It’s that time of the week again – Jimmy Ayres is ready… hot and sweat – just the way you like him. He has been slaving over an open fire, stoking it… like a weirdo… and now he has prepared that which you’re all after.

Who is On Fire heading into Round 16? And who is Under Fire?

Let’s jump right on in.

 

Adelaide

On Fire – Taylor Walker & Darcy Forgarty

It was a day for the talls in Adelaide forward line, with Walker and Fogarty contributing 10 of the Crows’ final tally of 17 for the game, with the former kicking three in the first quarter, taking the North Melbourne defenders to task on his way to 6.2 for the day. Fogarty finished with 4.1 and two direct goal assists as the Adelaide side brilliantly kicked away in the second half, turning what started as a close game of footy down in Hobart, into a 57 point shellacking.

 

Under Fire – Mitchell Hinge

Whilst I thought a couple of passages involving Hinge were rather creative, with the pacey defender using his leg speed to carry the ball out of defence and transition up the wing, his disposal was absolutely woeful on the day, especially by foot, going at 22% kicking efficiency for the game and giving away three free kicks.

 

Brisbane

On Fire – Oscar McInerney

In sheer defiance of what the live broadcasters and media commentary would have had you believe, I actually rated McInerney as the better ruckman on the night over Melbourne’s Luke Jackson. With no knock to Jackson whatsoever, I just felt that Oscar held more sway at the centre contests. He finished with an equal game high 12 clearances and clunked three contested marks, had he not missed his multiple opportunities on goal, there would’ve been little doubt in anyone’s mind who had played the better game.

Luke Jackson had six more tackles and nailed that celebrated snap shot on goal which did make this a much harder log to split, however as a starting ruckman your primary job is to win the hitouts and aid your side in winning the clearances, something that I felt the Big O excelled at.

 

Under Fire – Joe Daniher

The task of lining up on Steven May is an arduous one at the best of times. The task of lining up on Steven May in his first week back after a few personal weeks of hell, shrouded in controversy for him and his footy club, is an even scarier prospect. The unfortunate bearer of this burden? Smokin’ Joe Daniher.

Whilst Joe looked well in the game during the first quarter, taking two marks and earning himself plenty of opportunities to score (of which he kicked 1.2), once the Demons found their groove in the second quarter and piled on goals relentlessly, Joe all but went swimming with Harold Holt, such was May’s domination on him directly and when he peeled off to help a teammate. Daniher only took one further mark for the game, which came in the third quarter, and he managed one extra behind in the fourth to finish the game with 1.3 as a non-influence after quarter time.

 

Carlton

On Fire – Sam Walsh

How is this guy only 21? I feel like we all forget just how young he is, given that his intensity at the contest rivals that of any veteran midfielder in the competition. He looked at his absolute best against the Dockers on the weekend, collecting a mammoth 40 disposals and seven clearances to be one of Carlton’s best players for the day. It was a more than decent start to the game, but Walsh really exploded in the second and third quarters, winning 26 of his touches in those two quarters alone and really doubled down as Fremantle wasted their opportunities in the third.

 

Under Fire – The Back Line (Apparently)

There is little doubt that Carlton’s defensive stocks have been decimated this season. Other than Sam Docherty and Adam Saad, they’ve lost all but lost the rest of their starting back line to injury, but you wouldn’t have thought so if you watched the Fremantle game. Sam Docherty has been Carlton’s most consistent player this season, especially with the added workload of those around him dropping like flies.

 

Collingwood

On Fire – Darcy Cameron

No doubt fueled by the impending announcement post-game of his well deserved three year contract extension, Cameron was an absolute monster on the weekend, proving that Collingwood have found a way to adapt to life without their multi-million dollar ruckman in Brodie Grundy, with plenty of press throwing their suggestions around as to whether Grundy ought to return from his knee injury via the VFL, as to not upset the apple cart that coach Craig McRae has developed in the star ruckman’s absence. Cameron snuck forward for a couple of goals, all the while pairing with Mason Cox to completely outgun the undermanned Giants ruck division.

