Welcome ladies, gentlemen, and all others inclusive to this week’s edition of your favourite, sometimes nonsensical periodical, please give it up for Jimmy’s Mongrel Preview!

After another week of upsets, downsets, headbutts and butt-heads all under the banner of the AFL, let’s adjust the microscope and ponder the incoming round through the eyes of a Mongrel.

 

Teams:

Richmond vs Port Adelaide

 

Venue:

MCG

 

Snapshot:

Both sides come into this game off the bye. The week prior to that, the Tigers lost to Sydney at the SCG by 6 points, and Power held off the Bombers in the wet to win by 16 points at Adelaide Oval.

 

So what does it all mean?

The ladder is likely to see some strange placings between Rounds 12-14 until things even out, thanks to the bye rounds. The Tigers have currently been pushed out to 10th, but with a healthy percentage, they’re likely to find themselves back inside the eight with a win. Port Adelaide are two wins outside the eight, facing an uphill battle to make it back in and cement their place before finals. Of the 35 clashes that these two sides have had since Port Adelaide’s inception into the AFL, only six times has this fixture been contested at the MCG, with the vast majority being played in Adelaide. For games played at the MCG, the ledger sits at 3-2-1 for the Tigers, that’s three wins, two losses and a draw, with two of those wins for Richmond coming way back in ’97 and ’98 respectively. The Tigers will host the Blues at the MCG in a massive Thursday night clash next week, before taking on the Cats, also at the MCG, the week after. Port Adelaide hosts the Swans next week, and then the Suns the week after.

 

It’s a big week for:

Returning Tigers

With it looking more and more likely that renowned swingman Noah Balta and wingman utility Marlion Pickett will make their way back into the Richmond line-up, the Tigers will return to almost full strength, now just waiting on the fitness of key forward Tom Lynch. They had won their past four games in a row before succumbing to the Swans by less than a kick in a controversial finish at the SCG before the Bye last week. Now with a huge month on the horizon that sees them take on Carlton, Geelong and West Coast, all at the MCG, followed by Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium, it’s shaping up to be a month that will either cement the Tigers as a top-eight threat once again, or see them finish outside the eight in a repeat of last year.

 

Last time they met:

It was a ripping match from Adelaide Oval in Round 4 of last season, one that saw numerous lead changes, with Power players dropping like flies to injuries throughout the night, but eventually pipping the Tigers thanks to a late, clutch goal from Robbie Gray to win by two points. Jack Riewoldt and Aliir Aliir had a terrific battle, with Allir winning the majority of contests, but Riewoldt still kicking three goals.

11.23.79 – 11.11.77

 

All eyes on:

Charlie Dixon

The returning full forward was met with little fanfare as he lined up against the Bombers a fortnight ago. An inclusion that probably worked in his favour, given that he would have close to a fortnight of no football to recover thanks to the Bye the very next round. Now with a return game under his belt and an extended break, Dixon is primed to help provide another tall, marking target within the Power forward line. Todd Marshall, Jeremy Finlayson and occasionally Mitch Georgiades have been able to plug those gaps sporadically over the first half of the season, especially with ruckman Scott Lycett still expected to miss at least another five or six weeks, and small forward Orazio Fantasia not due back until next month at the earliest.

 

Daniel Rioli

It was flirted with at times early on last season and made a permanent move during the second half of the season, but the decision to move Daniel Rioli to the half-back line, rather than toiling away as a small forward has proved to be a huge tick from Damien Hardwick and the rest of the coaching panel at the Tigers. Rioli was dangerous at his best, but given the nature of his role, often found himself missing during games and unable to have a full effect on the contest. In his new position, he’s found a completely different lease on life behind the ball, able to attack from the backline and use his signature speed and classy foot skills to rebound and set up his side’s play. There’s rejuvenating your career when you’re at a crossroads, and then there’s grabbing your career by the scruff of the neck and taking it in a whole new direction. Rioli is guilty of the latter, and I’m loving the new outlook on his football life.

 

 

Teams:

Essendon vs Carlton

 

Venue:

MCG

 

Snapshot:

Both sides come into this game off the Bye. The Bombers went down to Port Adelaide by 16 points at Adelaide Oval the week prior, whilst the Blues lost to Collingwood by 4 points at the MCG.

