Harley-Bennell

With the form slump Geelong has been in of late and Gold Coast’s home ground advantage at Metricon Stadium the Suns were always a red hot chance against the Cats, but nobody expected the expansion team to dismantle Geelong in the fashion they did. For three quarters the two battled it out in a close contest until the Suns put the foot down in the last quarter, kicking seven goals and sending a clear message that they’re too good to not participate in September action.

Less than 24 hours later and it was the other expansion club recording back to back wins for the first time in its history. The Giants have had a super month off the back of the bye, competing with Hawthorn and Essendon before notching wins against Brisbane and the Blues. In a fortnight GWS have jumped from dead last to 14th.

For the fight they showed at long last on Friday night the Tigers were no better off with yet another loss condemning the biggest disappointment of 2014 to 16th on the ladder. While it was a welcome relief for Tigers fans to see their team competing with a top side once again they’re left wondering where this has been all year and if they can replicate it next week.

Injuries made for a rough patch but Hawthorn are well and truly on the rise again; Saturday’s performance against Collingwood proved as much. An incorrect throw decision against Scott Pendlebury may well have cost Collingwood dearly as the Hawks kicked four quick goals off the back of the decision to build a 21-point three-quarter-time buffer from which they never looked back.

It was far from the only costly umpiring blunder of the round, either, with umpires failing to review a Ben Howlett goal which clearly clipped the post in the dying stages of Saturday night’s battle for ninth place, a spot which now looks Essendon’s to lose following the nine-point win over Adelaide.

As far as goal review blunders go, we have never seen one as bad (and hopefully never see one worse) than we saw on Sunday evening when Jack Ziebell’s last quarter goal was perplexingly ruled to have hit the post by the man upstairs with no evidence to back the call. Luckily the decision didn’t affect the result with North Melbourne breaking through Melbourne’s defensive structure to record a 41-point win and maintain a four-point advantage over Essendon.

Elsewhere Port kept their perfect record at Adelaide Oval alive over the Bulldogs, Brisbane hardly looked like kicking a goal in the first half in the rain against Fremantle before saving some dignity with three in the second half and St Kilda showed something but couldn’t stop the Eagles from winning by five goals.

Here’s the Team of the Week for round 14:

B:  Scott D Thompson, Ted Richards, Nick Malceski

HB: Brendon Goddard, Phil Davis, Tomas Bugg

C: Bernie Vince, Tom Rockliff, Nathan Fyfe

HF: Harley Bennell (C), Travis Cloke, Dustin Martin

F: Hayden Ballantyne, Jay Schulz, Jack Billings

Foll: Sam Jacobs, Ollie Wines, Gary Ablett Jr

Int: Justin Westhoff, Scott Thompson, Brent Harvey

Sub: Zak Jones

Full Back:

Scott D Thompson: Thompson played on Cam Pedersen and Chris Dawes in parts and commanded the Kangaroos’ backline with 26 disposals and 12 marks.

Ted Richards: Richards eventually got on top of Jack Riewoldt after the Richmond forward kicked two goals in the first half. He performed well in a game in which the Tigers were in desperate need of a spark up forward, kicking just the one goal after the half.

Nick Malceski: Such is the depth of Sydney’s ability that opposition clubs can seldom afford to put too much effort into shutting Malceski down and he made another team pay on Friday night. He freewheeled out of the backline and lead Sydney for disposals with 26.

Half Back:

Brendon Goddard: Once again Goddard popped up precisely when Essendon needed him to, with 16 disposals in the last quarter against the Crows.

Phil Davis: With confidence at an all time high after his great game against Hawthorn next week, Levi Casboult had the potential to tear the game apart on Sunday, but it didn’t eventuate thanks to Davis in his second game back from a horrific kidney injury sustained in round one.

Tomas Bugg: Bugg applied a hard tag to Kade Simpson and comprehensively won the matchup. Simpson – arguably Carlton’s best player this year – didn’t touch the footy in the first quarter and finished with just 11 disposals.

