AFL Review Round 14: It’s A Thriller

afl review culture

Four Thrillers And An Upset

What an absolutely thrilling round of AFL. We keep saying that the 2017 season is one of the most exciting ever and the statistics prove it. There have already been as many games decided by three points or less as there were in 1928 – 89 years ago! And there are still nine rounds to go in this season. It’s so thrilling that we could almost break out into Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

Other features about this season – it is the most even since 1993. Check out the AFL ladder from 1993 – four wins separate top spot and twelfth position, and percentage ranges from 120 through to 94 for those top 12 teams. And this season is even closer.

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AFL Review: The Thriller Of Round 14

So many to choose from, but the Thriller Of The Round goes to the Sydney and Essendon match. Check out the highlights.

Essendon had this game wrapped up. Or so they thought. With 4:36 left on the clock, they led by 19 points and had scored seven consecutive goals. They should have won. But after this point, Sydney goaled through Oliver Florent and Nic Newman, scored two behinds (one of which was reviewed and about a quarter of a millimetre of the ball was adjudicated to still on the goal line when it was touched by an Essendon fingernail.

Five points the difference to Essendon. A boundary throw in, a Dane Rampe kick to the goal square. A one-armed mark by Gary Rohan. Siren. Goal. Sydney wins the game by one point. As far as excitement is concerned, it does not get much better than this. A pity about the rest of the match though. But if a scrappy match is what you need to go through to witness such an ending, we’ll put up with it.

The Other Thrillers

One point. One point. Two points. Three points. Four games out of nine decided by three points or less. And the seventeenth placed team, Hawthorn, defeated the top team, Adelaide.

Western Bulldogs also achieved a one-point victory over North Melbourne, in game marred by umpire controversies. It wasn’t a great game, but at least a close result keeps the audience interested. Was the block by North’s Mason Wood in the final minutes of the game a free kick? We don’t think so. North Melbourne were robbed in this game and delivered another honourable loss.

Fremantle were expected to be slaughtered against Geelong. Played at Kardinia Park, where Fremantle have only won twice, a caning was handed out on paper, but Fremantle threw away the script and skipped out to a 34 point lead. But as has so often happened in this season, a big lead has been frittered away. Fremantle had a chance to win the game two seconds before the siren, but a kick at goal by Michael Walters just missed. Geelong the winners, but they are spluttering at the moment.

Melbourne have become the new ‘real deal’ team, defeating West Coast by three points in the final 28 seconds. They’re a chance now, and they won in the Perth for the first time since 2006 – they last time made the finals. We predicted in our pre-season podcast that Melbourne would be the smoky this year, and they are smokin’. As for West Coast, like Geelong, they are also spluttering and cannot wait to get Josh Kennedy (their bearded goalkicker, not the midfielder from Sydney, or the long-haired ex-Socceroo) back into their team. They need him.

Our greatest achievement this year is confidently predicting that Hawthorn would defeat Adelaide (see our program notes to check the veracity of our statement). And they did! Hawthorn were shaky but polished, and put too much pressure on Rory Sloane and Taylor Walker. Adelaide are quickly being worked as the two-trick ponies. Stop Sloane and Walker and you’ll win the game. And that’s what Hawthorn did. And as they say in the classics, “the rest is history”.

The Other Not So Thrillers

There are nine games each round (except for those useless ‘bye rounds’) and not all of them can be close, or even great games. The battle of the Magpies was won by Port Adelaide, defeating Collingwood by 31 points. That’s all we can say about this game.

Greater Western Sydney defeated Brisbane – we can’t say if it was a great game or not, because it was a match totally ruined by the poor commentary on Channel 7. Too blokey, inane, too much Dermot Brereton insider information from the 1980s that nobody is really that interested in. It was hard to focus on the game. But, needless to say, Greater Western Sydney smashed Brisbane by 60 points and shot to the peak of the ladder.

Richmond versus Carlton? A bit of a yawnfest, but the fact that is was a match against traditional rivals, as well as being the Grand Final rematches from 1969, 1972 and 1973, kept the interest levels up. Somewhat. Richmond just seemed like they always had enough in them to win the game. Richmond’s Bachar Houli was reported for a solid elbow to the face of Carlton’s Jed Lamb. He’ll miss a few weeks, and a terrible way to celebrate the end of Ramadan.

Even more of yawnfest was the final game of the round, St Kilda against Gold Coast. Only 15,844 people attended. St Kilda won to move back into the top eight, but that’s where our interest ends. Perhaps the excitement of all these close games in season 2017 is spoiling us for choice. Like kids scampering for more lollies, we’re probably getting drunk on the high octane spirit of these close games, and we’re getting a bit bored if the games are not close.

Check our podcast for Round 15, available from 3pm onwards every Wednesday. We’ll review feature games from Round 14, look at AFLX and preview Round 15. And many other issues.

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