That’s how I like my footy to be
In contrast to the lifeless, near effortless display we saw on Friday night, Saturday nights clash between Geelong and Hawthorn was fantastic viewing. With so much history between these two sides and with both sitting inside the top 4 with 18 combined wins to start the season, this one looked like a cracker from the beginning, and it didn’t disappoint.
From early on, it looked like we might have been in for an old-fashioned shootout, reminiscent of the Gary Ablett Sr-Paul Salmon days, with Geelong’s James Podsiadly and Hawthorn’s Lance Franklin both on fire. Combining for 10 goals and 3 behinds for the match, the potency of both team’s attack was scary for team’s that fancy themselves as premiership contenders.
Generally written off when not playing at Skilled Stadium, the J-Pod kicked six goals in the first half, even though he was being blanketed by Josh Gibson, a defender who many believe is having an All-Australian worthy season. Even though they’ve had higher scoring games than this, the ability of Steve Johnson, Mathew Stokes, Paul Chapman and surprisingly good Daniel Menzel to all hit the scoreboard consistently is a worrisome trend for the likes of Carlton, Collingwood and obviously Hawthorn.
With quality disposals coming their way from Jimmy Bartel, Joel Selwood and the ageless Matthew Scarlett, defenses are going to have their work cut out for them when trying to stymie the Cats’ dangerous forward line that features at least five players that can step up and be game winners each week.
That’s not taking away from Hawthorn, however. After a slow start, their second and third quarters, where they kicked 11 goals to 5, were two of the best quarters they have played all season. Their hard, in-and-under midfielders, like Sam Mitchell and Brad Sewell who seemed to win every clearance of the night, are absolute workhorses, and we all know Buddy Franklin can kick 6 or 7 goals in any game.
Other than their scoreless last quarter, the Hawks still have a lot to remain hopeful about. Even though they will sorely miss Jarryd Roughead for the remainder of the year after the big man ruptured his Achilles tendon, their only real threat between now and Round 19 is a matchup with Collingwood in Round 15, meaning they will have an excellent chance to finish the season well inside the top four, while waiting for one of Max Bailey or David Hale to fill the void left by Roughead’s injury.
Melbourne don’t deserve to play finals football
After the fine football played Saturday night, what Melbourne served up on Monday afternoon in the annual Queen’s Birthday Clash was utter garbage. If I were a Demons supporter, I would simply be embarrassed and ashamed at the effort put forth by my team. They were smashed in every facet of the game.
They registered a pathetic 36 inside 50s for the game, and when they did Collingwood’s Chris Tarrant completely destroyed Melbourne skipper Brad Green. At times, the effort given by Green meant that Tarrant had at least a 2 metre lead on him. At one point, it took me a few seconds to realise that Tarrant was playing in defense and not leading out for a simple chest mark, such as his dominance of Green.
One surprising trend for the day was how Demon coach Dean Bailey used the ‘Great White Hope’, Jack Watts. In a team that is desperately begging for a key forward that will work hard to at least make a contest in the forward 50, Bailey had the 196cm, 91kg Watts running around the back half of the paddock, where he racked up as many rebound 50s as inside 50s.
The kid was drafted as a centre-half forward. He’s built like a centre-half forward (who has room to get bigger). He has the hands of a centre-half forward. Get where I’m going with this? For the love of your employment status, Dean, play the kid at centre-half forward! There is no need at all to have Watts running around in the back half, racking up meaningless possessions when he was drafted to be a mainstay in the forward 50 for the next decade. Will he develop? That remains to be seen. But one thing is for certain – he needs to be established as a forward to let him develop as a forward.
Even after that rant, the most alarming trend I saw toward the end of this bloodbath was the lack of effort put forth by Melbourne’s troops. With the game well an truly over, the aforementioned Brad Green and Jared Rivers, who had been torched by the bigger travis Cloke all afternoon, seemingly quit on their team. That is a terrible sign in a young team, to have the so-called leaders pull the plug. There was a moment late in the fourth quarter, during one of Collingwood’s endless forays forward, where Leigh Brown, who was left unmarked, had time to sidestep a pigeon resting in the goal square, run around a defender and mark uncontested over the top of Melbourne’s Joel MacDonald. As I stated, if I was a Melbourne fan, I would be embarrassed.
