Jul 31, 2023
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Twenty
On a Monday, you want irrational reaction. You want emotion to trump reason.
What you really want is idiotic hysteria.
You've come to the right place.
Collingwood (76) v Carlton (93)
It’s the week the backpacker in sales won the tipping competition for the round!
For the neutral fan, the joy of one of these sides losing is always offset by the other winning.
Very few of us would have picked the Blues defeating Collingwood at the G on a Friday night, and we certainly wouldn’t have picked them winning six straight games and sitting in the top eight in August.
There’s something about this that feels so unnatural.
Being Carlton, someone had to get injured; this week it was Adam Cerra, but that only made the win more remarkable.
Collingwood will rue their kicking for goal. It was like a misfiring Daryl Somers skit at the Logies, nothing landed.
Not to overreact, but obviously, Craig McRae is in the hot seat after this, and the Pies’ season is in tatters.
For Carlton, this could be a new dawn; they’re in seventh spot and running hot.
They can’t miss finals from here!
Geelong (64) v Fremantle (71)
So bizarro world AFL continued into Saturday, with Fremantle defeating Geelong, in Geelong.
I mean, really?
A few weeks ago, the Cats destroyed Essendon, and everyone thought they were about to make a big run towards the finals.
It turned out though, that Essendon were just being Essendon, and the Cats have since then been quite horrible.
Losing to Brisbane last week was one thing, but to lose to 15th-placed Fremantle at home? This is not the behaviour of a finalist.
Geelong were not helped by Jeremy Cameron joining Fremantle’s defensive unit. He kicked 1.5 and added to that by other kicks not even making the distance.
To make things worse for the Cats, Mark Blicavs and Tom Hawkins both went off injured.
For the Dockers, it showed once again they can be good; they just can’t do it very often.
Western Bulldogs (73) v Greater Western Sydney (78)
When it counted, both in this game and at this point of the season, the Bulldogs have Sonia Krugered it.
Leading by 35 points in the third quarter, it seemed the Bulldogs had taken a very big step toward solidifying their place in the eight.
Then Toby Greene happened to them. You never want Toby Greene to happen to you.
He quickly booted four goals in the third quarter, and suddenly the game was on.
Then it became tight, like watching two drunks fight it out in a phone box, with the Bulldogs not helped by injury blows to their defence.
In the end, the Giants completed a great comeback for their seventh straight win. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about that streak is they win everywhere.
At home, on the road, it doesn’t matter. It makes you wonder what would have happened if the Giants had moved Leon Cameron on a lot earlier.
They now sit in sixth spot, while the Bulldogs looking wobbly in eighth spot.
Gold Coast (96) v Brisbane (55)
The carnage to everyone’s tips continued, with the Lions not only losing to the Suns but losing horribly.
It was a QClash with actual intensity and ill will, and the Suns just worked harder. This wasn’t a case of the Lions being off.
It raises an interesting question, did the Suns just go too early sacking Stewie Dew, or has Steven King got the Suns working?
Given that after Dew got sacked, he went and visited the Australian Cricket team, and they haven’t performed well since it’s probably King working some magic.
The other King, Ben, certainly turned his complete lack of form around, booting five goals, but perhaps it was Touk Miller who best exemplified the pure hard work that gave the Suns the win.
He went to Lachie Neale, and tagged him all game, which Lachie welcomed with the enthusiasm of someone finding out they’re sitting on the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here table at the Logies.
Even more fun was watching Miller and Dayne Zorko renew their friendly relationship, with them both going at each other like it was Attitude-era WWE.
Zorko accused Miller of even deploying a squirrel grip, leaving his nuts “quite bruised.”
I’ve got a lot of sympathy for Zorko; there’s no cleaner player in the AFL.
Worryingly for the Lions, their forward line went missing again. Joe Daniher finished with 0.3 and Eric Hipwood with 1.3.
Heading into finals, that’s a part of their team they’d prefer not to have questions over.
Essendon (99) v Sydney (101)
If they weren’t Essendon supporters, we would feel sorry for them.
Just over a month ago, it seemed that finally, the most cultish of the 18 AFL sides were finally on the right track.
Five losses in six games later and they sit in thirteenth position, and those finals dreams are again over.
And it has to hurt that the other great pretenders of the last two decades, the Carlton Football Club, are in the eight, and do seem destined for finals.
Essendon fans have put up with a lot, even having to pretend they believe the whole steroids saga was just an innocent bit of poor paperwork.
Their reward? Nothing.
To be fair, the Bombers worked their way out of a 37 points deficit in the third quarter, but they really shouldn’t have been that far back to start with.
The good news is they have West Coast then North; the bad news is they then get the Giants and Collingwood.
