Round-by-round: Indigenous Round

AFL Round 9, 2013This year’s Indigenous round neatly coincided with the 20th anniversary of the debate regarding racism in football: St. Kilda’s Winmar lifting his jumper, middle finger extended towards his skin, proclaiming to a crowd who had hurled racial slurs at him all day that he was proud of his colour. AFL certainly has progressed since this landmark moment; there are 69 players with indigenous heritage, and players of Albanian, Irish, Canadian, Italian and now Fijian and Sudanese backgrounds have graced the footy field with their presence. Here’s to many more Majak Daws and Buddy Franklins playing at elite level, and to many more decades of the AFL’s culture of acceptance continuing to flourish.NOTE: The well-publicised incident of Sydney champion Goodes being called an “ape” by a young female Collingwood supporter and another filmed yelling racist insults at the match  on Friday, followed Essendon’s Lovett-Murray being stabbed in the arm and hospitalized on Thursday. In light of these unfortunate incidents involving indigenous players, regrettably coinciding with Indigenous round, I’d like to reassess my view on where AFL culture currently stands on the issue of racism. It’s easy to champion the strides the AFL has taken, as I did above, in encouraging tolerance and equality. But it’s more important to recognise what still needs to be done. While neither of these incidents appears to constitute genuine racism, they highlight how 20 years on from Winmar’s famous stand at Princess Park, discrimination based on race hasn’t totally left the national game. Nonetheless, the way in which these events were publicly condemned and the fact the supporter that offended Goodes was not aware of the gravity of her comment and called him to apologise suggests that racial vilification is certainly not tolerated in the modern game, if not totally extinct. It’s this attitude that we can be proud of following Indigenous round.  Collingwood vs Sydney (Friday, May 24)When the team bus meant to take Sydney players to the match broke down, the reigning premiers had to make do with taxis and trams as their means of getting to the ground.Based on how they played, it could be argued they got there on foot: Sydney ran Collingwood off their feet and ensured the match would be played on their terms from the outset. However, Sydney’s wasteful kicking and two Collingwood goals against the flow meant the latter was in front halfway through the first term. Sydney set about reversing their inefficiency and were rewarded with a nine-point lead at quarter time.Play continued much the same in the second term, and while Sydney had plenty of space and run going forward, the Magpies were punished for their over-reliance on Cloke down the other end. Sydney kicked the only three goals for the term to lead by 29 at the main break.Sydney’s lead continued to grow to as much as nine goals early into the last term, before a belated surge from Collingwood saw them kick four of the next five goals. But the night belonged to Sydney, and when Bolton slammed home a goal after the final siren, they had scored over 100 points against Collingwood for the first time in over a decade.Hannebery again deserves a mention for his 31 touches and two goals. His teammate Goodes was arguably best afield with 30 touches and three goals. Returning from injury, Ball put in a solid game for Collingwood with 28 possessions.Sydney 15.12.102 def Collingwood 8.7.55  Port Adelaide vs Geelong (Saturday, May 25)Though both teams began the season with five consecutive wins, Geelong showed they were the better side from the outset. They stormed out of the blocks, kicking the first goal within a minute of play beginning and finishing the term with seven goals to zip and a 39-point lead.It took until the tenth minute mark of the second term for Schulz to score Port’s first goal, and though Port kicked two of the next three goals they were still 40 points down at the half.Geelong continued to score with ease in the third term, five goals to one extending their lead to 62 points for the final break. The final margin was eight goals, courtesy of five last quarter goals to Port. It was little consolation, however, as Port have followed up five straight wins with four straight losses.Geelong forwards Hawkins and Podsiadly had a field day with six and four goals to their names respectively, while Johnson had 33 touches. Boak had 28 touches for Port.Geelong 18.8.116 def Port Adelaide 9.14.68 GWS vs West CoastWest Coast made a victory a certainty in only one quarter of football, kicking seven goals to two to lead by 33 at quarter time. Both teams equalled