Seven Things I Learnt After Round 14

Seven Things We Learnt After Round 14


1. St Kilda can kick a score

If anybody suggested that 35 goals would’ve been scored on Friday night at the GABBA, you might’ve thought they were crazy or that Brisbane would kick 28 of them. In a strange twist, some Saints fans rate this loss to the Lions as a better game than their dour win against the Suns in the previous round. It seems they’d rather lose pretty than win ugly. I’d say that’s a misguided mindset brought on by the superficiality of the modern era. Yes, the Saints played very well in patches, and were able to score heavier than normal, but they also conceded 19 goals by abandoning their usual defensive game plan.

Whilst it’s good to know that Lyon might be a little bit more than a one-trick pony, the Saints would probably struggle to keep pace with most teams if they adopted this kind of tactic on a regular basis. I imagine Ross Lyon is more than aware of the limitations of his list, so you can expect a lot more low scoring matches for the remainder of the year. Although maybe the powers that be on Channel 7 suggested no more prime time if they served up another Gold Coast style game. But I digress.

Last week, it was Eric Hipwood booting six goals with Joe Daniher in a supporting role. This week it was Daniher with five majors as Hipwood bagged a couple in support. These two have had a fairly mediocre year for the most part, and it’s no coincidence the Lions’ fortunes have improved in line with this duo finding form. It will be a huge factor if they are to make the finals. Dane Zorko was Brisbane’s top possession getter with 30 and must play on next year when he’ll be 36 years old. Brisbane head to Adelaide to take on the Power next round. It’s a must win for the Lions in order to keep their finals hopes alive, while Port must win to remain a Top 4 prospect.

Jack Higgins matched his career-high tally of five goals in a display that ignited his team in the second quarter when the game seemed to be slipping away. Sinclair is finding consistency once more. Max King finished the game with a respectable three goals, but when the Saints were surging and were trailing by just seven points late in the game, he missed a huge opportunity to score when a relatively simple marking chance went begging. As is often the case, the ball was eventually rebounded and Joe Daniher was on the end of it kicking his fifth goal and snuffing out any chance of an unlikely victory after trailing by 37 points at the final break. The Saints can ponder on how they’ll approach the remaining games of the season during their week off. Mathematically they’re still a chance to play finals. Or at least that’s what they’ll be saying around the club.


2. The Dogs are the Jeckyll and Hyde of 2024.

The Western Bulldogs had a huge win against a Fremantle side fresh off the bye. The 67 point win catapulted the Dogs up to ninth place on the ladder, with a percentage that’s the second highest in the comp. This was on the back of what was a mediocre performance against the Lions last week where they lost by 43 points. Back in Round 12, they defeated the Magpies. If you aren’t seeing it yet, this is indicative of their pattern of not often playing well in consecutive weeks.

It’s rare to see the Bulldogs win too many games in a row. Right now they are 7-7 just outside the eight. It might be a case of them putting in a bad game when they return from the bye against North Melbourne, and we all saw how close North were to upsetting Collingwood. Should the unthinkable happen, it would be curtains for their finals aspirations: The couch might find himself under some serious pressure. It’s just that kind of year for the Bulldogs. Marcus Bontempelli has increased his standings in Brownlow estimations on the back of his three goals and 30 possessions. His having a spectacular season and could overtake Isaac Heeney as the favourite. As mixed as they have been this year, one wonders how bad they might be travelling without the input of their skipper.

Fremantle have actually had a decent record in Melbourne this year. They had actually won all three of their previous trips to the Victorian capital coming into their clash with the Bulldogs. However, when you consider those three wins came against North Melbourne, Richmond and St Kilda, the significance of those wins becomes diminished. Whether it was the travel factor or whether it was the week off that caused them to look flat-footed for long periods in the game, their big win against Melbourne and all the benefits that came with it seem to have been negated as they find themselves clinging grimly to eighth spot on the ladder just two points ahead of the side who humbled them on Saturday. These are the games they need to win if they want to be there in September. Every game will be do or die from here on starting with the Suns at home next week. Both sides will be desperate. One side will slip further away.


3. Hawthorn keep getting things right

It seems as though every week there are things you can see at Hawthorn to suggest there are some clever people making decisions at the club. The recruitment of Mabior Chol might’ve been questioned by some, but he’s been solid since arriving at his third club, and with four goals against the Tigers, it would silence the naysayers. Then you look at the wingman in Massimo D’Ambrosio who was not exactly a walk-up start during his time at Windy Hill who is playing the best football of his career in his first year in the brown and gold. It was a slow start to the year which ultimately may cost them, but ultimately they are a genuine chance to play finals which was unthinkable after Round 5. Sam Mitchell and his team are slowly working their way towards the genius category. The Hawks made light work of the Tigers. Hopefully next week’s bye does not alter their momentum. They should beat the Eagles in Round 16.

Shit is getting real.

When Dusty booted the opening goal of the game we all thought it might be his day and the club would find a way to be victorious and celebrate his 300 game milestone in style. But it wasn’t to be. Richmond tried to stay in touch, but the game just kept slipping further away the longer it went. Dusty had a modest return of 13 touches and didn’t add to his goal tally. Tom Lynch was rusty finishing with just four touches for no goals. Taranto was Richmond’s best on what should’ve been a bright day for the club but turned out to be a dismal affair. They’ll have a week to try and work out a way to compete against the rampant Blues in Round 16.


