The Following is a guest post by Luke who offered his views on each game from the round. If you are interested in having your thoughts published on the AFLSpace site, contact me. Many thanks to Luke for providing this great review.
In addition to the usual results from this round of matches, I’ll be casting a quick eye over the two clubs involved in each game to determine which club is better placed looking ahead to the next 5 years.
St Kilda 87 drew Hawthorn 87 – Finally, a Friday night match that lived up to expectations! In a fierce match between two clubs expected to feature heavily in September, the Hawks looked home before a controversial interchange infringement swung the tide of the game, with Saint Ben McEvoy dribbling through a goal (a bit too easily if you’re a Hawks supporter) in the dying seconds to level the scores. The scores would not change again, giving us the second draw of 2010. Prepare to hear more debate about “extra time” and “penalty shoot-outs” but in my view, leave the game alone!
Looking ahead: I give Hawthorn the edge here, mainly because the likes of Riewoldt, Hayes, Milne, Koschitzke etc are all either at their peak or on the wrong side of it. Hawthorn can expect the likes of Hodge, Franklin, Rioli, and Roughead to improve over the next few seasons. Neither club has what I could call a “plethora” of quality youngsters coming through, due to both clubs being “up” for a few seasons now.
Collingwood 127 defeated Richmond 45 – On Saturday afternoon, two clubs at the top of their game put a pair of weaker clubs to the sword. At the MCG, the Pies sliced up the young, but steadily improving Tigers by a whopping 82 points – with Swan and Didak damaging once again.
Looking ahead: It’s hard to look past the Tigers, with their group of quality kids including sure future stars in Dustin Martin and Trent Cotchin. But the Pies, as much as I hate to say it, are pretty well positioned – considering the likes of Beams and Wellingham are already delivering and even Scott Pendlebury, Dale Thomas and Chris Dawes are on the younger side with plenty of improvement left in them. So, the edge goes to the Pies here.
Geelong 127 defeated Brisbane 64 – The other Saturday demolition saw the Cats dismantle the Lions at Skilled Stadium. The final margin was 63 points, with Gary Ablett, Steve Johnson and Travis Varcoe booting 13 goals between them. The only upside for Brisbane was the continued improvement of Jonathon Brown who kicked 4 goals, returning from injury after a lengthy layoff.
Looking ahead: Geelong has enjoyed amazing success in recent years, yet I still give them the advantage over the Lions looking 5 years ahead. I happen to like some of the Lion “cubs” – namely Rich, Rockliff, Leuenberger and Redden – but even with an aging list; the Cats still have the best years of Joel Selwood, Travis Varcoe (who is improving by the week), Harry Taylor and Tom Hawkins to come. This is also not to mention the “possible” compensation (top draft picks) for Gary Ablett coming their way (sorry Cats fans). I also can’t see the Lions finding quality replacements for Jonathon Brown, Simon Black and Luke Power in a hurry.
North Melbourne 119 lost to Essendon 122 – In a tremendous, high-scoring game on Saturday night, the Bombers finally righted the ship with a nail-biting 3-point win over the undermanned Kangaroos. The result will no doubt have Matthew Knights sleeping easier, but for the Roos it was a missed opportunity to keep themselves in the finals conversation.
Looking ahead: This is a tough call, with many “experts” rating the Dons list highly but perhaps not too surprisingly to some, I’m not on the same page in that regard. For Essendon, there is no doubting the potential of Michael Hurley and even Patrick Ryder – but beyond that, I just don’t see where the improvement comes from, with the midfield lacking in depth and quality especially. For that reason, I’m going with the Roos here – as the likes of Hansen, Swallow, Anthony, Ziebell, Bastinac, Thomas and Thompson – are about a solid group as any to build a team around.
West Coast 83 lost to Carlton 109 – In a massive game for Carlton following a poor last month, the Eagles put a big scare through the Blues camp, by jumping out to a 26-point lead by the half. Fortunately, the Blues found some resolve at the main break and kicked 11 goals to 3 in the second half for a crucial victory.
Looking ahead: Naitanui shows some flashes, but not too surprisingly I give the advantage to the Blues looking ahead – with hopefully the best yet to come from Marc Murphy, Bryce Gibbs, Matthew Kreuzer, Chris Yarran and others. Whether this ultimately translates into premiership success for Carlton remains to be seen – however a key forward and key backman would be more than welcome down at Visy Park right about now.
Western Bulldogs 158 defeated Fremantle 76 – The match that was to determine a top 4 spot, did not really turn into the contest we had hoped, with the Dogs kicking 9 majors in the first quarter and dominating proceedings from that point on. The comprehensive victory puts the Dogs in 4th spot and well clear on percentage and they now look the team most likely to secure a double chance.
Looking ahead: The Dogs list is mostly about the here and now, but they have promising types in Moles, Grant, Roughead and Picken coming through. Close call, but I’d still position the Dockers ahead, given many of the Dogs better players are at their peak or on the way down. The Fremantle list is well placed to challenge in the seasons ahead, with Pavlich and Sandilands complimented by the likes of Hill, Barlow, Morabito, Fyfe, Broughton, Ibbotson and Pearce – all players with plenty of improvement left in them.
Melbourne 142 defeated Sydney 69 – In the surprise of the round, the Demons blew the Swans out of the water (no pun intended) on Sunday with a 73-point win that has severely dented the finals prospects of Sydney. For Melbourne, it is a tremendous result that shows their potential in seasons to come, whilst for Sydney it is a stark reality check for the club with Geelong looming next round.
Looking ahead: The next 5 years should be all about the Demons. Whilst the Swans may have some good types in Hannebery, Mumford, Jetta, Rohan and Grundy – there are no match for the quality of the young Demons. Melbourne fans can look forward to Moloney, Scully, Trengove, Morton, Grimes, Petterd, Bartram and Watts making a huge impact in the coming years.
Port Adelaide 88 defeated Adelaide 69 – With the Crows having everything to play for, including a chance to move into 9th position, this was a particularly disappointing effort. The Power, under recently appointed head coach – Matthew Primus – had control of the contest all night, winning the first three quarters to set up the victory. The loss leaves the Crows 2 games and percentage outside of the 8, and a 6th consecutive finals appearance is now unlikely.
Looking ahead: Despite the win, it’s hard to find a whole lot to get excited by in Port’s list. Their best players aren’t game-winners whilst the bottom half of their best 22 is not that great. Perhaps Port supporters could enlighten me. On the Crows side, Patrick Dangerfield will be a gun, plus they have the best of Tippett, Vince, Walker, Reilly and Douglas to come. I’ll give this head-to-head to the Crows by a fair margin.