WAnt your Round Eight wrap up in a delicious form, with charred meat and garlic sauce and…. mmmmmm…. here’s Josef Mack’s Round Eight Takeaway Kebab…

 

Port Adelaide Power 12.14 86 def. Western Bulldogs 10.9 69

Friday night at the Adelaide Oval. Both teams DESPERATE for a win. Aaron Naughton vs Charlie Dixon Todd Marshall. Travis Boak vs Marcus Bontempelli Jack Macrae. Aliir Aliir vs Alex Keath Bailey Dale. Only one will emerge victorious.

The Power have quickly gotten their season back on track with a defensive masterclass against the injury-riddled Dogs. The turnover-producing game that Hawthorn produced on them earlier in the year was flipped on its head, as Port lost the inside fifties and the contest, but structured themselves beautifully to exploit the Bulldogs’ turnovers and give their forwards space in transition.

The Power took twenty-one marks inside fifty to nine as Ports back six covered beautifully in the air. The Bulldogs continued their struggle in producing the fast running attacking footy we all know they’re capable of (especially Port fans).

The one saving grace in their clogged forward fifty is big Naughto, who took three contested marks and kicked four goals two. Saying that, if it wasn’t for poor kicking by Port Adelaide, the margin would’ve looked a lot more comfortable.

After round five I wrote this about Port

They’ve made the road ahead very difficult, but I could still see them making finals from here. If they do want to make this late season resurgence, the one thing I would suggest is to simply kick the ball between the larger posts (the goals) rather than the smaller posts (the behinds).

Turns out I was wrong. The Power have continued to be pretty average in front of the sticks, they just stop their opponents from scoring as much.

There goes my career as an analyst, just keep kicking lots of behinds lads.

 

Fremantle Dockers 15.12 102 def. North Melbourne Kangaroos 3.6 24

The second match of the Friday night doubleheader was the matchup that caused the most intrigue leading into the game…well not actually. Freo stamped the fortress sign on Optus Stadium, demolishing the young Roos.

Despite some H/S outs, the Dockers continued their great start to the year with a defensively stifling performance. Flags are won through your defence, and the Freo back six bring the pain on sides.

Angus’s little brother continued his All-Australian form, but he’s getting help from the likes of Brodie, Serong and Aish, who together are quickly transforming into one of the league’s best midfields…also they still have some bloke named Nat Fyfe to come back.

Also, North Melbourne were apparently in this game, or as I’ve been calling them…Luke FC. Beyond Luke McDonald and Luke Davies-Uniacke, the Roos looked pretty hopeless around the park.

Credit largely has to go to Fremantle’s defensive stranglehold. However, considering their end to last season, plus the patches of games they’ve been able to put together this year, lapses in effort like we saw this match are disappointing from the Shinboners.

Noble would have been incensed after this performance, but he would also be biting his tongue. He gave his team an almighty spray after the game in Brisbane, and then apologised to some of the younger players afterwards.

I’m impartial to a spray, I think it can be effective at times. The thing is though, his players now know the anger he’s capable of, so the post-match address for this one would’ve had a certain undercurrent about it. Nobes has an edge…

…best not be serving that up again.

 

Richmond Tigers 17.11 113 def. Collingwood Magpies 12.14 86

Hey did you guys hear? Dustin Martin is back!

I saw some complaining from people on social media that commentators and the regular old media never shut up about Dusty. Occasionally it can get annoying, but let’s be real here, how can you not talk about this guy constantly?

The man is incredible to watch, and the footy community was thrilled to see him back out there slamming his gargantuan forearms into players’ chests…well, everyone except Pies fans.

He may have been upstaged on the flare front by his teammate, though. Maurice Rioli Jr. has continued his family’s domination of the AFL, quickly turning into one of the silkiest small forwards in the competition. I’m going to spread a completely unsubstantiated rumour true fact I’ve heard that he’s actually Cyril in a mask enacting his revenge on Hawthorn.

The Tigers out-classed the Pies who it must be said fought admirably to the final whistle. Collingwood cut the margin back to twenty-two despite it getting out to forty-seven midway through the final quarter.

Jack Ginnivan is also turning into a Rioli-esque player, kicking three snags from just five disposals. His good conversion around the sticks is needed by the Pies, who struggle for targets up-front.

With great contributions from the likes of All-Australian smokey Jack Crisp, the Magpies will be a real danger team this year, especially when Jack Madgen doesn’t play.

 

Sydney Swans 8.13 61 def by. Gold Coast Suns 10.15 75

Usually, when people point to franchises that are hated, they go with a rival or one of the big Melbourne clubs that everyone loves to hate – Collingwood, Richmond, etc.

Most teams though have those one or two teams that really get under their skin. They always manage to find a way to win. As a Cats fan, this team is the Sydney Swans. Christ, I hate them. It’s not like an actual hatred, I have a huge amount of respect for them as a franchise. Over the last couple of decades in particular they’ve been unbelievably successful – it’s just that they always bloody seem to beat us.

Swans fans aren’t immune from this either, and the pesky little monkey on their back is quickly becoming the Gold Coast Suns.

Over the last couple of years, the Suns have shown signs of greatness in the first half of years, before subsequently having all their players get injured. This early season form seems to always peak right around the time they play Sydney. Now you know how I feel Swans fans, that little stone in your shoe is actually Izak Rankine.

Gold Coast’s decent start to the season has been fueled by their midfield. Witts, Miller & Co. have been beasting teams at the fall of the ball, winning the clearances and the contested possession against a Swans team that’s not too shabby in that area themselves.

