1. The Saints kicked themselves out of the game

Teams hovering around the middle rungs on the ladder that are trying to make their way up have to take every opportunity in order to win games. Sadly, St Kilda blew several with their incredibly wayward kicking, eventually going down to Geelong by 21 points despite having four more shots on goal and three more inside 50’s for the match. This is what separates the good teams from the mediocre ones. Geelong managed ten goals from their 18 shots on goal while the Saints’ inaccuracy meant they only managed five goals from their 22 shots. Bad kicking is bad football as they say.

Sadly for Max King, who is no doubt an emerging star of the competition, he was the worst offender with 1.5 missing some fairly simple chances. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Geelong, on the other hand, weren’t at their best, so they’ll be pleased to walk away with the four points. Their potent forward line was well held in comparison to last week as Jeremy Cameron only scored a single goal and Hawkins managed just two. The Saints’ defence performed admirably but would have been disheartened that more of their hard work didn’t end up with the desired result at the other end.

The Saints face the Dogs, Roos and Swans in the coming three weeks. It’ll be a big test for them, and hopefully, they can address the yips in front of goal to give them a chance at success. The Cats have the Suns and the Pies followed by the mid-season bye. I suspect they’ll be nicely placed at 8-3 after 11 rounds and will feel very much on track for a genuine tilt.

 

2. The Pies need goalkickers

It was another lean day for the Magpies on the scoreboard, posting the lowest score of the round for the second time this year. They’re number four for lowest points scored in the league. I think it’s a certainty that all of the effort during trade period will be to land a noted goalkicker or two. You can’t go three quarters of football for a return of 1.10 and expect to compete against the better teams. This year is well and truly done for Collingwood. What that means for the future of Nathan Buckley is something only those inside the club would know. My money’s on this being his last year, but anything is possible.

As for the Swans, they really are a great club. Their last couple of seasons have not been their best, but unlike the battling clubs who seem to be in a perpetual rut, they’re now in genuine contention to play finals in an improvement nobody saw coming.

And how good is Callum Mills going this year? Another stellar performance might see him snag three votes, and I’m starting to think of him as a smoky for the Brownlow. Sydney’s young list may tire as the year wears on, but whatever happens, those kids can play and the future is bright.

 

3. Is this the lowest point for Clarkson at the Hawks?

There were many in the media this week posing the question as to what a loss to the winless Kangaroos would mean for Alistair Clarkson’s coaching prospects at Hawthorn. Nobody is suggesting the club would move him on, but the question is whether or not he’ll want to stay on and endure a five to six year process of bringing his team back up to the standard he’d like them to be. By that stage he would’ve been at the club in excess of 20 years and pushing 60 years of age. There are a few clubs better placed for finals action that would be pretty keen to acquire his services.

Most of us were happy to see North Melbourne get a win, even if it meant I only tipped eight winners instead of nine. This will give them much-needed hope and they’re definitely playing better footy in these last few weeks. I don’t get a sense of how highly or otherwise Jy Simpkin is rated, but my impression is he flies under the radar. I believe he’s a seriously good footballer and was clearly best afield in this win with 38 possessions that set up many plays. The good thing for North is the monkey is off their back and they can now focus on playing the games week by week with the prospect of a few more wins to come, and perhaps a chance to lift themselves off the bottom.

 

4. The Q Clash was more interesting when Brisbane were a struggling team.

Whilst the Suns have shown glimpses of being more competitive this year, it came as no surprise to me that they were brushed aside with ease by a rampant Brisbane Lions team who now seem to have really found their groove for season 2021. It all seems to be working well for them, whether we’re talking about the good form of prize recruit Joe Daniher, a more consistent Charlie Cameron after his slow start to the year, or even an in form McStay booting four goals and finally delivering on his promise.

Under a terrific coach, the Lions seem a well-oiled machine and look as though they’ll be in the mix come the end of the year. That said, they have a testing three weeks in front of them, so plenty will be revealed by Round 12.

The Suns were simply outclassed in every aspect of the game on Saturday night. When your team has twelve players who failed to get more than ten possessions, you’re going to get the hiding that the Suns did. Rising Star Izak Rankine managed just five possessions, and there may be growing concerns with his form. We all know the kid can play but he is very young. Perhaps a week finding some touch at the lower level may get him back on track. Life won’t get any easier against the Cats next week.

 

5. Dusty can change the course of a game like no other

The Tigers looked gone. Once again, as was the case in last year’s Grand Final and many other games, Martin decided to impose himself on the match to almost singlehandedly drag his team across the line in a tight finish. One would be hard-pressed to find another player with that unique ability to lift his whole team. When they were down by 28 points midway through the third term, it looked as though the Giants had total control of the game, but Dusty wasn’t having any of it.

This win still keeps the Tigers in touch, but a big challenge looms against the Lions next week. They’ll need Dusty at his best to inspire his teammates to take the points.

The Giants will be ruing this one. The game was in their keeping and a much-needed win on the road against a quality opponent would’ve really brought them back into the fray of a potential finals berth. Jesse Hogan has found his mojo again, but we’re still yet to see him really take a game on for the full four quarters. I believe it will come, and I also believe Collingwood will be kicking themselves for not having a red-hot go at securing his services as I imagine he’d be just what they need. They have to beat the Eagles at home next week to stay in the race.

 

6. The Dogs really flexed their muscle

A win against Port at home is a rare feat indeed. They lost there in last year’s preliminary final to the eventual premiers, but prior to that, they hadn’t lost a home game since Round 19 in 2019 to GWS by a single point. This is a big deal.

