Sloppy Hawks close gap

HAWTHORN       6.3    9.7   12.11  19.15   (129)
GOLD COAST     3.3    4.5    8.5     10.5     (65)        

Despite losing superstar forward Lance Franklin to a stomach complaint before the first bounce, Hawthorn were never short of capable attacking options as they beat the Suns by 64 points at the MCG.

Franklin was replaced by 2008 premiership player Chance Bateman, who was using the opportunity to put forward his case for a spot in a side that will challenge for the flag in 2012.

The victory sets up a mouthwatering clash next week against the Swans, with the winner set to occupy top spot on the ladder with only a week remaining.

Coach Alistair Clarkson will have some issues to iron out during the week however, with the Hawks looking particularly sloppy during the third quarter in which they were outscored by the Suns. Clarkson looked incredibly frustrated as the Hawks appeared to be playing with a certain aura of under-appreciation for the contest and their opponents.

Silly free kicks were given away, avoidable 50 metre penalties were given and the Hawks defence seemed to lack the urgency and organisation that usually comes as second nature.

Clarkson obviously got his message across at the final change, with the Hawks side that returned from the break appearing much more focus as they kicked seven goals to two in the last term.

Gary Ablett, unsurprisingly, had the most disposals on the ground, with 43 and two goals creating the potential for him to steal three votes in a losing side come Brownlow night.

Votes

Ablett

Hodge

Roughead

GOALS
Hawthorn:
 Gunston 4, Roughead 2, Savage 2, Schoenmakers 2, Smith 2, Ellis 2, Breust, Hale, Lewis, Puopolo, Shiels

Gold Coast: May 3, Ablett 2, Brown 2, Magin 2, Taylor

BEST
Hawthorn:
 Hale, Roughead, Sewell, Gunston, Savage, Hodge, Birchall
Gold Coast: May, Ablett, Bennell, Magin, Stanley

INJURIES
Hawthorn:
 Lance Franklin (illness) replaced in selected side by Chance Bateman
Gold Coast: Charlie Dixon replaced in selected side by Michael Coad

SUBSTITUTES
Hawthorn:
 Chance Bateman replaced Stephen Gilham at three-quarter-time
Gold Coast: Josh Toy replaced Matt Shaw at three-quarter-time

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Dalgleish, Stewart, Hosking

Official crowd: 23,098 at the MCG

Dockers book finals spot

FREMANTLE    3.4    7.8   10.12   13.16  (94)
RICHMOND       2.3   5.4     8.4      11.6    (72)

Fremantle have all but secured a place in the finals with a 22 point over Richmond at Patersons Stadium yesterday.

The win was soured by several injury scares to captain Matthew Pavlich, but they appeared to be nothing more than protective measures as the Dockers held a comfortable margin throughout the match.

Big man Aaron Sandilands made a surprising and successful return to the lineup after being named an emergency on Thursday night. Sandilands finished with 33 tap outs and 15 contested possessions.

The Tigers may not have been pleased with the appearance of Sandilands on the field, but Fremantle coach Ross Lyon claimed the late change was genuine, with Jonathan Griffin complaining of an injured groin in the warm up.

Sandilands had been missing from the Dockers’ side since round 11, so his return is a massive positive for a side now a game clear in eighth position.

Hayden Ballantyne and Pavlich kicked three goals each for the Dockers whilst David Mundy impressed in the midfield, with 32 touches, 13 of which were contested and five clearances.

The loss officially ends the Tigers chances of making the finals, leaving supporters to rue the costly losses that the Tigers had every chance to win. They will look forward to next season with optimism however, with stars like Trent Cotchin (32 disposals) continuing to show their value on a weekly basis.

