AFL Round Twenty
What started as a chore at work, and became a weekly hobby; It's The Weekly Turnaround!
Richmond vs Geelong Cats
As the season reaches the pointy end, the biggest question on most people's mind is "who can beat Richmond at the MCG." During the week, Chris Scott, when pressed with the question, said "why not us?" and it turns out the answer to that is; because Gary Ablett won't kick a goal to win the game from 40 out on a slight angle. Things like this are the reason I drink.
The two teams were evenly matched for the first half, with Geelong leading at the main break by a solitary point. The second half was pretty evenly split, with Richmond dominating the third quarter, and Geelong beating them at their own game, and dominating the fourth, only to dramatically fall short by three points. At this stage of the weekend, you'd have been forgiven for thinking this would be easily the game of the round.
Hawthorn vs Essendon
With the final eight still anyone's game, and four teams set to miss out, this game between 11th and 7th was a crucial one. Essendon had been in red hot form, winning seven of their last eight, and the Hawks have spent the last few weeks dispatching bottom eight sides like a maniacal child would ants with a magnifying glass. This game swung back at forth about as often as Coles stance on free plastic bags, before the Bombers put on a late charge from 23 points down late in the last quarter, only to be stopped in their tracks by sixth gamer Worpel, who has had so many name related puns in the headlines this week, I think it might be a record. With Richmond still to come, a loss here most likely means season 2018 is over for the Essendon Football Club.
Brisbane Lions vs North Melbourne
Brisbane, having won three of their last five, and losing one by less than a goal, would have liked their chances against a Higgins-less North Melbourne up at the Gabba. At several times, North Melbourne seemed to have put this game beyond Brisbane's grasp, but, much like fellow Queenslander Pauline Hanson, just when you thought they were gone, they came right back. Number One draft pick Cam Rayner had a set shot to put the young Lions side in front, with less than a minute on the clock, but instead elected to snap around his body, missing to the far side. With five games this year decided by less than two goals, the Lions will rue yet another opportunity, while by some miracle, the Roos keep their finals chances alive.
Adelaide Crows vs Port Adelaide
After the last showdown being decided by less than a goal, and Adelaide back in top form, I doubt much else was going on in South Australia on Saturday afternoon, other than watching this game of football. Not that there usually is much going on in South Australia, just, more so than usual. After three of the best games of football I've seen this year, this one contained everything those games had, plus a whole handful of cross town spite. This game again came right down to the last minute, with a snap from Josh Jenkins being awarded a goal by the Score Review System, even though Jenkins himself thought it hit the post, and the apparent spin of the ball changed after passing the goal post. Unsurprisingly, this was front page of The Advertiser, and will probably be talked about in Adelaide for the rest of time. Robbie Gray won the showdown medal, much to the disappointment of many thousand booing Adelaide fans. As if there wasn't already enough animosity between these clubs.
St Kilda vs Western Bulldogs
If the Friday and Saturday of round twenty was Football Christmas, then this game was the weird box of tea that you got from the aunt that you're not that close to. This game looked to be just as good as the four before it, right up until about ten minutes into the third quarter where St Kilda were leading by a point. From that point on, the Bulldogs kicked nine goals to two, despite the Saints probably being the better team in the final term, and even winning the game's inside 50 count, and the disposals being pretty well even. Turns out that the Saints aren't just a disappointment to their supporters, but also to the general footballing community.
Sydney vs Collingwood This was a clash between the team experiencing the biggest form slump in the competition, and the team with the most ridiculous injury list in the competition. One looking to keep in touch with the top eight, the other the top four. It was also Alex Johnson's first AFL game since 2012. Four Prime ministers ago, and a time where GWS was a wooden spooner, and Buddy Franklin still played for Hawthorn. In an encouraging turn of events for us average folk, the first six goals of this game were kicked by blokes in their thirties who were looking to be developing slight beer guts. Less encouraging is that one of those men was Buddy Franklin, who despite being so injured he can only run 20 minutes a training session, was good enough to absolutely dominate this game, finishing with six goals. This game marked the first time in AFL/VFL history a round has had five or more games decided by less than a goal, as a late miracle goal from Tom McCartin with only his sixth disposal put Sydney's noses in front in the dying stages. Obviously having so many games of exhilarating footy is bad for the look of the game, and the rule changes must go ahead.
Carlton vs GWS Giants
After Carlton finally managed their second win for the season last week, I'm not sure what I expected from this game, but I'm pretty certain that it wasn't for them to lose by over 100 points. GWS are almost certainly the form side in the competition at this moment in time, and they extended their brilliant run, by absolutely dominating a Carlton side that seemed like they were just watching Cripps play from the stands, and with just over 16000 people showing up for this one, there would have been plenty of places for them to sit. So much was the Giants' dominance, that they finished this game with only 17 players on the ground, and at one point had only 16, and even then the Blues weren't able to capitalise on their numbers. Even more impressive when you consider that with their draw, the Giant's don't even need the percentage. They were just being mean.
Melbourne vs Gold Coast Suns
The Melbourne players seemed to have seen the earlier game, and decided that one near unwatchable game for the day wasn't enough, and that they could do the Giants one better, as they stormed to a 57 to 6 quarter time lead. Tom Lynch was probably crying with laughter, after the least surprising news of all time earlier this week, that he would be seeking to utilise his free agency and move to a real AFL club. This game was so boring that I have little to say about it other than the fact that I'm disappointed in the Demons for winning by less than 100 points. They have however, stumbled back into the top four, despite having still not beaten any other top eight teams this season.
West Coast Eagles vs Fremantle
The only thing that made this game the most interesting one of the day, was just how much animosity there was between these two teams. Andrew Gaff did his best Barry Hall impression, breaking Andrew Brayshaw's jaw in an incident well off the ball, perhaps freeing himself up some time to speak with Melbourne based clubs throughout September. With Naitanui and now most likely Gaff missing for the rest of the year, the second placed Eagles chances look to be flying away, despite their recent form revival. This marked seven straight Derby wins for West Coast, stretching their lead out to 28 - 20.
This game finished off the round seeing an average score per game above 190, and the most games decided by a goal in history. If that's not enough to tell the AFL to keep their crazy hands off the rules then I'm not sure what is