Welcome ladies, gentlemen and all others inclusive to this week’s edition of Jimmy’s Mongrel Preview!

Have we all recovered from the shock and awe that was Round 9? I tell you what, Sekem ought to start sewing pockets into the player’s shorts, that way they may be less likely to show a little emotion in a mentally tolling game and move their arms outwards too quickly in a form of ‘dissent’.

Anyway, enough about that. I’m sure we’re in for a harmonious round where everybody gets along and nobody needs to criticise the umpiring because there won’t be any howlers. I’m also sure that I just saw Porky flying across the sky….

 

 

Teams:

Carlton vs Sydney

 

Venue:

Marvel Stadium

 

Snapshot:

Carlton have made it another three in a row after their rousing victory over a fast-finishing Giants outfit in Leon Cameron’s final game as coach, beating the boys from Blacktown by 30 points. I read a stat prior to the game that was something to the tune of Carlton having only won two of their past 26 games in Sydney stemming back to about 1996. The Swans snapped their two games losing streak in emphatic style, dismantling a disappointing Bombers outfit to the tune of 58 points, a margin that should have been higher if not for some errant kicking, but a brilliant display from the Swans nonetheless.

 

So what does it all mean?

The Swans have beaten the Blues in four of their last five encounters at Marvel Stadium. They currently sit fifth on the ladder, edged out by Carlton at fourth thanks to an extra win, however the percentage of the Swans is far superior to that of the Blues, meaning that a loss will cause the two sides to switch places and massively shake up the top four. They will follow up this week’s festivities with another Friday night blockbuster next week against the Tigers at the SCG, followed by a trip to the MCG to take on the Demons in what will be a huge test for this Sydney outfit. The Blues will face a grudge match against their old rival Collingwood at the MCG before having the week off for the bye.

 

It’s a big week for:

The Top Eight

Every now and then we’re treated to a round that just so happens to bear a huge weight on the standings of the ladder. This week is one such occasion. After some drastic changes last week, our top four is now Melbourne two games clear on top, Brisbane a game clear in second with a very healthy percentage, then Fremantle and Carlton sitting equal on points in third and fourth respectively, except the Dockers hold a 25.1% advantage. Wins to either Richmond or Geelong paired with a loss to Sydney or St. Kilda will see even more switching and leapfrogging inside the top eight. Whilst hypothetically, if the Bulldogs are able to beat the Suns by a strong enough margin and either Geelong or Richmond falter, then the Bulldogs could find themselves back inside the eight, funnily enough. It’ll be a huge round in ramifications for the sides currently in 1-10.

 

Last time they met:

These two sides met at the SCG in Round 11 of last season where an up and down first half saw numerous lead changes and the Blues holding a one-point lead at halftime. From there it was pretty much all red and white as the Swans piled on 7.6 to Carlton’s 3.7 in the second half, with the home side victorious 15.10.100 – 11.12-78. Harry McKay kicked 3.5 for the day as Heeney, Franklin and Papley all kicked three apiece. Josh Kennedy played a starring role out of the middle.

 

All eyes on:

Luke Parker’s Interpretive Dance

This has been a bit of a storm in a pint glass, hasn’t it? For those who may have miraculously missed it, Essendon’s Dylan Shiel was tackled by Chad Warner the moment that he gathered a ground ball at a centre clearance, Luke Parker gathered the skilled ball, sidestepped Nick Hind and ran inside 50 to kick a goal. After his celebration, the broadcast cameras picked up on Parker taunting Dylan Shiel as he passed the Essendon mid on his own way back to the centre square, lifting his hands and shuddering, as if to insinuate that Shiel had shirked a contest and was scared. The live broadcast replayed the taunt, Parker himself carried the same taunt on, performing the little routine half a dozen times before taking his place again at the centre bounce.

Fast forward to the days post-game, and did we expect any less than a media furore over absolutely nothing? Former Essendon champion Matthew Lloyd berated his former club for not taking a stand against Parker’s taunt, as if his little act had been a dagger through the very heart and soul of his former football club. Caroline Wilson was very adamant that she didn’t like the look of Parker taunting the opposition, going as far as calling his actions “nasty” and “juvenile”, claiming that it went against the ‘Bloods culture’ at Sydney, and wrestling with the likelihood of Sydney coach John Longmire taking umbrage to such scenes occuring at the hand side his players.

Here we are again, it’s the Jack Ginnivan situation on a loop. A player expresses some sort of emotion and breaks the mould of being an autonomous robot on the field, the media propel the actions into headlines and condemn said player in their own morphed form of tall poppy syndrome, the same media then cry foul that there is no characters or charisma in our game any more. It’s been happening this way for decades and it really burns my brisket. God forbid a player inches outside the realms of conformity and shows a little individuality – unless he gets the media stamp of approval first.

