Geelong d Collingwood by 36. Whilst the result was the Cats in a canter, the game was played in stages. The first quarter was hot with the Pies starting well but the Cats probably dominating. The Cats kept the form until the last 2 minutes of the half where the Pies sharked a couple to claw it back and give them hope. They started the the third brilliantly but couldn't convert on the scoreboard. Then when it looked like the Pies were in control and about to run away with it the Cats woke up. In a devastating second half of the third they mauled the Pies and ran them ragged creating some fantastic goals. That was pretty much it. The 4th was owned by the Cats and the 36 point margin proved what a great team this is. The Pies just couldn't capitalise on early second half opportunities and their forward line looked at times a little unfocused. Their backline too, was spread by Geelong, allowing a lot of one on one contests which was to the Cats like.
Western Bulldogs d North Melbourne by 70. 70 points is a flogging. But it was a wasteful North that kicked 8 behinds for their first 8 scoring shots and an efficient dogs that got 6 goals with their first 6 that told the tale. Had North been able to kick straighter and the Dogs been more errant than perhaps it may have been a different story. Confidence is a wonderful thing isn't it?
Fremantle d Sydney by 37. Would the real Freo please stand up? Oh hang on they are. Well with the week they've had as well as the comprehensive loss to the Pies and finally their dreadful record against Sydney at Sydney I'm forgiving myself for the missed tip. The second quarter really opened this game up for Freo with 6.6 to 2.2. The game ended up being all over after that. Looking at the stats Freo didn't muck around, with 76 fewer disposals than the Swans and less inside 50s, yet 12 more scoring shots. An impressive win in foreign territory.
Melbourne d Port Adelaide by 1 - I was wrong. Melbourne aren't a done deal just yet. A great win against yet another team that was fast finishing. Melbourne was excellent for three quarters with pressure and hardness at the footy. Port in contrast let themselves down. Then of course they surged in the last to grab the lead before Melbourne ended up leveling it and finally rushing a behind to snatch a well deserved victory. Epic game.
Essendon d Richmond by 35 - It was a game of pointlessness. Essendon won this game with a blistering 1st quarter that saw the Tigers with no answers. What happened after that? Who really cares. The Tigers bounced back and again Reiwoldt is proving his worth with 6 goals, but they must find more options. Only time will help the Tigers. As for Essendon, they did what they had to in style. Ran, carried, defended and scored. 35 points doesn't reflect that the game was done and dusted early.
Adelaide d Brisbane by 12 - A very tight affair that probably reflected how little actually separates these teams. A 1 point lead at 3 quarter time was all the Crows held but in the end the 2 goals in the last by Taylor Walker was the margin and the Crows held on to win. Big news for Brisbane is that Fev was back with a nice bag of 5, but Browny was unsighted.
Hawthorn d Carlton by 50 - 'On paper' the Hawks looked better, and for once they actually were. It was set up in the first, and other than a scare in the third the Hawks dominated the game from go to woe. Many of the big names for the Hawks were firing but it was the lesser lights that showed improvement for the first time this season that was the most pleasing thing of the victory. The Blues new forward line was rudderless and while the midfield battle was engrossing, it was Judderless. The master having an average game by his lofty standards.
St. Kilda d West Coast by 35 - Another tight game and another comeback, although of a smaller variety. The Eagles did well early and were 17 up in the third, but then the Saints found another gear and slammed home 9 of the last 10 goals to overtake and then finish off the Eagles. Not exactly the resounding victory the Saints were after, but any victory equals 4 points. The Eagles will learn from the experience with any luck and work out how to hold a lead.
And this is what it all means:
1. Hawthorn - Huge win for the Hawks. Not only because their season is a shambles, but because Carlton has been playing exactly the right style to beat the Hawks; running. The Hawks however showed something we haven't seen in a long time, that ruthlessness that they used to hang their hat on. They were hard all over the ground and the reaped the rewards up forward. As I said earlier, it was also the lesser lights like Hooper, Osbourne and Stratton that really led the charge at different times. Sadly it may well be a little too late for the Hawks, but with games against a sliding Sydney, Port Adelaide, Adelaide and Essendon coming up, they may just well be able to win their way into form, although I doubt it.