In say this however, credit must go to Collingwood, whose depth is astounding. Missing prime movers Dale Thomas, Dane Swan and Darren Jolly, youngsters Sharrod Wellingham, Jarryd Blair and debutant Alex Fasolo all stood up in this game, impressing more than Melbourne’s established stars (I use the term very loosely) such as Green and Rivers, two Demons that got absolutely ripped to shreds by their direct opponents. While Melbourne have next to no right even thinking about playing finals after this debacle, Collingwood are playing some of their best football.
Since their loss to Geelong, Collingwood’s form has become positively terrifying for opponents. In the last month, the premiership favorites are averaging 119 points a game, while limiting their opponents to a mere 59 points a contest. With the trio of Swan, Jolly and Thomas all expected back to face favourite whipping boys the Sydney Swans in a fortnight, the Magpies are entering the second half of the season with a massive head of steam. The question is, who can stop them?
5 things I liked from Round 12
Collingwood’s second halves: I know I’ve harped on about Collingwood in this post, but their second half was remarkable. They never took their foot off the pedal and totally dismantled Melbourne. They lead the AFL in second half scoring this season. Just an all-around quality outfit.
Aaron Edwards: In eight games this season, North Melbourne’s Aaron Edwards’ goalkicking has been remarkable. The 27 year-old forward has kicked 22 goals compared to just 2 behinds. A great success rate, considering Coleman medal leader Lance Franklin has kicked 39.36 for the season.
Mark LeCras: After suffering an injury in Round 2, it seemed as if West Coast Eagle Mark LeCras might struggle to regain for this season. Well, he has kicked 16 goals in 7 games since returning from injuy, and he was the best player on the ground in Round 12’s big win over Adelaide. Joining forces with Josh Kennedy and Quinten Lynch in the forward line, the Eagles might ruffle a few feathers come September.
Sam Reid’s potential: Despite his wayward kicking in dreadful conditions, young Swan Sam Reid showed a lot of promising signs in Sunday’s hard-fought win over Richmond. At 19 years of age, the younger brother of Collingwood’s Ben is getting better each week. With a 195cm frame that can add a lot more bulk to it, Sam is the future of a Swans forward line that is desperate for a key forward.
The J-Pod: I touched on this earlier, but it really was an excellent game from the veteran forward. Maligned for poor play away from Geelong’s Skilled Stadium, Podsiadly kicked six goals while playing under the watchful eye of Hawthorn defender Josh Gibson. The same Josh Gibson who is under consideration for a spot on the 2011 All-Australian squad.
5 things I didn’t like from Round 12
Sydney’s goalkicking: They played in dreadful conditions, so they get the benefit of the doubt there, but the Swans goal kicking has been an ongoing problem all season. Duel Brownlow medalist Adam Goodes and youngster Sam Reid were the biggest culprits, combing for an inefficient 2.9. They missed all 5 set shots in the first quarter and have been off target all season. As a Sydney supporter, this inaccuracy doesn’t bode well with high-scoring Carlton and Collingwood our opponents over the next two weeks.
Injuries: Not much to say here, other than I hate injuries. Although Docker David Mundy may be back for finals, the losses of Jarryd Roughead, Kurt Tippett and David Astbury are saddening to all supporters who don’t get to see teams strongest line ups.
Friday night’s team: I’m getting sick of wasting my time on the Saints and the Dogs this season, so I’ll try and make this my last comment on them. The Dogs are done and the Saints, even though they got the win, aren’t playing good football. Their premiership windows are firmly shut.
Fence-jumper in Adelaide: While it was partly funny, it was fully stupid and dangerous for the spectator at AAMI Stadium to run onto the field of play. Security needs to be better.
Essendon’s form: Wrote about this last week, but their first three quarters were pathetic, so had to mention it again. Looking eerily similar to Knights’ Bombers – lazy, uninspired and ill-disciplined. Time for James Hird to crack the whip at Windy Hill.