 

The Buddy/Curnow Show

Ever since debuting back in 2016, the comparisons for Charlie Curnow have come from far and wide. Some have likened Carlton’s recruiting to that of a mid-2000’s Hawthorn where they took Luke Hodge and then shortly after taking the trio of Lance Franklin, Jarryd Roughead and Jordan Lewis in the same draft, to Carlton’s recruitment of Patrick Cripps, Sam Walsh, Charlie Curnow, Paddy Dow and Harry McKay in close drafts. The Franklin comparisons don’t stop there, the way Curnow plays as a crafty and agile forward, yet tall and ferocious at times has been likened to Buddy Franklin, who has shown us over his brilliant career that he truly was a unique player that broke a lot of capability boundaries for a bloke his size. The high marking ability of Curnow was even likened to Carlton hero Alex Jesaulenko back in 2018 for a spectacular grab taken by the young forward, as well as the regular mentions of his fitness levels and running capabilities being similar to that of Anthony Koutoufides. This season in particular, we’re beginning to see Curnow take his own image and plaster it across the AFL, breaking the mould and forging his own identity.

This week he’ll line up at opposite ends of the ground to the man which perhaps he has been likened to most, Buddy Franklin. With both teams currently battling for a spot inside the top four and Franklin’s history with giving us tantalising games at Marvel Stadium, this game could be shaping up as one for the highlight reels.

 

 

Teams:

Western Bulldogs vs Gold Coast

 

Venue:

MARS Stadium

 

Snapshot:

It was one of the Suns’ best wins of the season as they overcame the up-and-about Dockers, beating them by 36 points. The Bulldogs too tasted victory, easily accounting for the Magpies by 48 points on Friday night football. It’s been a tough old slog for the Suns in their history against the Bulldogs, having lost eight of their last nine encounters by an average margin of almost five goals.

 

So what does it all mean?

The Bulldogs once again continued their pattern of win, lose, win, lose for the season, whilst the Suns made it two wins in a row, both against quality, top eight opposition in the Swans and the Dockers. Both of these sides sit on four wins and five losses for the season, placing the Dogs in 9th and the Suns in 12th, but the superior percentage of the Bulldogs will see them a lot more likely to crack the top eight after a victory, although it’ll likely take a few more wins for this to be a lasting effect. The Dogs are set to hit the road, heading over West to take on the Eagles at Optus Stadium on a Saturday night, then returning to Marvel Stadium the following Friday where the Cats await them.

 

It’s a big week for:

The Gold Coast Forwards

After managing to not just impressively outscore the Dockers last week, but also limit them to only four goals for the entire game, including only two over the first three quarters, it’ll be a huge task this week, but one that could be more than achievable for the Suns as they’ll hope to take advantage of a weakened Bulldogs backline. Levi Casboult has been the leading trendsetter in the forward half for the Suns this season, currently sitting on 20 goals, but fastly approached by his partner in crime, Mabior Chol, who bagged four against Fremantle on the weekend and now sits on 19 majors of his own. If the Suns are able to stretch the Bulldogs’ defences in Ballarat, we may see a boilover in scoring. It will depend heavily on the contributions of a few small forwards, not just relying heavily on the two aforementioned tall pillars, and their midfielders’ ability to kick goals.

 

Last time they met:

An 11 point win to the Bulldogs in Round 18 of last season occurred at Metricon Stadium. The Suns hit an early lead in the first quarter but the Bulldogs wrestled it back, kicking five straight goals in the second term to set the tone and build a lead that Gold Coast weren’t able to overcome. The final scorecard reading 11.13.79 – 14.6.90. Alex Sexton had a day out, kicking 3.4 as he dominated proceedings but couldn’t trace that onto the scoreboard. Ben Ainsworth and Nick Holman also chipped in with three each. The Bulldogs’ midfielders held the upper hand, guiding their side to victory.

 

All eyes on:

Izak, attack!

It’s been well covered throughout the week, but I’m going to contribute to it myself. After many have questioned Izak Rankine for a number of shortcomings this season and in years gone by, last week I saw an almost completely different look player to the one that I have seen throughout the best part of his 37 game career to date. Rankine showed no hesitation to attack the ball, this was highlighted by 15 of his 18 possessions for the game being contested. He also laid four tackles but applied pressure not just to the ball carrier, but also to his direct opponent when they didn’t have the ball in hand, yet were likely to be on the receiving end. This style of attacking play, but also ultra-defensive when required may not be a new sight for diehard Suns fans that follow each game with a microscope for detail, but it was certainly something that I hadn’t seen, definitely not on a regular basis from Rankine, but something that his coaches will no doubt be lauding him for this week.

