Round-by-round: Culture clubs

AFL Round 16, 2013“I need to re-educate the mainstream of this country about Muslims. We’re good people, we’re peaceful peopleplease don’t generalise us.” The AFL’s Multicultural Round proceeded all the ceremony and none of the racial controversy of the Indigenous Round two months ago. The above quote is by Muslim Richmond half-backer Bachar Houli, nominated as a finalist for the US-based Beyond Sport Award for his socially-inclusive Islamic AFL program. The program provides Islamic students the opportunity to participate in footy, and Houli has also proved himself quite the sporting role model by pushing for multi-faith prayer rooms at AFL grounds (the MCG, Etihad and the Gabba in Brisbane now have such rooms).It’s encouraging to be reminded that the national game is in fact making progress in bringing together different social and cultural communities, given we’ve already been reminded this year that the AFL is not immune to discrimination based on race or ethnicity.AFL Multicultural ambassadors Daw (#MajakTakeover), Rodan (#RodanTakeover), Hunt (#KarmichaelTakeover) and Naitanui (#NicNatTakeover) joined Houli (#BacharTakeover) throughout the week in taking over the AFL’s twitter account to chat with fans. Click on the above links to see what player and spectator had to say. Collingwood vs Adelaide (Friday, July 12)Everything seemed to be going wrong for Collingwood in the first term. Adelaide constantly opened up the Collingwood defence and kicked six first-quarter goals to lead by an unexpected 25 points at quarter time.The momentum immediately fell Collingwood’s way in the second, as swingman Reid kicked the first two goals. Krakouer added three of his own and Collingwood another five in a merciless forward onslaught. This striking performance left them four points ahead at half-time.Adelaide only became sloppier after the break, the first two goals for the term going to Collingwood after intercepting wayward Adelaide handpasses. Collingwood skipped away to a 25-point lead before two late Adelaide goals put the margin back to 13 points.Another two goals to start the second term put Adelaide only two points behind, but two skilful goals to Pendlebury (to go with his personal best 42 possessions) put the game beyond doubt. Collingwood won by 27 points, effectively ending Adelaide’s season and direct attention from wayward back man O’Brien to milestone boys Ball and Sidebottom.Lyons, Porplyzia and Lynch scored 11 of Adelaide’s 12 goals.Collingwood 17.9.111 def Adelaide 12.12.84 Port Adelaide vs Hawthorn (Saturday, July 13)The loss of club champions Sewell and Franklin didn’t seem to trouble Hawthorn. Keen to make up for last week’s extension of their losing streak to Geelong, Hawthorn made Port pay for their turnovers with pin-point accuracy, kicking six goals straight to lead by 22 points at quarter time.Port showed the same spirit that helped them to down other top eight sides in recent weeks in the second term, kicking six goals to draw within four points of Hawthorn before the latter steadied. Hawthorn remained two goals in front by quarter time.Another withering display from Hawthorn’s midfield and forwards turned a seemingly even match into a blowout in the second half. With the first four goals to start the third term, Hawthorn turned a two goal margin into a six goal one, and with the margin 37 points at the final break all Port had left to play for was pride. This margin was 45 by full time, keeping Hawthorn on top of the ladder and denying Port the two-game advantage over ninth place.Hawthorn’s forward depth is so formidable it can even dominate without Franklin. This we learned from Gunston and Roughead kicking five goals and Smith and Savage three each. Smith also had 26 possessions, while Boak was best for Port with 34.Hawthorn 19.10.124 def Port Adelaide 12.7.79  Geelong vs MelbourneLess and less Melbourne players are knowing what it means to win against Geelong. Currently only eight have played in a win against the all-conquering Cats, and only two have won at Simond’s Stadium. This time two years ago, Melbourne lost here by 186 points, the second greatest losing margin in footy history, and supporters were hoping for a pluckier performance for the 150th games of veterans Sylvia and N. Jones.They didn’t get it, but nor did Geelong get the same colossal victory that they did two years ago. In fact, the game reached no great heights at all. Geelong were never challenged —  Melbourne only managed one goal in each quarter — but instead were their own worst enemy with deplorable goal kicking inaccuracy. Geelong followed up 3.5 in the second term with 2.8 in the final term, such that the final margin was an underwhelming 68 points.Johnson continued his year of revival in the midfield with 38 possessions and 156 Dream Team points, while his captain Selwood had 29 touches. For Melbourne, N. Jones made his 150th memorable for himself with 31 possessions, while M. Jones was superior alphabetically but inferior disposal-wise with 24 touches. Geelong 13.20.98 def Melbourne 4.6.30 Richmond vs Gold CoastFor all the promise they’ve shown this season, Richmond still look vulnerable to losing games they should win. The game in Cairns against the Gold Coast — who embarrassingly Richmond have never beaten — was therefore a key test of their consistency and credibility as a finals team in 2013.It didn’t look good for Richmond early, as Gold Coast won the first term by two goals. But Richmond returned the favour in the second term; a spate of behinds put them six points in front at half-time.They would retain this margin throughout the second half as scoring dried up. The two teams managed only one goal each in the third and fourth terms, and though the first of these goals to the Gold Coast levelled the scores after half-time Richmond pulled away thereafter. Forward Reiwoldt banana-ed home the goal to seal the match halfway through the last term, much to the relief of supporters and coach Damien Hardwick, as Richmond also won the disposals, contested possessions and clearances. The final margin was nine points.Martin had 31 touches for Richmond while former Demon Petterd had 24 touches and