This week was a story of two legends of the game. The first was Tom Hafey, who tragically lost his battle with cancer on Monday. ‘T-shirt’ was a figure larger than life who resurrected the Tigers and won four premierships with them as a coach. Australian rules footy is worse off for Hafey’s passing and he will be sorely missed.
The second legend is as humble a superstar as you could ever imagine – Fremantle skipper Matthew Pavlich. ‘Pav’ became the first ever Docker to play 300 games on Saturday night and what better way to commemorate it than with a win over Geelong. The 32-year old admitted during the week there were times when he thought of moving back to Adelaide but to his credit he stayed and now a crack at that elusive flag is on the cards.
Richmond were unable to celebrate their legend the way in which Fremantle did, with the Tigers crashing to their sixth loss of the season (they only lost seven in 2013). Now with finals off the table it’s time for Richmond to re-assess, send the walking wounded in for surgery and for Damien Hardwick to try something different in order to try and save his job.
Three and six. If you had suggested to anyone that it would be Melbourne’s win/loss record at their bye at the start of the season you would have been called delusional. Yet here we are. Every Melbourne player has bought into Roos’ system and it’s paying off in spades. For the first time in a long time the Dees have escaped the clutches of the bottom four, and if they sit above 15th at the conclusion at the end of the season, 2014 will have been a rousing success. There will be bad days along the way as there is with any young side but they are quickly leaving the days of being a basket case behind.
Speaking of being a basket case, Brisbane may well be about to replace Melbourne in that position. They look without direction on the field and off the field the problems are even bigger as they drown in debt. Port Adelaide have proved nothing is impossible in this game but it will more than likely be a long painful road back to relevance for the Lions.
It took a while but Adelaide have their first scalp of the year. Having previously registered wins against bottom-feeders St Kilda, GWS and the Western Bulldogs, the Crows registered a big win against Collingwood. They sit at four wins and four losses now and although it seems like the sides in the eight now are a cut above, the win against the Pies is a good platform for Adelaide to launch an assault on the eight.
Gold Coast sit on the edge of the four and the question must now change from whether they will play finals this year to whether they can secure themselves a double chance. Here’s your weekly reminder that the club has only existed in the AFL for four years and has an average list age of 22.4 with an average of 44.9 games between them. Good luck stopping that.
It was against the mediocre Essendon but the Swans looked ominous. With injuries hitting Hawthorn hard – five of their most important players in Hodge, Gibson, Rioli, Lake and Mitchell have gone down – Sydney have a golden opportunity to put distance between themselves and the Hawks and securing a chance of a home Preliminary Final.
Here’s the Team of the Week for round nine, adjusted in size to account for the byes.
FB: Steven May, Luke Brown
HB: Jeremy Howe, Daniel Talia
C: Patrick Dangerfield, Josh P Kennedy, Stephen Hill
HF: Brent Harvey, Cam Pedersen
FF: Lance Franklin, Robin Nahas
Foll: Sam Jacobs, Gary Ablett Jr (C), Ryan Crowley
Int: Dom Tyson, Josh Jenkins, Ben Lennon (sub)
Steven May: Nick Riewoldt may have kicked two goals but his impact was nowhere near its normal level and that’s a credit to May. May ran with Riewoldt which is one of the hardest tasks in footy and was able to restrict his impact while the Saints skipper tried to lift his team once again.
Luke Brown: I wrote here earlier this year that Jamie Elliot has quickly become Collingwood’s best forward, surpassing Travis Cloke. Nobody had kept the excitement machine goalless in 2014 until Luke Brown lined up on him on Thursday night. Not only did Brown restrict Elliot’s scoreboard impact to the lowest in a home and away game since round 16 2013, he also kept him to his lowest disposal count this year.
Jeremy Howe: As good as it is to watch Howe take a hanger then go back and slot a goal, behind the ball is his best position and Roos has gotten the best out of him there this year. He combines his well-noted outstanding leaping ability with an above average ability to read the play to float down back and cut off the opposition’s attack before it comes to fruition.