 

Suddenly

The mighty Angry Anderson. Who could forget the 1991 Grand Final at Waverley park when the baby blue Batmobile took centre stage, carrying he and Rob de Castella out onto the field? In a brief hiatus from his legendary rock band Rose Tattoo, Anderson recorded a solo album that contained the hit single “Suddenly”. The ballad hit peak notoriety when Kylie Minogue selected it to be used on the Australian TV drama Neighbours for her character Charlene’s on-screen marriage to Scott Robinson (played by Jason Donovan). Minogue would label the song as “lyrically beautiful”.

The first line of the chorus goes:

“Suddenly, you’re seeing me just the way I am”

It’s that exact line that Gold Coast supporters are crooning this week in regards to their makeshift forward setup of Levi Casboult and Mabior Chol, and the duo have the runs on the board to back such praise. The Bulldogs’ backline has been borderline decimated through injury this season, plus a number of personal changes has seen them struggle to defend when opposition forwards get a hold of them. If they’re not careful this week, the forward structure of the Suns could pose a massive threat for them, especially off the back of two strong wins against top eight contenders in Fremantle and Sydney in the past fortnight.

 

 

Teams:

Geelong vs Port Adelaide

 

Venue:

GMHBA Stadium

 

Snapshot:

Geelong were surprised at Marvel Stadium by a hard-hitting St. Kilda, going down by 10 points on Saturday, whilst Port Adelaide travelled to Hobart where the Kangaroos put up little fight, getting the better of the Roos by 69 points. Since Port Adelaide’s inception into the AFL in 1997, they’ve travelled to Geelong 14 times and only won at the venue twice. The last time they won there? It was a five-point thriller in Round 21 of 2007. Do those dates ring a bell? They should. It was one of the games of the year that ended up being the entree to these two sides facing off in a Grand Final main dish that went very cold, very quickly.

 

So what does it all mean?

All of a sudden we’re hitting that point in the season where wins and losses are monitored with more scrutiny as our minds go into overtime weighing up equations of who can make which position if they win each game. After a loss on the weekend, the Cats have been pushed to seventh on the ladder, whilst Power are sitting half a percent below the Bulldogs who are ninth, one of a handful of teams ready to make the leap back into the top eight if given the chance by the sides around them. The Cats will host the crows next week down in Geelong before heading back to Marvel Stadium, the scene of their latest loss to the Saints, for a massive Friday night clash with the Bulldogs. Meanwhile, Port Adelaide host the down and out Bombers in the Sunday afternoon graveyard shift before having the bye the following week.

 

It’s a big week for:

Karl Amon

With plenty of interest beginning to snowball from Victorian clubs, it’s always interesting to see how a player subconsciously reacts, knowing full well that the better their efforts on the field, the better the offers they’ll field from possible suitors. I’m not saying that’s why his form has taken such a positive turn in recent weeks, but it would certainly help his chances of securing himself a hefty pay packet if he opted to switch clubs.

 

Last time they met:

Who could forget week one of the finals last year? Port Adelaide had finished second on the ladder and the Cats third, awarding Power the benefit of a home final. There was an exchange of back-and-forth goals in the first quarter, pointing towards a tight contest between the two sides. Then Port Adelaide would go on to kick eight of the next nine goals of the game whilst limiting the Cats to 1.6, running out 43 points winners. Mitch Duncan and Brandon Parfitt were amongst the better competitors for Geelong whilst Orazio Fantasia kicked four and the combination of Boak and Wines put on a clinic for Port Adelaide. The final score was 12.14.86 – 5.13.43.

 

All eyes on:

I thought

I thought Ken Hinkley’s job would be untenable by the midseason bye?

I thought a 0-5 start condemned Port Adelaide to the bottom four?

I thought Hinkley was falling on his own sword by remaining optimistic that his side could and would turn their fortunes around this season?

I thought Ollie Wines was playing too flat-footed and Port Adelaide didn’t have the courage to pull him out of the team?

I thought their forward line without the strong marking ability of Charlie Dixon couldn’t kick a winning score?

For the record, I never actually thought that. They’re all comments made this season that I’m sure Port Adelaide fans recall reading and hearing across the first five rounds of the season. I am guilty of one however, I didn’t think that Port’s forward line was capable of being potent without Charlie Dixon and Orazio Fantasia, but I’m happy to concede that I was wrong. Jeremy Finlayson and Todd Marshall have both kicked multiple goals in all but one game during their past month of football. In Rounds 5-8, Robbie Gray averaged two goals a game and Sam Powell-Pepper has bobbed up forward for multiple goals three times this season.

Port Adelaide have found avenues to score via their smalls and their midfield when their tall forwards aren’t getting it done, and the same can be said vice versa. As it sits, the returns of Fantasia and Dixon may just become the cherry on top.

