Roos d Blues by 29. On Friday night, those privileged to see the game were treated with one of the great individual performances of the year. Lindsay Thomas collected 20 possessions including a Bartlett like 19 kicks, 8 tackles, 4 contested marks and 7 goals. It was simply superb. He was ably assisted by an even midfield performance and a brilliant rebounding and defending backline. The Roos had winners all over the ground and the Blues, well, they didn't. The much heralded midfield, seemed ineffective and other than in clearances where the dominated just couldn't win around the ground. Gibbs was there most effective mid and he also played a lot of the time down half back. As for the forward line, it consisted of one player, Betts, who kicked 5 but he wasn't supported.
Hawks d Crows by 47. Super impressive display from the Hawks. They started with a fantastic first quarter full of intent, and probably should have been further in front such was their dominance. Adelaide fought back strongly breaking the shackles of the zone with some impressive run and carry through the wings, and their forward line started to look potent. The third was a tough tussle where neither team gain ascendancy and whilst the Hawks had the upper hand by 20 points it felt that either team could step up. Sadly for the Crows fans it was the Hawks that did. Several goals from slick centre clearances blew Adelaide away within 5 minutes, and then it just became a matter of margin. The Hawks looked very good especially in the 1st and last with Hodge (again), Lewis, Sewell and Rioli particularly stepping up in the midfield (well supported by good rucking from Renouf and Skipper). The forward line was exciting and varied with lots of options too. Adelaide often couldn't find a way through and it took a while for Walker and in particular Tippet to assert themselves.
Cats d Bombers by 71. Typical Cats demo job. Actually that isn't fair. They were tremendous. Sure there was a brief test in the 2nd, but as usual against the Cats it was to no avail. The Cats coped just fine without Mooney and Hawkins. Varcoe was the surprise packet who capitalised and kicked a minor bag. The Bombers were just not good enough. They don't have the skill, talent or strength. They just didn't really look threatening except for that brief period in the 2nd.
Swans d Port by 38. The game was tight and alive in the first, but a brilliant 2nd term where the Swans kicked 7 to 2 pretty much ended the game. 4 goals to 2 in the last half was more than enough to demonstrated the Swans dominance. The Power were simply blown away in the second. They just aren't good enough without their best 22. Their forward line is not functioning, illustrated by the lack of multiple goal kickers.
Tigers d Eagles by 49. Another amazing effort by an individual. Reiwoldt kicked an amazing 10 goals to continue his rich run of form, including 5 in the first 20 minutes. The man is a contested marking machine and is now one of the dominant forwards in the game. The game was over at half time with the Tigers 8 goals in front. The Tigers dominated in the midfield and provided the supply that Riewoldt needed. Conversely the Eagles just didn't get enough ball into theirs.
Dogs d Lions by 65. Ritual slaughter anyone? Too good all over the ground. A talented midfield beat a pedestrian one, a varied forward line with the dominant big man beat an average defence, and the defence stood tall against a shambles of an attack.
Saints d Freo by 18. A great win by the Saints in enemy territory. They controlled the first half and managed to hold off Freo in the last. 25 scoring shots to 17 demonstrates the control that they had, and they got a well deserved win.
Dees v Pies Draw. What an amazing game. The Pies were on early and they dominated the play but didn't do enough on the scoreboard. The Dees busted a gut to get back into the game and were brilliant. So who should have won? Pies supporters will point to the behinds and woeful kicking for goal, but welcome to reality; bad kicking is bad football. There is no excuse for it, so don't point to it. And the Dees, well they were jumped early and fought to get back into it, but in the last quarter a few poor decisions allowed easy goals to the Pies. Who won, I can't resist, football won.
So what did it mean?
1. North Melbourne - Huge result that puts them on equal footing, still, with their peers hovering around the 8. A loss would have seen them drop away and for them to remain a hope this season they need to stay in touch.
2. Hawthorn - The Hawks roll on. This was probably their 2nd best win of their streak of 5. They're doing all they can and they're looking better. Players like Roughead and Ellis found some form, and importantly fringe players like Muston played their roles (run with Johncock) very well. They come up against Essendon (sans Hille) next week and should they win they'll be well set to launch into a grueling last half of the season.
