1. THE TIGERS ARE NOT DONE WITH YET

In an ugly first half, those who’d begun writing off the Tigers as a genuine premiership threat during the week would’ve been thinking things were going to the script up to half time. But we all saw what happened in the second half, and it appears Tom Lynch may have answered the criticism thrown his way in the lead-up to the game with three vital second-half majors. Bachar Houli is just ten days shy of his 33rd birthday and shows no sign of ageing while youngster Shai Bolton was also instrumental in reviving his side after the long break. The game against Geelong next week shapes up to be a beauty!

The Doggies will rue letting this one slip, but once the Tigers machine roared into action they simply had no answers. They managed just 2.4 (16) in the last two quarters while the Tigers piled on 9.3 (57), a whopping 41 point turnaround. It’s hard to know if we can put this one down to the Dogs being “due for a loss” after being up and about throughout the first six rounds, or were they just not quite able to rise to the heights on the big stage?

Next week they take on the Blues who are coming off a win and have given the Bulldogs some stiff competition in recent years. A win next week will steady the ship, but a loss will be a momentum-killer.

 

2. CAN COLLINGWOOD’S SEASON GET ANY WORSE?

Well, the simple answer is YES! A loss to the struggling Kangaroos next week and there’ll be microwaved Magpies membership cards aplenty. We saw the Kangaroos put up a competitive showing against the undefeated Demons, and although they eventually lost by 30 points, they’ll go into next week’s game believing they’re some sort of chance.

The club have come out in defence of Nathan Buckley as coach, but unless they believe he is the man to steer them through a rebuild, I can’t see him being there next year. The problems at Collingwood appeared to have begun in the bizarre off-season trade period. We were all scratching our heads at the time, but I imagine most of us couldn’t imagine they’d be 1-6 at this stage of the season.

A win for the Suns in Melbourne will do wonders for the group. They’re certainly not a common occurrence. Perhaps now some of us may start to take notice of the talent on their list. Greenwood and Miller in the middle were superb, and Josh Corbett had a breakout game with four majors. They take on the inconsistent Saints at Metricon next week. If they were to win that, it would be three in a row after a super impressive performance against the Swans last week. It would also force the rest of the competition to do their homework when playing Gold Coast as they may no longer be easybeats. Next week’s game will be a real test for both sides.

 

3. THE CROWS OF 2020 MAY BE BACK

After what was a promising start in season 2021 for Adelaide, it seems that the honeymoon may be over. They’ve now lost three in a row and play Port Adelaide, West Coast (in Perth) and Melbourne in their next three matches. On form, it seems likely they’ll slump to 3-7 and find themselves in the mix for a bottom four position. Their last six quarters of football have yielded just six goals and it seems as though they’ve forgotten where the big sticks are booting 4.15 on the weekend. If they were to win one of the next three it would be an almighty effort, but I just can’t see it happening, and there appears to be an unhealthy reliance on Tex to score in order for them to compete.

The Giants look as though they’ve shaken off their indifferent start to the year. Jesse Hogan looks to be back on track as a Giant kicking 4 goals in his return game. All of a sudden the loss of Jeremy Cameron doesn’t seem like such a big deal any more. Hogan and Himmelberg combined for 7 goals between them and have sent a strong message to the rest of the competition. GWS take on Essendon at home in Round 8, followed by games against Richmond and West Coast. We’ll certainly find out a lot more about them over the coming weeks.

 

4. WILL THE REAL ST KILDA PLEASE STAND UP?

Their best is as good as anyone, but it seems their worst is equally as bad. Their wins have been emphatic, as have their losses. It’s really hard to know which St Kilda is going to show up week to week. The coaching staff must be at their wits end trying to figure out how to get them to produce their best. It was on display this week, and the much-maligned Brad Hill had a great return to form, while Zak Jones had 24 possessions to half time finishing with 37 for the match in a dominant display.

