Pies Steal the Show From Dons and Dogs

NAB Cup Logo

Collingwood took away the points in the first games of the 2013 NAB Cup, pipping Essendon by 2 points and the Western Bulldogs by 18. Earlier in the night the Bombers were able to put the controversy of the last two weeks behind them and defeat the Dogs by 26 points.

ESSENDON    1.2.4    1.5.6 (45)  WESTERN BULLDOGS     1.0.3    1.1.4 (19)

A strong second half from Essendon ensured that they were able to come away with the first win of the NAB cup. The Western Bulldogs held on early but could not keep up for the whole match.

Tom Bellchambers opened the scoring a few minutes in with a strong mark and goal, but the Dogs replied quickly with a super goal from Shaun Higgins who made the most of an advantage call from a free kick.

However that was just about all the Dogs could muster in terms of goals for the rest of the game. They were able to hold Essendon to one normal goal plus a super goal from  Kyle Hardingham for the rest of the half.

The second half was all Essendon though as they were able to maintain a lot of possession and a Bulldogs forward structure was nowhere to be seen.

It was the Bombers small men who did the damage on the scoreboard, with Alwyn Davey and Corey Dell’Olio converting on the high number of inside 50’s. Nick Kommer finished off the win with a goal on the siren.

What Essendon Can Take Away

-Brendon Goddard will be a brilliant pickup for the Dons. He had a game high 13 disposals and looked right at home in the red and black. He will enjoy being in a midfield with the likes of Jobe Watson and Brent Stanton  as they will take some pressure off him. The rest of the team will also enjoy his presence, they are already looking to give it to him as often as possible.

– Their defence showed promising signs, Jake Carlisle was excellent across half back taking some good defensive marks. Michael Hibberd also gathered plenty of the ball and could could become a permanent fixture if he can stay  injury free.

What the Western Bulldogs Can Take Away

– The Dogs have picked up some handy players who can become great contributors for them this year. Nick Lower held his own in the midfield with 11 disposals while Brett Goodes, brother of Adam was impressive off the half back and looks like a must have for your fantasy team.

-The Bulldogs really need to find a answer to their problems up forward before the season starts. On two consecutive forward entries, Liam Picken was their only forward inside 50. Although he was trying to shut down Dustin Fletcher, that is no way to run a forward line.

WESTERN BULLDOGS  1.0.5   1.2.10    (31)                 COLLINGWOOD                 0.2.3   0.4.5    (29)

The Western Bulldogs were able to put up a bit more of a fight in their second game of the night but the class of a rusty Collingwood team proved to be the difference.

The Dogs got off to a perfect start with a Daniel Giansiracusa goal straight from the center clearance.  From there the first half was pretty scrappy, the Magpies were taking a while to get into the game while the Bulldogs poor disposal  was hurting them.

Magpie goals came from turnovers, including Brent Macaffer’s first since his ACL, a nice crumbing goal from Jamie Elliot and Quinten Lynch’s first in the black and white. However the Bulldogs matched it with a few of their own includnig one from Troy Dixon to put them up by 2 points at the break.

After the break the Western Bulldogs faded again, after the first goal to Jarrad Grant they began to fall into the same traps of poor disposal and a poor forward line structure.

While Collingwood were not brilliant their talent, exemplified by Dane Swan’s super goal from a perfectly executed boundary throw in ensured that they would take the points.

What The Western Bulldogs Can Take Away

 There were some good signs from some of their youngsters, Lin Jong and Clay Smith were both able to get their hands on plenty of the ball. Jason Johannisen also showed some dash off the half back line. However they all still faced one big problem which is:

-Disposal efficiency. This was terrible for the Bulldogs and not only created goals for the opposition but stopped many of their own chances. They can make life a lot easier for themselves if they can just hit targets.

What Collingwood Can Take Away 

– Collingwood blooded plenty of new faces, most of which will be happy with their performances. The acquisitions from other teams played their roles, Lynch’s goal and set up to Travis Cloke was promising while Clinton Young Seemed to fit in well. Mature age recruit Kyle Martin also gathered plenty of the ball and will vie for a spot it upgraded.

– The Pie’s forward line also seemed to function well, it was at times their downfall last year but at its best it can be unstoppable. Cloke kicked his usual couple while Jamie Elliot provided great crumbing and pressure. Macaffer will also add another Dimension this year.

