Don’t be so quick to condemn partying Eagles, and smiling Bombers show up critics but must still improve

Some issues change, and others keep the identical. Within the AFL this week, we noticed a new-look Essendon abruptly crammed with life, Port Adelaide’s surge again into competition proceed, and even – gasp – some fresh-faced-youngsters at Geelong!

As for the fidelity, candy fidelity: Melbourne stay the workforce to beat by far, Fremantle suffocated yet one more workforce, Hawthorn let one other large lead slip, and Carlton’s midfield ripped Adelaide to shreds.

From the great to the bizarre – and I feel Charlie Cameron’s free kick towards on Saturday evening was about as bizarre because it will get – let’s unpack the week that was!

1. Bombers present up 2022’s worst take thus far…

So far as the on-field motion goes, Nick Riewoldt is sort of peerless within the media for his evaluation. It’s uncommon for him to overlook the mark as badly as he did throughout the week, along with his feedback on Essendon gamers smiling throughout coaching.

“I’ve been a part of groups where things haven’t been going well. You think, ‘let’s just go out there and have fun, and remember that it’s just a game,” Riewoldt stated on Fox Footy’s AFL 360 Further on Thursday evening.

“In my opinion, that’s actually the worst thing you can do, because we know the game is so hard to play. You’ve actually got to have honest conversations about the standards that you accept.”

After the Bombers’ stirring Saturday evening win over Hawthorn, kicking eight targets to 1 within the remaining time period to storm residence, captain Dyson Heppell stated what many followers had been undoubtedly pondering: that critics of their jovial coaching session might ‘jam it’.

It’s vital to notice, although, that the narrative could be fairly completely different had the Bombers gone down as anticipated to the Hawks. Riewoldt, within the eyes of many, would certainly have been vindicated, and Heppell wouldn’t have had the chance to fireplace again in fairly so emphatic a approach. That doesn’t sit nicely with me.

Absolutely we now have handed the purpose by now the place gamers can’t, God forbid, really take pleasure in their soccer? I might have thought, if something, a critical, smile-free method to coaching would simply make Windy Hill a miserable place to be round, and do extra hurt than good.

Certainly, it was the spirit of that coaching session that drove the Bombers to victory, with the important thing theme of each being freedom. Attacking, free-flowing soccer, with a licence to kick and take dangers by means of the hall, took three quarters to completely succeed… however when it did, the Hawks had no reply.

The Bombers got subsequent to no likelihood towards their outdated rivals as soon as 5 gamers had been late scratchings as a result of virus that ripped by means of the membership throughout the week. Towards that backdrop, a carefree method was clearly simply what the physician ordered.

It was an vital reminder, to us as followers in addition to the gamers, that footy can, and may, be enjoyable.

2. … however can’t get forward of themselves now

I wrote final week that Essendon, regardless of their poor kind, shouldn’t succumb to the panic, ‘sack ’em all’ type response known as for to some extent by many followers – and several other outstanding names within the media.

The identical is true this week: simply because the Bombers pulled off a well-known win, it doesn’t imply issues are all sunshine and rainbows once more. The reality is that they’ve been down this street earlier than.

This method has, roughly, been the Dons’ type for greater than a decade, from Matthew Knights, to James Hird, to Mark Thompson, to John Worsfold. All had the Bombers taking part in thrilling, watchable footy, with floods of targets a daily prevalence.

And for greater than a decade, the outcomes have been related: the Bombers have lived by the sword, died by the sword, crept into the finals in seventh or eighth… and misplaced an elimination remaining. One apiece beneath Knights, Hird and Thompson, and twice beneath Worsfold. 4 of these 5 losses had been emphatic.

The Bombers have the attacking instruments to beat nearly anybody on their day, however with out a higher defensive construction, and extra safety behind the ball for after they do take dangers, they’ll leak targets towards most sides too. Had the Hawks kicked extra precisely within the first three quarters, would the Dons have been shut sufficient on the finish to energy residence as they did?

The outdated adage in footy that you simply’re by no means as dangerous or pretty much as good as you assume fits the Bombers completely. A win right here must be sufficient to get the critics off their again for a minimum of every week – however Ben Rutten and his workforce nonetheless have loads of work to do to get this workforce to interrupt its notorious 18-year finals victory drought.

