Luke’s Look – Round 15, 2012 – Back from the Byes
After a mid-season break throughout the bye rounds (please AFL, let’s not see those again in 2013!), we’re back for another wrap of the results from the weekend, with round 15 giving us some fantastic matches including a number of genuine surprises. Let’s look at the results in more detail.
Going into Friday night, Collingwood appeared certainties to take care of business against Carlton after winning 10 consecutive matches in impressive fashion, whilst the Blues have struggled recently (to say the least), losing 4 in a row and 6 of their past 7. Despite losing Shaun Hampson early with a leg injury (now out for the season), the Blues surprisingly had the better of a tight first half, but it was still thought (including by me) that it was only a matter of time before the Collingwood midfield machine hit top gear. Carlton wasted a handful of opportunities in the third term (kicking 7 behinds), meaning the Pies were still within striking distance with a quarter to play. It was all Carlton in the final term, with the usual fight and determination not there from the Pies. The Blues – led by Judd, Kreuzer, Yarran and yes, Brock McLean – recording a memorable 23-point victory to re-ignite a season that appeared lost only a few hours earlier.
Blundstone Arena in Hobart hosted a great contest on Saturday between the Kangaroos and the Eagles. North Melbourne, winners of 3 straight and trying to find consistency, started the better of the two in-form sides – jumping out to a 35-point lead to surprise the more fancied Eagles – and lead by 27 points at the main change. Over the course of the final two quarters, West Coast reeled in North Melbourne, led by Dean Cox who had a near career-best game, with Priddis and 200-gamer Daniel Kerr also having great afternoons. This match could have gone either way, with the Kangaroos certainly not disgraced, but the Eagles ended the game in front – winning by just 2 points in the match of the round.
After a competitive loss to Adelaide last round followed by the drama mid-week surrounding Daniel Connors and Dustin Martin, Richmond needed a bounce-back performance against a struggling Melbourne side. And whilst the Demons were competitive, the Tigers did enough (given the 7 changes to their side) to record a 23-point win. The remaining matches on Saturday were not so competitive, however. Sydney, Adelaide and (surprisingly) St Kilda all put up huge scores and recorded subsequent wins against their opponents – Brisbane, Port Adelaide and Essendon respectively. The Saints smashing of the Dons was the most surprising result – seemingly coming from nowhere from an Essendon perspective, with injury concerns over Hurley now a massive concern, coupled with the suspension of Heath Hocking after he felled Lenny Hayes behind the play. Essendon have a particularly difficult run home, with even next week’s match against Port Adelaide (in Adelaide) suddenly a danger game, with their final 7 games of the season versus teams all in contention for finals.
The early game on Sunday did little to tell us much about the teams involved, other than the Hawks are good and the Giants, are not. Amidst much injury speculation, Lance Franklin ended up playing and booted 4 goals – only to be substituted in the second half and will now miss some additional games as a result. Hawthorn secured valuable percentage with a massive 162-point victory. The AFL’s other newest franchise, the Gold Coast Suns, were far more competitive on Sunday, up against Geelong at Metricon Stadium. Even with Ablett well held, the Suns showed some encouraging signs against an experienced Cats team. For Geelong, the win keeps them well entrenched in the top 8. Finally for round 15, Fremantle hosted the Western Bulldogs at Subiaco, needing a win to stay in the finals discussion. It was hard fought, but led admirably by their skipper Matthew Pavlich; they grounded out an important win. The Dockers have a perfect opportunity to help seal a finals position coming up, as they face the Demons, Giants and Power in the next 3 weeks.
My Favourite Things for Round 15
Competition – In recent weeks we’ve seen a number of uncompetitive games, especially throughout the much maligned bye rounds. This week saw a return of the “close encounter” – with at least half of the matches going down to the wire – a stark contrast to previous rounds and let’s hope this trend continues.
Brock McLean – Amidst a barrage of criticism for much of his time at Carlton, McLean has stepped up since the shoulder injury suffered by Marc Murphy. McLean is in danger of playing himself into a new contract with the Blues, and whilst the money won’t be the same as the last contract, he could well be worth the spot on the playing list going forward.
My “not-so” Favourite Things for Round 15
The Hawks “Buddy” gamble – Forgot the waffle that is coming out of Glenferrie Oval – the Hawks clearly gambled by playing Buddy Franklin against the Giants and they now lose Buddy for 2-3 weeks because of it.
The Giants – After exceeding expectations for most of 2012, we should have seen a blowout such as this coming, especially against such a classy opponent in the Hawks. Despite this being the case, let’s hope this is the last 150+ point loss we see in 2012.
Any comments or feedback – please feel free to contact me.
Enjoy round 16 everyone.