COLLINGWOOD  1.0.5   1.2.10    (31)                 ESSENDON                 0.2.3   0.4.5    (29)

Collingwood snatched an unlikely victory from Essendon with two goals in the last minute after the Bombers had been in control all game.

The first of the game went to Lewis Jetta with a nice front and center gather and quick finish. The Pies then fired back after a turnover as Ben Sinclair put through a 9 pointer.

From there the game descended into a tough scrap, with both teams having opportunities but neither converting. It took Dyson Heppell to pounce on a loose handball and kick a goal to brake the deadlock.

After half time Essendon turned the screws putting the preassure on the Pies and retaining possession. Jetta kicked his second early and Brendon Goddard’s first goal for the Bombers made it look like the Dons would take out their second win for the night but it wasn’t to be.

With only a minute left and 11 points down Andrew Krakouer, as he always does managed to thread the ball through a pack for a goal. The Magpies won the resulting center clearance only to manage a behind; but the kickout that followed came back with interest as Travis Cloke converted a free kick to take the lead.

Luke Davis had a shot after the siren to win the game, but from 65 meters out he never looked like making the distance.

What Collingwood Can Take Away

-The Pies had a new look ruck combination in the second half of the night consisting of Jarrod Witts and Ben Hudson. Hudson showed that he can be called upon if needed but  Witts was raw and may need some more development. However Hudson’s experience will be  invaluable and Witts can only improve and may become a force if he does.

– The play that will have brought the most joy to Collingwood supporters was Clinton Young’s overlap on the half back line and booming kick right to the Quinten Lynch on the 50m arc. Although Lynch missed, it is plays like that which the Pies will hope to replicate often this year.

What Essendon Can Take Away

-The Bombers showed plenty of resilience after a long preseason. Although they lost against Collingwood the performance in both games was promising despite what they have been through over the last few weeks. That heat will not disappear during the season but they showed that they can deal with it and still play good footy.

-Essendon also had a play that they will hope define their season. Patty Ryder put a perfect tap down the the throat of Goddard who went streaming forward and set up a shot at goal. Again it was only a behind but it is because of that brilliance that the Bombers got Goddard.

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.

Kick it to the S#!t House – Review

‘Kick it to the S#!T HOUSE’, compiled by Michael Winkler and prefaced by Dennis Cometti, is a book that is charming in its unabashed rudeness.

Boldly stating that it contains ‘Great Australian Sporting Quotes’, ‘Kick it’ is a veritable smorgasbord of compiled gems from some of the great national sporting personalities in living memory.

The collected works are sorted into categories – including ‘Tell it like it is’ and ‘Huh?’.

While ‘Kick It’ focusses mainly on the great words from football, cricket, tennis, golf and soccer identities; it is not limited to these. It also includes some gems from the worlds of boxing, racing, sailing and other sports Australians love.

Witty and more direct than a Ricky Ponting cover drive, ‘Kick it’ does justice to its cheeky title.

‘Tonight they’re like Matthew McConaughey in a singles bar, they can’t miss!’ – Dennis Commeti.

Winkler has obviously taken great pains in compiling the collection which, while relatively thick, is sized conveniently at about A5 so it doesn’t take up to much room on the bar or poker table.

The quotes aren’t for the kids, with the author not shying away from controversial topics such as Socceroo Ljubo Milicevic’s infamous quote about drug use in the oval balled codes and Ben Cousins’ reputation ruining drug habit.

Its certainly a diverse selection, and each little quote offers something different.

Favourite football coaches, such as Jack Dyer and Wayne Bennett, feature as do a collection of cricketing heroes from yesteryear with their notoriously dry wit.

‘Kick It’, while not a book you’d sit down and read cover-to-cover, is light enough to guarantee a few laughs at the next party you stumble into, two cartons in to a Boon-esque binge.

Rating – 3.5/5.

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

Dockers Stun Cats at the ‘G

FREMANTLE 5.7 8.9 12.11 14.12 (96)
GEELONG
0.1 3.5 6.9 11.14 (80)

Fremantle have produced one of the most stunning first quarter performances in finals history, on their way to an historical 16 point victory over Geelong. They dominated the Cats from the outset by any and every measurement available, including effort and intensity.