Centre:

Bernie Vince: He was everywhere in the first half, gathering 25 disposals and kicking three goals. He couldn’t keep the pace up to reach 50, but 41 disposals at 71% efficiency, nine marks and five tackles is still a remarkable game and comfortably his career high for disposals.

Tom Rockliff: It’s not often a midfielder from a side who kicked just three goals from a meagre 17 inside 50s will make the Team of the Week. Exceptions do have to be made, however, and Rockliff’s 45-disposal, 12-tackle, 13-clearance one-man-army effort is more than enough to earn an exception.

Nathan Fyfe: None of the Fremantle midfield brigade would have looked out of place in this spot such was their dominance. It’s Fyfe who gets the spot for his 19 contested possessions and 11 clearances – both team highs.

Half Forward:

Harley Bennell (C): What a luxury it is for the Suns to be able to play Bennell on a forward flank and suffer no repercussions. The former number two pick’s 27-disposal, six-goal, 11-mark effort is as close to a perfect game as there is for a midfielder/forward.

Travis Cloke: Cloke in form is a nightmare matchup for a key defender coming back from injury. Unfortunately for Brian Lake that’s exactly what he faced on Saturday afternoon. He kicked five and took 10 marks – most importantly for Collingwood, though, he maintained his accuracy from the last month in which he has kicked 18.5.

Dustin Martin: Friday night made it seven games in a row where Martin has recorded 28 or more disposals and this was his best game in that stretch. Against one of the in-form teams of the competition in Sydney, ‘Dusty’ had 36 touches, five marks and five clearances.

Full Forward:

Hayden Ballantyne: There was no shortage of opportunities for the goal sneak, with Fremantle sending the ball inside 50 72 times. Ballantyne capitalised kicking five goals to go with his six last week.

Jay Schulz: If Bennell’s game was as close to perfect as you can get from a midfielder/forward then Schulz’s was as close to perfect as you can get from a key forward. Not only did he kick eight goals, he also took 14 marks, six of which were contested and 10 of which were inside 50, and had 22 possessions – all season highs for the Coleman Medal leader.

Jack Billings: Billings has well and truly arrived on the AFL scene and if Sunday is anything to go by he won’t be departing for a long, long time. 100% disposal efficiency games are normally reserved for defenders whose job it is to chip it out of defence, not forwards who play through the midfield, let alone ones in their 10th game at AFL level. Of his 25 disposals 17 were kicks, six were inside 50s and three were shots on goal, only making his 100% efficiency even more impressive.

Followers:

Sam Jacobs: He had more hitouts, more contested possessions and one fewer disposal than Paddy Ryder and Tom Bellchambers combined – that is the definition of a sole ruck dominating. His spot as one of All-Australian rucks is all but wrapped up now – there will be no Nic Naitanui to interrupt this time.

Ollie Wines: His more flashy teammates in Wingard and Gray have often stolen the spotlight this year but it was squarely on Wines in the midfield on Saturday. Of his 30 touches, 17 were contested, 11 were clearances and 24 were effective.

Gary Ablett Jr: Harley Bennell deservingly took the limelight from the little master for this week at least, but Ablett was once again outstanding against his former side. When you thought there was nowhere Ablett could possibly improve his game, he has laid 25 tackles in the last three games compared to 13 in the three games prior.

Interchange:

Justin Westhoff: As was the case with Bennell and Ablett, Schulz deservingly received the plaudits but the ‘Hoff put on a damn fine display. The mercurial utility had 25 touches at 96% efficiency, 10 marks, six tackles and kicked three goals.

Scott Thompson: With the help of Sam Jacobs tapping it down his throat he worked at the coalface twice as hard as anyone on the ground, coming up with 41 touches and 10 clearances as reward for his effort.

Brent Harvey: You could watch him at his best for hours on repeat and 2014 has seemed like a season-long Boomer highlight package at times such has been his consistency this year. Sunday evening was no exception with 28 disposals, a goal and three score assists.

Zak Jones (sub): Taken at pick 15 in the National Draft last year, Jones made the most of his first AFL appearance. He had nine disposals – eight of which were contested – and six tackles in 37% time on ground in a tight contest.