3. Don’t be so fast to sentence partying Eagles

With the Eagles’ participant availability already stretched to breaking level, the information that a number of gamers went out clubbing final week was by no means going to go down nicely, each throughout the membership and with out.

Coach Adam Simpson publicly stated he was ‘furious and disappointed’ with the gamers, who included defender Josh Rotham. Rotham’s subsequent inclusion for his or her loss to Brisbane, as a substitute of permitting a debut for one more top-up participant, was then soundly criticised.

Sure, the Eagles gamers ought to in all probability have opted for a quieter evening with the membership in such a deadly place. Nevertheless it’s not like they did something unlawful, or one thing that different golf equipment aren’t doing as nicely.

The COVID scenario in Perth is much extra extreme than wherever else within the nation – who is aware of how for much longer that would be the case, however for now it has left the Eagles specifically devastated. Finally, although, until the membership and the AFL are ready to maneuver into an interstate hub, they’re going to need to journey the great with the dangerous.

Actually, it’s the Eagles’ harm listing, not COVID, that pressured them to show to top-ups once more. Fremantle had been capable of take care of having six gamers out beneath well being and security protocols – simply as many if no more than the Eagles – as a result of their depth stays, largely, intact.

Kane Cornes defended his stance throughout the week that the Eagles’ requirements have ‘slipped’, citing the nightclub journey as proof. Possibly he’s proper. However going out on a Saturday evening isn’t usually an issue (offered you don’t punch somebody or urinate on a police station) when your workforce is profitable.

In case you criticise the Eagles gamers, then you definitely additionally will need to have an issue with the Richmond gamers seen out on the similar venue on the identical evening. None of these gamers, so far as has been made conscious, caught the virus and had been pressured to overlook every week, although, so the outrage over their conduct was a heavy minority in comparison with what got here West Coast’s approach.

You’d additionally need to have an issue with Jack Ginnivan going out for a drink after his ANZAC Day heroics, reporting on which was slammed all week by most of us. Or is it abruptly solely acceptable to have an excellent time and get on the beers for those who’ve kicked 5 targets?

We noticed this week {that a} comfortable, relaxed angle labored wonders for the Bombers, regardless of the criticism. Extra to the purpose, staying in and watching Neflix isn’t going to make Rotham begin clunking contested marks like Jeremy McGovern, or make Jackson Nelson an excellent kick of the soccer.

It’s absolutely comprehensible for the Eagles to be pissed off with their gamers, given the present scenario. But when they’ll forgive Rotham sufficient to nonetheless decide him for a recreation, then the remainder of us can in all probability minimize the gamers a little bit of slack.

Charlie Cameron of the Lions and Josh Rotham of the Eagles challenge for the ball. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Charlie Cameron of the Lions and Josh Rotham of the Eagles problem for the ball. (Picture by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Pictures)

4. Darcy’s catastrophe doesn’t abruptly make lengthy contract dangerous, Kane

It was a unclean day for Darcy Moore on the MCG on Saturday. Giving Tom Lynch far an excessive amount of leeway was by no means going to finish nicely until the Richmond midfield couldn’t give sufficient provide. They did, and he feasted with 5 first-half targets.

Kane Cornes analysed Moore’s defensive lapses fantastically on the Sunday Footy Present: much less spectacular was his take throughout the recreation hinting that the Pie’s latest prolonged contract extension – he just lately signed a six-year extension – is what’s behind the poor show.

It’s no secret Cornes is towards prolonged offers, with the Pie’s monster one with Brodie Grundy typically criticised by him through the years. However one dangerous efficiency doesn’t abruptly collapse the entire contract.

Moore, to his credit score, had a greater than satisfactory second half, along with his intercept marking – his trademark as an AFL participant – on show. Certainly, it’s extra an issue for Collingwood, reasonably than Moore himself, that he was wanted to play on Lynch within the first place.

Moore is so much like Jake Lever – each tall however light-weight, stunning readers of the play and blessed with protected arms. Lever has Steven Could to take the monsters, leaving him free to zone off the third tall – it’s crucial Collingwood discover somebody for that job to make sure they’re getting full bang for his or her buck with Moore.

And with reference to long-term offers, has anybody questioned Christian Petracca’s kind during the last 12 months since he signed a SEVEN-year deal in Could 2021?