 

Under Fire – Accuracy

It was a really solid hitout for the Magpies, who held their composure when the Giants got on a run of goals in a short burst to slash the margin back to 10 points late in the game. Collingwood had their chances early, but kicked 11.22 for the game in an inaccurate display,  thanks in part to the torrid weather at the MCG. Jack Ginnivan, Jamie Elliot, Brody Mihocek and Josh Daicos combining for 5.11.

 

Essendon

On Fire – Peter Wright

Despite missing numerous set shots that you would assume he would’ve nailed earlier in the season, Peter Wright was still a force up forward. Finishing the game with 4.4, it wasn’t necessarily the goals, but the body of work that he provided. One knock on him throughout his career has been his perceived hate of body contact and an inability to make enough meaningful leads. Last night, especially in the first half, we saw a monstrous side of Wright that clunked contested marks, weaved his way through the forward line and provided stable leads that his midfielders could actually honour. Yes, his unconverted shots could have swung the tide of the game, but those that he nailed were viral at the time.

 

Under Fire – Sam Draper

A massive wasted opportunity for Sam Draper to assert himself over a ruck division that seriously lacks any punch without the formidable Nic Naitanui leading it. He and Nick Bryan broke even against a very subpar opposition, with all respect intended. That was the sort of game where someone like Draper, a ruckman that the Bombers are pinning their future hopes on, should have had a complete day out and been a dominant force. Instead, we saw him meander away at the bounce and win a handful of hitouts with as little sincerity as I’ve seen from the enigmatic, energetic big man in some time.

 

Fremantle

On Fire – Will Brodie

One of a few highlights for the Dockers on a day that saw Justin Longmuir’s side be truly taken to task for the first time in a game since their Round 10 loss to Collingwood. Brodie, Brayshaw and co. went head to head with the likes of Patrick Cripps, Sam Walsh, George Hewett and Matt Kennedy who were relentless in the centre, with Brodie being my pick of the Fremantle mids.

There’s a pattern that follows with players like Will Brodie, you watch his game and he comes out on the front foot winning the ball for the Dockers, but as soon as the scoreline starts to rise in favour of the opposition, all of a sudden his tackling increases and his defensive pressure comes to the fore.

 

Under Fire – Nat Fyfe

In his second game back for the season, it just appeared as if nothing went right for the Dockers champion. He was dealt plenty of extra attention off the ball by his Carlton counterparts, he was the focus of a crusade at one point for making incidental contact with an umpire, even his onfield exploits were hampered by the constant nagging and attention of the opposition players, clearly in an attempt to unsettle the dual Brownlow medallist, something I feel that Cameron achieved.

 

Geelong

On Fire – Cam Guthrie

The Cats mid was terrific against the Tigers, he just has a way to win the ball in any position on the ground and drive it out for his side. Even in the second quarter when the Tigers got on their burst of goals, all of a sudden Guthrie’s mindset switches to defence, where his tackling and pressure off the ball were second to none when his side needed him. A few pivotal touches late in the game helped set up the ripping comeback and ultimately a thrilling win for the Cats.

 

Under Fire – Tom Stewart

This is one of those ironic occasions where Tom Stewart’s name should have, and almost did appear in the previous section of this piece. But unfortunately, I think we’re all aware as to why it’s not. Now, if you ask a Richmond fan, they’ll tell you that Tom Stewart’s bump on Dion Prestia was a completely premeditated attack, one that was decades in the making and that Chris Scott conspired with “Mr. Rent-a-Kill” Chris Flannery to orchestrate such a hit. If you ask a Geelong fan, Tom Stewart is an honourable citizen of the highest order, and butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. I tend to come in where the acknowledgement is made that players can make uncharacteristic mistakes on the field and not be branded as Lucifer himself.