Daniel Talia: While Brown was keeping Collingwood’s best forward in 2014 out of the game Talia was doing the job on Collingwood’s most important forward. If Cloke gets on top he changes games but Talia did not allow him to, keeping the power forward to 11 touches at 55%, three marks and one goal.
Patrick Dangerfield: It’s tough to picture him playing for anyone else when he plays games like he did on Thursday. He’s struggled against Collingwood in the past but on Thursday he ran Brent Macaffer ragged. Finished with 32 disposals – 20 contested – at 78% efficiency, eight tackles, 12 clearances, five free kicks for and nine inside 50s. On his day nobody in the competition can change a game like Dangerfield can and – unfortunately for Collingwood – Thursday was his day.
Josh P Kennedy: Kennedy went head to head with Watson and while the Essendon skipper had a respectable game it was Kennedy who emerged the victor. Got things going for the Swans as he so often does with 22 contested possessions and 10 clearances.
Stephen Hill: Hill had his most disposals (29) since round 23 2012 including 13 contested touches and five clearances. If he can get the mix between inside ballwinner and outside runner – as he did on Saturday with an equal game high four bounces – he will become one of the most damaging and hard-to-stop players in the league.
Brent Harvey: It was one for the ages from Harvey regardless of the quality of the opposition. 30 of his 39 disposals were effective, he had three running bounces, six clearances, six inside 50s and kicked two goals: vintage Boomer.
Cameron Pedersen: Here’s a name I didn’t think I would be writing here in a thousand years. With Chris Dawes, Jesse Hogan and Mitch Clark on the list it looked unlikely Pedersen would play much this year, but injuries and Clark’s tragic premature retirement has seen him get a chance. The former North Melbourne forward was super on Saturday. He competed, clunked four contested marks, laid eight tackles and kicked two goals. Perhaps most importantly he gave the Melbourne forward line structure and was a target for midfielders to look for rather than kicking long and hoping.
Lance Franklin: Buddy’s five goals on Friday night lowers his average goals against Essendon since 2007 from 6.4 goals per game to a paltry 6.25 goals per game against the Dons. He treated Michael Hurley like he was no more than a minor inconvenience, throwing him around like a rag doll. In a great sight for Swans supporters he was able to work well with Tippett who kicked three of his own. No team has two defenders big enough to stop the two man mountains residing in Sydney’s forward line if they can stay injury free.
Robin Nahas – Speaking of names I never thought I would write here Nahas is most definitely another. Teammate Lindsay Thomas is unlucky to miss out but for his forward pressure in a blowout when he could have been excused for slacking off, Nahas deserves this spot.
Sam Jacobs: You wouldn’t know it looking at him but ‘Sauce’ is better around the ground than any other ruckman in the game. He showed it again on Thursday as well as dictating terms in the ruck with 34 hitouts.
Gary Ablett Jr (C): What can you say about the man who has had everything said about him already? He’ll win his third Brownlow this year, will play in a Grand Final for the Suns one day and if he can lift aloft the cup one more time he will be recognised as the best ever.
Ryan Crowley: Love him or hate him you can’t deny Crowley does his job. Felt like deja vu on Saturday as the stopper got under Stevie J’s skin and reduced him to a bystander in a Fremantle win.
Dom Tyson: Has well and truly put to bed the ridiculous discussion over whether Melbourne made a mistake trading pick two (Josh Kelly) for Tyson and pick nine (Christian Salem). Tyson’s a star. He had a couple of down weeks as any 20 year old will but he was back to his best on Saturday. Nathan Jones may have had ten more touches but anyone watching will agree Tyson was best on ground. He ran his guts out all day, constantly giving his teammates the option of giving him the ball and was still going strong in the last.
Josh Jenkins: On the night Taylor Walker made his long-awaited return to AFL action he was upstaged by Jenkins. He kicked four goals (even if one of them shouldn’t have counted), took a couple of big marks and laid five tackles and smashed his opponent Lachie Keeffe.
Ben Lennon (sub): Came on in the third quarter and was immediately raising questions as to why it took him so long to crack the senior side with a goal with his first kick at AFL level. Finished up with eight touches, three marks and two goals in 46% game time.