Perhaps Hawthorn entering the game without O’Meara, Burgoyne and Wingard didn’t help the losing team, but the ease with which St Kilda were able to move the ball will still be concerning for Clarkson. The Hawks would’ve entered this clash believing victory was within reach, but the Saints had control of the game very early on and the game was pretty much over by quarter-time when the margin was 34 points and the Hawks had failed to score. From then it was just a game in which Hawthorn tried to save face from the embarrassment of the opening term. Clarkson’s men look certain to miss the finals.

There has certainly been some positives such as the emergence of Koschitzke and Jiath, but one wonders if the four-time premiership coach is up for another rebuild after 17 years in the job.

 

5. BRISBANE HAVE FOUND THEIR MOJO

It was a sluggish start for the Lions this year, but it’s plain to see that they are somewhere near their best once again on the back of three wins in a row and an in-form Charlie Cameron. After a solid performance against Carlton at Marvel Stadium last Saturday were we saw the return of the “motorbike”, he backed it up with 4 goals against Port Adelaide and was giving it the full throttle once again, although somebody needs to tell Charlie that when revving a motorbike you only need one hand, not two. That would mean he’d be revving and braking at the same time. The last thing Brisbane need now is to put on the brakes as they venture to Perth next week (Covid-permitting) to take on the Dockers. I’m sure Chris Fagan doesn’t want to see any loss of momentum at this precarious stage of the season.

Port Adelaide were insipid for the most part. They had more inside-50’s (58-55) than Brisbane but their forward line just wasn’t functioning as it has been in their better performances this year and managed just five majors for the match. None of their key forwards managed a goal, nor did small forward Orazio Fantasia who leads the club’s goal-kicking so far with 14. The real concern for me is the indifferent form of Charlie Dixon. He’s well down on his best kicking just two behinds for the match and has only managed ten goals in seven games. Perhaps he’s playing a little further up the field but I feel he’s way more dangerous inside the arcs. And the Brisbane defence was unstoppable. After lowering his colours to Harry McKay the previous round, Harris Andrews was in his All-Australian form once more not letting anything through. I expect the Power to come out breathing fire in the showdown next week and chalk up a win against their struggling cross-town rivals.

 

6. THE KICK MARKED BY JEREMY CAMERON TRAVELLED 22M!!!

With less than twenty seconds remaining, and with the Cats trailing by two points, a scrappy kick out of a pack which was marked by Jeremy Cameron just seven metres from goal on an angle and was subsequently deemed under 15m. It seems the AFL umpiring department have since come out and apologised saying the decision was incorrect and that the ball had, in fact, travelled approximately 22m.

One could easily think this was karma on the back of another bad decision that actually went Geelong’s way in their clash with Brisbane, but the reality is that we don’t want to be getting any future apologies for decisions that cost teams four points. It’s fairly certain the spearhead forward would’ve converted the kick for goal. Imagine if this was in a final. This, by no means, takes anything away from Sydney’s victory. Their incredible grit and determination to stay in that game whilst trailing in most statistical areas is a testament to their strength and resolve as a club determined to stay in finals’ contention.

Geelong possessed the ball 80 more times and had the ball inside their forward 50 a staggering 26 more times than the Swans. In the end, they were wasteful booting 12.16 to a far more accurate and efficient 14.6. Whilst the decision at the end of the game was a howler, the fact is that the Cats should’ve had the game sewn up much earlier but failed to capitalise on their opportunities. This week they face the Tigers and would certainly want to be less wasteful.

 

7. IS KYSAIAH THE NEW CYRIL?

He’s quick, very skilful, can tackle and has endurance. He booted three against the Roos and now has 14 goals for the season, putting him right up there with all the small forwards of the competition. And, just like Cyril, he has that X-factor where you know that when he’s near the ball something is about to happen. That said, the Dees had to work very hard to shake off the Roos in this one. Even a career-high six goals from Bailey Fritsch wasn’t enough to put them out of business till late in the game.

It’s hard to know whether it was an improved Kangaroo performance or a down day for the Demons. They take on the Swans at home next week. Can they keep on rolling and go 8-0? North Melbourne will take heart from this showing. They presented a challenge to the top team who came into the game undefeated. Next week they face a struggling Collingwood who’ve had just the one win. I imagine the talk at training this week will be about how the Pies are gettable.

