Round-by-round: Revival of the Rivals

AFL Round 15, 2013All the excitement and anticipation leading up to this round was concentrated into two matches. The first, for obvious reason, was Collingwood versus Carlton. Aside from having the two biggest fan bases in the league, it was the second meeting of former teacher and pupil, Malthouse and Buckley. Moreover, Collingwood came into the round eighth on the ladder, and Carlton ninth, meaning the match would also have major ramifications on the teams’ finals hopes.The weekend also saw Hawthorn face its nemesis Geelong, and stakes were high. If Geelong won, they’d extend their winning streak over Hawthorn, since they lost to them in the 2008 Grand Final, to 11. If Hawthorn won, they’d not only break the Geelong hoodoo, but also achieve their greatest ever winning streak of 13 matches. And to boot, Hawthorn was first and Geelong second on the ladder leading into the round — both warm favourites to win the premiership — making this a top of the tables clash as well as a bitter rivalry.The stage couldn’t have been set any better, and the matches proved to be just as critical to season 2013 as they promised. Carlton vs Collingwood (Friday, July 5)Carlton got the early break when Garlett scored the first goal within 19 seconds, and added another minutes later having not scored in three weeks. Garlett’s good form quickly rubbed off on his teammates; Carlton monstered Collingwood around the ground, slamming on seven goals and charging to a 28-point lead. Collingwood then returned fire with three goals in the last minutes of the term, and the match rested on a knife’s edge at quarter time with Carlton nine points up.It took only seven minutes of the second term for Collingwood to take the lead, but a goal-line mistake by Shaw gave it back to Carlton. Collingwood corrected this mistake soon after, locking the ball in their forward half and kicking four more goals to lead by 24 points at half-time.Collingwood continued to stitch up their opponents when play resumed, with early inaccuracy the only thing keeping Carlton in it. By the final break, Collingwood’s margin was 47 points, and Carlton’s season was all but over.The last quarter was pure bliss for Collingwood: an extra half hour to hammer home more goals, get on top of all key statistics and bask in the glory of beating Carlton at the ‘G on a Friday night. The final margin was 41 points, the perfect start to an easy run home for Collingwood.Swan had his 12th game of over 40 possessions for Collingwood, 20 of which were contested, along with five clearances, eight tackles and 163 Dream Team points. He was supported by Cloke (5 goals) and Reid (4 goals) up forward. Lucas had 33 possessions for Carlton.Collingwood 17.16.118 def Carlton 12.5.77 Greater Western Sydney vs Western Bulldogs (Saturday, July 6)Western nations are dominant in the current world order, but the situation couldn’t be more different for the two “Western” clubs of the AFL. Prior to this match, GWS were last-placed on the ladder and yet to win this year, while the Dogs were third last with only three wins. The first quarter reflected each team’s inexperience with winning: GWS drew first blood, but then resorted to hanging on to the lead as the Dogs went goal for goal with them. With the next two goals, the Dogs established an 11-point lead nearing the end of the quarter. But then it was their turn to surrender a handy lead, as GWS returned the favour with two quick goals to lead by one point at quarter time. The two teams continued to match the efforts of the other scoring-wise in the second term, each kicking one goal and trading behinds for the second half of the term. GWS’s 1-point lead remained at half-time, when a post-siren melee broke out between the two teams.The Dogs wrestled the lead back with two goals to start the second half, before GWS again responded strongly. A purple patch through the middle of the third put them eight points up, before a Dogs goal just before the final break cut the margin to two points.In the end, a burst of two goals within a minute — not once but twice — in the last quarter won the Dogs the game, giving them breathing space to hold on by four points.Goodes played well with 25 touches and 10 marks for the Dogs, while Giansiracusa was steady with three goals up forward. Shiel got 25 touches and three goals on his own for GWS.Western Bulldogs 13.9.87 def GWS 12.11.83 North Melbourne vs RichmondThe match was a struggle from the outset, and it took 10 minutes for North to kick the first goal. This breakthrough proved to be crucial in giving North a seven-point lead at quarter time, and boosted the Roos’ confidence in the second term. North ruthlessly built on their lead with all eight goals of the