AFL Round 19 – Western Bullldogs v Sydney: Ruff day at the office

There are more than a few eyebrows being raised at the living room television this Sunday afternoon. Third versus fifteenth on paper seems like a gulf too wide to overcome. But then I recall The Enemy’s plucky performance against West Coast and a cold sliver of doubt takes seed in my mind. Hell if the truth be told I was willing the Footscray boys on last week and there wasn’t even money riding on the result; it was just a great performance. But now that they’re playing the Swans any sort of camaraderie I may have had has gone out the window. I want them beaten. Soundly. Like drums at the Edinburgh Tattoo.

In a disturbingly familiar pattern The Enemy get two goals in the early minutes of the game. Richards misses everything trying to outmark and the second comes off a push. Still Captain Jack runs one in and Parker equals the score off some nice tap work from Pyke. After both Lamb and Mummy score I’m thinking perhaps those early Enemy goals were merely fluky. But they are matching, and in cases clearly outclassing, the Swans in the pressure stakes. They outrun McVeigh and avoid Rampe’s spoil to score. Mal goes down and it looks like he’s done his shoulder again. Turns out he’s just winded. Tippett goals of a nice flick from Parker but The Enemy respond with a savage forward press but are ultimately denied the six points. Somehow they retain possession and make certain of the score this time. We run out of time to extend our lead after Kennedy narrowly misses the sticks. It’s close. Far too close.

Everitt spears the ball to Tippett for the big man’s second very early in the second quarter. Captain Jack tries his hand at a long bomb but misses. The Enemy respond but O’Keefe and White keep us ahead. Mitchell gets pinged for a deliberate handball and I have a mini rant at the umpires for missing The Enemies earlier premeditated search for the boundary line. The Enemy switch it up taking the ball down the fat side but Richards has read this story before. Still we are finding it tough going getting the ball into an attacking position with The Enemy reading the handballs out of the pack and applying ferocious tackles on the receivers. Bolton goals to a rousing chorus of retirement plans from the channel 7 commentary box. The Enemy have one last crack before half time but the Swans flood back to defend and go into the break eighteen points up.

It’s a tackle fest in the third. We’re handballing too much and The Enemy are again wrapping up the receivers with octopus like tenacity. Forcing the turnovers they get two goals and a behind and my nerves creep up a level. Tippett gets his third but its way against the flow. The Enemy goal off a flicked down ball and my worry intensifies into pissed off territory. Three quick goals towards the end of the quarter restore my confidence but not in the umpires who again have to refer to the video after Grundy’s effort. Tippett’s too strong, outplaying two on one, to bag his forth.

Sheer endurance gets us ahead in the final term. Hannebury, having been cleverly tagged for the most of the game, flicks the ball off the ground to Bird who goals. Bolton gets his second from point blank range. The Enemy are missing their chances and after two superb goals from the Jack brothers I know this one is all but done and dusted. Not sure anyone’s told The Enemy though as they’re still plugging away, at one point running clear up the centre of the ground unopposed. Tippett gets his fifth then sixth and it’s all over.

The Swans come away with the win but were really made to earn it. The thirty five point advantage belies the pressure they were under for three quarters of the match. Now in second place on the ladder we’re looking good for September but I’m undecided whether the boys have a chink in their armour of if they’re simply showing they can shrug off any sort of sustained attack.

About Tom Bally

Born in 1834 Tom Bally was instrumental in establishing the rules of the modern game. It's a little known fact and the rare times he talks about it all he'll say is "that bloody Wills chap got me full of grape one night and the next thing I know he's peacocking around Richmond Paddock like he dreamt up the whole thing on his lonesome. Still I got the last laugh didn't I eh? Introducing the Umpire and all that."

Comments

  1. The Wrap says:

    I reckon this match told us as much about The Bullies as it did about The Bloods Tom. The Scrays are on the up, and The Swans are up. As you so aptly pointed out, this was pressure cooker Footy at its best. Keep it coming.

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