That’s the Marn Grook Indigenous Round completed for another year, and what a spectacular round it was. For the first time, we saw players wear number 67 on the back of their jumpers – in recognition of the 1967 referendum to count Aboriginal people in the Australian census.
The key feature of the AFL 2017 season is its unpredictability, and not only can teams fluctuate from week to week, but also within a game, where a 40-point lead can vanish within a quarter, and then turn around the other way. In some cases, we witnessed pure football, in others, total disaster.
We’ve almost reached the half-way point of the season, let’s hope the bizarre nature of 2017 continues into Round 11 and beyond.
AFL Review Game 1: Geelong 11.15.81 defeated Port Adelaide 11.13.79
An excellent Thursday night game kick-started Round 10, and it came down to a late tackle on Robbie Gray to stop Port’s momentum. Patrick Dangerfield surely picked up another three Brownlow votes – three goals, including a last-minute snap on the left boot. Tight for most of the night, Port couldn’t quite pull off their first victory at Kardinia Park since 2007, but they came close. Better luck next year.
AFL Review Game 2: Hawthorn 12.9.81 defeated Sydney 11.9.81
We all assumed Sydney would easily win this game, but Hawthorn forgot to read the script. The Swans didn’t seem switched on in the first quarter, and this is where they lost the match. In a surprisingly low-tackling game for these two teams – 67 each, perhaps to synchronise with the recognition of the 1967 referendum – understandable, considering how many uncontested possessions there were. Who said the chip-kick tactics can never work. Lance Franklin kicked five goals, but Jarryd Roughead had the last laugh and kicked the winning goal in the final minute of the game.
AFL Review Game 3: Western Bulldogs 13.12.90 defeated St Kilda 7.8.50
A bit of a yaw-fest, low scoring, low energy and, aside from some glimpses in the first quarter, St Kilda never managed to get out of first gear. Jake Stringer showed his potential with four first-half goals. But even he seemed to lose interest, not adding to this total, and Western Bulldogs ran away with the match in the second half.
AFL Review Game 4: Melbourne 18.14.122 defeated Gold Coast 13.9.87
This takes the title of the strangest game of the round. Played in the heart of the country with the MacDonnell Ranges in the background, Gold Coast got out to a 30-point lead just before half time. But in modern day football, what is a safe lead? 43 points? No, Collingwood overcame that last week. 52 points? No, Melbourne overcame that against Fremantle in 2008. Incidentally, the biggest lead scaled back is 69 points by Essendon against North Melbourne in 2001. The point is, no lead is safe. Gold Coast forgot this, and Melbourne stormed back, look the lead by three-quarter time and didn’t look back.
AFL Review Game 5: Richmond 11.15.81 defeated Essendon 10.6.66
Dreamtime at the ’G didn’t disappoint, with a record Saturday night crowd of over 85,000 and Richmond decided that close games are better than blow-outs, their fourth close game in a row. But this time, they decided to win one. Essendon played well, but Richmond did better. Dustin Martin was the man of the match, defeating his 2018 teammates. If the rumours are true, he’ll be playing at Essendon next year. Or North Melbourne.
AFL Review Game 6: Adelaide 20.23.143 defeated Fremantle 6.7.43
Fremantle simply forgot to turn up for this match. They looked lost for most of the game and followed up their 89-point belting by Port Adelaide earlier in the season (when everyone in the media was calling for coach Ross Lyon to be sacked) with something much worse. They lacked scoring power – in fact, Adelaide inversed all of Fremantle’s weaknesses. Adelaide’s attack was potent, Fremantle’s was impotent. Adelaide’s defence was impenetrable, Fremantle’s leaked like a sieve. It poured down with rain too, but Fremantle are supposed to love playing in water. Back to the drawing board for them. Adelaide are back to the trophy warehouse again, checking out which fonts they would like to engrave onto the premiership cup. They are now the favourites.
AFL Review Game 7: Collingwood 18.21 defeated Brisbane 13.6.84
Collingwood kicked woefully for most of this game, and should have won by at least 10 goals. Brisbane kept coming back, but they’re a young team and can be excused. Only 16 points down mid-way through the third quarter, Collingwood put the foot down, but seemed to have the intention of winning the game with behinds, rather than goals. They did the job however, now they’re only one game outside of the top eight. It seems inevitable that Brisbane are heading for the 2017 wooden spoon.
AFL Review Game 8: North Melbourne 17.11.113 defeated Carlton 15.6
Another game that swung like an accordion. North were cruising in the first half, up by 45 points before Carlton kicked the final three goals of the half. And then kicked some more goals. And then some more. They hit the lead at the four minute mark of the final quarter, before North Melbourne realised what was happening to them, steadied, and closed off the match. A game of high skill from these bottom-eight teams.
AFL Review Game 9: Greater Western Sydney 14.14.98 defeated West Coast 14.6.90
This was the match of the season so far. It was also Greater Western Sydney’s first win against West Coast. The final quarter was edge-of-the-seat material, with eight lead changes, fast paced, skillful, high-pressure and, lots of goals, the way the AFL Headquarters wants it. 11 goals. Toby Greene, who is also the best DJ in the AFL, was the man of the match. Greater Western Sydney are a great team to watch these days, especially when compared to the horror days of 2012 and 2013, when they were propped up by a rugby player. This is a different team, and look like they will never surrender.