Trade Period Final Week: Day 3 Wrap – Stevens deal done; Adelaide reaches Tipping point

 

Koby Stevens became a Bulldog today, but the news barely registered a blip on the radar as Adelaide dropped a Tippett bombshell.

In a day marred with controversy, there was still some action to be had on the trade tables as we countdown with two days remaining in the 2012 trade period.

The AFL has launched an official investigation into Adelaide’s last contract with on-the-move forward Kurt Tippett after the Crows board revealed they had come forward last Friday and confessed to a possible issue of draft tampering and outside compensation in Tippett’s 2010-2012 contract.

Crows chairman Rob Chapman said today “it was the right thing to do – we’ll take whatever comes out of it” as the Tippett saga seems set to drag on for at least another day before something eventuates.

The revelation explains why a move that seemed close to completion with Tippett’s preferred destination – the Sydney Swans, who reportedly offered pick 23 (their first round draft pick) and forward Jesse White fell through at the final hour last Friday.

Much now hangs on the results of the AFL’s investigation, with Tippett’s future and a trade with the Swans now teetering on the edge.

In more concrete news, a deal was finally done with West Coast midfielder Koby Stevens, returning home to Victoria to his preferred new home at the Western Bulldogs for their pick 44. The deal comes at just the right time as the Bulldogs prepare to depart for London for an exhibition match with Port Adelaide.

The Eagles however were still steadfast in their desire to retain contracted defender Mitch Brown, again refusing any trade that involved young Saint Jamie Cripps.

On the North Melbourne front, there was barely any news despite the seemingly large number of movements rumoured to be in the works. They did not acquire Port Adelaide defender Ben Jacobs after the Power baulked at the offer of a second round pick.

Matt Campbell, Cruize Garlett and especially Cam Pedersen remain in limbo – the first two without any news and the latter without enough able to be offered from his preferred new destination, Melbourne, to get the deal done. Pick 49 is on the table and the ball is in the Kangaroos’ court as to whether that will be enough as we close in on the 2pm Friday deadline.

One of Melbourne’s big men, Stefan Martin, also has his future up in the air after no information came out after his meeting with the Brisbane Lions on Tuesday.

Finally, Hawthorn defender Stephen Gilham seems very likely to move either to Greater Western Sydney, to add experience and depth to their young line-up (especially after losing young key-position prospect Jack Hombsch to the Power yesterday) or to St Kilda if they indeed cannot secure Brown from West Coast, but no offers are believed to have been tabled.

Join BigFooty News tomorrow for the latest on the Tippett drama and for all confirmed trade news. With such a quiet week so far and so many deals still on the table, we await the countdown to the final feeding frenzy.

Completed Trades:

Western Bulldogs traded second round draft pick (#44) to West Coast for Koby Stevens

 

 

Trade Period Week 1 Wrap: Ohh, we’re halfway there…

The first week of the trade period has come to a close – along with the second week of free agency, and we’ve had quite a bit of action, with six trades total taking place. BigFooty News looks at the move your club has made in the weeks action.

Completed trades are highlighted in bold and players either leaving their clubs or nominating another club are highlighted in italics. To just see the list of completed trades and free agency movements, scroll to the bottom of the page.

Monday

We kicked off the week with the usual flurry of action. The news on everyone’s lips was ex-Crows forward Kurt Tippett’s decision that he wished to be traded to 2012 premiers Sydney, after seemingly originally wanting to leave for reasons of homesickness. We saw little progress on that count for the day, and indeed for the week.

Before the exchange period had even begun, three young players found their new homes via the father son bidding. Although there were obviously no surprises, the news of Lachie Hunter (Western Bulldogs, son of Mark Hunter), Joe Daniher (Essendon, son of Anthony Daniher) and Jack Viney (Melbourne, son of Todd Viney) officially joining their respective clubs led to overall relief and happiness.

Kurt Tippett may have nominated his club, but there was little headway made this week in terms of a trade

As is the case with many father-son picks, it wasn’t just the acquisition of the player, it was the value they’d acquired them for. Lachie Hunter was touted as a second round pick, but the Dogs managed to snag him with their third (currently pick 46, but likely to fall after compensation picks are announced). Viney was rated as a first rounder – indeed, much of the talk leading up to the father-son process was what Melbourne would have to spend if GWS and GC bidded, but luckily for them they got him for a steal at pick 26. The Demons said they were ‘absolutely thrilled’ to the media after the bidding.

Perhaps the biggest bargain of all was Daniher though. Essendon was always going to have to use pick 10, but that is considered a very small price to play for a player that could have gone top 3, or even number 1 according to some recruiters.

The Gold Coast Suns kicked off the proceedings in earnest during the exchange period, getting the first trade done before lunchtime on the opening day. Greater Western Sydney gained the second overall pick in the 2012 draft, while the Suns nabbed freakish youngster Jack Martin with pick 1 in the mini-draft, which they received from the Giants. Other exchanges of picks also occured in the trade – most notably the exchange of end of first round compensation picks from each clubs. The difference between them is that the Giants’ pick now doesn’t expire until 2015, allowing them to bank it for the future.

This marks the second time the Gold Coast have acquired the leading player from the mini-draft in its two year operation. They picked up 17 year old Jaeger O’Meara last year, whom the Suns will unleash on the footballing world in 2013.

An hour later we had another deal on the table. Port Adelaide, as expected, snagged South Australian product Angus Monfries from Essendon. The twist was that instead of using free agency to get Monfries for free, they passed on pick 48 to Essendon. The reasoning behind this was so that the Power wouldn’t miss out on any compensation for departing free agents Danyle Pearce and Troy Chaplin. Monfries said he was excited to return home, and will spend (at least) the next four years there after signing a long-term deal.

Angus Monfries headed back home to South Australia, signing a four year contract with Port Adelaide.

The Josh Caddy and Jared Rivers talks continued (one looking like choosing a home, the other tossing up whether to stay at home) while the first inklings that North Melbourne forward Lachie Hansen may be leaving the club trickled out. It didn’t take long for the next trade to kick off though.

Former Adelaide forward Tom Lee, who did not play senior football for the club, was snagged by St Kilda with pick 12 heading to GWS. The Giants have the right to pre-list any player formerly on a list before the draft (trading up to a maximum of 10), so the Saints were forced to trade. However, getting the jump and paying the price for Lee may reap dividends, as he tore up the WAFL this season and had clubs circling. Along with Lee, the Saints received picks 24 and 43.

Shortly after, the biggest trade of the day came to fruition. Hawthorn were looking for a key defender to bolster their stocks and they got their man. They traded their first and second round picks (#21 and #41) to the Western Bulldogs for Brian Lake and pick 27. Lake enjoyed a fantastic career at the Dogs, playing 197 games and, at his best, being one of the most feared defenders in the competition. But his manager described it as ‘win-win’, with the Hawks gaining the experienced backman they needed and the Dogs securing picks to put them in good stead for the future.

And with that, the shuffling and shaking of the first day ended. The Demons confirmed their interest for Collingwood forward Chris Dawes, the Saints confirmed their interest for West Coast defender Mitch Brown and we waited for the events of the next day.

Brian Lake changed his polo on Day 1, heading to the Hawks to strengthen their backline.

Tuesday

The fires dimmed slightly on Tuesday morning, but there was still some trading to come and stoke them in the works. The uncontracted player pool dwindled once more as Collingwood signed defender cum forward Tyson Goldsack to a two year deal, while the Bulldogs held on to essential big-man Will Minson for another two years also.