 

Just won’t cut it

From the halfway point of the third quarter last week against the Saints, things began to come unstuck for the Cats. Everything that had gelled in the first half leading up to then started to fall apart. Geelong weren’t the greatest team of all, the Saints switched up a gear once their skipper and star midfielder in Jack Steele was relegated to the forward line with a shoulder injury. The Cats weren’t always on the ball, in that 10 minute period across the third quarter, the Saints were relentless, kicking five goals straight, six if you include the first of the fourth quarter which stretched the lead out to three goals. The Cats didn’t play the game as it should be played, their captain Joel Selwood was stuck on the bench, chomping at the bit to get back onto the field as his midfield and ruckmen were being carved up by Paddy Ryder and the St. Kilda mids. This week they get Port Adelaide down at the Cattery, a place that hasn’t been a happy stomping ground for the Power in a long, long time. Geelong’s record at this ground speaks for itself, they’ll need to return to their best that we’ve seen at points this year, because of the way in which they’ve played against fellow top-eight sides in Fremantle and St. Kilda just won’t cut it.

 

 

Teams:

Northern Melbourne vs Melbourne

 

Venue:

Marvel Stadium

 

Snapshot:

Another disappointing, ten-goal loss for the Kangaroos at the hands of Port Adelaide last week, whilst the Demons coasted to get another win, this time over the battling Eagles by 74 points. Since the opening of Marvel Stadium (then Colonial Stadium) in March of 2000, the Demons and the Kangaroos have only ever played each other at the stadium eight times with a 0-8 record favouring… North Melbourne! That’s right, given that this fixture is usually played at the MCG or in Tasmania, Melbourne have never beaten North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium. It’s pretty safe to say that record is one that’s about to be broken.

 

So what does it all mean?

It’s basically the best team in the league that currently occupies the top of the ladder, taking on a battling side amidst a rebuild that is marginally one place off being the bottom side. Melbourne take on Fremantle at the MCG next week which is shaping up to be an absolute cracker and one of the games of the season, they’ll then host the Swans at the SCG in another top-eight clash that has the potential to be a belter. North Melbourne will take on St. Kilda at Marvel Stadium next week before heading to Darwin where the Suns, and the Sun itself no doubt, awaits them. Yippee Ki-Yay.

 

It’s a big week for:

Stopping The Talls

Last week, North Melbourne were butchered by Port Adelaide’s tall forwards. Not having Ben McKay in the side was a massive burden as Aidan Core and Josh Walker were unable to contain the likes of Todd Marshall, Mitch Georgiadis and Jeremy Finlayson who combined for eight goals, whilst further damage was applied to North on the scoreboard via the superiority of Power’s midfield and their ability to score. This week North will face a side with a much more powerful forward line, and a midfield that is currently the strongest in the competition.

 

Last time they met:

It feels like almost a lifetime ago now, but in Round 7 of last year, the Kangaroos held the lead for much of the first half down in Hobart and showed plenty of heart, after being belted from pillar to post for much of the season up until that point. The Demons regained the lead in the third quarter and string together multiple goals to deny their opponent, but the fight and bravery displayed by North Melbourne was widely commended by the football world. The final score being 11.7.73 – 16.7.103. Bayley Fritsch kicked six goals for the Demons whilst Aaron Hall and Ben Cunnington were a force in the middle.

 

All eyes on:

Like an IKEA Flatpack

North Melbourne simply must tighten the screws! They have conceded an average of almost 120 points in their past five games whilst barely managing to muster an average score over 50 for themselves in that same period. Four of those five games have been played at North Melbourne’s home grounds of Marvel Stadium in Melbourne and Blundstone Arena in Hobart, with the one exception being the Fremantle game from Optus Stadium in Perth. Unfortunately for the Kangaroos, they’ve taken a step backwards this season, one that some predicted, but many thought would only be a single step backwards that aided them in taking a leap forward. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case, and the prospect of facing the undefeated Demons this week is a daunting one.

 

Too hot to touch

The Demons are in that enviable position that we’ve seen Richmond, Hawthorn and Geelong in over the past couple of decades, where the club as a whole is so strong in so many facets that it appears to those externally that the club can do no wrong. Melbourne are currently undefeated, this we know. Their VFL side is also undefeated this season from their eight games. Christian Salem was a huge factor in the Demons’ success last year, but they’ve barely looked to miss the rebounding defender whilst he recovers from a knee injury. Jake Lever missed a patch of football earlier in the season, he too was an integral part of that premiership backline. James Harmes is set to miss at least this week with a knee injury, but even if Melbourne do rely on someone like former Saint Luke Dunstan to receive a call up from the VFL, their seconds team is strong enough and too well practiced in their game plan, that like their senior side, they can keep winning games despite losing key players. This is a true mark of a successful club.

