Review 6 Review
An amazing round of footy for a number of reasons. A few upsets, some big blowouts out of nowhere and a thriller in Tassie, where the losing team broke a record for the most accurate start to an AFL match in HISTORY...
A disappointing round from a tipping perspective - we gave red hot chances to the Suns, Bombers and Demons yet didn't pick any of them. We only switched away from the Eagles after team announcements and picked the Cats by only 4 points! In the updated preview we thought there was a bit of a "stench" about the Geelong game - didn't think it would be the Eagles that would totally stink.
Some good learnings out of this round, particularly to go with the gut feel a little more. Could backfire, but these next few weeks provide some great angles to find a few upsets along the way.
We are seeing some super uncompetitive quarters lately - a combination of in-game injuries, lack of effort and teams just not being able to find a way to wrestle back control at the moment. It's not just happening to the poor teams, either
Can't wait to see all the footy shows dissect what went wrong with the Crows' sub on the weekend. Bizarre situation that arguably made it harder for them to win
Looks like coaches and teams are starting to figure out their defensive structures a little more, and the players aren't nearly as spooked by the man on the mark tweak as they were for the first few rounds.
Who Won The Round?
The Demons. Easily. 6-0 start with a pretty reasonable chance to go at least 9-1 unless they hit a flat spot, and they beat the Tigers to give them the confidence they need heading into a finals series they should definitely make from this position.
Are they the real deal? If they stay injury free and bottle that style of play for the whole season, then definitely. But like any challenger, they are two or three injuries away from coming back to the pack.
Their biggest question mark might be playing this kind of footy in April. Expecting them to drop some form at some stage. For their sake, hopefully it's not in September.
Who Lost The Round?
The Eagles. Again, easily. We definitely put the curse on them by wondering why they weren't second flag favourites only a couple of weeks ago. We have our answer as to why!
Without two of their real ball-winning, contested mids (Yeo, Shuey), their two fastest forwards (Ryan, Petrucelle), their Coleman-medal winning key forward (Kennedy), and their best kick in the back half (Hurn), we probably should have seen the dam wall break a little more clearly than we did.
The Cats had been playing very average football but the injection of Jeremy Cameron gave them the spark they needed, as well as a terrible defensive effort from the Eagles after quarter time. Can West Coast recover and make a finals run off the back of this annihilation? Still say yes, but their flag credentials have taken an absolute nosedive.
They desperately need their best 22 out there - if anything it has probably shown that West Coast don't have the depth of some of the other top-level teams, which could hurt them in the war of attrition that is Season 2021.
Western Bulldogs 104 def GWS 65
Expected score: 108 v 57
Predictable result with the margin flattering the Dogs a little, as they piled on a 9-goal final term when the Giants' pressure rating dipped to 171. The 17-7 Centre Bounce clearance tally in favour of the Dogs came as no surprise.
The Giants fielded the youngest team of any side so far this season, so it was no surprise to see them drop off a little against the most formidable midfield in the competition. The Dogs kicked 3.2 directly from Centre Bounce in the final term alone.
So many sides are struggling for scoreboard impact from their midfielders. Not the Dogs - Macrae, Dunkley, Treloar, Liberatore and Bontempelli kicked 5.3 between them, critically easing the pressure on their key forwards to kick most of their score each week.
Up the other end it's a different story - Toby Greene vs the opposition defence right now. He's a genuine star, but desperately needs help. He was the only multiple goal scorer for GWS last weekend.
Just wish we saw a bit more imagination from the Giants during the third quarter and early in the final term when they were still in the hunt. Critical misses from Greene and Finlayson early in the second half seemed to zap their confidence a little, and they just couldn't play with any run or dare off half back at all.
The Dogs march on. The Giants aren't easybeats but have found their range it seems.
Geelong 136 def West Coast 39
Expected score: 108 v 51
Wow. We thought this game had a sneaky whiff of the Cats coming to play finally, but didn't expect this. It took a quarter and a bit for Geelong to find some connection, and when they did they made West Coast look second rate pretty quickly.
The Eagles have given up some serious goal streaks in the last few weeks - the Saints (of all teams) piled on five in the final term alone to charge home, and the Cats found ten straight goals in the second quarter without the Eagles having an answer.
The slow ball movement of Geelong we had seen over the first five rounds would have suited the Eagles, and the Cats coaching staff would have known that. Despite the players downplaying any change in tactics through the media, it was obvious they went into this game wanting to play quicker and more creatively.
This is where the likes of Duncan, Guthrie, Smith and Cameron were able to thrive. A slow game style doesn't suit any of those guys except maybe pad out their marking and effective kick numbers. By playing with speed they become far more important to winning.
The Eagles have injury issues, but now effort issues as well. Jury is out if they are anything other than a flat track bully who should win enough games at home against weak opposition but are found wanting when their depth is tested or things aren't going their way.
Gold Coast 100 def Sydney 60
Expected score: 100 v 44
Kicking ourselves for not picking the Suns. The game script pointed to the Gold Coast smelling a kill against a weakened interstate opponent, and that's exactly what happened.