Votes

Duffield

Mundy

Ballantyne

GOALS
Fremantle:
 Pavlich 3, Ballantyne 3, De Boer 2, Hill, Mayne, Mzungu, Walters, Bradley
Richmond: King 3, Riewoldt 2, Deledio 2, Nahas, White,Edwards, O’Hanlon

BEST
Fremantle: 
Duffield, Ballantyne, Mundy, Barlow, Sandilands, McPharlin
Richmond: 
Cotchin, King, Tuck, Grigg, Martin, White

INJURIES
Fremantle: 
Jon Griffin (groin) replaced in selected side by Aaron Sandilands, Mzungu (shoulder), Pavlich (corked leg)
Richmond: Griffiths (concussion)

SUBSTITUTES
Fremantle: 
Zac Dawson replaced by Nick Suban at three-quarter time
Richmond: Ben Griffiths (concussion) replaced by Brett O’Hanlon during the second quarter

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Margetts, Findlay, McInerney

Official crowd: 32,721 at Patersons Stadium

Judd-ment Day for Contenders

WHERE AND WHEN: MCG, Saturday August 15, 1.45pm

LAST TIME: Carlton 11.13 (79) defeated by Essendon 15.19 (109) round 4, 2012 at the MCG

Both these sides may have entered this season with highly different expectations, but the results have been very similar in what has been a chaotic year for consistency.

Both have looked capable of winning it all at stages, only to suffer a form drop off. Both have extensive injury lists and both would feel that if not for a five percent drop in performance across a few weeks they’d have already booked their place in the finals.

It certainly appears that both seasons are on the line tonight. A loss for Carlton would leave them two games outside the eight, a loss for Essendon would almost certainly see them into the bottom 10 of the ladder for the first time since last season.

Carlton appear to have found confidence after three gritty victories in captain Chris Judd’s absence. His return should provide a valuable boost to a side fighting for its life.

Judd’s bizarre ‘chicken wing’ incident seemed set to completely derail Carlton’s year. It seemed the perfect exclamation point on a year which could not have turned out much worse.

But for all the woe and disappointment encountered, they should enter the contest as overwhelming favourites.

Essendon has lost its last four matches, and five of its past six, only managing to beat Port Adelaide as their top four hopes have turned into a desperate fight to remain in the eight.

Captain Jobe Watson is a strong chance for the Brownlow Medal, but he still doesn’t receive enough support. Still, the last time these sides met Essendon announced itself with a display of physicality and gut running which completely outclassed the Blues.

As Essendon’s optimism starts to fade, they’ll live in hope that they can rediscover that form.

Final Say

Carlton seem to be a side hell bent on making the finals, and a win against Essendon will certainly keep that door ajar. A loss for either side would be disastrous, but Essendon have fallen in a rut that looks too deep for even the genius of James Hird to find an escape from.

Carlton by 18

Essendon

B: Jake Carlisle, Kyle Hardingham, Dyson Heppell
HB: Alex Browne, Cale Hooker, Dustin Fletcher
C: Courtenay Dempsey, Brent Stanton, David Zaharakis
HF: Leroy Jetta, Stewart Crameri, Angus Monfries
F: Michael Hurley, Patrick Ryder, Alwyn Davey
Foll: Tom Bellchambers, Jobe Watson, Heath Hocking
I/C: Sam Lonergan, Jake Melksham, Michael Hibberd, Brendan Lee
Emg: Nathan Lovett-Murray, Travis Colyer, Mark Baguley

In: Patrick Ryder, Brent Stanton, Cale Hooker, David Zaharakis
Out: Nathan Lovett-Murray, Scott Gumbleton (Soreness), Travis Colyer, Mark Baguley

Carlton

B: Nick Duigan, Simon White, Zach Tuohy
HB: Bryce Gibbs, Andrew McInnes, Christopher Yarran
C: Heath Scotland, Chris Judd, Kade Simpson
HF: Andrew Walker, Jarrad Waite, Marc Murphy
F: Eddie Betts, Levi Casboult, Jeffrey Garlett
Foll: Matthew Kreuzer, Mitch Robinson, Andrew Carrazzo
I/C: Dennis Armfield, Brock McLean, Edward Curnow, Tom Bell
Emg: Bret Thornton, David Ellard, Rhys O’Keeffe

