Six speaking factors from AFL Round 18

Jenna Harris September 20, 2020 10 No Comments

Six talking points from AFL Round 18

The 2020 AFL home-and-away season is all however over with only a single match left to be performed on Monday evening. Here are my speaking factors from the weekend.

Dogs defeat Dockers, deny Dees
For the second yr in a row the Western Bulldogs entered the ultimate Sunday of the AFL home-and-away season needing to beat their opponents to safe a finals berth.

Last yr it was an ailing Adelaide Crows facet in Ballarat, and the Bulldogs pulled off a cushty victory 34-point victory to return to September soccer for the primary time since their 2016 premiership.

This yr might hardly be extra completely different: if there’s a footy floor that’s the alternative of Ballarat then it’d properly be Cairns, and slightly than developing towards a fading contender, this time they met one of many competitors’s rising sides in Fremantle.

The hopes of the Melbourne Demons rested on the Dockers – figuring out that if the boys in purple might pull off an upset win, as they’ve performed already greater than as soon as in 2020, it will permit Melbourne to sneak into the eight towards all odds.

But it was to not be.

The match was tense and tight within the first quarter-and-a-half, Fremantle controlling the sport however not in a position to open up a severe lead, till the Bulldogs received on high and kicked three fast targets to take a useful 12-point benefit into half time, then pushed that out to 15 by the ultimate change.

It was a lead that the Bulldogs would solely wind out additional within the final quarter, that motivation of a finals spot on the road simply an excessive amount of for the Fremantle to beat, although the Dockers by no means let their opponents begin respiration simply – or no less than not till the final 5 minutes or so.

Best on floor for the Dogs was Lachie Hunter whose kind since returning to the competitors mid-season has been exceptional. It’s a credit score to him how properly he has rebounded after copping a prolonged suspension earlier within the yr.

The silver lining was not with out a cloud nevertheless – Aaron Naughton taking place after a head knock collision with Sean Darcy throughout the second quarter, and despatched to hospital for precautionary scans.

Hopefully the pre-finals bye provides him time sufficient to get better.

St Kilda break nine-year finals drought
In my first Roar column of 2020, I requested the query: which groups would break their finals drought in season 2020?

No AFL facet entered the yr as far faraway from their most up-to-date finals marketing campaign than St Kilda, who’ve not featured within the post-season since 2011.

The Saints got here into this season on the again of a exceptional transformation on the finish of 2019 – sacking their coach, selling Brett Ratten, and buying and selling in 5 gamers from rival golf equipment.

Still, there was pessimism round them We questioned the standard of their recruits, and of the expertise already on the listing. Pre-season predictions for them to play finals had been few and much between.

And but, on Friday evening, St Kilda secured their first finals berth in 9 years on the again of a commanding 52-point victory over final yr’s runners-up, the GWS Giants.

The new faces on the membership have actually performed their half. Dan Butler has been the worth trade-in of the season, whereas Dougal Howard, Zak Jones, Paddy Ryder and Brad Hill have all made strong contributions.

But St Kilda’s finest recruit has been the person sitting within the senior coach’s chair, Brett Ratten, who has remodeled this staff in additional methods than one.

The Saints have gone from enjoying a stodgy, starchy, at instances unwatchable model of soccer beneath Alan Richardson to being one of many competitors’s most harmful, attacking sides.

Players who had been comparatively nameless within the league earlier than St Kilda’s 2020 marketing campaign, love Jack Steele or Ben Paton, have seen their hidden abilities revealed.

Going onto a finals win can be the icing on the cake. But whether or not St Kilda achieves that or not, their efficiency in season 2020 deserves to be lauded.

They made daring selections to focus on a aim not many believed they may accomplish – they usually received there. Bravo.

Tigers in pole place for an additional premiership
Regardless of Monday evening’s match between Port Adelaide and Collingwood, we all know for sure that the Power and Lions will end 2020 as the highest two groups on the ladder.

Yet should you had been to take a vox pop asking about flag favourites, it will be laborious to search out too many who consider these are the main premiership contenders.

Why? To put it brief, they lack a sure legitimacy. Port haven’t gained a remaining in six years and Brisbane in additional than a decade. Like Richmond in 2017, till they make that breakthrough, it’s simply laborious to consider in them.

The Tigers, alternatively, have a stage of legitimacy that no different facet within the competitors can match: they’ve gained two of the final three premierships and even when not at their finest, they possess an undercurrent of perception in contrast to another staff within the competitors.

Their wins previously fortnight over Geelong and Adelaide have secured them third spot on the ladder, and whereas that will not appear spectacular on face worth, it’s a cheerful searching floor.