 

 

Teams:

Adelaide vs St. Kilda

 

Venue:

Adelaide Oval

 

Snapshot:

The Saints held a rousing win over the Cats at Marvel Stadium, a burst of goals in the third quarter propelled them and set them on course for one of their best wins of the season. The Crows were competitive against the highly-rated Lions for the first half before surrendering 11 of 12 straight goals late in the game to be run over by 36 points. The Saints and the Crows have contested six games at Adelaide Oval in a fixture that the Crows had never lost until last season, the tally now sitting at 5-1 in the home side’s favour.

 

So what does it all mean?

The Saints are now sixth on the ladder and sit one win outside of the top four. The Crows have dropped to 14th, the lowest-ranked side on three wins. The upcoming fortnight for the Saints is North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on Sunday afternoon followed by the bye the next week. For the Crows, they’ll head to Geelong to take on.. you guessed it, the Cats, before hosting West Coast the week after.

 

It’s a big week for:

Tim Membrey and/or Dougal Howard

With their captain Jack Steele facing a stint of up to two months on the sidelines, it will be up to one or both of Membrey and Howard as co-vice captains to lead this St. Kilda side as they hit their most promising patch of form that we’ve seen in a long while. Fresh off the back of a spirited victory over Geelong, a lot of pressure will be healed onto the likes of Brad Crouch and Jack Sinclair to pick up the slack in the midfield and take on the abundance of heavy lifting left in the wake of their injured skipper.

 

Last time they met:

Cast your minds back to Round 13 of last season, the Saints and the Crows went at it up in Cairns. It was Saint Kilda that got out to a six-goal lead in the third quarter before the Crows piled on the last seven goals of the game to win by six points in the dying stages of a close contest. The final scorecard reads 8.12.60 – 9.12.66.

Luke Dunstan and Jack Steele were prominent for the Saints, as was Tom Highmore behind the ball. Paul Seedsman and Rory Laird did the damage for the Crows.

 

All eyes on:

Sorry, it’s a worry

There are a number of key factors at the Adelaide Football Club right now that are cause for concern. I have absolutely loved watching Josh Rachele play in his first season this year, the young small forward has given us all a glimpse of what he’s capable of and provided Crows fans with a glimmer of hope for his bright future. He has currently kicked only two goals in his past month of football and may just be due for a stint on the side to rediscover some of his confidence, form, and flair. With number one ruckman Reilly O’Brien falling out of favour and being dropped from the senior lineup last week in favour or younger Kieran Strachan, this week could be a very telling story against Paddy Ryder and Rowan Marshall who I currently rate as the second-best ruck duo in the competition behind only Max Gawn and Luke Jackson of Melbourne.

 

There’s a Jack for all trades

I don’t think the loss of St Kilda’s captain Jack Steele to a shoulder injury that will see him sidelined for up to eight weeks is the entire death warrant that some are predicting. I think if the Saints had have lost Steele last season, then the club would’ve felt his loss a great deal more so than they will this season. Their coach Brett Ratten has instilled a great system within the playing group that their leadership is divided amongst other key players, and it seems to be working well. We’ve seen Tim Membrey unselfishly modify his role in the team this season to great success for both he and the club, whilst also taking on a seldom-highlighted role as the forward line viceroy and most importantly, leading by example. Even with the leadership aspect aside, Jack Sinclair, Seb Ross, Bras Crouch and the returning Jack Billings have the capacity to cover for the loss and spread the midfield load thinly enough with their ball-winning capabilities.

 

 

Teams:

Richmond vs Essendon

 

Venue:

MCG

 

Snapshot:

This preview isn’t going to be good reading for Bombers fans. If you’re a sucker for pain you may continue, but ye be warned. The Tigers rolled the Hawks at the MCG last week by 23 points after Hawthorn had led by a similar margin earlier in the game. The Bombers virtually self-destructed thanks to the unrelenting nature of the Sydney Swans, offering very little to write complimentary about on their way to a 58 point loss at the SCG that would have certainly been a lot higher had their opposition kicked straight. The Bombers have lost their last 11 games in a row to the Tigers by an average margin of over four goals, and the Bombers have not beaten the Tigers since way back in 2014.

 

So what does it all mean?

It means that at 2-6 and playing the way that they currently are, the Bombers are set for a declining season of pain. The Tigers found themselves remaining just inside the top eight with their record of 5-4. There’s a massive game coming up next week between the Swans and the Tigers at the SCG on Friday night before Richmond has the bye. The Bombers will head to Adelaide where they’ll play Port Adelaide on their home ground before they too have the bye.