Yes, Stewart’s act was dangerous.

Yes, he elected to bump and caught Prestia high, and rather late.

Yes, he copped his right whack at the tribunal.

No, I don’t think any coach at AFL level in today’s day and age would ask their vice captain, and arguably their own most important player to risk a month or more worth of suspension, in the middle of the season, to take out their opposition’s best player. This isn’t Hawthorn in the 80’s.

No, I haven’t heard a single Cats supporter trying to advocate for Stewart not to be suspended, quite the opposite in fact. Every Geelong fan that I’ve spoken to agrees that he did the crime, now he must in turn do the time.

I think that the heat of the moment and the fact that the game was so close with late lead changes, caused the heightened feelings of angst and a wider conspiracy amongst the fans, eventually overtaking common sense.

 

Gold Coast

On Fire – Jarrod Witts

Is Witts going to be our All-Australian ruckman this season? A lot of signs are beginning to point towards yes, and efforts like those that we saw on the weekend against Port go greatly in his favour. Admittedly, his biggest competition was against Jeremy Finlayson – a forward who is filling the role out of necessity, but take nothing away from just how good the Gold Coast skipper was in the ruck and around the ground.

 

Under Fire – Chris Burgess

Not a huge knock on Burgess, he presented well at times throughout the game, it just wasn’t his day. The likes of Mabior Chol, Levi Casboult and Izak Rankine did majority of the heavy lifting in front of goals, whilst Burgess missed his only real shot at the big sticks, and didn’t look like having much of an impact for large parts of the day.

 

GWS

On Fire – Jesse Hogan

On a wet and miserable day where the opposition kicked 22 behinds from their 33 scoring shots, Hogan led the way for the Giants in the forward line, taking three contested marks and kicking four straight goals, looking like the only real presence aside from Jake Riccardi’s last quarter cameo. Interim coach Mark McVeigh switched the magenta once again, sending former All Australian defender Nick Haynes into the forward line, where in true defenders fashion, he missed two easy set shots on goal.

 

Under Fire – Callan Ward

This one may come as a bit of a surprise to some, but it was just a case of Ward not having a great day at the office. Largely thanks to the expectations on him for being the great leader and player in this expansion side that he has been for years, he was below his best against the Magpies on the weekend and looked fairly off the pace, especially in the back half, in what was surely one of the veteran’s quietest games of the season.

 

Hawthorn

On Fire – Jack Scrimshaw

With Sicily subdued and negated by a clever tactical ruse from the opposition, Scrimshaw stood up and wasn’t just my pick of the Hawthorn defenders, but I had him for my best player in the brown and yellow for the game – keep in mind that I’m a sucker for a good old fashioned defender. He finished the game with more intercepts than any player on the field and his disposal by foot was more than handy as well. He was taken inside the top ten at the national draft back in 2016, and it’s easy to see why.

 

Under Fire – James Sicily

I’m a huge fan of James Sicily and the line that he usually treads with tentative balance, but as far as his game went against the Bulldogs, he was far from poor, but his frustrations got the better of him, especially in a third quarter fracas where Sicily really got ahold of Aaron Naughton…. ‘s headband. When that happens, it’s either caused by trouble for the Hawks, or it soon spells trouble for them.

The Bulldogs employed some brilliant tactical moves to negate the key pillars to the Hawks game, one of those being Sicily. Although he was still able to have some effect on the game, his influence was far below what it usually is, with numerous Bulldogs getting on the end of multiple goals.

 

Melbourne

On Fire – James Jordon

“If you control Ed Langdon, you control Melbourne” – not any more. That was once the widely reported narrative earlier this season, and it rang true at times. But with Langdon copping some opposition attention once again, Jordan exploded out of the blocks and really took it up to the Lions, racking up 24 disposals and kicking 2.1 as a genuine wingman. Jordon has risen to new heights in the latter part of this season to date, and his ability to assume the role has sent him become as important to the side as almost any player, especially when Ed Langdon has a direct opponent to contend with.

