What a weekend of AFL! Big upsets, a win for GWS and a thriller at AAMI Stadium. But what were the main talking points out of Round 19?
Brilliant performance for Dogs
What a great showing from the Doggies at Etihad Stadium against the Swans on Sunday. Taking it up to the reigning premiers for the first three quarters, it looked as if a massive upset was on the cards. A tiny lapse in concentration let the Swans off the hook in the final minutes of the 3rd, taking an eight point lead all the way out to 26. From there, the game was gone, and the Swans cruised in the final term to win by 35 points.
The Dogs will definitely take a lot away from the match, and with a great draw over the final four matches, some much needed confidence can be taken away from what started as a horror season. So what was good about the Dogs’ match today? Intense pressure on the ball, and working hard both ways, something which the Swans pride themselves on, kept the Dogs within striking distance for most of the match. At times you could easily mistake the match for a final, with the two highest ranked contested possessions team’s absolutely pulverising each other. The tackle count of 96-79 to the Dogs is quite incredible for a 15th ranked side coming up against one of the premiership favourites. In fact, they won all the key statistical areas. 8 more clearances, 2 more contested possessions and 6 more inside 50’s shows just how well the Dogs played.
The Dogs have the makings of what should be a competitive year next year. A young midfield with the likes of Tom Liberatore, Luke Dahlhaus coming through, Jarrad Grant kicking goals, and Will Minson in All Australian contention, look for a much improved performance next year, with perhaps a few major upsets along the way.
It was always going to be a horror round for tipsters, but who would have thought the top two sides in Hawthorn and Geelong would come up short. In saying that though, both sides coming up against finals’ quality sides in Richmond and the Kangaroos, both were expecting tough matches. For Hawthorn, it was clearly evident that they were beaten by a more desperate team. Getting smashed in the contested possession count and clearances saw the Hawks chasing all day, and a 41 point win was well deserved for the Tigers. For Geelong, again, outworked by a more desperate side. The Roos again showed what a waste their season has been, with a comfortable win over a premiership threat coming too late in the season.
Do these upsets change the way we look at the final month of the home and away season? Probably not. If anything, it may give these teams the wakeup call they needed, showing them that being 5% off your game won’t get you through what should have been a straightforward game, let alone a must win finals match. Unless they falter next week, don’t read too much into this week’s results. Both will bounce back with resounding wins next week.
Essendon on the way down?
Could this be the beginning of the end for the Bombers? Tough to say. But a 56 point loss followed by 79 on Sunday surely says something. With the ASADA investigation drawing to a close in the coming weeks, it may be starting to take a toll on Essendon, who were significantly outplayed by both Hawthorn and Collingwood. The Hawthorn match may have been somewhat predicted, but against the Pies, who are a lowly ranked finals team at best, their performance was appalling.
Taking a look at their draw over the next coming month, it’s not getting any easier. Matches against West Coast, North Melbourne, Carlton and Richmond to finish the season isn’t the easiest of draws, and in our Ladder Predictor we had them winning all 4 of these. Based on ladder position, yes, they should win all of these, but with these latest results, who knows what will happen.
The ASADA investigation may not be the only downer on the Essendon team at the moment. They are having depth issues, and some of their stars have hit a rough patch at the wrong time of year. Apparently Brent Stanton played today, didn’t see him. Dyson Heppell had real issues shaking the Macaffer tag and even Brendon Goddard was completely towelled up by Harry O this week. The engine room isn’t their only problem either. Jake Carlisle has played himself out of the All Australian team, giving up 17.8 from his past 3 defensive assignments, whilst their forward line is missing five of their seven leading goalkickers in Crameri, Hurley, Winderlich, Davey, Howlett.
A big match looms next week against the unpredictable West Coast, where Essendon will look to get things back on track. A loss here will be devastating.
GWS first win
Im not sure what the main talking point out of this game should be, but we’ll take the high road and focus on the positive side with the Giants’ first win of the season. Given the form of the two sides heading into the match, all signs were pointing to a GWS win. They gave a spirited showing against Essendon, and almost rolled Collingwood last week, announcing to the league that they were starting to play some proper AFL level football. Melbourne on the other hand has been going backwards, losing by 122 against the Roos in a performance that surely demands some sort of sanction. Really though, Neil Craig is not a bad coach at all, as shown by his performances at the Crows, so something must be seriously wrong at the Melbourne Football Club.
One of the most positive things the Giants can take out of this match is the overall quality of play from all of their players. While it has been Jeremy Cameron in the past few matches that has kept them competitive, big matches from Callan Ward (31 disposals, 4 goals), Lachie Whitfield (26 disposals, 10 marks) and Tom Scully (29 disposals, 11 marks) saw a complete domination by the Giants midfield. Cameron ended up with a lazy four goals, and with big Jono Giles heading forward for a couple of goals, the Giants are showing the versatility required of a successful AFL team.
Do they even need Buddy next year? Seems to be a question that is getting asked a fair bit, given the emergence of Cameron as a potential powerhouse of the league. The three key forward setup hasn’t been implemented by too many clubs so the question is whether or not they can fit into the Giants setup. Taking a look at the Sydney Swans setup however, there may be a trend towards stretching the oppositions defence with a bigger setup up forward, something which the Giants may look to employ. Either way, the Giants have a bright future