Geelong’s work rate seemed non-existent. They failed to chase or work hard with any desperation when they didn’t have the ball, or to run hard to create options when they did have it. That’s not to play down how good Fremantle were. Their defensive pressure and organization was first class, and would have taken Geelong’s best efforts to penetrate. The Docker’s attack on the ball and commitment in the air was that of a side with genuine claims to make an impact this September.

Matthew Pavlich was a class above kicking three of Fremantle’s five goals for the quarter, and had it not been for a number of easy missed chances the 36 point margin should have been more.

The first 15 minutes of the second quarter was more of the same. The ball was almost exclusively in Fremantle’s front half as they pushed the margin out to 48 points. David Mundy was finding plenty of the ball and managed to find space in heavy traffic a number of times, and Michael Barlow also played a big part in Fremantle’s midfield dominance.

Almost unbelievably it took Geelong until the 18 minute mark of the second quarter to register their first goal.

Immediately it was as if the Cats collectively snapped their fingers and decided they would start doing the things that are mandatory to win finals – they started applying defensive pressure, hitting contests harder than their opponents, running hard to support one another…..in other words, all of a sudden they started having a go. By half time they had reduced the margin back to 34 points.

After the break the champion Geelong side that we’ve become so accustomed to watching in September came out doing what they do best. Joel Selwood and Jimmy Bartel stamped their mark through the middle, Paul Chapman was starting to look creative, and the Geelong forward line started to function.

The Cats kicked 3 of first 4 goals drawing the margin back to 21 points, and looked set to run over the top of the Dockers. However it was Fremantle’s response when challenged that was probably more impressive than their phenomenal start.

Matthew Pavlich and Hayden Ballantyne lifted and kicked successive goals, followed quickly by a goal to Michael Walters. Fremantle had thus far withstood Geelong’s best efforts for a comeback, and went into the final change 38 points ahead.

Geelong threw everything they had at Fremantle in the last quarter, and once again looked like they were going to run over the Dockers and produce another champion victory in September. They were running on top of the ground and putting the Dockers under immense pressure. When Josh Hunt kicked his second goal for the quarter, the Cats were back within 17 points with 10 minutes left of the clock.

Yet once again with the game in the balance, Pavlich showed his class with a side step around Tom Lonergan, and a beautiful goal to finish off Geelong’s season.

Votes:

3- Matthew Pavlich

2 – Hayden Ballantyne

1 – David Mundy

GOALS
Fremantle
: Pavlich 6, Ballantyne 3, Walters 2, Crowley, De Boer, Pearce
Geelong: Mackie 2, Hunt 2, Christensen, Duncan, Motlop, Selwood, Stokes, Vardy, Taylor

BEST

Fremantle: Pavlich, Ballantyne, Mundy, Barlow, Walters
Geelong:
Selwood, Mackie, Bartel, Corey, Duncan

SUBSTITUTES
Geelong:
Jonathan Simpkin replaced Jordan Murdoch in the third quarter.
Fremantle: Nick Suban replaced Leigh Spurr in the fourth quarter.

Reports:
James Kelly (Geelong) reported for rough conduct on Tendai Mzungu by umpire Pannell in the third quarter.

Umpires:
Bannister, Pannell, Rosebury

Official crowd:
44,460 at the MCG

Riewoldt Only Winner in Ultimate Anti-climax

RICHMOND            5.1    6.6    11.8    16.10 (106)
PORT ADELAIDE  2.5    6.7    12.8    16.10 (106)

Richmond and Port Adelaide have fought out an agonizing draw in their final game for the season. The only positive from the game came from Jack Riewoldt who secured the Coleman medal.

Both teams were out of finals contention so had only pride to play for, but neither were able to even achieve that in the first draw of the 2012 season.

The Tigers let yet another close game slip from their hands. This result brought even more pain as they could not honour Chris Newman who announced before the game that it would be his last game as captain.

Port Adelaide will fell a bit better as they were able to win interim coach Gary Hocking his first premiership pints. However they were also in a position to take the full points and they will be disappointed that they could not finish with a win.

Jack Riewoldt was the other story of the day, he needed 4 goals to become the outright winner of the Coleman Medal. He was able to bag his fourth late in the 4rd quarter and finished with six as one of the most influential plaayers on the ground.

Richmond’s other best included Trent Cotchin who capped off his brilliant season with yet another 30+ disposl game which included 8 clearences and inside 50’s. Bachar Houli was also impressive of the half back line with 6 rebound 50’s.

