Remember when the AFL’s rules committee came up with a bunch of rule changes and told us it’d result in a more open game, with free flowing football and high scores?

The Mongrel Punt remembers.

Remember when we thought the new kick in rules would see players bombing to the middle of the ground, and teammates would run onto the ball and slam home corridor goals on the run in a matter of seconds?

The Mongrel Punt remembers.

Remember when we thought games of three combined goals, and score lines of 14-12 at half time were only going to be something from history books from back when the league was young?

The Mongrel Punt remembers.

And far out, I wish I could forget this game instead of writing a review about it.

There were so few highlights in this game of footy, I reckon I’d struggle to put together a comprehensive “good, bad and ugly” review. It was basically a game that saw the ball hacked forward to contests or open spaces, with numbers behind the ball, and no one able to take control. The 6-6-6 set up was useless because no one was kicking goals.

And the scoring… well, that was due to the pressure, right? It had to be. Please tell me it was pressure and not just deplorable levels of skill.

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Grab a Mongrel Bumper Sticker – click the image, grab a sticker and help spread the Mongrel word. We’d really appreciate it.

If you looked at this game on paper, you’d think it was played in the wet, with players scrambling kicks forward to gain space, but even wet weather games have failed to sink to the depths this game did in terms of scoring.

As a matter of fact, this was the lowest scoring game since 2009, totalling just 85 points, which made me wonder how the hell Gold Coast and North Melbourne were able to manufacture 94 points combined in their Round One clash in Cairns last season in what was basically a typhoon?

I don’t know… I really don’t know how they were able to kick goals in a swimming pool, and the Dockers and Crows simply could not do the same in comparatively excellent conditions.

Adelaide and Melbourne played in a snoozefest in Round Five, 2009 with the same 51-34 score line. Before that, we go back to 1997, when Freo and Sydney combined for 81 points. That’s how bad this game was in terms of scoring. No one could hit the scoreboard. Actually, perhaps if they aimed for the scoreboard, players would have had more of a chance of getting it near the goals, because aiming for the goals didn’t seem to be working.

As I watched the cameras pan to the crowd, I couldn’t help but think “I wonder if this will be the last game some of these people attend?”

I mean, what would compel them to return? The lines for the toilets? The overpriced food? The poor hygiene of the person a few seats from them? The great footy being played?

But it wasn’t all bad, was it? The Crows won, and they stay in touch with a finals berth, which I’m guessing will wallpaper over the fact that this was a shocker of a game for some? Meanwhile, Freo showed enough guts and determination to indicate they won’t be straying too far away from the top eight, so that could add a silver lining to a dark cloud of a game if they look hard enough.

We saw some individual brilliance from Eddie Betts with a goal from the pocket to seal it.

We saw Elliott Himmelberg emerge as the best forward on the park in the first half, and seemingly the only one able to get space and take a mark (he had five to the main break).

We saw Fyfe at his extracting best, Pearce put the clamps on Tex Walker, David Mundy rose to the occasion again, a week after the Mundy-Threehundy celebrations, and Luke Ryan had another big day at half back.

On the Crows side of the ledger, we saw Hugh Greenwood re-emerge as a powerful midfield force, Rory Sloane, Cam Ellis-Yolmen and Matt Crouch accumulate huge amounts of the footy, and Lachie Murphy got the Crows going early with good inside 50 pressure.

But for all the good that was out there, I can’t help but feel that the game itself frustrated the hell out of me, and with no dog in the fight, I can only imagine how frustrating it must have been for supporters of either team as they watched players butcher the footy in all parts of the ground.

In a close, desperate game, I felt as though it was always going to be a missed umpiring call that opened the gate for a team. Lo and behold, it did.

With Eddie Betts clearly dropping the ball after having an ample amount of time to dispose of it, the umpires opted to call play on, but only a second or two later, the whistle blew for a too high free kick to Murphy, 40 metres out from goal.

Whilst this was by no means game-breaking, in an arm wrestle such as this, a decision like that, paired with a non-decision like the Betts holding the ball, was huge. Luke Ryan should have been rewarded with a free kick, and Fremantle should have cleared. Instead, Brad Hill decided to throw grass at Murphy as he kicked for goal, and gifted him both a 50 metre penalty and a goal from point blank.

Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up. He threw grass at him. Oh, the humanity. Oh, the stupidity.

 Look! Mongrel Punt Stubby Holders. Buy one and be cooler than all your friends! It also helps the site out.

Look! Mongrel Punt Stubby Holders. Buy one and be cooler than all your friends! It also helps the site out.

Freo fought back, and in the dying stages of the last quarter, they were still a chance, however I had to smirk at the commentators stating they only needed three goals in five minutes, when at that stage, they’d only managed four for the game.

But you’re here to read about the good stuff, right? The way your heroes saved the day with skill and poise and… luck.

Daniel Talia and Kyle Hartigan were huge in defence, aided largely by the terrible delivery. Hartigan’s work in the first half had him borderline best on ground. I might still be tempted to throw him in the votes. Talia’s job on the contested marking Taberner probably cost Tabs a spot in my rolling AA team – keep your eye out for that one.

Riley Knight had one of the best uncontested falcons of the year when the ball flew right through his hands and sconned him on the head…. Damn it, these are supposed to be positive! I’ll keep trying.

Darcy Tucker decided in the last quarter that he was sick of his teammates kicking absolute mongrel punts (yay, go Mongel Punt!) and after Walters, Fyfe, Wilson and Hamling all sent complete hack kicks in the semi-direction of a Fremantle player, Tucker decided to have a red hot go at a drop punt that spun in the air like a drop punt. And wouldn’t ya know, it worked! It went through for a goal. Unbelievable stuff, right?

Guys, I might have to ask for your help on this one. I’m trying desperately to think of positives from this game, and I am coming up with donuts. Maybe it is because it was the last game of the weekend and I was all footy-ed out. Maybe it was because I was expecting a different type of game. Maybe it was because the players completely hacked it almost every time they got their hands on it, or maybe, just maybe it was because the pressure in this contest was so high that no one was able to hit targets for the whole game?

Could that be it?

I’d like to think so, but I am pretty sure it was a combination of the last two options.

If you have positives, please send them through in the comments below, or throw them out there on our Facebook page.

I’m going to nip off and watch the Geelong v Essendon game on replay, and I hope like hell it’s better than this one.

Cue John Lennon “it can’t get no worse”.

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