AFL Review: High Octane Champagne Football At Its Best

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High voltage football in Round 16

Yet another fantastic round of AFL football. How best to describe it? High octane? Champagne football? High voltage? Dynamic? Let’s use all of those descriptors at the same time. If you want to compare what we said in our preview, check it out in A Manifesto Of Brilliant AFL Football. or listen in to our podcast.

Watch all the AFL Round 16 Highlights

Adelaide 16.8 (104) defeated Western Bulldogs 5.15 (45)

In the Friday Night Lights feature match, Adelaide was much better at handling the wet conditions, and rag-dolled the undermanned Bulldogs. Adelaide were slow to start, but booted 11 goals to one in the second half and won the game by 59 points.

‘Tex’ Walker (three goals and he was in everything) and Josh Jenkins (four goals) dominated the Crows’ forward line. Their form this year has been a bit patchy, but when the ball is moved quickly to their forward line, the Crows can rely on these two talls.

At the other end, the battle of Jakes was won by Jake. The two Jakes in defence for the Crows – Lever and Kelly (Jake Kelly, son of Craig, a Collingwood premiership player and how on earth did the ’Pies missed him?) – did well, but there wasn’t much to defend other than occasional barks by other Jake, Jake Stringer and a cameo by Jack Redpath. The game also broke the record for the most ‘Jakes’ in an AFL game.

The Crouch brothers, and Rory Sloan were too good. We said in our preview that the 2017 catchcry is ‘Stop Walker and Sloan; Stop Adelaide’, but it seems that Western didn’t listen to our sage advice and paid the penalty.

Western’s Jason Johannisen may need a new haircut. He was not effective, and was rag-dolled several times by Big Tex. He was tagged by Riley, and then went to Eddy Betts.

Also, the Bulldogs were missing a key position forward and back. No chance. They have now lost five interstate matches this year. Winning only two of their past eight games and, with a low percentage, the Bulldogs’ season seems over. They will become the first team since Hawthorn in 2009 to go from a flag to missing the top eight.

Adelaide’s next match is in Darwin against Melbourne.

Essendon 18.9 (117) defeated Collingwood 12.8 (80)

This game was, like Malcolm Turnbull, a fizzer. Collingwood came back a bit in the third quarter, but they were fumbly and inaccurate by foot, too many turnovers. Essendon certainly had more to play for. More physical and more tackling.

Essendon’s better players include James Stewart (son of Craig, former Collingwood ruck/forward), Orazio Fantasia, Zac Merrett. Many Collingwood fans are lamenting that the club did not take players like James Stewart and Jake Kelly. Could have been handy, for sure.

Essendon still have a chance for the finals, while the ’Pies have Buckley’s. Collingwood has “reached a tipping point on Saturday and [the players] had lost hope”. Said Buckley. Collingwood will field more kids in the remaining matches.

Hawthorn 14.13 (97) drew with Greater Western Sydney 15.7 (97)

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Another draw. We predicted a draw in this round but, again, we got the wrong game. Greater Western Sydney became the first team to go two games in a row with neither a win or loss, since Carlton managed consecutive draws in Round 4 and 5 in 1921.

Carlton went on to lose the Grand Final that year. Will Greater Western Sydney follow this history? I’m not sure if Jonathan Patton remained on the ground in the dying minutes of the game, but throughout the game, he was just massive. He may have finally arrived.

St Kilda 21.12 (138) defeated Richmond 10.11 (71)

We may have spoken too early last week when we decreed Richmond ‘are the real deal’. We can’t change what we said, because we did say it. Now, are the new St Kilda, the new Melbourne, the new Essendon and the new Port Adelaide the flavours of the month?

St Kilda’s second quarter decimated the Tigers – 9.5 to 0.1. It was St Kilda’s best quarter ever against Richmond and it put an 82-point gap between the sides by half-time. 82 points!

The Saints’ spearhead Josh Bruce was wayward, 1.5 by the half time, but still managed to outscore the Tigers, who at that stage Richmond managed 1.4. That pace was never sustainable, but the Saints still inflicted an emphatic 67-point thumping.

Nick Riewoldt did not need to produce another cheap shot by trying to trick his opponent into a 50-metre penalty, perhaps because it wasn’t needed in this game.

St Kilda, with the same premiership points as Richmond, look much better side than the Tigers. Can they sustain the momentum? Richmond are now out of top four, sitting in sixth, St Kilda are seventh, but only separated by percentage.

Sydney 17.16 (118) defeated Gold Coast 7.9 (51)

A slow start by Sydney, but the game was never really in doubt. Physical and ruthless, attacking football. Sometimes Sydney’s shots at goal can be wayward, but relentless pressure keeps winning the game. The Swans have targeted the opposition’s best rebounding defenders, with a great success.

