time leading goalscorer - just ask West Coast.
Understanding this, Hardwick took out his anger on... the uh... oh.. On Covid close contact rules meaning one of their players couldn't play in the VFL. Yeah that makes sense.
Is the dynasty over? Yeah probably who cares.
West Coast Eagles (47) vs Fremantle (102)
Remember when I said scoring was back? Turns out that's only sort of true. Scoring for some, miserable lack of goals for others.
Western Derbies, so it seems, are predominantly won in bursts. See, in 2007, Fremantle started a streak of seven Derby wins, which West Coast followed up with three Derby wins, which Fremantle followed up with another six Derby wins - getting them to within one win of an equal ledeger - which West Coast clearly didn't like, and followed up with a record eleven straight Derby wins. Freo won the last one... you see where I'm going.
Regardless of any Derby streaks, West Coast are truly a little bit lost right now, between Covid cases, Anti-Vax full forwards, and enough injuries to make a skate-park blush, they're not in great form.
Which was great for Freo who really needed a confidence boost. Even when the score was one goal to two midway through the second, it always seemed that Freo were set to run away with this one. It was a game so exciting I had to check who won the Glendinning-Allan medal while writing this. It was Lachie Shultz by the way, just like we all expected...
One of the highlights of this game was Liam Ryan managing 10 clangers from just 11 disposals. Which remarkably is not a record, as Darren Jolly and Sean Lemmens each managed 10 clangers from only nine disposals! Important note, a free kick is a clanger. Not as fun now is it.
Whew. That's over. Onto round four.