AFL Round Twenty Three
What started as a chore at work, and became a weekly hobby; It's The Weekly Turnaround!
Port Adelaide vs Essendon
Port Adelaide came into this game a very slim chance of making finals. They just needed to win a home game against a team below them, and for Gold Coast to beat Geelong. Whilst the chances of Port and Gold Coast both winning was about as likely as an Australian Prime Minister keeping their job for a full term, it was a chance nonetheless. The Power, however, were having none of that, as they clearly had a holiday to Bali booked for September, allowing Essendon a 6 goal to 1 first quarter.
Essendon, since losing to Carlton, have been close to the form side of the competition, dropping just four games, and all to top four sides. They will, however, not play finals. As is only fair for a team that lost to Carlton and Fremantle in the same season. The Power threatened to come back at several points in this game, but Essendon led from siren to siren, ending two of the most disappointing seasons of the year.
Geelong Cats vs Gold Coast Suns
Geelong were nice enough to let the Suns train on Kardinia Park before the game this week. They also made sure to leave the score from the Fremantle game last week up while they trained. This game resembled a training run for the Cats, as they put together consecutive 100 point wins, in a warm up for finals that left them with the second best percentage in the league. Patrick Dangerfield was best afield in a late scramble to be in Brownlow contention after putting together a brilliant second half of the season, while Tom Hawkins managed just the two goals, falling well short of his Coleman bid. Geelong look set to line up against Melbourne for the third time this season, and with the past two encounters both decided after the siren, could definitely be one to look forward to.
Richmond vs Western Bulldogs
There was a lot on the line here for the Tigers, as a loss could see them slip as low as first, and they'd be forced to play at least two finals at the MCG where they've only won their last 21 games in a row, so as I'm sure you can understand they were very concerned. The Bulldogs came into this game in good form, winning their last three matches. However those three matches were against St Kilda, North Melbourne and Carlton, which is the AFL form equivalent of being a billionaire in Zimbabwe. To most people's surprise, this was a sensational game, showing again what a broken wreck our game is, consistently turning out exciting contests week after week. The less famous Lynch had a shot to win the game for the Bulldogs with seconds to go, before hitting the post, and keeping Richmond's brilliant Victorian record intact. Richmond now head into the finals as the first ever team since it has become a national competition to go undefeated in Victoria in the Home and Away season. Not a bad stat considering the next 40 Grand Finals will be played in that state.
Fremantle vs Collingwood
As the Pies quickly kicked three goals to start off this game, plastic cups of Alby Draught were likely being downed very quickly as Fremantle fans prepared for yet another drubbing at the hands of a top eight side, before Fremantle showed some uncharacteristic fight, kicking five unanswered goals to take the lead into quarter time. A Scott Morrison leadership proved to be good for Fremantle as the game seesawed for the most part, with the Pies risking losing a top four position in the case of an upset. Hayden Ballantyne kicked four goals, looking almost as surprised as the rest of us each time he found himself kicking an easy goal because none of the Collingwood players wanted to be anywhere near him, before some class from Mihocek, and two blunders in a minute from Brennan Cox gave Collingwood just a nine point win. As wrong as it feels to compliment Collingwood, a top four finish from a side that was not only injury plagued all season, but also not expected to feature in September is mighty impressive regardless of how easy the draw.
Carlton vs Adelaide
This was a season to forget for both teams. For Carlton it was their worst result in living memory, recording just two wins in a season for the first time since federation, and have now notched up 55 straight games without a score of 100 or more, a record which now dates back to Round 11 2016. For Adelaide, their drop from first in 2017 to 12th in 2017 is almost as spectacular as Fremantle's fall from grace in 2016, leaving their fans to wonder just what went so wrong. The game was about as forgettable as each team's respective seasons, as the Crows marched out to a comfortable 104 point win, outscoring Carlton by a minimum four goals a quarter, to resign the lowly Blues to their third 100 point loss of the year. At least there's Mad Monday to look forward to.
Sydney Swans vs Hawthorn
Jeff Kennett this week said that Buddy Franklin doesn't play well against the Hawks, but Franklin took that one step further and just didn't play at all. However, considering Kennett wanted Clarkson sacked in April 2013, before the famous three-peat, I don't really pay much attention to what he says. Missing Parker and Franklin was always going to make this hard on the Swans, especially as the Hawks came into this game having won their last four at the SCG. The Swans started strong, leading by as much as 26 points in the second quarter, before the Hawks made ugly ducklings of them in the second half, recording a thrilling nine point win, and setting up their first ever final against the Tigers in VFL/AFL history, in a blockbuster at the G, leaving a Sydney Derby Elimination Final for the Swans.
Brisbane Lions vs West Coast Eagles
West Coast headed up to the Gabba needing only to win to secure a top two finish and two home finals. Brisbane finished fifteenth regardless of a win or loss here. You may be able to notice which team had more to play for, and it showed. The Lions never died off in the contest, but from early in the second quarter it was clear that only one team was going to win this game. The Eagles have a 100% record of making Grand Finals from top two finishes, and with their record at their new home ground, there's no reason to believe that this season should be any different. This also means the Eagles have forced Collingwood to fly to Perth twice in one year, and have to play three interstate games in five weeks. I can only imagine that Eddie is livid. I can't imagine fuel is cheap for a private jet big enough to fit his ego.
Melbourne vs GWS Giants
Melbourne shook off their top 8 hoodoo last week with an impressive win in warm conditions in the west, and returned home to Melbourne seeking to secure a home final. GWS have probably been trying to figure out which god they've offended, to curse them to such a bad run with injuries, but win or lose here, get to play a final in their home state. Despite losing two players to injury in the first half, the highest scoring team in the comp notched up yet another 100 point total, on their way to a comfortable victory. Mt Buller will likely be empty for at least one weekend this September, as Melbourne fans prepare for this thing called "finals," that they've been hearing so much about for the last twelve years. That's six prime ministers worth of finals series missed. I'm not sure whether that says more about the ineptitude of Australian politics, or the Melbourne Demons of the late 00's. Perhaps it's both, and what we really need is Paul Roos to run the country, with a successor in mind to steer us back on the right track.
St Kilda vs North Melbourne
After a week with so many important games, few were as unimportant as this one, with possibly the only interest being the question of if Ben Brown could kick seven goals. As it happens, he could not, and despite leading the Coleman race for much of the year, relinquished it to Jack Riewoldt across the final few rounds of the season. North Melbourne ran out winners despite a spirited fightback that St Kilda left much too late. In a season that saw St Kilda go from a finals chance, to a bottom three finish marred by inconsistencies, and an inability to finish off games. The Kangaroos however, will finish ninth. Tipped by many to finish on the bottom of the ladder, they faded out of finals contention as the year went on, much like a high schooler who discovered sex and alcohol, and just kind of lost interest. The highlight of the match, and perhaps one of the highlights of the season was Jarrad Waite running into an open goal, and celebrating with the cheer squad in his final match. Waite finished his career with a set shot after the siren that hit the post, which pretty well sums up his career.
After probably the best second half of a season I've ever seen, that's another year over. I'll see you in two weeks for week one of the finals.