Round-by-round: The calm before the storm

AFL Round 22, 2013For Round 22, let’s just enjoy some regular match reviews, before delving into the AFL Commission’s formal charges to Essendon over their unorthodox supplements program. Collingwood vs West Coast (Friday, August 23)Collingwood blew West Coast out of the water in the first term, with eight goals to two and finding plenty of space around the ground. They romped to a 37-point quarter-time lead.As tempers flared in the second term, Collingwood gradually increased their lead. With three goals to one, they lead by 52 points at half-time.By the second half, the match had lost all interest, as Collingwood failed to punish West Coast any further and the Eagles had no desire to try and lessen the winning margin. With his third goal, Cloke briefly grabbed top spot in the Coleman medal race, and three goals for the term to Collingwood put their margin at 70 points for the final break. This was 62 by full time.It was another disappointing match from West Coast, with their second loss over 10 goals and a record low score in as many weeks. But Rosa’s 37 touches across half back was a highlight. He was matched at Collingwood by Pendlebury, while Thomas had a breakout game with 35.Collingwood 15.11.101 def West Coast 5.9.39 Adelaide vs Melbourne (Saturday, August 24)In a struggle of a first term, Melbourne grabbed an early lead through Howe, and retained it by seven points for quarter time.It didn’t take long for Adelaide to hit back in the second term: with six unanswered goals they turned a goal down into five goals up. Two goals to Melbourne put this margin back to 17 at half-time.Both teams put Melbourne out of the contest in the third term, with Dunn (Melbourne) giving away an early goal to Otten and gifting Adelaide an early morale boost. The Crows would add another three goals to one for the term and take a 35-point lead into the final change.With the match over, Adelaide needed no encouragement to drive the boot into Melbourne in the last term. After Melbourne scored two early goals, Adelaide charged home with the next seven, turning a comprehensive win into a 68-point thrashing and providing the perfect send off to their last game at AAMI Stadium (they’ll play at Adelaide Oval next year).Thompson was at his best for Adelaide with 33 touches and a goal, while Johnston kicked 6. Dunn finished with 24 disposals for Melbourne, but was upstaged in Dream Team points by ruckman Spencer with 30 hit outs.Adelaide 18.12.120 def Melbourne 7.10.52 North Melbourne vs HawthornNorth suffered one of their closest defeats at the hands of Hawthorn earlier this year, and early on looked keen to make amends. They banged on four unanswered goals after Breust got the first for Hawthorn, opening up a three-goal lead. Hawthorn then returned the favour with the next three, and the match was on a knife’s edge with North up by two points at quarter time.Another four-goal blitz went North’s way when the second term began, giving them a game-high 26-point lead. Hawthorn then rallied and outscored North four goals to two for the rest of the term, still within 13 points at half-time.Though both teams continued to score freely and North remained on top of disposals in the third term, it was Hawthorn that made their move. They briefly grabbed the lead early in the piece with two goals, before a Rioli-inspired four goals in six minutes left North stunned. With a total of seven goals for the term, Hawthorn had grabbed a seven-point lead for three-quarter time.Though North kept coming in the last term, it was a case of deja vu as they let a solid lead evaporate into a narrow defeat. Hawthorn’s final margin was 14 points, and with it a guaranteed spot in the top two and a home final in the first week of September.Goldstein continued his All-Australian form with 24 hit outs, 19 touches and two goals, while Ziebell also kicked two and had 27 touches. Franklin landed five goals, Roughead four and Breust three as the Hawthorn forward line went back to its best, while Mitchell had a lazy 27 disposals.Hawthorn 17.15.117 def North Melbourne 15.13.103 Geelong vs SydneySydney looked to continue their form of recent weeks when Tippet marked and goaled 90 seconds in, but it proved a red herring. Geelong slammed on the next four goals unanswered with their big names getting involved, and took a 14-point lead into quarter time.Sydney received criticism from commentators for not working hard enough off the ball in the second term. By contrast, Geelong dominated the contested possessions and tackles (they’d finish with 95), and though scoring dried up in the term they were 25 points ahead at half-time.Both teams scored 15 points in the third term, and though Geelong’s lead didn’t change, it was clear they were far better poised to win the match, taking the ball down the ground with ease.Geelong’s adroitness around the ground made its way onto the scoreboard in the final term, where they scored five goals to two and ended up winning by 44 points. Geelong’s 15th consecutive win at home was sweetened by Motlop’s last-quarter contender for Mark of the Year.Another week, another easy victory over a serious premiership contender to Geelong. Like Hawthorn, they secure themselves a top two spot and look in the box seat to make the Grand Final.Johnson had a rare match without being tagged, and cashed in with 26 touches and four goals. Stokes gathered a game-high 37 and Enright 29 across half back, and all three players could be in the best team of this season. Kennedy had 32 touches and Pike kicked three goals for Sydney.Geelong 13.14.92 def Sydney 7.6.48 Carlton vs EssendonThough Carlton did most of the attacking in the first term, inaccuracy and Essendon rediscovering its pluckiness prevented them from being further than one point in front at quarter time.Essendon made them pay in the second term, with a fully-fledged attack on the ball and brilliant intercept marking. With the first two goals of the term, they snatched a three point lead at half-time.Momentum swung back Carlton’s way just before half-time, and it stayed with them in the third. At