Round 5 Review
Updated: Apr 19
It looked a tough weekend for the outsiders on paper. And it was.
We found Fremantle and GWS as our best outside chances, and the Blues somehow "won" the expected score against Port Adelaide. Just wish we had the guts to pick the Giants straight out instead of just pushing their case for an upset.
A fair bit going on this round...
Not loving these rolling team announcements across a weekend. Judging by the reactions it seems many others feel the same. Can we go back to Thursday night team announcements? Even if it means a few more late withdrawals...
Interesting discussions around a week off prior to the Grand Final to guard against a player missing through mandatory 12-day concussion protocols. The broader issue is really about how every player should receive a Premiership medal if they have played a senior game. Clearly a significant break in tradition but one change that should have been made years ago.
Very little data behind it, but are in-game injuries even more prevalent this year? All the uproar around the medical sub has died down completely, mainly because everyone can now see how handy it is to have backup so you're not a player short against the opposition. Sharp-eyed football followers should still take note of who leaves the game and when, as it is still having a bit of a bearing on results and final margins...
There's something odd about the pressure ratings this season. Some strange numbers in individual quarters across the round - Q4 in the Saints v Tigers and Q4 in Blues v Port a great example. To the eye it looks like the sting has gone out of the game completely, but the losing team posts their best pressure quarter for the match. Not sure how.
In case you've been living under a rock, Darcy Moore went forward on Friday night. When the Pies were trailing the commentators suggested he go back to defence. Couldn't have disagreed more - why send him back when they were clearly no chance of winning? Use the rest of the game to get a good look at how he plays, and more importantly how the defence plays without him. The vision of those quarters will be critical coaching tools this week. Sending him back to defence just because Jack Darling took a few contested marks would've been the wrong move.
Who Won The Round?
Tough one this week! Probably GWS. Beat an airborne Swans outfit and established a bit of a brand at the same time. It's like the Giants and Swans had a chat over coffee in the off-season and agreed to swap game styles. Credit to GWS for being up for the fight even with Buddy running riot up the other end.
Who Lost The Round?
St Kilda. They just don't turn up often enough and can't possibly challenge for the top four with their defence at the moment. When they lost by 80 points to the Bombers, it was a lack of effort. The narrative after Thursday night's game was more centred around the Tigers being "back". When was the last time Richmond destroyed a team like that? Probably the 2019 Grand Final. Effort and execution was still a massive problem for them this week but it was missed amongst the continued (justified) hype for the Tigers.
Richmond 134 def St Kilda 48
Expected score: 125 v 46
The Saints won a first quarter finally. By a point. Then kicked four more goals for the game as the Tigers piled on seventeen.
Speaking of seventeen, that's the number of marks inside 50 the Saints conceded. The preview highlighted just how much of an influence Riewoldt and Lynch would have on the game - they kicked 8.4 between them.
We also mentioned the small forwards for Richmond were due to get back into form. The Saints gave them the chance with 64 inside 50s - Graham (underrated), Bolton, Aarts, Castagna, Rioli and Martin all hit the scoreboard.
Up the other end, St Kilda couldn't only manage 33 inside 50s and 5 marks - Higgins and Butler took three of them. Clearly not sustainable and nowhere near a challenge for the Richmond defence. The worst part for St Kilda was Richmond's ability to just walk the ball out of there and get the ball up the other end - big question mark over whether their mids (outside of Steele, perhaps) are defending on transition well enough.
Could be another scathing match review for the Saints. With behind goal vision at both ends studied forensically by the coaches, no one is safe...
West Coast 103 def Collingwood 76
Expected score: 81 v 87
Can we calm down on Collingwood bashing? It's getting tiresome.
The unanswerable question is what the result would have been if De Goey and Howe didn't leave the game before half time. The Pies at least looked different and played with a little bit of flair in the first half, until the game was turned on its head when two of their best players went down.
Expected score 81 v 87 says a little bit too. Eagles shot the lights out, Pies missed a few.
Still a question mark over whether West Coast are downhill skiers who only tend to score when things are going their way. They still lost the contested ball overall, including a -9 loose ball count in Q4 to a tired and depleted Pies side - how?. The game was beyond doubt by then, but I'm sure the Eagles wouldn't have been happy losing the final term to a pretty brave Collingwood.
Keeping West Coast to 42 Inside 50s is a fair effort in itself. Convinced West Coast will be a flag contender when they regain some personnel, but at the moment they aren't going nearly as well as it seems...
Western Bulldogs 118 def Gold Coast 56
Expected score: 120 v 72
With the Pies and the Blues attracting the blowtorch for most of the season, the Suns have completely avoided any scrutiny so far. Will this be the week?
The Dogs can make most teams look second-rate at times, but that first quarter was a training drill. Only a bit of sloppy execution prevented the margin from being 8-goals at quarter time.
The Bulldogs mids ran absolute riot in the first term and never looked back - Macrae 13, Treloar 12, Dunkley 11, Bontempelli 11 and two goals...wow. Naughton and Bruce really should have ended up with at least four goals each. Only a few dropped marks and missed shots prevented that from happening, even if Collins and Will Powell did their best to stop the onslaught.
Where do Gold Coast get their next win?
GWS 71 def Sydney 69
Expected score: 83 v 71
Really thought this was a trap game for the Swans in the preview, and it turned out to be the case. Defensively they have some problems, so teams will always be a chance if they can restrict Sydney a little themselves.
The Giants did just that - Sydney's lowest total for the season by a long way in a super defensive effort, even if Buddy did kick five.
