Did I read that right? Round 11?!?! Far out…

Anyway, Jimmy Ayres has his blowtorch in hand. Will his take be enough to warm the toes of those he mentions as the cold weather kicks in? Or will he turn up the heat and burn their damn legs off?

Let’s find out in this week’s edition of On Fire/Under Fire.




On Fire – Jordan Dawson

It’s a fairly even contest between Dawson and Will Brodie at Fremantle for which offseason recruit is having the biggest impact for their new club. Continuing on his spectacular season, Dawson started the game somewhat subdued, but broke free in the second quarter, becoming that important link between the midfield and the cornerstones of the ground. Dawson has that slightly taller build for a wingman that aids in intercepting the ball, but also provides a target capable of drifting forward and scoring goals. His capacity as a versatile wingman troubled the Saints for much of the game.


Under Fire – Inaccuracy

The Crows had their chances throughout the game, numerous times, to draw level or further extend their lead against the Saints, however, their composure by foot severely hampered their exploits, with ten individual players all registering minor scores. Four of the first five scores of the game were Adelaide behinds, then entering the second half, the Crows held their biggest lead of the game, but instead of putting their foot down and taking the game further away from the Saints, they missed a further bundle of important shots that could’ve springboarded them and set up a much stronger total to defend for the second half.



On Fire – Keidean Coleman

The 22-year-old defender played the best game of his 28 game career. It was quite the versatile output from the zippy defender as he got up the ground and found a way to set up scoring chains with his dash through the middle. Recording career-best stats in multiple columns, this is the first time Coleman has featured in this article for better or for worse, and I’m hoping off the back of what I saw this weekend that he features again. His composure against the Hawks in some unenviable conditions down in Tassie were a huge highlight and something that coach Chris Fagan will hope to see more of.


Under Fire – Zac Bailey

The number of times I found myself screaming for a Zac Bailey special when the game was on the line late in the final quarter, the moment had his name written all over it. Alas, it wasn’t to be. It was a very quiet day by his lofty standards, he managed four shots on goal for 0.3 and didn’t have his usual intensive impact on the game.



On Fire – Charlie Curnow

Carlton fans are rejoicing, and rightfully so. Their former number 12 draft pick that has only managed 72 games, now into his seventh season at the club, looks to have finally been able to put the chronic knee injuries that have plagued his career thus far behind him, and play the exciting brand of football that we’ve seen in bursts over the years. Five goals in the first half against the Swans on his way to six for the evening has put Charlie in the lead currently for the Coleman Medal. Not many defenders are going to be able to go with him in the air when he’s at full tilt.


Under Fire – Adam Cerra

It’s easy to seem like a player goes missing when teammates like Sam Walsh and George Hewett are at the forefront, carving it up in the middle, with Matt Kennedy also stealing some limelight in the first half (when he’s not staging for free kicks) and with Patrick Cripps…. Assuming ruck duties? Anyways, I felt like Adam Cerra got a little lost in the mail against the Swans, going missing for extended periods which was strange, because he has been super consistent this season.



On Fire – John Noble & Patrick Lipinski

It was well covered in the television broadcast, but I felt it pertinent to mention it again. John Noble’s defensive one-percenters throughout the game were nothing short of impressive. Efforts such as his don’t usually receive the kudos that they deserve. In the third and final quarters, there were numerous dives for smothers, pressure tackles and a flying superman punch to spoil what would’ve been a certain mark and subsequent shot on goal. I cannot sing his praises any higher for what I saw, and his former coach Nathan Buckley did a brilliant job in the commentary box highlighting the sort of player that Noble is, and just why these small acts are so heralded in a club culture. Also, Pat Lipinski – what a pick up he’s been. All but on the scrap heap at the Dogs, he has managed to reinvent himself and turn his entire career around.


Under Fire – Jack Ginnivan

Not from me! I love watching the kid play. But let’s wait and see what fire the young forward comes under for another entertaining game up forward that saw him slot snaps on goal, and run into an open goal square, bounce the ball in the wet, give a little fist bump before dispatching the ball into the stands and saluting the opposition cheersquad. The AFL landscape as a whole loves cutting down a young player with character and flair, let’s see if they can continue to ostracize Ginnivan, or finally embrace a kid with a little charisma that goes against the grain, as long as he has the skills on game day to back it up – so far, he most certainly does.