So, in tune with the future being the order of the day, GWS locked down the first three picks of the draft in the first trade of the day, acquiring picks 3 and 13 from Melbourne in exchange for their second mini-draft pick, pre-listed player Dominic Barry and pick 20. The Demons grabbed man-mountain 17 year old Jesse Hogan with their MD pick, who has been likened to Jonathan Brown, while Barry is an exciting and speedy 18 year old who rapidly rose up the ranks of local and school football. The Giants had Barry pre-listed in their NT zone, meaning Melbourne would have to trade to get him.

Just when all seemed quiet, Collingwood premiership midfielder Sharrod Wellingham found his way home. West Coast and Collingwood had been trading some minor barbs about offers, but they found an agreeable ground with Wellingham heading west for West Coast’s first round pick (#17).

It was last drinks for Sharrod Wellingham at the Pies, as West Coast traded their first pick for him to join their ranks.

The Jonathan Giles (GWS) talk continued, with Giants list manager Stephen Silvagni confirming disagreements with the offered contract.

Wednesday/Thursday

A relatively quiet couple of days followed, with only deal being finalised and it was a biggun. There was plenty of talk otherwise.

On Wednesday morning, three Hawks (Stephen Gilham, Clinton Young and Tom Murphy) were all talked about as possible movers from the 2012 runners-up. Gilham to former club Port Adelaide, Murphy to the Suns and Young’s tour of Collingwood’s facilities was the big gossip.

After that we heard news from the Gold Coast. Joshua Toy was considering a move to Melbourne, with Hawthorn and Essendon the likely candidates. The big news though came in the form of Josh Caddy finally moving after a deal was organised between the Suns and Geelong. The fine-print still needs to be sorted out, but he is now a Cat and the deal will involve at least Geelong’s first round compensation pick. Funnily enough, this means that both of the picks Geelong received for Gary Ablett will now be heading back to the Suns.

The other important headline of the day was that Brent Moloney was heading to the Brisbane Lions, pending a medical examination. Moloney’s management had reportedly spoken to almost every club around, but Moloney settled on Brisbane after speaking to coach Michael Voss. Later in the week he officially became a Lion after passing this examination.

Brent Moloney began his journey to the jungle on Wednesday, officially becoming a Lion two days later.

Thursday was even quieter, but the atmosphere still felt frenzied as it is wont to do during trade times. The morning was quiet, but we saw some activity in the afternoon. The Tippett talks continued, but some headway was seemingly made as Swans CEO Andrew Ireland said that they had a ‘positive’ meeting with Crows management about a trade for Tippett. He categorically denied all rumours that father-son selection Tom Mitchell was possible trade bait in the scenario.

Shortly after that, we had two players turn their backs on their current clubs. Ben Jacobs, the Port Adelaide defender, and Cruize Garlett, the North Melbourne midfielder, both requested to leave their clubs. The former to return to Victoria, the latter for more opportunity. Expect a deal to be done next week.

Friday

Brent Moloney‘s medical test the night before obviously went swimmingly as he fronted the media in Lions gear and officially became a member of the club for the next two years. Both player and Lions’ recruiters were happy with the deal for the restricted free agent. Melbourne did not contest the deal although they had a right to, having previously said they would allow Moloney to leave.

Just before lunchtime, the Hawks’ Tom Murphy joined the Suns as the rumours had suggested. Although Murphy had said he’d make up his mind ‘over the weekend’, the unrestricted free agent sped up the process and fronted the media. Although he missed the 2008 and 2012 grand finals with the Hawks, he obviously still held a lot of love for the club, saying he was ‘forever grateful’ to them. Murphy played 95 games for the Hawks and was part of the leadership group, even standing in as captain for a game in 2011.

Chris Dawes: Destined to be a Dee?

As the week wrapped up, many of the rumours and trades suggested were still up in the air. Chris Dawes made his decision from the clubs that were circling him (namely Melbourne, the Bulldogs, Carlton and, surprisingly, Brisbane), nominating the Demons. The trade is expected to be wrapped up quickly, with Melbourne reportedly offering their pick 20.

Another wanting to join the Melbourne group was Cameron Pedersen, the North Melbourne utility. Rumours had followed him for a while and he admitted he was looking for more opportunity and saw the Demons as a likely destination.

Friday wrapped up with new Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley saying he was ‘interested’ in the prospect of placing ex-Melbourne forward Liam Jurrah on the rookie list for 2013.

Join BigFooty News next week for wraps of all the trade news as the exchange period continues and free agency wraps up for the year.

Completed Trades, Week 1:

Gold Coast Suns traded first round draft pick (#2), fourth round draft pick (#63) and 2010 end-of-first-round compensation pick to Greater Western Sydney for selection 1 in the GWS mini-draft (Jack Martin) and 2011 end-of-first-round compensation pick

Port Adelaide traded third round draft pick (#48) to Essendon for Angus Monfries

St Kilda traded first round draft pick (#12) to Greater Western Sydney for Tom Lee, second round draft pick (#24) and third round draft pick (#43)

Hawthorn traded first round draft pick (#21) and second round draft pick (#41) to Western Bulldogs for Brian Lake and second round draft pick (#27)

Melbourne traded first round draft picks (#3, #13) to Greater Western Sydney for Dominic Barry, selection 2 in the GWS mini-draft (Jesse Hogan) and first round draft pick (#20)

West Coast Eagles traded first round draft pick (#17) to Collingwood for Sharrod Wellingham

Free Agency Movements, Week 2:

Tom Murphy (Hawtorn, unrestricted) moved to the Gold Coast Suns

Brent Moloney (Melbourne, restricted) moved to the Brisbane Lions

 

 

Sydney take the flag after a Grand Final epic

HAWTHORN                4.5     4.6    9.10    11.15   (81)
SYDNEY SWANS         1.4      7.4      10.5     14.7    (91)


Ryan O’Keefe won the Norm Smith as the Swans triumphed in an amazing contest.

 

Sydney are the 2012 premiers, triumphing over Hawthorn in an absolute epic in front of 99,683 passionate AFL fans.

Ryan O’Keefe took the Norm Smith medal as best on ground, but there were so many winners across the park it could have gone to a number of players. O’Keefe thanked both the South Melbourne and Sydney Swans supporters in his speech. He led from the front all day with 28 disposals, 7 clearances and a whopping 15 tackles.

This was the fifth premiership win in their combined history.

Sydney started slow but blew Hawthorn away in the second quarter, before the Hawks mounted a gigantic fightback, taking the lead in the last term before the Swans kicked in front and held their nerve to take the flag.

Nick Malceski sealed the game with his second amazing goal of the game in the last minute, booting a snap over his shoulder to raucous cheers and hugs from teammates.

There were early injury worries for Sydney, with it being revealed that Jude Bolton would have to go off for surgery after the game, ruckman Shane Mumford rumoured to have hamstring issues and Ted Richards still holding a niggle.

Adam Goodes was one of many Swans carrying a niggle, but produced another fantastic performance when it mattered most.

The much talked about weather didn’t seem to have a big impact early, but it quickly become evident that there was a definite scoring end. Captain Luke Hodge won the toss and the Hawks took advantage of this in the first, with Xavier Ellis kicking the first goal of the match before Nick Malceski responded with a beautiful boundary line snap.

From here, the Hawks squandered chances before putting on a scintillating burst towards the end of the quarter. Lance Franklin kicked his first for the game from a mark and the wind started blowing heavily. It was followed shortly after by goals to Luke Bruest (thanks to some brilliant work by Paul Puopolo) and Jack Gunston (from a quick clearance by Sam Mitchell), and the Hawks were in sight of another before the siren blew to end the first.

