Here we are, already halfway through the 2014 home and away season.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the season thus far looked to be back to 2013 form when Richmond led North Melbourne by 35 points at half time, but in the space of 20 minutes in the third quarter the Tigers were brought back to earth with a thud. The Kangaroos kicked 13 goals to three in the second half to win by 28 points, securing a spot in the top eight for at least another week.
Another disappointing side in Carlton looked to claim its biggest scalp on Friday night and when Bryce Gibbs snapped truly to give Carlton a seven-point lead with not long left to go it looked like the Blues would hold on. It was not to be, though, with Geelong’s class and experience – and a few questionable umpiring decisions – getting the Cats over the line.
In the traditional Queen’s Birthday game Melbourne’s defensive intensity was the main feature as it so often has been this year but poor disposal going forward and a series of basic errors which are the trademark of any young side cost them as the Demons had yet another gallant defeat. It was an important win for the Pies who join Hawthorn, Geelong and Sydney at 8-3 to set up a stellar back half of the season.
For the first time this year the Lions recorded consecutive wins with a brave effort to hold off the Dogs at Etihad and have now jumped from looking the certain wooden spooners to 16th on percentage.
Sydney made the now feared trip to Metricon Stadium and reinforced their status as the form team of the competition as they controlled the game from beginning to end, putting the foot on the accelerator whenever Gold Coast looked to be staging something of a comeback. The clash between top of the ladder Port Adelaide and the Swans next week looks to be one of the best games of the year.
Elsewhere a vintage Ross Lyon performance kept Adelaide to its lowest score since round 11 last year while Hawthorn, Port and Essendon each recorded solid wins against lesser opposition.
Here’s the Team of the Week for round 12
B: Matt Spangher, Luke McPharlin, Lee Spurr
HB: Jarman Impey, Steven May, Pearce Hanley
C: Bryce Gibbs, Nathan Jones, Hamish Hartlett
HF: Brent Harvey, Matthew Pavlich, Robbie Gray
F: Robin Nahas, Jarryd Roughead (c), Chad Wingard
Foll: Todd Goldstein, Gary Ablett, Jack Ziebell
Int: Drew Petrie, Daniel Hannebery, Nick Malceski, Daniel Giansiracusa (sub)
Matt Spangher: The cult hero had one of his finest games down back on Saturday afternoon. Mainly tasked with playing on West Coast’s resting ruck, he more than held his own defensively while gathering 22 disposals and grabbing 10 marks.
Luke McPharlin: He took on Taylor Walker and comprehensively won the battle, keeping the Crows’ forward to 11 possessions, three marks and no goals.
Lee Spurr: Spurr played on Eddie Betts and rendered the lively small forward ineffective with just nine disposals at 56% efficiency and no goals, while Spurr had an equal game-high 32 disposals of his own.
Jarman Impey: It’s still early days but Port look to have uncovered something special with pick 21 in last year’s National Draft. Impey has played every game for the top of the ladder Power and Saturday afternoon was by far his best recording 20 disposals at 90%, eight marks and five rebound 50s.
Steven May: His direct opponent Lance Franklin kicked three goals but there was nothing that could be done to stop two of them. In one on one contests May was the victor, consistently using his body to better one of the form forwards of the AFL.
Pearce Hanley: He enjoyed a bit more midfield time than he has in the first 11 rounds of the season and made the most of it with 23 disposals while laying 12 tackles.
Bryce Gibbs: Postponing contract talks may have been a masterstroke by Bryce Gibbs as his value continues to rise. The free agent was best on ground on Friday night with 29 disposals and four goals including the goal that put Carlton seven points up with four minutes left.
Nathan Jones: In the corresponding game last year Jones had 30 possessions as Melbourne suffered an 83-point loss to Collingwood in what would be Mark Neeld’s last game in charge of Melbourne. A year on and much has changed in Demonland but one thing that hasn’t is Jones is still giving all he has for Melbourne. He had 29 touches, six tackles and five clearances on Monday as a rejuvenated Melbourne went down by 33 points in a valiant performance.
Hamish Hartlett: Neither Travis Boak nor Matt White played due to injury and Hartlett stood up to fill the void in the Port midfield. A new career high in disposals was more than enough to get his side the win.
Brent Harvey: At 36 years old and in his 373rd game, ‘Boomer’ was on the field for 98% of the game on Sunday night and gave everything he had for every second. He had 25 touches, four score assists and kicked three goals. One play in the third quarter where he was in the hands of trainers, seemingly in trouble, only to bounce up when the footy was near, receive the handball and provide a link in the chain of play that would see the deficit reduced to five points personified the type of player Boomer is.
Matthew Pavlich: Pavlich was something of a one-man forward line for the Dockers, giving Daniel Talia a lesson as he took 12 marks – six inside 50 – and kicked three goals.
Robbie Gray: Saturday was Gray’s best game in an All-Australian season. The omissions of Boak and White forced him to spend a bit more time through the middle, yet he showed no fatigue and his prowess as a forward was not impacted. He wound up with 25 disposals, four goals and four score assists.
Robin Nahas: Nahas came into the season knowing he needed to make the most of any opportunity Brad Scott afforded him, and he has done just that. On Sunday night he had 18 touches and kicked two goals – including the goal that gave North the lead in the third quarter – and he now finds himself consistently in their 22.
Jarryd Roughead (C): It was the best individual performance of his career. Roughead had 24 disposals – 13 contested – at 71% efficiency, took eight marks – five contested, five inside 50 – laid six tackles, had five inside 50s and kicked eight goals.
Chad Wingard: Wingard took the best mark of the year so far, had 23 disposals, seven inside 50s, kicked three goals and took another nine marks to go with his hanger – just another day at the office for Chad.
Todd Goldstein: You couldn’t possibly ask more of a ruckman than the 20 disposals, six marks, five tackles and 43 hitouts Goldstein had on Sunday night.
Gary Ablett Jr: Sydney did an excellent job limiting his space and forcing Ablett to handball in the first half but Ablett found a way and got on top in the second half. The little master was best on ground in a game comfortably controlled by the Swans.
Jack Ziebell: It was one of the most influential 18 dispsosal games you are ever likely to see. Ziebell was a man possessed in the third quarter, attacking the ball with no regard for his own safety as well as kicking one and providing the assist for one of North’s eight goals in 19 minutes in the third quarter.
Drew Petrie: Speaking of coming up big in a huge comeback, Petrie was dominant in the second half, kicking the second, fourth and eighth goals of North’s eight-goal second quarter and single handedly created the third with his second and third efforts.
Dan Hannebery: All three of Kieren Jack, Josh Kennedy and Hannebery were on their game and Hannebery was the best of them. He had 30 disposals, six clearances, five inside 50s and four score assists.
Nick Malceski: Particularly early on in the game Malceski ran rampant on half-back, slingshotting any attempts to attack by the Suns back into the midfield.
Daniel Giansiracusa (sub): ‘Gia’ led the Bulldogs comeback as they kicked four goals to one in the fourth quarter to fall agonisingly short. In 38% game time he had 10 disposals at 90% and kicked two goals.