What a massive round of AFL football, where we saw more unpredictability, more ‘backs-to-the-walls’ victories, close games and what we like to call ‘pure football’, or AFL culture.
Who would have thought that Gold Coast would win for the first time ever against West Coast, or Collingwood defeating Fremantle in Perth? Actually, The Protected Zone’s expert tipping panel of Lintang Enam and Eddy Jay, predicted this. We said Gold Coast would defeat West Coast in the battle of the Coasts, and Collingwood would defeat Fremantle. And the other games? Well, let’s just say that we tried hard in our tipping.
Back to the football. It seems like so long ago, given that it was a match played on Thursday night, but Port Adelaide gave Hawthorn a complete football lesson, holding the Hawks to their lowest half-time score ever. Remember, Hawthorn joined the AFL/VFL in 1925 and, 92 years later, Port Adelaide restricts them to 0.3 in the first half. That’s quite an achievement.
Hawthorn looked good against Sydney in Round 10, but disinterested against Port Adelaide. Has it all just become a little bit too hard for them?
The Friday night game between Geelong and Adelaide was a let down. Was it Geelong’s physical domination that intimidated Adelaide? Is Kardinia Park (a.k.a. ‘the Cattery’) too narrow for the Crows to fly? As we said in our expert tipping (even if we got the final result wrong), if Geelong can shut down Rory Sloane and Taylor Walker, they’ll win the game. And they did!
In the battle of the Coasts, another thriller decided by less than a goal. The last time these two teams played on the Gold Coast, they had a draw, and it looked like they might follow up with another one. The Gold Coast young guns steadied (with the help of an old bloke called Gary Ablett) and claimed a victory from the jaws of defeat. There are big doubts over West Coast. Without their figurehead, Josh Kennedy, its forward line struggled. And the sun rose for the Gold Coast. Or did it shine?
Greater Western Sydney is in an unusual position – top of the ladder for the first time ever. Not since they entered the AFL competition in 2012 have they held the top position and their reserves team held off Essendon in a thrilling match. We say ‘their reserves team’ because many of their top players are injured, but they still manage to hold off in the close matches. This was another one.
Mention Brendon Goddard and we think of that spectacular mark that he took in the 2010 AFL Grand Final that almost landed St Kilda’s second premiership. But he’s in a different jumper today and played his 300th game against Greater Western Sydney. He is ‘Brendon’ with an ‘O’, rather than the more common spelling with an ‘A’ – Brendan – but he’s an unusually great player, so well done to BrendOn Goddard.
Collingwood defeated Fremantle. But the real news was the bleach blond streak haircut sported by Colllingwood’s Jamie Elliott. This is a classic late 1990s or even 1980s pop star look. Some of his shocked team mates almost threw up, it was reported. How much do haircuts affect a player’s performance? A lot.
Jamie Elliott played well with his new tonsure, but injured his ankle towards the end of the game. Could he have avoided injury if he snipped off a few more strands of hair? It’s debatable. Ty Vickery also cut his hair a few weeks ago, gave up his wild surfie look and has shown his true identity: an identical twin of Fremantle’s dour defender, Zac Dawson.
Finally, Richmond’s Dustin Martin put North Melbourne to the sword and won the game off his own boot. We predicted a rare draw for this game. And why not, after 309 AFL games, we are due for a rare draw. It was looking good at half-time, the two teams were separated by two points. But Martin put his foot down, in more ways than one. Richmond won by 35 points and back in the ‘are they the real deal’ territory.
What a round, what an excellent display of pure football and AFL culture and, to paraphrase legendary AFL commentator, Dennis Cometti, a round from the top shelf.
The new AFL Protected Zone podcast will be available at 3pm (Australian Eastern Standard time) on Wednesday afternoon. Listen in!