one mark. Prestia had 26 touches and Mckenzie (one goal) 24.Richmond 6.17.53 def Gold Coast 6.8.44 Carlton vs St. KildaKey forwards Reiwoldt and Milne returned for St. Kilda for the match in which Carlton, like Richmond, would justify its ambitions to play in September.Carlton came out with aggression, but St. Kilda had the intensity. Together with their willingness to play through the corridor, this gave them an attacking edge that put them three points up at quarter time.Carlton put on a ruthless forward press in the second term, and were rewarded with four consecutive goals and a nine-point lead at half-time.The game became more free flowing in the second term, and each team kicked four goals such that Carlton’s margin was still under two goals at three-quarter time.Carlton won the game despite being behind in overall disposals, clearance and tackles, with a five goal to one final term. The final margin was 36 points, and sets Carlton up for a tilt at the finals starting with Brisbane next week. Hayes won the hearts of the crowd yet again with 27 touches for St. Kilda, while Reiwoldt took 10 marks. Simpson had 28 touches for Carlton across half back while Henderson kicked four goals up forward.Carlton 16.14.110 def St. Kilda 10.14.74 Brisbane vs North MelbourneAfter an even start, North’s big forwards got into the game and North added four goals in the last seven minutes of the quarter to lead by 17 points.Two goals to Brisbane cut the margin to four points early in the second term, but North kicked away again with five of the next six goals. Brisbane kicked another two, but North were still in the box seat, leading by 26 points at half-time.Brisbane came back twice in the third term with periods of consecutive goals. North beat back the first challenge to lead by 33 points, but Brisbane’s second coming left only 21 points in arrears at the final break.This second comeback, like the one against Geelong a few weeks back, kept going and going. Brisbane added to their last three goals of the third term with another three to start the second term. The two goals to North put them back in front, but the Brisbane onslaught was far from over, another four consecutive goals putting them 18 points in front with five minutes to go. By full time, Brisbane had kicked 10 goals in just over a quarter of football, and were two goals in front and the undisputed master of the comeback in season 2013. North, however, had reasserted themselves as the kings of the shock loss.Rockliff’s 28 disposals and 11 tackles were the midfield spark for Brisbane’s comeback, matched by Gibson at North, while Gibson’s teammate Petrie kicked five.Brisbane 18.9.117 def North Melbourne 17.3.105 Sydney vs GWS (Sunday, July 14)I watched this game on the AFL website, and the score worm gradually went further and further in Sydney’s direction. After GWS scored the first goal, Sydney dominated the Inside 50s and pummelled the goal face. Inaccuracy prevented them from leading by more than 17 points at quarter time.The modest margin was made much more formidable in the second term. GWS made their fair share of rookie mistake and Sydney brushed them aside like dust as the reigning premiers slammed on seven goals to two. They led by 45 points at half-time.When play resumed, Sydney’s margin went from formidable to offensive. Sydney’s class shone through, though their inaccuracy returned, while Cameron’s rapid growth as a forward remained the only positive for GWS. Five unanswered goals put Sydney 82 points up at the final change.Sydney made no attempts to ease off on pressure in the last term, kicking another nine goals. By the end of the match, the worm resembled half a pyramid; going up and up and up, it’s apex (the winning margin of 129 points) coming at the very end.Sydney’s McVeigh had 35 touches and 11 tackles in a best afield performance. Opposing forward Tippe and Cameron each finished with three goalsSydney 24.27.171 def GWS 5.12.42 Western Bulldogs vs EssendonEssendon looked to run away with the match after kicking the first six goals, but the Dogs kicked the last three before quarter time to trim the margin to 20 points.The forward momentum came with winning the clearances in the second term, as each team had their scoring patches. Essendon was 23 points up at half-timeThe Dogs doubled their half-time score with six goals two in the third term, inspired by the likes of youngsters Stevens and Dalhaus. They won the quarter by 10 points, and their ability to keep reigning Essendon in when the latter looked to be making their move must have worried James Hird at three-quarter time. By then, Essendon was up by only 13 points.A spurt of two goals to start the final term and three to finish it won the match for Essendon, though the Dogs never stopped coming. The 31-point win puts them in the top four and makes them yet another side deserving of the double chance come September.Father-son recruit Liberatore had a breakout match for the Dogs with 32 possessions. Stanton had 29 for Essendon while Winderlich kicked four goals.Essendon 18.13.121 def Western Bulldogs 14.6.90 West Coast vs FremantleFremantle made the early break with the first three goals of the match, and held an 11-point lead over their cross-town rivals at quarter time. They worked hard to keep the lead at 13 well into the second term, but a three goal burst from West Coast saw the Eagles double their score and lead by a solitary point at half-time.Fremantle came out hard to start the second term, wrestling back the lead and retaining it as the teams went goal for goal. West Coast’s first string of consecutive goals since the first half put them two points in front at three-quarter time.Fremantle outdid themselves in the last term. Seven of the quarter’s first eight goals put them 34 points in front and won them the match. Some consolation goals to West Coast reduced this margin to 28 by full time.Fyfe retained his good form coming back from injury with 30 touches, While Embley’s 23 possessions and Darling’s five goals kept West Coast in it until that fateful last term.Fremantle 19.7.121 def West Coast 14.9.93by Alexander Darling

July 15th 2013
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