As for Port Adelaide Brad Ebert was excellent through the midfield and all while sneaking forward to kick 3 goals. Matthew Broadbent also hit the scoreboard with 2 goals and despite some mistaken almost got the Power over the line. Finally Jay Shulz was good again against his old club, leading the forwards with 4 goals.

The Power started the game strong getting the ball forward often but they couldn’t convert managing only 1 goal before the Tigers turned the tables mid quarter.

The second half of the quarter was all Richmond as they began to hit forward targets, Riewoldt, Nahas and Edwards all benefited and duly converted. On a negative note they lost Helbig to an ankle injury and subbed him off only 15 minutes into the game.

In the second quarter Port Adelaide began to erode Richmond’s lead. A marked increase in kicking efficiency lead to better opportunities for the forwards. Shultz kicked two late in the quarter to put Power up by a point at the half.

The Power flew out of the blocks in the second half, after conceding the first goal, they kicked 3 in two minutes to open up the biggest margin of the game. a few more goals were exchanged between the teams before Riewoldt stepped up.

He cut the margin from 18 to 6 kicking his 3rd and 4th goals, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. A big last quarter was looming.

In the last Danyle Pearce opened the scoring  before Richmond answered 5 of the next 6 to take the lead and increase it 13 points.. Their elite players such as Martin an Riewoldt stood up and the crowd got behind them.

However Port did not give up, in one of the goals of the year, David Roden got the ball on half back, fan to 50 and goaled. This spark lead to one more goal form Aaron Young who got the Power within a point.

Then a Dominic Cassisi bombed a long ball from outside 50 bounced through for a point to end a Marvell game.

Votes

1) Trent Cotchin

2) Jack Riewoldt

3) Brad Ebert

GOALS
Richmond: 
Riewoldt 6, Edwards 3, McGuane 2, Astbury, Grigg, Nahas, Post, Tuck
Port Adelaide: Schulz 4 Brad Ebert 3, Brett Ebert 2, Broadbent 2, Pearce, Rodan, Thomas, Wingard, Young

BEST
Richmond: 
Cotchin, Riewoldt, Houli, Tuck, Jackson, Deledio, Jackson
Port Adelaide: Brad Ebert, Schulz, Broadbent, Pearce, Boak, Cassisi, Hartlett

INJURIES
Richmond: 
Helbig (ankle), Martin (hamstring)
Port Adelaide: McCarthy (groin)

SUBSTITUTES
Richmond: 
Brad Helbig (ankle) replaced by Brett O’Hanlon in the first quarter
Port Adelaide: John McCarthy replaced by David Rodan in the third quarter

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Kamolins, Pannell, Jacob Mollison

Official crowd: 27,893 at the MCG

Roos Disappointing in Victory

North Melbourne Football Club Logo

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 3.3 4.5 7.8 11.11 (77)
NORTH MELBOURNE 3.2 7.4 12.5 16.9 (105)

North Melbourne have survived a scare against an under manned Greater Western Sydney at Skoda Stadium on Saturday night, and have squandered the opportunity to play their first final in Melbourne in the process.

Despite entering the game needing to open a gap on Fremantle’s percentage, it was clear that the Giants were the side playing with more endeavour and spirit. They consistently led the Kangaroos to the ball and convincingly won the contested footy, resulting in a clearance tally of 14-5 by the first break.

The second quarter was more of the same as North fumbled easy balls, dropped basic marks and missed simple targets on a regular basis. Their work rate on the spread was unacceptable for an AFL side, and if not for GWS’s inability to hurt them on the scoreboard, they could have been in dire straits.

For the Giants Toby Greene was everywhere. By the break he had 21 disposals and a goal, and was getting good support from Callan Ward and Dom Tyson.  Israel Folau also excited the home crowd with a few silky possessions, including a goal assist and a goal of his own as he delivered his best performance for a number of weeks.

Matt Campbell was one of the only Kangaroos that looked switched on, with his work rate and two first half goals an example to many of his team mates. Andrew Swallow was the only other North player to lead from the front in the first half.

As the second half rolled on, North did enough to win, but that was all. It was a performance that would likely have seen them beaten by any other side in the AFL.

Toby Greene finished the night with 38 possessions and was a clear best on ground. He has undoubtedly been the best first year player in the land.