 

It’s a big week for:

Tom Lynch’s Coleman Odds

Richmond spearhead Tom Lynch has kicked 17 goals in his past three games to see himself fast-tracked to the top of the goalkicking leaderboard at this point in the season. His current tally of 31 sees him sitting four goals clear of his nearest threats in Tom Hawkins and Charlie Curnow. During his time in the game, Lynch has kicked 17.11 against Essendon from eight games played, which his fourth-lowest tally against any club (with the exclusion of the two teams he’s played for). Given the state of affairs at Essendon this season, I would say that Lynch is a massive threat to further distinguish his lead in the Coleman Medal race.

 

Last time they met:

Dreamtime at Optus Stadium in Perth, the Tigers held the lead for the entire game until a brief period late in the fourth quarter when a valiant Bombers outfit kicked six out of seven straight goals and snatched the lead, remarkably. It was then that the seasoned Richmond side kicked up another gear and piled on the final seven goals of the match in a ten-minute stint to bury Essendon and their last-ditch hope. 12.12.84 – 19.9.123.

Darcy Parish was awarded the Yiooken Award for best player afield in his brilliant 44 disposal, 11 clearance game. Shai Bolton, Jason Castagna and Dustin Martin all kicked three goals apiece, and Jack Graham starred.

 

All eyes on:

Keep away from my tow truck

Anyone with the most basic experience in rigging, dogging, crane work or even vehicle recovery would be well adept in the concept of a block and tackle. It’s a basic mechanical setup using pulleys to ease the effort involved in lifting or transferring heavy weight. Right now, the Essendon Football club would make terrible riggers or crane operators, because their club as a whole has absolutely no concept of the importance of a block and tackle.

Remember Anthony Hudson screaming “THIRTEEEENNN” into the microphone when Buddy Franklin single-handedly decimated the Kangaroos down in Tasmania? I sounded exactly like that when I read the stats post-game last week, except I yelled THIRTY?! I was already deflated at the performance I had just witnessed compliments of the Bombers, whilst still elated to see the Swans playing so well. I still to this very point in time cannot fathom how a team walks off the ground after only registering 30 tackles in a game of football, and doesn’t hang their head in shame. Seriously. The Bombers laid 24 tackle in the third quarter alone against the Hawks the week prior. Only six tackles less in one quarter off football, than the 30 they provided in four quarters against the Swans. How? How in the hell can a team dish up such starkly contrasting games from one week to the next? Callum Mills laid 14 tackles against the Bombers on his own. Fourteen tackles. That is one shy of half of what his entire opposition comprising of 22 players dished up. At halftime, only four Essendon players had laid more than one tackle, and nine players hadn’t even laid one. By the final siren 15/23 players had recorded one or fewer tackles. I’m not even sorry, that is a disgrace.

 

Whispering Jack

Whilst all eyes have been firmly on the big bags of goals and forward line domination by Tom Lynch for the Tigers, I feel that the consistency of Jack Riewoldt has just subtly crept under the radar. Riewoldt has kicked 16 goals this season, quiet by his standards, but his consistency over the past six weeks has been highly beneficial for the Tigers. Almost taking a surprising role of standing back and letting others shine, Riewoldt has still managed to kick multiple goals in every game for the past six weeks, including a bag of four against the Eagles and three against the Hawks last week. His transformation in the latter half of his career into an unselfish leader at the club is one that’s rightfully heralded by the Tigers faithful, but not often recognised by those outside of the club anywhere near as often as it should be.

 

 

Teams:

GWS vs West Coast

 

Venue:

Giants Stadium

 

Snapshot:

In Leon Cameron’s final game as coach, his Giants were gallant for most of their match against the Blues, but ultimately succumbed by 30 points. West Coast also fought well against the Demons at times, but found themselves on the end of a 74 point loss. The Eagles hold a 4-3 advantage when playing GWS in Sydney, the last time these two sides played at the home of the Giants in Round 10 of last year, it was a 13 point loss to the Eagles.

 

So what does it all mean?

Finding themselves relegated to the bottom four by Round 10 wasn’t where the Giants had envisioned their season, yet here we are. The same could probably be said about the Eagles who are currently 18th with only their one upset win over Collingwood to their name. The Giants will thankfully have a week off for the bye after travelling to the Gabba and facing the red-hot Lions, whilst the Eagles will host the Bulldogs on Saturday night and then travel to Adelaide Oval and take on the Crows.

 

It’s a big week for:

Mark ‘Spike’ McVeigh

After spending a large portion of his playing career as vice-captain of the Essendon Football Club, Mark McVeigh hung up the boots at the end of the 2012 season, taking on a role in the media and coaching the Under-16 and Under-18 state sides of NSW. He then worked his way into the head coaching position at the GWS academy and transitioned into an assistant coaching role as the leading defensive coach. He is now set to coach his first senior game as the caretaker coach for the Giants since Leon Cameron’s announcement to stand down last week. McVeigh was a much-loved figure in his time at the Bombers and was highly rated for his leadership credentials both internally to the club, and externally by opposition coaches, with former head coach Paul Roos vocal in his support of McVeigh, trying to recruit the Bombers utility to the Swans as both a player, and a coach after his retirement.

