AFL Finals are upon us and while they may not be in Melbourne or Sydney they are still on. Unlike New South Wales and Victorian country and suburban football. Some leagues have plans to play sometime in September, others have named their Premiers already.
Games for the first week of finals were played in Brisbane, Adelaide and Tasmania. Players wanted to play in to a crowd. Which for the people of Launceston was a boon. Launceston’s York Park held the two elimination finals. A great start for a state looking to have its own AFL team.
Port v Geelong
On Friday night Port took on Geelong at the Adelaide oval. This game confirmed a lot of suspicions about Geelong. It also affirmed the choice of Port defender Allir Allir in the All Australian team. Allir was a giant in the Port defence. Not only in his marking but his disposals were also effective.
Port was on and the Cats were…? I seriously do not know where the Cats were. You could say this was uncommon but Geelong have a history of loosing qualifying finals. Geelong have only won one out of six qualifying finals. Though the result on Friday was not just a superstitious quirk.
Port Power was switched on. Port power was turned up to eleven. It was a great night for the team, the coach, the crowd. Orazio Fantasia kicked four, Ollie Wines had 33 disposals, Travis Boak 32. Former Geelong player Shannon Motlop had a great game.
In contrast Geelong’s ageing stars did not fire. Sure Dangerfield gad 23 disposals and Mitch Duncan had a lazy 33. But the scoreboard showed the real difference. One goal three in the Second quarter. Only three behinds in the Third.
Port have a week off, while Geelong play this weekend against the Giants. While the larger focus will be on the Giants due to Toby Green’s foolishness, Geelong have a lot to do.
Giants v Swans
Of the two finals Launceston was gifted with the one point thriller between SydneySwans and GWS Giants was amazing. Amazing in the end for all the wrong reasons. Sydney Forward Buddy Franklin did get closer to his 1000th goal in AFL football. Of this three goals for the game it was his miss that defined the game.
GWS were up at half time 9.3 (57) to Sydney 5.4 (34). The Giants were leading and comfortably in front. Changes needed to be made. Enter Issac Heeney. Heeney is one of those few players that can take a game by the scruff of the neck. He did, 4.1 and 21 disposals.
After Heeney’s fourth goal Sydney were only seven points behind. What followed was a succession of missed shots and rushed behinds. Even the great Buddy Franklin on his preferred side of the ground missed. The Giants held on to the win, just.
What has mired this game was the actions of Giants player Toby Green. Like Heeney Green has ability to win games and lead a team to victory. Unfortunately he has a temper which has led to altercations and incidents that are hard to call part of the game.
In Aussie Rules Football the Umpire is not to be touched. You must not touch the Umpire. Green either deliberately or foolishly bumped into the umpire. In suburban and country leagues players get sent off and or, are given an automatic six to ten weeks suspension. No umpires no game.
Melbourne Demons v Brisbane Lions
Are you on the Dee-train? After a season of dominance. Finishing on top of the ladder. Are you still on the fence? Brisbane had no way to stop the Dee-train express to the Grand Final. For those who remember I covered Melbourne’s first game this season. It was the same story. Difference being that it has been perfected.
With minutes to go waiting for the final siren, current Melbourne captain Max Gawn was watching on. In the stands was former captain Nathan Jones. What the two could tell us about the changes that have taken place at this football club.
Brisbane also have seen changes. Last year they played in the Grand Final. This year injury has taken its toll. It did again in this game. However there were issues to consider for coach Chris Fagan. Brisbane captain Dwayne Zorko went missing.
Then there is the injuries. Daniel McStay, a nasty fall had the Lions forward shaky, requiring assistance, stumbling his way off the field. This was just the first quarter. Charlie Cameron led the Brisbane forwards with five goals. Lachie Neale picked up 46 disposals, it was not enough.
Melbourne was dominant. Lever and May led the defence, Fritsch, Pickett and Brown kicked straight. Clayton Oliver, Christian Petracca and Jack Viney all had twenty plus disposals. Big names aside those playing a role for Melbourne also won across the ground. Neal-Bullen, Salem, Sparrow, Harmes, Langdon, Rivers, all playing well and fit.
If you are not convinced, you will never be.
Western Bulldogs v Essendon Bombers
If you went by recent wins this was a Bombers win in the bag. The Essendon fans I knew were very vocal on social media. Fans can wish as hard as they like. It pays to remember that until late July the Bulldogs were top four contenders. Some even thought top of the ladder.
Essendon are growing up quickly. Coach Ben Rutten has overseen what appears to be the connections required to take the Bombers to glory. For those who remember this is still the Western Bulldogs team that won a Grand Final in 2016. It showed.
Essendon were corralled, and prohibited from scoring. No goals scored in the second half. The rain began to fall which hampered the Bombers touch. It appeared to give the Dogs an advantage. While there was also an advantage to Cody Weightman. Four free kicks, four goals. That certainly is a big advantage.
It was not the amount of ball that was the difference it was how it was used. Take out Weightman’s four goals from free kicks and the score is still a comfortable win. Essendon fans should mark it down to another step forward. It is a long road to the top. Ask Melbourne fans.
A Look Forward
Three more rounds of the finals to go. Can Melbourne hold on? Could Geelong or Brisbane bounce back? How many weeks will Toby Green get? It will all unfold as the weeks continue.
Meanwhile suburban and country leagues will have to decide what happens for them. Yes we are entertained by the AFL but many would like to get back to playing again. Hopefully together we can do what is needed.
Phillip Hall has been too long in Melbourne to see AFL in the same light as those back in Fremantle. East Fremantle born and bred, he would love to see the Dockers back in the eight. But would settle for just beating West Coast twice a year.