One of the highlights of the day came late in the first as Lewis Jetta took on Cyril Rioli in a foot-race. It might have been an omen that Jetta took the chocolates.

The Swans came out firing in the second and held the Hawks goal-less for the term. As the sun started shining on the MCG, so too did it seem to shine on the Swans as they absolutely devastated Hawthorn on the rebound, chiefly thanks to some amazing work by Alex Johnson and Rhyce Shaw. Former Hawk Josh Kennedy booted the first for the term, before Kieran Jack, co-captain Jarrad McVeigh and Sam Reid put the Swans in front.

As the Hawks started going forward, they looked like they could take back the lead before half-time. Enter Mitch Morton, the ex-Richmond and West Coast recruit playing just his 5th game for the Swans. He deftly moved out of congestion and snapped two quick goals to build the lead for Sydney.

Hawthorn had every chance to get it closer before half-time, but Franklin sprayed a set shot out on the full. Clinton Young also had a chance from 50m to bring it back, but he too bombed it towards goal with the same result.

Canadian recruit Mike Pyke really stepped up for Sydney as Mumford looked sore and slow, playing one of his best games for the club.

With main ruckman Shane Mumford carrying a niggle and eventually being subbed off, Mike Pyke stepped up to the plate with gusto.

The weather seemed to dictate Sydney’s play again, and as the skies darkened it did so for Sydney’s chances as well. After a poor kick by Jarryd Roughead for a point, Jetta showed some amazing vision to spot up Jack, who then handpassed to Kennedy who booted his second. Lewis Roberts-Thomson then took a strong mark and kicked his first to take the lead out. It looked dangerous for Hawthorn, but to their credit they responded emphatically.

Facing a 27 point deficit and 42 minutes since their last goal, Hawthorn finally answered through ruckman David Hale. Franklin then kicked his second and the rebound from the defence was totally reversed – it was now all the Hawks. Hodge was playing a strong sweeper role in defence and was cleaning up any stray kicks.

A goal to Gunston and another to Franklin took the margin back to 2 points. Shane Savage was subbed on to take full advantage of the momentum swing and the Hawks hit the front through Issac Smith after another piece of Mitchell brilliance.

Sydney goaled from a 50m penalty against the flow to take the lead back, and Roberts-Thomson took a great mark on their defensive goal-line to ensure they’d keep it going into their last. As the siren went for the third, the Swans were up by one point and hearts were racing.

Hawthorn looked ominous as they begun the last much like they had finished the third – Bruest got the ball over the back and ran into an open goal before Hale kicked a brilliant second from a stoppage. Unfortunately for the Hawks, this was their last goal for the term.

Sydney weren’t phased and Daniel Hannebery, brilliant all day, kicked a goal to bring it back to 6. Jack then followed this up with another goal to level the scores as Hodge went off with the blood rule for the third time in the game.

Brad Sewell was the Hawks’ best player and was outstanding for the losing side.

The Swans pressed as an injured Adam Goodes produced a bit of brilliance to dribble home a goal. Too often in the last quarter Hawthorn did not take their chances, and this was exemplified when Gunston missed an easy shot from the pocket to draw the Hawks closer.

Brad Sewell kicked two behinds in a row before Malceski’s bit of brilliant put the icing on the cake, with his amazing snap the sealer.

Sewell (33 disposals, 11 clearances) and Mitchell (24 disposals, 10 clearances) fought incredibly hard for the Hawks, while Franklin and Hale were strong up forward, but it simply wasn’t enough to match the brilliance the Swans possessed across the park.

The Swans pressure was simply immense all day. They finished the game with a gigantic 110 tackles, with 10 players registering 5 or more.

Jude Bolton got a fairytale, playing badly injured in his 301st AFL game, Canadian Mike Pyke held the number one ruck spot after Mumford was subbed off and Mitch Morton gained a premiership medal at his third club. There are so many stories from this game, and the match itself deserves to go down in Grand Final folklore.

GOALS

Hawthorn: Franklin 3, Breust 2, Gunston 2, Hale 2, Ellis, Smith

Sydney Swans: Jack 2, Kennedy 2, Malceski 2, McVeigh 2, Morton 2, Goodes, Hannebery, Reid, Roberts-Thomson

BEST

Hawthorn: Sewell, Burgoyne, Mitchell, Breust, Hale, Franklin

Sydney Swans: Hannebery, O’Keefe, Pyke, McVeigh, Johnson, Roberts-Thomson, Jetta, Goodes

 

Thanks to everyone for supporting BigFootyNews.com this season. We’ll be back in one form or another next year… after we cover the trade period and the draft. – Chief

4 reasons the Hawks can win, and why none of those reasons matter

Breaking down the two sides, it’s easy to see why this game is impossible to pick.

Well, it’s here. Grand Final Day. It’s been a spectacular 2012 and there’s no reason to expect that isn’t going to stop now, with two closely matched sides poised to fight out what will hopefully be a cracker at the MCG this afternoon.

But what will be the difference for each side today? Since the Hawks are favourites with the bookies, BigFootyNews will look at the 4 biggest reasons they can win, and provide it with a counterpoint from the Swans.

Hawks Grand Final Links

The Hawks have got the best forward line in the competition

On paper, it’s daunting. In reality, it’s bloody scary. The Hawks are easily the highest scoring team in the AFL this season, over 200 points clear of the second-placed Adelaide Crows (not to mention nearly 100 goals clear of their opponents, the Swans). They’ve only been kept to under 90 points 3 times in their 24 games this year, and all 3 of those occasions were early in the season when they were finding their feet.

The focus is usually on Lance Franklin and Cyril Rioli, with good reason, but even if those two were effectively shut-out by Sydney then they have a plethora of back-up options.

Luke Bruest, Jarryd Roughead, Jack Gunston, Paul Puopolo and David Hale have kicked 167 goals between them this year. That’s not even mentioning their options who have primarily played midfield or half-back this season. Jordan Lewis (27 goals), Matt Suckling (16 goals), Isaac Smith (16 goals) and Clinton Young (13 goals) regularly hit the score-board too and can be used up forward to good effect.

The most worrying of these ‘back-ups’ are players like Suckling and Young, who can ignore backlines by kicking goals from 50 metres plus out, as well as Lewis, who can almost play as a key-forward, and captain Luke Hodge who can be devastating if given space. It’s a huge, horrible migraine for opposition coaches and has been so nearly all year.

Jordan Lewis is one of many non-forwards at the Hawks who has been devastating when given the chance.

Counterpoint: Key forwards historically don’t have big games in Grand Finals

The area where the Swans are the weakest is certainly their forward line. Much maligned Hawks backman Ryan Schoenmakers typically takes young Swans forward Sam Reid, and usually beats him. Adam Goodes can be a very effective forward but is better used in various positions as needed. Mitch Morton and Lewis Roberts-Thomson are somewhat unknowns as to what they’ll produce on the big day (although Roberts-Thomson very nearly won a Norm Smith in 2005). But typically, if the contest is tight, the big forwards won’t be the match-winners.

One only has to look at great players like Wayne Carey not tearing it apart in Kangaroos’ GF victories to see the precedent. West Coast had an era near the top of the ladder in the mid-2000s, walking away with a flag, with a very choppy forward setup. Even looking at the best forward of the modern era, Hawthorn’s Lance Franklin, you can see that although he chipped in, he wasn’t a big part of the Hawks 2008 triumph over the Cats.

Add to this the fact that Sydney has the best and stingiest back six in the league and you can see why they’d back themselves in to get the job done.