 

 

Last time they met:

The Giants hosted the Eagles at Giants Stadium back in Round 10 of last season, it was a game that epitomised the term back-and-forth. The game went as good as goal for goal for almost its entirety, with no team able to kick more than two goals in a row before a response from the opposition. It would be the Giants who came out on top by 16 points. 13.15.93 – 11.11.77.

Lachie Whitfield and Toby Greene were dominant and Nic Naitanui made light work of Shane Mumford in the ruck.

 

All eyes on:

Pulling the Draw card

The ultimate irony of this game finishing in a draw wouldn’t be lost on me. Looking into the circumstances around these two sides playing in this game, together we’ve seen 10 losses from their last 11 games combined. Since the Eagles bravely best Collingwood back in Round 4, only the Giants have tasted victory when they came out of the blue and thrashed Adelaide back in Round 7. In my mind, I started drafting a piece on the importance of the win, and how only one of three clubs was guaranteed to take a win out of this weekend until it dawned on me… nobody is guaranteed a victory whilst the draw is still an option in the AFL.

It will be interesting to see how the Giants’ incoming caretaker coach Mark McVeigh goes in his first gig as senior coach, likewise, it’ll be just as intriguing to see how West Coast fare on the road against a side that’s almost been equally disappointing, but in terms of their expectation versus their output.

 

 

Teams:

Hawthorn vs Brisbane

 

Venue:

UTAS

 

Snapshot:

The Lions finished strongly against the Crows, beating them by 36 points after trailing in the second quarter. The Hawks in a similar situation to that of the Crows, got out to a four-goal lead against the Tigers last week before Richmond turned it on and took back the lead, winning by 23 points. The Lions had won four games in a row against the Hawks until the last two encounters where Hawthorn have walked away winning both. These two sides have contested four games at UTAS with the ledger currently sitting at 2-2.

 

So what does it all mean?

Brisbane are now outright second on the ladder with a percentage so healthy that it would take an unearthly win by Fremantle this week to dethrone them. The Hawks are now sitting 13th on three wins for the season. The upcoming fortnight will see the Lions host the Giants at the Gabba and then travel to Western Australian the next week to take on Fremantle at Optus Stadium. For the Hawks, they must travel to Darwin and take on Gold Coast before meeting Collingwood at the MCG the following Sunday.

 

It’s a big week for:

Eric Hipwood

Now that the return game is in the bag, with Hipwood getting through his first game of football since being laid up with an ACL injury that derailed the tall forward’s playing ambitions since July of last year, it’s got to be onwards and upwards from here. Coach Chris Fagan mentioned during the week that he was ready to play senior football a month ago, but the Lions opted to take a cautious approach with him and his return. The ground down at Launceston will play well into the Lions’ hands, if they can get Hipwood on the end of a few goals, it will be a kickstart to his season, especially in the absence of Joe Daniher and Dan McStay, with a handy run of games still ahead of them leading into finals.

 

Last time they met:

One of the upsets of the season, it was Round 20 of the 2021 season when the Hawks hit the front early and lead from go to whoa. Despite the Lions kicking nine of the last ten goals of the game in an 8.2 to 1.3 final quarter, the Hawks managed to hold them off and record a 12 point victory. 14.8.92 – 12.8.80.

Jarryd Lyons and Jaeger O’Meara went head to head and both star midfielders had absolute blinders. Dayne Zorko and Chad Wingard were also good, as was Jack Scrimshaw.

 

All eyes on:

James Sicily

Another candidate for free agency bites the dust. Hawthorn’s prime defender James Sicily has resisted any temptation to leave and signed a mammoth five-year deal to remain at Hawthorn until 2027. Sicily’s return to the side this season has been one of Hawthorn’s biggest triumphs this year, after the star defender was forced to sit out for the best part of two seasons through injury. The defender that’s been widely touted as the next captain of Hawthorn has been an integral part of the Hawks’ backline in season 2022, especially with the absence of Changkuoth Jiath who has missed the past month through injury. Just last week Sicily was named as Hawthorn’s best player by many outlets, despite conceding four goals to his direct opponent, Tom Lynch. Just like the glory days for a defender, it was a welcomed sight to see a defender judged on his impact on the game at hand and not purely by the number of goals kicked on him.

 

Sir Doug Nicholls (MBE)

Of all the terrific individuals that the AFL could’ve chosen to name its Indigenous Round after, perhaps none are more deserving than Sir Douglas Nicholls. A proud Yorta Yorta man that many don’t realise played for Fitzroy in the 1930’s and was the Great-Grandfather of former Essendon player Nathan Lovett-Murray. Here is a brief history of the man whose name is now synonymous with one of the biggest rounds of football in the AFL calendar.