 

So what does it all mean?

The ladder is likely to see some strange placings between Rounds 12-14 until things even out, thanks to the Bye rounds. The Bombers still remain in 16th, only one win keeping them out of the bottom two. The Blues have now been pushed down to seventh, with the battle for a top-four spot really starting to heat up. Since the Blues lost to the Bombers by a single point at Waverley Park in 1994, this fixture has strictly been staged at the MCG. These two sides battled out to a mighty draw back in 2014, ever since then, the Blues hold a narrow 5-4 advantage over one of their oldest rivals, including victories in their last two meetings. The Bombers take on the Saints at Marvel Stadium next Friday night before heading to Perth to take on the Eagles the following Friday night, in a strange fixturing decision to award the embattled club with a handful of successive Friday night games. The Blues face Richmond next Thursday evening at the MCG in what will be a blockbuster clash, then host the Dockers at Marvel Stadium the week after.

 

It’s a big week for:

The Essendon Football Club

Despite their lacklustre season to date and the bleak outlook that most will have about the results of this game, it’s a massive week for the Bombers as they celebrate their 150th anniversary in a match against one of their oldest rivals at the home of football in Australia. Whilst their past two decades haven’t been as successful as the club, nor their supporters would’ve hoped, Essendon are still historically one of the most successful clubs in the league, tied with none other than their opposition this week with 16 premierships, more than any other side in the AFL. The once-proud club has managed sustained success throughout the majority of its 150 years, with some of the greatest players to ever play the game donning the sash. Bon Scott said “it’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll”, well the hope amongst the Bombers faithful is that they’re finally on their own, long way to the top.

 

Last time they met:

Back in Round 7 of last season, the Bombers had just started to hit their straps, winning games on their way to a surprise finals berth, whilst the Blues were once again down and out, meandering and struggling under coach David Teague – so naturally, they beat the odds-on favourite side in the Bombers by 16 points after the red and black had gotten their own lead out to four goals, in what was the highest-scoring match of the season to that point, with a combined total of 37 goals being kicked for the game. Cale Hooker and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti kicked nine goals between them for the Bombers whilst Harry McKay and Eddie Betts combined for seven. Sam Walsh and Ed Curnow went head-to-head with Darcy Parish and Zach Merrett in the midfield, with Jacob Weitering’s superb defensive game proving the difference.

16.11.107 – 19.9.123.

 

All eyes on:

Hi-ya, Georgie

A lot of talk is doing the rounds about the recruit of the year. Will Brodie, Jordan Dawson, Adam Cerra.. they’re all names that are regularly thrown in the ring for how good they’ve been for their respective sides this season, and rightfully so. One that I feel doesn’t garner the attention that it deserves, is that of George Hewett. They say that it’s hard to soar with the eagles when you’re surrounded by turkeys; (I mean ‘eagles’ as in the bird of flight, definitely NOT the football team) but I think in Hewett’s scenario, it’s more of a case of being hard to shine bright when you’re surrounded by diamonds. Need help deciphering my cryptic mixed-messages? In other words, you’re going to have a hard time recognising the impact of someone like Hewett, regardless of how impressive he’s been, when you have someone like Patrick Cripps, the goalkicking mid who is the hot favourite for the Brownlow Medal at the time of writing, and also Sam Walsh, another of the competition’s best midfielders, all playing in the same side. That’s just in the midfield! Carlton also boast one of the best one-two punches in their forward line, and up until his untimely injury last round, one of the League’s premier defenders.

 

Operation: Stop Charlie

The Bombers have been one of the easiest sides to score against this season, a fact that many sides have started to exploit. Not just through their lack of defensive pressure in the back line, but their inability to defend the ball in transition from the opposition’s backline and through the midfield. They simply cannot allow this to be the case against the Blues. If they let players like Nic Newman, and former Bomber Adam Saad walk the ball out of the backline with ease, there will be next to no stopping someone as dominant as Charlie Curnow, who is a freak in his own right, from turning it on and ripping this game apart. You would expect the Bombers to use multiple defenders to try and quell his influence, something a lot easier said than done. Jayden Laverde has the strength to go one-on-one with Curnow, but perhaps lacks the leap and closing speed to spoil if Charlie gets on the lead. Jordan Ridley has the aerial ability to play above his height, but is usually preferentially favoured in a looser role as the extra man down back. It would be virtually scoring-suicide to task Jake Kelly with the role, given his current form.  Just one of many matchup questions plaguing the Bombers coaching staff this week.