North Melbourne on the other hand will have the rare task of regrouping after a win. Their form, or lack thereof in their last five quarters, has been at a standard far below that of any of the other finalists. They now face a trip to Perth as a consequence of their apathetic performance.

Votes

3- Toby Greene

2 – Callan Ward

1 – Scott D Thompson

Goals

North Melbourne: K Harper 4 M Campbell 3 B Harvey 2 D Petrie 2 L Thomas 2 A Swallow L Delaney S Gibson.

Greater Western Sydney: J Giles 3 R Palmer 3 A Treloar C Ward D Tyson I Folau T Greene.

Best

North Melbourne: S Thompson L Anthony B Cunnington S Gibson R Bastinac D Petrie.

Greater Western Sydney: T Greene R Palmer D Tyson C Ward J Giles A Treloar.

 

Umpires: Stuart Wenn, Ben Ryan, Gary Fila.

Official Crowd: 6,696 at Skoda Stadium.

 

For more post-match comments, see the North Melbourne board autopsy thread and the GWS match thread.

Hawks get up in classic

SYDNEY SWANS 4.3 8.5 10.7 14.11 (95)
HAWTHORN 0.1 7.6 10.11 15.12 (102)

Saturday afternoon had the SCG hosting the match of the round this week, as the footy world had the rare privilege of witnessing a first versus second clash on the eve of the finals. With both sides looking to sure up home ground advantage for September, the attack on the man and the ball had all of the intensity of a final from the opening bounce.

The high pressure and contested style of footy suited the Swans to a tee in the first quarter, completely negating the Hawks natural game plan of controlling the ball. Craig Bird held Sam Mitchell to just three possessions, as John Longmire exposed Hawthorn’s lack of height in defence by starting Adam Goodes, Lewis Roberts-Thompson, Sam Reid and Mike Pyke inside the forward 50.

Josh Kennedy and Daniel Hannerbury were dominating in the clinches as the Swans led the contested possession count 54 to 39 at quarter time, resulting in 18 to 9 inside 50 count and a 26 point lead.

In the second quarter the intensity remained, although the game began to open up as the quarter progressed. Reid and Mumford continued to expose Hawthorn’s lack of tall defenders, and seven minutes in, Isaac Smith finally landed Hawthorn their first goal of the evening. It would be the first of a seven goal quarter for the Hawks, as their midfield led by Shaun Burgoyne began to adapt to the speed of the game and find space.

Lance Franklin after being beaten in several contests by Ted Richards in the first quarter also found another gear, kicking three goals as the Hawks completely turned the match around to be level until Nick Malceski goaled just before the main break.

In the second half the Hawks picked up there they left off, with goals to Paul Puopolo and Liam Shiels early on. The Swans responded with goals to Roberts-Thompson and Goodes, both once again courtesy of marks against significantly shorter opponents.

The footy remained hot throughout the third as Gunston snapped truly, and the stage was set for an epic at three quarter time with the Hawks leading by just four points.

It was hard to imagine it being possible at the time, but if anything the intensity actually lifted in the last quarter. If anyone had any doubts that either of these sides were genuine premiership contenders leading into this clash, all doubts surely must have been removed as the quarter progressed.

Kennedy somehow lifted a gear and his inside work was as good as it gets. Heath Grundy repelled attack after attack, and Jordan Lewis and Brad Sewell were at their uncompromising best.

With just over 2 minutes to go the game had risen to standards worthy of being called the game of the year. The Hawks led by a point….and then the game exploded.

With every kick seemingly under impossible pressure, Ryan O’Keefe somehow found a way to kick an exceptional goal from the pocket to give the Swans the lead. From the clearance the Hawks surged forward which led to Luke Hodge finding Burgoyne 35 metres out. A pressure set shot on goal if there ever was one, and Burgoyne delivered to once again give the Hawks the lead.

With one and a half minutes remaining the Hawks again won the centre clearance, this time resulting in Sewell launching a long bomb for a goal to finally decide this epic contest.

By the time the final siren sounded, the standard of footy from both sides was more than worthy of being labelled the game of the year. More accurately, this was a classic. Both sides were brilliant in what turned out to be a more than memorable seven point victory to the Hawks.

