Time constraints last week meant I was a bit rushed with the Essendon-Carlton game. You could probably tell from the new world record for use of the word "handy". Anyway, as Carlton's Greg Williams departed the ground, his opponent for the day Sean Denham called out "look at the scoreboard you fat c...". Mutual abuse ensued during which Williams shoved umpire Coates in the chest as he attempted to intervene. The media, which had rumbled during the pre-season when Wanganeen went unpunished after placing his hand on an umpire's face, charged for the high moral ground. Despite Coates' insistence that nothing reportable had taken place, Williams was charged with unduly interfering with an umpire, found guilty and suspended for 9 weeks. Carlton and Williams' manager, Peter Jess, ran straight to the courts. Not only has Williams had the suspension removed, in a first the case will actually be decided in the court on May 13. Jeff Kennett weighed in (when doesn't he?) attacking Carlton's tactics.
This week, coaches joined together in giving the media representatives a rough time in press conferences (see below). The footy media is often sensationalist and irrelevant (Phil Carman and John Bourke plastered everywhere in the wake of the Williams incident, for example), but all the same, they're our line to the club. Shooting the messenger isn't going to help.
Oh, and if anyone has seen any umpiring taking place, in any game, could they let me know?
Collingwood 6.1 12.6 15.12 24.19.163 Melbourne 3.5 4.7 6.11 7.14.56
PThey're talking flag at Victoria Park. Not unusual. Two consecutive wins against anyone generally leads to Pie supporters touting their side as gods descended to earth, but this side, injury free for the first time in a couple of years (bar Tony Francis), is looking good. Melbourne lost Garry Lyon beforehand, thankfully a calf strain rather than a recurrence of back trouble. Lyon was due to play his 200th game and, given he'd played his 50th, 100th and 150th against Collingwood, each of which involved Demon victories, it could be taken as an omen.
After an even-ish first quarter, in which Collingwood's accurate kicking was again vital, the Pies bounded away as the Rocca brothers proved far too big in attack for Gaspar, Nettlebeck and later Ingerson, while the Dees were swamped in midfield and were toothless in attack. Sav Rocca booted 10 goals in a superb display, Anthony did a couple of nice things in taking 5 grabs and kicking 2 goals, although the jury's still out on him. If nothing else, at least he offers an alternative to Sav. Even lumbering ex-Hawk Jason Taylor showed a bit in attack for the Maggies. Scott Russell dominated in the centre, helped by Chris Curran, Crow and Patterson. The Pies' defence looked good again, with Gavin Brown moving nicely and smothering the dangerous Sean Charles and Buckley dominating on his flank and feeding the Roccas with his long kicking. Schauble continues to impress. The thrashing was compounded in the dying stages of the game as Collingwood kicked 8 goals in the last 12 minutes.
Not much to say for Melbourne. Glen Lovett and Clarkson worked hard in the middle and in attack Neitz (3 goals) had the better of Prestagiacomo for 3 quarters before the latter was belatedly replaced by Schauble. Otherwise they looked like the Demons of '96, undermanned and with appalling skills. However Balme refused to be upset, saying the Dees were down after the emotional high of beating the reigning premiers last week. Shaw praised Brown, but said the jury was still out on his side. I bet those Pie fans are already clearing September commitments.
Richmond 7.5 10.6 15.9 19.14.128 Adelaide 3.0 8.3 12.6 15.10.100
Mal Blight, it's good to have you back. After the Camrys got very close but didn't win, Mal launched a pre-mediatated and quite agressive verbal attack on his side, labelling them "pathetic" and calling the Camry's culture "fundamentally flawed". More of Mal later.