On Fire – Mason Redman & Darcy Parish

One player whose season has improved dramatically from where he found himself from a form perspective earlier in the year, is Mason Redman. The rebounding defender looked at his dangerous best against the Tigers in front of 70,000+ fans for Dreamtime at the MCG, plugging the holes and manning up on numerous opponents as required, whilst rebounding the ball by foot and with his dash, Redman was often the key link in getting the ball out of the Tigers backline or into his own forward half. He amassed over 950 metres gained from his 27 disposals, also compiling 10 marks to go with his 6 tackles for the game.

I couldn’t not give Darcy Parish a mention in this piece either. The Bombers’ star midfielder has come under fire this season for his lack of two-way running and inability to defend when the ball is won by the opposition. That couldn’t have looked any further away from fruition against the Tigers, with Parish winning his own ball in the middle consistently, racking up 43 disposals, but also laying eight tackles for the game. I was overly impressed watching his gut running to cover opponents behind the play and defending when the opposition got out on a burst from the centre. It wasn’t a great night from the Bombers, but there was little more that Darcy Parish could’ve done.


Under Fire – Devon Smith & Tom Cutler

Peter Wright gets the benefit of the doubt this week, but he’ll need a strong showing to avoid this piece next week after being well held by Robbie Tarrant. I say ‘held’ more literally than metaphorically, but that’s a different story.

Do you ever look at a player’s position in a team and think of it like a mule with a spinning wheel: No-one knows how he got it and damned if he knows how to use it? Well, I do. I look at Tom Cutler in this Essendon side and I can’t help but scratch my head and wonder just what he brings to the team outside of his rumoured ‘booming right boot’. He’s not alone though, you can’t bring a bloke like Devon Smith into the side when you’re under immense scrutiny for a lack of tackling pressure, and be happy to accept such little output in the way of accumulation and no effort to chase and tackle. Aaron Francis is also lucky that I’m running out of ink in my pen this week.



On Fire – Sean Darcy

Darcy Cameron battled admirably in the ruck for the Magpies after Mason Cox went down early with a finger injury, but Sean Darcy was dominant around the ground and amassed plenty of possessions on his way to one of the big man’s best games of the season.


Under Fire – Matt Taberner

If only he could play against the Bombers each week. Taberner’s first game back since Round 6 wasn’t the best return. The Dockers forward will be better for the run, but he struggled to impose himself on the game at all. He wasn’t the only one as the Magpies controlled the tempo of the game from the outset and played the conditions much, much better. A strategic win from the coaches’ box, with full credit going to Craig McRae.



On Fire – Jeremy Cameron & Cam Guthrie

As an outsider looking in, I often feel that Cam Guthrie doesn’t get the respect that he deserves as an elite player, from those outside of Geelong. The eyes are usually focussed on the Selwoods, the Hawkins, the Dangerfields, the Duncans, the Tuohys or the Stewarts, but I feel like Guthrie performs almost as well, if not better, more weeks than not. Port Adelaide just had no answer for his run and forward press. He’s like ragwort in the bottom paddock, it doesn’t matter how much you spray the bastard, it keeps popping up and giving your cattle colic. Jezza Cameron looked really threatening as Tom Jonas struggled at times to go with the spearhead, finishing the game with three goals and winning plenty of the ball up the ground.


Under Fire – Patrick Dangerfield

Whilst he wasn’t the worst player on the field, in my opinion, it almost looked as if Dangerfield was still struggling with the previous calf injury that copped a further knock against the Hawks back in Round 5, which saw him sit out for two rounds. His return against the Giants was impressive, but his past two weeks have looked subpar by the lofty standards expected of him, being one of Geelong’s most damaging players when at his best. He copped a knock to the knee early in the match against Port, but seemed to recover from it well, only for the troublesome calf to get the better of him, being taken out of the match in the fourth quarter.

It looks as though Danger will sit out this week and do a block of work to get him right for the second half of the season – wise move.


Gold Coast

On Fire – Jarrod Witts & Joel Jeffrey

The Suns’ captain came up against a depleted Bulldogs ruck division and showed no mercy to Jordon Sweet and Zayne Cordy. In a game that had more stoppages than you’d usually like to see, Witts was totally dominant in giving his midfielders first crack.

