1. Jordan de Goey may not reappear this year.

 

On Thursday night in the clash with Geelong, one man was the difference. In a scintillating display, Jordan de Goey put on a clinic, booting five of Collingwood’s eight goals against, what it must be said, was a pretty lacklustre display by the Cats who seem to be really struggling to find consistency on a weekly basis.

During the third term however, de Goey damaged his finger but played out the game, seemingly unhampered in what they may have thought was an innocuous injury. It turns out that surgery is required and there’s every possibility that he may miss the entire home and away fixture but could return come finals time.

It would seem the Pies can’t take a trick this year with the Sidebottom saga and other off-field dramas, yet they somehow see themselves sitting third on the ladder. And their defence once again held a team to less than 40 points for the fifth time this season. The only concern is on the two occasions they’ve allowed oppositions to break the 40-barrier, they’ve lost both games.

 

  1. Tim English has arrived.

 

The signs were very good last year with Tim English. This year, however, he seems to have most facets of his game covered. On Friday night the Bulldogs ruckman amassed 22 disposals and took 12 marks. He also booted a goal and even managed to lay 4 tackles. His mobility around the ground proved too much for his opposing number in Andrew Phillips, who, despite having the better of English in the hitouts department, was nowhere near as influential.

A lot of the Doggies’ fortunes for the remainder of the season do rest on the young man’s shoulders, but from what I’ve seen so far this year, he looks much more at home at the top level and seems a more rounded and consistent player.

That said, I’m still not sure of the Western Bulldogs as a whole. Their best is very good, but they’ve put in a couple of very sub-par performances as well. The next few weeks will determine whether or not they contend. As for the Bombers, they’ll need to find some firepower pretty quickly. They got it forward enough times but couldn’t seem to finish it off. Where’s Joe Daniher at right now?

 

  1. The Brisbane Lions can win away from the Gabba.

 

So my knock on the Lions so far in 2020 is that they’d won all their games at the Gabba, their home patch. And outside of that venue they’ve been quite average to be honest. So to see them take on the Giants in Western Sydney and win comfortably was a great sign.

Once again the Giants only entered their forward 50 just 34 times. It seems these highly skilled GWS players are hell-bent on finding the perfect option rather than using their speed to surge forward with long options where Cameron, Himmelberg or Finlayson could take a contested mark.

Many thought after last year’s embarrassing Grand Final display that the Giants would own the Top 4 and be one of the favourites to win the premiership, but this style of play is not going to get them there. Brisbane entered their forward 50 on 56 occasions. Even though star onballer Lachie Neale had the competition’s premier tagger in Matt de Boer keeping him to a modest 20 disposals, when he wasn’t getting his hands on the ball, there was McLuggage, Jarrod Berry and Lyons doing their bit.

Brisbane almost certainly will play finals. They seem pretty even all over the park. GWS are a bit of a mystery for me. Something seems off. Another loss this week and it’s almost curtains for season 2020.

 

  1. You can have a little faith in the Gold Coast Suns.

 

It’s not very often that the Gold Coast Suns go into a match as favourites, but that’s exactly what happened in their clash against Sydney despite it being played at the SCG. I had some doubts going into the game. The Suns started the season very well, but their last two losses, whilst not disastrous, still opened up the possibility of them dropping in confidence and losing games we all thought they should win. So if I was a gambler, I wouldn’t have put any money on this game as it was hard to know how reliable or otherwise Gold Coast is. So it was pleasing to see things go to the script.

Sydney battled hard, but they are an undermanned unit. The Suns took control of the game early, Sydney came at them, but the Suns steadied and regained control in what was a fairly comfortable win in the end – as expected. They face the Bulldogs this week in what looms to be a fairly exciting match that could go either way. There’s massive stakes for the winner who’ll find themselves 5-3 at the end of Round Eight. Sydney, on the other hand, take on another struggling club in Hawthorn. I think that game might be an indication of which of the two teams will make up part of the bottom four.

 

  1. The Kangaroos seem to have fallen off a cliff.

 

It certainly seems now as though the honeymoon is well and truly over for Rhyce Shaw. He would’ve been feeling good after knocking off the Giants in Round Two after a win in Round One against the Saints, but that’s where it’s all come apart. In their five straight losses since, they’ve only averaged just 45.6 points, with the low point coming on Saturday night where they managed just 23 points against a side starting to find their way again in Richmond.

Losing key players in Ziebell and Cunnington certainly hasn’t helped. Rhyce Shaw himself said after the match that there wasn’t enough blokes “rowing the boat”. I guess that’s a fancy way of saying there’s too many passengers, but I’m just wondering if the boat is actually seaworthy at present. Their inability to hit targets on the weekend was concerning, and they’ll have to improve on that dramatically to have any chance of beating a relatively in-form Carlton outfit this Saturday.

I expect them to come out steaming. This same game last year saw a struggling Roos side come up against a Carlton team seeking a rare win against what appeared to be a struggling opponent, but on that occasion the game was over at quarter time with the Kangaroos in complete control in what was a brutal display that may have put the nail in the coffin of then coach Brendon Bolton. This week is definitely the Kangaroos’ last chance to push for any success in 2020.