Third is the place they completed in each 2017 and 2019 earlier than happening to win the flag – distinction that with 2018, the place they had been dominant minor premiers solely to fail to clear the penultimate hurdle.

That’s not likely sufficient information to attract strong conclusions from, however I believe some would agree that the Tigers love to have the ability to view themselves and underdogs and challengers – it provides them the sort of starvation that delivers premierships.

The large query for this facet is over accidents. They’ll get Shai Bolton again for his or her first remaining, however vital gamers Dion Prestia and Tom Lynch stay unsure.

Could a rival facet show too gifted for them if these two don’t rise up – or if they’re within the staff, however underdone? Only time will inform.

We are coming into a novel finals collection and one which, on the floor, appears to be like love it might be very aggressive. But if you need my early tip, I’m backing Richmond to get it performed – once more.

Dustin Martin

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Cats solely win by a whisker regardless of 4 large inclusions
When Geelong named their staff for Sunday’s match towards the Sydney Swans, they introduced again 4 names who might all show essential for his or her finals marketing campaign.

Joel Selwood and Gary Ablett want no introduction, and Jack Steven and Gary Rohan too might properly have a big position to play within the finals.

Steven has been out and in of the facet all yr, struggling to make a constant impression, however has proven hints of his match-winning expertise at instances.

He’s the sort of participant who simply may need a number of pictures to fireside off within the finals, and will show the distinction between profitable or shedding an important match if at his finest.

Rohan, alternatively, doesn’t have the resume of those three, however previous to lacking Round 17 with damage had been enjoying a significant position alongside Tom Hawkins within the Cats ahead line.

He kicked seven targets in again to again video games towards St Kilda and Port Adelaide earlier this yr, and was one of the crucial essential gamers in Geelong’s come-from-behind win over the Bulldogs in Round 14.

If the Cats had been hoping all 4 would slot again into the facet seamlessly and construct momentum forward of finals, properly, they didn’t fairly get their want.

Sydney put up a spirited flash and in the long run Geelong had been a small fortunate to get away with a one-goal win, albeit one which was nonetheless sufficient to safe a top-four end.

Selwood, Ablett and Steven had been all strong with out being match-winners, and Rohan solely recorded eight touches and two behinds however did present two aim assists.

Per week after having their pants pulled down by Richmond, the Cats had been lower than convincing, and might want to enhance considerably on this kind in the event that they’re to make an impression in finals.

Joel Selwood of the Cats leads his team out onto the field

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Worsfold period ends at Essendon
John Worsfold’s 5 year-tenure on the Essendon Bombers lastly got here to a detailed on Saturday because the Bombers bowed out of season 2020 with a 19-point loss to Melbourne.

It was a usually irritating affair for either side: Melbourne clearly higher however unable to kill the sport, Essendon placing collectively thrilling bursts however incapable of constantly staying on high.

Worsfold’s remaining years at Essendon have delivered lower than was hoped for. Despite bringing in a number of mature gamers, they’ve performed one remaining in three years for a 55-point loss.

Sometime between now and the beginning of season 2021, the time since their final finals win will prolong out past 6000 days, comfortably the longest drought within the league.

And the frustration Essendon followers have typically felt with Worsfold, clearly, is reciprocated. After final week’s loss to Port Adelaide, he had this to say:

“I perceive that Essendon individuals assume that Essendon must be higher. But they’ve additionally received to know that the competitors challenges golf equipment now to work to the identical guidelines, so the identical guidelines on the draft and the wage cap.

“And no one team has any more right to be successful quicker than any other team just because they’re a big name club. You have got to knuckle down and commit to doing the work, and good clubs will do that and come out of it with success.”

Hopefully as they half, Worsfold and Essendon can have fun and keep in mind the very best of one another.

The Bombers had been at their lowest ebb when Worsfold arrived forward of season 2016. He guided them by way of their darkest hour and introduced pleasure again to the membership.

Perhaps the partnership lasted longer than it ought to have, however they’re undoubtedly higher off for it. They is probably not in an ideal place proper now, nevertheless it might so simply have been far worse.

Still, the best way ahead seems unclear for the Dons, and Ben Rutten has a big job to determine firstly what he thinks this staff may be, after which tips on how to mould them into it.

Will Joe Daniher be there in 2021? Will Adam Saad? Or Orazio Fantasia? These are all questions they don’t but know the reply to, they usually’ll form Essendon within the short-term and the lengthy.

Bombers coach John Worsfold looks on

(Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

Everybody will get a flip
Adelaide Crows (3-14) – Have copped their first wood spoon in membership historical past, however will enter the low season with some real pleasure in regards to the kind they confirmed in the previous few weeks. Nice additionally to see Tex Walker break the membership’s targets report – will he be there in 2021?