Another example where speed of ball movement and execution means so much to a side. Ben King was able to kick 5.1 because he could operate in an open forward line and the delivery was up to AFL standard. Touk Miller was immense through the midfield (he's fast becoming one of the more underrated players in the competition at the moment) - 36 touches, 9 tackles, 9 clearances and 5 score involvements is a super contribution.
The likes of Kennedy, Lloyd and Parker (as usual) tried to wrestle back control for the Swans, but their depleted forward line just couldn't get anything going. 60 points for the match, easily their lowest score for the year, and a sign that teams might have started to work them out a little with enough matches to study.
Brisbane 103 def Carlton 85
Expected score: 96 v 84
Everyone's favourite team to make fun of, the Blues are their own worst enemy at times with the way they defend. David Teague might end up bald before the end of the season.
All of the key metrics point to quite an even game. The Blues just have a habit of giving away crucial free kicks (the first quarter was a great example) that allow for easy goals to the opposition.
Fair to say Carlton's review of their second quarter will be brutal - they gave up 7.6 and turned an 8-point quarter-time lead into 26-point half time deficit. They won the second half but it was all too late.
The Blues are another team that seemed to have found their mark of around 9th to 13th depending on a close win here or there and some percentage. The Lions will be without Lachie Neale for a while but seem to have another gear in them. They will need it, given they face Port Adelaide and the Tigers over the next four weeks.
Melbourne 82 def Richmond 48
Expected score: 77 v 74
Huge result for Melbourne, beating Richmond at their own game. Still early days, but the Dees look like a genuine threat to any side now with the way they are playing.
Usually an inferior side in wet weather, the Demons proved they could get the job done the hard way against a side notorious for grinding a win on slippery decks.
The expected score is a fascinating one. It might make Richmond a great bounce back proposition as people overreact to the final margin against Melbourne, while the Demons would have potentially been vulnerable if they didn't face North Melbourne, Sydney, Carlton and Adelaide in the next four weeks. They could conceivably be 10-0, or at least 9-1 if things go to plan. Even at 8-2 they should still be top four around the start of the bye weekends. Incredible.
Fremantle 99 def North Melbourne 48
Expected score: 110 v 55
An eerie feeling with no crowd at Optus Stadium (how quickly we have become used to crowds at the footy again!), but the result was pretty predictable.
Not a lot to say for this one. The amount of space on the ground made it look like it was only 16-a-side for long periods. The Dockers just did whatever they wanted through the middle, with Taberner and Schultz (another underrated interstate player no one seems to notice) hitting the scoreboard.
Hawthorn 102 def Adelaide 99
Expected score: 101 v 96
What a bizarre game. The irony of Adelaide losing a match because of a Ben Keays missed shot (which failed to even score) from 40m out after posting an AFL record 15.0 to start the game is unbelievable.
We knew both sides would give the opposition a lot of chances going forward, so it was a matter of who could capitalise better. In the end the game was just a coin flip and the Hawks found a way. Critically, they found a key forward to kick a bag - Koschitzke could've had 7 or 8 pretty easily.
Thilthorpe kicked 5 on debut for the Crows, which probably says more about the fragile Hawks defence than the potency of the Adelaide offence.
Hawthorn will try to address the lapses which put them under the pump in at least one quarter per game - this time it was a 10-goal second quarter to the Crows. If they do something similar against the better teams it could get ugly pretty early, and there won't be any glimmer of hope for a comeback. Their only two wins have come from 30+ points down, something that is clearly unsustainable.
Essendon 109 def Collingwood 85
Expected score: 82 v 70
The Bombers lifted and played with an aggression we haven't seen in a while - a 200+ pressure rating for the first half definitely set up their win. That style of play generally worries Collingwood, and eventually wore them down.
The whole first half was just a centre bounce arm wrestle - whoever managed to get it out of the middle and win the territory battle tended to score. The Bombers just did it better and found ways to score outside of winning the stoppages.
The Francis injury gave us a good opportunity to see how much Ben Rutten values Cale Hooker in attack - there was a chance Hooker would be moved back into defence to take care of Darcy Moore in the second half, but it didn't happen.
Even with an undermanned key defence, Darcy Moore didn't kick a goal after quarter time. How much of that was the delivery from the Collingwood midfielders? Or was it just Essendon's pressure?
A lot of pressure on the Pies now.
Port Adelaide 93 def St Kilda 39
Expected score: 84 v 56
What has happened to the Saints? To the outside observer they've lost the ability to play as a team, something which was their absolute A-game last season. They are missing the flair from their small forwards, any sort of defensive system that can stop the uncontested possession chains of the opposition (Port 138 uncontested marks to St Kilda's 74. Enormous), and their midfielders all seem to be the same type of player. Interesting to see how the rest of their season plays out.
Port are cruising at the moment. A big month for them ahead, with their greatest challenge being able to stay "up" until their Round 12 bye.
Another in-depth preview to land on Thursday. As we have seen this week, things can move a little after Thursday depending on team news, so we will be a little more cautious with line-ball games until the sides are released. Injuries everywhere this week by the looks of it...