3. Sydney - Big win away from their own dung heap. Whilst Port is in freefall at the moment, its always a challenge to beat them at their home. The Swans did it well and that ensures they maintain a gap of a game from the chasing pack. A tough game against the Pies is what awaits them after the break. They haven't beaten the Pies in years (2005 was their last win) losing the last 8 in a row.
4. Western Bulldogs - Huge win for their confidence, and exactly the result that they needed against a team that is a significant class drop below them. They now, like the Swans, are one game ahead of the pack and still in touch with the top 4. They'll need to keep their run of form as the pack is too close to allow for stuff ups.
5. St Kilda - Perfectly positioned now with half a game clear of third, and doing it all without Reiwoldt. He's getting closer to a return and he'll only make this side much better. So what now, the Cats. Huge match. Will the Cats have any of their many injured back? Will it make a difference? Should be a cracker.
6. Richmond - A fantastic win and finally one that their supporters could witness first hand. A confidence booster that will hopefully spawn more wins (not too many more though) for the rest of the year. This year is just a launch pad for significant improvement next year.
7. Melbourne - Spirited performance which they should be proud of, once they get over the emptiness of the draw. They took it up to a top 4 team but couldn't quite get the biscuits. Great showing by a developing club. Plenty to like for the future. With performances by West Coast, Adelaide and Port recently the Dees focus will be to lift themselves out of the bottom 4.
8. Geelong - They keep rolling along and making sure they do everything right. Tick the boxes, move on.
9. Essendon - They would be disappointed that this game was over mid way through the third. They needed a stronger showing, however, it was Geelong. They beat everyone anyway. Still, they needed this game to stay in touch with their peers, now they are a game down on 8th. Huge match against the Hawks next week.
10. Adelaide - They weren't desperate enough for 4 quarters, and for a team in their situation there is no excuse for that. However, they did play 2 good ones, but just were not a match across the ground. Its disappointing they couldn't string 2 wins together but since their shocking start their pattern as been win followed by loss. They go into their break now, and when they return, hopefully their injury list will be shorter so they can do the right thing for their fans and themselves and gather at least a half season of respect.
11. Brisbane - Bad loss. They needed the win desperately but frankly are showing true colours. Losing Brown before the game didn't help, but he's been injured and it just demonstrates how few others they have to stand up. More evidence that Voss's tactic of recruiting duds enmasse didn't work, and consequently they need to go back to the rebuild in 2011. Dark times ahead methinks, especially with GC coming into their turf next year.
12. West Coast - This was an opportunity to get ahead of Adelaide by a game, and one they let slip. It confirms their status as bottom 4. Serious rethink will be needed at the club, and whilst Worsfold is supposedly safe due to contract in 2011, they need to keep rebuilding and cut the duds hard this year.
13. Port Adelaide - As I said above, they are in freefall. They've now lost 5 in a row including to bottom 4 aspirants Richmond and Melbourne. They way they are going and with some tough games coming up they'll be fighting to stay out of the bottom 4.
14. Collingwood - Devastating result. A game they should have won based on form and quality and now they are half a game below the Saints (in 2nd). They get the rest now and should take a good look at themselves before starting the home run against Sydney after their break. Still, in the end I suppose it means nothing as they'll finish top 4.
15. Fremantle - Tough loss against a peer, especially at home. The pack below is circling and waiting for another slip, and its something Freo has to be mindful of after 2 losses in a row. They must respond against Carlton in Melbourne next week, or the questions that have haunted this club all year will gather momentum. If they lose they'll then be equal 4th potentially with not only the Blues but also the Dogs and Swans if they get wins.
16. Carlton - Devastating loss for the Blues. A win would have meant equal 4th place, but the loss consigns them to that next rung of teams. Interestingly this loss continued their trend of win 2 lose 1, so brighten up Blue fans as it looks like you'll beat Freo and the Lions in coming weeks. Pity about the upcoming loss to the Dogs though.