Welcome to Balls of Steel’s AFL Beat!
We came tantalizingly close to history on Friday night. The last place Gold Coast Suns (previously 1-10) hosted the league-leading Fremantle Dockers (previously 10-1) just a week after Fremantle had lost their first game of the season. It was reasonable to expect that they would be pretty pissed off and would destroy the Suns, who have had a disastrous season after suffering multiple injuries to the core of the team. Also, no last place team had ever beaten a first place team so deep into the season.
That, however, is why we watch sports. People can surprise you in really nice ways and, when they get together as a team and pull together, amazing things can happen. On a rainy afternoon in Gold Coast, the Suns held the Dockers in check all game long before finally succumbing by 7. I watched the entire game and was super impressed by how hard the Suns fought. They really deserved at least a draw, but sometimes life is not fair. This was like the hover-hand of matches
It was a close game throughout with some great play by both the Suns
and the Dockers
Geelong kicked off the round with a very impressive win at Adelaide over the Power. I was completely anticipating a Cats loss, but I woke up early on Friday morning to watch the game anyway. I was treated to perhaps the Cats’ best game this year. Yes, the Cats destroyed Carlton, but this was Port Adelaide. There is a world of difference in quality there. The game was tight throughout, but Geelong pulled away in the fourth term for the 92-69 win.
Port Adelaide’s Chad Wingard pulled off a great double of a one-handed mark + banana goal with the outside of the foot from an extreme angle:
The highlights package below really shows how close and intense this game was. It felt like a playoff game:
which, in essence, it was. This year, the last playoff spot will likely go to just one team from the middle pack. Both teams were 5-5 going in and 6-5 feels a lot better than 5-6.
The other two games from Friday night featured middle of the pack teams facing top teams. In the first game, the West Coast Eagles easily handled the Essendon Bombers by 50. Early, the Bombers’ Shaun Edwards pulled off a nice banana kick for a goal:
The Eagles responded, however, with a classy goal from Mark LeCras
and ground out the convincing victory.
In the nightcap, the Sydney Swans withstood a tough challenge from the North Melbourne Kangaroos to win by 16. The Roos fought hard
but could not overcome their own mistakes and Sydney’s superior team play. Hey, at least it wasn’t a complete blowout as some people were expecting…
The early Saturday game matched up two top 8 teams with the GWS Giants visiting the Collingwood Magpies at the MCG. The Giants were coming into the game with some injuries and the situation got worse with so many injuries during the game that they could not do any interchanges during the fourth quarter. Now is probably a good time to do a
Each AFL team consists of 22 players on game day: 18 field players as seen here:
plus 3 players on the interchange bench and 1 substitute. The 3 interchange players may go into the field of play whenever any of the players on the field need a breather. You can think of it like in hockey where they do personnel changes on the fly. The substitute, on the other hand, wears a green vest and cannot be on the field unless a substitution is requested. In that case, the player that goes out puts on a red vest and can no longer participate in the game, like in soccer. This can only happen once per game.
GWS not only used their substitution, but also so many players got hurt and could not continue that no one on the field could get any rest in the fourth. As a result, a relatively close game exploded into a 42 point blowout in favor of the Magpies. Here is a good example of how the game went for the Giants:
In the last game of the round (remember that this is the first of three rounds where 6 teams have a bye so there are less games), St. Kilda hosted Melbourne at Etihad stadium in Melbourne. This is actually a pretty cool stadium as it has a retractable roof and can accommodate different types of sporting events and entertainment events. It is also the home stadium for 5 AFL teams (suck it, Meadowlands!), a soccer team, and a cricket team. It’s so nice, it can actually say this to Jerry Jones:
As you can see, it’s a beautiful modern stadium and it is conveniently located close to multiple public transportation options:
It MAY also be the host of a college football bowl game featuring a Pac-12 team and a Mountain West team next year!
As for the AFL game, it was an extremely close and exciting game that St. Kilda pulled out at the end by 2! It’s really too bad that this was the late game and I only managed to watch the first half before falling asleep. Highlights included a sweet full-field run by the Demons for a goal:
I highly recommend watching the last two minutes of the game here:
I feel bad for that little blonde kid. Let’s take a look at the ladder, shall we?
West Coast Eagles
Gold Coast Suns
The byes are making it difficult to see where everyone stands compared to each other, but that should be sorted out in about two weeks. In the meantime, Fremantle remain on top but are not looking good at all. As for the rest, St. Kilda fans are probably still celebrating that crazy last minute victory. As well they should.
Next week I’m in Vancouver, so the AFL Beat may either be delayed or abbreviated. Either way, see you next time!