Despite at least one “horrible game of football” some sides are still showing us how it should be done, with the century drought finally broken. Here are all the Hits and Misses after another wildly unpredictable round of footy.
Carlton ton up
The Blues powered into overdrive in the final term of their game against the Bulldogs, piling on six goals to zero. And with that, they managed to raise the bat, becoming the first team since Round 2 to punch through the 100-point mark. Amid plenty of dour football, may this Blue wave long continue.
Third Quarter Cats
After a stuttering three-goal first half, the Cats turned it on in the third in the best quarter of football, in my book, all season. Dangerfield looked the best in the comp and Ablett showed why some consider him the best of all time as the Cats piled on seven goals to zilch. Are they really premiership contenders? More premiership quarters like that and they sure will be.
Nothing phoney about this matchup
Reilly O’Brien committed more than a miss before his contest against superstar Nic Naitanui – he may as well have kicked his phone out on the full. But by the time both players came out the other side, his gaffe had proved a hit.
It added some much-needed spice to an otherwise pretty unappealing game, and O’Brien held his own around the ground. And it even scored him a new phone after Nic Nat’s sponsor Telstra reached out to ensure the Adelaide ruckman wouldn’t make the same mistake again.
Gold Coast reached into their bag of first-round picks and unleashed another gem on Saturday night – Izak Rankine. It was nearly 600 days since he was taken at Pick 3 in the 2018 Draft, but when, ten minutes into your first game, the bar is set at Andrew McLeod’s level, you must be doing something right.
Rankine kicked three goals, including the “the best first two career goals ever” according to commentator Anthony Hudson, to bring the Suns to the brink of another memorable win. It’s a just a shame he and injured teammate Matt Rowell can’t go head-to-head for the Rising Star.
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AFL v NRL
Hey – Peter V’Landys started it. The AFL and NRL rivalry, always simmering, has been boiling in recent times. Here’s one for the good guys: the AFL more than doubled the NRL’s metro audience on Thursday night, and came close to doubling it again on Friday night.
Channel 7 recorded 772,000 and 573,000 metro viewers respectively across the two nights, while Channel 9 tabled 314,000 and 307,000 across the same nights. More eyeballs on your game and less on you maybe, hey Pete?
It was a strange – but, worryingly, not too strange – night for the Hawks, who hardly offered anything all game. They insisted on moving the ball with a reckless lack of abandon, even when the throttle was needed in the third and fourth terms. For the first time in years, some, including premiership hero Jordan Lewis, are questioning Clarko’s long-term future at the club.
Jeff Kennett did the same after Round 1 of 2013’s season, and the premiership, and two more, would then follow. Let’s give the best coach of the modern era a little more time to sort things out.
“Horrible game of football”
Remarkably, Hawthorn’s offering (or lack thereof) wasn’t the lowest score of the round. That was reserved for the Swans, who combined with Richmond to put up a below-average score (60 points together).
The blame game started after the match, with coach Damien Hardwick blaming a “farcical” game of football in large part on opposite number John Longmire’s tactics, while Longmire insisted he didn’t employ a seventh defender to stifle play. When things are more fiery in the post-match pressers than out on the field, you know you’re in a bit of trouble.
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MRO working overtime
Dylan Shiel hit – and for that, he will miss. Just when he was coming into career-best form, and his Bombers secure a position in the top four, Shiel committed a bump in Saturday night’s win that was graded as “careless conduct, high contact and high impact”.
All in all, it’s been a busy few days for Match Review Officer Michael Christian, who hit Ben Long with a suspension for his bump against Fremantle and Brad Ebert for his high bump on Giant Harry Perryman.
Older, wiser heads needed?
The Saints let slip a seven-goal to one first quarter lead to be vanquished by the lowly Dockers. In a shortened season, the finals race could come down to a game for teams like St Kilda.
Some have pointed to the lack of veteran leaders in the Saints side – apart from captain Jarryn Geary, the oldest player in their leadership group is 27 years old. Plenty still to learn, then – and Saturday’s lesson will be a memorable one.
Russell Jackson penned a thought-provoking column on the weekend, which asked a provocative question: “What if AFL football’s problem is not the football itself, but the way it is filmed and broadcast?”
One current coach (kept anonymous) answered his question bluntly: “I cannot pinpoint anything that has really changed in AFL broadcasting in the last two decades to keep pace with the modern game”.
Aerial ping-pong no-more, Jackson argues: today’s high-speed game of chess can only be truly understood from more enlightening angles, like vision from behind the goal. In any other year, of course, a fan could choose their favoured position at the ground itself – but in a year like this, the ball is in the broadcaster’s court more than ever before to paint a more attractive picture of the game.