Swans Grand Final Links

Once the Hawks make it to the big dance, they rarely stumble

Out of their past 15 Grand Final appearances, the Hawks have won 10. Out of Sydney’s last 7, they’ve won a solitary flag. A fair few of the Hawks 2008 premiership stars are either out or retired, but this side looks far more menacing.

Along with players like Hodge, Sam Mitchell, Lewis, Buddy and Sewell having outstanding years and more experience than before, they’ve got players they’ve brought in from elsewhere since then like Hale, spoiler extraordinaire Josh Gibson, Shaun Burgoyne and young forward Gunston, to name but a few.

Counterpoint: The modern Swans are a different side

Now, reading that, it’s easy to say that of course Hawthorn are too, which is true. But they as a side have more recently been in a Grand Final. While the Swans veterans will add incredibly useful experience to the side, the modern Sydney side is very much composed of role-players. That’s not to say there aren’t stars, it’s to say that everybody in the side has a certain role and is expected to perform it. This has been repeated a lot by Sydney players this season.

Even looking at Sydney’s 2005-2006 Grand Final appearances you can see this is a different side. While they’re still very strong defensively, they find space and hurt the opposition a lot more on the rebound than the mid 2000s side. They dictate the play on their terms and hurt the opposition with a superior game-plan. There’s also a lot more x-factor in the current side, and they’ve shown this season on multiple occasions they can kick a big score.

While a big score is unlikely in a Grand Final, it’s hard to see the Swans as the same as the dour, stoppage obsessed team that they were, whereas the Hawks still very much play a similar free-flowing attacking game to 2008.

The BigFooty Gameday Thread –

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Players like Lewis Jetta have given the Swans an X-factor their last premiership side didn’t have.

The MCG is their kingdom

Sydney won’t look into it, but the Hawks should be buoyed knowing that the Swans typically play below their standards at the MCG. Hawthon know the MCG like the back of their hand, while the Swans hardly know it at all. The brown and gold have won its past 11 games against interstate sides at the ground.

It might be considered a neutral venue due to the fan split being more even than in a home and away game, but the evidence is still damning.

Counterpoint: Sydney have proved they can match it with the Hawks on their turf

If the MCG is the Hawk’s kingdom, then Launceston is their fortress. But that didn’t stop a powerful 37 point victory by the Swans earlier this season there, breaking a 7-game winning streak at the ground for the Hawks. While it wasn’t to be the case the second-time around at the SCG, the Swans know that their best can match it with the Hawks.

The question is, if co-captain Adam Goodes and their coach believe the MCG is truly a neutral venue (compared to two venues which obviously weren’t), then will the third time be a charm?

Sam Mitchell has had his best season in 2012, and is one of many big game players

Despite not being captain anymore, Sam Mitchell has gone from strength to strength since the Hawks’ last premiership. Despite not being flashy, he puts in consistent hard, workmanlike performances and is one of the biggest keys in every Hawthorn victory. He very nearly snatched the Brownlow from Essendon’s Jobe Watson this season, and he never leaves anything on the field.

If he has a rare off-game in the Grand Final, then the Hawks can cover him with the likes of Sewell and returning captain Hodge, who won the Norm Smith in 2008. In round 22 Shaun Burgoyne played one of his best games since leaving Port Adelaide when Hawthorn triumphed in Sydney. There’s no shortage of tough players at Hawthorn.

Counterpoint: The Swans have no shortage either

Mitchell’s two least effective games this year have, unsurprisingly, came against Sydney. Kieran Jack went head-to-head with him on both occasions in a run-with role and came out on top. He is the general, and if they can shut him down again it goes a long way to winning. Hodge can replace him but may be needed elsewhere, and although Sewell has been fantastic this year doesn’t have the same presence Mitchell has.

Shaun Burgoyne tore the Swans apart in Round 22, but Sydney coach John Longmire will do everything in his power to avoid a repeat.

The Swans, on the other hand, don’t seem to be worried by a drop in form of any one man. Josh Kennedy is their star midfielder, but co-captain Jarrad McVeigh, veteran Jude Bolton and youngster Dan Hannebery all shoulder the load with him equally.

Coach John Longmire knows how to address problems, and he will no doubt figure out a plan for Shaun Burgoyne. With how he played against them last time, the Hawks would be remiss not to use him in the same role again, and Longmire would be stupid to ignore it.

You could go on and on with comparisons in every facet of the field, but these two teams are incredibly well matched. The first time the Swans and the Hawks face off in a Grand Final couldn’t be better placed than it currently is.

Lets hope it’s one for the ages.

 

 

2012 Brownlow Preview

Brownlow Medal

The 2012 Brownlow Medal looks to be one of the most open in recent years, with up to nine players considered legitimate chances.

As always we expect it to primarily be a midfielder’s award. The shortest price you’ll find for a big man at Sportsbet is ruckman Dean Cox at 150-1, and you need to go down to Tom Hawkins at 250-1 before you’ll find anyone who plays predominantly forward or back.

Bigfooty News takes a look at the top chances:

Trent Cotchin (Richmond) – $4.25

The inspirational Tiger stamped himself as one of the AFL’s elite in 2012, and has been nominated as the equal favourite to take Charlie home. Brett Deledio may well take votes from him in the early rounds, however Cotchin should easily poll the most votes for Richmond in the second half of the year. Expect him to poll well in the final rounds in particular, starting with his 35 disposals and three goals against the Bulldogs in round 20, and a clear best on ground in their final round draw against Port Adelaide.

Gary Ablett (Gold Coast) – $4.25

The 2009 Brownlow winner has polled 20 or more votes in each of the last five seasons. He proved last year that he has no problem polling votes in a losing team with a tally of 23, and many would say he’s had a better year in 2012. The man voted by his peers as the AFL’s most valuable player this year has had 40 or more possessions seven times this year.

Jobe Watson (Essendon) – $5.25

A stunningly consistent year has seen Watson collect 25 or more disposals in 19 of his 22 games, with the Essendon captain spending much of his time right under the umpire’s nose winning the hard ball. Despite the near certainty that team mate Brent Stanton will take some votes from him early, Watson is almost sure to be leading the count up until round 13, and probably even round 16. His form continued throughout the year, but his biggest concern is that Essendon lost their last seven games of the year, often by big margins.

Scott Thompson (Adelaide) – $8.00

The Adelaide ball magnet was at it again in 2012, averaging 29.5 disposals in a side that collected 17 wins. Thompson traditionally polls well, and will be in the umpire’s sights again with the second most clearances in the AFL. With an impressive 30 or more disposals on 12 occasions this year, Thompson is every chance to be in the mix late in the count.

Patrick Dangerfield (Adelaide) – $9.00

The dynamic Adelaide midfielder had his breakout year in 2012, and what a year it was. First in the AFL for hard ball gets, Dangerfield also has the advantage of being explosive when in space. He was often the go to man who stood up in the big moments, and did not miss a game this season.

Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn) – $12.00

Another proven vote getter, Sam Mitchell only just missed out last year with 30 votes. Has had slightly less of the ball than last year, however his creativity by hand, particularly in the big moments, seems to have somehow improved. A clear best on ground with his 32 disposals in Hawthorn’s big win over Carlton in round 14, should be the start of a streak in which Mitchell storms home strongly.

Dane Swan (Collingwood) – $14.00

Last year’s winner after polling 34 votes has averaged 34.7 disposals a week, which is up by four on the 31.7 he averaged in his Brownlow year. He has however played three less games and had six less wins than 2011. Probably has been a little less effective with ball in hand compared to last year, but a previous winner with those sorts of numbers simply cannot be ruled out.