 

The other big question is, can their forwards capitalise on Carlton’s lack of height down back? Their injury list continues to grow, with them now naming all but their fifth and sixth string defenders in the absence of so many starting players. If the Bombers were to play their cards right, one or more of their tall forwards in Peter Wright and Harrison Jones may be able to have a heavy impact on the game. The big question, however, is ‘IF’?

 

 

Teams:

Fremantle vs Hawthorn

 

Venue:

Optus Stadium

 

Snapshot:

The Dockers pulled off yet another impressive feat by beating the second-placed Lions at Optus Stadium only a week after dispatching first-placed Melbourne at the MCG. The Hawks battled hard with the Magpies at a wet MCG, with Collingwood taking the four points with a four-point margin.

 

So what does it all mean?

The ladder is likely to see some strange placings between Rounds 12-14 until things even out, thanks to the Bye rounds. The Dockers took a huge step towards pinching second place by beating the Lions last week, with only a 4.1% buffer holding them away from overtaking Brisbane. The Hawks remain in 13th after their loss to the Magpies, with a percentage that likely won’t see them climb any higher, even if they’re to win this week. Fremantle have won their past three clashes against the Hawks, including a 62 point drubbing in Tasmania last year. Of the three times that this fixture has been scheduled at Optus Stadium, the Dockers have been victorious on two occasions. Both the Hawks and the Dockers will have their Bye next week respectively, with Hawthorn then heading to Marvel Stadium where they’ll take on the Bulldogs the week after. The Dockers will also be heading to Marvel Stadium after their week off, taking on the Blues in a Saturday afternoon battle.

 

It’s a big week for:

Nat Fyfe

After having surgeries on both his shoulder and his back, and not lining up for a senior match since Round 19 of last season, it appears as if we’re finally going to see an answer to the question that’s been on the minds of most – where will Nat Fyfe squeeze into this impressive Fremantle side? With their midfield of Will Brodie, David Mundy, Andrew Brayshaw and Caleb Serong being one of the most formidable currently in the competition, plus on the back of victories over the top two seeded sides in Melbourne and Brisbane across the past two weeks, it’s a brilliant conundrum for Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir to have on his hands. Either way, football, in general, will be better for having Nat Fyfe back, not to mention the impact he will have for this already imposing Fremantle side.

 

Last time they met:

A game that became a bit of a belting down in Hobart, with the Dockers kicking eight of the last nine goals in the match to run away 62 point winners over the Hawks, in Nat Fyfe’s 200th game. This particular game will also be remembered as the first match after Hawthorn made public their intention to transition out their coach Alastair Clarkson for his assistant Sam Mitchell, a transition that was met with grievances and ultimately led to Clarkson finishing up his tenure a year prematurely. But back to the game, tall duo Sean Darcy and Rory Lobb monstered their opponents Ben McEvoy and Jonathon Ceglar in the ruck and around the ground, Darcy amassing 25 disposals, six contested marks and five clearances whilst Lobb kicked 4.3 and clunked three contested marks of his own. David Mundy looked evergreen with his 30 disposals and two goals, whilst young Caleb Serong showed promise as a genuine ball-winner, racking up 30 disposals and 10 clearances in one of his first games on the ball as opposed to being the run-with tagger that he was used as previously. The Hawks were kept afloat by the efforts of Tom Mitchell, with fellow midfielders Jaeger O’Meara and James Worpel both failing to fire a shot against the rampant Dockers. It should also be noted that during the course of the match, the Hawks lost defenders Changkuoth Jiath to a knee injury and Jack Scrimshaw to concussion.   6.10.46 – 16.12.108.

