AFL Round 16: Winners and Losers

Winners

Nick Malceski

Malceski was just one of many Swans who had a day out against the Giants, but he makes the list because his performance reflects his season on the whole. Malceski had ten rebound fifties, which was seven more than the next highest Swan (Jarrad McVeigh). For those who don’t care for things like “godawful usless stats”, a player is credited with a rebound fifty when he brings the ball outside of his own side’s defensive arc after the opposition has sent it in there. Malceski did this ten times against the Giants, and has done it 126 times so far this year.

In comparison, the next highest figure belongs to Carlton’s Andrew Walker, who has 69.

To say the Swans make a concerted effort to put the ball in Malceski’s hands coming out of defence would be a massive understatement. He is like a man who wrote the word “Sherrin” and nothing else on his wedding registry, prompting every single one of his mates to provide just that. If the ball is deep in Sydney’s defence, and they have possession, chances are someone will give it to Malceski.

Rebound fifties isn’t the only stat Malceski leads the entire competition in, as he is also blazing a lone path up the “metres gained” leaderboard. Metres Gained is exactly what it sounds like, measuring how many forward metres a player’s possessions garner. Malceski has gained nearly a kilometre more than anyone else. Did I mention he had 26 kicks against the Giants? In fact Malceski kicks the ball roughly four times for every one handball, and, when you consider how often he is being handed the footy by the rest of his side, it’s no real surprise he is doing so well in this facet of the game.

Basically what I’m saying is Malceski plays a big part in Sydney doing what they like to do, and I’m surprised he hasn’t received more intense scrutiny from the opposition each week. Hawthorn did it back in round seven, keeping him to just 11 possessions, less than half his seasonal average, and they won. I don’t think stopping Malceski equals stopping Sydney, they’re far too good to be broken by one player being restricted, but I don’t think it would hurt your chances either.

Scott Pendlebury

Pendlebury had a masterful performance against Adelaide, knocking up 42 possessions, which is about 42 more than you’d like an opponent of his calibre to have. He was the leading stoppage player throughout the evening, and kicked two match sealing goals in the final term.

The Crows began the contest with the closest thing they have to a tagger, van Berlo, marking him. It didn’t go tremendously well, and Pendlebury had nineteen possessions to half time. When the sides re-emerged, van Berlo had been shifted to Swan, who had accrued much of the ball as he usually does, and Scott Thompson stood next to the influential Magpie at the opening bounce. Swan’s ball winning declined sharply in the second half, a combination of extended time on the pine, up forward, and van Berlo’s efforts. Pendlebury however continued to run rampant. There were numerous incidents where you can see Pendlebury in acres of space as Thompson struggles to go with him, and ultimately it was an ineffective gamble on Adelaide’s part.

Chris Mayne

Mayne is the type of footballer every club would like to have. An industrious tall forward who takes marks (nearly six a game), is accurate in front of goal (27 goals to 7 behinds), and applies an absurd amount of defensive pressure in the forward half. He kicked three goals in the Western Derby, but it was his season high nine tackles, and frequent forays up the ground that impressed the most. I thought he was the best player on the ground by some margin, and he was determined to impact on every contest he was in the vicinity of. You can’t help but like players with this sort of attitude and endeavour.

Lachie Henderson

Henderson is my anointed talking point out of a rather predictable Carlton v St Kilda clash. The margin was exactly what you would expect going in, and there weren’t that many things to take away from the contest. St Kilda are clearly in the bottom tier of sides, and as for Carlton, it’s more a case of “show me this when it matters”, as it typically is with them.

Henderson though was intriguing. So far this year he has been played predominately down back, and has done quite well, but with the absence of Waite against the Saints he was placed up forward. He provided a much needed marking target in that area of the ground, and succeeded in the role, taking 12 marks on the night. His marks, and four goals, made him the dominant player on the field that night.

Speaking of Carlton key forwards, Sam Rowe was also impressive, kicking three straight. He will be looking to seal a more permanent role in light of Casboult’s struggles.

Jason Winderlich

Winderlich is one of those players who is injured so often you forget how good he can be, and unfortunately, just as you begin to remember he inevitably hurts himself again. He was the standout Don against a Bulldogs outfit full of fight. Playing up forward and pushing high up the wings, Winderlich had the stat line of a genuine key forward, with 24 possessions, 12 marks, and 4 goals straight. The seven tackles are an impressive footnote, and shows that the Bomber wasn’t just the end recipient of his team mates’ hard work.

Brisbane

If I didn’t know any better I would just assume the Lions spent the opening three terms of all their games trying to make the margin as big as possible, just to make their fourth quarter efforts more impressive.  They face the Demons, Port Adelaide, and St Kilda over the coming three weeks, so four wins on the trot is possible. Watch this space.

Richmond

For breaking their Cairns/Suns hoodoo. It wasn’t without its scares, and I’m sure there were more than a few horror flashbacks as the margin hovered perilously close to that of last year’s game. As an aside, I would have loved to have seen the reaction had the Suns pulled some sort of wrestling move and had Hunt appear for the final few minutes. 

