This week’s round review gives credit where credit is due, enjoys the Patrick Dangerfield show, takes a look at the Richmond experience, and then attempts to put a finger on what ails Melbourne.
It was a case of ‘No Walker, No Worries’ for Adelaide as they crushed Carlton at Etihad, ending their long losing streak in Victoria and further solidifying their serious contender credentials.
Patrick Dangerfield starred yet again with 35 disposals, 19 contested, 8 inside 50s, 8 clearances, 6 tackles and 2 goals. Anyone who watched the game and didn’t come away thinking that he was anything other than a brilliant footballer is either an angry Carlton fan, or someone who just hates life and happiness. The kind of person who yells at puppies, or is content with just vanilla ice cream. Watching him play is a treat. Adelaide could hand him a blank cheque, tell him to write down any number he wants, and there is no way they would be ripped off. He could do a Chester Lampwick and ask for $800 billion dollars and that would still be good value.
As good as Dangerfield was, he wasn’t the lone hand in the Crows victory. Captain Nathan van Berlo had what was probably his best game for the club. His touted endurance was on full display as he took 9 marks all over the ground. He laid 9 tackles, and ensured Murphy had next to no impact on the game prior to his unfortunate injury. Scott Thompson’s stat line, 31 touches, 15 contested possessions, 10 clearances and 8 marks, was nearly as impressive as Dangerfields. Rory Sloane continues to impress. He is a smart footballer, reminiscent of Jimmy Bartel with his ability to change his game to suit his team’s needs at any given time. Bernie Vince returned to the side with 3 goals amongst 20 disposals. Talia and Rutten continued their stellar play down back, with Henderson also impressing. Porplyzia showed signs of improved touch, and Josh ‘Leroy’ Jenkins has managed to integrate online gaming vernacular with football as a result of his performances. Adelaide had winners all over the ground, and their Saturday night clash with Collingwood next week will make for fascinating viewing.
The Magpies have won five on the trot and the doomsayers are not nearly as vocal now. Pendlebury, Sidebottom and Shaw lead the way as Collingwood won the Grand Final replay. Sidebottom in particular has been superb so far this year. The man with the coolest name in the business has elevated his game in 2012, and is danger of getting leather poisoning.
However, it wouldn’t be a Collingwood game without an injury or two. This week, Brownlow Medalist Dane Swan went down early in the fourth with a hamstring, and All-Australian Centre-half Back Ben Reid hurt something… again. If you were to write down all of Collingwood’s injuries, you would need a piece of paper bigger than the Empire State Building. The most pertinent question moving forward is whether or not that piece of paper can reach the moon.
Trailing by 21 points at 3 quarter time, only Port fans wearing the rosiest of glasses would have believed victory was still attainable. Led by Jay Schulz, who bagged an incredible 7 goals straight, and Danyle Pearce, who had 30 touches and added a much needed touch of class with the ball, Port Adelaide snatched the game from North Melbourne in the dying stages to win by 2 points. The effort and endeavour from the players was a welcome change from what they’ve dished up the past few weeks, and you could see what the result meant to them at the final siren. Backing this up is the next challenge.
Sydney and West Coast
Did what they had to do, and did so in impressive fashion, save for a “oh how many have they kicked in a row? When did that happen? Should I put my boots back on?” moment in the West Coast v St Kilda game.
Dreamtime at the G
First we must talk about the Bombers, who had it, nearly lost it, and then won it back. They are seven and one, tied for points atop the ladder, and playing very impressive footy. The Dons were led by their captain Jobe Watson, who had his customary 30 touches and added 2 goals. Stanton had only 29 touches, but made up for it with 3 goals. Ryder kicked 4 goals and ensured it was a stellar round for Patricks everywhere.
But now onto more interesting things, like The Richmond Experience. This ride is unique in that it is consistently inconsistent, and you never know what you are going to get each time you get on. There is no predefined path.
Last week the ride was running brilliantly. Everyone had a good time and they were so satisfied they even bought those massively overpriced photos that are taken just before the ride’s finale.
This week the ride took about an hour to start. People were getting a little disenchanted. I knew this ride wouldn’t be awesome three weeks in a row. Then the ride got going. It stuttered along. People were muttering under their breath. Then it began to climb. Really climb. Suddenly people had forgotten they had been waiting for over an hour for it to even get started. People were getting giddy. Then they got to the summit. This is brilliant!
