Welcome to Balls of Steel’s AFL Beat!
This week, the AFL played the first of two exhibition games featuring the 50 best female players. Each women’s game precedes the regularly-scheduled men’s match between the Melbourne Demons and the Western Bulldogs and is streamed live and free from the AFL website. For marketing purposes, the ladies were divided up into “Melbourne” and “Western” teams at a draft held in April. The hope is that this type of exposure will grow the ladies’ game and eventually lead to a women’s AFL. The lady featured in the picture above is Katie Brennan, who is one of the best players. Here is another picture of her:
Oh, and the men played too. Actually, my favorite men (PHRASING!) played pretty darn well in delivering a beat-down to poor downtrodden Carlton by 77 on the first game of the round late late Thursday/early Friday morning. I woke up early to watch this one again and I was rewarded with perhaps Geelong’s most consistent performance of the season. The patented Geelong fade in the second half did NOT occur, which is a good sign. It is difficult to get too excited as the Cats’ wins have come against bad teams and the losses have come against good teams. However, our coach thinks we are headed in the right direction and I tend to agree.
One of the coolest moments actually occurred after the game when Geelong’s Cam Guthrie exchanged shirts with his childhood hero Cris Judd:
Also, James Kelly came back to play only missing two games after suffering a ruptured testicle in the Richmond game:
On Friday night, I started to watch the St. Kilda – West Coast Eagles, but the Saints were getting clobbered, so I switched to the Adelaide – GWS Giants match. On that one, the Giants got out to a good lead in the first term before Adelaide came crawling back in the second. Things were mostly even from the middle of the second to the middle of the third with the Giants continuing to hold the lead. In the middle of the third quarter, however, the Giants went a run to extend their lead to over 40 points. Adelaide played a wonderful defensive fourth, only allowing 2 behinds, but could get no closer than the final margin of 22.
As usual, Eddie Betts displayed some magic:
Although in a losing effort:
This clip pretty well summarizes what happened to St. Kilda:
The next game was not as competitive as expected as Fremantle solidified their standing as the best team in the league by thoroughly outplaying North Melbourne on their way to a 73 point victory. True, the Kangaroos made a bunch of mistakes, but you can’t do that against good teams. Here is an example of the Dockers’ brilliance:
The final match of the night was by far the best. The two teams that met in last year’s Grand Final, Hawthorn and Sydney, played again at the MCG. This time, the Swans came away victorious after a hard-fought and intense contest. It is worth clicking on this link to see the last two minutes. You can see that the Hawks had a couple of chances to pull ahead with a set shot from around 40 meters that Luke Breust missed wide for a behind and a possession inside the Swans’ 50 that went nowhere. Here are a couple of good examples of the rough nature of this game:
Mitchell on Mitchel crime:
Of course, there were also some good plays both from Hawthorn:
and Sydney (which turned out to be the game-winner):
This is Kaitlyn Ashmore, who played for the “Western Bulldogs” women’s squad in Saturday night’s exhibition. I have to say that I was impressed with how tough the ladies played and the skills they showed. As you can see in the video below, and I highly recommend everyone watch it, the game itself was very entertaining to watch unlike, say, women’s basketball here in the US. I believe in supporting women’s sports. As I’ve mentioned before, I will be going to Vancouver in a few weeks to watch the Women’s World Cup of soccer. The on-field product, however, has to be appealing. Having watched the whole game (even though the Essendon-Brisbane game had already started), I think this women’s game has what it takes to be successful.
Oh yeah, about that men’s match that was being played at roughly the same time, it was fairly even throughout the first half, but then Essendon turned up the pressure in Brisbane’s defensive end, caused turnovers, capitalized, and blew the game wide open en route to a 56 point win. This is a beautiful example of the unselfish team play the Bombers displayed in the third:
The second game was the men’s version of the game the ladies played with the Demons surprising the Bulldogs by 39. It was interesting how similar the men’s game was to the women’s game in that Western seemed to have the bulk of possession in both games, but could not convert it into points. A strong fourth quarter from the Demons finished off the Bulldogs after they had come back in the third to make it close. Here is a bit of Western’s comeback:
and a wonderful mark from Melbourne’s Jeremy Howe to respond:
In the last game of the round, Richmond pulled off perhaps the biggest upset of the week by beating Port Adelaide in Adelaide. The most noteworthy thing about this game for the Power is that Kane Cornes played in his 300th and final match as he is retiring mid-season to become a firefighter. Port Adelaide are now reeling after a strong start and heightened expectations at the start of the season. If Mark Sanchez can retire from the Eagles in week 4 to become a high school guidance counselor, WhyEaglesWhy’s circle will be complete.
Let’s take a look at the ladder, shall we?
West Coast Eagles
Gold Coast Suns
Fremantle is awesome and Carlton is awful. Carlton is so awful that the commentator during the women’s exhibition game casually mentioned that Melbourne’s work rate was better than anything Carlton has produced this season.
Next week, Round 9 will be the Indigenous Round, as festivities are planned to celebrate the culture of Australia’s indigenous people and their contributions to the AFL. This includes the Essendon-Richmond game, which is known as Dreamtime at the G. From what I’ve read, this seems a legitimate attempt at honoring and respecting indigenous culture. Please don’t tell Dan Snyder about this.
See you next week!