For me, it’s no coincidence that their improved prospects are in line with the returning Ben Cunnington who was superb with 35 touches and his poise under pressure. He seems to be finding his touch after missing a lot of football and is possibly the most important player on their list at the moment. It’s hard to know if they can challenge Collingwood, but if they were to win, it might go down as the day Nathan Buckley lost his job…

 

8. ESSENDON SUPPORTERS MIGHT BE FEELING A BIT SAAD

It’s always interesting how players go when playing against their former team for the first time. As expected, every time Adam Saad went near the ball he was met with a chorus of boos from the Essendon faithful. But by the end of the game I’m sure that Adam had the last laugh, not just because of the win, but because of his 21 disposals and run off half-back that were a key ingredient in setting up a Blues victory. Since coming over he’s been a solid contributor, and today was one of his best games in the navy blue.

Sam Walsh would’ve taken best on ground honours with his stunning display and relentless attack on the ball. Blues fans have already nominated the 21 year old as the next captain in waiting.

Essendon had their chances. They certainly won the clearances and had more inside 50’s than the Blues, but a lack of experience from the young list is probably why the result didn’t go their way. With that in mind, the games the Bombers are getting into kids like Cox, Jones, Perkins and co will prove invaluable in the future. Many Essendon fans are losing patience with their lack of success and finals appearances in recent years, but it does look like they’ve uncovered a few gems and the future isn’t so bleak at Windy Hill. And Jake Stringer is back to his best.

 

9. WILL FREMANTLE EVER SHAKE THE LITTLE BROTHER TAG?

Coming into this game, many pundits backed the Dockers in to beat the Eagles after their huge loss to the Cats last week. And for the first half, it seemed a possibility that they may do the job. But it wasn’t to be.

West Coast, after leading at half time by 13 points, blew the game open in the third quarter with six goals to two before adding three more in the last while keeping the Dockers goalless. The fadeout would’ve disappointed Longmuir greatly, and it demonstrates that the Dockers are still a long way off. There’s plenty to like as Brayshaw continues to rack up possessions while Mundy and Fyfe are always reliable, but the Eagles just had too many guns up forward benefitting from the silky skills of their midfield giving them silver service.

When the Eagles are on, it’s hard to see how anyone can beat them which makes last week’s huge loss all the more baffling. Tim Kelly has well and truly found his best with 42 possessions in a best on ground performance. The Eagles season looks on track for now. Their next two games should see wins against the Hawks and the Crows. That will set up a nice launching pad for a tilt at a finals berth.

The Dockers play Brisbane at home next week, followed by the Bombers in Melbourne. They’ll need to play four quarters to beat the Lions, and their Melbourne form has been well below par. They’ll need to win at least one of those games to stay in touch.

 

10. IT’S GOOD TO SEE A GAME WHERE BOTH SIDES SCORED OVER 100

The Carlton v Essendon game saw 35 goals scored and a total of 230 points. It definitely makes for better viewing, and it also allows players skills to shine through when the game is free-flowing. I was a huge doubter of the latest on the mark rule change, but it has worked. I’m almost thinking it has worked by accident, because at no stage when the rule was introduced did anybody say it would help with the flow of the game. At least, I never heard that explanation. If that was the aim, then those who devised the rule are borderline genius.

And the other rule which was introduced a while back that I think I like is the 6-6-6 rule. In the last quarter of the Blues v bomber game, as Essendon were trying desperately to make a late surge to snatch the win – back in the old days the Blues would’ve stacked the back line with a minute to go and two goals would’ve been instantly impossible. Even though I’m a Blues man who was on the edge of my seat, I still liked the fact that all players had to be in position for the centre bounce giving the Bombers the chance to score from a quick clearance.

Thankfully for me, my Blues hung on. The less flooding and rolling malls we see, the better it is for the game. Now please AFL – you finally got it right this time. Let’s leave it alone now…