AFL Round 22: Winners and Losers

Carlton. Oh Carlton.


The Sydney v Hawthorn match

If this is a sign of things to come, then September is going to be a tremendous month for footy fans (Blues fans excluded). This was football. The Swans got out to a big lead early, and the Hawks clawed them back in a phenomenal final ten minutes to the half. From there the game ebbed and flowed. The SCG was rocking.  One team would lay a proverbial body blow, only for the other to pick themselves off the canvas and go straight for the jaw.

There were some glorious individual performances. Former Hawk Josh Kennedy worked his usual magic in tight on his way to 35 disposals and 9 clearances. Ryan O’Keefe, who is 31 years old but plays like he is 25, was workman like. He racked up touches at will, laid an impressive 12 tackles, and kicked two goals, including one that nearly won his side the game.

For the Hawks it was Shaun Burgoyne who delivered his finest performance since his move from Port Adelaide. Thrust into the middle in favour of his now customary role on the half-back flank, Burgoyne was the driving force behind Hawthorn getting itself back into the contest. He kicked two goals in their second quarter resurgence, and would add a third in the final term. Brad Sewell would shake off a troublesome knee and kick a match sealing goal that ranks right up there in the badassery stakes. Mere seconds after the Hawks had re-captured the lead; Sewell won the ball at the restart and simply charged toward the forward fifty, before unloading a monstrous bomb that sailed through the sticks with ease. Seven point lead. Game over. The Hawks ascend to the top of the table, while the Swans are left to contemplate life in second (and perhaps third once it is all said and done).

Western Australia (West Coast and Fremantle)

A good weekend for the Western side of the country, with both the Eagles and Dockers recording big wins against impressive opposition.

First up were the Eagles on Saturday night against Collingwood. They crushed the Pies to the tune of 49 points. The absence of Darren Jolly meant Cameron Wood had to face the two headed ruck monster of Cox and Naitanui alone. It was roughly comparable to the duel between the goat and the Tyrannosaurus Rex in Jurassic Park. The Eagles had 59 hit-outs to 12. In mathematics 59 is commonly referred to as “a hell of a lot more” than 12. The ruck dominance showed in the clearance count as well, with West Coast recording 47 to the Magpies 23. Daniel Kerr had entirely too much fun with 36 disposals and 12 clearances, while Priddis was not far behind with 29 and 10.

Fremantle waltzed into Melbourne to face the juggernaut that was the Kangaroos and lost skipper Matthew Pavlich before the opening bounce. The Dockers ignored the Kangaroos form, the absence of their captain, and the fact they wear purple, delivering a comprehensive performance and assuring themselves a place in the September action. Sandilands destroyed Todd Goldstein, whom I’m sure you’ll agree is a more vaunted opponent than Cameron Wood. He had 49 hit-outs, while his North Melbourne opponent could only manage 8. The Dockers wound up having 62 hit-outs to 15 (“a hell of a lot more”). The Dockers didn’t quite have the level of clearance dominance their Western Australian counterparts did (42 to 34). Instead they showed all the hallmarks of a Ross Lyon side by simply choking North, who found it much harder to move the ball cleanly when the opposition doesn’t have more holes than Augusta. These are the kind of performances Fremantle fans envisioned when they snared Ross Lyon. All is forgiven. Unsurprisingly, winning is the most attractive form of football.

Gold Coast Suns

Scientists will spend years trying to demonstrate how the Suns managed to beat the Blues. They were missing half their side, and lost heavily in most of the major statistics. Most startling is the fact Gary Ablett didn’t play like Zeus, and yet they still won.

Taylor Walker

Bullied the Melbourne defence, and James Frawley in particular, on the weekend.  Walker took 16 marks, and none of them were of the Brian Lake variety. He made Frawley look desperately undersized in contests. He took every mark so cleanly that it would be perfectly reasonable to wonder if his hands were as large as the Grand Canyon and coated in adhesive. His field pass to Callinan late in the final quarter was stunning. One of those rare passages of play where you end up laughing out loud as a result of how ridiculously good it is.  His only flaws were not kicking for goal in his usual exquisite manner every single time, and the occasional bout of unselfishness when in range.

Footy Fans

This weekend is going to be superb. Hawthorn v West Coast, Geelong v Sydney, and the various ramifications of the margins in Fremantle v Melbourne, Essendon v Collingwood, Adelaide v Gold Coast and North Melbourne v GWS. Expect to see the words “live ladder” quite often on Saturday. High school math teachers could set assignments based on this weekend.



Watching Essendon play is like watching a wounded antelope on Animal Planet. We all know what is going to happen, it’s going to be painful, and we want it to end quickly for all involved.

Travis Cloke

I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone demand so much while providing so little.


North Melbourne and Carlton have appeared in the loser list more times than anyone and anything not Richmond related this year. Last week they both appeared in my winners list. I gave North quite a wrap. I had labelled them pretenders after their combustion at Aurora. A club that talked up expectations and repeatedly failed to deliver. They of course went on a tremendous run, winning nine of the following ten games. They made me look a fool. I finally relented. I gave them their due. I pumped up their young guns. I pumped up their forward line. I pumped up North Melbourne.

So, naturally, they serve up what can only be described as tripe at home against a Pavlich-less Fremantle.

They made me look a fool… again. My only saving grace was predicting that North would probably lose their first final. If they play like that I won’t have to worry about them making me look stupid again.

Carlton. Oh Carlton. Last week they demolished the hapless Bombers. I put them in my winners list. I said that in that kind of form they were a textbook case of a side you wouldn’t want to face in the finals.

So, naturally, they went and lost to a Gold Coast side that had about half of its first twenty two out. North was rubbish, but at least the median age of their opponents wasn’t eight.

Carlton had 74 more disposals than the Suns. They had 23 more contested possessions. They laid 13 more tackles. They had 23 more forward fifty entries. They had a chance at playing in the finals.

And they lost.

All the players should be made to explain how that happened. In writing. Then every Carlton fan should be invited to hear the players read out their explanations, one at a time. Oh Carlton. To borrow from Dr Zoidberg, “you are bad, and you should feel bad.”

Brett Ratten

A lot of folks seem to be defending Ratten of late, but I can’t see how he keeps his job. Not because his side lost to the Suns, but because they are not going to be playing finals in 2012. This is surely unacceptable.  Carlton’s target for the year was top four. That isn’t a media anointed point of minimum acceptable achievement, it is Brett Rattens. He said there was an expectation that the Blues would finish in the top four, and instead they find themselves fighting it out with St Kilda for ninth place. How can he possibly keep his position?

I won’t accept the injury excuse. West Coast has dealt with more, and that hasn’t stopped them from having a splendid season. Collingwood at times have been crippled, yet they are still in the top four hunt. Hawthorn has spent extended parts of the season missing a Norm Smith Medallist and the most dominant forward in the competition, yet they are top regardless. Ratten said at the time his top four stance may come back to bite him in the butt, and it will. I admire him for having the courage to publically state expectations in an industry that spends an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to bluff itself and its fans into thinking the sole focus is next week and that there are no bigger picture expectations. But the side he is in charge of is not going to come close to matching those expectations. Carlton, by any measure, has failed in 2012, and failure at the elite level has consequences.


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?

Leave a Comment