their scoring end, they kicked the first three goals of the term while having all the run. They held a pivotal 17-point lead at three-quarter time.While Carlton’s chronic inaccuracy remained in the last term, Essendon fired up again. They scored three goals to steal a one-point lead with eight minutes left to play. Some crucial misses to both sides levelled the scores with a minute left, before some defensive mistakes from Carlton at the death gave Zaharakis the chance to swoop on the loose ball and spear home a goal. It was another stirring, gutsy win by Essendon reminiscent of their early season form against the odds and a much-needed respite from the crippling defeats of the past four weeks. Yet Carlton’s loss is arguably more significant than Essendon’s win: Carlton, North, West Coast, Brisbane and Adelaide all still have the chance to make the eight with one round left, given Essendon’s situation hinders them unlikely to be allowed to play finals footy.Simpson played his best game of the year in defence for Carlton, amassing 32 touches and the adoration of supporters with his fearless attack on the ball. Goddard and Watson both had 27 touches for Essendon, while Zaharakis also had 24.Essendon 12.10.82 def Carlton 9.22.76 Fremantle vs Port AdelaideFreo’s little men Walters and Ballantyne ran rampant in the first half, and were responsible for converting Freo’s dominance around the ground into a big score. Five goals in both the first and second terms — while an embarrassing Port only scored one — gave Fremantle a 55-point lead at half-time. It was after half-time, when the match was over, that Port took it up to Fremantle. After Freo scored three of the first four goals of the third term, Port went goal for goal with them until the middle of the last term. It would have been much more exciting were Freo’s margin not over 10 goals, but it showed Port had enough class to play finals footy. Nonetheless, Freo won both the third and fourth quarters to record a thumping 74-point win, and all but guarantee third spot.Ballantyne and Pavlich both finished with four goals and Walters three for Fremantle, while Neale had 28 possessions. It was a good game for both sides’ ruckmen, with Freo’s Clarke having 30 hit outs and two goals and Port’s Lobbe 43 hit outs and 15 tackles.Fremantle 21.8.134 def Port Adelaide 9.6.60 St. Kilda vs Gold Coast (Sunday, August 25)It was an even first term, with big names from both sides getting on the scoresheet and a goal for goal match early on. Gold Coast held a one-point lead at quarter time having scored the final two goals.The Suns quickly extended their margin to 12 with another two directly after the break. But a six goal rampage by St. Kilda — with Reiwoldt a star — gave them back the lead and the momentum, and they were three goals ahead at half-time.St. Kilda built this lead to over five goals with the first two of the term, before Gold Coast got a head of steam and began to cut St. Kilda’s margin. The three-quarter time siren came too early, however, and St. Kilda were still 21 points in front.With five goals to one in the final term, St. Kilda secured their first win in two months and only their fourth for the season, with a final margin of 46 points.The old stars at St. Kilda were again the best, Reiwoldt (26 touches, 15 marks) and the retiring Milne kicking four goals each and Montagna notched up 33 disposals and three goals. Stanley had a good match for the Suns with a personal best 27 touches.St. Kilda 17.14.116 def Gold Coast 10.10.70 GWS vs RichmondGWS went goal for goal with Richmond to start the match, but then Richmond’s forwards started looking more dangerous whenever the ball went forward. Richmond led by nine points at quarter time.In the second term, Richmond took a wrecking ball to GWS, slamming on 11 goals to one behind in one of the most dominant quarters of the season. By half-time, they had a lead of 80 points and a score of 99.Another three goals to start the third term made it 14 in a row for Richmond, and though GWS kicked the next two it was still all one way traffic. Richmond’s lead was 84 points at three-quarter time.As they had done in the second, Richmond kept GWS goalless in the last term, and with six last-quarter goals ensured they went into September well prepared and with a full bar of confidence. Their final winning margin was 121 points, their first 100-point win in nearly 20 years.Tigers ruckman Maric played a great second term, finishing with 22 hit outs, four clearances and two goals, while Edwards kicked five goals and Martin had 33 touches. Adams was valiant for GWS with 23 possessions.Richmond 25.13.163 def GWS 6.6.42 Brisbane vs Western BulldogsWhen the Dogs responded to Brisbane’s three early goals with two of their own, it looked as though we were in for a tight contest. But with Rich having a good match up forward, Brisbane slammed on another four goals to lead by 26 points at quarter time.The second term belonged to Brisbane as well, with their emerging midfielders kicking goals for the highlights reel and a run of five consecutive goals in the middle of the term. Their lead was as much as 57 points before the Dogs pegged it back to 50 at half-time.Led by young guns Liberatore and Dalhaus, the Dogs turned the tables on the match in the second half. With four goals to one in the third term they had turned it back into a contest, down by only 28 points at three-quarter time.By the time the Dogs had kicked three goals within the first 10 minutes of the last term, Brisbane looked to be getting a taste of their own medicine after they came back to beat Geelong from over 50 points down in Round 13. But a goal from traffic by Raines stemmed the flow of Bulldog goals, and Brisbane hung on to win by seven points and keep their (Essendon-predicated) finals hopes alive.Rockliff was best afield for Brisbane with 33 touches, 10 marks and seven tackles. Boyd and Liberatore both had 27 for the Dogs, while Dalhaus kicked three goals.Brisbane 15.10.100 def Western Bulldogs 13.15.93by Alexander Darling

August 27th 2013
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