Round 8 Review
A pretty friendly week for tipsters, with only two outsiders - Geelong and St Kilda - saluting. The Bombers gave the Giants one hell of a scare but still fell short unfortunately. Still happy that we went out on a limb and gave Essendon a red-hot chance, given they nearly pinched it.
After a false dawn of attacking footy, higher scoring and a better "look" for the game, it appears the coaches and players have worked out better defensive structures. There will always be dour contests - it happens in every sport, every week - but this week we had a couple of shockers
Worth checking out Purefooty for some great insights using the more advanced metrics available to clubs. Aside from our favourite, expected score, things like kick ratings (no one should ever use kicking efficiency to prove a point) and team strength are covered really well. Quickly becoming a must-watch each week and is the perfect size for a quick train ride or a walk home from work
There is mounting evidence that the best teams at the moment have the ability to win in different ways. With the opposition so good at taking away your preferred gamestyle, you have to have another method of winning. They will be the teams who survive in such a close competition, particularly in a tough finals series
The Captain's Challenge idea for AFL footy is still the most ridiculous concept for quite some time. The Cale Hooker "mark" towards the end of the GWS game started the conversation again. The problem is it was called play-on: we can't stop the game just because someone disagrees with a call. Imagine Geelong games - Joel Selwood would challenge in the opening minute
Imagine not knowing what an intercept mark is...
Who Won The Round?
Geelong - 9 points down at half time but hanging in there, written off in a ground level cross that didn't age well at all, and came out with a +72 point second half against the reigning premiers. Enormous.
Is it as simple as playing with a little bit more speed and flair? Or had the Cats been building for a while and finally clicked? As usual, it seems they are still figuring out their ideal mix in the ruck. Death, taxes and the Cats having ruckman problems...
Who Lost The Round?
Basically no one. At a stretch you'd probably say Carlton given the way they finished off the game. Just feel like the criticism of the Blues is way over the top - they are a middle of the road team playing like a middle of the road team.
Sure, you can question the player development and recruiting etc, but did anyone expect them to beat the Dogs? They nearly did, so the glass half-full brigade will be pointing out that they stretched a 6-1 team for three quarters of footy...
Geelong 126 def Richmond 63
Expected score: 108 v 50
Enormous win. The Tigers allowed 20 marks inside 50, a huge figure. Are they defending as well as they used to? Time will tell. A good bounce back chance for Richmond this week against the Giants. The Cats take on St Kilda and will be looking to get on a bit of a roll with some soft matchups in the next few weeks.
St Kilda 63 def Gold Coast 54
Expected score: 80 v 73
Not the greatest spectacle, this one. Just showed that the Suns have to find ways to win outside of their usual method. A mix of skill errors and slower ball movement didn't allow them to win the contest and transition to an open forward line.
Ultimately we thought the ruck division would give the Saints the edge, and it played out that way. +10 clearances, +34 hitouts, +16 hitouts to advantage and +16 contested possession. It wasn't pretty but the Saints got the job done.
Both sides would need to lift significantly this week to be any chance. Two tough matchups ahead.
GWS 107 def Essendon 105
Expected score: 102 v 84
We gave Essendon a red hot chance to cause a big upset, and geez they got close. The score perhaps flattered them a little with some above average conversion, but they are playing the sort of footy that can challenge a few sides around them.
Another 100+ score, and the second time they have posted a ton and lost. Five scores of 90+ and only two wins is unfortunate. It will be interesting to see if they can find some defensive consistency to go with their attacking flair. Wouldn't be surprised to see them knock off a genuine side at some point on the run home.
Collingwood 94 def North Melbourne 76
Expected score: 92 v 91
Another pretty average contest. The Roos brought the Pies down to their level and made it a complete grind. Collingwood were just far better offensively in the end. Have to feel for North, given they are their own worst enemy with skill errors, decision making mistakes and a long line of dropped marks and fumbles costing them so many chances.
Melbourne 67 def Sydney 58
Expected score: 65 v 62
What a game. This is one of those rare instances where the low-scoring battle is still highly entertaining. Melbourne showed they can win a different way, but perhaps gave the opposition a hint as to how to curtail their offence. The slippery conditions might work against them over winter given their game style - will it provide a window for a team to cause an upset?
We might have been fooled by the "new" Swans at the start of the year when they played slick, skill-based footy. They are certainly channeling the Swans of old at the moment and doing a great job of it. Might have been a key forward away from pinching this one.
Port Adelaide 87 def Adelaide 38
Expected score: 99 v 42
You know the game was pretty underwhelming when the biggest story out of the game was Port singing the song in a different jumper. It was a perfect bounce-back spot for Port Adelaide after their disappointing loss against the Lions last week. Did we learn anything new about them though? The real test will come against the Bulldogs this week... The Crows are battling, which is obvious. Doesn't get any easier for them either - West Coast away and Melbourne at home in the next two rounds.
West Coast 98 def Hawthorn 60
Expected score: 97 v 60
The first goalless first quarter at the MCG in nearly 50 years. Funny old game, this one. Ultimately West Coast didn't really get out of second gear. They were able to use the game to get some minutes into Bailey Williams up forward (he might be first in line for set shot goalkicking practice this week) and Oscar Allen down back in the absence of a few key defenders.
West Coast definitely flying under the radar at the moment - look out when half of their first-choice side comes back in the second half of the year. Kennedy might be hard to replace but they've got enough firepower to cover him if he misses any time.
Hawthorn have no depth and lost Gunston before the game. Didn't stand a chance in the end.
Western Bulldogs 107 def Carlton 91
Expected score: 112 v 81
A highly entertaining game, this one. The Blues just ran out of steam and were obliterated at stoppages in the second half. The Dogs were +12 at centre bounces in that time, an enormous figure. If the ball is living in your defensive half for long periods, it's no wonder fatigue sets in over the final quarter. The blowtorch should be pointed squarely at the Blues midfield who failed to protect their defence...
Brisbane 95 def Fremantle 71
Expected score: Not published
Brisbane got the job done but should probably have won by a lot more. Full credit to the Dockers for hanging in there. Are they the most frustrating team, though? So many great elements to their side, very well coached, just lacking the firepower to match it with the really good sides. As we've said before, we can't wait to see them compete after another trade/free agency period. Can they land some forwards to help them post a competitive score?
The Lions have won four in a row after a 1-3 start. Building nicely. Hard to tell where they fit in the pecking order just yet.
Round 9 preview to land Thursday. With team selection hopefully returning to Thursday nights we might tweak the release to be able to assess any selection news prior to posting. Check back Thursday night!