And then the ride stopped.
It plunged backwards.
And the ride was ended.
The ride goers weren’t all that surprised that the ride had failed. It does that most weeks. But most weeks the ride never gets going at all. Now it’s different.
That climb was epic.
The ride ran pretty well the last few weeks as well.
It will probably fail again next week though.
But what if it doesn’t?
So next week they will line up to go on the ride yet again. This is what it is to be a Richmond fan. The best part? The ride may not be consistently awesome, but it’s in better nick than anyone can remember.
The ‘Not a Serious Contender’ sticker is dangerously close to being applied. Over the next two weeks they face the Demons and the Power, so that should be two wins that show us nothing (conversely, if they don’t win both the sticker will most certainly be affixed). Following those games they have Geelong, West Coast, Bye, Hawthorn and then Collingwood. That period will tell us everything we need to know about Carlton in 2012, and if they play like they’ve played the past few weeks, then it won’t be a pretty story for those in blue.
The ‘Not a Serious Contender’ sticker has most certainly been applied, and a move to the ‘seriously stuck in mediocrity’ pile is definitely on the cards.
“Wait…..there’s a bottom half to the table?”
Eight weeks into the season and Geelong are in unfamiliar territory for this time of year. The extra competition than usual for top four spots means the Cats will want to start banking wins sooner rather than later.
Mention of Joel Selwood’s performance must also be made. The Captain had 36 touches, twenty of which were contested. More of the same will be needed if they are to get back to the lofty heights they have come accustomed to.
Mark Neeld must be spending his days hunting around the Melbourne training facilities for a “restore to factory settings” button. It took him hours to find the manual, and it was all in Spanish anyway. Just his luck.
What can be said about the Demons? Normally in times of frustration it is beneficial to calmly devise a list of pros and cons about your current situation. The Demons shouldn’t do that. The “pros” list would be seriously underwhelming.
PRO: There is a serious chance we will have the first three picks in the coming draft.
PRO: Jeremy Howe can take a mark.
That might be it.
The worst aspect of the Demon’s plight is the performance of their so called senior players. I doubt you could find a single Demons fan who can say anything remotely positive about any of them. The best you could find would start “Well, a few years ago he… “. Mark Jamar is the closest thing they have to someone 25 or over who gives something resembling a consistent performance, and even he has been poor in comparison to his past few years. Rivers is okay but ultimately uninspiring. Brent Moloney seems to think his stellar play during the first few weeks of last season justifies taking his foot off the accelerator for the rest of his career. His agent came out a few weeks ago talking about how Moloney will certainly test the free agent market. If he keeps playing like this he will be lucky if anyone will have him. Brad Green just doesn’t have it anymore, and Aaron Davey lost it few years ago.
Colin Sylvia’s footballing crimes are the worst though. He is a man who has all the talent you could want, but is working feverishly to redefine “disappointing”. Sylvia is good when he wants to be, and when he wants to be is twice a year. That might even be generous. Fans can handle their team being poor if they at least have a crack. They won’t like it, but they’ll stick by you. But when players don’t seem interested? That’s the cardinal sin. No one could convince me Sylvia gives 100% every time he steps out on the field, and there is no way his on-field performances justify his attitude.
Ultimately, showing James McDonald the door was a disastrous mistake and the symbolic beginning to the shambles we see today. His on-field performances didn’t justify a forced retirement, but surely his off-field influence alone was worth keeping him around. A team that is going down the youth avenue still needs those experienced campaigners around. They set the tone around the club. Compare Melbourne’s situation to another struggling rebuilding club like Brisbane. When a youngster comes to Brisbane he is going to be training and playing with the likes of Jonathan Brown and Simon Black. I’m willing to bet that any player who thinks they can get away with giving less than a 100% gets found out pretty quick in that environment. You might not make it, but it won’t be because you didn’t try. When a new draftee arrives in Melbourne they don’t have that. Something tells me effort isn’t something demanded by their peers.
It’s going to be a rough period for the Demons, but the most important thing to remember is that things can always change, and change quickly, in football. The first step is to get the players putting in 100%, and waving goodbye to anyone who won’t.