The Hawks triumphed in Friday night’s top of the table clash with the Bombers and are justly the biggest winners of the round. Franklin returned to the squad with a colossal bang as the Hawks accounted for their opposition with alarming ease.
The Bombers started promisingly with four of the first six goals, exploiting Hawthorn on the outside repeatedly. From quarter time onwards however the Hawks controlled the contest in every facet, winding up with 98 more possessions, 39 more marks, 26 more inside fifty entries, and 56 more points. Led by the usual suspects in Mitchell and Hodge, the premiership favourites dictated terms and denied the Dons the ball, sending it forward often for their vaunted forward line, and one (or eight) Lance Franklin, to punish Jake Carlisle and the rest of the under siege Bomber defence. Comprehensive is the best word to describe their performance, and Essendon’s failure further proves it’s less top four and more top three this season.
The Power are big winners this week because a whole host of things went their way:
- They beat the Lions, solidifying their own place in the eight and all but ruling out Brisbane
- West Coast lost to the Western Bulldogs, which basically put down their finals aspirations, allowing Eagles’ fans to really unload with their anger at the club for their bafflingly bad 2013 campaign.
It looks like it’s down to Port Adelaide and Carlton for that final spot (though, the way Collingwood are going they both might make it). A look at their run home paints an intriguing picture.
|44 points||40 points||36 points|
|19||Essendon (MCG)||Adelaide (AAMI)||Fremantle (Etihad)|
|20||Sydney (ANZ)||Geelong (Simonds)||Western Bulldogs (Etihad)|
|21||Hawthorn (MCG)||Gold Coast (Metricon)||Richmond (MCG)|
|22||West Coast (MCG)||Fremantle (Patersons)||Essendon (MCG)|
|23||North Melbourne (MCG)||Carlton (AAMI)||Port Adelaide (AAMI)|
First glance suggests Port Adelaide are probably in the box seat to snare a finals berth. They face three sides currently outside the eight, while the Pies and Blues only face one each. The critical match of this period, the round 23 clash between Port and Carlton, takes place at home for the Power as well.
Port Adelaide have three factors working against them. The first is the amount of travel over the five week period. They travel to Geelong, the Gold Coast, and Fremantle over three consecutive weeks. The second disadvantage is their percentage, which is quite a bit behind Carlton’s.
While Carlton don’t have the same amount of games against bottom sides as Port Adelaide, they have only one game, this week against Fremantle, where it would be genuinely surprising if they won (Richmond and Essendon will obviously be favourites, but they don’t inspire the same level of dread as the Geelongs, Hawthorns and Sydneys of the world. They can be had. You wouldn’t be stunned if Carlton beat them). Conversely, Port Adelaide have two such games (Geelong and Freo). They only travel once, and have a significant lead in percentage.
Collingwood have the obvious advantage of being eight points ahead of the Blues, and four points and percentage in front of Port Adelaide. For all intents and purposes both sides have to win two more games than the Pies if they are to miss the finals. The bad news is their run home, at least in terms of opposition, is by far the most brutal. They face off against three top four sides over the coming three weeks, and they’ll start underdogs in each (as an aside though, they have a phenomenal record against the Swans at ANZ, with five wins and a solitary loss). Their final fortnight sees them face the Eagles and North. Make no mistake, West Coast have been abhorrent, with this weekend past being the lowest ebb, but they still have match winners all over the park, while North can certainly give them a run for their money.
The score was 38 to 31 at one stage during the second term. Geelong would score 99 more points. St Kilda would score 5. That is more lopsided than the first half in Space Jam.
Early this season I wrote that I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up looking back on the careers of Lance Franklin and Jeremy Cameron and felt Cameron was the better player. Lets just say I’m still feeling pretty good about that rather grand call.
I’m officially at the “why do the Giants even want Franklin anyway” camp. I’ve always been in the “they don’t really need him but obviously he’d be nice to have” camp, but over the past few weeks I’ve been getting firmer. The Giants have obviously decided they can afford it. After all, they still have a million dollars more than everyone else to play with next season (and that’s before we factor in the fact the AFL are likely to almost match what the Giants will pay him from their absolutely ridiculous “ambassador” payments), and will enjoy an inflated salary cap all the way until the start of the 2019 season (Just in time for Franklin’s five year deal to expire). They’re playing with more money than the rest of us.
But they also have a boatload of talented youngsters. Normally when other teams have one or two young guns on the rise, we speculate about how their eventual pay day is going to fit in with the rest of the side. The Giants are going to have around twelve such players looking for the same upgrade in pay at roughly the exact same time. It would be hard to pay them all market value, even with the inflated cap. Franklin would give them much less room to play with, while filling a spot in the side they don’t really need filled. It’s an excessive amount to pay for what is essentially a luxury, and it’s a decision that may cost them a young player or two. I have to believe that every single other club knows these things, and are just chomping at the bit to get in the ear of some of these younger players. Taking less to stay with the team sounds fantastic, but there is a tipping point where you are turning down too much. Let’s just say if they sign Franklin, and don’t loose some of these young guns in a few years time, then either they are a side filled with the most selfless blokes ever assembled, they have the world’s most creative accountants, or the total player payments cap isn’t really doing its job.