I can’t complete this section without giving Jack Viney another shoutout. I praised his tenacity in this piece after their previous game, and he blew that out of the water with yet another gutsy performance to be my pick of the Demons midfielders against the Lions. I said it last time, and I’ll say it again now: if you looked up ‘heart and soul player’ in the AFL dictionary of colloquialisms, it would be Viney’s face on the page looking back at you.

 

Under Fire – Ben Brown

He really did a lot of things right in this game, more so than we’ve seen for over a month. He led at the ball, he took marks and presented as you would expect for a forward of his size and capacity. All that let him down on Thursday night was his kicking! Brown finished the game with 1.3 to his name, as well as one shot that didn’t quite carry. Whilst his two goals in the Queen’s Birthday match were a vast improvement on his goalless three weeks leading up to that fixture, I felt he presented much more proficiently against the Lions, he just needed to convert his opportunities.

 

North Melbourne

On Fire – Aaron Hall

A common knock on Hall is that he accumulates a lot of the ball across the half back line, but lacks any penetration or damage with his disposal. Well, I think that would be a hard case to argue this weekend gone. Hall racked up 38 disposals out of defence for a whopping 1,169 metres gained, breaking the previous record held by Joel Bowden of Richmond, with 1,153 metres gained back in 2009.

 

Under Fire – Tarryn Thomas

Whilst the critics were lining up to take shots at Thomas for his onfield performance on the weekend, one that saw him only manage three touches and a single tackle for the entire game against the Crows, and in the wake of an outburst on social media in response to a fan’s comments directed towards himself, it was coach David Noble that revealed Thomas was dealing with the loss of a family member prior to the game, and despite his personal suffering, chose to play in their honour.

 

Port Adelaide

On Fire – Karl Amon

Cracking game from the Port wingman, Amon is beginning to take his game to a whole new level this season, only making his own stocks rise in the wake of his decision to delay contract talks with Port Adelaide, with their own football boss Chris Davies admitting that the longer the contract talks are held off, the less likely it is for him to remain at Power next season.

Amon achieved a rare feat on the weekend, amassing what statisticians in some circles refer to as a ‘quadruple double’, reaching double figures in each of the four categories of kicks, handballs, marks and tackles. Something that sounds reasonably common, but Amon is surprisingly only the seventh player ever to pull it off in the AFL.

Check out HB’s article about it on The Mongrel Punt website from the weekend, it really breaks down the stat and the history surrounding it.

 

Under Fire – Mitch Georgiadis

Todd Marshall seems to have finally taken that step towards becoming Port’s next big thing in attack. Despite the arguments in recent weeks between those who underrated him, those who overrated him and those who just wished that Warren Treadrea never had to age, it’s been a breakout season of sorts for Marshall, and one that many ripped would be a chance for he and Mitch Georgiadis to rise in the absence of Charlie Dixon in the first half of the season.

Unfortunately for Georgiadis, things just aren’t quite gelling. He contributed 2.4 on the weekend, which tells even blind Freddie that he had ample opportunities, but was unable to convert. This has been a continuous issue for Georgiadis this season, now sitting on 12.20 for the season from his 12 games.

 

Richmond

On Fire – Nick Vlastuin

I really rated the game of Vlastuin against the Cats, his intercept work and his ability to keep space between himself and his direct opponent were vital. When the Cats kicked away in the second quarter, it was the defensive pressure of Vlastuin that kept them in check whilst the Tigers began their own onslaught, turning the tides and the scoreline back in their favour.

 

Under Fire – Jack Riewoldt

It was a strange night from Jack, he popped up at high half forward a few times, something we’ve seen a number of times this season, but never looked like being a threat inside the forward 50. Riewoldt wasn’t just held goalless for the first time this season, but he was also held completely scoreless, with just a single goal assist for the game. Very uncharacteristic.