The biggest question for the Swans is the suitability of their game plan at the SCG. They might be in a unique situation where they are a better side away from home. Their small home ground might play into the hands of teams who can lock things down, which is the opposite of how Sydney wants to play at the moment. Very interesting to see how this plays out across the year.
Toby Greene could've kicked six. Ended up with 1.7 and arguably the reason why they ended up with an inferior scoreline than expected score suggests. He's an absolute star.
Aside from Greene, is Shane Mumford their second most important player? Not often you find a playing coach is the barometer for the side, but GWS just seem to dig in when he's in the ruck bashing bodies around. Add in Tom Green and they look to have evolved a little lately, the Giants.
Swans will be fine. Good for them to drop one so everyone calms down a little bit.
Brisbane 102 def Essendon 45
Expected score: 103 v 47
This was over a long way from home. Usually the wet weather brings the teams a little closer together, but hot favourite Brisbane just looked the better side the whole night.
Fourteen marks inside 50 is a fair effort given the conditions - how much of it was poor defence from the undermanned Bombers (especially with their best intercept marker Ridley going down) and how much was it the Lions forward line finally starting to click?
The Bombers have an incredible habit of letting the opposition gun midfielders to just do what they like - Neale 38 touches on the weekend, Parker 32 the week before to basically win it for them, Steele 35 in Round 3, Wines 38 in Round 2 and Mitchell 39 in their first match for the year. A worrying trend.
Not a real surprise, this result. Both teams will move on from this one quickly and look to next week - Anzac Day for the Bombers, a critical game against Carlton at Marvel Stadium for the Lions.
Port Adelaide 96 def Carlton 68
Expected score: 81 v 90
Anyone else do a double-take at expected score? Convinced it was a typo, but it's not.
The Blues were disappointing but only have themselves to blame. So many crucial misses in the first half just cost the Blues the scoreboard pressure you need against Port. 3.3 set shots in the first two quarters, with all three misses within 40m from goal on straight forward angles.
The Blues took more marks inside 50 and had more inside 50s for the match than Port Adelaide. But the Power were just lethal going forward - 48 inside 50s for 15 goals. Their contested marking power seemed to trouble the Blues enormously, so if they weren't clunking it (Dixon's one-handed grab was unbelievable) they were bringing it to ground and letting Robbie Gray and Orazio Fantasia do the rest of the work.
The Blues have found their mark, really. A middle of the road team who have the potential to absolutely jump a team at some stage soon but will still leak goals at the other end.
Port need to wrap all their good players in cotton-wool for a while, as they keep losing at least one per-game at the moment. Houston is vital to their midfield mix, so hopefully his shoulder isn't too badly damaged or their depth will be tested in the coming weeks.
Fremantle 84 def Adelaide 72
Expected score: 84 v 67
The Crows were ripe for the picking, and even Fremantle could get the job done.
In such a low-pressure contest it became a test of skill for most of the game. Whoever could execute for longer would end up winning. Fremantle just did it better, particularly out of the middle. With the game in the balance at three-quarter time, the Dockers were +5 at clearance and 2.4 from stoppages. Game over.
Bear in mind that the Dockers lost Cerra very early to injury as well. Important to note in the context of how the game played out.
Up forward the teams are quite similar at the moment - if it's not Tex or Taberner kicking goals, both sides struggle to find another option. When someone steps up to help hit the scoreboard they can be super competitive, but they won't trouble the best defences all that much. Schultz is definitely the one who adds a bit of danger to the Freo forward line. His inclusion post-concussion was perhaps the difference.
Both sides with soft matchups next week. If the Crows don't sharpen up defensively they will lose to anyone, though.
Melbourne 104 def Hawthorn 54
Expected score: 98 v 54
The Hawks actually took a half time lead in this one, then were obliterated in the last quarter to lose by 50 points.
The first half will give the Dees plenty of coaching points upon review - they were back to their 2019/2020 ways with some pretty average delivery up forward. Once that was fixed and the Hawks dropped off a fair bit, Melbourne just did what they like.
You know you're having a bad quarter when Mitch Brown is kicking goals against you. 17 marks inside 50 to only 5 for Hawthorn tells most of the story here.
Have to feel for Hawthorn - they've got a midfield mix that is reasonably competitive but just don't have any weapons up forward. At all. Their best chance of winning will be an absolute slog where the winning team hits 70 and hangs on. Can they do it next week against the Crows? Quite possibly.
Geelong 77 def North Melbourne 47
Expected score: 109 v 51
It must be really strange to play a game knowing you can't possibly lose, even if you play pretty horribly. That was the case for Geelong. They looked sloppy and slow, while the Roos actually brought the heat early on (as they have for most of the season, to be fair). A pressure rating of 207 for North tells the story - even the Cats struggled to handle that sort of intensity. They managed only a single goal for the quarter. Extraordinary.
Dangerfield looked like a bloke who hadn't played for three weeks, even though he'd been allowed to play VFL practice matches while suspended. Better for the run, but he was even more sloppy with his ball handling and kicking than usual.
Tom Steward and Cam Guthrie might be the only two players for Geelong to claim to have played well this year. The rest have been incredibly average.
For the Roos, Ben Cunnington just makes so much of a difference to their competitiveness. 29 disposals, 7 clearances, 15 contested possessions. What a player.
Cats going terribly but 3-2. North just can't find a way to play for four quarters.
A huge Anzac Round for Round 6. Will we get 90,000 at the MCG for either Anzac Eve or Anzac Day? Hopefully we are allowed, for a start, but it looks like the Demons v Tigers match might draw the bigger crowd. Bring it on!
Preview to drop Thursday.
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