 

All eyes on:

Mitch Lewis

The budding forward has continued his transition into being a focal point in the Hawthorn forward line, kicking 27 goals from only his nine games this season, averaging three goals a game and including a haul of five against Port Adelaide and bags of four against both Brisbane and Collingwood. That has well and truly eclipsed his previous best of 22 goals from his 14 games of last season. The 23-year-old hasn’t failed to kick a goal in any game that he’s played this year, and has taken the second most contested marks at the club behind only James Sicily, who has played in three more games than Lewis. It’s been a tremendous change in fortunes for the former prospect out of the Calder Cannons (if you’re waiting for me to say ‘Footy Factory, do not hold your breath), who has considerably ramped up his size over the offseason, adding some bulk to his once light frame and becoming a genuine under-the-radar forward prospect within the AFL. His scoring return so far this season of 27.9 places him up there as one of the most reliable shots on goal in the game, and a genuine weapon for Sam Mitchell to build his new look forward line around, with elder statesman such as Jack Gunston and Luke Breust getting into the twilight years of their illustrious careers. Now it’s time to offer Lewis a new contract.

 

That ability to score

Chances are you may have heard me banging on in recent weeks about Brisbane and their ability to score. Even after losing three of their tall forward focal points in Joe Daniher, Dan McStay and Eric Hipwood for portions of this season, we see within that side an abundance of mid-sized players who are more than capable of kicking three or more goals. Dayne Zorko, Charlie Cameron, Zac Bailey, Hugh McCluggage, Lachie Neale, Cam Rayner. Each of these players have kicked multiple goals on multiple occasions throughout the season, and that flexibility has become a genuine scoring weapon for the Lions. Why am I writing about this in the Fremantle/Hawthorn game? Because I’m beginning to see similarities within this rising Dockers side. Especially on this weekend gone, playing against none other than the team that I’ve just sung the praises of, the Dockers showed their own ability to score without relying heavily on one or two of their regular contributors.

Bailey Banfield starred in a second-half cameo that saw him slot three goals in a short period during the third quarter on his way to four for the game, Rory Lobb continued his terrific vein of form with three of his own. Ater spending most of the year setting up the goals of others, Michael Frederick kicked his season-best tally of three, Griffin Logue switched forward with great success to kick two and an array of mids also contributed. This is something that I’ve noticed developing over the past couple of months for the Dockers. It was the same against Melbourne the week before, with multiple players able to contribute to the side’s score.

 

 

Teams:

Brisbane vs St. Kilda

 

Venue:

Gabba

 

Snapshot:

The Saints come into this match off the Bye last week, after accounting for the Kangaroos by 53 points the week before. The Lions were outclassed by the Dockers in Perth, unable to bridge the gap and losing by 14 points.

 

So what does it all mean?

The ladder is likely to see some strange placings between Rounds 12-14 until things even out, thanks to the Bye rounds. The Lions are currently hanging on to second place by a narrowing percentage, with the ascending Dockers hot on their tail. As for the Saints, they’ve been pushed out to fifth, but their competitive percentage keeps them in constant pursuit of the top four. It’s St. Kilda who hold the stronger recent record over the Lions, having won five of their past seven meetings, with the Lions only managing to win in two of their past three clashes. The Gabba has been a happy hunting ground for the boys from Moorabbin, with the Saints winning four of their past six outings against the Lions at their own home venue. The Lions have the Bye next week before a potential top-of-the-table clash with the Demons at the MCG the week after. The Saints host the Bombers at Marvel Stadium on Friday night of next week before heading to the SCG to take on the Swans the following week.

 

It’s a big week for:

Joe Daniher

The high marking forward is set to make his return for the Lions this week after missing five weeks with a shoulder injury that he sustained in the Lions Round 7 win over the Swans at the SCG. It marks an important period of the season for the Lions as they look to remain inside the top two after losing two of their last three games, with Fremantle now breathing down their necks for second place. Daniher has been a brilliant pickup for Brisbane since crossing over from Essendon, managing to get his injury concerns under control and having a terrific run of scoring, not failing to score a goal once across the home and away season in 2021, a trend that he continued this season* up until his untimely injury, having kicked 19 goals across his first six games.

 

*Not including his goalless game in Round 7 where he left the field injured early in the match, unable to play out the contest.