In: Chris Judd, Nick Duigan
Out: Rhys O’Keeffe, Matthew Watson

BigFooty Team Board Previews:

Essendon

Carlton

Follow the match live on BigFooty’s Game Day Thread

Hawks end Port’s Buddha Reincarnation

HAWTHORN     1.3     9.9     13.12     24.15 (159)
PORT ADELAIDE     3.4     5.7     10.9     13.9 (87)

Hawthorn, despite shaky first and third terms, have smashed the Power by 72 points at Aurora Stadium in order to solidify its position in the top four.

The lopsided scoreboard would not concern the new Power coach Garry Hocking, as they only trailed by 17 points early in the final quarter after Paul Stewart kicked the first of the term from the boundary.

The scare sparked the Hawks into action however, as they kicked 11 of the next 13 goals to obliterate the Power and still receive a healthy percentage boost.

The victory was soured by an apparent shoulder injury to Cyril Rioli who was eventually substituted at half time. It meant the Hawks were without three of their top four goalkickers this season, with Lance Franklin and Jarryd Roughead also missing, but Hawthorn once again found plenty of attacking options.

Paul Puopolo kicked five, David Hale kicked four and the Hawks found 13 individual goal kickers as they kicked away in the last term.

The Power midfield was eventually worn down by the stronger and more experienced Hawks, with Sam Mitchell, Jordan Lewis and Brad Sewell all producing quality games.

Knowing that they were able to match one of the competitions better sides for the best part of three quarters should provide confidence to a playing group that was devastated last week in losing to the Giants. Things don’t get any easier however, with the Power set to face the Eagles next week.

Votes

Birchall

Puopolo

Mitchell
GOALS
Hawthorn:
 Puopolo 5, Hale 4, Breust 3, Ellis 2, Smith 2, Guerra, Lewis, Hodge, Suckling, Gilham, Young, Rioli, Gunston
Port Adelaide: Schulz 4, Brett Ebert 2, Lobbe, Stewart, Broadbent 2, Brad Ebert, Boak, Westhoff

BEST
Hawthorn:
 Mitchell, Puopolo, Lewis, Sewell, Hale
Port Adelaide: Pearce, Boak, Ebert, Schulz, Cornes

INJURIES
Hawthorn:
 Rioli (shoulder), Gibson (ankle)
Port Adelaide: Nil

SUBSTITUTES
Hawthorn:
 Cyril Rioli replaced by Matthew Suckling at half-time
Port Adelaide: Andrew Moore replaced by John McCarthy in the third quarter

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Armstrong, Mitchell, Bannister

Official crowd: 14,431 at Aurora Stadium

Blues Keep Finals Chances Alive

CARLTON                  2.2    6.6     13.11  17.11 (113)
BRISBANE LIONS     2.6    4.11   5.13    10.17 (77)

When Carlton skipper Chris Judd was suspended for four matches after his ‘chicken wing’ incident, it appeared all hope was lost for the Blues in 2012.

Instead, an undermanned side has managed to win three of the contests and kept its season alive after comfortably beating the Lions at Etihad Stadium on Saturday by 36 points.

The Lions effort in the first half could not be faulted, with Brisbane taking a lead into the quarter time break and only trailing by seven points at the half. The Lions had every right to feel as though they deserved a lead, with several opportunities at goal being wasted by poor kicking.

Eventually, the Lions wore down as the Blues dominated the third term, kicking seven goals to one in order to completely end the contest. It was more than enough for the Blues who would be outscored in the final quarter.

The loss should greatly disappoint the Lions, who, aside from the third term, played football which would have given them every chance of claiming an interstate victory.

Bryce Gibbs played one of his best matches for the year with 33 possessions and a goal, but it was the depth of the Blues’ midfield which did most of the damage, with the Lions unable to compete as Brock McLean, Marc Murphy, Kade Simpson, Andrew Carrazzo and Heath Scotland all playing strong games.