Josh Kennedy (Sydney) – $18.00

With a similar big-bodied style to Jobe Watson, Kennedy’s votes will likely come in bursts. He opened the season with a bang, and could legitimately claim three votes in each of the first five weeks. Is expected to poll less frequently in the middle rounds of the season, however will almost certainly poll votes in each of the last three games.

Dayne Beams (Collingwood) $21.00

Unlikely to poll votes until his 33 disposal game against the Western Bulldogs in round six, however expect to hear his name regularly from this point on.  A dynamic player who is hard to miss when he plays well, Beams averaged 31 disposals a week and often contributed goals.

 

 

Hawthorn’s forward-line nightmare to be too much for battered Crows

Hawthorn v Adelaide

WHERE AND WHEN: MCG, Saturday September 22, 5.15pm

LAST TIME: Hawthorn 21.14 (140) d Adelaide 12.12 (84), round three, 2012 at the MCG

THE LOWDOWN

Adelaide may have proven their credentials to the football world with a hard fought semi-final victory against the Fremantle Dockers last weekend, but they face their toughest task yet as they come up against the Hawks in this weekend’s preliminary final.

Hawthorn are getting to the stage of nearly being unbackable favourites with the bookies, with reports of $100,000 bets and rapidly shortening odds on the premiership coming in. But down at Waverley they aren’t so sure, talking up Adelaide’s chances and pointing to their NAB Cup form, dangerous midfield and twin tower forward line as points of concern.

Are the Hawks just trying to throw off the football world? Yesterday it was reported that Hawthorn have already been making Grand Final preparations in parts of Melbourne, sending out letters warning of roads closing. Even Adelaide coach Brenton Sanderson admits they’ll need some luck.

They’re a really good side and we acknowledge their best is almost hard to get near. We’ll do everything we possibly can to be at our best. Hopefully our best is good enough, but we’ll certainly need Hawthorn not to play at their best.

However, the stage is set with some interesting parallels to the Crow’s 1997 and 1998 premiership nears, in which they headed into preliminary finals against the Western Bulldogs as huge underdogs. Assistant Coach Mark Bickley says in this case, their underdog status is even greater, but if there’s one thing finals football tends to prove it’s that history has a funny way of coming back and rearing its head.

THE MIDFIELD

On to the game itself, it does seem wrong to say that Adelaide are without a chance to take down the Hawks. Although they were thumped by Hawthorn in their only home and away meeting this year, they recorded 17 wins for the year and their tough semi-final victory will no doubt have steeled their resolve.

It’s imperative for the Crows that they don’t continue their poor starts in their first two finals – letting Sydney and Fremantle get the jump on them made things much more difficult than they should have been.

Both teams do possess powerful midfields, but the Crows’ x-factors in Patrick Dangerfield and Rory Sloane present a powerful headache. Alistair Clarkson is more a fan of the head to head midfield match-ups than putting on a hard tag, but he would surely have to consider sending young Liam Shiel to one of these two to restrict their influence. If Dangerfield especially could get off the leash, his ruthless attack on the ball and line-breaking ability is a dangerous factor.

Sam Mitchell and Scott Thompson are the midfield generals and both know what they’re in for come game time. They’re veteran campaigners; hard-nosed in and under types who can accumulate, get clearances and carry their team if things go right for them. Mitchell was stiff to miss out on All-Australian selection, but, as is his style, is highly unlikely to be at all fazed by the omission.

The other important midfield battle, the ruck, rests on the shoulders of another unfortunate to miss out on the All-Australian team, Sam Jacobs. He about broke even with Hawthorn ruckman David Hale in their last meeting, but over the season has proven himself to be easily his superior. He will no doubt win the hit-outs, but will need to shove the ball down the throat of his midfield brigade to give them first use at getting them forward.

THE FORWARDS

Coincidentally, the respective forward lines (and the corresponding defences) of both teams are no doubt the most important match-up in this battle. This is where the game will be won and lost.

The Crows situation is interesting. Last time against the Hawks Taylor Walker was well held by Josh Gibson, who punished them on the rebound. However Walker is in scintillating form and willed his team over the line against Fremantle – there’s no doubt Gibson’s job will be far tougher and more important this time. Walker desperately needs fellow big target Kurt Tippett to stand up, and against relatively inexperienced defender Ryan Schoenmakers is the perfect time to do so.

Tippett has been woeful in the first two finals for the Crows, but he looked incredibly threatening when they played the Hawks earlier this year. He booted 3 goals which could have been upwards of 6 if he converted better, and took some powerful contested marks. Question marks have been raised about his attack on the contest after recent concussion woes, but there are no excuses for Tippett here. He needs to shape up and throw his weight around against a smaller and less experienced opponent.

The Crows small and medium brigade is a strong one too. Despite not setting the world alight in the first two finals, Ian Callinan and Graham Johncock have both proved livewires when they’re on song. They’re ably assisted by Jason Porplyzia, who had a strong game against Fremantle and provides a proper third target for the Crows going forward. Their midfield are known goal-kickers as well.

THE PROBLEM

Adelaide faces a worry familiar to all teams that face the Hawks though, their all-star forward line. Facing the Hawthorn attack is like facing the Miami Heat – with so many stars and so much talent, who do you go to? Lance Franklin is their LeBron James and if he is let off the leash will absolutely wreak havoc. The Crows have been cruelled by injuries to key defenders this finals series, first losing Rising Star winner Daniel Talia to an arm injury and last weekend losing Sam Shaw. They will most likely back in veteran defender Ben Rutten to do the job as he was fantastic at shutting out Fremantle’s Matthew Pavlich, but coach Sanderson needs to be ready to make the switch as soon as danger presents, as Franklin’s mobility could easily catch Rutten off-guard and leave him hanging.

Andy Otten has been brought in for Shaw. He nearly won the Rising Star himself in 2009, but has battled form woes since. Expect him to line-up on Jarryd Roughead, and David Hale when Roughead goes into the ruck for short periods. This match up is one that is obviously more suited for Rutten, and Sanderson will have to make the switch here as well if the signs are ominous. It’s really a case of putting Rutten wherever the biggest trouble is.

This still leaves the Hawks smaller brigade though, and they often tear the opposition up, even if ‘Buddy’ and Roughead aren’t firing. Cyril Rioli, Paul Puopolo, Jack Gunston, Luke Bruest, Isaac Smith…rattling off each of these names in succession would send a shiver down an opposition coaches’ spines. Alone they would be dangerous enough.

PREDICTION

If Talia and Shaw were playing you could almost back in Adelaide to hold Hawthorn’s talls, but without them it’s a nightmare. They will need to play every minute of the four quarters, apply constant pressure and hope Hawthorn are off their game. With Hawthorn having the week off and Adelaide coming off a rough final, it’s a tough, tough ask.

Sadly for Crows’ fans, Adelaide’s 2012 will come to an end on Saturday, barring some kind of miracle performance. Expect Adelaide to be tough, but also expect Hawthorn to win their 14th game in 15 matches and advance to the Grand Final.

Hawthorn by 33.

