Essendon d Western Bulldogs by 9. The a fantastic performance by Essendon. They ran hard and stuck to their structures to hold out a fast finishing Dogs. Essendon controlled the entirety of the game although the Dogs stuck in it, before falling almost 40 points behind with 14 minutes to go. And then we saw yet another comeback. The Dogs kicked 38 points to 9 in that last 14 minutes, yet couldn't snatch the victory. Superior skills, desire and gameplan undid the Dogs, congrats to Essendon for an excellent performance.
Geelong d Melbourne by 44. This was a game that pretty much panned out the way expected. Geelong won, they were never challenged. Geelong, for different reasons is becoming more boring than St Kilda. Melbourne was always facing an uphill battle, and one doomed to end without 4 points, however there was one glimmer of light on an ugly day and that glimmer was called Gysberts. A first gamer acquired for the McClean deal was wonderfully poised throughout the day and even managed to get the most possessions for the Dees.
Richmond d Port Adelaide by 47. OK, I admit it,I'm a little chuffed at getting this tip. Pretty much everything I thought happened, and it was aided by Richmond's ferocious tackling (140+), injuries/withdrawals to Port, and a dirty dirty day. There was so much water on the ground it was more like water polo than footy. Old heads stood for the Tigers to lead the way, whilst young ones never stopped trying. A great day for the club. Port was dreadful but its not to be unexpected after coping two weeks of extreme weather that were in their own right at the extreme end of the weather spectrum. Here's a tip, don't tip Port or Richmond next week, they'll still be knackered.
Brisbane d Collingwood by 8. And in contrast, I got this one completely wrong. It was going pretty much to script on the scoreboard for the first half, Pies looking comfortable and 15 points in front, but still they couldn't quite shake the Lions. Then the third quarter happened and the Lions dominated. They managed to claw back to 3 points down, and then snatch the lead and somehow hold on. It was inspiring stuff, especially from their keys, Fev and Brown. Fev in a cameo of 4 second half goals, some amazing, and Brown with a 4 quarter performance that defied his apparent injury. The Pies battled manfully, but it wasn't to be, they just couldn't get the goals at the end when they needed them.
St. Kilda d Adelaide by 47. Adelaide, as they have done often, stuck around in what was a more interesting contest than I had given it credit. The Crows were only down 9 and were perhaps a chance, although in hindsight you had to wonder after 10 scoring shots from the Saints to 6 in the third. And it was that form that held true with the Saints scoring and in emphatic style blasting 7 goals to 1 in the last. The Saints scored a whopping 19 goals for the match, mostly from their smalls and runners which was a pleasant surprise considering their usual style. Adelaide, back to the drawing board.
Hawthorn v Sydney by 2. In what was a dull and lifeless game that saw the Hawks dominate play if not scoreboard or possession count, it had an amazing and exciting finish. The Swans, losing all day but never by much clawed back a 22 point deficit to be within a goal, when Peterson took a massive speccy next to the goal square and slotted it home. The game looked done, but a goal a some behinds exchanged saw it all tied up with maybe a minute remaining. A draw looked the likely result but Whitecross, a back pocket recently turned forward pocket took the mark and managed the behind and the Hawks fans cheered, but the clock kept running, and so did the Swans. In the end it was to no avail, the Hawks managed another behind and 2 points was the margin. The Swans made the most of their opportunities but over used the ball with meaningless possessions, and in contrast the Hawks were more direct but failed structurally too many times in the forward line and missed way too many very gettable goals. The game felt like a 30 point win to the Hawks, bad v good goal kicking meant it was close.
Carlton d West Coast by 31. Cartlon dominated early and at one point the game got out to a 50 point margin. The last saw the Eagles claw it back, but make not mistake this game was over early. A dominant display by Carlton's midfield pretty much told the tale.
Fremantle d North Melbourne by 61. A demolition from the start, Freo was always in control and did exactly what they should have done as premiership contenders, spank the young upstarts. North were is disarray early and never really got into the game.
And the winners are:
1. Brisbane - Massive win! They beat a real contender when their own backs were up against the wall. They arrested the slide, and perhaps have brought themselves a little confidence. They have every chance next week with North at Etihad to make 1 win a steak of 2.
2. Richmond - Huge win, the first of the season always is, but they flogged them on their own dung heap which makes it more impressive. Yes they had everything go right for them but they did actually win, and that's new for the Tigers. Of course in context of the season it is meaningless, but it brought joy to thousands of supporters.
3. Essendon - They've been up and down all year and even last week they dominated only for one quarter before breaking even with Richmond for the rest of the game. This week they were marvelous in taking out a team that had finally found form and looked to be getting stronger. The big question now is, which Essendon will show up next week against Sydney?
4. Hawthorn - They got the win, that's the important thing. They beat Sydney at their own game and won. There will be plenty of sighs of relief as there were after the game, but 3 in a row and now withing striking distance of the 8 they will be happier. They must capitalise on their position though or this will be a very short false dawn.
5. Fremantle - Geez their impressive (still feels weird typing that in this context). Like the Cats they did what they had to and won. The rubbed it in a bit which is a good sign too. They have another easy game next week with the Crows, although its a farewell match for Edwards so perhaps emotion might make the Crows play well. Doubt it
6. Carlton - Big win, dominant display, seems like the Hawks loss was a hiccup, but they did only play the Eagles in Melbourne. Speaking of Melbourne, that is who they have next and it is an intriguing high stakes game. A win and they consolidate their top 8 spot, a loss and they fall back to the pack.
7. St. Kilda - Another team that did what they were supposed to and got the win. The most important thing was that they added a string to their offensive bow. Lets see how they go against an inexplicably winning Essendon in 2 weeks, after what will be a win against Richmond this week.
8. Geelong - They did what they had to and what was expected. Say no more.
9. Collingwood - They would be disappointed, but it isn't the end of the world. Yes they've lost 2 in a row, but 1 was to Geelong, and this one is most likely a hiccup and no more. They take on an up and down Dogs next week, in what is a huge game for both teams.
10. Melbourne - They did what was expected but need to pull themselves together to maintain striking distance on the 8. They have Carlton next week and that looms as an important game, lose it and the may well be 2 games out, win it and they may only be out on %.
11. Adelaide - Nothing to take from this, nothing to take from the season. They had their chances, but in the end they are not good enough. Adelaide looks in disarray on and off field at the moment. Trouble has already brewed and I don't expect much but heart ache in coming weeks.
12. West Coast - The Eagles are one of those teams that are treading water for a new season. They have no real hope this year, and must simply use games as a teaching exercise. Next lesson will be at the hands of the Cats. Nothing like learning from the best.
13. North Melbourne - OK, its late and I'm tired...similar to the Eagles really. Young and learning, but they have a few wise heads that propel them a little higher. They COULD still make the 8 but really I think the length of the season will show more losses than wins.
14. Sydney - They fought hard and kicked straight but they were, in reality, out played all day. They are sliding, make no mistake, and they simply must win against Essendon back at home next week to gather some momentum going into the turn of the season.
15. Port Adelaide - Depressingly bad. Yes they had excuses, but excuses don't win you games of football. Sadly they have a massive task to overcome injury and conditions for the last two to make an impact next week against the Hawks.
16. Western Bulldogs - They only lost by 9, but this game was pretty much all over in the third quarter. They Dogs didn't really yelp until the last quarter when the stormed home. Its a disappointing effort considering their recent form, but perhaps illustrates that not much separates teams 3 through to 14. With Collingwood to come next week the Dogs are going to have to seriously get their mojo back or they will quickly find themselves back in the pack.