 

Last time they met:

It was Brisbane captain Dayne Zorko’s 200th game back in Round 17 of last year, in what proved to be a horror night for the Lions as their spearhead forward Eric Hipwood ruptured his ACL. The Saints would completely overrun the inaccurate Lions at Metricon Stadium, getting on a run of five straight goals in the second term, then again later in the match, kicking seven of the last eight goals of the game to win by 32 points. Luke Dunstan linked up with a pair of Jacks (Steele and Billings) to produce a midfield masterclass against the likes of Lachie Neale and Hugh McCluggage. Dayne Zorko was gallant in his milestone game with three goals, whilst Jimmy Webster kept Charlie Cameron to five paltry possessions and Dougal Howard held Joe Daniher to only a single goal. 8.15.63 – 14.11.95.

 

All eyes on:

Not quite over the Hill

The entire footy landscape came down hard on Brad Hill, and it all seemed to culminate with his string of poor performances last year. It had little to do with his lack of impact on the stats sheet, any player can be forgiven for having a quiet day at the office here and there, it literally happens to the best of them. But it was the lack of impact on the game, and the accused laziness that had a lot of onlookers, St. Kilda fans included, dismayed with what they were seeing. This year, however, is a completely different story. Throughout the season so far we’ve seen the best of the current Brad Hill in a number of different roles that benefit his team greatly, depending on who their opponent is that week. We saw his super attacking best against the Hawks back in Round 4 when he was pushed up onto the half-forward flank for a period, a move that proved a resounding success both on the scoreboard and for setting up play in the forward half. His last two games against the Kangaroos and the Crows have both been terrific, as Hill’s role as that rebounding defender that regularly pushes out to a wing is greatly bolstered by the defensive reliability of the likes of Jack Sinclair, Josh Battle and Callum Wilkie.

 

The forgotten man

Have the media largely forgotten about Charlie Cameron this season? I know I’ve been guilty of it myself at times, especially in the early days of the season. It was made out as if he had a horribly quiet start to the season, despite still kicking eight goals in his first five games. I guess that’s part and parcel of the expectations lumped on someone who is still regarded as one of the league’s premier small forwards. In fact, the only time in almost two months of football that Cameron hasn’t kicked multiple goals, was his single goal return against the Giants in Round 11. Other than that, he’s averaging 3.5 goals per game in that same period and sits on 30 for the season, having not finished a game without a goal to his name. Perhaps the tremendous season of Lachie Neale in the middle paired with the tall forward injuries that his side has seen is the catalyst for the attention not being focused on Charlie, but if that is the case, then I think the 27-year-old may only be one big bag away from that spotlight shining straight back on him.

 

 

Teams:

North Melbourne vs GWS

 

Venue:

Marvel Stadium

 

Snapshot:

North Melbourne return to Victoria after losing to the Suns in Darwin by 62 points. The Giants come into the game off a Bye, having lost to the Lions by 14 points at the Gabba the week prior.

 

So what does it all mean?

The ladder is likely to see some strange placings between Rounds 12-14 until things even out, thanks to the Bye rounds. North Melbourne are still being kept out of wooden spoon territory, only just, thanks to the Eagles and their subpar percentage. The Giants have meandered their way to 15th with only three wins for the season. This fixture has been a bit of a Travelling Wilbury affair over the years, with their 11 matches being contested at one of six different venues, this weekend being the first time that it’s been featured at Marvel Stadium since 2016. The Kangaroos hold a stronger record over the Giants than any other side in the club’s recent history, beating the AFL’s youngest side in seven of their eleven meetings, and fighting out to the pair’s first-ever draw in dramatic scenes last season. The Kangaroos will have their Bye next week before hosting the Crows in Hobart the week after. The Giants host the Bulldogs at their namesake ground next week before they head to Melbourne to take on the Magpies the week after.

 

It’s a big week for:

Toby Greene

The Giants co-co captain is due for an absolute cracker, and there is no better opponent for the pickings right now than North Melbourne. Greene played possibly his best game for the season since his return back in Round 6, kicking four goals against the Lions and looking closer to his dangerous best both in the forward line, and during his cameo up forward. We haven’t seen Greene back at his absolute best this year, and that’s more of an indictment on the way GWS have been travelling as a team this season. Unfortunately by the time we see Greene at his best it may be too little, too late for the Giants and their hopes to make finals this season. For the general football public who crave being entertained, however, his improved form is a welcomed prospect.

