Round-by-round: Bombers steal the Headlines again

AFL Round 7, 2013What’s black and red all over? The newspapers when something new relating to the Essendon substance scandal is revealed.Last Monday, a report into Essendon’s “pharmacologically experimental environment” and the failings of those in charge to properly manage the problem was released. While no one was sacked as a result of the findings, club chairman David Evans is clearly on shaky ground, putting himself up for re-election in November despite there being two years left of his current term. So far all the scrutiny has affected Essendon’s football, but not in the way anyone expected. They’ve won their first six games of the year, and on Friday night faced off against the season’s other unbeaten team Geelong. The unending issues for Essendon, plus the superb form of both teams, made this the perfect Friday blockbuster to introduce the round.  Geelong vs Essendon (Friday, May 10)Despite off-field issues, Essendon looked a real chance coming into the match, with several players in their best 22 returning from injury. The inclusions appeared to help them, as Essendon came out of the highly skilled and tight contest three points in front in the first term.The quarter-time lead must have sparked something in Essendon, as they took their intensity up a notch to start the second term. After Geelong got back in front in the first minute of play resuming, Essendon slammed on the next four goals to get a 21-point buffer. At this point, it looked like Essendon — the master of monumental wins this season — were going to extend their unbeaten run in the most impressive fashion. But then Geelong — the master of come-from-behind wins this season — began working their magic with their own streak of four consecutive goals. The last of these on the siren gave Geelong an against-the-odds four-point lead at half-time. It took less than a minute after play resumed for Geelong to kick another goal, and they seemed to be kicking them from everywhere. Conversely, Essendon couldn’t kick them from anywhere. Geelong scored 6.2 to Essendon’s 1.9 in the third, opening up a critical 27-point lead heading into the final term.Though Essendon were gallant, they couldn’t make any inroads into this margin in the final quarter, and Geelong recorded yet another win, despite being behind in all key statistical areas.Geelong’s Johnson equalled his career-best tally of 36 touches, while Motlop had 28 and his curling snap goal in the third term was a match highlight. Essendon’s main ball winners told the story of the night: Watson and Zaharakis had 61 touches between them, but were wasteful with a combined four behinds.Geelong 17.11.113 def Essendon 11.19.85 Port Adelaide vs Richmond (Saturday, May 11)Richmond had lost their past three games and their captain Cotchin coming into the match, while Port had only lost their first match last week. Despite this, Richmond looked the more established team from the get go. Getting on top of general play to start the match, Richmond slammed on five goals in the last five minutes to lead Port by 37 points at quarter time.Port stepped up their intensity when play continued, but inaccuracy prevented them from getting any reward for effort. When Port finally kicked two quick goals they had all the momentum, but lost it when Knights (Richmond) dislocated his knee-cap and brought the match to a halt. Richmond were seven goals up at half-time.Port came again with the first two goals to start the second term, only for Richmond to kick the next four and extend their lead to an even 50 points by the final break. Another three goals to start the final term was too little too late from Port, and Richmond ended up winning comfortably by 41 points.In Cotchin’s absence, acting captain Deledio answered critics of his early season form with 32 touches. Martin went one better with 33, while Reiwoldt finished with five goals. Cornes did well for Port with 29, but the cracks appearing in Port’s great start to the season are becoming more noticeable. For the third week in a row, they found themselves a considerable margin down early in the match, offering no resistance when their opponents were attacking. Richmond 18.6.114 def Port Adelaide 10.13.73 Brisbane vs West CoastExpectations were low heading into the match, based on Brisbane’s poor form. But fighting for their season, Brisbane matched West Coast in tackles and contested possessions. As a result, a close and fascinating contest that would last the entire match was created. West Coast took the lead early, but could never get more than two kicks clear of Brisbane and their lead was only eight points at quarter time.Two quick goals to start the second briefly put Brisbane in front, but some undisciplined words from Golby to the umpire handed the Eagles two goals and a 14-point lead. Brisbane closed the gap to two points by half-time.The arm wrestle continued in the third, and the match reached fever pitch when Lion’s ruckman Leuenberger dribbled home a goal to level the scores at three-quarter time. The pandemonium only increased when the final term began, as the teams traded goals and the lead changed each time. Brisbane were six points up at one stage and still within a point at the 13 minute mark. But unlike in their previous two matches, West Coast kicked truly when the match was there to be won. The Eagles scored four late goals — seven in total for the term — to stretch their margin out to a game-high 26 points by the final siren.Priddis had 29 touches for West Coast, while Kennedy finished with four goals. Hanley impressed with 31 touches, 11 marks and 129 Dream Team points for Brisbane.West Coast 17.6.108 def Brisbane 12.10.82 Western Bulldogs vs North MelbourneThis match seemed to follow a pattern: in each of the first three terms, the Dogs started well and briefly took the lead, before North took control around the contests and gradually built on their lead at each change. It looked set to continue in the final term after the Dogs scored an early goal, but then North stamped their authority on the match, kicking seven of the next eight goals. North ended up scoring nine of the term’s 13 goals to sink the Dogs and run out winners by 54 points. The final score line belied the Dog’s competitiveness, which was instead demonstrated by their final tallies of 80 tackles and 41 hit outs. In his fourth match, Sudan-born Daw finally lived up to his hype, kicking 6 goals 4 and also taking eight marks. Goldstein and Petrie also added five goals between them. For the Bulldogs, Griffen almost had double the disposals of any of his teammates with 33, while Lower laid an impressive 15 tackles.North Melbourne 22.19.151 def Western Bulldogs 15.7.97 Fremantle vs CollingwoodIf you look at a map of Australia, you’ll see that Perth is one of the left-most cities. Coincidentally, Fremantle pulled something totally out of left field against Collingwood in Perth. They banged on the first five goals, holding Collingwood goalless for the first 23 minutes, and continued their onslaught thereafter. At one stage in the second term the score was 52 to eight in Fremantle’s favour, but two late goals to Collingwood reduced the margin to six goals at half-time.The contest evened up in the third, as Collingwood began to match Fremantle’s effort and Fremantle attempted to slow the game down. But Collingwood refused to yield, kicking four consecutive goals to cut the margin to only five points by the final break. Against the odds, they took the lead three minutes into the final term.  