Spherical 14 is over, and like most AFL groups, I’m limping by means of until the tip of the bye rounds. This week’s column is somewhat bit shorter than most, which could must do with a sure outstanding northern states occasion occurring later tonight. Hopefully, you get pleasure from this week’s speaking factors all the identical.
Geelong blow it after the bye… once more
It will have come as an enormous shock if it wasn’t so extremely predictable: on Saturday evening, the Geelong Cats, coming off the bye, suffered a sluggish begin and have been by no means capable of recuperate, copping their second lack of the 12 months.
This can be a crew whose solely different defeat in 2019 has been by 4 factors to a fellow top-four facet, GWS. To place it in form of a foolish approach, this weekend’s 11-point loss represents a 375 per cent enhance on their complete shedding margin for season 2019, 14 rounds in.
Simply shortly: no credit score ought to be taken away from Port right here. Ken Hinkley was courageous to swing the axe on the choice desk and it paid off. They’re a fairly good facet who’ve added an excellent scalp and need to be very pleased with themselves.
Nonetheless, it’s hopefully not too reductionist to counsel that this one would possibly actually be so simple as Geelong nonetheless not realizing find out how to navigate the bye. And that’s one thing that ought to fear them in a season the place nothing else to date actually has.
Within the three-and-a-half years since a pre-finals bye was launched, Geelong have had eight matches performed after a bye spherical (both mid-season, pre-finals or mid-finals), and so they have misplaced seven of these. That’s over a time frame the place they’ve gained extra AFL matches than another facet.
Most regarding, three of these seven post-bye losses have are available finals matches, with two of these proving sufficient to eradicate them from the premiership race (in opposition to Sydney in 2016, and Melbourne final 12 months).
Their solely post-bye win throughout this period was a 2-point qualifying last victory over Hawthorn, which solely got here after Isaac Smith missed a shot after the siren.
Port apart, the one groups who’ve actually examined the Cats this 12 months are GWS and Collingwood, sides each recognized for his or her excessive depth of midfield expertise.
So what occurs if it’s a type of groups up in opposition to them coming off per week’s relaxation within the qualifying last – or, in the event that they win that, a prelim?
St Kilda’s week of excellent information ends poorly
There have been three actually good items of reports filtering by means of for St Kilda followers this week. Arguably 4, relying in your perspective.
The primary one – that controversial one – was that Max King’s damage scare within the VFL final weekend was not an ACL damage. Positive, okay, it seems as a substitute he wants season-ending ankle surgical procedure, which isn’t a complete lot higher, however at the least this manner he’s not copping two knee recos earlier than his AFL debut.
Extra unambiguously constructive was each Jake Carlisle and Dan Hannebery being cleared to play their first video games for the season, and within the case of Hannebery, his first for the membership. He was in good contact too in his first recreation again on the degree – however extra on that quickly.
The ultimate piece although is that Jack Billings recommitted to the membership for an additional two years, taking him by means of till free company. That solidifies what’s been a career-changing season for him, and has to offer Saints followers a bit of religion that issues are stepping into an upward course.
Sadly, their efficiency on Saturday in opposition to the Brisbane Lions did a lot the alternative. General you possibly can argue they performed three quarters of moderately satisfactory footy, however the third, the place they conceded 9 targets and scored only one their very own, was devastating.
Nick Hind kicked three targets in simply his second AFL recreation, Josh Battle made a powerful case once more that he deserves a Rising Star nomination – and most significantly, the $800,000 man Hannebery not solely bought by means of the match however collected a powerful 27 disposals.
Nonetheless, the scoreboard didn’t make for fairly studying, and that’s the metric most headlines are written on. What may have been a extremely nice week for the Saints is middling at finest.
Hawks between a rock and a tough place
There’s nonetheless 9 matches left within the season for every crew so for a facet like Hawthorn not sitting too far exterior the eight, it’s too early but to say that there’s no probability of them making it in, even when it’s wanting unlikely.
What it’s not too early to say is that even when they do someway make it in, they gained’t be distinction makers within the enterprise finish of the 12 months. This crew merely isn’t ok for that.
Why? The straightforward clarification is that they only don’t have the cattle to be that good proper now. The Brownlow Medallist is on the pine, as is Chad Wingard, and whereas Tom Scully nonetheless runs lots he doesn’t do a lot else simply but.
Jarryd Roughead got here again to AFL degree which is good, however didn’t actually do something to counsel his profession gained’t finish in 9 weeks time. He might be proper again to the VFL subsequent week and out-of-form Paul Puopolo would possibly be part of him.
Hawthorn’s one genuinely elite performer who isn’t an outdated codger is James Sicily, and he’s being performed out of place. I don’t thoughts the experiment – he was drafted as a ahead – nevertheless it’s actually hamstringing the membership’s on-field performances.
Alastair Clarkson has stated his facet is within the technique of constructing in the direction of being a premiership contender once more and that he’s trying to get them there earlier than his contract runs out in 2022. Going to the draft is what they need to in all probability do, nevertheless it doesn’t match on that timeline, or with the selections they made final 12 months.