 

Votes:

3 – Josh Kennedy

2 – Shaun Burgoyne

1 – Jordan Lewis

 

GOALS
Sydney Swans:
Goodes, Mumford, O’Keefe, Reid 2, Jack, Kennedy,
Malceski, McGlynn, McVeigh, Roberts-Thomson
Hawthorn: Franklin 4, Burgoyne 3, Suckling, Puopolo 2, Gunston,
Sewell, Shiels, Smith

BEST
Sydney Swans:
O’Keefe, Goodes, Richards, Kennedy, Hannebery, Grundy
Hawthorn: Burgoyne, Lewis, Birchall Franklin, Hodge, Young, Sewell

INJURIES
Sydney Swans:
TBC
Hawthorn: TBC

SUBSTITUTES
Sydney Swans:
Lewis Roberts-Thomson replaced by Mitch Morton at
three-quarter time
Hawthorn: Brendan Whitecross replaced by Xavier Ellis in the fourth quarter

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Donlon, McBurney, Margetts

Official crowd:
31,167 at SCG

Griffen’s best can’t save Dogs

WESTERN BULLDOGS    6.2    8.3   11.5    13.7 (85)
SYDNEY SWANS               3.2   10.5   16.9   26.11 (167)

The Sydney Swans have overcome a spirited Western Bulldogs, and an incredible club record 47-disposal game from Ryan Griffen, to take clear top spot on the AFL ladder with an 82-point victory.

In a strange round of upsets, where two of the top four succumbed to hungrier teams more lowly on the ladder, the Swans were challenged, outplayed and trialled early, yet romped away in the second half to record an imposing victory.

The Bulldogs were inspired and firing early, leading the initial exchanges 10 disposals to one and putting two goals on the Swans in a matter of minutes. Ryan Griffen was dominating, he had 16 disposals in the first quarter, was clearing at will and repeatedly pumping it into the dogs forward fifty – to numerous dangerous targets, including Brian Lake who had pushed up the ground. The normally composed and stingy Swans defence was looking stretched and rushed into poor decisions.

Mike Pike was proving to be the only damaging forward for the Swans – his bulk and speed difficult to contain as he converted two of the few forward forays for Sydney. The dogs had six goals from five different goal kickers in their best first quarter for the season to take a 38 to 20 point lead at quarter time.

Sydney’s other makeshift forward option of late, Lewis Roberts-Thompson bobbed up again to give the Swans an ideal start to the second quarter – yet Griffen was sill near unstoppable, and a wide-open, low stoppage game was suiting the bullies, and it was only two goals from turnovers that got the Swans back in it. It took another goal from a ruck man in Shane Mumford that finally saw Sydney take the lead for the first time approaching the main break. Robert Murphy – one of the old guys of footy – got a really bad call against him and the mood shifted and Sydney piled on three quick goals to take a 14-point lead at half-time, despite being roundly outplayed.

There were also some concerns for co-captain Jarrad McVeigh who spent the last part of the quarter on the bench dazed and confused after copping a heavy, front-on hit while low over the footy. Griffen ended up with 26 disposals for the half, yet the bold bulldog run from the back was drying up, and it was increasingly at his own defensive end of the ground he was getting his touches.

The Western Bulldogs have been outscored to the tune of 56 goals in their second halves this season, and when Adam Goodes finally injected himself meaningly into the contest with a goal a minute into the third quarter it seemed like that trend would continue. Spirited resistance succumbed to inevitability and the Swans kicked six goals in the third, and ten in the last quarter to notch their highest score for five years and ended up running out 82-point winners.

Griffen ended up with a herculean 47 disposals, and was ably supported by his skipper Mathew Boyd with 35 touches, yet their contributions couldn’t help against the quick rebound, spread and quality of the Swans in the second half.

The Dogs have some promising youngsters, and welcomed the return of Adam Cooney to the top level, albeit an underwhelming one while the Swans skip a game clear at the head of the ladder with two huge games ahead that will determine their finals fate.

Sydney will be awaiting further scans on an ankle injury to the big Canadian Mike Pike, who was playing one of his best games for the club before he was forced off in the third quarter. In what could be another example of astute player recycling, they subbed on Mitch Morton for his first blood with the bloods, and his first touch was a hand pass that freed Goodes for an easy goal, his second a goal of his own. Josh Kennedy returned to his classy best with 34 touches, while Goods’ three goals and increased involvement was timely with what lies ahead.