2. Geelong - Great win against their only current legitimate challenger. They were challenged at times and answered everything that the Pies threw at them. Simply the best and the one to beat.
3. Fremantle - OK, I'm stopping. As of now they are a real chance of top 4. No more doubting. This was an enormous win considering it was away and after all the crap they have had to deal with. With North and Adelaide coming up they should continue to consolidate their position. Great stuff.
4. Melbourne - What a fantastic win! They've had three close ones, and they probably deserved to win all three, but at least they got this one. A new look tall forward line with Miller (5) and Watts (2). Throw in smalls like Bennell (4) and they suddenly have a forward line that looks promising. And with some very good players like Bruce and Warnock to come in perhaps they are on the improve. On the other hand, Miller kicked 5, how often has that happened before? Plus there are so many kids, they tire... lets wait and see.
5. Western Bulldogs - They are doing everything right and slowly putting doubters to rest after an indifferent start to the season. They still need to claim a big scalp, but frankly there are less than a handful of them. So if they continue doing what they are supposed to they'll set themselves up nicely.
6. St. Kilda - They needed this win big time, and there will be plenty of relieved sighs at the club. They were tested too, and they passed, but it was a win they should have got so there was no real surprise here. Can they keep going and lift themselves back into legitimacy?
7. Adelaide - Well I said they looked like they were about to come good, and they did. Impressively they held the Lions in check and managed to finish stronger. They've got the Saints away next week, and if they can win that then perhaps they are lifting themselves out of the mire and into the next rung.
8. Essendon - A good solid win against a poor team. What does it mean? They did what they were supposed to. The Dogs game next week will tell us a lot more.
9. Richmond - Does it really matter? Its becoming really difficult to come up with anything new to say about the Tiges. So I won't bother, I'm tired.
10. Port Adelaide - I reckon they are having structural problems sans-Tredrea, but they still have that amazing ability to fly hard home. If you think about it, they are probably in Melbourne's peer group of clubs, so really a loss away isn't that tragic. The loss is probably a little meaningless in the grand scheme of things, after all they're still in the 8 and have plenty of home games to come. They would want to get back on the winners list next against Richmond because 3 losses in a row, including what would be 2 at home and 1 of those against Richmond would perhaps signal a slide.
11. North Melbourne - I think this was an opportunity to shark one against a highly fancied opponent that got away. Poor kicking cost them as did structural keys, McIntosh and Hale. What can they salvage? They shot themselves in the foot so they never got a look in, but they'll never know if that was their biggest problem. A young team needs to learn from the lesson they were given.
12. West Coast - They had their chance to knock of last years runner's up, but couldn't quite run the game out, which is a classic sign of a young developing side. Take the loss on board, or more correctly the type of loss that it was, and remedy it so that there is less chance of it happening again.
13. Sydney - They would be hurting. It's simply not good enough after all the promise they have shown. Reality is that they are a middle of the road side that has beaten the easy beats and done little to the good teams. Next week they get back to a familiar whipping boy in the Hawks. They need to lift to stay in touch, but they need a good win against a peer. Round 11 against the Dons and round 12 against Port are tests they need to pass. If they fail, they are definitely mediocre.
14. Brisbane - The slide continues with a 5th loss in a row, and other than Richmond they are officially the worst performing side at the moment. Injuries have taken their toll, but that just demonstrates a club with little depth. That in itself is a worry. They recruited experience, yet have little depth. Unless they can get themselves fit and healthy they are going to miss the finals. And right now that is exactly what I think is going to happen.
15. Collingwood - Must be gutted. Had opportunities and squandered them. Were not allowed to play their game for the majority of the second half. Other teams will take notice, but perhaps to no avail because they were simply beaten by a great side. The Pies aint that yet.
16. Carlton - A big loss for the Blues. This win would have consolidated their position in the 8, legitimized their claim for to 4, put to bed a hoodoo team and given them 3 wins in a row. However, they couldn't achieve it. Their much heralded midfield couldn't quite do it, their new forward line failed miserably (not a goal for Setanta or his helpers) and they couldn't even finish the match strongly. They must beat West Coast next week and then they have what could be a tough game against Melbourne. They need to get back on the winners list and make this loss a hiccup.