Saints d Cats by 24. This was a remarkable game, simply because it saw the gun team of the comp completely unraveled. The Cats looked good early and but the Saints were always there about and you could tell from the first 5 minutes that this wasn't going to go all the Cats way. The Saints were hard and persistent and in the end it the pressure was just too great for the Cats who essentially shut up shop in the 2nd half. Not often you'll see this team rattled and not score a goal in a half of football. Full credit to the Saints for playing a style for the conditions and the opponent. (Mental not, check weather and late outs before tipping!). Whilst its impressive that they won without their best player, ironically he may have been a weakness in this particular game. Had he been there the Saints would have tried to use him, but it wasn't a night for talls. And interestingly that is one of the reasons the Cats lost. Scarlett and more importantly for this example, Mooney were brought in for a dirty night and the Cats looked and played too tall. OK, so they Saints were great, the Cats poor, but just before we start penning the demise of this great team lets think about the omissions; Kelly, Corey, Chapman. That's 3 super important mids from the side, leaving even this talented group thin with class on rotations.
Pies d Swans by 25. Well what's to say? The Pies did what they always do against Sydney, beat them at every hand they show. Looks like Roos will never get another chance to beat the Pies.
Crows d Dees by 44. Good win by the Crows and they continued their trend of W-L with the wins coming at AAMI. The game was over at half time after Adelaide essentially put the Dees to the sword.
7 tips this week, bloody Cats! However, thats pretty good for me so I'll take it.
And after 2 weeks, normal footy resumes next week. Here's how I saw each teams performance:
1. North - This young team is doing everything it can to gain respect and push for a finals birth. A good win against Port gives them a nice 2 game break against their nearest rivals. Their equal with the Hawks and Carlton on the ladder, although their poor % sees them comfortably out of the 8. They have Geelong next and Sydney in Sydney after that. I would expect losses to both but the Sydney game is the winnable one. Do that and they will be evens and still a chance.
2. Hawks - Fantastic win set up early, and finished off brilliantly. The Hawks are finally starting to win last quarters, and stand up to challenges, which is an ominous sign for other clubs. Earlier in the year it was last quarter disappearances that cost them games, but this isn't happening anymore and I strongly suspect its Wayde Skipper's fault. Renouf simply couldn't stand up by himself and his replacements, in Roughead and Hodge and Shoenmakers just were not good enough. Now SKipper provides rest to Renouf and the entire team benefits. There's also the fact that they are slowly getting their best team back together. The win pushes them on to the positive side of the ledger, almost buries a rival in Essendon, keeps them in the 8 for another week, and the Carlton loss means the Hawks have now caught up to another team.
3. Tigers - The were fantastic in victory, this time getting a spread of goal kickers and contributors. Its all positives for the Tigers, and heaven forbid they may even clambour off the bottom of the ladder! Their old folks like Tuck and Cousins are standing up and being well supported by some serious talent. There will still be some signficant cutting of the list, because there are a lot of duds there, but the nucleus of the side looks capable. Plenty to like.
4. Dockers - They were magnificent in victory away from home and this win gave them breathing space from one of their competitors, now leading Carlton by 2 games. Their entrenched in the 8 for a least a couple of rounds, and are doing all the right things. They are beating some challengers and losing to others which is pretty much confirming that they are in the mix and will continue to be come the business end of the season.
5. Crows - High scoring fluid Crows. Who would have thought? Important for pride if nothing else. Gives them seperation from the bottom 2 and hopes of catching the next rung above.
6.Saints - Massive win to get one on the dominant team of the comp. Coached well and played hard. Saints supporters are loving it and can't wait to get their best player back. Watch this space.
7.Dogs - The win the should have had. Important because of other results. They are now the immediate threat to the 8, only a game off the pace. However they can't rest on their laurels because they have a desperate Hawks crew next week in what could be a cracking match. Eade described their round 3 confrontation as the hardest physical encounter they've had, and they'll be expected more of the same.
8. Pies - A good solid win, probably as expected by most. They needed it to maintain their strong hold on the 4. Expect more of the same in coming weeks with a side that boasts the unusual state of a best 28.
9. Cats - Very disappointing performance. Yes they had excuses with significant players out of their midfield but really, it was still unexpected. Doubt that its a significant concern though.
10. Swans - They would have seen this as a few opportunities that slipped. First to consolidate breathing room in the bottom part of the 8. Second to break a hoodoo. They couldn't do it, and certainly weren't helped by Kennelly and Bradshaw being late withdrawals.
11. Dees - Disappointing loss, but as their form line shows they are not that great, and after having ridden a high for a few rounds early, the reality of youth is hitting hard.
12. Port - They aren't very good. I think I've established that. This was a winnable game, however they couldn't muster it. If I was Port I would be pushing Williams to play the kids, give out a farewell game or two and then push Williams out the door. Let the next coach see the kids and do the right thing by the club Mark.
13. Eagles - One of the great disappointments for the season. The Eagles just don't show enough. Their players aren't good enough, and when players aren't playing well questions get asked of the coach. Who are the coaches in the line of fire? Williams, Craig and now Worsfold. Why? Because their clubs have failed to deliver public expectations. The most interesting thing for me is what West Coast does at the end of the year. Will it pay out Woosha or not? Surely something is going to happen, for they don't take poor performances well, nor do they want a wooden cooking utensil sitting in their trophy cabinet, and at the moment they are looking like getting one.
14. Blues - Dreadful loss. A win would have seen them level with top 4 teams, but the loss now consigns them with the chasing pack. Whilst it is unexpected they'll drop from the 8 the loss of Kreuzer hurts them, not so much in rucking but in around the ground flexibility. Some very interesting challenges await.
15. Dons - Will rue an opportunity that slipped away. They were lucky to be in it enough to finish strongly, but really they weren't the best side on the day. This drops them to 5-8 and with 9 rounds to go, 2 games and % out of the 8 they are going to have to win at least 7 of the 9 and pray that those above them start failing in a big way. Its not without hope because the Hawks have a very tough run after the break, and the Roos are young and inconsistent. Still, its unlikely.
16. Lions - 8 losses from 9 games now. They are gone. Pack it up boys and play the kids. I wouldn't say the recruiting of veterens was a flawed or failed plan, but injuries have tested depth, and shown what Voss highlighted last year, that it isn't a list than runs deep. I have no doubt that had they kept their best on the park they would be contesting in finals. In many ways their season is similar to Adelaides, a tale of a good team cruelled, which is again the same as the Hawks of 2009. Next year they will improve, IF they can get decent seasons from Brown, Fev and Black.