It may have looked like Matt ‘The Messiah’ Rowell continued his patchy start to this year with just the sixteen disposals…until you learn that fifteen of them were contested possessions to go along with seven clearances.

The usually hyperbolic Kane Cornes had a pretty good criticism of him earlier this year, saying that to truly become the player he seems capable of, he has to find ways to get some outside ball. But to be honest, I’m enjoying early career Rowell. He’s like an unpolished diamond if ,of course, diamonds could crash through packs and hunt the pill like a Benzo addict.

 

GWS Giants 4.11 35 def by. Geelong Cats 12.16 88

This game was the second-worst thing to come out of Canberra this weekend, after of course the leaders’ debate. The two teams played with a number behind the ball, leaving the forward opportunities few and far between.

Aged Care has been a big issue this election cycle and Chris Scott helped out the elderly Geelong side with an injection of young fellas. Cooper Stephens and Mitchell Knevitt both performed well, despite some shaky ball use at times. Guthrie the younger was also back, after appearing to have spent the last year being a total gym rat.

He led the game in intercept marks and contested marks, outmuscling the Giants across half-back. With Henry, Kola, Stewart, O’Connor, 2E, Atkins, Bews and even Duncan at times, Geelong are absolutely stacked with options off of half-back, but it’s going to be tough to drop Guthrie after his performance.

After his Blundstone Arena record against the Roos earlier this year, Jeremy Cameron continued his penchant for greatness at shit footy grounds, extending his margin as Manuka Oval’s leading goalkicker by five.

The Giants, on the other hand, looked completely stifled. At the contest both on the ground and in the air, the game was played to a tie. But the inability for the Giants to create any sort of overlap run or spread from the contest meant that they had to rely on clogged forward fifty entries to get their scores.

They are actually quite good at that though, with Jesse Hogan working hard up and down the ground all night. He was a microcosm however of the other issue the Giants faced, not converting his chances in front of the sticks.

Geelong have been known to do this to teams for years, so you would’ve hoped Jeremy Cameron’s dad Leon would’ve come up with something to get around that zone – namely running it through rather than letting the Cats intercept in the air.

Geelong had Quinton Narkle playing midfield minutes too, who is quite possibly the worst mid in the AFL at putting defensive pressure on the spread from the contest. Also, Manuka is a bloody wide oval (seriously it is wider than the MCG), and the Giants would know this because they play there the most. Plus their team is stacked with talent.

My point is, if I’m struggling to come up with excuses for Leon, let’s hope for his sake that the Giants board aren’t…

…guess they couldn’t.

 

Essendon Bombers 16.12 108 def. Hawthorn Hawks 11.15 81

I’ll let Herbatron take this one…

 

Brisbane Lions 16.9 105 def. West Coast Eagles 4.6 30

It’s hard to have a takeaway from this game. Brisbane did what they had to and that’s really all that can be said (also McCluggage is a superstar). When it comes to the Eagles though, you’re not really judging an AFL team…of course they were shit.

With all the ins and outs – mostly the outs – none of their units have any sort of connection with each other. The back six fought admirably, but that amount of forward fifty entries was bound to lead to a disaster eventually. Liam Ryan did his thing with the minuscule amount of ball he got, but other than that, West Coast were outclassed in every area.

This was a tough watch, I’d be depressed after this one if I was an Eagles player…

…could really go for a beverage…

…I wonder what the nightlife is like in Brisbane?

 

Melbourne Demons 14.9 93 def. St. Kilda Saints 8.7 55

Pre-game chatter was about how this was the Dees toughest challenge yet, considering their easier draw to start the year. The thing is, despite the dominant result, I still think that sentiment was true.

The Saints played really well, it’s just that the Demons played even… weller.

The commentators were on to the Saints for not transitioning the ball quickly enough but c’mon guys, the Sainters consistently had nowhere to go. Melbourne are so good at locking teams down, even the fast running St. Kilda were no match.

One of the things you forget as a fan when watching is just how important fitness and running is. If you run hard to defensively cover back, that’s one thing, but then when you do get the ball, that’s when you have to run even harder to make options.

Both these teams are some of the more elite sides at running, but one man in particular for the Dees is something else entirely.

Ed Langdon played one hundred percent of game time, running 16.4 kilometres. This included twenty-four sprints and four repeat sprints. This would put him a whole thirty-three minutes off of world record pace for fifteen kilometres, so pretty pathetic effort in the end.

Saying that, I reckon Jacob Kiplimo might have been a bit slower if he racked up thirty-nine touches and eight marks along the way.

 

Carlton Blues 17.14 116 def. Adelaide Crows 10.8 68

After sticking with the Blues for a half, the Crows succumbed to a barnstorming second half barrage. The performance put Adelaide fans’ feet firmly back on the ground, reminding them that they’re still a young team in a rebuilding phase after their spate of surprise wins/close losses to start the season.

I wrote about Carlton earlier this week so I’ll skip most of the structural analysis here. But when the Blues really get rolling on teams, it’s absolutely astonishing to watch. They walk through the opposition like a knife through hot butter and pile on the goals. It suddenly feels like there are three Patrick Cripps on the field. I’m pretty confident in one passage of play I saw him clear it from half-back, kick it to himself in the corridor, then mark his own kick in the forward fifty – absolute freak.

This game also put a rubber stamp on the late-career resurgence of Ed Curnow. Vossy has flipped the script on the midfielder/half-forward, turning him into one of the comps premier key position big men. To add to his revitalization, the thirty-two-year-old has also grown back his hair!

I don’t know what product he’s using but it’s an absolute miracle worker…expect a knock on the door from WADA Ed.

 

You can find more from Josef at his Substack located here: https://josefmack.substack.com/

 

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