 

  1. Every Carlton supporter knew Robbie Gray would not miss.

 

Forget about all the what-if scenarios like why did Gibbons kick it down the line with 40 seconds to go, or why didn’t one of the Blues’ big men make a better contest and bring it to ground on the wing. That’s one of the painful parts when a loss like this happens.

As a Blues man myself, even though five minutes earlier, Robbie Gray missed a set shot from closer in and on a slightly easier angle, my heart sank when he took that mark in front of a desperate Lachie Plowman. He’s a great player, and he’s got the experience. That steely look in his eye was there, and as much as I wanted the footy gods to make the ball veer offline in flight, I called it as soon as he struck it. And with that one last gasp effort, Port sit atop the ladder a game clear, while Carlton languish in 11th.

Carlton supporters can definitely take heart. They’re no longer easybeats and they can just about beat anyone on the day, but as is the case with sides who’ve been down for so long, a little bit of composure lacks at times, and in that last quarter when the Power were coming, the Blues were merely hanging on for dear life rather than taking the game on and racing down the other end to score. Hopefully some valuable lessons were learnt on the weekend.

And as good as they are, are Port the best side in the competition? There’s a lot more that has to happen before we can call that, and boy do a lot of their fortunes ride on Charlie Dixon who is so hard to stop when in full flight. I’m sure Liam Jones will be having nightmares for months.

 

  1. Christian Petracca is now elite.

 

It has taken this kid a little longer than Melbourne FC may have hoped for him to develop into the player that we all thought he was, but he’s finally here and, when he’s in top form, he has a major say in whether they win or lose. In all their three wins this year he’s been close to best afield, averaging 26 disposals and hitting the scoreboard. His figures are no worse in their losses.

Finally, we see in Petracca, consistency and an ability to have an impact on the game. The Dees all of a sudden sit mid table with three wins and a game in hand. After their slow start we’re all talking about Simon Goodwin’s job and the 2018 season being a flash in the pan. Aside from Petracca, it’s good to see Sam Weideman getting a chance and hitting the scoreboard. One of their issues earlier in the year was finding a viable target near goal to kick to. With Weideman playing well, they may trouble a few more teams than first thought, and a win this week will put them right into the mix, although they take on the inform Lions.

The Hawks are a concern. You know they’re going bad when Clarkson seems to talk about anything but their onfield woes. A couple weeks ago it was the holding the ball interpretation. This week he’s defending the recruiting strategy. If they lose to Sydney on Saturday, what will it be then?

 

  1. The Dockers are still the poor cousin of the West.

 

I guess if you take any team’s best player out they’re going to struggle. The absence of Nat Fyfe was big. During the third quarter it seemed the Dockers were fighting back, but they just couldn’t score. I’m sure Matty Taberner, despite finishing with two goals, would like his time back again when he was run down in the goal square during the first quarter. You often find in games where an incident like that happens early on, the player it happens to is invariably on the losing team and it may well have set the tone for the evening.

Josh Kennedy starred in his 250th with four goals. Many have been writing him off beyond this year. It’s hard to say how he’s holding up, but he looked all right on Sunday! I’ve noticed that the Eagles have now won the Western Derby ten times in a row. In fact, you need to go back all the way to April 19, 2015 for the last time Freo beat West Coast.

Fremantle are a side that is in some sort of a rebuild phase, so I imagine that streak of ten looks likely to continue into 2021 at least.

 

  1. Dan Butler is fast becoming the premier small forward of the comp.

 

I’ve decided to focus on St Kilda as I’m running out of words to describe the woes at the Adelaide Crows Football Club. And I’d like to dip my lid to Dan Butler. He was very good at Richmond I felt, and perhaps a little unlucky not to be in their best 22 more regularly. I was fairly certain that he’d prove to be valuable to the Saints, and he hasn’t let me down. He’s averaging two goals a game and sits third on the goalkicking table. But it’s his speed and team play that impresses me the most. When he’s near the ball you know something good is going to happen.

The Blues made a play for him at one point last year, but went cold for some reason. Sure, they secured an aging Eddie Betts who’s definitely been serviceable, but you can’t help but wonder if the right choice was made or if getting both was possible. Either way, Butler, Jones, Howard and Hill have definitely made an impact at their new club, but how big remains to be seen. But for me personally, I get a bit of a buzz watching Dan doing his thing.

 

  1. Will the 2020 season finish or will COVID-19 intervene?

 

So the AFL have now decided to try and condense the season slightly to beat the pandemic? Is that how to read this? To the footy lover, having a game to watch every day, especially if you’re locked down, is a bit of a bonus. But are we pushing the proverbial uphill? Is it even worth continuing this season? I mean, let’s face it, if it gets into Queensland, and you’d almost have to think it will, that’d be it I’d imagine.

I’m pretty sure if it gets to that stage the WA Premier won’t be keen to bring in 600 potential carriers into his state. I guess he could always put them up in a 5-star hotel and get some cheap-ass contract security firm to watch them. I imagine, at least in this case, that these security guards won’t be quite as interested in sexual favours with burly AFL players in exchange for a Maccas run or a bit of freedom, although in this modern era everyone is catered for… OK, that’s a cheap shot I know, but we all have to wonder if this season is actually going to make it.

It already appears as though two states are out. What happens next and where this thing will be in a month from now is anyone’s guess. I have my own thoughts about the politicisation of this pandemic, but this is a footy page, so I’ll just leave it there.

 

Round Seven Wingman Rankings