AFL 2020: Round Eight – Learned, Liked and Disliked.

What did we Learn, Like and Dislike from Round Eight of the 2020 Season?

Josh Kennedy celebrates one of his seven goals v Collingwood. The Eagles are back was one of the things The Pinch Hitters Learned, Liked or Disliked from Round Eight 2020.

The Eagles are back.

We know Collingwood were understrengh but it is hard not to get excited about how good the Eagles looked at Optus Stadium on Sunday. After struggling in the early stages of the restarted season, they now look to be improving each and every week.

As true as Nathan Buckley’s description of his own team as the Washington Generals was, his assessment only rang true due to the Harlem Globetrotters style performance of the Eagles. With a string of home games to come, it is no surprise that they are now considered by many to be the team to beat in the 2020.

Sam Collins will be underrated no longer is one of the things The Pinch Hitters Learned, Liked or Disliked from Round Eight of the 2020 AFL Season.

Sam Collins – Underrated No More.

The discarded Docker has quietly gone about his business for the Gold Coast in 2020. While he hasn’t gotten the plaudits that some of his higher profile team mates have, Collins has been an important part in Stuart Dew’s ability to turn the Suns around this season. Now ranked the number two defender in the competition, be prepared to hear his name a little more in the back half of the year than you did in the front half.

St Kilda celebrate their win over Port Adelaide. The Saints Might Be Good is one thing The Pinch Hitters Learned, Liked or Disliked in Round Eight of the 2020 AFL Season.

The Saints might be good.

For three-quarters the Saints were locked in an epic arm-wrestle with the ladder leading Power at Adelaide Oval. Then despite the first of a series of short turn arounds and a hostile crowd, they were too strong when it mattered and ran away with a famous victory.

Famous victory, you say? Well just five days ago the Saints had never won at the Adelaide Oval, they’ve now won their twice. In doing so they have recorded just their second South Australian double in 23 years. It also means that in less than a week they have doubled their victory tally from the 10 years between 2010 & 2019.

Are they good? Well they are starting to look 2020 good, which really is only as good as you need to be in 2020. But there is a log jam at the top of the ladder for a reason and there is a long way to go. What they wouldn’t give to have those fade outs against North Melbourne and Fremantle back?

The Crows losing streak extended but they might have turned the corner. This was one thing The Pinch Hitters Learned, Liked or Disliked in Round Eight of the 2020 AFL Season.

The Crows might have turned the corner.

While they might have fallen to an agonising defeat and extended the club’s longest losing streak to 10, the Crows showed enough to suggest their first win of 2020 isn’t too far away. In fact, despite trailing by 19-points in the third term, they looked like the team most likely to win this game for much of a thrilling final quarter.

We know honourable defeats don’t get you far in this business but, after the baptism of fire Matthew Nicks has had to start his coaching career, it is a welcome change for the first year coach. It should also have them full of confidence ahead of their return to Queensland to face fellow stragglers North Melbourne.

Toby Greene was on fire against Richmond. He made The Pinch Hitters Learned, Liked and Disliked list or Round Eight of the 2020 AFL Season.

Toby Greene.

He might have just one Best & Fairest Award and one All-Australian jersey, but there is no player more important to their team than Toby Greene is to GWS. With this in mind, it was no surprise that the Giants were a different team against Richmond than they had been in Greene’s absence.

Leon Cameron is in no doubt about his importance to the team. “Clearly he’s ain important player for us. He causes instability for the opposition defensive because of his instinct and competitiveness.He’s a special player but what we do love is he hates getting beaten. He never gives up; that’s his greatest trait and players love playing with him. It was a fantastic performance.

He has an admirer in Damien Hardwick too. “He’s a star; there’s no doubt. We always knew he was a good player; once again he bobs up in the right places. He’s a pleasure to watch and you only have to see how highly-regarded he is in AFL circles. He’s a superstar of the AFL system.

If this isn’t enough to convince you, we have a stat for you. When Greene plays, GWS wins 63% of the time. So what you say, the Giants have spent the last four years in the finals? When Green doesn’t play, they win just 48% of the time. That is genuinely the difference between a double chance or a seat in the grand stand come finals time.

Dane Rampe was brave against the Hawks and made The Pinch Hitters Learned, Liked and Disliked list for Round Eight of the 2020 AFL Season.

Dane Rampe’s one handed thwarting of Hawthorn.

