Round 9 kicked off an incredible 33 games in 20 days, dubbed the festival of footy, though sadly the footy hasn’t really delivered to date. We’ve seen many blowouts, some uncompetitive efforts, and just a couple of close games that have delivered on the festival feel of the round.
You know it’s a bizarre round when we are still waiting for the finish of the final game, and the teams for the next round are being named already. It’s something we are going to have to get used to for the next few weeks.
The Round started on Wednesday, when the Tigers and Dogs met at Metricon stadium. It loomed as a genuinely good contest, but was anything but in the end. The Tigers flew out of the blocks, taking a 3-goal lead at quarter time, and from there never looked back. A six-goal 2nd quarter rendered the game over at half time, and the biggest shock was how non-competitive the Dogs were. Their best has been really strong this year, but when they are bad, they have been diabolically bad and you never really know when you’ll get either. For the Tigers, they seem to be finally hitting form, helped by a focused Dustin Martin who finally looks locked in on the season.
Next up on Thursday we had another game that promised a lot, with the high-flying Port Adelaide meeting the inform Demons. Again, we got anything but the blockbuster we hoped as the Melbourne side put in as a bad an effort as we’ve seen from them, which is saying something. The Demons best has been superb, but when they are off, they are really poor. The wins over Hawthorn and the competitive effort against the Lions seemed to trick us into a false sense of security over this team, and again the questions will come on Simon Goodwin. For Port, they are just playing superb football and look the top side that their ladder position suggests.
On Friday we had a double header, with a weird start time of 5:40 for the Hawks V Carlton game in Perth. The Hawks have looked terrible over the past 4 weeks, with pressure on the coach, the list, the older players and the club as a whole. When the Blues kicked the first 5 goals of the game, it looked like it was going to be another horrid week for Hawks supporters. However, once the Hawks kicked their first goal, through ‘the new hope’ Will Day, they never looked back, and piled on 14 goals to 4 to win with a leg in the air. It’s a disappointing loss for the Blues, who were stringing some really good footy together, and shows they aren’t quite ready to challenge yet. For the Hawks, it’s some respite from the media heat and with a bye next up they get a chance to rest up and re-focus.
The second game of the double-header saw Essendon take on the Lions at Metricon stadium. The Lions blew the Dons away in the first quarter with a 5 goal to 1 quarter, and the Dons couldn’t make much leeway in the second, despite keeping the Lions goalless. However, things didn’t get better for the Bombers after half time, as they were easily accounted for by the High-flying Lions who were simply fantastic. They have multiple options up forward and through the midfield, and their defence is as strong as anyone’s. For the Bombers, it’s a 10-goal touch up and questions are coming thick and fast about their credentials. They’ve beaten Fremantle, Sydney, Collingwood, North Melbourne, and Adelaide, with one Collingwood being considered a scalp, whilst being touched up by the Dogs and Lions and lost a close one against the Blues. We still don’t know if they are any good, but the signs are suggesting they aren’t.
Saturday saw a battle of the cellar-dwellers, with Adelaide and North fighting it out. It looked to be Adelaide’s best chance for a win, but they looked as far away from being AFL-standard than at any time this year. Injuries aren’t helping, but they had 10 blokes that played in the 2017 grand final playing, plus Bryce Gibbs, so they have talent there, but they are clearly struggling to understand the game plan, if Matthew Nick’s half time use of bottles on the floor is anything to go by, as they got beaten by 69pts. For North, it’s a really strong result, kicking the highest score of the year, and playing fluent footy to boot. They won’t get this sort of training run again this season, but you still have to deliver. Also featured one of the great footy stories this year with Majak Daw finally making his return after nearly 2yrs out of the game through injury. He capped it off with a strong performance and a goal to boot. Great stuff Majak, great to have you back.
The Saints and Swans were next up, with the high-flying Saints looking to maintain their form against a Swans side who were playing good footy. The Saints through were more efficient and cleaner with the footy as they got themselves a good strong win. Their looking up and about, and but for two poor fade-outs which cost them games against the Dockers and North, they would be well entrench in the top 4. For the Swans, it’s a slight step back, but this year isn’t about finals, it’s about building for their next flag tilt, and their kids look impressive. If they can keep Papley and keep these kids delivering then the future looks pretty good.