The Swans are now in tenth spot, and the way the teams above them are playing, finals are not an impossible dream.
They’ll probably have to do it without Buddy however, who did his calf. Not an ideal way to go out for the greatest player of his generation.
There’s a chance he can make it back, and it would be nice to see him go out with a bag against any team but your own.
Adelaide (112) v Port Adelaide (65)
Port Adelaide love a streak. Three losses in a row see their grip on a top-two spot loosen, and even worse, they lost to Adelaide.
Aside from the Crows stunning performance, the match was notable for the clash between teammates Aliir Aliir and Lachie Jones, and the questionable decision to let Aliir back on.
The decision to allow him back on was made by medical professionals, but that won’t stop me, a man who’s not sure if he had one or two or even three livers (it could be five) have a strong opinion on it.
To be serious, if I may for once, it does seem odd Allir didn’t get the more rigorous SCAT5 test that Jones received.
I would have thought this was an area of the game where you go a little overboard in being careful.
After all, the AFL have been saying the head is sacrosanct for years, even though they don’t know what the word sacrosanct means.
On the Crows side, this game just couldn’t have gone any better.
They were all over the Power from the start, and in an amazing bit of technological engineering, they built a time machine and bought back Tex Walker from ten years ago and he kicked seven goals!
This time machine technology could see the Crows make finals. I look forward to them bring back peak Andrew McLeod, Tony Modra, Shaun Rehn and most importantly, Wayne Weidemann.
Ahh, to see the flowing locks of prime Weidemann again in my life!
Hawthorn (93) v St Kilda (122)
The emotional rollercoaster that is the St Kilda Football Club was in full effect on Sunday, going 42 points up early on, only to let that evaporate, then kicking five-quick goals to start the fourth quarter and seal things.
Hawthorn’s big mistake was to take the first quarter off, resulting in Sam Mitchell giving them an old-fashioned spray that woke them up and had them doing new things like competing for the ball.
This surprised the Saints midfield, who, no longer able to walk in and just pick up the Sherrin, seemed unsure what to do.
Suddenly, Saints fans, already nervous about how the team could let them down this year, could see a scenario where they would be on their way out of the eight earlier than expected.
It was time for Ross Lyon to offer some choice words to his side.
I think he just reminded them that they were playing Hawthorn, and this seemed to work exceptionally well.
“Guys, you’re playing the Hawks.”
“Oh yeah! He’s right. Let’s go out and win this fellas.”
St Kilda fans left knowing their team will have to find another way to let them down this season.
Richmond (98) v Melbourne (130)
Another Harrison Petty goalkicking masterclass at the MCG.
This was a cracker of a game and more than made up for the horizontal rain that hit the MCG as everyone was leaving.
Richmond’s surge football was in full effect early on, as time and again, their pressure drove the ball forward, causing the Demons to struggle under the onslaught.
Dustin Martin was causing the Dees all kinds of pain, while Shai Bolton put on such a good show I almost didn’t mind it was happening against my team.
When the Demons went down by twenty points a second time, it didn’t look good, but Max Gawn and Jack Viney, through pure force of will, dragged the Dees back into the game.
It certainly helped that the Demons forward line was working for once. Petty finished with six, while van Rooyen and Melksham both had four.
Melbourne with a forward line that works? That’s a new and exciting development I’m interested in.
In the end, the Dees surged towards to victory based on the play of Gawn, and some rather helpful interpretations of the rules by the umpires. Thanks guys!
They deserve the win, but you’d hate to face the Tigers over the next few weeks.
West Coast (72) v North Melbourne (67)
It turned out both teams couldn’t lose.
In the end, all the Eagles needed for a win was to play one of the worst teams in recent memory.
To get over the line, the Eagles needed a 32-point buffer in the final quarter, and even this was almost not enough.
The Eagles thrived playing a team as incompetent as them, allowing them to get the ball sometimes and even move the ball forwards.
I watched in disbelief as both teams managed to perform such basic skills as handballing, catching the ball and kicking the ball in the vague direction of a teammate.
When it seemed West Coast were cruising to victory, they of course let North back into the game, and if it was any other team, they would have probably lost.
But West Coast hung on and Eagles fans reacquainted themselves with the tradition of singing the song after a match.
It wasn’t all bad news for the Kangaroos. Their losing streak of 17 games is still intact, and the wooden spoon could still be theirs!
You can help support me in producing this ridiculous nonsense I churn out on a regular basis. Find out more here: https://titusoreily.com/support-titus
This week’s Sports Bizarre episode is Tex Rickard: Sports Greatest Promoter Part Two, available wherever you get your podcasts.