Buddy. Gave me a huge fright with his 10 minutes of madness on Friday night, nearly stealing the game from the Dogs. He looks lethal so far this season. Look out, Collingwood.
How about the South Australians! The state was left reeling after another Shield final loss to Victoria, now it has been revived by the Power and Crows, who sit first and second respectively after two rounds. All of Adelaide, or close to it, will be at the centrepiece for the Showdown this Saturday night. The Crows have taken two huge scalps so far, and Ken Hinkley seems to have rediscovered the blueprint that took them close to a Grand Final in 2014.
Chautauqua deserves a nomination.
The eight teams yet to win a game this season will be feeling the pressure during round three, eager to chalk up their first win of 2017. Sydney shouldn’t be stressing too much; renowned for saving their best footy for the second half of the season, they’ll be fine. Collingwood impressed me in round one and looked poor last week, but both losses were by tight margins. Despite what some people seem to believe about the Pies, I wouldn’t be panicking yet.
There’s problems everywhere you look up at the Suns, who I identified last week as being in grave danger of falling apart, and at Fremantle. The Dockers were predicted by many to bounce back to the top eight after last year’s dismal campaign, but showed little fight when going down by 15 goals against Port Adelaide. Difficult to see where Freo’s first win comes from if the performances don’t improve.
The umpires officiating the West Coast v St Kilda match at Subiaco on Saturday appeared to succumb to the ferocious and parochial crowd, helping the Eagles come from behind to topple the Saints. The visitors only received eight free kicks for the match and gave away 23, however a number of decisions during the second half all seemed to go rather unfairly against St Kilda. Saints coach Alan Richardson didn’t blame the umpires – even if he thought they were robbed, he would be fined for voicing that publically – but admitted his side were “unlucky”.
Thus, the focus on determining whether the perceived bias towards home sides backed by a boisterous crowd has sharpened. Statistics have been thrown around to suggest that home sides getting favourable decisions might just be a fact of sport, but that doesn’t make it any easier to accept for those on the receiving end as St Kilda was on the weekend.
Players who get reported during a game have reason to be fearful of the sanction that is handed down to them by the Match Review Panel, no matter how severe they think their indiscretion was. After only two rounds we have seen enormous inequity in the penalties given to players because of the emphasis the panel places on consequences rather than actions.
For example, Travis Varcoe’s hit on Luke Dahlhaus in round one – where he showed no desire to get the ball and ran in a direct line to collect the Dog – could have put him into next week, but because Dahlhaus somehow managed to bounce back up it only cost the Pie one game. North ruckman Braydon Preuss drove his knee into the back of Jackson Thurlow after realising he would arrive far too late to attempt a spoil, but only copped a $1000 fine because Thurlow avoided injury.
Both of these incidents were as severe as or more so than the open-handed strikes to the head dealt out by Melbourne’s Jordan Lewis and Jesse Hogan against Carlton, but they received multiple week bans because their victims suffered injuries. It’s an imbalance that has to be fixed. The punishment needs to match the intent and danger of the action, rather than its outcome.