5. Regardless of Dees defeat, the Saints are nonetheless a flag contender

We’ve recognized for some time now that any workforce looking for to win the premiership in 2022 (and possibly 2023 and 2024 as nicely) might want to do it over Melbourne’s chilly, lifeless physique.

The most recent workforce to come back up towards the Demons and go away with tails between their legs was St Kilda, whose 38-point loss to the reigning premiers on Sunday afternoon someway managed to really feel each hard-earned by Melbourne and reasonably unflattering for the Saints.

Nonetheless, whereas the margin seems to be fairly hefty, it shouldn’t dispel the truth that the Saints, for a lot of the match and significantly within the second half, took it proper as much as the Dees. With a mixture of daring ball motion, quick play by means of the hall and ferocious stress, the Saints had been nonetheless proper within the recreation at 23 factors down halfway by means of the ultimate time period.

Key to all of it was Bradley Hill, moved from half-forward to the backline with a license to run, carry and chew off tough kicks by means of the center. Having struggled in that position for the most effective a part of two years on the membership, he has seldom seemed extra impactful in purple, white and black than in that third time period. His incisive ball motion helped open up the hall that the Dees ruthlessly shut off within the first half, which in flip allowed the likes of Max King and Tim Membrey to come back into the sport in assault.

Altering the plan is a should to problem the Demons – as Hawthorn proved final week with its fast play-on method and tag on Ed Langdon, who was all over the place towards the Saints – and after a primary half the place their regular methodology was dismantled by the Dees, Brett Ratten deserves loads of credit score for making an attempt a brand new tack.

The end result? The Dees’ defence – in patches – seemed spooked, giving freely frees and contested marks for King to kick two of the three targets for the quarter. Thoughts you, it was nonetheless nearly impenetrable every time the Saints actually seemed like getting a run on.

Whereas the type was a world aside, the match felt so much like Richmond’s conflict with Adelaide within the early rounds of 2017: a workforce excessive on confidence after an awesome begin to the yr arising towards the premiership favourites, and being humbled.

By the point September rolled round, although, the Tigers had been capable of shut down the Crows en path to the primary of three flags. There’s completely no cause why the Saints, with a little bit of enchancment, can’t do the identical.

6. AFL’s Saturday timeslots want fixing quick

If followers on TV are the AFL’s prime audience today – and all of the latest proof factors in that path – then a pair of fixturing selections on Saturday afternoon had been merely baffling.

Within the afternoon, the Sydney-Gold Coast and Richmond-Collingwood video games each began at 1:45 on the dot; whereas within the night, it was Essendon-Hawthorn and Brisbane-West Coast with parallel first bounces.

Fairly frankly, it’s baffling. What function does it serve anybody, from the AFL by means of to the broadcasters, to go away followers solely capable of watch one match at a time?

The NRL , admittedly with one fewer match, does this nicely – you’ll by no means see two matches overlap in that competitors. Making it even more durable to grasp is that the AFL used to do that fairly nicely – video games on Saturday afternoon had been scheduled for 1:45pm and a pair of:10pm begin occasions, whereas within the night it was 7:20 and seven:40.

On the very least, which means you possibly can flick over at quarter and half time from one match to the opposite. Why the change?

Contemplating all the opposite issues the AFL has to do – amongst them repair the frankly diabolical scenario dealing with feminine umpires – it’s not even of their high ten listing of issues they should do. Nevertheless it’s such a straightforward repair and it advantages each single invested social gathering; certainly we can provide this present set-up the flick.

Random ideas

– Discover somebody who loves you the way in which Nathan O’Driscoll loves the unsuitable pocket for a left-footer.

– You’ll be able to’t be named Rioli and never give opposition defenders nightmares. Welcome to the membership, Maurice Junior.

– That stat the Freo had been youthful than North on Friday evening is wonderful for the Dockers… and a nasty signal for the Roos.

– The pile-on on Rhyan Mansell was deserved… however marvel why it didn’t come for Trent Cotchin a number of weeks in the past?

– Has Nic Martin simply had the most effective first eight video games since Michael Barlow? Arduous to consider no person drafted him.

– Simply gonna go away this right here: there are various worse AFL commentators for the time being than Kelli Underwood.

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