Round 14 Review
A reasonably straightforward round, with all five favourites saluting. Our two best outsiders gave us an interesting watch - the Bulldogs ahead at the final siren before Gary Rohan stepped in, and the Blues were their own worst enemy. Expected score had them winning, but instead they lose by 30+ for the first time since 2019.
Predictably, Port and the Lions did it pretty comfortably and the Bombers just had too much firepower for Hawthorn in an arm wrestle. Easy for tipsters, a little less exciting for neutral observers than we would like.
Worth checking out this clip from Channel 7's VFL coverage on the weekend. Jason Bennett's explanation of the rules in a split second after a kick on the siren is exceptional. Not everyone at home would have known the exact ruling in that situation (and shouldn't be expected to), but he quickly outlined the reason behind the no score
Great to see a big crowd in Tassie for the Launceston game. Not sure that's evidence of the State being able to support their own team, though - the Bombers hadn't been there in 30 years. Any supporter down there would've been more than a bit keen to get a ticket for this one. Doesn't mean they will embrace a new franchise, if and when that happens...
All this talk of "external reviews" brings back not-so-fond memories. And some hilarious examples of what these types of reviews usually uncover. Still maintain that if you want a straight answer on which coaches are any good, just ask the analysts. Might be an article in there somewhere. Stay tuned.
Who Won The Round?
Western Bulldogs - For the first time this year, we will go with a losing side. Just feel like the Dogs can take a lot out of their performance against Geelong, particularly with Aaron Naughton missing the second half and a few crucial misses in the last quarter arguably costing them the win.
They haven't quite got over the line against three quality sides - Richmond, Melbourne and Geelong - but we still don't buy into the argument that they can't get the job done against them in September.
A bit of luck in that final passage of play last Friday night and the Dogs hold on. They'll be fine.
Who Lost The Round?
Gold Coast - many gave them a hope against Port Adelaide (not us). They are nowhere near where they should be at this point in their development as a team. So many of their games lack intensity (they are under comp average for pressure, and posted only a 170 figure on the weekend), and they can't win enough contests when the ball is in dispute (bottom for in pre and post clearance contested possession - so they aren't good at either area despite their best players being in the midfield).
Geelong 83 def Western Bulldogs 78
Expected score: 79 v 66
Don't listen to the perpetually dissatisfied negative "state of the game" brigade (saw one take from a high-profile football view labelling this game "borderline unwatchable" on Friday night). This one was a cracker.
If you can't appreciate a great defence and the tense struggle for a great offence to try and slice their way through, then you don't know the game well enough. Tom Stewart was immense, Josh Bruce turned into Darren Jarman all of a sudden, and the midfield battle was absolutely incredible.
That final passage of play might haunt the Dogs for a while - the Selwood knock on, the Cordy kick that went straight to Guthrie, the spoil on Rohan that missed, etc. - but as we said above, it's a great learning for the Dogs who had to fight without their best forward in the second half. What might have been if those easy set shots had landed early in the fourth quarter...
Port Adelaide 81 def Gold Coast 31
Expected score: 82 v 33
This one went completely to our predicted script. Port met the Suns head on and arguably played their best in the first quarter then took the foot off the pedal a little, cruising to another win against clearly inferior opposition.
The task for Port Adelaide, now without Robbie Gray for a while, becomes trying to find the kind of improvement that will test the decent sides in a finals series. Is it just the return of some injured soldiers like Gray, Butters and Duursma? Or do they need something different? Time will tell.
Brisbane 68 def North Melbourne 45
Expected score: 88 v 49
Not a lot to say about this one. The Lions did well just to brave the cold conditions in Hobart (a long way from sunny Queensland), grab the four points and come home. The Roos have drifted off to irrelevancy - 1 win from 27 games...wow.
GWS 102 def Carlton 66
Expected score: 78 v 81
Another one for the "what if" files, given that expected score. The Blues are just constantly let down by their own lack of skill level going forward, which then results in a series of two-goal turnarounds given their deficiencies in defending (particularly through the middle).
The hysteria around Carlton is reaching ridiculous levels, but the reality is they've now failed against two teams around their mark - a severely depleted West Coast away from home in Round 13, and a Giants side with only one more win and a basically level points-for column.
Clearly their issue is defence - the Giants managed 100 points for only the third time this season (the other two were against the Crows and the Bombers, the latter scoring 100 themselves).
Usually when the blowtorch turns to defence there is an uptick in player "buy-in" the following week. The Blues get a soft matchup against the Crows to put things into place straight away. Only then will we see if the message is getting through.
The Giants have three legitimate winnable games coming up, with a contest against a wavering Melbourne wedged in there also. They are going to all of those wins given their last month includes games against Port Adelaide, Geelong and Richmond. Strangely, they also play the Blues again in the last round. They are a curious team, the Giants, but they might pay the price for a slow start to the year you'd think.
Essendon 86 def Hawthorn 73
Expected score: 80 v 83
Bit of a strange game, this one. The Hawks were definitely up for the fight with a 180+ pressure rating, while the Bombers just didn't look like their manic selves (161 pressure is low by their standards) coming off a bye.
Essendon were saved from the second-highest rated game of any player this season by Jake Stringer. His effort is only behind Clayton Oliver's out-of-this-world rating in the Round 10 loss against Adelaide. Perhaps not a popular take, but definitely feel like the Bombers may have won by even more if Jake employed a bit more of a "first give" strategy, particularly through the middle.
Can't get too carried away with the Bombers like some others. They come up against a Melbourne side coming off a loss and a freshen up over the bye, with the kind of defence that should make it hard to score freely. Can't wait to preview that matchup.
Back to nine games in Round 15, kicking off with a huge Thursday night game - Lions seeking revenge after their unlucky Round 2 loss to the Cats. Should be a cracker. Check back Thursday afternoon for all our Round 15 thoughts. Bring it on.