Chris Naish kicked the Tigers into life with a screamer over Holland and Jameson. With B. Gale dominating in the ruck, Campbell and Broderick winning plenty of touches and Richardson marking everything in attack, the Tiges galloped to a 41 point lead early in the second quarter. Then a number of changes occurred which helped turn the game for the Corollas. Tiger defender Bourke, very good until then, went off with a shoulder injury, the useless McCartney was shifted to defence and Nigel Smart went to CHF. Beaten Camry ruckman Pittman, whom Blight later called "the most pathetic ruckman I've ever seen in my entire life" was replaced by Barry Standfield, with the result that ruck contests featured Standfield and Justin Charles, both running around in Footscray's reserves not long ago. Smart booted a couple of goals, the Tigers lairised and the Camrys closed the gap. In the third quarter Darren Jarman was finally reported for punching Rogers...he'd done it four times...and Modra booted three goals to keep the Cressidas in touch. Blight could be seen tearing into his side at the final break, and they came storming out. Goals to Vardy and Rintoul closed the gap and when Modra snapped truly the Camrys trailed by a point. Rintoul marked 40m out but missed, then came an incident which had Mal fuming afterwards. Richmond's Ryan received a dubious free from which Richardson marked and goaled and, according to Blight, the Camrys promptly gave up. Richardson kicked two more and Richmond were home.
Richardson, who took 14 marks and kicked 6 goals, was the key for Richmond, Campbell had 35 disposals although a fair few of them didn't go anywhere. B. Gale and Charles had good games in the ruck, Broderick was good in the middle and Daffy (3 goals) did well. Trent Nichols kicked 3 nice left-foot goals and dropped a few marks. In defence, Gaspar was good and youngsters Ryan and Bowden showed promise, although Bowden's disposal wasn't the best at times. For the Camrys Smart (3 goals) was great at CHF...every time I see him in attack he looks good, yet they insist on playing him at the back. Brent Williams, second gamer on a half-forward flank, looked handy. Running defenders Johnson and Edwards did well, James was OK in the middle. Modra kicked 5 goals from 5 kicks. More Mal: "I'm pretty frustrated and angry...people are saying "Wasn't that a good try, didn't they fight back?" That is absolute hooey....I wonder if the AFC knows this is for real. This is absolutely for keeps, this competition, and their careers are for keeps. You don't get it back". Walls was happy that the Tiges went 2-0, despite playing "nowhere near our potential".
Geelong 0.6 4.8 7.9 11.12.78 West Coast 3.1 3.3 8.4 11.6.72
The Cats entered the post-Ablett era...his "good" left knee has a torn anterior cruciate and may need a reconstruction...with a tough and injury-strewn win against old rivals. The first quarter was even but the Cats kicked badly for goal, the forward line of Hall flanked by Stoneham and Mansfield not performing while Heady and Lewis started well for the sandgropers. The Eagles' fate may have been decided early. Mainwaring limped off barely 10 minutes into the game with another torn knee ligament, and he's in a bad way. Moments later McIntosh, who'd started in attack and already kicked 2 goals, was knocked out (and later reported for charging) in a jarring collision with Sanderson, the latter needing 30 stitches in his face. Geelong clawed back in the second with early goals, but it soon became a midfield tussle as neither side could come up with an effective forward line.
Enter an old Weagle nemesis. Peter Riccardi, who'd done well on a wing and already kicked 2 of the Cats' 4 goals, went to full forward at the start of the third quarter and promptly kicked 2 more as the locals got a break. But West Coast, fired by Cousins and Lovell, fought back to grab the lead at 3/4 time. Enter Riccardi again, to boot two more goals, one after a superb tackle on McKenna, the next the sealer 5 minutes from the end. The Eagles had one last tilt when Sumich was brought on and goaled to cut the margin to 7 points, but he missed another shot moments later and Geelong had their first win.
