Welcome to the Blunders of the Week, where we dissect the game-changing plays that flopped like a John Carter sequel.
Unfortunately, these moments will be remembered for all the wrong reasons and will no doubt be on repeat in various video analysis sessions across the nation this week.
Dustin Martin, Richmond:
Midway through the third quarter of Thursday night’s clash between Carlton and Richmond, the contest appeared all but over.
The Blues were in complete control and looked to be well on their way to a 10-goal victory. Then something clicked for the Tiges, suddenly they were full of run and spirit, Trent Cotchin was on fire and at the major break they had a major chance.
The last started in a similar vein with Richmond closing the gap to seven points before Dustin Martin then marked 30 metres out from goal.
Martin is a proven goal kicker, yet he missed, and with it went the momentum of Richmond.
After this point Carlton would kick seven of the next eight goals, blowing out the margin to 44 points. For Martin and Richmond, this set shot was an opportunity to really put the pressure on Carlton, but the miss allowed the Blues to hit the front on the final bend and power home down the back straight.
Liam Jones, Western Bulldogs:
Liam Jones looks to be an exciting forward prospect for the Doggies, possessing strong clean hands and an ability to consistently present in the right areas.
However, he is not perfect, as Sunday’s match against the Eagles showed. Jones can often struggle in front of the big sticks, and this was no more prevalent than in the third-quarter when things were heating up at Etihad.
The game had been see-sawing before the crucial third-quarter. With the margin hovering around 10 points in the Eagles’ favour, Jones found himself with three opportunities to score, all of which were very gettable and all of which he missed.
These misses destroyed the Bulldogs’ rhythm and allowed West Coast a chance up-forward themselves, which they duly took advantage of. Jones’ second miss would have tied the game, but with these opportunities gone begging, the Eagles steadied, eventually winning by 49 points.
Brian Lake, Western Bulldogs:
Brian Lake was set to become one of the feel-good stories of 2012. After injury destroyed his season last year, Lake appeared fit and in the same vein of form that saw him awarded All-Australian honours.
It was a tough first assignment, facing a strong Eagles forward-line, but a few Lake brain fades really hurt the Bulldogs.
With under a minute remaining in the first-half, Lake soared high over Josh Hill, attempting what surely would have been mark of the year. The only issue was the ball was nowhere near Brian Lake.
The umpire had no choice but to award Hill with a set shot 10 metres out directly in front of goal, allowing the Eagles to double their advantage heading into the main break.
Sam Gilbert, St Kilda:
Port Adelaide had established a solid lead early in the last quarter at AAMI Stadium, and the Saints were obviously throwing everything they had into mounting a comeback.
In these situations, ball use and discipline needs to be perfect, as the slightest mistake will often allow an opportunity for the opponents to seal the game.
Ball in hand and a head full of steam, Gilbert found himself presented with several viable options inside the Saints’ forward 50.
With any of these options surely leading to a shot on goal, Gilbert chose instead to launch a shot at goal from outside 50, missing and allowing Port to reorganise defensively.
With teammates in space and within range, the best option is clearly the easy pass rather than attempting the miracle goal.
It is not an outrageous claim to say that Geelong will be a feature of finals football in 2012, they have proven themselves to be one of the best teams football has ever seen with three premierships in recent times.
However, Saturday night against Fremantle, their colours were lowered a little.
Geelong allowed serial pest Hayden Ballantyne to get under their skin and cause reactions all over the ground. Ballantyne is notoriously one of the most annoyingly punchable players in the competition, but sometimes it is best to leave the raw emotional desires of the heart for some good old fashioned sense.
Clearly, Matthew Scarlett disagreed, as he landed a strong left on the jaw of Ballantyne, gifting him a shot on goal at a critical stage.
Geelong was agitated by Ballantyne’s antics all night, with the crumbing forward even exchanging words with Cats coach Chris Scott at one point.
Ballantyne clearly had an effect on the Cats’ discipline throughout, and it will likely see Scarlett suspended for a few weeks. It was costly enough on the night, as Ballantyne received free kicks for nothing more than sucking the Cats in, but it will hurt Geelong even more when they face the Hawks in round two.
HERO OF THE WEEK
Josh Kennedy, West Coast:
Coaches love to stress the importance of a full pre-season, claiming that it is the key to a strong start to the demanding AFL season.
It is now apparent that this ideology does not apply to Josh Kennedy, who raced to the top of the Coleman Medal table with seven goals after a lingering foot injury stopped him from taking part in any NAB Cup action.
It took seconds for Kennedy to snag his first, and by quarter-time he already had four. On the back of this form several West Coast players are sure to start campaigning for a complete scrap of pre-season for 2013, and Kennedy is likely to be leading the way.