 

Last time they met:

Who could forget the dramatic draw that these two battled out at Blundstone Arena last season? I’ll be honest, a lot of people will have forgotten. But I guarantee most Kangaroos and Giants supporters remember it. North Melbourne came out strongly and managed to stay in front for almost the entire match, they established lead after lead, but the Giants kept chipping away and swaying proceedings back in their favour. The frenetic final quarter had the Giants kicking six of the final seven goals of the game to end in a draw. Josh Kelly and Tim Taranto fought a terrific battle in the midfield against the likes of Jy Simpkin, Aaron Hall and Ben Cunnington, whilst Nick Haynes was rock solid in defence for the Giants. 14.10.94 – 14.10.94.

 

All eyes on:

Harrowing prospect

Where would North Melbourne be right now without Luke Davies-Uniacke and Jy Simpkin? Quite simply, the thought of it is distressing. I think the loss of Ben Cunnington is severely understated with this side currently, and where they find themselves. Whilst I fully sympathise with North Melbourne and their plight, I feel some are too harsh to judge a side that has lost key pillars to their club at various stages this season. One must simply look at the second half of last season, the Kangaroos resurgence was largely on the back of Ben Cunnington and his ability to aid them in either winning games, or at least remaining competitive enough to show signs of progression.

 

Taylor made

I’ll tell you what, I’ve come to love watching Sam Taylor play this year. If he played for a Victorian club, or any of the club’s in top eight contention, his praises would be sung like Khe Sanh at Uncle Darryl’s 40th birthday party. The 23 year old was rewarded for his strong form last year with a contract extension that will see him remain a Giant until the end of the 2025 season. So far this year, Taylor sits amongst some of the League’s leaders in most key defensive stats, having a consistent run and hardly being beaten when he’s one out with his opponent. I’m not even remotely surprised when I see him in All Australian talks, his only down side will be the quality of opposition that he comes up against when these things are voted on, given the abundance of top-class defenders currently in the AFL.

 

 

Teams:

Collingwood vs Melbourne

 

Venue:

MCG

 

Snapshot:

The Magpies held on firm against the Hawks to record a four-point victory in the rain at the MCG last week. The Demons were overrun by a gallant Swans, now losing two games in a row for the first time since 2020.

 

So what does it all mean?

The ladder is likely to see some strange placings between Rounds 12-14 until things even out, thanks to the Bye rounds. Destination: top-8 for the Magpies, they’re currently in eighth place, for now. The Demons are still top of the table, however, a big enough win to either the Dockers or the Lions can see them dethroned, especially if they’re not able to beat the Magpies this week. It’s been swings and roundabouts for these two sides for a long time. Between late 2007 and 2015, the Magpies went undefeated across 11 games with the Demons, including a memorable draw back in 2010. Melbourne then went on a run of four straight wins over the Magpies, followed by Collingwood’s own run of four straight wins, with the most recent two clashes sitting at a 1-1 ledger, the most recent of which was the lowly Magpies of last season upsetting the rising Demons by 17 points. Much like the Essendon/Carlton matchup, this particular fixture has been contested at the MCG every year* since 1994, the last of which being at Waverley Park. Both sides will enjoy their Bye round next week before the Magpies return to host the Giants at the MCG the following Sunday afternoon, whilst the Demons will face a brutal assignment upon return, with the Lions awaiting them in a Thursday night thriller from the MCG.

 

*excluding the two Covid-19 affected fixtures of 2020 and 2021 at the Gabba and SCG respectively.

 

It’s a big week for:

Neale Daniher

The man whose playing career was tragically cut short by injury, went on to carve out a successful career as a senior coach and now in his later years has elevated himself to the very rare status that exceeds that of legend. Whilst the word ‘legend’ in itself is thrown around all too frequently these days, so much so that it tends to lose a lot of its true sentiment, when discussing the incredible work that Neale Daniher has done for the Freeze MND charity campaign, he will be remembered as somebody who gave his all – mind, body and soul to helping find a cure for this disease that has plagued him in recent years, and will ultimately claim his life, a dedication that truly paints him in the eyes of all that know him, or even just know of him, as a true legend and an incredibly selfless human being.

