Round Six offered some answers and as always, offered just as many questions. Let’s dive into a few.
ARE THE HAWKS COOKED?
If not completely cooked, they certainly looked like they’d been basted and were ready to be thrown in the oven on Friday night.
It’s no secret that I am a Hawks supporter and I was pretty displeased with their performance this week. It’s become apparent that when they are allowed to control the tempo, the Hawks look great but if you can get the game on your terms against them, they completely fall apart.
The way North Melbourne came back at them a couple of rounds ago was indicative of this and Collingwood looked as though they took plenty out of that game. They punished Hawthorn, were crisp with the footy and made the Hawks pay.
I’m sure people will talk up the possibility of “Clarkson magic” in the next few days, but he was handing back his letter to Hogwarts on Friday night and his owl was flying off into the night sky.
The Dees would be fancying themselves as a huge chance in Round Seven.
CAN FREO WIN THE DERBY?
There is a huge part of me that wants to say yes.
The Dockers showed some wonderful grit and determination to fight their way back into the game, but you had the feeling they were going to let it slip. So often a team makes the herculean effort to get back and they use everything they’ve got in the process.
Not this time, though. With a hobbled Nat Fyfe and a young bloke that looks like he could be a player, in Lachie Schultz, the Dockers had a little bit left, and Schultz’s late goal got them over the line.
The Eagles are a different prospect, and after finding some form of their own, they’ll be rapt to get back to Optus Stadium and work in less slippery conditions. Just their luck… it’ll rain!
I was really eager to see what Freo could produce in the Derby after the Gaff-Brayshaw incident, but I reckon this time I am looking forward to it even more. Whilst I am not sold that they’ll win it, I recon this is the best shot they’ve had in a little while.
CAN CARLTON PLAY FINALS?
Well, I am sure there are Blues fans who would be ecstatic if the season were called off now and we went straight into the finals.
Not me, though – I want to see more of them!
The Blues and Dogs saved Sunday football after two deplorable games early in the day. In the wet of the Gold Coast night, they played a beautiful game of football, and I appreciate that both coaches allowed this to happen.
The Blues looked great – Harry McKay terrorised the Dogs for the second straight year and they were able to win again without their superstar Cripps having an influence. Wait on… that’s what good teams do! What the hell is going on here?
This week the Blues get the Power and I reckon this is the week we see whether the Blues will play finals, or hover around that 9-10 spot. A win over Port Adelaide would be incredible, but the Power are playing good footy except for one hiccup at the Gabba against Brisbane.
Dixon v Jones. Westoff v Weitering. Boak v Cripps. Martin and Betts v Rozee, Gray and Butters.
This one has the makings of a belter and if the Blues get up, we might see the sleeping Giant awaken.
IS IZAK RANKINE JASON AKERMANIS REINCARNATED?
It’s a bit early for that – Aker isn’t dead! However, it’s also hard not to make the comparison, isn’t it?
He looked freakishly good on the weekend with a sidestep to die for. Seriously, that jump sideways is usually the kind of move a player like Jordan de Goey executes – power and grace combined with exquisite skill and balance.
Yes, it’s only game one, and Gold Coast fans have been patient waiting to see the wonder that is Izak Rankine, but far out… he was worth the wait.
So, Akermanis reincarnated?
Let’s not go too far, but it is worth mentioning that Aker was a bit of a slow burn and played in the back pocket initially. Rankine has jumped right into the action up forward – I’m looking forward to seeing a lot more of him and hope he gets a clean run at the rest of the season.
DID BEN LONG DESERVE TO GO STRAIGHT TO THE TRIBUNAL?
I know this isn’t popular, but Long’s actions were actually less damaging than those of Dylan Shiel and Brad Ebert on the weekend. I wrote about it for members, but in short, he didn’t tuck up like Shiel or Ebert to protect/damage, and turned his body the way you’re now taught.
Later in the game, there was a similar contest with Long and this time both players turned their body. There was contact and the play went on.
