Round-by-round: Malthouse makes Melbourne a Madhouse

AFL Round 2, 2013Anyone with a remote knowledge of AFL would know that Carlton and Collingwood have the fiercest longstanding rivalry of the competition. What they may not realise is just how toxic this rivalry is about to become, now that former Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse took the helm for Carlton this year, having previously declared he’d never coach again.Malthouse was unceremoniously relieved of his top job at Collingwood after 2011, despite leading the Pies to three successive Grand Finals (a premiership among them), as part of an agreement that would see Nathan Buckley eventually take over as coach. Malthouse has made no attempts to hide his bitterness towards Collingwood and club president Eddie McGuire since he left, and it was even rumoured he planned to poach Pies forward Travis Cloke when he came out of contract at the end of last year.As expected, insults were hurled by the supporters from both sides during the match and Malthouse was booed as he left the coaches box. With all the drama surrounding Carlton and Collingwood, it’s easy to forget there were another eight matches played this weekend. St. Kilda vs Richmond (Friday, April 5)Gwilt and Ray were missing and Montagna and Schneider returned for St. Kilda, while Petterd and Grimes made their debuts for Richmond.The match was characterised by the momentum swinging constantly, with each side scoring in bursts of two to three goals. However, Richmond got an early three-goal break, after McGuane and Reiwoldt scored two each, and were able to hold onto the lead for the next three quarters despite numerous St. Kilda counter attacks; early in the last quarter, St. Kilda were within four points of Richmond. Though they had fewer clearances and almost the same number of Inside 50s, Richmond ultimately won the arm wrestle because they produced all the run through the midfield and were more effective when they went forward. For the second week in a row, Richmond held off an opposition that has constantly challenged them, this time by a more convincing margin, reinforcing their claim to play finals football.The Riewoldts stood out for their respective teams, Jack kicking seven goals for Richmond and Nick scoring four for St. Kilda. Meanwhile, St. Kilda ruckman McEvoy impressed with both his ruckwork and ability to win contested possessions, while Deledio and Cotchin were as masterly as ever for Richmond, who have won their first two matches for the first time since 1997.Richmond 14.15.99 def St. Kilda 12.10.82 Sydney vs Gold Coast (Saturday, April 6)Gold Coast lost Broughton, but started the match 8th on the ladder — the highest position they’ve ever been in their short history — as they entered their first match at the SCG. It was a wet day in Sydney, something that doesn’t necessarily bode well for a team called the “Suns”. As it turned out, despite an impressive start by the Suns, who led by a point at quarter time, Sydney always looked more comfortable playing in the wet. The reigning premiers amassed many more possessions and Inside 50s than their inexperienced opponents, building their lead to nearly seven goals by full time. This was despite Gold Coast coming within 20 points of the lead on two occasions, one in each of the second and third quarters.O’Keefe and McVeigh were influential for Sydney with 27 touches, the latter kicking three early goals to help Sydney break away from the Suns and set up the win. Suns captain Ablett, who almost single-handedly beat St. Kilda last week, was restricted to only 24 touches by Sydney’s Jack, though big men Dixon and Smith, with 3 goals and a great running goal respectively, ensured Gold Coast were competitive in defeat.Sydney 17.12.114 def Gold Coast 11.7.73 Fremantle vs Western BulldogsFremantle missed pesky small forward Ballantyne — suspended for a week after rough conduct against West Coast — and ruckman Sandilands, who is expected to miss up to 11 weeks following surgery on his hamstring. The Dogs fielded a healthy list as they did in Round 1, but were found wanting of the pressure they’d shown against Brisbane last week, as Fremantle stormed out of the starting blocks with the first five goals to take a 31-point lead into quarter time. An early goal to Cross after the break sparked a revival in his team’s performance, the Dogs winning the second quarter with four goals to three. But the comeback was short lived, with Fremantle kicking four goals to start the third quarter. The Dogs kicked the final three goals of the match, but it did nothing other than lessen the margin by which they lost. They’ll have some soul-searching to do this week, having lost a match while having more disposals, clearances and contested possessions. Coming off an injury-hampered season, Fyfe showed promise for Fremantle with 25 touches and a goal, while Cooney had 31 touches for the Dogs, who were beaten by Fremantle at Etihad Stadium for the first time since 2004.Fremantle 16.10.106 def Western Bulldogs 11.12.78 Brisbane vs AdelaideMaguire missed for Brisbane but their number one ruckman Leuenberger returned from an achilles injury. Brad Crouch debuted for Adelaide in the Gabba’s first Saturday twilight match. Having lost matches that they were favourites to win in Round 1, both sides were looking to rebound this week. Their intensity was equal early, and by quarter time, and so were their scores. Adelaide pulled away slightly in the second, leading by seven points at half-time, but the contest was still even with neither team looking to give anything away. The tug-of-war began to fall Brisbane’s way in the third, kicking three straight goals to take an eight-point lead into the final break. But Adelaide had another comeback left in them: finally capitalizing on their superiority in clearances and contested possessions, they kicked five goals to Brisbane’s four behinds to run away with the match.The match saw a return to form for Adelaide’s Dangerfield, with 23 touches, eight clearances, and two superb final-quarter goals putting Adelaide in a winning position. For Brisbane, Hanley stood out with 30 touches, but the team will be antagonised by being second last on the ladder going into Round 3.Adelaide 14.12.96 def Brisbane 10.17.77 Port Adelaide vs Greater Western SydneyCarlisle returned for Port, while for GWS Palmer came in for Adams. Port came into the match as the only side in the league yet to beat GWS, and early on it looked like the trend was set to continue, the Giants making a great start to lead by 11 points at quarter time. Port responded emphatically to the challenge in the second term, with cleaner ball skills a string of five unanswered goals, eventually leading by 16 