Welcome To Balls of Steel’s AFL Beat!
So, remember how Fremantle were undefeated and were not scheduled to meet a threatening opponent for about a month? Yeah, um, about that…
Richmond pulled off the upset of the season on late Thursday/early Friday by beating Fremantle in Perth by 27. The Tigers took a page out of Fremantle’s book by starting off the game on a blistering pace. They took a healthy 30 point lead at the end of the first term and never looked back. The closest the Dockers could get was 18 points in the fourth, but Richmond finished strong and won convincingly.
I did manage to catch the last two quarters on Friday morning and I have to say that Richmond went toe to toe with Fremantle, so it wasn’t a fluke. I’m still not sure if it was more of Richmond greatly improving or Fremantle underestimating the Tigers. Probably
Now, if I were to tell you that Carlton had the lead on the Adelaide Crows in the fourth quarter on Saturday night, I’m sure your first two questions would be 1) What am I drinking? and 2) Can I have some? Incredibly, that was the case as Carlton played their best game of the season. Unfortunately, the effort was not rewarded as the Crows managed to take the lead and hang on to a very thin 9 point victory. To add injury to insult, Carlton’s legendary Chris Judd likely played in his last game as he tore his ACL during the game while landing awkwardly.
As I said in the headline, things got weird:
Let’s do a
First, Carlton turns the ball over inside their defensive 50 and practically gifts Adelaide a goal. The Crows, however, are unselfish to the point of idiocy and try to pass the ball almost inside the goal. Eddie Betts messes up the last hand pass and Charlie Cameron tries to kick it in soccer-style (btw, Australians use the word “soccer” as a verb. The More You Know!), but Carlton’s Andrew Walker makes a great hockey-style kick save to prevent the goal. For some unknown reason, Cameron walks away as the ball is pinned between Walker’s legs, but his teammate Patrick “Rodney” Dangerfield realizes that it’s still a live ball and tries to tackle the Carlton man. This is actually a really smart play as, if he is successful, the ball would be turned over and a free kick given from the one meter line, which is virtually guaranteed to be 6 points. Walker, however, figures that out and tosses the ball over his head into the goal, giving Adelaide a behind, but saving the other 5 points.
Later on that night, Sydney easily handled poor injury-riddled Gold Coast. The Swans’ Lance “Buddy” Franklin scored a pretty goal with his off foot which, like, NEVER happens:
I actually woke up at 3 AM early on Saturday morning to watch the Geelong-Essendon match, which was one of the final two games of Friday night/Saturday morning. I was pleasantly surprised to find the Cats out in front at the end of the first term. They are one of the top first quarter scoring teams, though, so it was more pleasant than surprise. The bigger surprise, and way more pleasant, was the way Geelong dominated the rest of the game, did NOT fade in the final term, and routed the Bombers by 69!
Everything was going so well that Josh Caddy scored from inside the center square:
All in all, it was a nice
Non-AFL sidenote: Riding on the strength of 2 1/2 hours of sleep (I had watched Carlton-Adelaide and half of Sydney-Gold Coast, so I went to sleep at 12:30 to later wake up at 3 for the Geelong game), I went to San Diego (well, Oceanside to be exact) at 6 AM with some co-workers to do the Camp Pendleton Mud Run. Yeah, I’m stupid. Just know that my boss organized the whole thing and there was no way I could back out. The good thing, though, is that I had been training (P90X works. It just does. Thank you, Tony Horton!), so I did WAY better than last year and I feel pretty good about myself!
In the other game, Port Adelaide broke open a close game in the fourth quarter and surged to a 38 point win over the Western Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs had some great moments early
but the Power finished them off with style
Saturday night brought three games in which top teams were playing teams much lower in the ladder. The GWS Giants started things off making history by producing the club’s first 7 win season in beating the game but young Brisbane Lions by 30. Considering each season has 22 rounds, that tells you how bad the Giants have been. To be fair, they only started playing in 2012, so maybe what it really points to is that the management team has figured things out very quickly and has done a tremendous job. The Giants are in the top 4 at 7-3 and will most likely be in the finals this year.
The Lions tried hard
but the Giants were too much.
This little bit of inspiration
was nice to see, but, like the Giants against the Lions, Hawthorn was too much for the Saints and won by 63.
The last game of Saturday night/Sunday morning matched up the West Coast Eagles against mid-ladder North Melbourne. @SUNRISENSUNRISE must surely be happy today as the Roos shocked the #2 team in the competition with a strong fourth quarter en route to a 10 point win. I had actually gone out for a drink with some friends, so I managed to catch the last quarter after I got home. North played well, but, more importantly, figured out much better how to deal with the strong winds that were blowing at Blundstone stadium in Tasmania. This goal by the Eagles shows how much the wind affected the flight of the ball.
It was a tense game up until the very end, when North’s Shaun Higgins kicked the game sealer low against the wind.
It’s worth to see the highlights package just to see how strong the winds were:
Also, it’s interesting to note that the Kangaroos either REALLY liked their Indigenous Round jerseys or they lost the old ones in the dryer like their socks. Actually, I don’t mind. They really are pretty good looking jerseys.
Finally, the AFL decided to schedule a rare Monday Night Footy game this week (which would be Sunday night/early Monday morning for us) in honor of the Queen’s birthday. No, there is no Queen of Australia. Even though Australia is a representative democracy, it is part of the Commonwealth of Nations, which used to be known as the British Commonwealth, and considers Queen Elizabeth, who we all associate with England, the United Kingdom, and Scott Thompson
, as its head of state and monarch making it also a constitutional monarchy.
If you want to go down an interesting rabbit hole, the organizational structures of the countries that grew out of the old British Empire are fascinating. I would suggest starting with Australia, Canada, and India and going from there. You can also delve into the movements trying to make republics out of New Zealand and Australia.
Meanwhile, at the MCG, Collingwood
to Melbourne by 25. This is a pretty good summary of how the game went:
Let’s look at the ladder, shall we?
West Coast Eagles
Gold Coast Suns
This was indeed a very weird week as the #1 and #2 teams both lost. Also, no Eddie Betts highlight! Sydney has moved up to #2, only one loss behind the Dockers and realistically playing much better than the leaders. Port Adelaide’s win over Western and Geelong’s win over Essendon further muddied up the picture in the middle of the pack. Richmond vaulted into the top 8 for now, but it remains to be seen if they can hold onto that spot. Realistically, that last finals spot will probably belong to at least 5 teams over the rest of the season. I know the NFL likes to say “On any given Sunday”, but this week the AFL truly lived up to that. And then some.
See you next week as things get even weirder when the byes start!