 

Last time they met:

The Magpies had announced that embattled coach Nathan Buckley would part ways with the club, so in no finer fashion, his side sent him off in style with a win on one of the most-watched home and away games of the season. The Queen’s Birthday fixture was held at the SCG due to Covid-19 restrictions, and it saw the Magpies hand the Demons their second loss of the season by 17 points. Brayden Maynard was the difference throughout the day, with the nuggety defender causing havoc for the Demons, including pulling down a terrific clutch mark late in the game to save the day. Darcy Cameron kicked four goals in just his third game as he came in to replace the injured Brodie Grundy, and Jordan De Goey won plenty of the ball out of the middle. 9.9.63 – 11.14.80.

 

All eyes on:

The Big Freeze

After his own diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease back in 2013, Neale Daniher AO announced his plight the following year as he co-founded the Fight MND charity, becoming an ambassador and patron for the cause, and the front man leading this campaign to help find a cure for the disease. It was in 2015 that Neale began the ‘Big Freeze’ at the MCG on the annual Queen’s Birthday match between Melbourne and Collingwood, an initiative that saw AFL media personalities ride a toboggan down a plastic slide and into a giant pool of ice at the MCG, in order to promote the charity and raise money for it’s cause. The Big Freeze has continued to grow annually, becoming one of the biggest fixtures on the AFL calendar each season. Now into its eighth instalment, we’ve seen an array of celebrities ranging from current and retired footballers, coaches, media personalities, national and international sports stars and many more embrace the cause. The MCG and general public are decked out with blue MND beanies as part of the fundraising efforts, starting a walk from Federation Square in the Melbourne CBD that ends at the MCG each year.

 

At the commencement of Big Freeze 8, the charity had raised over $56 million and Neale Daniher has been promoted to Officer of the Order of Australia for ‘distinguished service to people with Motor Neurone Disease and their families through advocacy, public education and fundraising initiatives’, as well as being named Victorian of the Year along the way.

If you have an interest in Neale Daniher’s entire story, I wrote a detailed article on him for The Mongrel Punt a couple of years ago that can be found below.

Any Given Mongrel – Neale Daniher

 

If you feel you’d like to contribute, all information in regards to donations can be found at www.fightmnd.org.au

 

Misfiring Forwards

The past fortnight has shown a number of vulnerabilities in the Melbourne side. This can quite easily be put down to a bad couple of showings that their opposition fully capitalised on, but one area of large concern is certainly their once potent forward line that has failed to fire a shot at times against both Fremantle and Sydney. Ben Brown hasn’t kicked a goal in over three weeks, nor has Christian Petracca (with some leniency given to Petracca playing as a mid/forward). Tom McDonald has suffered a Lisfranc injury of his foot that requires surgery and by all reports will be lucky if he’s back this season, and his immediate replacement in Mitch Brown unfortunately failed to set the world alight last week. Collingwood has shown us that their makeshift forward line has been competitive enough at times to win them games throughout the season, and with miserable conditions forecast, it’s shaping up to be a bit of a slug at the MCG on Monday.

 

Fly the Pie

It was 12 months ago this weekend that Nathan Buckley coached his 218th and final game for the Collingwood Football Club. It would be his 478th appearance of a career that spanned over 24 years as both a player and a coach at the Magpies. Long-time assistant coach Robert Harvey took the wheel as interim coach until the Magpies named former Brisbane Lions player Craig McRae as their new head coach for the 2022 season. Since retiring from football at the end of 2004, McRae has had numerous tenures at Richmond in differing roles, a short-lived stint back at the Brisbane Lions, a previous role at the Magpies and a year with the Hawks. After finishing one win off the bottom of the ladder last year, Collingwood has seen an exponential rise in their playing fortunes under the new coach, with an array of players beginning to blossom under new leadership. Currently sitting in the top eight, the Magpies will have their eyes firmly on playing finals football this season in an impressive turnaround from last year’s fortunes, if they’re able to continue on their current patch of form for the remainder of the season.

 

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