quarter, frustrating their opponents and isolating their weaknesses with ease. By half-time, Tarrant had four goals for North; his team was up by 53 points and Richmond’s spot in the eight looked far less secure than it did last week.By the third quarter, it was clear Richmond were applying and dealing with forward and defensive pressure. An early goal and lift in momentum quickly lost traction, and while their key players remained ineffective North’s forward press was unrelenting. By three-quarter time, everything was going right for North, and their margin of 59 points all but ruled out a trademark last-minute loss.Much like the match on Friday night, the last quarter gave the winners the chance to relish the victory and the losers to reflect on what went wrong. North’s final margin was 62 points.Adams (29 touches) and Ziebell (25) were recognised as North’s best players, providing the early spark that breathed life back into North’s finals hopes. Cotchin had 25 touches for Richmond but had minimal influence. North Melbourne 19.14.128 def Richmond 8.18.66 Brisbane vs Gold CoastAblett did Brisbane a favour and the fantasy leagues a disservice by not playing this game. Poor disposal efficiency hurt Gold Coast early, and with the early break Brisbane found themselves eight points up at quarter time. As it had in previous Queensland clashes, Brisbane’s superior match experience and resilience gave them an advantage; five goals to three for the second term gave them a 17-point half-time lead.Gold Coast’s exciting young players kicked into gear when play resumed. After Brisbane got two early goals, Bennell, Shaw and O’Meara led the charge of four consecutive Suns’ goals, trimming Brisbane’s lead to one goal. The close contest continued, though Brisbane steadied to lead by 14 points at three-quarter time.Brisbane won the match with the five of the first six goals in the final quarter, the final margin of 33 points due in no small part to senior players Brown (3 goals) and Hanley (25 possessions). Brennan finished with 21 possessions and three skilful goals for Gold Coast.Brisbane 17.14.116 def Gold Coast 12.11.83 Geelong vs HawthornLike the previous 10 encounters, Geelong looked like they had Hawthorn’s measure. In the first term, Geelong’s defence suppressed the potent Hawks’ forward line by marking nearly everything that went inside Hawthorn’s forward 50, and Geelong were rewarded with a score twice that of Hawthorn’s by quarter time.A tug of war set in in the next two terms, as each team had periods of dominance but were their own worst enemy with deplorable goal-kicking accuracy. They managed a goal each in the second term, while in the third Hawthorn kicked 1.3 to Geelong’s seven behinds and Geelong retained their 16-point lead at the final change.The grinding contest failed to live up to the crowd’s high expectations of the match, but in the final quarter they got what they came for. Geelong opened up a game-high 33-point lead with three goals in the first seven minutes of the term, a display that would have drained the resolve of most teams. Not so for Hawthorn: with a snap from Franklin, some magic from Gunston, an interchange infringement and a goal to Simpkin they charged to within three points of Geelong with six minutes left. But then Geelong proved why they are the greatest team of the modern era. In the face of withering pressure, Geelong willed the ball forward and scored two goals to put the match beyond doubt in the dying stages. They finished 10 points and 11 wins ahead of their archrivals, as Hawthorn’s record winning streak came to an end.Mitchell had 36 touches for Hawthorn, but may face the tribunal following a contest with Corey that left the latter unconscious and stretchered off the field. Selwood had 34 for Geelong while Murdoch and sub Stringer kicked four of Geelong’s six last quarter goals to put distance between the two sides.Geelong 11.16.82 def Hawthorn 10.12.72 Adelaide vs West CoastA stirring goal in the first minute by McKernan spurred Adelaide to kick another two, and they had a 16-point lead halfway through the first term. But the Eagles stormed home with four goals in eight minutes, snatching a 7-point lead for quarter time.Adelaide led by this same margin by half-time, having outscored the Eagles by three goals to one in the second term.As in the first term, West Coast’s period of dominance was tough and effective. The Eagles kicked the first three goals of the term to take a 9-point lead in the dying stages. A crucial goal to Adelaide in the last minute put the margin back to two points at the final break.The match was poised for a big finish, and that’s exactly what the teams delivered. Adelaide continued their purple patch with two big goals to start the