AFL Round Twenty One
What started as a chore at work, and became a weekly hobby; It's The Weekly Turnaround!
Essendon v St Kilda
Round twenty one started with another masterstroke of Friday night fixturing, that the AFL will most likely yet again act bemused about the low rankings of. One team far better than another, both probably won't make finals, but one mathematically can. Great stuff.
The game itself was actually more compelling than expected, for most of the first half at least, before Essendon realised they were playing a bottom four side, and slammed home four goals in the last five minutes of the half, before well and truly ending the game with a dominant third quarter that made you wonder why many experts had St Kilda making the eight this year. Probably the most interesting parts of this game was players from both sides acting like they swapped out their Gatorade with angry juice, with Brown collecting Saad with a bump so late, that it's going to get a pregnancy test, followed by Hooker throwing two punches at David McKenzie and reversing a free kick.
Hawthorn v Geelong Cats
The first game of Saturday was a rivalry so good that if you scripted it, people would most likely tell you to go away, I don't want to read your script, please stop showing these to me. Or something like that. Either way they've played fourteen games decided by a goal or less in the last twenty three years, which is a pretty remarkable whichever way you look at it.
Now if you've been paying attention to the last few months of football, you'd be well aware that Geelong really only like playing football in the last quarters of games. It's a very interesting strategy, and probably currently has about a 50/50 strike rate. Much like the Cats finals chances. This one was no different, with the Cats putting on a late charge from 26 points down, only to be foiled by their own inaccuracy, and a late goal from Jaeger O'meara. Another week, another unfairly heightened heart rate. Either way, with the two games between these teams this year decided by a total of twelve points, the rivalry is alive and well.
Gold Coast Suns v Richmond
It's very fitting that Gold Coast wear such bright colours, because they certainly behaved like witches hats in this wonderful training run for Richmond. Jack Riewoldt trained beautifully taking sixteen shots on goal, and slotting ten of them, from twenty disposals inside fifty.
Honestly, unless you were a Richmond fan I don't know why you would have watched this game, with a classic being played on the MCG simultaneously. I really don't know what else to say. It was really bad.
Port Adelaide v West Coast Eagles
I'm sure Port fans had been having nightmares about Luke Shuey for the last year, and now West Coast have added another face to their nightmares: Jeremy McGovern.
In the rematch of last year's elimination final rematch, it was all Port early, even blasting out to a five goal lead, before injuries struck, and Port decided they'd done enough and didn't manage another goal for the rest of the game. Even mixed messages to the players - being told there was four minutes left, and not forty seconds - couldn't stop McGovern taking a big mark, and slotting a winning goal after the siren. My favourite stat of the game is that the winning team spent exactly 0 seconds in front during match time. Port have now lost two games in a row by less than a goal, and risk dropping out of the 8 if they don't win each of their next two games. It's like teams are fighting to not play finals at this point, and not the other way around.
Collingwood v Brisbane Lions
The last time these two teams played, it was an exhilarating shootout up at the Gabba, with the Lions falling just seven points short in one of the highest scoring games of the year. This time they played at Docklands, and the Lions were impressive for the first half, trailing by just three points at half time, before the more experienced home side slowly took the game out of the Lions grasp. Perhaps most impressive was that Collingwood got through this game with no injuries. I'm almost certain Bucks bought a lotto ticket on the way home. One of the main questions during the week, was if the Pies had brought back DeGoey too early. The answer was "good question," as the speedster finished the game with four important goals, but also spent the last ten minutes on the bench with his sore leg iced. With Collingwood, Hawthorn and Richmond all able to finish in the top four, I'm sure some people in Melbourne will be seeking short term asylum in Tassie.
GWS Giants v Adelaide Crows
Adelaide had to win this game to keep their season alive, and failed to do so in a ripping game at Spotless Stadium. Adelaide took a slim lead into half time, before the Giants were just too good, pushing slowly out to a fourteen point win, and keeping Adelaide at arms length registering a fourteen point win. The Crows will likely be without Tex Walker for the rest of their season, which they had practice for in the grand final last year, only this time they can replace him with another player.
The Giants however continue their impressive march to September, after being written off by many after a four game losing streak in round ten saw them slump to 11th. However, they proved to be sleeping Giants indeed having now won nine of their last ten games, including reigning premiers Richmond.
North Melbourne v Western Bulldogs
This was a regulation game for North Melbourne. Win this one, win two more, hope for good results in other games, make the finals. Easy, right? Wrong. The Roos went into half time comfortable 28 point leaders, and looked to have the Bulldogs measure, before the Doggies bit back with a massive nine goal to three second half to complete another thriller in this emerging rivalry, with this game making it six in a row decided by less than three goals, and four in a row decided by single digits. A remarkable three Bulldogs notched better than 40 disposals on their way to one of their best wins of the season. North Melbourne at least can start organising their September holidays, as without a miracle from here, their season is over.
Melbourne v Sydney Swans
The fight for ninth continued on Sunday afternoon, with two teams very well positioned to steal it and be the one to miss out on finals. Somehow, even though every fibre of my body, and stat that I could uncover told me to tip Sydney, I picked Melbourne. Melbourne seemed to be all over this game, until Alex Johnson did his good knee, in probably the only event this year sadder than Carlton's season. Sydney kicked seven unanswered goals from early in the second quarter, building a lead solid enough that they didn't kick one in the final quarter, and had still done enough to win. The signs are there for Melbourne doing exactly what they did last year and tumbling out to ninth in Round 23, in what would probably simultaneously be the funniest and saddest thing to happen all year.
Fremantle v Carlton
This game was sensibly shoved to the Sunday twilight time-slot, as even Fremantle fans left plenty of seats empty at Perth Stadium.
During the first half it looked as though things could get real embarrassing for Fremantle as Carlton looked every bit the better team, before Freo remembered that it was only a few weeks ago that they kicked twelve unanswered goals against this team, and piled on a seven goals three to two points third quarter, as a cruel reminder for Carlton of just how bad their season has been. If they can't manage a win in their final two games, they're set to lock in their least successful season since 1901. I know, 1901. The last time Carlton managed only two wins in a season, there were no boundary umpires, or interchanges. Meaning that this is certainly the worst ever televised Carlton season. That's rough.