points by the main break. GWS stayed in touch, and the three-goal margin remained between the teams for much of the third term. Then in another Power surge (pun intended, for those of you who got it), Port kicked nine straight goals in a purple patch that ran well into the last quarter. GWS won’t be happy with their capitulation, hoping to maintain the competitiveness that gained them so much respect last season. But for Port the victory is especially significant as they dedicated their first home game to fallen teammate John McCarthy.Callan Ward was best for GWS with 26 touches. For Port, Cornes excelled as usual with 30 touches, while Westhoff had a day out up forward with 25 touches, five goals and a big second-quarter mark, as the team chalked up their first win against the Giants. Port Adelaide 19.20.134 def Greater Western Sydney 11.12.78 Essendon vs MelbourneMelbourne lost Dunn and Dawes to injury but gained Trengove, while Essendon fielded no change to the side that beat Adelaide two weeks ago. It was clear from the outset that Essendon were going to win; Melbourne never gave them anything to beat. The Dees showed themselves to be lacking the leadership, drive and accountability required of football teams throughout the match, slumping to 55 points behind at half-time.The final result wasn’t entirely due to Melbourne’s woeful performance, however. To their credit Essendon kept up their pressure and intensity around the ground in the second half, adding another 100 points to Melbourne’s seven. By the time the final siren sounded, Essendon had 190 more disposals, three times as many inside 50s and were 148 points ahead (almost twice the margin Melbourne was beaten by last week, and we thought THAT was bad). This was the most they’ve ever beaten Melbourne by and the most Melbourne has ever lost by at the MCG. For Essendon, Crameri kicked a career-high six goals, while the familiar names of Watson, Heppell, Stanton and Goddard led their disposal count. Howe and Jones were recognised for Melbourne, but the team will once again start the season on the bottom of the ladder, with a percentage of 28.Essendon 28.16.184 def Melbourne 5.6.36 Geelong vs North Melbourne (Sunday, April 7)This was the third time Scott twins Chris and Brad coached against each other, and there were big inclusions for both sides: midfielders Corey and Kelly for Geelong, while Daw made his much-anticipated debut for North. North gained the upper hand early kicking seven first-quarter goals to lead by 19 points at quarter time. They continued this blitz into the second term, the margin blowing out to over 40 points at one stage. But then, as they did at this stage last week, the Cats staged a comeback no one saw coming. A late goal brought them within 35 points at the long break. Geelong continued the charge in the third, kicking another three goals and getting within 10 points as their key players began to fire. North responded with three of their own, but by the final break Geelong were within nine points.The match was ultimately decided by a piece of play with 30 seconds to go: from a throw in Grima got into the back of Geelong’s Bartel, who with the aid of a 50-metre penalty put Geelong four points ahead to win the match. Chris Scott got his second win against North, while losing brother Brad was frustrated not with his team or the free kick, but that the roof had been left open and rain had fallen on the stadium’s turf, changing the playing conditions for the second half. North Melbourne’s Thomas leads the league’s goal kicking after booting five, while captain Swallow lead the disposal count for the second week running. Selwood again stood out for the tireless Geelong who, for the second week in a row, came back from a seemingly unassailable margin to win the match, despite being behind in many of the key statistics.Geelong 16.16.112 def North Melbourne 17.6.108 Collingwood vs CarltonCritically, Carlton missed forwards Hampson and Betts, while defender Shaw returned for Collingwood for the ultimate grudge match.The lack of forwards didn’t bother Carlton early, with Walker kicking the first three goals of the match. Then rain started falling and Collingwood responded with three of their own, leading by three points at quarter time. The margin remained under six points early in the second as the teams traded goals, before sublime roving skills from Yarran and Garlett gave Carlton a 10-point margin and breathing space at half time.Again in the third term Carlton looked to blow the match open, skipping out to three goal leads. But both times Collingwood responded with their own mini goal sprees — their own small forwards being equally influential — ensuring the margin remained 10 points at three-quarter time.With these consistent challenges, Collingwood wore down the Blues, who didn’t have the energy to maintain their lead by the last quarter. Collingwood kicked seven goals to three, overrunning the Blues for a 17-point win.Collingwood ultimately won the battle of the small forwards, Elliot and Dwyer kicking seven between them to Garlett and Yarran’s six. But they will be troubled by the hospitalisation of number one ruckman Jolly, who broke a rib.The big story from the match: Buckley’s Pies beating Malthouse’s Blues, the pupil upstaging the teacher in their first encounter.Collingwood 17.15.117 def Carlton 15.10.100 West Coast vs HawthornBrown returned for Eagles, Hodge for the Hawks, and the latter ended up having a critical impact on the game. The Eagles scored the first goal, the only time they’d lead for the match, as Hawthorn kicked the next six before quarter time. West Coast rallied to get back to within three goals midway through the second term, but Hawthorn responded with their own run of goals such that they only took two points of their lead by half time. West Coast came again in the third, kicking five of the last six goals of the term and cutting the margin to 19 points. But in the play of the day, Hodge put a brilliant tackle on West Coast’s Schofield, and the free kick eventually resulted in a Hawthorn goal. It set the stage for eight last-quarter goals by Hawthorn, who eventually won by an even 50 points, and may have wondered what effect Hodge would have had against Geelong last week were he not injured.Masten had 33 touches for West Coast, while Kennedy and Franklin were superb for their respective clubs, booting five goals each. Franklin, however, had the support of Breust and Rioli with four goals each, ultimately demonstrating the superior depth of Hawthorn’s list that has made the team flag favourites over the past few years.Hawthorn 23.10.148 def West Coast 15.8.98by Alexander Darling

April 9th 2013
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