The first of the bye weeks is over and the quicker the remaining two are done with the better.
Players no doubt need their rest but six games of footy on a weekend just doesn’t feel right.
Port Adelaide further staked their claim as a genuine top two side with a good win over Fremantle at Adelaide Oval where they remain undefeated. The Power have a break next week before the top of the table clash against Hawthorn in round 10: win that and the Power will be eight points clear of the Hawks and closing in on home qualifying and preliminary finals.
What more fitting way was there for Buddy to mark his first game against his old side than with wayward kicking making way for the man of the moment to kick the goals that his side needed most. After a shaky start to the season, getting up over the Hawks is a huge scalp for the Swans who are now primed to entrench themselves in the top four.
Melbourne and the Bulldogs scrapped in what turned out to be an engrossing contest but the Demons’ inability to take chances in the last proved to be their downfall as the Bulldogs broke their three-game losing streak.
Elsewhere West Coast, Carlton and Essendon all recorded wins they had to have, with the latter two against sides they lost to last year: Essendon were especially lucky to leave Brisbane with a win.
Here’s the Team of the Week for round eight with the size adjusted for the bye rounds.
FB: Dane Rampe, Alex Silvagni
HB: Jarrad McVeigh, Shannon Hurn
C: Dan Hannebery, Josh P Kennedy, Nathan Fyfe
HF: Chad Wingard, Robbie Gray
FF: Josh J Kennedy (C), Chris Yarran
Foll: Will Minson, Bryce Gibbs, Tom Liberatore
Int: Jobe Watson, Tom Rockliff, Aaron Young (sub)
Dane Rampe : Jack Gunston can mount a significant case for being the best forward when on song but Rampe nullified him on Friday night. He kept Gunston to just 11 touches and zero goals and his performance might just have been the difference between winning and losing for the Swans.
Alex Silvagni: With Luke McPharlin out, Silvagni needed to step up and step up he did. He kept the most in-form key forward in the game – Jay Schulz – goalless and restricted his influence on the contest to almost zero. He creates a selection dilemma for Ross Lyon with McPharlin and Zac Dawson due back either next week or following Freo’s bye.
Jarrad McVeigh: He doesn’t mind a big game and Friday night was no exception for McVeigh. His prowess all over the ground makes it so hard for opposition coaches to assign one man to run with him for four quarters and as such the hard tags are usually put on Kennedy, Hannebery or Jack, leaving McVeigh to do his thing time and time again.
Shannon Hurn: On the rare occasion the Giants got the ball within 60 metres of their goal Hurn was there to rebound. His run was sorely missed after he succumbed to injury in 2013 but he was back to his best on Sunday. If he can produce it consistently now the Eagles will be much better off.
Dan Hannebery: Any coach would kill to have three midfielders of Kieren Jack, Josh Kennedy and Dan Hannebery’s quality but it is only John Longmire and Nathan Buckley who get to enjoy such a luxury. This time around it was Hannebery’s turn to be best on ground and with 40 disposals at 77% efficiency it is beyond doubt he was.
Josh P Kennedy: If Hannebery was best on then Kennedy was most certainly second. He has never been one for great disposal efficiency, and that came to the fore again on Friday as he went at just 58%, but his 23 contested possessions, 11 tackles, 10 clearances and five inside 50s more than makes up for his low efficiency.
Nathan Fyfe: He produced his best game of 2014 gathering 34 disposals – 19 of them contested – to go with five contested marks, six clearances and just the two clangers, but it wasn’t enough for the Dockers.
Chad Wingard: He doesn’t need to have much of it to turn a game on its head and that was the case again on Saturday. Wingard recorded just 17 disposals but kicked five goals and produced a few moments of individual brilliance – including a beautiful pirouetting mark early in the fourth quarter – to get Port over the line.
Robbie Gray: 30 disposals, six clearances, six inside 50s and four score assists is almost becoming routine for Gray but nonetheless it was another great game from the medium forward turned midfielder who now has a case for being Port Adelaide’s most important player.
Josh J Kennedy: 11 goals, 11 marks, zero behinds. Need I say more?
Chris Yarran: Yarran narrowly edges out his mercurial teammate Troy Menzel for this spot but if Menzel can avoid the green vest – as he should for the rest of his career now – he will be a regular in this team for years to come. Yarran was superb on Monday night: he ran, he crumbed, he found plenty of the ball and he booted four goals. Consistency is the key for Yarran, as it has always been.
Will Minson: He hasn’t able to replicate his All-Australian form of 2013 in the first seven rounds but he was back to his best against Melbourne. His 40 hitouts are par for Minson but he found more of the ball than he has so far this year and he chased and tackled harder when the Bulldogs needed it.
Bryce Gibbs: Has looked disinterested at times this year prompting suggestions that he’s on his way back home as a free agent at the end of the season but he was fully invested in Monday night’s contest: comfortably his best game of the year.
Tom Liberatore: 50 tackles between Liberatore, Boyd, Macrae and Griffen is nothing short of remarkable, even it if was against a ball-retaining side like Melbourne. Libba had 27 touches – 16 contested – at 85% and eight clearances to go with his 14 tackles.
Jobe Watson: Essendon just needed something from their skipper to escape yet another embarrassing defeat at Brisbane’s hand and with 35 disposals – 16 of them contested – at 86%, seven marks, nine tackles and eight clearances, Watson delivered.
Tom Rockliff: One can’t help but wonder where Rockliff would be regarded if he played in Victoria; he isn’t quite at the level of Pendlebury, Dangerfield and co but if he can maintain his form to start the season he will be on their level sooner rather than later.
Aaron Young (sub): Another reasonably lacklustre week from men in the green vests but Young showed plenty after coming on at the start of the third quarter. His six disposals went at 100% efficiency and he kicked an important goal in an 18 point victory.