their feat in the second term, West Coast kicking seven goals to GWS’s two to increase their margin by 33 points at half-time.Yet again in a situation where they’d lost the match by half-time, GWS showed much more fight in the third term, matching West Coast with four goals for the quarter. The diminutive Western Sydney crowd made a surprising amount of noise to support their fledgling team, but this died off very rapidly when the last term began.GWS managed only three behinds, while the Eagles kicked another five goals to make their lead an even 100 points by the final siren, a percentage-boosting win that puts them in the top eight for Round 10.West Coast forward duo Darling and Kennedy each kicked five goals, while Masten had 32 disposals. Adams had 28 touches for GWS.West Coast 23.17.155 def GWS 8.7.55 St. Kilda vs Western BulldogsWith both teams on the decline after peaking a few years back, this was arguably the least important match of the round. Certainly, the sloppy skills and unconvincing forward 50 entries of both teams matched people’s expectations. What didn’t, however, was the Bulldog’s competitiveness. Despite winning only one of their last 19 games, the Dogs scored four of the term’s last five goals to lead by 14 points at quarter time.St. Kilda got back on top with a five-goal-to-one second term, and led by 10 points at half-time. They threatened to break away several times in the third term when their lead edged out to three goals. But the Dogs refused to go away and St. Kilda couldn’t put them away. The Dogs kicked the last three goals of the term to trail by only two points at the final change.St. Kilda again looked to be sinking that match with the last term’s first two goals, but then the Dogs found another level that would ultimately win them the match. Exciting passages of play from old Dogs Murphy and Giansircusa, coupled with breakout performances from youngsters Stevens and Addison, helped the Dogs to six of the last eight goals of the match and a stirring nine-point win.Dogs’ captain Boyd was best afield with 38 touches, and was critical in helping his team win 17 more clearances than St. Kilda. Stevens finished with 31 touches and three goals for the Bulldogs, and Addison with four. Montagna and Steven both had 27 for the Saints, but the team suffered their first loss to the Dogs in nine encounters, as well as injury scares to club champions Reiwoldt (four goals) and Hayes.Western Bulldogs 17.8.110 def St. Kilda 15.11.101 Brisbane vs CarltonThough it was goal for goal to start the match, Carlton established a solid quarter time lead of 22 points with the aid of two goals each to Lucas and Robinson.Carlton extended their lead to 32 points with two goals to start the second term, before momentum shifted and two classy goals to Moloney were among the next six Brisbane kicked without reply. The purple patch helped Brisbane take an unanticipated three-point lead into half-time.But as quickly as the cards had fallen Brisbane’s way in the second term, they fell back to Carlton just as quickly in the third. Carlton got back the lead with the first two goals of the term, before wasteful kicking saw them score another four behinds. Brisbane responded with three successive behinds of their own, and with under a minute left in the third term the match hung in the balance with Carlton leading by nine points. Crucially, Armfield shanked home a goal for Carlton with 10 seconds left, giving them the momentum leading into three-quarter time.It would prove to be enough for Carlton, who held on for a hard earned win; though again inaccurate kicking 1.7 in the final term.Waite proved his worth in the Carlton side with 12 marks and three goals, while Judd’s revival continues after he had 26 disposals. The ageless Black was again Brisbane’s best with 22 touches.Carlton 13.20.98 def Brisbane 12.13.85 Richmond vs EssendonThe biggest match of the indigenous round was overshadowed during the week by Essendon chairman Ian Robson resigning, raising questions over the future of other important figures at the club. But once the match got underway, it was clear Essendon remained experts at not letting off-field issues affect their game.Though they only led by a point at quarter time, and though King put Richmond in front to start the second term, Essendon destroyed their opponents on the rebound thereafter with five of the next six goals. Their 20-point half-time lead grew to over six goals halfway through the third term, with skipper Watson firing and Richmond reluctant to take risks and play through the centre corridor. Essendon remained 34 points in front at the final break.Richmond played with slightly more