With five games decided by less than a kick, Round 20 in the AFL was one of the most exciting ever contested. The picture at both ends of the ladder appear much clearer but with just six points between third and 10th, there is much to be decided over the last three rounds of the season.
What did we make of a fascinating round of football….
Knee Jerk Reaction
Chris Scott was right – Richmond are beatable?
After Scott’s Cats went down to the Premiers by a kick on Friday night there were a few surprised reactions when the 2011 Premiership Coach offered the opinion that the Tigers were beatable. David King was one pundit who was displeased at Scott’s comments suggesting that they were disrespectful. “They’re two games clear on top, unbeatable at the MCG…I think that’s a fraction disrespectful. It was ridiculous,” he said.
It would be interesting if, when Ablett had the ball in space on Friday night with the chance to win the game, King was as adament that Richmond were unbeatable. There are plenty of times the media should call out coaches for rubbish statements, this isn’t one of them. While the Tigers are deserved favourites to win the flag, they are a long way from certainties.
The Swans soar or fall on Buddy’s form?
Is there a team more dependent on their star player, than the Swans are with Buddy. It took six goals from the spearhead on Saturday night for the Swans to get past a determined Collingwood team at the SCG on Saturday night.
They’ll need more performances like that from him over the next eight weeks, if they are to manufacture a happy ending to an inconsistent season.
Hawthorn could actually win the flag?
This is more an observation on the closeness of teams three through ten, than any statement on the Hawks abilities. Depsite the seemingly obvious flaws in Alastair Clarkson’s team, percentage alone keeps them out of the top four.
If they can overcome the Cats this weekend, it is likely that their top four chances will be in their own hands come Round 23. While it might take a bild person to predict a fifth flag of Clarkson’s reign, to completely rule them out will take similar bravery.
Goal Review system is a joke?
Nine years removed from Tom Hawkins ‘goal’ in the 2009 Grand Final, we seemingly still lack the necessary technology to determine if a ball hits a goal post. It was of little surprise that while Port fans simmered, the AFL was quick to support the decision and the process followed in arriving at it.
While the AFL’s defence is understandable given the limited information available to the official in charge of making the decision, it also misses the point (pun intended). More important than defending a broken system is acknowledging that it is patently absurd that the person kicking the ‘goal’ can know the ball hit the post, yet the system designed to capture this fact does not.
The AFL is culpable too in Brayshaw’s broken jaw?
The eight week suspension handed out to Andrew Gaff this week was a fitting finding at the end of a hysterical couple of days. Yet within the spirited defence afforded Gaff by many in the football industry, was an unintended indictment on the AFL’s treatment of violence in its game.
Time and time again, it was argued that Gaff intended to punch Brayshaw in the chest not the face as if this was an understandable explanation of his actions. A look at the haphazard way the AFL has treated chest punches you can understand the confusion.
This moment needs to stand as a line in the sand. Punching has no place in the game and needs to be punished and not just those that cause damage. Until this is accepted, ‘accidents’ like Gaff’s punch will continue to occur.
Learned, Liked and Disliked
Learned: Collingwood still unhappy with a particular decision
At first glance the message on Collingwood Cheer Squad’s Banner ahead of the match against Sydney appeared a particularly benign one. However on closer inspection, it was apparent that they had found a cheeky way to let the world know their position on a debate that had raged since their match against Richmond a week before.
Let’s just say that Collingwood fans weren’t convinced by the AFL’s explanation of the difference between a throw and a high ball drop. Gold.
Learned: Tom Mitchell continues to bring his own footy to the ground
Liked: Nathan Freeman finally debuts
After waiting 1700+ days from being drafted number 10 in the 2013 Draft, Nathan Freeman finally made his AFL debut. After being selected ahead of the likes of Patrick Cripps, the 23-year-old has endured a torrid time waiting for his chance at the big time. A string of injuries and a change of clubs all needing to be navigated before he ran out for the Saints against the Bulldogs on Saturday night.
No token selection, Freeman earned his place in the team on the back of seven strong games at VFL level. Understandably he took some time to get accustomed to the speed of the contest but by games end he had accumulated 19 touches in a solid first outing. Out of contract at seasons end, it would appear that he should have the chance to stake his claim for retention over the next three rounds.
Liked: Lions refused to yield
The Brisbane Lions once again showed that despite sitting bottom four on the AFL ladder, they are no easy beats. When Ben Brown kicked the Kangaroos 23 points clear at the beginning of the fourth quarter, it appeared all hope was lost for the young Lion cubs. Yet they refused to yield.
For the remainder of the clash at the Gabba the Lions looked the likely winners, and that’s what they would have been too, if not for a pair of kickable shots missed in the games final moments. The sight of Luke Hodge immediately consoling Cam Raynor upon his miss at the conclusion of the match, proof that these Lions are heading in the right direction.
Disliked: Carlton’s lack of fight
Once again on the weekend, Carlton fans were reminded of the old AFL truism that no matter how bad things appear – they can always get worse! The sight of Carlton having no answer to GWS, a team that continued to rotate players off the ground despite having nobody to replace them with during the last quarter, must be ground zero in a season already destined to be the worst in the club’s long history.
Disliked: Suns offer limited resistance
While it was without question that the Suns entered their match against Melbourne extremely understrength, it doesn’t fully explain away their terrible performance. Missing eight of the top ten from your previous years best & fairest will have you behind the eight ball but it was a lack of spirit and direction that was the reason for the extent of the damage inflicted by their opponents. How on earth did they beat the Swans in Sydney two weeks ago?
ROUND 20 – ALL STARS
The nominations are in, but we need your help in deciding who was the Round 20 AFL All-Star. For your consideration this week is Josh Kelly, Ben Stratton, Jason Johannisen and Tim Kelly. Cast your votes below.
Thanks to your votes last week, we are happy to announce Tom Mitchell as the AFL All-Star for Round 19.