Born in 1906, Nicholls was the youngest of five siblings. After achieving a Grade 3 level of education, the highest offered at his mission, he began working throughout his childhood and eventually playing football for a number of different clubs in lower leagues. In the late 1920’s he competed in a number of state-level and gift sprint races around Victoria, often winning awards and prizes money. After being knocked back at tryouts for a spot on in the seniors at North Melbourne and Carlton, Nicholls would join Northcote in the VFA. It took very little time for him to be widely recognised as the best wingman in the VFA thanks to his speed and spectacular football ability. It was in 1932 that he would be selected to play for Fitzroy in the VFL where he went on for six seasons as well as representing Victoria in four representative games – the first Indigenous Australian to do so.

During the warmer months when there was no football, he often boxed in a travelling sideshow that paid cash to fight different opponents, as a way to make ends meet. After heading back to Northcote in 1938, Nicholls was forced to retire due to chronic knee injuries in 1939. This didn’t stop him, however, from organising multiple fundraisers for the Australian war effort by captaining all-indigenous teams to play against his side at Northcote. Unfortunately, he was subjected to much racial hate and taunts from opposition supporters, players and even his own teammates, especially in his early years of football. There is a photo in the Australian War Memorial archives of Nicholls teaching American military members how to throw a boomerang, something that he was incredibly talented at.

Even as early as in his football days, Nicholls became a prominent figure as a voice for Indigenous Australians, often attending rallies, lobbying at protests and even setting up a card table outside of football games to gain support from football attendees for his plight. As an ordained Christian minister and social worker, he became the first pastor at the Aboriginal Church of Christ. Nicholls was called up to service for World War 2 in 1941, but was released from his unit in 1942 at the behest of the Fitzroy police to continue his brilliant work as a social worker within the local Aboriginal community. He became the driving force behind numerous calls for the fair treatment and advancement of indigenous Australians and dedicated years of his life working on reforms within the country. Appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1957, it was in 1976 that he became the Governer of South Australia, the first person of colour to do so in Australia.

A full list of his accomplishments are available online for anyone interested, and is something that I cannot recommend reading any higher.

 

 

Teams:

Fremantle vs Collingwood

 

Venue:

Optus Stadium

 

Snapshot:

Friday night under lights at Marvel Stadium didn’t prove fruitful for the Magpies, going down to the Bulldogs by 48 points. Fremantle too found themselves back on the losers list, getting done by Gold Coast in a 36 point shock to some. The Dockers have won their past three encounters against the Magpies, whilst in the stadium’s short history, both sides have won one game apiece when playing at Optus Stadium.

 

So what does it all mean?

The Dockers’ loss to the Suns now sees them a game behind Brisbane in second and two games behind the undefeated Demons in first. Compliments of their much healthier percentage, Fremantle remained above Carlton. The Magpies dropped to 11th and would require a hefty percentage boost on top of a couple of wins if they’re to make it back inside the top eight.

 

It’s a big week for:

The Fremantle Midfield

Watching Collingwood play the Bulldogs last week, they were severely let down by their midfield. They had their starting trio of Jack Crisp, Taylor Adams and Jordan de Goey but were soundly beaten by the Bulldogs. Some points of contention that were directed at me were the fact that they had no Brodie Grundy and no Scott Pendlebury. Grundy’s omission due to injury was nullified by the fact that the Bulldogs were also without their number one ruckman in Tim English. Pendlebury’s absence had little effect on the midfield given that Craig McRae has been less inclined in recent weeks to revert back to throwing Pendlebury into the midfield when they’re struggling.

 

The three highest centre bounce attendees in the Bulldogs/Collingwood game for either team were Adams, De Goey and Crisp. The week before in the side’s loss to Richmond, it was the same scenario from the same three players. Scott Pendlebury was brilliant against the Suns in Round Seven, with 25 disposals, but how many times did he attend a centre bounce? Three. So I’m not buying into the comments about the Collingwood midfield being young and inexperienced when in fact, it’s currently the most experienced area of their playing side.

The Fremantle centre line of Brayshaw, Brodie, Serong and Mundy should have an absolute field day, at home, against the Magpies if they’re able to replicate the same intensity that the Bulldogs and the Tigers have applied across the past fortnight to Collingwood’s midfield.

 

Last time they met:

There were ups and downs, smiles and frowns, big goals and controversial free-kicks – this game had it all. It wound up being the Dockers by 12 points. Brayden Maynard was superb in defence, as was Brodie Grundy in the ruck. Rory Lobb and Lachie Schultz each kicked three goals for the Dockers. 12.7.79 – 14.7.91.

 

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