With Essendon losing ground to the chasing teams outside the eight, Carlton now has a perfect opportunity to claim a finals berth as they face the Bombers next week.

Votes

Gibbs

Murphy

Walker
GOALS
Carlton:
 Betts 3, Garlett 3, Armfield 2, Casboult 2, Kreuzer 2, Walker, Gibbs, Carrazzo, Waite, Bell

Brisbane Lions: Bewick 2, Brown 2, Green 2, Beams 2, Lester, Zorko

BEST
Carlton: 
Carrazzo, Gibbs, Simpson, Murphy, Betts, Garlett, Scotland, Walker, Bell
Brisbane Lions: Redden, Rockliff, Hanley, Lester, Bewick, Lisle, Green


INJURIES
Carlton: 
Betts (calf)
Brisbane Lions: Matt Maguire (ankle) replaced in the selected side by Elliott Yeo

SUBSTITUTES
Carlton:
 Rhys O’Keefe replaced Eddie Betts (calf) in the final quarter

Brisbane Lions: Claye Beams replaced Todd Banfield at three-quarter time


Reports: Nil

Umpires: Dalgleish, Ryan, Findlay

Official crowd: 25,977 at Etihad Stadium

To Tank or for Pride?

WHERE AND WHEN: MCG, Sunday August 12, 3.15pm

LAST TIME: Western Bulldogs 23.15 (153) d Richmond 18.10 (118) in round eight, 2011, at Etihad Stadium

Unfortunately for the game itself, most eyes will be locked on the stands on young Bulldogs Tom Liberatore, who was suspended for the season after being found unconscious in Melbourne with illicit drugs. It is a massive blow to the youngster himself and the club, who, largely thanks to Jason Akermanis, have faced more than their fair share of negative press in the past few years.

It seems an eternity since these two teams last met, with the last contest well over a year ago, but yet the situations between the clubs seem eerily similar to those that surrounded the last contest.

The Dogs are quite clearly in a rebuilding phase. It didn’t take long for that to become clear last season, and they have continued down that path this season, which has been quite painful for Doggies fans. At times, they appear complete lost forward of centre, yet on other occasions (such as their shock victory over North Melbourne in round seven) their hardness at the ball makes any forward line issues look irrelevant as their midfield completely takes over proceedings.

The Tigers, like 2011, were supposed to contend and were meant to be playing finals. Again, the sale of home games has been costly (though not a reasonable excuse for the performances) and we’re left with a contest between two sides that really have nothing to play for at this point for season 2012.

But, that does not mean the game will not be a fierce one. The Tigers will surely want to send a message to those in the eight that the mistakes made this season will not happen again next season and 2013 will see the rise of the Tigers. Good form through the final four weeks is one way of doing that.

The Bulldogs will want to continue to develop the hard, contested gameplan that coach Brendan McCartney has been determined to create. They may look to the future with some ‘experimental’ positional changes, in a move that has been used in the past by other clubs to secure lower draft picks, but it seems unlikely with the culture McCartney wishes to create.

Final Say

Richmond will have a point to prove whilst the Dogs will continue to nurture their youngsters towards perfecting the gameplan their coach demands. The midfield battle should be an interesting one, with both sides strong through the centre, but Richmond should have too much around the ground.

Richmond by 27

 

Cats Hunt New Bird of Prey

West Coast Eagles logo; Geelong cats logo

WHERE AND WHEN: Patersons Stadium, Friday August 10, 6.40pm
LAST TIME: Geelong 17.15 (117) defeated West Coast 10.9 (69), second preliminary final, 2011 at the MCG

It wasn’t so long ago that Geelong appeared set to be a bystander in the race for the 2012 premiership as they simply weren’t producing the style of play that they had become renowned for.

Their gamestyle had become sloppy and slow and they seemed to be achieving wins off of some the talent available rather than actually by reaching their ful  potential.

There were several games where they did enough to win over some of the poorer sides, and the question had been raised, ‘had we seen the best of this Geelong outfit?’.