The Hawks constructed a technology of success by means of aggressively buying and selling for gamers to fill their wants, however after they did it was primarily based on a stable platform of high quality draft picks, in 2001 (Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell) and 2004 (Roughead, Lance Franklin, Jordan Lewis) significantly.
They haven’t any such platform to work from this time, and to bust out a biblical metaphor, it’s like constructing your home on sand quite than rock. Not figuring out nice.
Dreary Dons ought to have Worsfold nervous
A 35-point loss isn’t an excellent end result usually, however the margin if something flattered Essendon on Thursday evening as a crew who had not too long ago been touting the energy of their defence conceded 36 scoring pictures to the West Coast Eagles and have been in the end fortunate to see 22 of them change into behinds.
The Eagles had two-and-a-quarter instances as many scores as their opponents – if that they had the identical accuracy price as them, they’d have scored 160 and gained by 89 factors.
Any progress we thought Essendon had revamped the previous few weeks – and actually, the outcomes they’ve had don’t justify considering there was any great amount of it – was shortly wiped away. The membership feels proper again the place it was in Spherical 1 this 12 months, or of their 2018 malaise, for that matter.
As stated with reference to Hawthorn, it’s far too early to say a facet with a file like this will’t play finals this 12 months. They’re 6-7 and that might simply be a launching pad to sneak in if just a few issues go proper within the second half of the 12 months. However, like Hawthorn, it’s onerous to think about them making a significant contribution to September in the event that they do.
And, once more just like the Hawks, they’re a membership that’s been aggressive on the commerce desk in recent times, in search of mature expertise to hasten an increase up the ladder.
It’s but to work for them. Saying an enormous signing is a surefire strategy to make followers pleased in October, however boy does it rachet up the strain if the following season rolls round and bringing in an enormous title doesn’t translate to the crew’s enchancment.
Who’s in charge when that occurs – have been they poor commerce targets, or is it the coach who has failed to show that boon of expertise into improved peformance? Within the case of Essendon, as a lot as I’ve nice respect for John Worsfold, it feels just like the latter.
Devon Smith, Jake Stringer, Adam Saad and Dylan Shiel have all performed good footy for the membership, in truth in all probability all of them have performed the perfect footy of their careers in purple and black or near, discounting Stringer’s All Australian 2015 season.
So the recruits are firing however the crew isn’t. What does that say concerning the coach? A subject maybe needing extra time than we’ve got right here, however to place it quick, I’ll be stunned if he’s nonetheless main the membership in Spherical 1 2020.
Everbody will get a flip
Brisbane Lions (Eight-5) – Michael Walters just about has that All Australian small ahead slot sewn up – is Charlie Cameron subsequent in line for one? Set to smash his earlier career-high 29 targets.
Collingwood Magpies (10-Three) – Second on the ladder and certainly one of many Cats’ closest rivals for the flags – however have they actually been all that spectacular currently?
Essendon Bombers (6-7) – Darcy Parish is turning into a extremely fascinating query for the Dons currently. Has been in nice kind, out of contract this 12 months.
Fremantle Dockers (7-6) – You’re telling me that in a match that includes Melbourne one crew lead for a lot of the recreation, misplaced it late, and that crew wasn’t truly Melbourne? Poor Freo – that just about by no means occurs.
Geelong Cats (11-2) – Jordan Clark is a type of gamers who certainly must get a Rising Star nomination generally quickly. Doesn’t star, however performs his function each week. That’d make three in a 12 months for Geelong the place they’re additionally high of the ladder.
Hawthorn Hawks (5-Eight) – Jack Gunston’s purpose earlier than the ultimate break was one of many stranger ones I can recall seeing. One of many highlights of the spherical.
Melbourne Demons (Four-9) – All the organisation can be wishing him nicely, however Melbourne are quietly a bit fortunate that Jesse Hogan’s had an detached season for Freo to date in 2019. If not, we’d be speaking much more about that commerce.
Port Adelaide Energy (7-6) – Tom Rockliff to doubtlessly come again in subsequent week alongside Paddy Ryder, Justin Westhoff and Sam Powell-Pepper who have been all dropped – all preventing for spots in a crew that simply beat the flag favourites. Gotta prefer it.
St Kilda Saints (6-7) – Are we actually going to undergo season 2019 with Nick Coffield solely taking part in one recreation for the 12 months? Absolutely it’s time.
Sydney Swans (5-Eight) – Buddy Franklin injured his hamstring on Friday evening. I injured mine on Saturday morning. Are we the identical particular person? The reply is sure.
West Coast Eagles (9-Four) – Dom Sheed loves kicking nice targets. Effectively, I suppose each participant does, however he’s the one who retains managing it.
Western Bulldogs (5-Eight) – In the event you don’t love Caleb Daniel, do you actually love footy? No. No you don’t.