But trailing for the first time sparked a revival by Fremantle; they scored the last five goals of the match to re-establish their comfortable lead over Collingwood and make a certainty of the upset win.Ibbotson and Walters were Fremantle’s best, the former with 29 touches and 136 Dream Team points and the latter with four goals. Sidebottom continued his stellar season with 34 touches and Collingwood’s first goal of the match.Fremantle 15.10.100 def Collingwood 10.13.73 Hawthorn vs Sydney Like Fremantle, Hawthorn stormed out of the blocks, clearly eager to make amends for their loss to Sydney in last year’s Grand Final. On the back of slick ball use and one-percenters, they kicked the first five goals, two of these to the previously out-of-sorts Franklin. They led by 29 at quarter time, and their ferocity only continued when play resumed. Roughead kicked three for the term as Hawthorn surged to a 40-point half-time lead. Scoring dried up after half-time, as the match began to slip away from Sydney. By three-quarter time, Hawthorn’s arsenal of tall forwards were dominating and the margin was still seven goals.Sydney toiled on tirelessly, with five last quarter goals putting them within 25 points with six minutes to go. But Hawthorn weren’t ruffled by the challenge, and their six goal winning margin was sweet revenge for last year’s loss.Hawk’s captain Hodge played another blinder with 32 touches, while four goals to Roughead and three each to Franklin, Hale and Gunston were crucial to Hawthorn’s dominance. With two goals and 30 touches, Kennedy (whose grandfather ironically coached the Hawks in their first ever premiership) was Sydney’s best.Hawthorn 18.11.119 def Sydney 12.10.82 GWS vs Adelaide (Sunday, May 12)The match started as many others involving GWS have this year. GWS went goalless in the first term as Adelaide notched up a 25-point quarter time lead without breaking a sweat.Ward got GWS on the board with a goal two minutes into the second, and they were within two goals at the 10 minute mark. But then the floodgates opened, and Lynch kicked three as Adelaide stormed to a 55-point half-time lead with the last seven goals. Both Lynch and Adelaide outdid themselves in the third: Lynch kicked six more goals, setting himself up to be the first Crow to kick 10 since Modra in 1993, and Adelaide again finished the quarter strongly with the last six goals. With 11 goals to GWS’s four for the term, Adelaide turned a comfortable win into a thrashing.Adelaide extended the margin to over 100 early in the last, and Lynch made it to double figures soon after. It took until the 26 minute mark for GWS to snap Adelaide’s streak of 13 consecutive goals, and by then Adelaide players were queuing up to get a goal. Adelaide ultimately inflicted their biggest winning margin over GWS of 135 pointsLynch outshone his Adelaide teammates, finishing with 11 marks, 165 Dream Team points and 10 goals 2. GWS’s Cameron was again solid up forward with three goals, while Ward impressed with 28 touches and two goals.Adelaide 29.13.187 def GWS 7.10.52 Melbourne vs Gold CoastThe first goal went to the Sun’s Lynch, who waited and waited for a Melbourne defender to tackle and put it through when none was forthcoming. The lack of pressure turned out to be an omen of things to come. In something from their fan’s worst nightmares, Melbourne was held goalless in the first term while the Suns scored another four to lead by 33 points at quarter time. Though Gawn got Melbourne’s first goal six minutes into the second, Gold Coast continued to blow the Dees away with pace and skill. Melbourne seemed more adept at shutting down teammates rather than opponents, or so it seemed when Howe and Tapscott collided in a marking contest.It only got worse for Melbourne as the match wore on. A free kick given away in the Sun’s goal square before the first bounce and the resultant goal put Gold Coast 43 points up, extinguishing what little chance Melbourne had left in the match. Gold Coast took the hint, kicking another seven goals to Melbourne’s four in the second half.The final margin was 10 goals, but it may as well have been 200 considering how far back it puts an already besieged Melbourne. They’ve lost heavily to a club only two years old, they’ve lost $1.5 million over the past year and they’ve lost the pride they salvaged in recent weeks after a diabolical first three rounds. Sylvia can at least hold his head high, gathering 24 disposals and a goal despite being stretchered off in the third term. Ablett, Prestia and Bennell all had over 30 touches for Gold Coast.Gold Coast 16.18.114 def Melbourne 7.12.54 St. Kilda vs Carlton (Monday, May 13)The match was tight early with neither team able to break away from the contest and both missing easy opportunities in front of goal. St. Kilda led by six points at quarter time, but quickly tripled that margin with goals to Reiwoldt and Milne. St. Kilda capitalized on the dilapidated Carlton (who lost Ellard and Yarran in the first term), benefiting from slick ball movement by hand and taking a four-goal lead into the main break.It took until the fourth quarter for the match to get really exciting. St. Kilda went into the last term 33 points up, but Carlton came charging home. As their tall forwards and supporters started to come into the match, Carlton slammed on five unanswered goals to get within four points of a stunned St. Kilda. A goal to Saad steadied the Saints, however, and they held on by nine points for a win they desperately needed.Steven lead all comers for St. Kilda with 39 touches, while Judd (27 touches) and Armfield (25 touches) provided the spark that the rest of the Carlton team lacked for most of the night.St. Kilda 11.11.77 def Carlton 9.14.68by Alexander Darling

May 15th 2013
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