Well things change quickly, and suddenly, the top five sides are looking over their shoulders in trepidation.

If the dominance over Essendon didn’t do it, the scintillating first term in which the Cats decimated Hawthorn would have certainly sent shockwaves through the sides sitting in the top spots on the ladder.

One of those sides is the Eagles, who have had problems of late. They have a shocking injury list and it seems to be taking its toll. Coach John Worsfold is determined to keep the impact of these injuries as the club fights for a top four berth, but with only four rounds remaining, another loss like last week’s would just about end those hopes.

That loss was the club’s third in four weeks and has seen the Eagles drop to a game behind fourth. With the season quickly coming to a close, they will be desperately searching for the same switch the Cats have found in order to reinvigorate their side and recapture the form that saw them being touted as top four certainties at the halfway through the season.

Final Say:

If the Eagles are to win they’ll need to find a complete reversal of form. They’ll be fired up after being embarrassed last week against their cross-town rivals, but you can expect to see Geelong close the gap again on the top four teams of the competition.

Prediction: Geelong by 12

Desperate Dons Continue Nosedive

ADELAIDE     4.2    6.3   13.7   16.8   (104)
ESSENDON     5.4    9.7   12.7  15.10  (100)

Essendon gave everything it had against all the odds yet still has come agonizingly short against a solid Adelaide side by 4 points at AAMI Stadium.

The Bombers horrendous run with soft tissue injuries continued, with Ben Howlett and Jason Winderlich suffering hamstring injuries which could be set to end their seasons. The loss of Winderlich was particularly painful, as the quick forward was providing the main avenue to goal for the Bombers, kicking four before being forced from the field.

The win solidifies the Crows position on the ladder, but creates major problems for the Bombers’ hierarchy. The Bombers, who only a few weeks ago looked certain September combatants, are now equal with Fremantle on the ladder, with only percentage separating the clubs. Essendon’s once strong percentage now only holds a 0.79 buffer over the Dockers.

The Bombers controlled proceedings early in the piece, with fast ball movement proving too much for the Crows defence. Furthering adding to the Crows problems was the zone Essendon had employed. It slowed the Crows down and made transition from defence to attack incredibly difficult.

The natural, fast rebounding footy was being stifled, and as the Bombers took a 22 point lead into half time, it looked as though most of the Crows’ stars had gone missing.

Not Patrick Dangerfield. The Crows ran over the Bombers in the third to set up the pulsating last term, but it was Dangerfield that got them going. He had 29 disposals and kicked three vital goals. 20 of his touches were contested as he continually threw himself into the stoppages, winning the ball and setting his team mates off into space.

His work eventually paid dividends. as the Crows kicked seven goals to three for the quarter, and it appeared the Bombers were finished due to fatigue stemming from only two rotations available on the bench.

But they refused to relent. Captain Jobe Watson kept winning the ball and putting it in dangerous positions, but it was a skill error that may haunt him. With minutes remaining, he missed a set shot to put the Bombers in front. The Crows moved the ball forward and Taylor Walker crucially converted.

Still Essendon wasn’t finished, Courtenay Dempsey -who was excellent off half back – kicked a goal from outside 50, and the Crows once more had to throw numbers behind the ball in a desperate bid to hold the tide.

There were several chances, a mark was dropped and a snap was smothered, but ultimately the ball would finish brutallyclose to the Essendon goal as the Crows celebrated.

Votes

Dangerfield

Watson

Walker


GOALS
Adelaide:
 Walker 4, Dangerfield 3, Johncock, Jenkins 2, Jacobs, Sloane, Porplyzia, Riley, van Berlo
Essendon: Winderlich 4, Browne, Gumbleton 2, Colyer, Dempsey, Davey, Hurley, Jetta, Lonergan, Watson

BEST
Adelaide:
 Dangerfield, Thompson, Sloane, Talia, Douglas, Walker
Essendon: Watson, Dempsey, Lovett-Murray, Browne, Carlisle, Heppell

INJURIES
Adelaide:
 Porplyzia (shoulder)
Essendon: Howlett (hamstring), Winderlich (hamstring)

Substitutes
Adelaide:
 Richard Tambling replaced Jason Porplyzia in the third quarter.
Essendon: Henry Slattery replaced Ben Howlett in the second quarter.