While we’re talking about him, it would be remiss not to mention he delivered a friendly reminder regarding how good he can be with an eight goal return against the Bombers. Watching Franklin line up against Essendon is a bit like watching a bunch of teenagers camp out at a remote lake on Friday the 13th. It’s a massacre every time.
Dalhaus had the best game of his career in what was his side’s best win of the season. The young bulldog combined his intuitive nature in front of goal with his developing abilities in the middle more effectively than ever, racking up 29 disposals and hitting the scoreboard with four goals. He wasn’t the only Bulldog to impress either. Tom Liberatore continues to lay claim to the best young inside midfielder title, with another 29 disposals, 7 clearances, and an outstanding 12 tackles. Mitch Wallis, who has found himself in and out of the side at times this year, performed admirably in a shut-down role, particularly on Priddis in the second half. The influential inside ball winner from the Eagles barely saw the sherrin until the closing minutes of the game. Hell even Jarrad “how has this guy not put on any weight since being drafted” Grant was great (and has been quite good over the past three weeks), kicking three goals. He has potentially resurrected his career with his best patch of games since his second year in the league way back in 2010.
The Bulldogs have a lot of things going for them, and if they could somehow get Tom Boyd they’ll be pushing for finals sooner rather than later.
Rather than talk about Dayne Beams, Dane Swan, and Steele Sidebottom, I’ve just decided to merge them into one super player, Dayne Steeleswan. Dayne Steeleswan is man who gets results (and tattoos). Here are some other fun facts about Dayne Steeleswan on the weekend.
He had 107 possessions against the Giants. That is 36.7 per cent of the entire side’s disposals.
He had 23 marks.
He send the ball inside forward fifty 18 times.
He kicked 7 goals and 5 behinds.
Nat Fyfe and Rory Sloane
These two put on quite the show on Saturday night.
Fyfe was the shining star of the evening, putting in a quintessential “the three votes are mine and nobody else is having a sniff” performance. The Docker midfielder had 29 touches of the sherrin, took nine marks, and kicked four goals from six scoring shots. His already incredible performance on the goal front is made even more impressive when you consider the game wasn’t a shoot-out, with his side only kicking eleven goals.
For the Crows it was Sloane who led the way, particularly in the third, where his frantic efforts in all areas of the ground helped draw Adelaide back into the contest. He would finish with 30 possessions and seven tackles.
The biggest difference between the two however was the level of support they received from their team mates. Sloane’s in particular seemed to delight in missing set shot after set shot, while those in purple were clinical with theirs.
Are a clear step behind the big three in Geelong, Hawthorn and Sydney, and to be honest if I had the choice of facing one of the Bombers and Fremantle in the finals, I’d rather take my chances on the former.
Oh and then there is that off field business as well…
Adelaide got the better of Fremantle in several areas of the game. They lost though. This is why:
Fremantle had ten set shots. They kicked eight goals and two behinds.
Adelaide had twelve set shots. They kicked three goals, eight behinds, and one out of bounds on the full.
Melbourne and St Kilda
This weeks 100 point plus victims make the losers list for obvious reasons.
Melbourne’s 122 point beatdown at the hands of North Melbourne was particularly disappointing, as it was a return to their pre-Craig performance levels. While they were still getting beaten most weeks, at least there was some fight and effort. Not on Saturday though. They were insipid in every way, and even went scoreless in the final quarter. There was nothing to like, and someone needs to commission an investigation into what happened to Aaron Davey.
St Kilda on the other hand started extremely well against the Cats down in Geelong. In fact they matched them on the scoreboard in the opening term. From then on though it was like a ninety minute montage of a pride of Lions savaging lonely, legless buffalo. They conceded fifteen goals straight, and scored only five behinds in the second half. To make matters worse Gwilt, Hayes and Riewoldt sustained leg injuries. It was just an all round torrid night that started quite promisingly for the Saints.
Unlike the Demons though there were some bright spots, mainly the performance of the very underrated Jack Steven. The Saint midfielder starred in the middle of the ground, notching 36 disposals and leading the way in most areas for the Saints. Montagna offered some support, and Hayes was doing reasonably well before his injury concerns, but Steven looks to be a long term feature in the middle for St Kilda as they look for pieces to build the side around.
Andrew Swallow and Josh Jenkins
A couple of wretched injuries suffered by these two this weekend. Swallow was withdrawn at the start of the third term with what looks to be an Achilles injury, while Jenkins suffered an ankle break Saturday night against Fremantle. Two long term injuries to players who fulfil important roles in their respective sides seems a typical way to cap off a year both North Melbourne and Adelaide would label disappointing.