I don’t want to blame Darcy here, but he was stumbling into that contest like Joe Ganino out of a bordello at 3am. There is no way Long should be drawn and quartered the way he is, but hey… it’s the AFL and once again, they’re punishing the outcome when the action itself was nowhere near as reprehensible as some of the others we saw this weekend.
WHAT IS GOING ON AT ST KILDA?
It’s not often you look at Brad Hill – a running machine – and think he is half-arsing it. but that’s what I thought this weekend.
Is he carrying an injury? Got his big payday and is content with it?
Many thought Hill would be the recruit of the year, but as of right now, he might be the most disappointing player of the season. I know I am focusing on him in a question about St Kilda, but his form is indicative of St Kilda. He is flashing in and out of games briefly and I have to ask – have you seen him chase someone down this season? I haven’t.
He is a one way runner at the moment, and so are the Saints.
HOW MUCH TO BLAME WAS JOHN LONGMIRE FOR THE LOW SCORE ON THE WEEKEND?
Damien Hardwick seemed to point the finger of blame at Longmire. Was he throwing in the towel before a punch was even thrown against the Tigers?
Sydney have a history of dour, defensive footy, from Roos to Longmire, and this was no different. But weren’t there two teams playing? Doesn’t Hardwick have to shoulder some of the blame as well? Particularly as the Tigers have three games this season where they have scored under 40 points?
So, if Hardwick’s Tigers are scoring in the 30s in half the games they’ve played, I reckon it might be a little hypocritical to point the finger of blame at Longmire and his Swans. They’ve been under 40 twice.
This might have been a perfect storm of defensive teams trying to out-defend each other in the wet. What a shit spectacle.
ARE RICHMOND FLYING UNDER THE RADAR?
Amazingly, yes! How? Why? Where? When?
They have players hurt, players staying home with families and you’re all waiting for the wheels to fall off, aren’t ya?
Yet there they are, slotting in at sixth spot with a date against the spiraling Kangaroos on the calendar for this weekend. Still, all the talk revolves around other teams, and I reckon Damien Hardwick, despite all the hardship and injuries his team is facing, might have a little smile on his dial at the moment.
Good teams win ugly.
IS SAM MENEGOLA THE BEST WINGMAN IN THE LEAGUE RIGHT NOW?
Right now – yes.
I heard Kath Loughnan stating that Mitch Duncan was the best wingman in the game this season – the highest rated.
Well, you see, Kath was using Champion Data’s definition of what kind of player Duncan is. They say he is a wingman, and they said that before the season started, so therefore he must be a wingman, right?
Geelong have used Cam Guthrie, Zach Tuohy, Mark O’Connor, Brandan Parfitt and Sam Menegola on the wing this season, with Duncan playing way more in the guts.
The result has seen Menegola absolutely own the role on one wing whilst the Cats rotate several through the other side. Menegola has had a blistering three weeks in the hoops and when I collate the Mongrel weekly wingman rankings today, I expect he will be giving the overall top spot for the season a real shake.
Mitch Duncan is nowhere to be seen on that list, for the record. Don’t believe everything Fox Footy tells you.
WHEN DO THE BOMBERS AND DEES GET THEIR MAKE-UP GAME?
This seems to have been a little forgotten, and with the Bombers flying high, it doesn’t seem as though it is a pressing concern.
However as we work out way through hub life, provision has to be made to equalise the season, and that means the Dons and Dees have to find a time to square off when it won’t completely ruin them for their next games.
I cannot see this being rectified when the AFL announces the next block of games. With the teams based all over the shop, we’re going to have to see a degree of normalcy before we get make-up games.
I’m guessing as long as the Bombers are hanging around the top four, they’re not too concerned with having a game in hand, right?
COULD THE DEES GET IT TOGETHER?
This is the week for the Dees. They have one of the best power mids in the game strutting his stuff on a weekly basis at the moment in Christian Petracca, and they are coming up against an ailing Hawthorn team. At 2-3, they need to take a scalp, and the Hawks look cherry ripe.
This is one of the greatest tests of Simon Goodwin’s coaching career. He is in possession of a team that is very similar to the Hawks – on their own terms, they’re very good, but he is coming up against a bloke many believe to be the best coach of the modern era. Can he get the better of him?
