Just like that, we are over a third of the way through the shortened 2020 AFL Season. Port Adelaide reestablished themselves at the top of the ladder while their cross town rivals continued their winless start to the season. Geelong reminded everybody they are still a force to be reckoned with as did the Bombers who continued their strong start to the season.
West Coast and Fremantle ended their hub life experiences with victories, the Dockers producing one of the most famous wins of their short history. Collingwood and Hawthorn and Richmond and Sydney gave us their answers to insomnia while the Blues continue to show the attacking form that could see them return to the finals this year.
What was it we Learned, Liked and Disliked from this most intriguing of rounds?
Premiership favouritism might be fluid this year.
Were we wrong to label Brisbane Premiership favourites last week? Well it depends on when you ask? At full time last week, or even as late as 18 minutes into the second quarter on Friday night, we would have defended our Round Five Knee Jerk Reaction. Unfortunately, an hour later they looked anything but having kicked just one behind in response to a nine goal Geelong burst. We get the feeling that Premiership favouritism is likely to be won and lost on a week to week basis.
Fremantle has plenty of fight.
Gone for all money at quarter time when they trailed by 36-points, they outworked, outran, and outplayed their opponents for the remainder of the match to claim a famous win. We think Justin Longmuir was right when he praised his team’s spirit post match. “We’ve got a lot of players who just never give up. We’ve showed that pretty much all season but it was just reinforced today when our backs were against the wall at quarter time, we just never gave up.”
One Rising Star out, another Rising Star in for the Suns.
After Matt Rowell’s injury against Geelong much of the media spent the week discussing whether he had done enough in five rounds to win the Rising Star Award. It will be interesting, after Izak Rankine’s electrifying debut against Melbourne, whether their opinions remain the same.
After spending the 2019 season on the sidelines due to injury, the number three pick in the 2018 draft quickly lived up to the pregame hype. After hitting the scoreboard with his first kick he would end up with 3.3 for the night and a number of special moments for his highlight reel.
The MRO remain a slave to outcome
On Sunday night we received the MRO’s findings on events from the day before. The two big ticket items were the suspensions offered to Ben Long and Dylan Shiel. As was expected as a result of the injury suffered by Sean D’arcy as a result of his bump, Long was on the receiving end of a more adverse finding than Shiel.
The most unfortunate result of treating these incidents in this manner is not the role luck plays in the penalties offered to players, but that it fails to provide an adequate deterrent. Until the action is punished rather than the consequence, players will continue to roll the dice. Quite simply, until luck is removed from the equation, the AFL’s oft stated desire to make the head sacrosanct will remain nothing more than lip service.
Geelong’s Premiership Quarter Annihilation of the Lions
For many football supporters of a certain age, the third quarter is considered the premiership quarter because it is when good teams separate themselves from the rest. After watching the blistering manner in which Geelong settled their game against Brisbane in the penultimate term, it is hard to question the description.
Nic Nat’s Gift
The ruck contest was an interesting subplot going into Saturday’s match between Adelaide and West Coast. How would Nic Natanui respond to Reilly O’Brien’s ‘accidental’ tweeting of a less than flattering appraisal of him? The best way possible, that’s how.
On field he took the points in an enthralling contest but he saved his best response till after the siren. Not content to share a handshake with his beaten opponent, Natanui presented O’Brien with a mobile phone to replace the broken one that was blamed for the accidental tweet.
Devon Smith’s Post Game ‘Trash Talk’
“It’s a bit of a rivalry build up from them but for us it’s (just) another game,” was the cheek dig Devon Smith made at North Melbourne, Essendon’s Round Six opponent. Too often these pre-game, in-game, or post-game interviews are boring tell-nothing affairs which makes Smith’s honesty a breath of fresh air.
Who would have thought after Carlton and Richmond met in Round One, that five matches later the former would be one of the most exciting teams in the competition and the latter one of the most dreary? Yet that is exactly where we sit after the Blues demolition job on the Western Bulldogs. David Teague’s team are in the eight for the first time since 2013 and have beaten three of the better performed teams in the competition to get there. How far can they go in 2020?
Two weeks ago Alastair Clarkson explained away the terrible spectacle that was his teams match against North Melbourne with criticism of how umpires adjudicated holding the ball. Given his sides ability to appear in two further stinkers despite the league’s crackdown on holding the ball, was the problem the Hawks all along?
Richmond v Sydney
‘If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.’ – Raylan Givens
Despite kicking three goals in the first quarter against Sydney on Sunday, Richmond could manage just one more for the rest of the afternoon. It represented the third time in five games that they were unable to kick more than five goals as they have quickly become one of the more boring teams to watch play. Despite the frequency at which his team are involved in these snore fests, Damien Hardwick attempted to point the finger of blame at his opposition post game.
Sorry Damien, this is no longer the morning. The reason you keep running into assholes each week is because your the asshole. We mean this figuratively obviously, he seems like a lovely man.
Six goals up and looking like world beaters at quarter time, the Saints somehow left Metricon without the four premiership points on Saturday. While they played the rest of the match like they were on holidays, it is hard to imagine the 2.5 hour bus ride back to Noosa would have been at all enjoyable. There won’t be many feeling sorry for them though after they blew a magic opportunity to help set up their season. Rather than consolidating a position in the top six, their profligacy sees them back among the mid table pack.
The Herald Sun and their ‘grubby’ headline
‘Roos grubby taunt to McKenna’ screamed the Herald Sun online. What was the outrageous offence Luke McDonald committed? He covered his mouth when approached by Essendon’s Connor McKenna. Was McDonald silly? Yes. Were his actions immature? Probably. Do they deserve to be described as grubby? Not even close.
Whilst acknowledging the click bait world the Herald Sun competes in, this was a ridiculous headline. As a newspaper that continues to defend the booing of Adam Goodes it actually defies belief they could classify this incident this way and readers deserve better. How about we save the moral indignation for events that deserve them and leave the faux outrage shtick to Sky News after dark.
AFL Over Correction
The Alastair Clarkson led AFL crackdown on holding the ball had us remembering a quote from another Hawthorn Coaching great. “Normally when I’m asked about the umpires, I say: ‘No comment’, John Kennedy famously said. “Today, I say: ‘Absolutely no comment whatsoever’.”
We could imagine him using a ‘no comment’ after last week’s umpiring but feel this week’s lunacy would have deserved ‘Absoultely no comment whatsoever.” Thankfully, unlike Kennedy, we aren’t prohibited from critisising the officials because they have most certainly brought it upon themselves this weekend.
While we thought the ridiculous holding the ball decisions against Rowan Marshall and Nick Coffield in the St Kilda-Fremantle game would be hard to beat, we only had to wait one day to learn we were wrong. On Sunday, we were treated to the sight of Callum Mills being pushed across the goal line by Jack Riewoldt then penalised for deliberately rushing the behind.
The umpire, and his lead cheerleader Channel 7’s Luke Hodge, telling anybody who’d listen that the decision was correct because Mills had time and opportunity to dispose of the ball. The problem with this explanation is, no matter how often Hodge repeats it, time and space means nothing if the ball isn’t deliberately rushed across the line. It’s a little like defending an umpire awarding a mark from a handpass because a player caught a ball that travelled 15 metres.