The final game on Saturday, finally delivered on its billing, as the Eagles and Cats duked it out on Saturday Prime Time. The Cats were the better side early, taking their chances in front of goal superbly, kicking 7-0 to 4-2 to half time. They were stopping the Eagles run, their defence was on top and were converting their chances up forward. After halftime though the Nic Nat show commenced, as he took over in the middle, giving the Eales mids first use, which meant their forwards could get on top. They piled on 7 goals in the second half, with 4 in the last, to pinch the lead from the Cats midway through the last and never let it go. Whilst the Cats weren’t disgraced by any means, it’s another slip against a challenger which they didn’t need. For the Eagles, they have pushed themselves to premiership favoritism, and it’s justified. A slow start in Iso tricked us, as they are now up and flying and look the side to beat at the moment.
Sunday saw the expansion cup take place, as the Suns and Giants battled on the Gold Coast. The Suns were competitive, and when Toby Greene went down with a hamstring, they looked every chance, but the Giants just know how to win better than the Suns and simply took their chances better when needed. The Suns weren’t disgraced. But 4.11 against a strong side simply won’t cut it. The Giants just keep getting results at the moment, and it’s all they need to do at the moment.
In the final game of the round saw the biggest upset for some time, with the Dockers knocking off the Pies which ended another poor week for the Pies. The Dockers have been solid this year, but were easily beaten last week after a string of good performances, and needed to rebound. The Pies are one of the premiership favorites, but their form has been patchy of late and these are games they need to win if they want to get a top 4 spot. A 4-goal final quarter saw the Dockers get over the line, but the Pies will rue their inability to finish their chances. Injures aren’t helping the Pies, but they need to win these games. It ends a bad week for the Pies, and they’ll want to bounce back quickly.
So, let’s have a look at the Winners and the Losers of the weekend
1: Majak Daw – Injuries and Mental heath issues meant Majak didn’t play AFL footy for more than 700 days. To come in and play well, was a bonus, to kick a goal was a dream, but to just make it back was a miracle. Well done Majak. Here’s to many more
2: West Coast – It’s a great win for the Eagles. Kennedy has hit some hot form, as has Nic Nat, whilst their midfield is finally gelling. A come back win against a contender can never be sniffed at. Premiership favorite, and rightfully so.
3: Richmond – The Dogs were playing good footy, but the Tigers made them look second rate. Their kids are playing with confidence and will be hard to drop, Cotchin is back, but it’s the form of Dusty that will have other teams nervous. He’s finally looking ready for the season and switched on, and his form over the past couple of weeks has been superb.
4: Hawthorn – It’s a badly needed win, which will see the pressure reduced for a couple of weeks. It’s not surprising that the move to the larger Optus stadium saw their fortunes change, but it’s the fact they came back from giving up the first 5 goals to win with a leg in the air shows the pride this group has. Some strong ins and a kick of confidence might be just what they need to turn around their season.
5: Fremantle – They’re a young side, rebuilding under a new coach and plenty of youth. They had a poor one last week, so a good performance was needed to get themselves back on track. To knock off the Pies is a huge win for this side, and after falling behind at 3qtr time, they could have fallen away. However, they didn’t, and it’s another sign Longmuir has the ability to get this group up when needed.
1: Adelaide – Injuries are hurting, but this was a shocking performance. They coughed up the highest score against this year, against a side that had not won in 6 weeks. They were largely uncompetitive and clearly Nicks is having trouble getting his message through.
2: Melbourne – Another team that put in a disappointing effort, as shown by their president coming out and slamming it. We really don’t know who the real Melbourne is, is it the electric Dees side that touched up the Hawks? Or is it the side we saw on the weekend. Time will tell, but they’ll want to turn this around quickly.
3: Essendon – a limp performance off the back of just getting over the line against the Crows, and a previous touch-up from the Dogs. They look like a middle of the road team, made to look better but their current soft draw. A lack of a decent tall forward is hurting and their midfield can get over-run too easily. Sam Draper looks a ripper though so it’s not all doom and gloom
4: Carlton – Kicked the first 5 goals against a side that had been deplorable over the past few weeks. From that moment, they lost the plot and coughed up a game they should have rightfully penciled in as a win. It stops their strong run of form and shows they still have some way to go if they want to make the finals.
5: Collingwood – Lost a game they should have won, saw their coach and assistant have to pay a significant fine due to COVID breaches, just a few days after their President went on radio suggesting the next people caught in breaches should be sent home for the season and made to pay the fines by themselves. They haven’t been, and it’ll again make Maguire look like the hypocritical fool he is. It’s another bad week for the Pies, which is becoming a regular occurrence.