Welcome to Balls of Steel’s AFL Beat!
As I wrote earlier in the week, one of the ways the AFL honored and celebrated Australia’s Indigenous culture was by having all 18 teams wear special jerseys. I did not notice until later that the referee uniforms were also specially designed. Here is what they looked like:
The round started off on late Thursday/early Friday morning as Sydney expectedly beat up on Carlton by 60. Carlton had fired the coach midweek, so it would have taken a tremendous miracle for them to come close to the Swans. The talk of the match was Adam Goodes’ post-goal celebration:
Goodell has already fined him $25,000.
Actually, Adam explained that the celebration was linked to his own aboriginal culture and that it was a war dance he learned from some young aboriginal players. All was fine and no one’s feelings got hurt. You hear that Goodell?!?!?
Early Friday night brought two more blowouts as the Hawthorn Hawks handled the Suns in Hobart by 53 and Port Adelaide came back from 24 points down against Melbourne to win by 61 in Alice Springs. Alice Springs, to those that may not know, is in the middle of nowhere and is mostly known as the gateway to this:
Ayers Rock or Uluru (as it known in aboriginal culture) is considered sacred and the area surrounding it is home to a plethora of springs, waterholes, rock caves, and ancient paintings.
As you can see in the video below, the “stadium” the Power and Melbourne played in has more in common with a local municipal play-field than a major league stadium.
Which actually makes the fact that the AFL came here to stage a game even cooler. A large percentage of the population in Alice Springs, and really the entire Australian desert area, is indigenous. For the AFL to schedule a game here and allow them to be able to see first-hand a top-level game is remarkable. And this is no London-style money grab. Indigenous people are, statistically speaking, not exactly rich.
This gives you an idea of why/how Melbourne lost:
The Hawthorn game in a nutshell: Gold Coast fails to make a good play and Hawthorn takes advantage:
I really wanted to stay up and watch the later games, specially the Adelaide Crows-Fremantle Dockers match, but as the first two games were winding down, I fell asleep. When I woke up on Saturday morning, I was surprised that the Western Bulldogs had handily beaten the GWS Giants by 45. At the beginning of the season, I thought Western would be one of the top teams. Then, they lost a shocker to St. Kilda and followed that up with a loss to Fremantle (understandable) and another shock loss, this time to Melbourne. On the heels of 3 losses in a row, it was difficult to see them beating the two-loss Giants.
Western started out hot
and while the Giants valiantly tried to catch up,
Western cruised the rest of the way.
I was also surprised to see that Richmond edged out Essendon by 13. Neither team is that good, but I thought Essendon was a tad better than Richmond. One thing I’ve learned watching all of this AFL is that hustle and desire can greatly overcome skill deficiencies. This is a perfect example:
The match of the night, though, was the Fremantle-Adelaide clash. Fremantle won the super tight contest (look at the graph on the link to see how back and forth this game was) by 11 despite the now-customary excellence from Eddie Betts.
I swear to you that I am not an Eddie Betts fanboy or anything, but he has been spectacular every week. He is the second-leading scorer in the AFL despite not being one of the “talls” that usually just camp out inside the opponents’ 50 and wait for the ball to be kicked to them.
It’s really amazing some of the things he can do:
On Saturday night, I gorged on AFL, watching all three games. In the first game, Brisbane took an early lead in the first term, but the Saints came roaring back and eventually pulled away to win by 22.
This highlight shows a pretty good collision and the subsequent goal by the Saints that helped them to pull away from the Lions:
The next game was pretty wild. North Melbourne was dominating Collingwood in every way in the first half and held a 39 point lead at the half. At that point, the Geelong game was starting, so I started watching it full-time. Imagine my surprise when I switched back during the quarter time and half time breaks to see that Collingwood came roaring back and won by 17! While the Magpies claimed they knew all along they would win, North’s coach was not happy at all with his team’s mental toughness and promised changes. Here’s a taste of the Magpies’ comeback:
As for the Geelong game, have you ever been on a date and you know it’s not going well but you stick it out because hey you made a joke and she laughed and maybe another drink can help and maybe I can turn this around? That was the Cats’ game against the West Coast Eagles and that also explains why I was left frustrated and slightly drunk at 2 AM.
By all rights, this should have been an even-more embarrassing blowout as the Eagles were dominating possession. For some reason, however, they could not convert this advantage into goals and the game was pretty close up until the beginning of the fourth. By then, Geelong’s defense was exhausted and the easy goals started to pour in. It didn’t help that the Eagles started to make great plays like this one:
The dreaded R word was raised during the post-match conference (if you remember, this is what led to Mick Malthouse’s firing at Carlton), but Chris Scott, the Geelong coach, effectively shut that down. On the bright side, it seems like Geelong’s management is much more realistic than Carlton’s, so I do not think this will turn into something bigger. Also, looking ahead at Round 10, if the Cats can beat Essendon, there is a good chance they can move up to 9th place in the ladder.
Speaking of, let’s take a look at the ladder, shall we?
West Coast Eagles
Gold Coast Suns
I’m still not convinced about Collingwood, but I am convinced that the West Coast Eagles are worthy of a finals slot. The middle/mediocre group of Richmond, Western, Essendon, Port Adelaide, Geelong, and North Melbourne will probably be fighting for the last finals spot by the end of the year. Also, can anyone beat Fremantle?
See you next week!