TEAMS

Hawthorn

B: Grant Birchall, Josh Gibson, Benjamin Stratton
HB: Matt Suckling, Ryan Schoenmakers, Shaun Burgoyne
C: Jordan Lewis, Sam Mitchell, Xavier Ellis
HF: Jack Gunston, Lance Franklin, Isaac Smith
F: Cyril Rioli, Jarryd Roughead, Luke Breust
Foll: David Hale, Luke Hodge, Brad Sewell
I/C: Clinton Young, Liam Shiels, Shane Savage, Paul Puopolo
Emg: Max Bailey, Thomas Murphy, Kyle Cheney

In: Jordan Lewis, Clinton Young
Out: Brendan Whitecross (Knee), Thomas Murphy

Adelaide

B: Luke Thompson, Ben Rutten, Michael Doughty
HB: Brodie Smith, Andy Otten, Brent Reilly
C: David Mackay, Scott Thompson, Bernie Vince
HF: Rory Sloane, Taylor Walker, Jared Petrenko
F: Ian Callinan, Kurt Tippett, Jason Porplyzia
Foll: Sam Jacobs, Patrick Dangerfield, Nathan van Berlo
I/C: Richard Douglas, Graham Johncock, Ricky Henderson, Matthew Wright
Emg: Brodie Martin, Aidan Riley, Josh Jenkins

In: Andy Otten
Out: Sam Shaw (Hamstring)

 

All Un-Australian – The Worst 22 in the AFL 2012

Credit: flickr.com/photos/affers/6845441104/

The criteria for this list of the worst possible footy team of 2012 players were no first year players and a minimum of 10 games played for the year. We mostly stuck with that, but a few special exceptions were made.

Thanks to the dozens and dozens of people who posted on the BigFooty.com All Un-Australian thread.

Without further ado, here is the

2012 All Un-Australian Squad

FB: Alipate Carlilie – Jared Brennan – Aaron Joseph

HB: Paul Bower – James Sellar – Simon Buckley

C: Todd Banfield – Rhys Palmer – Jared Petrenko

HF: Tyrone Vickery – Chris Dawes – Patrick McGinnity

FF: Israel Folau – Justin Koschitzke (c) – Campbell Brown (vc)

FOLL: Matthew Lobbe – Tom Logan – Justin Sherman

I/C: Nathan Djekrrkura – Andrejis Everitt – Ed Curnow

SUB: Addam Maric

Backs:

Alipate Carlilie (PORT) – Conceded a ridiculous amount of goals (second only to Phil Davis from GWS, who gets a slight pass due to his team never not being under fire) and doesn’t impact at all going the other way. If the Power are to improve, he needs to either shape up or ship out.

Jared Brennan (GC) – Who else to have on the last line of defense than the most unaccountable player in the AFL? Once looking like some kind of prodigy, he has slowly degenerated into the lazy, disinterested tall we see today. All the talent in the world with absolutely none of the application – dropped from the Gold Coast team when they were on the brink of a second straight wooden spoon (thankfully for them, it paid off).

Aaron Joseph (CARL) – Started the season okay, was inexplicably was sub a couple of times and only continued to be played out of sheer necessity due to injuries and suspensions at the Carlton camp. Slow, with incredibly poor disposal and weak defensive work – definitely not someone a challenging side like the Blues wants in their backline.

Half-backs:

Paul Bower (CARL) – At age 24, should be starting to come into his own, but refuses to throw his weight around and goes missing whenever the slightest bit of pressure is put on. Again, somebody who was needed due to injuries, but only provided something when the Blues absolutely belted their opponent. Needs a change of scenery and a wake-up call.

James Sellar (MELB) – A high draft pick who was given another chance by Melbourne and went on to completely unreward them. Was played in defense early and gave nothing, then kicked some token goals when shifted into offense as Melbourne improved to close out the season. Should not be given another contract and if he is held, it should be for a ‘break glass in case of emergency’ type role.

Simon Buckley (COLL) – Another player who, at 25, should be hitting his straps, but is constantly let down by some of the most abysmal kicking in the league. How he gets a game in a stellar Collingwood lineup is anyones guess.

Centre:

“Todd Banfield: Plays like hands have soap all over them.” | Credit: flickr.com/photos/roger-the-sheep/

Todd Banfield (BRIS) – Named in the midfield as he played up the ground a bit this season, which was to ill-effect. Once one of the shining lights of Brisbane’s future, was completely eclipsed by the likes of Dayne Zorko and Josh Green and no longer seems necessary in their line-up. His fumbling is legendary – he constantly attacks the ball at full tilt and either spills the pick-up or leaves it behind. Plays like his hands have soap all over them. After 51 goals in his first two seasons he kicked only 6 this year – 4 of them coming in smashings against Melbourne and GWS. Was dropped in round 20 after a string of 5 games where he averaged 6.2 possessions and booted only one goal. His lauded defensive pressure has also totally gone missing.

Rhys Palmer (GWS) – A poorly advised pick-up by the Giants, Palmer hasn’t seemed to improve his awful kicking at all. Can get his hands on it and put pressure on, but constantly delivers hospital passes to team-mates and puts them under enormous pressure negating any of his own. Looks like another Rising Star who won’t live up to the potential at this stage, but at least he’ll have a nice pay packet to retire on. It’s very difficult to see the Giants keeping him on once their young group matures, despite his own young age.

Jared Petrenko (ADEL) – Another small forward who plays up the ground sits on the opposite wing to Banfield. It was hard not to feel devastated for Petrenko after he hurt his shoulder in the semi-final against Fremantle, but to be brutally honest it won’t hurt Adelaide’s chances. Has played 22 of a possible 24 in the team that came second, but has booted only 16 goals and averaged 10.5 disposals. Granted, he has been sub a few times, but he often comes up with atrocious numbers even in that situation – even coming up donuts and bagels, all zeroes on the stats sheet, in Round 4 against the Giants.

Half-forwards:

Tyrone Vickery (RICH) – Played 9 games for the year, but one of the exceptions that had to be included (substitute Tom Williams from the WBD, the worst set shot kick in the competition, if needs be). Looked an absolute star in the making in his 2011 season, booting 36 goals, providing relief in the ruck and even nabbing himself a couple of Brownlow votes. Has gone completely backwards this year and was known more for dropping simple chest marks and being ineffective front of the sticks than anything else. Played most of the first half of the season before leaving the senior line-up and not returning for the rest of the year. Richmond will be hoping this year was just an aberration.

Chris Dawes (COLL) – One that could also have been said to have gone backwards, only he had little to go backwards from. Was serviceable in Collingwood’s 2010 premiership year, but nowadays seems to only get consistent games due to his size rather than any talent. 15 goals in 22 games from a key-forward in a top 4 team is abysmal, no matter how you cut it. Was dropped after an atrocious effort against West Coast in Round 22 (including a now-famous dropped chest mark from a simple short kick), but to his credit fought back a bit in the qualifying final against Hawthorn. To put it plainly, imagine a poor man’s Jarryd Roughead having a terrible season, and that’s Dawes’s 2012 in a nutshell.

Patrick McGinnity (WCE) – Nearly managed to escape All Un-Australian ‘honours’ after a solid two finals games, but still deserves it after being another who consistently gets a game in a very strong side without seeming to contribute much. Is, hypothetically, a defensive forward, but has atrocious disposal and doesn’t contribute nearly enough on the scoreboard (0.5 goals a game in 2012 on average). Understandable that he was in the West Coast side when they were cursed with injuries, but as good players started coming back and others pushed for selection, he remained, contributing little.

Forwards:

Israel Folau (GWS) – Although it almost feels completely too easy to pick on a cross-code player on big bucks after a dismal debut season, it can’t be argued that he doesn’t deserve a place in the team. Despite the other NRL convert, Karmichael Hunt, having a strong second season, most eyes were on Folau and how he’d fair. It wasn’t good. Played 13 games and kicked 2 goals, while averaging 6.2 disposals and 5 hit-outs. Hopefully will improve as Karmichael has, but at the moment if Chris Dawes is a poor man’s Jarryd Roughead, Israel Folau is a poor man’s Chris Dawes.

