Round-by-round: We will remember them

AFL Round 5, 2013ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, and as such it was fitting that the AFL chose the ANZAC day round to be the first ever to feature matches played in both Australia and New Zealand. St. Kilda and Sydney played the first match across the Tasman at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Thrusday, April 25, in front of thousands of adoring fans and thousands more baffled Kiwis.Despite this match’s significance — it was also the first time two matches were played on ANZAC day — it was never going to overshadow the traditional ANZAC day clash between Essendon and Collingwood. The former unbeaten this season and the latter starting to hit their straps, the most anticipated game bar the Grand Final looked to be the match of the round.  Essendon vs Collingwood (Thursday, April 25)Essendon were without key players Fletcher and Hurley, while ruckman Jolly was absent for Collingwood. Neither team seemed to miss their important players, however, as the electric atmosphere that is the norm for this match made players more intense and commit to contests early. The increased pressure meant both teams had difficulty finding the goals, the crowd of 93,000 having to wait 16 minutes for Zaharakis to snap through the game’s first goal for Essendon. From this Essendon took a confidence boost that helped them take the lead into quarter time.Two early goals from short range extended this lead to 15 points early in the second, as Essendon finally capitalised on their superior leg speed. This two-goal lead remained for much of the term — due to Essendon’s solid defence and a bad case of goal-kicking “yips” for Collingwood — but then momentum shifted and Collingwood surged to get within four points of the lead at half-time, leaving the match on pause at fever pitch.Essendon rediscovered their polish directly after the long break, banging on four goals in seven minutes to lead by a game-high 32 points. All Collingwood’s momentum evaporated, their defence under siege and the match slipping away; though they continued to challenge, Collingwood were still no closer than four goals with six minutes left in the match. Soon after, Essendon’s captain Watson sealed it with a superb goal from the pocket, and “ESS-EN-DON” was roared across the ‘G.Essendon ultimately made Collingwood pay for lacking determination at the start of each quarter. Consequently, Collingwood never got into a winning position, instead having to play catch up football all day.Zaharakis — who on this day four years ago won the match for Essendon with his first goal — won the ANZAC medal with 34 touches and a goal in every quarter, and Carlisle should be recognised for keeping Cloke to two goals after seven the week before. Collingwood’s Sidebottom continued his stellar start to the year with 31 touches.Essendon 18.13.121 def Collingwood 10.15.75 St. Kilda vs SydneyFor the first AFL match ever played overseas, St. Kilda lost no less than five players from the team that lost to Essendon the week before. This wasn’t a concern early on, as they scored the first three goals. But just like the last encounter between these two sides, St. Kilda capitulated and Sydney returned fire with the next three, leading by two points at quarter time.St. Kilda pinched the lead back soon after the break, but Sydney kicked away again to extend their margin to 10 points by half time. Sydney’s ascension continued in the third, slotting two early goals to make the margin 26. They would hold onto this lead until three-quarter time.The last quarter saw St. Kilda make a gallant final tilt at the lead, kicking three goals to be within 10 points. They had to work very hard for these, however, and Sydney forced stoppage after stoppage (which the rugby-playing New Zealand spectators were all too happy to watch), strangling the life out of St. Kilda’s charge. A goal from Mumford sealed the match with two minutes left and fittingly, the first team to play in the league outside Victoria became the first team to win outside Australia.Overall Sydney were victorious because they made fewer disposal errors and converted their periods of dominance into bigger scores.Hannebery had 30 touches in an ANZAC medal-winning performance for Sydney, while captain Reiwoldt lead from the front for St. Kilda, amassing 27 touches, two goals and 153 Dream Team points.Sydney 11.13.79 def St.Kilda 9.9.63 Fremantle vs Richmond (Friday, April 26)Coming off losses the previous week, both teams came to Patersons Stadium eager to start winning again and cement themselves in the top 8. It was Richmond who showed this desire early on, scoring the first 20 points of the match. Fremantle then lifted, going goal-for-goal with Richmond such that the margin remained 20 points by quarter time.The second term was nearly a complete reverse of the first: Fremantle scored the first three goals, before Richmond lifted and each team scored two more before half-time. Fremantle took the lead for the first time 10 minutes into the term, and held on by two points at the main break.Momentum continued to swing in the second half: Fremantle extended their lead by three-quarter time, and were 14 points ahead at one stage in the final term. But accurate goal kicking and renewed passion from Richmond saw them five points in front with two minutes left.In a frantic final 90 seconds, Ballantyne jabbed home his fourth goal from a congested boundary throw in, Freo’s first in 20 minutes. It put them back in front by one point, a lead they would hold onto until match’s end. The siren sounded with the ball bouncing towards Richmond’s vacant goal square, out of reach of aggrieved Richmond players.Fremantle’s Barlow put in the best individual performance in the Perth heart-stopper, amassing 31 touches. Meanwhile, Vickery proved his worth as Richmond’s second tall forward with three goals.Fremantle 12.9.81 def Richmond 12.8.80 GWS vs Gold Coast (Saturday, April 27)This was the second meeting of the two franchise teams in the nation’s capital. Both are still known for playing good quarters of football rather than good matches, and the see-sawing momentum early highlighted the inconsistency of each team’s form. It was goal-for-goal throughout the term, and scores were locked on 21 points apiece by quarter time.Though GWS claimed their first ever victory at the corresponding match last year, Gold Coast looked the team who’d come further in the time since: They slammed on seven of the first eight goals in the second term, opening up a six-goal lead halfway through. Three long-range goals in two minutes by GWS breathed life back into the contest, but Dixon’s third goal for the term steadied the Suns before half-time.GWS continued to compete when play resumed, coming within seven points of Gold Coast before the latter