What did we learn Sunday?: AFL 2019 – Round Eight

Jarrod Febbraio tells us what we learned from Sunday’s matches.

Firstly, let’s start with the MRO

Plenty of issues here. Not even sure if I need to explain them if I’m honest. The whole process involving players getting suspended (or not) is an absolute farce at the moment. Both Gary Ablett’s strikes over the past fortnight have been labelled as intentional. That means he has intentionally gone out of his way to perform that action. Does this mean he can intentionally elbow somebody in the face without causing damage to them 22 weeks in a row? Quite simply, yes. Nat Fyfe also received no sanction for performing an action that was lucky not to break Tom Lynch’s jaw. And young Sam Durdin was suspended for a shepherd that he executed pretty well. Unfortunately they clashed heads in the process, causing damage to Gary Rohan. Are we classifying Durdin’s action as a headbutt then? In my opinion, this system is truly flawed. I have no more to say.

Can Richmond catch a break?

Richmond have proven once again that even without their big stars, they can produce high quality games of football. None less than what they produced in Perth on Sunday evening, dismantling a Fremantle side that could have put themselves in 3rd spot with a win over a depleted Tiger outfit. Richmond’s attack and ferocity at the footy once again reminded me of 2017 – exactly what all fans are after. But one step forward seems like two steps back for them, now with arguably their most important player out for up to eight weeks. For years, Tiger fans have been wondering what happens if Toby Nankervis gets injured. Now they will find out. Will it be Ivan Soldo who gets the nod? Or will the hard work of Noah Balta, who played excellently on the weekend, be rewarded with the ruck spot. Youngster Jack Ross is also set to miss with injury, but they will get Daniel Rioli and Nick Vlaustin back this weekend against the Hawks.

What is the problem with GWS and the MCG?

It’s simple, you can’t win a flag unless you can win at the MCG. The Giants are now 1-7 in their last 8 at the venue, which have included some massive games that have hindered their season. While it is still early for this one to do the same, it now becomes a mental battle between themselves and the home of footy. Let’s say they have to go there this season for another final, I really wouldn’t back them against any top 8 side. I’m not sure what it is about the ground. Quite frankly, I don’t think they’re sure either! Is it simply just not knowing how to play a ground? We often see other teams travel interstate and not struggle as badly as GWS do at the MCG, and it isn’t like the MCG is a fortress for Hawthorn either. This is a huge issue that Leon Cameron will need to sort out of GWS are ever going to be seen as a genuine contender.

Jarryd Roughead is the only player to kick 5 at the G on Sunday, does he come back in?

Is there a man who handles getting dropped from a team he used to captain than Jarryd Roughead? The former leader kicked 5 goals in Box Hill’s curtain raiser at the MCG, and was seen doing one of the more interesting things from the weekend – teaching a young opponent a thing or two about the game. Does he come back into the Hawthorn side though? I don’t think he will, based on Clarko’s actions and words when dropping him, but I think he should. Richmond’s defence will be stacked with talent this Sunday, with a full strength team (besides Alex Rance) being out in full force. They will play pretty tall back there, and I don’t think the inexperienced Mitch Lewis has shown enough to play a game that will disrupt the stingy Richmond defence. After this, there’s Jack Gunston who doesn’t find playing against Richmond a happy hunting ground, and Luke Breust the same. Why not bring Roughead back in? I mean, he got dropped and did exactly what he had to do as a senior player dropping down – didn’t he?

Geelong keep on keeping on

Geelong were put to the sword by North Melbourne, something I didn’t expect. There was a period in this game where Ben Brown turned it on and dragging his side back into the game by himself. Kicking three in less than five minutes, there was a moment where I genuinely believed in North. It wasn’t that they were bad either, Geelong just turned it on – not letting a few bad minutes alter their game plan. It was a very mature response, from a team full of youngsters. With their captain out and Patrick Dangerfield not in the form we’re used to seeing him in, a team that is relishing their youth is simply doing exactly what they need to do week in and week out to keep them perched on top of the ladder. They’re also trying to keep their hands on Tim Kelly, a Brownlow roughie for mine. This tends to happen with Geelong though – they start like a house on fire. Will they be able to sustain this for the entirety of this season? Flag favourites right now.

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