Losers

Adelaide

Adelaide’s opening term against the Pies was their best quarter of football all year. They applied pressure, tackled well, and made a point of kicking long and to advantage.Porplyzia, Henderson, Lyons, Crouch and Nick Maxwell were the pick of the Adelaide bunch early.

Then Dangerfield hurt his AC joint. He battled on manfully, and even with one arm he contributes more than many others, but the fact his injury occurred at the tail end of their most impressive quarter of the season, and the fact he will join Walker on the sidelines for approximately a month, is indicative of Adelaide’s year. Even when things are looking good they crash and burn shortly afterwards. The Crows should start their off-season sitting in the shower for an hour furiously scrubbing in an attempt to remove the stench of 2013 from themselves. Despite a late charge in the fourth, the Crows wound up losers against Collingwood yet again. They’ve lost their last six against them, and haven’t won since round 1 2009.

It was much the same tale on the night as it has been for much of the season. Adelaide’s younger players are, for the most part, the ones leading the way, and are the ones responsible for it even being a contest most weeks. Lyons, whose exclusion from the squad for weeks after his already inexplicable dropping has been one of the most baffling and frustrating things I can recall as fan, finally returned and, lo and behold, he was exemplary. The young clearance specialist had 17 touches and four goals playing as a forward who pushed into the middle. Lynch continued to lock away his “most surprisingly improved player” award at the club with another industrious showing, pushing up the ground to provide an option and kicking truly for goal when an opportunity presented itself. Crouch seems to get better each and every week, while down back Brown was solid and Rory Laird continues to showcase a rare blend of aggression and intelligence. He is rather short, but positions himself remarkably well in contested situations, and his presence saved Adelaide a couple of goals Friday night.

Henderson showed more signs of being a classy user of the ball in the back-half, having taken over the role in the wake of Reilly’s injury a few weeks ago. Unfortunately his efforts in contested situations leave a bit to be desired, much like his injured predecessor. Porplyzia, who for much of the year has been woefully out of form, had his most assured showing in quite some time, showing off some of the touch he had become renowned for and acting as the side’s only real bankable target in the forward arc.

It is the senior players repeatedly disappointing. Mackay returned to the side despite not really earning a recall via the seconds, and did nothing on the night to suggest he shouldn’t go straight back out. Thompson, for so long a leader in the middle, is in a real rough patch at the moment. His disposal, particularly by hand, was dire against the Pies, with several of them going directly to the opposition and resulting in goals. van Berlo continues to offer less than you would expect from a senior player, much less a captain. He started the game tagging Pendlebury, but was removed once that proved too difficult. The influential Magpie wound up with a career best 42 disposals and 2 goals. van Berlo had 14, and the only one I can distinctly remember was a diabolical turnover at a critical junction early in the final term. Recovering the ball just outside attacking fifty following a hasty Collingwood clearance, the Crows captain had four team mates largely unoccupied drifting toward the forty metre mark. Here, take a look at what happens.

vanBerlo_TurnoverHQ

Instead of picking one out, van Berlo floated it in between them where a quick thinking Sidebottom was ready to take advantage. They raced down the other end and punished the Crows with a goal, pushing the lead out beyond six points again. Adelaide wouldn’t get as close again. If you were going to pick any footage to sum up Adelaide’s year, it would either be the above, Walker getting injured, or just an assortment of Kurt Tippett Sydney highlights.

Greater Western Sydney

That game was so savage I thought I was obligated to report it to some sort of authority. The Swans had 51 scoring shots. Enough said.

Melbourne

Won themselves the coveted “least inside fifty entries since they started keeping records” award for their efforts against Geelong.

This entire game had a sense of helplessness and pointlessness about it. It was like the Demons knew they couldn’t win, and were content with not getting completely obliterated by a record margin. The Cats meanwhile took a look at the weather and decided they didn’t quite fancy going all out this weekend. I wouldn’t be surprised if they spent half time chopping wood for a fire at full time. The Geelong guys strike me as the “lets get a bonfire and some marshmallows going” type.

North Melbourne

There are two key signs something bad is about to happen, is happening, or has happened, to Brad Scott and North Melbourne.

The first is called “things are starting to go wrong”. Any devastating loss the Kangaroos have experienced since Scott took the job will typically involve footage similar to that below.

Brad Scott What is going on

And the second is called “acceptance.”  When it’s all said and done, Scott doesn’t get angry, he just contemplates.

BradScott_andwearedone

About Adam Ritchie

My name is Adam. I started watching football with two fellow parapsychologists in an abandoned firehouse. When we’re not watching footy, we’re running our own pest control business. What do you mean I stole that from Ghostbusters?

Comments

  1. Peter Schumacher says:

    As usual a really thorough analysis. I liked the way that you illustrated yor point re Van Berlo’s turnover kick with the clip. Reminded me a lot of THAT Akermanis turnover in the third quarter of the 2004 Grand Final which resulted in a Port goal and subsequent win. Brisbane have never been the same since that moment.

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