Gawn, Petracca, Oliver, Viney, May, Lever, Melksham, Langdon… the Dees have the cattle to really trouble the Hawks, but this one will be won in the coaches’ box.
Simon Goodwin… over to you.
WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH NORTH MELBOURNE?
They bomb the ball long into a forward line incapable of taking contested marks.
It’s that simple, really.
What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, right?
That’s what North are doing this season. Win the footy, run forward or sideways, kick long to a contest, watch the ball rebound the other way.
They are really missing Nick Larkey as Ben Brown looks like he is wearing concrete boots at times. He is not going to clunk marks in a pack – stop expecting him to. North need to lower the eyes, hit short targets and use the skill of players like Atley, Hall, Thomas and Dumont on the run.
Enough bombing long to 20 metres out. Short kicks to 55, play on and have shots from 45 out to reduce the effectiveness of the glut of players that congregate around Ben Brown. It might only work once or twice a game, but that’s once or twice more than bombing it long to contests worked this week.
Get imaginative, Rhyce Shaw!
HOW BIG IS THE LIONS V GIANTS GAME THIS WEEK?
Both teams coming off a loss and with both expected to be top four teams, a loss here would be very damaging, particularly to the Giants.
GWS sit in tenth place and if they fall to the Lions, could end up around 12-13 after Round Seven. Usually not that big a deal, but when I say there are ten rounds left following next week, I reckon the seeds of concern would start to sprout at Giants Stadium.
For the Lions, a top four finish is vital. They have won three times at home and lost their two on the road. They need a road win here to steady the ship and stop those seeds of doubt taking root in the mids of their players as well.
Can they only win at home? That’ll be the perception if they drop this one to the Giants.
This game is a monster.
IS ROUND SEVEN THE BEST ROUND OF FOOTY, ON PAPER, THIS YEAR?
It sure looks like it.
Cats v Pies to kick it off should be huge.
Bombers and the Dogs will be a belter.
Giants and Lions I just wrote about.
Carlton and Port will be a huge game.
The Derby is always highly entertaining.
And the others… well, I guess Hawthorn v Melbourne is important in the contest of any finals aspirations either team has. The Swans and Suns look to be evenly matched, and will either save or end Sydney’s year. The Tigers are looking to lay the Roos to rest. A win here and Richmond are well and truly back – a loss to North and they are cooked. Finally, the Monday night footy experiment sees the Saints take on the Crows – you’d think the Saints win here, but are the Crows a different prospect at home?
A heap of ripping games upcoming, some will even have decent crowds.
WHO ARE THE MOST UNDERRATED PLAYERS IN THE GAME?
This was sent in by a reader and I meant to include it in the winners and losers of the round column. Then I forgot, so I am attempting to make it up to him here.
So composed and feeds off the tough work of the Hurley/Hooker combination. Has really cemented his place in their defence this season.
Still prone to the odd error, I like the way he has progressed this season.gets to the right spots and seems especially prominent early in games.
A tackling machine. I am so pleased that he is getting meaningful midfield minutes with the Suns. his pressure around the footy is off the charts.
Was shaping up as the best wingman in the caper, and has since been moved to half back. Yeah, I don’t know why, either. A couple of his sneaky goals might come in handy when your team is struggling. Food for thought, Leon Cameron?
People have forgotten how good he is, and being stuck in a defence that is under siege probably doesn’t help. That said, he has been a pillar of strength fpr the Crows, and is definitely one to build around.
That’ll do – I could write about this stuff forever.
WHERE DOES OSCAR ALLEN FIT AMONGST THE BEST YOUNG PLAYERS IN THE GAME?
Right up the top.
He is playing third banana (a critically acclaimed part – very difficult to pull off) behind Jack Darling and Josh Kennedy, and is doing a bang up job of it.
Gaining more and more confidence, he is giving Eagles fans a look into the future of the West Coast forward line. With a goal and a half per game to his name, he has beautiful hands and there is a sense of complete composure when he has the footy in his hands.
He is a star in the making.
Wingman rankings coming tonight. Don’t miss out – become a Mongrel Member below and help us grow.