Justin Koschitzke (c) (STK) – At 29 years of age had one of his worst seasons. Had one good game for the year and the rest ranged from average to absolutely horrible. As his senior team-mates up forward Nick Riewoldt and Stephen Milne prospered, he absolutely floundered. Looked more uncoordinated than he ever has, and that’s saying something. Capped off his season with 1 handball and 1 hit-out against Geelong in round 22 before rightfully being subbed off. Made captain due to seniority and probably being more co-ordinated at talking than football.

Campbell Brown (vc) (GC) – The infamous Hawks faux hard-man turned Suns small forward, Campbell Brown has been at his absolute worst this year. Gives no leadership and continually gets suspended, providing exactly the type of example you don’t want for a young side. Chips in with a couple of goals from time to time, but his disposal count is woeful, pressure is nowhere near enough and seems to merely play to justify his price.

Followers:

Matthew Lobbe (PORT) – The second 9 gamer on the list (substitute Zac Smith, the ruckman with the worst case of sophomore blues ever, if needs be), Lobbe is a truly atrocious stop-gap in a team screaming out for a ruckman. Was good in his first game in the 2012 side against Geelong (32 hit-outs, 9 tackles, 2 goals) before seemingly giving up. Offers nearly nothing around the ground, floats in an out of games at will and is just not what the Power need going forward. They have Jarrad Redden – a far more talented prospect often being overlooked for Lobbe and Brent Renouf, the Hawks premiership ruckman, waiting in the wings when he gets over his injuries. Something has to be done sooner rather than later. When you consider Jonathan Giles is playing very good football at GWS and they delisted the talented Daniel Bass, who is playing well in the SANFL, the ruck situation at Port is a bit of a head-scratcher.

Tom Logan (PORT) – Placed at the ‘in and under’ midfield spot as he does try hard. He really does try his heart out. But he is an awful football player. Terrible disposal, doesn’t apply enough pressure and whatever impact he has on games is not positive. Congratulations for him on managing to get to 100 games after being booted from Brisbane, but I don’t expect there will be many more. Merely a stop-gap at best as the Power players develop.

Justin Sherman (WBD) – The personification of downhill skier. Could be of some use in a team really pushing up the ladder as he offers something as an outside man, but at the Dogs is just an awful football player and a waste of a list spot. Only managed 10 games in a heavily struggling side, kicking 4 goals as a ‘goal kicking midfielder’ and getting under 15 disposals in over half of his games in 2012. Needs to be traded, immediately, while he still has some semblance of value left.

Interchange:

Nathan Djekurra (WBD) – Recently announced his retirement at 23 years old due to family commitments and it might be a blessing in disguise for the Dogs. Played 13 games but offered nothing in every single one of them – even in a couple of the Dogs rare wins he gave only a token goal. Is meant to be a pacy small forward but he is deceivingly slow and doesn’t hit the scoreboard. The Dogs have some fantastic young talent and Djekurra staying around would only have robbed one of them of game-time.

Andrejs Everitt (SYD) – Famously came on as the sub against Geelong and kicked the match-winning goal. Apart from that he, um, well, lets not talk about anything apart from that in his 2012 season. Could be fairly described as ‘pretty useless’ as a key forward and has been taken over by the likes of Mitch Morton, Trent Dennis-Lane and Tommy Walsh in the Swans tall pecking order.

Ed Curnow (CARL) – What position is he meant to be playing? Is he a wing? Tagger? Defensive forward? Back-flank? Is he any of these at all? Only 22, so deserves a chance at the Blues or somewhere else as he has shown glimpses of promise, but desperately needs to lock-down a position and improve as at the moment nothing seems to stick.

Addam Maric: One solid game for the year.

Sub:

Addam Maric (RICH) – A specialist sub, simply because it’s too dangerous for Richmond to play him for a full game. Picked up from Melbourne for a year and now delisted by his second club, Maric was unbelievably bad at some stages this year. Is apparently a forward, but it’s hard to tell as he gets few disposals and only kicked one goal in what is sure to be his last AFL season. Is perhaps a bad omen too, as his one solid game for the year was in the infamous loss to Gold Coast after the siren. Worth a try, but absolutely not worthy and the Tigers did the right thing by getting rid of him.

Weapon of Mass Destruction hits The Hangar: Essendon 2012 Review

Ladder position: 11th

Win/loss: 11 wins, 11 losses, 100.05%

Season

More so than any in living memory, Essendon’s 2012 was a season of two halves. The Bombers were the talk of the AFL and sitting 8-3 at the half way mark, only to see their list fall apart at the seams in the last eleven games.

There were many positive signs early on, the most important of which was Essendon’s defensive pressure in all areas of the ground. As a unit they were able to consistently choke up the better sides between the arcs, and put a few of the weaker sides to the sword.

Injury was a concern for the forwards even in the first half of the year, robbing the Essendon forward line of continuity. However with the half back line and midfield so far on top, they were still leading the AFL for marks inside the forward 50.

Brent Stanton’s running ability has never been questioned, however early in the year he looked to have dramatically improved his ability to win the hard ball as well as his defensive accountability. Likewise David Zaharakis and Ben Howlett were playing great footy through the midfield, and Jobe Watson took his game to new heights.

Tom Bellchambers and Patrick Ryder controlled the ruck most weeks as they found career best form, whilst Dustin Fletcher, Cale Hooker and Jake Carlisle shut down the opposition key forwards with regularity.

It was looking like a fairytale rise up the ladder for James Hird and his men before the longer term consequences of Dean Robinson’s extreme fitness program started to coming to the fore. Week by week the soft tissue injuries began to add up. With monotonous regularity Essendon would find themselves with two or three more players snapping hamstrings or tearing calf muscles, in what eventually proved to be one of the worst runs of soft tissue injuries in living memory.

The end result saw Essendon fielding teams with far too many underdone players, and playing like a team that had no rhythm or cohesion. The season that promised so much for the Bombers at the half way mark, eventually had the fans simply wishing it would end.

Key Man – Jobe Watson

Clearly the best Bomber for 2012, Watson is considered by many to be a red hot chance to win the Brownlow. One thing is for sure, he will win the Essendon best and fairest by a country mile. His in and under grunt work brings fellow midfielders into the game, and his work rate and consistency is second to none.

Most Improved

After missing all bar four games with a knee injury in 2011, Courtenay Dempsey is an unlucky runner up after a career best season this year. However the most improved for 2012 would have to go to Tom Bellchambers, who took the leap from fringe player to number one ruckman. He regularly had the better of some of the best in the business, and was often forced to do it alone with regular injuries to Ryder and David Hille.

Biggest Letdown

Whilst many Essendonians would point to a dreary June night at the MCG when the Bombers failed to overcome Melbourne, the biggest letdown has to be the fitness program implemented by Robinson. The long term merits of his program will become evident one way or another in the next 12-24 months, however no individual at the Essendon Football Club could claim to have affected their ladder position more than the man they call “the Weapon”.

Needs

Another quality midfielder is number one on the Bomber’s wish list. Essendon are widely tipped to have a second try at trading for Josh Caddy after missing out in last year’s trade period, however any and every quality midfielder must be considered a target.

Expectations for 2013

Making the finals will be the bare minimum expected from this list, and expect to hear rumblings from within if they fall short again. If the Bombers can improve their fitness and conditioning and deliver better player management, they should have the talent to win their first final in almost a decade.