 

St. Kilda

On Fire – Rowan Marshall

In a game that will be spoken about at length internally for all the wrong reasons, but swiftly forgotten about by most Saints fans, Marshall was one of a few players that played their role and did so terrifically. With his partner in crime Paddy Ryder being tested from the game, Marshall assumed the role of sole ruckman, and got the better of the part-time Sam Reid and Tom Hickey on his return to football. Marshall was clearly one of the fee dominant St. Kilda players, racking up 43 hitouts, 23 disposals, eight intercepts, seven marks and five clearances.

Also, a shoutout to Jack Steele is warranted. The Saints skipper returned ridiculously fast from an AC joint injury, and looked almost as though he hadn’t missed a beat.

 

Under Fire – Plan B (Or Lack Thereof)

When will the Saints stop bombing it long to Max King and just hoping for the best? It has killed them for a number of weeks now, and continued terribly against the Swans. This was only one concern for the Saints, but something that must be addressed as they now languish at 10th after a massive fall from grace, losing their last three games in a row.

 

Sydney

On Fire – Jake Lloyd

I have been hugely critical of Jake Lloyd and Dane Rampe at times this season. With the McCartin brothers looking ominous at times throughout the year, the veteran pair have looked complacent and exposed at times. Well, I’m happy to report that Jake Lloyd had probably his best game that I can recall in recent seasons against the Saints on the weekend. It was an Herculean effort from the defender, amassing 39 disposals, 10 intercepts, nine marks and three tackles on his way to an utter domination, restricting the Saints to their lowest score under coach Brett Ratten and only conceding four goals in the game of footy.

 

Under Fire – Logan McDonald

It wasn’t a huge game in terms of scoring, with the Swans sharing the load rather evenly between their forwards and mids. Logan McDonald presented well and had multiple opportunities, but the budding forward would ultimately finish the game with two behinds to his name. It was a quiet night, but one to put behind him. He will be far better for the consistent run in the seniors that he’s been afforded this season.

 

West Coast

On Fire – Elliot Yeo

That run off half back was vital in the first half, it’s no wonder that the bloke won All Australian honours playing there in the past. Yep managed to weave his way in and out of traffic, avoid tackles like the plague and sent the ball along the line. The Bombers’ early domination in the game was turned on its head and held at a standstill every time they bombed it forward, largely thanks to the rebounding prowess of Yeo.

 

Under Fire – Callum Jamieson

Whilst Essendon’s ruck showing was dismal and should have steamrolled straight over the top of West Coast without Nic Naitanui, Bailey Williams more than held his own and actually turned some sway in the game against all odds. Callum Jamieson on the other hand, was disappointing. Outside of the occasional reprieving ruck cameo, Jamieson was barely a factor in the contest.

 

Western Bulldogs

On Fire – Rhylee West

You son of a gun! Haven’t heard that one yet, Bulldogs fans? Then get used to it. In all seriousness, what a game by young Rhylee, son of Bulldogs legend Scott West for those who may have mystically been unaware. It wasn’t just his ability to score (kicking 3.3 for the match), but it was West’s presence in the forward line that impressed me. He won plenty of contested ball, he laid tackles and he kicked goals. He’s been in and out of the side over his three prior seasons at the club, only managing 18 appearances and a cheeky social media post from a parent along the way.

Small shoutout to Tom Liberatore. Possibly the loosest unit in the AFL manages to regularly shine in a midfield stacked with talent, regardless of the role that he’s given on the day.

 

Under Fire – Aaron Naughton’s Hair Stylist

By the time James Sicily had finished roughing him up, Naughton’s golden locks were in all sorts. Teammate Bailey Dale making comment on radio post-game that Naughton is very particular when it comes to his golden mane. The humour in this section also highlights how well the Dogs played as a team, with no clear standout deserving of a serve in my opinion. At the end of the first quarter, I had a dozen Bulldogs in my crosshairs. But they soon redeemed that.