had a spate of scoring opportunities. Though they were inaccurate, this patch was enough to keep them three goals ahead by the final break, also setting up an eight-goal last term. Gold Coast ended up with their biggest ever winning margin, finishing the match on top of all key statistics as well as on the scoreboard.Ablett put in another team-leading performance with 32 touches and three goals for the victorious Suns, while Dixon scored a career-high six goals. Ward and Smith were best for GWS.Gold Coast 21.22.148 def GWS 16.8.104 Carlton vs AdelaideCarlton looked the better team from the first bounce, kicking the first three goals on the way to a five-goal quarter time lead. Meanwhile, Adelaide’s shaky start to the season took another hit, with star forward Walker hyper-extending his knee and being subbed off in the first term.Carlton remained in cruise control, their small forwards running amok as the margin blew out to as much as 41 points by the middle of the third term.Then Adelaide hit back, a string of four consecutive goals getting them within 17 points halfway through the last term. Carlton steadied though, a superb goal by Yarran sealing the match at the 20-minute mark.Yarran and fellow goal-sneak Garlett were again pivotal to Carlton’s victory, scoring seven goals between them, while McClean contributed two goals of his own and 29 disposals. Scott Thompson again topped Adelaide’s disposal count, while youngster Jaensch was the spark that lifted Adelaide with three second-half goals.Carlton 17.13.115 def Adelaide 12.11.83 Western Bulldogs vs GeelongThe Dogs missed key midfielders Giansircusa and Griffen, but early on regained the competitiveness they generally lacked over the past month; they denied Geelong the ball and scored the first two goals to lead against all odds. Geelong came back with the next three, before a confused umpire denied the Dogs another shot at goal with two minutes to go in the term. Geelong responded with two more goals before quarter time, rushing to a three-goal lead, not representative of the Dogs’ competitiveness.The brief momentum boost was all Geelong needed to take control, surging to be six goals ahead midway through the second term and five ahead by half-time. Commentators predicted the floodgates to open in the second half, but it wasn’t forthcoming. The Dogs, to their credit, maintained their effort and forward pressure in the third term, such that Geelong only built on their half-time lead after Taylor put through his fifth goal with 30 seconds left. The Dogs halved Geelong’s lead with the first three goals to start the last term, but Geelong did enough to slow down play and secure their status as unbeaten after five rounds and an early season flag favourite.For Geelong, Johnson notched up 30 disposals, 10 tackles and 141 Dream Team points. For the Dogs, Jones had a career-best night up forward with big marks and four goals, and captain Boyd had 29 touches.Geelong 15.17.107 def Western Bulldogs 13.8.86 Port Adelaide vs West CoastDespite losing Priddis to concussion early, the Eagles had the better start to the match. They opened up a 21-point lead before West Coast could score, as their prancing star forward Kennedy piled on three first-quarter goals.West Coast displayed further strength in the next two terms, leading by a game-high six goals by the middle of the third. However, the Eagles were plagued with inaccuracy, kicking 12 behinds from 17 scoring shots in the second and third quarters combined and failing to put the game beyond doubt. It would come back to bite them, because soon after the Power was turned on: Port booted the next seven goals to take the lead for the first time 12 minutes into the last term. West Coast then got back in front through a goal to Dalziell, before Neade responded for Port and they hung on to win by five points in a thriller. New coach Hinkley continues his dream start to his coaching career, Port having won their first five games of a season for the first time in their short history.In his 250th match, Cornes had 26 touches for Port, while Hartlett also impressed. Youngsters Selwood, Shuey and Gaff shined again for West Coast, but the team have some work to do after wasteful goal kicking prevented them from sealing the match when they had control for the second consecutive week.Port Adelaide 12.12.84 def West Coast 10.19.79 Brisbane vs Melbourne (Sunday, April 28)Neither team was in the best shape coming into the game, each with only one win from the first four games. They both looked keen to make amends for their poor starts early, going goal-for-goal to be 33 points apiece by quarter time. The contest remained even in the second term, Brisbane missing some opportunities before a mistake in defence gifted Zorko the first goal of the term and gave Brisbane a nine-point lead. Melbourne responded with the next two goals, but Brisbane still took a one-goal lead into half-time.The gap widened to four goals within the first five minutes of the third, as Brisbane got on top of the Clearances and Inside 50s. Melbourne refused to go away — a positive sign after fade-outs in their first three matches — but time was on Brisbane’s side and they finished the match 28 points in front.Brisbane’s Moloney had no trouble playing against his old side, notching up 35 touches. Youngster Terlich was solid with 24 touches for Melbourne.Brisbane 17.20.122 def Melbourne 14.10.94 Hawthorn vs North MelbourneAn injury to defender Schoenmakers meant mature-aged recruit Lake made his debut in Hawthorn’s defence. But it was a Hawk at the other end of the ground that had the most impact early; Bailey kicked Hawthorn’s first three goals to keep the spirited North Melbourne side at bay early. The Roos fleetingly had the lead before Hawthorn kicked two goals just before quarter time.Tensions came to a head when play resumed — Franklin (who’d finish with five behinds and no goals) involved in a few of them — as Hawthorn got a game-high 16-point lead early in the term. But North refused to yield, two goals on either side of half-time restoring their slim lead. Some class by usual suspect Rioli put Hawthorn back on top, as they again opened up a two-goal margin.Once again, North fought back, with three goals to start the last term putting them three points in front. And once again, Hawthorn returned fire with three of their own. North was mounting yet another tilt for the lead when the final siren sounded. Hawthorn won by three points, the even contest capping off a superb round of Australian Rules Football.The small forwards ruled the match individually, with Rioli kicking four for Hawthorn and Thomas five for North. Swallow lead all comers with 35 touches.Hawthorn 14.15.99 def North Melbourne 13.18.96by Alexander Darling

April 30th 2013
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