Round 21 Review
Updated: Aug 10, 2021
The longer the season goes on, the more volatile the results.
Happy to find St Kilda as one of our best underdogs - stopped short of tipping them, though. Another reason where it's worth reading the game previews rather than just the selection. Clearly didn't see the Giants win coming (who did), or the Pies playing flatter than the Hawks. Tough round.
Players are still getting called to play on SUPER early after stepping an inch off their line. Doesn't seem like they have adjusted at all.
It is becoming even more clear that every game begins with defensive method. If poor to average teams defend well they give themselves a chance. If good teams don't defend well themselves then they open the door to an upset. Simple premise, but it was clearly apparent in so many games this weekend.
How many finals will be decided by accuracy? Another week of fascinating expected scores...
Is the prospect of a Perth-only finals series getting more and more likely by the week? Desperately hoping that's not the case, but preparing ourselves for another compromised finals series unfortunately.
Who Won The Round?
GWS - no contest. Probably the upset of the year given their injury list, losing Josh Kelly before the game and the tough trip down to GMHBA Stadium. One of the best wins they have had in their entire history.
Who Lost The Round?
Despite all the upsets, not many candidates here. Probably Carlton. Should have found more than 57 points against the Suns, and now put themselves and their coach under even more pressure over the last two matches. Restless Blues fans getting more than impatient now, and unfortunately getting very used to the media camped outside the Club on Monday mornings...
GWS 84 def Geelong 65
Expected score: 73 v 78
Arguably the upset of the year (in terms of the odds-makers, it was). Once again, it followed the usual upset script - a high-pressure first quarter from the Giants (204 pressure factor) and some reward for effort on the scoreboard - 4.3 to 1.3 at the first break.
The Giants took only 5 marks inside 50 but still got the job done. It's the equal-lowest F50 mark total for a winning side this season. Geelong defended the air perfectly well but were exposed at ground level. Did the Giants just give other finals-bound teams four quarters of vision on how to break through the Cats defence?
Geelong will be fine, of course. They were ahead on expected score and might have pinched it if Jordan Clark didn't miss everything from 20m out. As we said in the preview, they do have a habit of struggling to score at times - for a team regarded as a top six offence, the Cats still have eight scores of 70 or under this season.
Giants now in the eight. Didn't see that coming after their loss to Port last week.
Gold Coast 76 def Carlton 57
Expected score: 71 v 57
In the preview we weren't entirely confident in the Blues, given they had been embarrassed by North only two games earlier. There are some teams who you always have be cautious about because they will mix their form. Carlton are the Captains of that group.
Not entirely sure how the Suns managed to keep Carlton to their second-lowest score for the season. Obviously it started at stoppage (Suns +10 clearances) and stayed pretty even from there. Strange to see a game at Marvel decided more at stoppage situations than turnover, particularly one involving these two sides. Does that make it a bit of an unusual match moving forward? Wary of this result for sure.
Richmond 89 def North Melbourne 56
Expected score: 85 v 61
Not a good time for North to put in their lowest pressure game for the year. We wondered whether their downward trend would result in a blowout at some stage soon. Against a team travelling a little better than Richmond that might have happened. Only a terrible first half from the Tigers prevented this margin from being 60+.
Port Adelaide 55 def Adelaide 51
Expected score: 64 v 57
An intense showdown, with Adelaide lifting to a level we haven't seen from them basically all year. They have kept a current top four side to 55 points, the lowest score the Crows have conceded all year.
Quite a good test for Port to win a finals-like contest. They got away with it against a side that struggles offensively. Can they do the same against some of the better sides in that type of setup? Jury is out.
St Kilda 93 def Sydney 64
Expected score: 90 v 61
Happy that we saw this as a real trap game for Sydney. The market had overreacted to the Saints losing to the Blues the previous week. St Kilda are great at beating themselves - if they minimise their own mistakes then they can test a lot of sides.
This was no fluke. St Kilda dominated most areas of the game. Their forwards found space against a questionable Swans defence, and limited the opportunities up the other end. Nine intercept marks from Highmore and Coffield between them.
Good reality check for the Swans. Another example of what could have been for St Kilda. Looking at their previous matches and the missed opportunities for wins would be absolute torture for Saints fans...
Hawthorn 97 def Collingwood 78
Expected score: 72 v 74
Always funny hearing the comments after Hawthorn games - if they win, it's a Clarko masterclass. If they lose, their list needs work. It's brilliant.
In reality they jumped the Pies here and never looked back. Offensively they have jumped sharply compared to the start of the season. Scores of 79 or above in their past four matches and two 90+ in the past two games. Didn't see that coming from the Hawks, particularly without Breust this week.
Essendon 97 def Western Bulldogs 84
Expected score: 82 v 116
One for the expected score Hall of Fame, here. This was nothing short of an absolute heist from the Bombers, and it was incredibly fun to watch.
Only 39 Inside 50s for Essendon - the equal-lowest of any winning side this year. The other match with that number was the Round 7 match between Sydney and Geelong. Expected score in that game? 111 to 76 in the Cats' favour. Sydney won by 2 points!
This was just a slow motion train wreck for the Dogs. And the hammer blow was the injury to Josh Bruce on the final siren. A brutal way to end the day.
Brisbane 118 def Fremantle 54
Expected score: 117 v 53
We gave Fremantle a reasonable chance, but only if they could keep the scoring low enough to compete. Unfortunately for them, only one team posted a low total. And it wasn't the Brisbane Lions.
It was just a classic case of one team with a hell of a lot more offensive weapons than the other. The Lions looked unchallenged down back for large parts of the game, while the Fremantle defence just couldn't hang in there for long enough.
Probably can't read too much into this one moving forward. Critical win for the Lions in a potentially tricky matchup. Fremantle still at least one season away from challenging the good sides.
Melbourne 72 v West Coast 63
Expected score: 93 v 61
Not even the Eagles' best pressure game for the season could save their game. The wet weather clearly doesn't suit them, as we've said many times before. But remember it also doesn't suit Melbourne all that much these days either. They just handled the conditions better.
Melbourne's scoring profile has usually been geared towards the turnover game. Last night they found 11 scoring shots from stoppage. West Coast managed four. The wet weather does make things a little fluky so we can't read too much into this one moving forward. Other than the fact Melbourne won the game as a strong favourite after a fairly interrupted last couple of weeks. They have the maturity to give the flag a real shake.
Another big weekend of football with so many positions on the ladder up for grabs. Can't wait to get stuck into the matchups, once we finally know the fixture...