After scoring only two goals from five games in his short career to date, Joel Jeffreys announced himself in Ballarat, playing havoc on the Bulldogs’ defence and kicking a game-high five goals from some brilliant forward craft.


Under Fire – Levi Casboult

It was a little of the Levi of old against the Bulldogs on the weekend. His marking and presence were there at times, but his kicking radar found its way back into the Bermuda Triangle, the wayward forward going goalless for the first time this season, kicking 0.3.



On Fire – Stephen Coniglio & Matthew Flynn

Much, much better game this week from Cogs after a pretty dismal fortnight. The Giants co-co captain was back at his best in the Giants’ 52-point win over the Eagles, racking up a game-high 36 disposals, seven clearances, four tackles and three direct goal assists. I thought Matthew Flynn was terrific in the ruck, he has had an average run since playing really well against Marshall and Ryder at the Saints back in Round 6. Flynn had the better of both Bailey Williams and Callum Jamieson in the ruck, and set up the Giants’ midfield superbly with first usage of the ball in interim coach Mark McVeigh’s first game at the helm.


Under Fire – Xavier O’Halloran

Another player back in the side for the first time since Round 5 that may just be keeping a spot warm until someone else is to return and regain their own place in the team. His ball usage was average, and running alongside some of the Giants’ best midfielders was never going to net him a hell of a lot of the ball, not the way he was playing anyway.



On Fire – Jai Newcombe

This kid simply must be leading the votes for this year’s Rising Star award. He was arguably the Hawks’ best player against the second-placed Lions, second only to maybe Tom Mitchell. Coach Sam Mitchell must be ecstatic at what Newcombe brings to the table, sometimes it’s hard to believe that he’s only 20 years old.


Under Fire – Lachie Bramble

I loved watching Bramble’s transformation in his first season at Hawthorn last year. I thought he showed plenty of promise and had a bright future ahead of him. I still believe this if I’m being honest, however, his game against the Lions was a fair drop off from his efforts against the Tigers last week.



On Fire – Clayton Oliver

Bravo, Clarry. The Demons mid showed once again why he’s a class above and considered by most as one of the premier ball winners in the game, as well as a key piece to this current Melbourne juggernaut. Registering a career-high 45 disposals, 13 clearances and six tackles, it was an absolute ball-winning masterclass from Oliver.


Under Fire – Ben Brown

The former Roo was held goalless for the first time this season against his old side. He received a Iot of attention and had trouble shaking his opponent and hitting the scoreboard. Kicking 0.2 for the game, it was left up to Tom McDonald, Bayley Fritsch and Max Gawn to do the scoring.


North Melbourne

On Fire – Aidan Corr

Yet another nomination for a player’s best game at the club. Aidan Corr was solid in defence against one of the best attacks in the game, holding his own and nailing his role in the backline. The former Giant battled last year with a toe infection that derailed the best part of his season. This year, he’s ridden the waves in a side that has only won one game and been a part of more heavy losses than they would’ve envisioned, but against the reigning premiers, Corr more than held his own.


Under Fire – Jy Simpkin (efficiency only)

I’ve loved Simpkin for the most part of this season, but my god, the term shinboner was relevant on the weekend because he was a bloody butcher. I’ll concede that he wasn’t the worst player for North, however, his poor disposal likely did them more damage than his good ball usage aided them.


Port Adelaide

On Fire – Kane Farrell

This one’s a little left of the centre square, but I was really impressed by the game of Kane Farrell. Having played just the 37 games after being taken at pick #51 in the 2017 draft, he wasn’t a player whose name had been firmly in my observations too many times, but I loved the way that he attacked the footy and drove the ball forward at all costs, recording a team-high 585 metres gained from just his 18 disposals and kicking two goals to boot.


Under Fire – Connor Rozee

I’ve loved the move of Rozee into the midfield for more time on the ball this season, going forward I see that as his most beneficial position for the team. But my god his use of the ball was average. Even when not under pressure by the Geelong midfielders, Rozee coughed up more kicks and wasted more opportunities than I care to recall. In the third and fourth quarters when the Cats turned the game on its head a bit, I felt the effectiveness of Rozee was a reflection of the way Port were playing as a whole.