Votes:
3 – Griffen
2 – Kennedy
1 – Pyke

GOALS:

Western Bulldogs: Addison 4, Dickson 3, Giansiracusa 2, Cordy, Johannisen, Lake, Picken
Sydney Swans: Goodes 3, Mumford 3, Pyke 3, Roberts-Thomson 3, Hannebery 2, McGlynn 2, O’Keefe 2, Reid 2, Jack, Jetta, Kennedy, McVeigh, Morton, Parker

BEST:

Western Bulldogs: Griffen, Boyd, Dickson, Minson, Smith Addison
Sydney Swans: Kennedy, Pyke, Jack, Goodes, O’Keefe, Parker, Roberts-Thomson, Grundy

INJURIES:

Western Bulldogs: Nil
Sydney Swans: Pyke (ankle)

SUBSTITUTES

Western Bulldogs: Adam Cooney replaced Ayce Cordy in the third quarter

Sydney Swans: Mitch Morton replaced Mike Pyke in the fourth quarter

Reports: Nil

Crowd: 19,396 at Etihad Stadium

North earn stripes

COLLINGWOOD                4.2   5.8   7.12    8.13    (61)
NORTH MELBOURNE       4.3   9.6   12.9  13.13   (91)          

North Melbourne have overcome their Collingwood hoodoo, winning by 30 points and cementing their spot in the top eight.

After a slow start the Kangaroos controlled the game in a telling performance that showed that they are now capable of beating top four sides and will be a force to be reckoned with come September.

North’s win evolved from the midfield which was not only able to match that of the Pies but thoroughly beat it. Their three tall forwards also had a day out, thriving on mismatches. Finally their ability to hold onto the ball and deprive Collingwood ensured they were always in control.

Collingwood will be extremely disappointed with their efforts. They applied little pressure, constantly lost one one ones around the ground and butchered the ball especially going forward. Most of this could be put down to the Roo’s pressure and desire.

Brent Harvey was the stand out player of the night with 33 possessions. His run and carry tore open the Pies while his work rate to provide an option to his team mates was first class.

He was joined in the midfield by Ben Cunnington whose 11 contested possessions and 11 tackles were decisive in the clinches . While Todd Goldstein gave North first hands as he dominated Darren Jolly. Scott Thompson’s efforts cannot be ignored either, he was brilliant in shutting out Travis Cloke.

The only consolation for Collingwood was Dayne Beams’ performance. After signing a contract mid week he continued his outstanding form with 38 disposals and two goals.

Collingwood started the game like  house on fire kicking the first four goals. They were all over the Roos and a repeat of previous performances looked on the cards.

However North slowed the game down and held possession. This not only killed the Pies momentum but started their own. They went on to kicked the next four and their talls Hanson, Petrie and Tarrant all chipped in with one each.

In the second quarter Collingwood started well again, but this time they couldn’t hit the scoreboard, Jarryd Blair’s solitary goal all they had to show for it.

Just as they did before the Kangaroos steadied then surged ahead. This time they managed five unaswered goals with Tarrant slotting two.

After the half the Pies continued the pattern kicking the first through Sinclair. As a testament to their determination North Melbourne kicked the next two capitalising on Collingwood mistakes.

Despite the all pressure they were applying and clearances were wining North just couldn’t finish the  job in the third. Beams brought the Pies closer but Ziebell’s goal before the siren steadied the ship.

The last quarter was irrelevant with only two goals kicked. Petrie kicked his third for North and Pendlebury kicked the first for the Pies. Collingwood tired to make a final push but as they had bee all night North Melbourne were just too good.

Votes

3) Brent Harvey

2) Ben Cunnington

1) Scott Thompson

GOALS
Collingwood:
 Beams 2, Tarrant, Fasolo, Didak, Blair, Sinclair, Pendlebury,
North Melbourne: Tarrant 3, Thomas 3, Petrie 3, Hansen 2, Garlett, Ziebell

BEST
Collingwood:
 Beams, Blair, Pendlebury, Thomas, Sidebottom
North Melbourne: Harvey, Cunnington,Thompson, Goldstein, Petrie,

INJURIES
Collingwood: 
Toovey (corked thigh), replaced in selected side by Mooney, Mooney (ankle), Maxwell (hip flexor)
North Melbourne: Nil

SUBSTITUTES
Collingwood: 
Nick Maxwell replaced by Caolan Mooney at three-quarter time
North Melbourne: Cruize Garlett replaced by Matthew Campbell in the third quarter

Official crowd: 44,956 at Etihad Stadium