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Donlon, Kamolins, Hay

Official crowd: 40,030 at AAMI Stadium

North to Bounce Barkless Dogs

WHERE AND WHEN: Etihad Stadium, Saturday August 4, 1.45pm
LAST TIME: Western Bulldogs 15.11 (101) d North Melbourne 12.11 (83), round 7, 2012, at Etihad Stadium

When these sides last met, the Kangaroos were beaten comfortably by the Western Bulldogs in a loss which deservedly earned them heavy criticism for their incredibly poor play.

With all due respect to the Dogs, these sides were supposed to be at different stages of development. The ‘Roos appeared primed for a finals assault whilst the Dogs were coming down after a few years of coming agonisingly close to a Grand Final berth. But, as we saw, things don’t always follow the script, and North Melbourne were left wondering where they went wrong.

Now, 12 weeks later, the book appears to be back on track. North are in the eight and are holding on firmly to one of the last spots available, and have, in fact, gained ground on those ahead of them in recent weeks. It appears certain that they will feature in September, and they have produced a brand of football which could see them worrying several sides in the hunt for the flag.

The Bulldogs were embarrassed last week against St Kilda, with their forward line once more proving to be a major problem. They won their fair share of centre ball, but simply could not take advantage as their young forwards struggled against an experienced defensive half.

Final Say

Normally a lose in such a fashion would open the possibilities for a rebound match, but with the  Bulldogs already upsetting North Melbourne this season, the Roos should be on their guard, and ultimately, too good.

North Melbourne by 49

Hawks to break the Cats Edge

WHERE AND WHEN: MCG, Friday August 3, 7.50pm

LAST TIME: Geelong 14.8 (92) d Hawthorn 13.12 (90), round two, 2012 at the MCG

Ever since Hawthorn upset the Cats in the 2008 Grand Final, the Cats have appeared determined to never again lose to the Hawks. It may seem like a ridiculous goal, but when you consider the chances the Hawks have had in the years past, it is clear that the Cats step up to a new level when facing their rivals.

Of course, those losses could be a representation of the general standard of the sides: Geelong have won two premierships since the Hawks’ premiership whilst Hawthorn have only managed the one finals victory in the same time span. Clearly, Geelong’s side has been better since that fateful day.

But despite the ladder discrepancy, six of the eight losses to the Cats have been under nine points, meaning that there are some legitimate questions regarding the Hawks mental state towards the Cats that need to be answered.

Tonight, Hawthorn will be presented with their best chance to break the winning streak. The Cats have found some momentum in previous weeks, belting Essendon and comfortably dispatching an Adelaide side fighting for a top four berth, but otherwise, Hawthorn have clearly had the superior season.

The worrying thing about facing the Hawks comes from finding a way to stop their attacking prowess. Lance Franklin is clearly the focal point, but they have more than a few options on the rare occasions that ‘Buddy’ is being negated. Luke Breust, Jarryd Roughead, Cyril Rioli, Jordan Lewis and Jack Gunston, along with ‘Buddy’, have kicked over 20 goals this season, causing severe headaches for defences across the land.

Captain Luke Hodge even got in on the act last week, showing no signs of rustiness in his return game with a five goal performance. This Cats defence will be stretched, and will need to be at their best if they are to create an upset tonight.

Final Say

The Cats have been impressive in the past fortnight, and will certainly be alarming some premiership aspirants with the form that they’ve rediscovered.

However, the Hawks have been hitting that standard for quite some time now, and there is no reason why it should change tonight. Hawthorn should finally break the hoodoo that has haunted them since their last premiership.

Hawks by 23