AFL Round Twenty Two
What started as a chore at work, and became a weekly hobby; It's The Weekly Turnaround!
Richmond v Essendon
Essendon's finals chances were about as slim as my chances of winning lotto and disappearing into the mountains in South America, never to be heard from again. Very slim, but not impossible. All they had to do was beat the reigning premiers at the MCG, beat Port by a colossal margin in round 23, and wait for all the other results to fall in their favour. Simple right?
In the match up , which I will from now on call "The Clash of the Sash," was very hard to watch in the first half especially, before Richmond unsurprisingly started to pull away from the Bombers in the third quarter, taking a 21 point lead to the final change. What was surprisng was when Essendon, had other ideas, and like a Uni student who's just taken copious amounts of dextroamphetamine, tried to do everything at the last minute, kicking four unanswered goals to get back to single figures, and giving the Tigers a real scare. However, it wasn't to be, and the Bombers' season is over, and the Tigers firmed top spot on the ladder, claiming their first McClelland Trophy since 1982.
Collingwood v Port Adelaide
I like how this game lined up. Collingwood looking to beat a top 8 side, Port only being a top 8 side if they beat Collingwood. A lose - lose situation for people trying to prove that Collingwood are contenders. This was looking like a good game until Motlop gave away a costly 50 m penalty, which resulted in the first of eight straight Collingwood goals. I'm not saying it's all Motlop's fault, but it's definitely all Motlop's fault. Collingwood, having still beaten only one other top 8 side, and being in about as good shape injury wise as 1941 London, could still, thanks to a miracle draw, finish second on the ladder, in the unlikely event that West Coast lose their last two games. Port Adelaide though, have completed their swan dive from fourth to ninth, after registering just the one win over their last six games. I can only imagine the furious letter Ken Hinkley is penning the AFL about the "goal," against Adelaide, with all the rage of a retiree writing in to the opinions column of a newspaper.
Geelong Cats v Nat Fyfe
Fremantle fans would have been very happy turning this game off at quarter time, with a nine point buffer over the Cats down at Kardinia Park, because from that point on it was record city, as Geelong kicked the next twenty three goals of the match, to record a season high, and worst in Fremantle's history, margin of 133 points, as the Dockers went goalless from the 18 minute mark of the first quarter registering just five more points for the match. Tom Hawkins alone registered double the goals Freo did. After the game, Ross Lyon claimed that all rebuilds take five to six years, seemingly forgetting that Geelong, West Coast, Hawthorn and Sydney exist. It's startlingly hard to believe that this team finished top of the ladder with seventeen wins as recently as 2015, before recording a combined twenty wins over the following three years. Nat Fyfe was the only upside for Fremantle, as only three of their players gathered more than twenty disposals. "Well he can't drop all of us," seemed to be the intent with which they played.
GWS Giants v Sydney Swans
In the ongoing contest for "most injured team," between GWS and Collingwood, the Giants put in another great performance, having just two fit players on the bench, and Davis forced to full forward for most of the night with a back complaint. I'm near certain at this point that Leon Cameron has upset a trickster god, who has given him the most talented team in the competition, but also ensured that they'll never be healthy enough for him to reap the benefits of it. Buddy Franklin reaped the benefits of Davis moving to the other end of the ground, kicking five goals in a best on ground performance, amidst his late charge for the Coleman. More importantly Sydney, after being written off by many to even make finals, are in the hunt for another top four finish. It's almost like nobody actually knows anything about football. At least I don't even try and pretend. Gold Coast Suns v Brisbane Lions This clash of two teams in the bottom four, in a state where nobody cares about football, that some like to label the Q-Clash actually turned out to be reasonably entertaining. Partly due to Nick Robertson labeling the Suns as soft during the week, and partly due to Touk Miller and Dayne Zorko's ongoing rivalry. Whatever spurred it, a Brisbane team that twice beat Top 4 placed Hawthorn, struggled to overcome the lowly Suns. If the Suns came out with this level of intensity every week, people might consider them a football team, and not just a bye round that the AFL spent over $100 million on. St Kilda v Hawthorn Alastair Clarkson called it Blockbuster Fatigue, but whatever it was, the Saints almost made most of Australia happy by knocking off the Hawks. However, it wasn't to be, with the Saints falling just four points short, after kicking the only goal of the final quarter. It was the tale of much of St Kilda's season, with their gallant efforts falling just short of a win that would have earned them back some respect. Whatever the result,we were treated to yet another Saturday evening of sensationally exciting football, in what is obviously a broken game. After the game, Clarkson said that the best team didn't win - which is one of those things that's really easy to say when you've won, and just seems bitter and arrogant when you've lost. Either way, Australia is in a state of panic with all three of Hawthorn, Collingwood and Richmond occupying the top four. It is my understanding that this is the reason that Melbourne is no longer the top of the list of World's Most Livable Cities. Carlton v Western Bulldogs This game was played with all the skill and intensity of a suburban reserves match, as Carlton and the Bulldogs managed a whole eight goals to half time, and only in the final term did either team manage more than two goals in a quarter. If this was the only game you saw for the weekend, you'd really want them to change the rules. All of them. Just play something else entirely. Lacrosse, perhaps? Oh, yeah, the Bulldogs won. West Coast Eagles v Melbourne Melbourne flew over to Perth with their season on the line. Win this and it's finals confirmed. Lose it, and potentially go on to finish 9th, and go on to become the new meme of the AFL. 9thbourne just doesn't have the same ring to it anyway. While the Eagles could argue that they lost Darling early, Melbourne did a great job of leading this game for all but a tense three minutes in the final term,where it looked like the Melbourne choke may be on again, and the Eagles may snatch another victory from the jaws of defeat. It wasn't to be however, as Melbourne proved almost everyone wrong with three successive goals, to return to finals football for the first time since Saddam Hussein was still alive, John Howard was still Prime Minister, Geelong hadn't won a premiership in 43 years, and I still thought life was fair and that Brisbane would be the only team of the AFL era to win three successive premierships. Adelaide Crows v North Melbourne The battle of the teams that until a few weeks ago could "mathematically make the finals." I love it when they say that about teams, it's the most desperate way to keep you invested in games you don't care about. It's mathematically possible that I and all of my family will win lotto this week. If the bye week blog post doesn't come from the Maldives, you'll know that that one didn't happen either. I may have gotten a little sidetracked there. Adelaide looked like they were going to blow the game away, at one point leading by over six goals, before the shinboners came at them hard in the final term, getting to within three points, before Eddie Betts stepped up, in an Eddie Betts moment, that would have gotten Bruce McAvaney more excited than a virgin slowdancing at prom. If anything this game showed how wide the gulf was between the quality of football of the top 12 teams and the rest.