Crows advance in thriller

 

adelaide logo fremantle logo finals 2012
The Crows have reversed a 29 point deficit to record a victory against Fremantle in a cut-throat semi-final on Friday night.

ADELAIDE 1.3 4.7 8.9 12.9 (81)

FREMANTLE 4.1 7.2 8.4 11.5 (71)

The Adelaide Crows have finally hushed all naysayers, coming back from a 29 point deficit to record an outstanding third quarter surge and hard fought 10 point victory at AAMI Stadium on Friday night.

Key forward Taylor Walker – often noticed only for his mullet and not his goal-kicking nous, was absolutely outstanding for the home crowd as they triumphed in front of 31,742 fans, marching onwards to a preliminary final berth against the Hawks.

Jason Porplyzia (23 disposals, 11 marks, 3 goals), captain Nathan van Berlo (17 disposals, 9 marks, 6 tackles) and midfield general Scott Thompson (27 disposals, 6 tackles) were also strong for the home-team, while Ben Rutten held a limp-looking Matthew Pavlich to a solitary goal after he dismantled Geelong in the previous week’s elimination final.

For the visitors, David Mundy (30 disposals) could hold his head high, while Michael Walters and Chris Mayne booted 3 goals each to add some potency to the forward-line.

Fremantle burst out of the blocks looking ominous, booting 4 goals to 1 in a first quarter that was nearly as damaging as their opening the week prior. Adelaide did their best to reel it in in the second quarter, breaking the strangehold of pressure that was their undoing in their qualifier against the Sydney Swans. Ross Lyon’s Dockers team had clearly learned from that and were trying to replicate it, but as Adelaide started to click, Fremantle couldn’t keep up.

With Ryan Crowley keeping Crows’ star Patrick Dangerfield very quiet, it was left to Thompson to lead the way and they managed to find time and space they hadn’t previously. Fremantle will rue a patch before half-time where Adelaide booted two quick goals – one to Porplyzia and one to Walker after the siren, to bring it back to 13 points at the half.

Crows Take Over

The third quarter belonged to Adelaide as Walker took the game by the scruff and made the Fremantle defence look foolish. Alex Silvagni, in key defender Luke McPharlin’s absence, was clearly not up to the task as Walker ran rampant, booting two quick goals and providing one of the plays of the night when he evaded three Fremantle defenders and gifted fellow forward Kurt Tippett one of the easiest goals of his career.

Taylor Walker stood up on the big stage, booting 5 goals and proving to be a match winner for the Crows.

Coach Ross Lyon defended his decision not to take Silvagni off Walker on SEN after the game, saying with the pressure lagging upfield it wouldn’t have made a difference.

The Walker show was not helped by two costly misses by Fremantle midfielder Stephen Hill when the game was at its tightest – first cannoning a running shot into the post and then missing a fairly elementary set shot from 25m after a free kick.

Adelaide took the lead courtesy of Matthew Wright just before three-quarter time, their first lead of the night. The Dockers seemed to snap back into reality booting the first two goals of the last as Fremantle surged, but Adelaide were able to hold on to ensure that talk of straight sets would remain a mere passing thought. Walker provided the icing on the cake with the Crows’ last two goals of the game, including the sealer with three minutes left on the clock.

The win was slightly soured by injuries to forward Jared Petrenko, left in tears after a shoulder injury when the game was nearly over, and defender Sam Shaw, who injured his hamstring and was subbed out early in the match.

This leaves the Crows with headaches coming into next weeks preliminary final, but for now they can do naught but breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy a hard fought comeback and well-deserved victory.

Fremantle’s 2012 campaign is over and their coach summarised the night for the men in purple perfectly:

That’s footy. If you don’t play for four quarters you miss your opportunity.

 GOALS

Adelaide: Walker 5, Porplyzia 3, Dangerfield, Wright, Tippett, Vince

Fremantle: Mayne 3, Walters 3, Ballantyne, Ibbotson, Fyfe, Suban, Pavlich

BEST

Adelaide: Walker, Rutten, Thompson, Porplyzia, Vince, Van Berlo, Smith

Fremantle: Mundy, Johnson, Walters, Barlow, Duffield, Mayne, Sandilands

Official Crowd

31,742

Disappointed Facebookers

11,939

Scintillating Eagles Rout Roos

WEST COAST                     7.4      11.8    15.11  24.18   (162)
NORTH MELBOURNE        0.3      2.8      8.10    9.12     (66) 

In one of the most complete performances of the season West Coast dismantled a very dissapointing North Melbourne side by in the second elimination final.

In scenes reminiscent of Fremantle’s win of the night before the Eagles put on a clinic. They blitzed the Kangaroos, building a 43 point lead at quarter time effectively ending the game early.

West Coast were unstoppable all day, they ran on top of the ground and sliced through any North resistance with ease. The reoccurring image of the day was that of a Eagles player bounding down the wing in endless space and delivering a perfect pass into the forward line.

They beat North Melbourne in every facet of the game, the most significant of which was the midfield. Naitanui and Cox in his 250th game were dominant in the ruck while the foot soldiers including Kerr and Selwood were so good the Roos just couldn’t get their hands on the ball.

North Melbourne will be left wondering how? After such a good second half of the season they were a chance of causing an upset but to serve up a performance such as that is embarrassing.

With so many great performances it is hard to single out a single best player but West Coast had many nominees. Andrew Embley was back at his Norm Smith winning best with 4 goals, 22 disposals and 11 inside 50’s and plenty of run.

Both ruckman monstered Goldstein both in the air and around the ground while Jack Darling and Josh Kennedy had field days king four goals each.

As for North few could put their hand up and say they broke even.  Andrew Swallow was excellent in the midfield, he battled hard all day gathering 31 disposals. Ziebell was also in the same boat , putting his body on the line for 30 possessions 18 contested. Matt Campbell was the most productive forward with 3 goals.

The destructive opening quarter contained 7 Eagles goals to none. Their run and spread combined with accurate disposal left North with no answer.

In the second it was only after West Coast kinked the first two goals before North Started showing any form of resistance. Campbell kicked their first halfway through 15 minutes into the quarter. The story of the quarter was an injury to Beau Waters who hurt his foot and looks like missing next week.

After half time the Kangaroos began to make an indent on the scoreboard kicking 6 goals.  West Coast also managed 4 goals and it was clear that North struggled to get those goals while every one of West Coast’s came with ease.

In the last quarter the Eagles went into party mode evient by the resulting mexican waves in the crowd. Kennedy. Lynch and Kerr all kicked straight in the 9 goal last quarter even Naitanui and Cox kicked goals as they rested forward.

West Coast will now go on to face Collingwood at the MCG on Friday Night.

GOALS
West Coast: 
Darling 4, Embley 4, Kennedy 4, Lynch 3, Hill, Mackenzie, Shuey, McGinnity, Masten, Cox, Naitanui, Hurn, Kerr
North Melbourne: Campbell 3, Harvey 3, Hansen, Cunnington, Petrie

BEST
West Coast:
 Darling, Embley, Naitanui, Kerr, Cox, S. Selwood, Butler, Hurn
North Melbourne: Swallow, Ziebell, Campbell, Cunnington, Thompson

INJURIES
West Coast:
 Beau Waters (right foot)
North Melbourne: Nil

SUBSTITUTES
West Coast: 
Beau Waters replaced by Jacob Brennan in the second quarter
North Melbourne: Robbie Tarrant replaced by Kieran Harper in the third quarter

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Donlon, McBurney, Jeffery

Official crowd: 41,790 at Patersons Stadium