boldness in the final term, and as a result got to within 20 points of Essendon with eight minutes to go. But determined not to lose three in a row, Essendon did well to control the tempo of play. A late goal to Crameri sealed a 29-point win for Essendon.Stanton, the only player to have played in all eight Dream Time matches, had a great game for Essendon with 39 touches, though his captain Watson was more influential with 28 touches and three goals. It was indicative of Richmond’s night that a defender, Jackson, had the most touches with 29.Essendon 13.13.91 def Richmond 9.8.62 Hawthorn vs Gold Coast (Sunday, May 26)If recent poor form wasn’t evidence enough that Hawthorn’s Franklin is being affected by his contract negotiations being put on hold till the end of the season, this week he was involved in another altercation with a girl in a Chapel St Nightclub. Buddy’s rough patch looked set to continue as he kicked three out on the full before half-time, and Hawthorn in general had difficulty getting on top of the ever-impressive Suns. Though eight points in front at quarter time and 15 up 10 minutes into the second term, Gold Coast mounted a charge that saw them kick five of the next six goals and lead by 11 points at half-time.The upset of the millennium was still on track early in the third term, when the Suns led by 17 points. But then Hawthorn restored things to their natural AFL order, monstering their opponents for disposals and kicking six unanswered goals to lead by 20 points at quarter time. Gold Coast showed spirit in the last term, going goal for goal with the Hawks before Franklin, who rediscovered his form at the right time, slotted his fifth goal to make the final margin 26 points.Gold Coast’s Hall matched Franklin with five of his own, while Ablett again lead all comers with 37 disposals. Lewis had 31 touches for Hawthorn.Hawthorn 18.10.118 def Gold Coast 14.8.92 North Melbourne vs AdelaideFrom the outset, North had little trouble getting the ball out of the centre and forward. Led by born-again small forward Thomas, with four early goals, North kicked seven of the first eight goals to lead by 39 points six minutes into the second term. Three goals in six minutes put Adelaide back in the contest, and despite another brief purple patch from North they trailed by only 10 points — and had all the momentum — by half-time.Unfortunately for Adelaide, they couldn’t capitalise on this momentum, and were again playing catch up football when North kicked the first three after half-time. Two snap goals by Kerridge kept Adelaide in it, but they had increasing difficulty staying in touch of North. Adelaide were made to pay for wasted opportunities going forward, and North looked set for victory when they were five goals up halfway into the last term.But another twist remained in this engrossing match. Down for the count, Adelaide staged a dramatic comeback, kicking four straight goals to be within a kick with less than two minutes to play. Though North tried to control the ball, Adelaide were irresistible, dominating the clearances and bullocking it forward. In a fairy tale ending, indigenous player Petrenko won them the game: a snap from 30 metres out put Adelaide within a kick, and with 16 seconds left in the match he soccered through a goal to put them one point in front. Miraculously, Adelaide won despite only leading for a minute of the total game time, and North became the first team in 87 years to lose four matches by under a goal in a season.Dangerfield had 30 touches and Kerridge finished with six goals for Adelaide. Thomas finished with five goals and Gibson had 30 for North.Adelaide 18.17.125 def North Melbourne 19.10.124 Fremantle vs MelbourneLike most other matches involving Melbourne this year, the contest was over pretty quickly. Though Watts scored the first goal, Fremantle slammed on the next 11 to lead the hapless Dees by an even 60 points 10 minutes into the second term and by 71 at half-time.With the game decided, play evened up and Melbourne got on top in the tackles and hit outs. The margin was still over 11 goals at three-quarter time.Fremantle continued to build their lead in the final term, though this was only gradual due to relative inaccuracy in front of goal. By the time Mayne goaled after the final siren they were an even 90 points in front.Barlow, Mundy and Pearce each had over 30 touches for Fremantle, while Mzungu and Ballantyne each kicked three goals. In addition to his usual marking prowess, Howe had 27 possessions and scored two goals for Melbourne.Fremantle 19.16.130 def Melbourne 6.4.40by Alexander Darling

May 28th 2013
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