Dane Rampe, and his intercept marking, was a huge factor in Sydney’s upset victory over Hawthorn on Saturday. While that will come as no surprise to anybody given the star Swan’s status in the game, that he was able to do so with one hand badly injured deserves special mention.

Painful enough that it caused him to attempt some extremely odd handballs, it didn’t prevent him from putting himself in the right place at the right time. This bravery enough to have you believe talk that he might still run out for the Swans next weekend despite undergoing surgery on Monday.

Tim Membrey kicked one of the most remarkable goals of the season against Port Adelaide and made The Pinch Hitters Learned, Liked and Disliked list for Round Eight of the 2020 AFL Season.

Tim Membrey’s Kung Fu Goal

It was one of the goals of the season and we have the ARC to thank for it. With the Saints leading late in their upset victory over Port Adelaide, Tim Membrey attempted an audacious kung fu kick at the Sherrin as it passed by him head height towards the goals.

With Power skipper Tom Jonas getting a punch to the bouncing ball, it seemed to be a simple case of a rushed behind. Thankfully, despite it being ruled as such, the ARC was able to intervene and we were all able to witness what had actually happened. While it was true that Jonas had punched the ball towards the goals, it only passed through them after striking Membrey’s boot.

Just like that, we had an unlikely contender for the goal of the year.

Sam Close joined the first kick/first goal club and The Pinch Hitters Learned Liked and Disliked list for Round Eight of the 2020 AFL Season.

Sam Close joins the first kick first goal club.

As introductions to the AFL go, it doesn’t get much better than a goal, with your first kick, in the first minute of your first game. Remarkably this is how Sam Close was able to start his AFL career for the Cats against the Dockers on Monday night.

Unfortunately for both sides, this was not a portent of things to come. With torrential rain making scoring difficult for both teams, they would combine for just seven more for the rest of the game.

Alastair Clarkson was at it again after the Hawks loss to Sydney. It was enough to earn him a spot on The Pinch Hitters Learned, Liked and Disliked list for Round Eight of the 2020 AFL Season.

Clarko’s Misdirection.

I love magic. Couldn’t do a magic trick if you paid me but I know that misdirection is the name of the game if I wanted to. A magician uses it to pull the wool over our eyes by making sure we are never looking anywhere we shouldn’t. Alastair Clarkson would make an excellent magician.

The trick, as Clarkson well knows, is that there needs to be a reason for the audience to look away. You can’t just point and yell bear and expect somebody to turn away. There needs to be a truth in the deception if you will. It is with this knowledge that he has managed, for the second time in five games, to use a furphy to direct attention away from the diabolical form of his football team.

Four weeks ago his press conference became a referendum on holding the ball. There are still people willing to argue that he was right that paying it more would be the solution all the games’ ills despite his team scoring 49, 27, 48 and 53 with his suggested improvement implemented.

On Saturday he was at it again. Despite his side’s inability to score a goal between the third minute of the third and 20th minute of the fourth quarters, his post-match comments regarding Tom Papley fill the headlines. The Herald Sun’s digital platform screams Clarko Takes Aim at Papley for Milking Frees. The Age similarly reads He Milks Free Kicks as Good As Anyone. Four Goal Papley Earns Ire of Clarkson as Swans beat Hawks.

Classic Clarko. He is the master.

Jasper Pittard displayed some fake aggression for North Melbourne against Carlton. It was enough for him to earn a place on The Pinch Hitters Learned Liked and Disliked list for Round Eight of the 2020 AFL Season.

Fake Aggression.

Much of the talk after Carlton’s win over North Melbourne centred around the free-kick awarded against Jasper Pittard that cost his team a shot at taking the three-quarter time lead. While opinion was divided, with many of the view that a free kick wasn’t warranted, was the warning shot from the umpires that this behaviour won’t be tolerated anymore?

Strongly in the other camp is Hawthorn champion Jason Dunstall who, in his special comments role during the game’s coverage, shared his opinion. “That’s just dumb from Jasper Pittard,” Dunstall said on Fox Footy. This is where I just hate this aggression; it’s fake aggression. You’ve got a teammate having a shot for goal.”

We can’t help but agree with Dunstall. In a contact sport that allows countless opportunities to harness your aggression, there is no requirement for it in these situations. We know that there are plenty of people who will question the ‘toughness’ of the player felled. But what courage is there in bowling him in the first place?

We’ll leave the last word to Rhyce Shaw, who made his feelings known post match. “Jasper showed a lack of discipline and it’s cost us,” Shaw said. “He’s a leader and he knows he was in the wrong. We’ll leave it at that.”

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