term, and they looked homebound, 14 points up with eight minutes left. But West Coast matched and then surpassed Adelaide in forward 50 theatrics: within six points with two minutes left, West Coast played coast to coast (no pun intended) footy and Dalziell goaled to level scores. They repeated the feat moments later, when Kennedy swooped on a loose ball 50 out and drilled home his fourth goal of the night. The siren sounded 53 seconds afterwards, and the Eagles (and Kennedy) had pulled off the gutsiest of wins.Masten (39 touches) and Priddis (33) were West Coast’s major ball winners, but like the Socceroos, West Coast have Josh Kennedy to thank for their win in the dying stages. Thompson had 28 touches while Porplyzia kicked some crucial goals for Adelaide.West Coast 11.9.75 def Adelaide 9.15.69 Melbourne vs Sydney (Sunday, July 7)Melbourne is at the point where success isn’t judged by winning, but on-field improvement. By this measuring stick, the match against the reigning premiers was a success. While they had a vastly superior number of clearances, contested possessions and Inside 50s, Sydney’s lead over Melbourne grew only gradually: 14 points at quarter time and 35 at half-time, which would have been more had Sydney not kicked 4.10 in the second term.Nonetheless, the game was over by the second half, and with no pressure on them to win, Sydney youngsters B. Jack (4 goals) and Mitchell (27 touches) had time to show off their fledgling talent. A crumbing goal to the former put Sydney a game-high eight goals in front near the end of the third term, before Melbourne showed spirit and pegged back the lead.Starting with the last goal before three-quarter time, Melbourne scored six goals to Sydney’s three, delivering an uncharacteristic four-quarter effort that meant Sydney’s margin was only five goals by the final siren.While Sydney’s youngsters impressed, fearless Melbourne recruit Terlich was just as noteworthy with a team-leading 27 disposals. For Sydney, Kennedy had 33 touches of which 29 were handpasses.Sydney 16.20.116 def Melbourne 13.7.85 Fremantle vs St. KildaRuckman Sandilands, captain Pavlich and premier midfielder Barlow returned for Fremantle in the same week that St. Kilda lost its premier forwards Reiwoldt and Koschitzke. Basically, punters had pencilled in (Fremantle coach) Ross Lyon’s second victory against the team he used to coach, and everything was going to plan when Fremantle took the early lead and retained it for quarter time.But St. Kilda were plucky in the face of adversity, kicking five goals in the second term to cancel out the scintillating form of Freo’s Ballantyne (four goals in the first half). They led by seven points at half-time.The free flowing game didn’t continue in the second half, to the advantage of Fremantle’s grinding style of play. Fremantle got on top with five goals to two for the third term, and looked set to run away with the match with Pavlich switched on and up by 15 points at the final break.St. Kilda were gallant, challenging Fremantle to the final siren. They drew within a kick early in the last quarter, before Fremantle kicked away again. Neither team conceded any pride with their performance, but the bottom line is Fremantle is a top eight team and St. Kilda is not. This is why they got the four points and won by five goals. Fyfe (35), Barlow (32) and Johnson (29) were the major ball winners for Fremantle, matched at St. Kilda only by Montagna with 31.Fremantle 15.10.100 def St. Kilda 11.4.70 Essendon vs Port AdelaidePort looked set to continue their giant-killing form of previous weeks with a fiercely competitive opening quarter against Essendon. They led by seven points at quarter time, and Essendon looked in serious trouble with Bellchambers their only goal kicker and captain Watson subbed off with a sore collarbone.But Essendon are the masters of winning when they’re down. They kicked six consecutive goals in the second term, stunning Port to lead by 25 points at half-time.The damage done by the second quarter was made all the more apparent in the next half. Port rallied with four consecutive goals in the third term to get within a kick of Essendon, before Essendon responded with three of their own, and had only had their lead cut by one point by three-quarter time.Having worked so hard for so little, Port lost the resolve to compete in the last term, and Essendon banged on three goals to record Sunday’s third 30-point victory.Though irritated early, Stanton notched up 23 touches, seven marks, eight tackles and two goals for Essendon, while for Port Ebert earned 135 Dream Team points for his 36-possession game.Essendon 18.10.118 def Port 12.16.88by Alexander Darling

July 9th 2013
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