The Bulldogs have really come to play in 2021. Led by arguably the best captain in the competition in Marcus Bontempelli with another 26 disposals and two goals, they’re always going to trouble even the best sides. Perhaps the Bont is second to Dusty in his ability to inspire his team to victory, but for now, there’s still a bit of daylight between them, although that may change by the time the Bulldogs skipper hangs up his boots. Port Power will lick their wounds knowing they weren’t terrible but were just playing against a better side on the day.

I’m liking the season of Ollie Wines. He did his best, as did the evergreen Boak, who at 32 years of age is showing no signs of aging. A win against the Pies next week seems likely, although they should wear the prison bars for fun. The following week is against the Dockers at home. All is not lost, and it seems Port Adelaide will be at the right end of the ladder come the end of the season.

 

7. That was a mark to Rory Lobb

I know it’s not practical, but do we need a third umpire for the howlers to stop these close games more or less being decided by a poor decision late in the game? Rory Lobb’s mark was a clear mark. And the subsequent shot for goal could have leveled the scores. Does anybody see a problem with play being allowed to go on for a few seconds while the third umpire in the stands can contact the onfield umpire and say stop the game and award the mark? Or similarly, as was the case with Jeremy Cameron at the MCG or the Zac Bailey holding the ball decision at GMHBA Stadium? These three instances were all obvious howlers, and all three had a major bearing on the result. Some will say Lobb’s mark was not a mark, but we’ve seen worse paid than that one. It was a mark.

The Dockers woes on the road continue. You have to be able to win anywhere, and the Dockers have managed just one from five. With all that in mind, Essendon’s ability to hang in there when Fremantle were pushing hard in the second and third quarters was a credit to their determination. They just wanted it more, and we can all see how good their young stars will be. Essendon have a chance to go back to back against North Melbourne next week, although they wouldn’t want to take that lightly.

 

8. The Blues are just no good without the ball

You couldn’t get two more polarised defence outfits than what we saw on Sunday at the MCG. At one end you had the duo of May and Lever at the fall of almost every incoming kick into Carlton’s forward line, while at the other end it seemed as though the defenders were often out of position resulting in a few easy goals that ultimately proved to be the difference on the scoreboard by the end of the game.

The fact is, with ball in hand, even with the disposal errors that the Blues are guilty of from time to time, they look pretty good. But the problem is what they don’t do when the other team has it. And that includes reading the play and getting back to help their mates. Blues fans are wondering if it is the coaching directives driving this issue, or whether it’s individuals on the field not playing their role to the best of their ability. Either way, Carlton’s already fifteen-plus-year rebuild looks set to last another few more years.

The Demons can rightfully be happy with their 9-0 start to the season. They’ve won most games comfortably and this was no exception. It looks as though they have a very good system in place, and Max Gawn leads the way as another great captain supplying Oliver and Petracca with his A-grade ruckwork. The game against the Bulldogs on Friday May 28 looms as the game of the year so far. We’re all waiting for the Dees to falter at some point, but perhaps that’s just not going to happen this time.

 

9. The second-quarter proved to be a Darling for West Coast

Playing well is one thing, but playing brilliantly when the game is in the balance is what the stars do. Jack Darling is having an awesome year. It was a credit to the Crows, who challenged early, until Jack decided to take the game by the scruff of the neck booting five goals all in the second term to give the Eagles the breathing space that they hung onto till the final siren to eventually run out five goal winners, funnily enough.

He was unstoppable and is in great form. When you also have the other tall forwards in Kennedy and Allen with three apiece, it certainly makes it hard for opposition teams to have the better of you. Most sides would see a forward line with three talls as being a bit crowded, but I think I’m warming to the idea.

Adelaide tried hard to bridge the gap for the second half but the Eagles had all the answers. The absence of Taylor Walker is hurting them no doubt. The Crows will be disappointed having now lost five in a row, and it won’t get any easier for them as they face Melbourne next week, followed by the Tigers. After being 3-1 early and daring to dream, I’d say we can put a line through the Crows for this year.

 

10. Do we really need cameras in the clubrooms?

The de Goey incident is all over the news. It might be time to leave the clubrooms alone. Every year now we’re seeing an insignificant incident between players more or less being silly with no malice coming out in this way. The real issue should be whether Quaynor is concerned about it or not. If he has a problem, then let’s address that. If he has no issue with it, that’s where it should end, and perhaps the issue of having players being filmed before a game in the rooms should basically be scrapped.

I don’t know what intrinsic value it adds to the spectacle of watching a game of football anyway. I even feel that when an injured player goes down to the room for treatment and it’s shown on my television that it’s a bit on the intrusive side. Some of you reading this may disagree, and that’s fine. I’m not going to use the “boys will be boys” argument. I personally wouldn’t act in this way. For all we know, Isaac and Jordan are very good mates and he’s fine with it.

Kane Cornes made a valid point that being silly prior to a game while your coach is addressing you when your season is on the line is bad form, but if so much attention was not put on this, we wouldn’t be speaking about it at all. And who knows what all these former players now in the media did behind closed doors that we don’t know about? Aren’t we all just a little bit sick and tired of every aspect of what these guys do and say being splashed all over the media? I know I am.

Like I said, if Isaac has a problem, let it be heard. Oh, and I have heard some put a racial spin on this too. That’s all we need…