On Fire – Liam Baker

I had Baker as my choice for best on ground for the majority of the game, leaving me somewhat surprised that he came second in the votes to Dion Prestia for the Yiooken Award, given to the player judged to be best afield in the annual Dreamtime at the ‘G match between Essendon and Richmond. Time and time again Baker ripped the heart out of the Bombers, whether it was his ability to read the ball and intercept at his former half-back/flanker role, or break tackles and drive the ball forward, the former small forward utility spent a lot of time down back in this game and was ultra-effective in an ever-changing role that really suited the Tigers’ style of play. Coach Damien Hardwick proving once again this season that he’s not afraid to throw the magnets up in different lights and allow his players the chance to prosper in different roles.


Under Fire – Tom Lynch

The man of many elbows surrendered his crown as the current leader for the Coleman Medal on Friday night as Charlie Curnow bagged six goals and took a two-goal lead in the race. I had tipped Lynch to absolutely monster the Bombers’ lacklustre backline, and he certainly had the opportunity to do so. Lynch finished with 0.4, missing some absolute sitters before he was taken out of the game late in the third quarter with a hamstring complaint.


St. Kilda

On Fire – Max King & Bradley Hill

Another second-half special from Max King. The rising forward is beginning to earn himself a reputation as the man that stands up and reaches unstoppable heights when the Saints have their backs against the wall. Kicking four of his six goals in the second half when his side needed them most, it was a truly impressive display. Some of the delivery inside 50 to him was superb, one such player that warrants a mention for such delivery, was Brad Hill. One of his best, most consistent games of the season by far. Probably second only to his ultra-attacking, four goal effort against the Hawks back in Round 4. Hill was able to carve the Crows up through the midfield and set up numerous forays at goal.


Under Fire – Jack Billings

Looked the goods in his return from injury against the Cats last week, I didn’t have super high hopes and expected a week or two to ease back into things at the highest level. But against Power he just looked in a constant state of bewilderment, often hesitating on the rare occasion that he had the ball, and going missing for periods at a time. Will definitely be better for the run in these few games, then aided by a week off thanks to the upcoming bye.



On Fire – Logan McDonald & Luke Parker

Amidst the ridiculous controversy of Parker’s taunt to Dylan Shiel last round, the Swans star backed up his stance with a strong showing against the up-and-about Blues. Playing predominantly through the midfield and bobbing up in the forward line, Parker continues to shine and etch his name amongst the Swans’ best players each week. Equally as good, in the forward line was Logan McDonald. Finishing with 3.3, the young forward’s radar was slightly off, he could’ve had an even better haul for the day had he been able to finish.


Under Fire – Tom McCartin

Poor Tommy, really copped a pasting at the hands of Charlie Curnow. Both McCartins have worked terrifically in tandem this season, but the Blues forward line really tested Sydney’s defence, and forced their midfield to work overtime to try and curb the influence of Walsh and Co.


West Coast

On Fire – Jamie Cripps

The pressure applied in the forward half from the veteran was immense for the Eagles. Cripps got on the end of a couple of goals and did well at locking the ball in the front half at times for the Eagles, but it was his chase and constant attention to his opponent that made him stand out for me. The Eagles were only a single point off equalling their highest score for the season, so although they were scored against heavily, their 13 goals was their best return since their win over Collingwood back in Round 4.


Under Fire – Tom Barrass

After being in a backline that’s fared under fire for much of the season, Barrass has been dependable in defence alongside Jeremy McGovern, but against the Giants, he looked like a fish out of water. Often found out of position and worked away from the contest, it was an extremely quiet game from a usually somewhat reliable defender that provided very little contest for his backline.


Western Bulldogs

On Fire – Marcus Bontempelli

A brilliant cameo up forward from the Bulldogs skipper netted himself 3.2 whilst still spending plenty of time winning the ball in the middle. The Bont’s height makes him a tricky matchup at the best of times, the Suns’ defenders learnt this the hard way, with his contested aerial marking on full display.


Under Fire – Zayne Cordy

Once again, not entirely Cordy’s fault, but being thrown in the ruck and moved around the ground is severely hampering his effect on games. Not just reflected on the stats sheet, but in the way he’s presented when under fire. Things should change once Tim English makes his way back from injury, but right now Cordy is the sacrificial lamb that’s making the team play better as a whole whilst sacrificing his own game.


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