They nullified the effects of Western’s Jason Johannisen, Essendon’s Andrew McGrath, and this week, Gold Coast’s Jarrod Harbrow. Sydney employed George Hewett to do the job a few weeks ago, but this week against Harbrow, it was Dan Robinson and Zak Jones. Harbrow could manage only 17 touches and one rebound 50. Next week, they will no doubt target Heath Shaw in their battle of bridges match against Greater Western Sydney.

Steadily, Sydney are getting ready for September finals action – now sitting at eighth, and look formidable. Is Sydney the real deal? Are they peaking too early?
Are we talking too soon?

Geelong 25.13 (163) defeated Brisbane 11.12 (78)

Geelong all the way, and they won with the expected margin (even though Eddy Jay seriously thought Brisbane would win this game). Patrick Dangerfield was brilliant and is in line for another Brownlow medal.

Mark Blicavs seems to have regained his form with 20 touches and three goals. He is a match-up nightmare: too tall, too quick, too enduring on the wing. Geelong were physically too big for the young Lions. We like the look of Eric Hipwood, Dayne Zorko, but we’ll need to wait until 2018 to see their full potential.

Fremantle 13.8 (86) defeated North Melbourne 12.10 (82)

A nailbiter of sorts. The game was played with a low intensity throughout, with Fremantle leading until deep into the final quarter. Nat Fyfe and Michael Walters were brilliant, but Ben Brown’s fourth goal put North Melbourne in front with nine minutes left in the final quarter.

Todd Goldstein and Jack Ziebell missed and then Fremantle’s Ryan Nyhuis kicked his third goal, bringing the Dockers within a point. Then Shane Kersten snapped a behind to level the scores with four minutes remaining, before Nyhuis kicked his fourth, to put his side a goal in front. North had a chance to win the game when Goldstein was given a free kick about 25 metres out on a slight angle with 17 seconds to go in the match. But, he pulled his kick and could only manage a behind. North Melbourne went down by four points in another honourable loss.

Melbourne 14.6 (90) defeated Carlton 12.10 (82)

Another cliff hanger! The game was decided in the dying minutes, and we are starting to suspect a Tissot watch conspiracy, with so many closes games this season. Melbourne were under the pump this week after the boxing match with Sydney, their coach Simon Goodwin launching a defence of their team culture.

Carlton was on top early, as ruckman Matthew Kreuzer fed the ball to the Blues midfielders Cripps, Marc Murphy, Bryce Gibbs and Sam Kerridge. The injuries to Cripps and White in the second quarter shifted the momentum and the lack of rotations cost them the game. The Blues fought gallantly, as the lead changed five times in the second half, but it was Melbourne who came out on top in the end when Jake Melksham (a former Swan) kicked a crucial goal from 50 metres out, giving the Demons a two-point lead with less than five minutes remaining. Carlton threw everything at them, but Melbourne held firm. There was yet another goal after the siren, but Melbourne had already won the game.

Tom McDonald, a makeshift forward in Jesse Hogan’s absence from the game, is a great success story. He has kicked 14 goals in five games and, unlike other converted defenders, he has a natural forward instinctive and is accurate in front of goal. Now that Hogan is back from his cancer surgery, the question is: can Melbourne have both Hogan and McDonald in the same forward line?

It seemed to work in the game against Carlton, and if it doesn’t work in the future, they can send McDonald back again. A good swingman, like Sydney’s Sam Reid, is handy to have in a team.

Port Adelaide 18.12 (120) defeated West Coast 13.10 (88)

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We dismissed Port’s credential last week, but it may have been too soon – Eddy Jay going so far to label them as ‘imposters’. Obviously, they listened in to our podcast last week and, stung into action, they proved that they are more than a flat track bully, a genuine contender. Port are back in the top four.

The scores were level at three-quarter time, but Port overran West Coast with an eight-goal-to-three final term to clinch a 32-point victory in the west. This is West Coast’s third loss in four games at home. Can we say that it is no longer the house of pain?

The mid-fields were evenly matched, but Port Adelaide’s two talls – ruckman Paddy Ryder and the big man Charlie Dixon, who kicked five goals in the game – were too hard for the Eagles to counter.

The West Coast forward line with Jack Darling (four goals), Mark LeCras (four) and Lewis Jetta (two) fought hard, but it needs Josh Kennedy (not Sydney’s Josh Kennedy, or the Socceroo’s Josh Kennedy) who is expected to make his return next week in the Western Derby.

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