4. Sydney Swans are so good that they can show up late and win

Sydney continues to start games in first gear where they find themselves trailing their opponent and looking in danger of losing before they seemingly decide as a collective to go up a gear and run all over their opponents in emphatic style. It almost feels like they’re that good that they want to give their opponents a head start just to make it a bit more of a challenge. It’s like a nephew of mine whose guitar playing skills were that advanced that playing regular tune was boring. He would play heavy metal songs in reggae style or Lady Gaga in country and western simply because he could. I know these comparisons are getting ridiculous, but the Sydney Swans and their proficiency is beyond ridiculous.

It was Joel Amartey’s night of course. The big man almost seemed like the second option up forward with Logan McDonald being the preferred option as the number one forward. If that’s what Longmire and Co were thinking, they might have to revisit that notion after his massive haul of nine majors on Saturday night. This effort kind of came out of nowhere. Amartey is having a solid year without being outstanding up until now. This is far and away the best game of his career so far and it’s the sort of thing that ignites a career. Gulden also starred in what normally would’ve been a best on ground performance with 35 touches while Heeney was also on fire yet again with 2 goals from 29 touches. It’s ridiculous to think k he may not get a Brownlow vote despite his form not dropping off. It’s truly frightening to think that those around him have matched him. The Swans are playing cross town rivals GWS next round. I wonder how far behind Sydney will be at quarter time?

It just keeps getting worse for the Crows. They would’ve been daring to dream during the second term when they got out to a four goal lead. Sadly for the Crows the Swans kicked the last three goals for the first half in what proved to be an ominous sign. Izak Rankine was looking good with two goals from 18 touches before going off with a hamstring complaint. It would be tragic if he becomes one of those players whose troublesome hamstrings gave him limited games each year. Adelaide’s season is all but done. The bye couldn’t have come soon enough. It might be time for a bonding session.


5. George Wardlaw proved he would be a fitting Rising Star winner

A lot has been said about the ineligibility of Sam Darcy and Harley Reid for Rising Star honours suggesting that there was daylight between these two and the next best. The same can’t be said after the near match-winning performance by Wardlaw in which he amassed 30 disposals, kicked a goal and was involved in everything. There’s finally something to smile about for Kangaroo fans, although that smile should’ve been bigger after their team coughed up a 54 point lead.

I’m purposely staying away from talking about the huge comeback or massive choke depending on which perspective you are coming from. The Roos are improving which is great to see, but now they have got to learn how to simply win when they’re supposed to. Collingwood have made a habit of these come from behind victories. It was like watching a tragedy unfold when you know what the result was going to be. And Nick Daicos was instrumental in the turnaround. We all shudder to think how good this kid will be when he’s played 100 games or more. Jeremy Howe spent quite a bit of time in his early career as a forward. Since moving to Collingwood he’s predominantly been in defence. His move forward was huge and he has priors. The absence of Mihocek possibly should’ve been filled by Howe earlier in the game, but they got the result and he played a part with the goal that put them in front.

Collingwood head into the bye third on the ladder, and if results go a certain way next round, the Pies could see themselves slip as low as sixth. Meanwhile the Kangaroos might give themselves a sneaky chance against the Demons who’ve lost Petracca for the year and are in poor form. A loss to the Roos would be a new low for Melbourne, but if it was ever going to happen, this could be the time.


6. The goals at ENGIE Stadium must be a little narrow

In a scrappy game between two sides still in the mix for a Top 4 finish, it seems a little odd that both teams were wildly inaccurate in front of goal in a game in which 15.34 was scored in total. In the end it was a much needed victory for the Giants who shot all the way up to 5th on the ladder while the prospect of Port Adelaide missing finals is becoming all too real. Tom Green was one of the Giants’ best players finishing with 30 touches in a sign he’s getting back to his best. Toby Greene had a frustrating day finishing with 1.5. The result gets them well entrenched inside the Top 8, but that could very well short lived as they come up against the Swans next week. Sydney have to lose at some point.

Where to now for the Power? This was supposed to be a season where they’d be true contenders, but the longer the season goes, the more impotent they’re seeming. Up forward only Georgiades looks like doing anything. Todd Marshall is having an ordinary year. Charlie Dixon looks like not returning to the senior side. The midfield combination of Rozee and Butters looks to have been tamed somewhat. Houston was strong with 35 touches down back and their defence looks OK without being stars. If they lose to Brisbane at home next week it will be the possible nail in the coffin for finals and Hinkley moving forward.


7. Each week the umpires give me a new reason to pull my hair out

As much as North Melbourne choked a big lead, that non 50-metre penalty decision late in the game was a pile of hot steaming crap that even the AFL smooth talkers won’t be able to adequately explain. Hence the silence. Then there was a 50m penalty awarded late at the GABBA that impacted the result. Oh boy! So let’s go through all the rules that lack consistency shall we:

50 metre penalty – when entering the protected area, you will give the player with the ball a 50m penalty, unless it’s a North Melbourne player with a chance to seal the game. Brisbane players will get one even when the man on the mark doesn’t move.

Push in the back rule – Unless the player you push into the ground has his nose sticking out in China, no free kick.

Holding the ball – 360 degree turns in a tackle with ball in hand is no longer holding the ball and you can get rid of the ball anyway you like, especially in the dying minutes of the game.

Ducking rule – no longer exists

Staging rule – depends on the quality of player involved. The bigger the star, the more acting is allowed.

Holding the man – Rule abandoned late in games inside forward 50 arc.

High tackle – decapitations encouraged!!!