Brisbane Lions (14-3) – When groups had been named on Friday evening I realised I had dedicated the good crime of principally forgetting Stefan Martin existed. That in itself speaks to only how properly Oscar McInerney has held down the spot with out him within the facet. Interested to see if they will get again into the swing of issues in finals.

Carlton Blues (7-10) – Perhaps it actually was Kade Simpson’s choice to not play on in 2021, however watching on Saturday evening, I couldn’t assist however be bewildered that he’s ending up and Eddie Betts isn’t. No disrespect to Eddie, however should you might solely preserve one on subsequent yr, I do know who I’d decide.

Collingwood Magpies (9-6-1) – Simple equation for them tomorrow evening: Win and they’re enjoying the Saints in Queensland, lose and they’re travelling to Perth. Feel love they’d go in with some confidence both means, however avoiding the roadtrip can be good.

Essendon Bombers (6-10-1) – He’s been one thing of a slown burn for Essendon however a participant who has queitly improved this yr is Kyle Langford, one of many few within the comp who might boast that he has recorded career-best disposal numbers even with shortenend 16-minute quarters. Well performed.

Fremantle Dockers (7-10) – So ends what was finally a promising and gratifying season for Dockers followers – so begins the countdown to Caleb Serong profitable the Rising Star on Thursday evening.

Geelong Cats (12-5) – This win belonged to Patrick Dangerfield who, whereas he was quiet in early patches of the sport, went ahead and booted three targets in a row to present Geelong a lead that they’d not give up – and in a recreation they may not afford to lose. Bravo.

Gold Coast Suns (5-11-1) – 2020 ends with a bitter style within the mouth however make no mistake, this season was a step ahead in Gold Coast’s capability to stay aggressive as a rule. The finest share of the underside six, they’ll threaten finals in 2021.

GWS Giants (8-9) – Stephen Coniglio had a large first quarter after being put again within the facet on Friday evening with ten touches and 4 rating assists – after which petered out a bit, ending the evening on 23 disposals. The Giants might properly have missed finals both means, nevertheless it nonetheless feels love a weird choice.

Hawthorn Hawks (5-12) – Much love Jarryd Roughead’s memorable retirement recreation in 2019, this one was stuffed with nice moments because the Hawks farewelled three-time flag gamers Paul Puopolo and Ben Stratton. Puopolo booted a season-high three targets whereas Stratton was thrown ahead late to kick solely the second of his profession – liked the celebration.

Melbourne Demons (9-8) – Lost to the Cats and Lions by lower than a aim every, put in shockers towards Sydney and Fremantle to lose video games they need to’ve gained. If simply a kind of outcomes goes the opposite means they’re a top-eight facet, as an alternative, bitterly disappointing as soon as once more. The margins may be razor-thin typically.

North Melbourne Kangaroos (3-14) – Made headlines on Friday when, lower than 24 hours after their season got here to an finish, they minimize 11 gamers from their listing. A tragic finish for a lot of fan favourites on the membership, however they’re selections that needed to be made. I’m wanting ahead to seeing some new faces.

Port Adelaide Power (13-3) – Would they slightly win the minor premiership and play Geelong (who embarrased them earlier this yr) of their first remaining, or slip to second and play Richmond (who they beat)? One suspects going into finals with the momentum of one other win can be the very best final result no matter what it means for his or her fixture.

Richmond Tigers (12-4-1) – They’ll be watching tomorrow evening’s match with some curiosity. If the Power win then it units them up for an additional qualifying remaining towards Brisbane on the Gabba, the place they’ll go in assured. But you believe you studied they wouldn’t thoughts having a second crack at Port on the Adelaide Oval both.

St Kilda Saints (10-7) – Liked seeing Dan Hannebery again within the facet for St Kilda on Friday evening. He did fairly properly too with 13 touches in lower than 60 per cent recreation time with the Saints easing him again into it. If he might hearth up in a remaining it will do so much to silence some critics.

Sydney Swans (5-12) – The mixture of Hawthorn’s large win and their slender loss means they’ve snuck into having decide Three within the draft. Certainly would’ve most popular to take one other large scalp, however all issues thought of, not a nasty final result.

West Coast Eagles (12-5) – How a lot footy will the membership get out of Jeremy McGovern, Josh Kennedy, Luke Shuey and Elliot Yeo in finals this yr? They confirmed in 2018 that they will win the flag even whereas lacking a reputation or two, but when that quartet are all on the sidelines, it’s laborious to see them contending.

Western Bulldogs (10-7) – Fair to say he’s had some highs and a few lows, and at instances it’s seemed love Tom Liberatore’s profession may wind up early. Not so now – he’s had an ideal 2020 season and is an underrated member of a start-studded Dogs midfield.

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