Riccardi finished with 19 kicks, 6 goals and six scalps...Banfield, Morrison and Matera on the wing, Metropolis, McKenna and Gehrig at full forward. Quite a turnaround after his abysmal start to the year. Colbert again played well across the middle with 8 telling marks. Ben Graham beat Ball at CHB, and Matthew Robbins did well in a back pocket on Phil Matera (could you not do well on...?). Couch didn't get a lot of the ball but as usual used it superbly, while young Milburn impressed again. Heady was the Eagles' best along with fellow midfielders Kemp, Lewis and Lovell while Symmons and Gehrig worked hard in defence, but typically the Eagles struggled in attack. McIntosh, Lewis and Grgic kicked 2 each. Pretty tense in the interview room. Malthouse was asked why Sumich spent so long on the bench given the lack of goals, but a typically terse Mick deflected the question to state that the Eagles lost the game due to errors, "errors I've never seen us make before". But he also said the Eags didn't deserve to win. And he wasn't too happy with the injuries. Ayres is unfriendly with the media after the bucketing the Cats copped subsequent to the Ansett Cup performance, and terminated his conference with "I've had enough" halfway through a question. But he praised his teams' effort and commitment and found nice words for Riccardi. Cheer up fellas, only 20 games and the finals to go.
Footscray 1.3 9.5 12.9 13.12.90 Sydney 4.4 8.5 12.7 12.11.83
Tony Liberatore ran out with one purpose...to stop Paul Kelly getting a kick. Given that the Swans were already without the injured Lockett, Bayes and Roos and the suspended Dunkley, this was probably a fair, if crude, tactic. Libber succeeded admirably, and the Dogs just got up. It didn't look good early, as horrendous Doggie disposal turned the ball over continuously, resulting in a feast for Swan defenders Grant and Dyson and Sydney grabbed an early lead. Dog ruckman Wynd, who started on the bench, was the spark for Footscray in the second quarter as he gave the midfield, especially Romero, West and Leon Cameron, first use while Darcy went forward to replace Hargraves, yet another dislocated shoulder victim. Footscray piled on eight goals including two for Liberatore, his only two touches of the match. It was a tense second half, culminating in a remarkable last quarter in which both half-back lines were impassable, Footscray's led by Chris Grant and Sydney's by Dyson and Cresswell. Eade sent Kelly to full-forward. Libber followed. Deep into time-on Darcy marked just outside the goalsquare and goaled on the siren, sending the Dog supporters into a relieved reverie.
Liberatore allowed Kelly just four touches for the match in a zealous performance, during which he follwed Kelly all the way to the bench when the Swan went off for the blood rule. Grant was a tower of strength at CHB. His battle with Richardson next week should be good. Wingers Johnson and Cameron stood out and Scott West was again superb in the middle with 24 touches. Wynd beat Stafford in the ruck. Minton-Connell again gave value with 3 goals (and 4 points), Darcy and Cameron also kicked 3 each. For Sydney, midfielders Cresswell (32 touches), Chapman and the highly skilled O'Loughlin led the way, and defenders Dyson and Seymour were excellent. Small forward Craig O'Brien kicked 3 goals. More fun in the press room, this time Terry Wallace poured abuse on Herald-Sun hack Geoff Poulter for Geoff's preview line, "If the Dogs perform like last week they'll be locking the gates to keep the crowd in". When Geoff tried to defend himself, Wallace told him to "shut up or get out". On the game, Wallace praised his side's hard work in the last quarter, comparing it favourably to last week's fadeout against Fremantle. Eade had little to say, apart from "Our intensity wasn't what it should have been". He expects Roos and Bayes back next week, and Lockett is 65-70%.
Brisbane 7.3 14.7 19.10 23.16.154 St. Kilda 1.2 4.4 5.8 7.15.57
The delights of footy in Brisbane. It was 29 C and 98% humidity when the match started, and the Saints were thoroughly cooked. The Saints dropped Winmar after he failed to turn up for training last Monday. Harvey speared the ball onto Loewe's chest in the first minute but after Leppitsch replied for the Lions, Stewie missed two absolute sitters which may have been vital. The Lions started without Alastair Lynch but Leppitsch proved a more than adequate replacement in booting 4 first-half goals, and the Lions dominated everywhere on the ground with greater speed and better forwards. Lions Leppitsch and Lambert retired to the bench in the second half as players wilted in the heat, and the game slowed noticeably, meandering to its inevitable conclusion. And just a comment on the umpiring. It was terrible. Whenever the whistle went, players looked around in confusion and by the end of the match were almost afraid to tackle.
For Fitzroy fans there was plenty to enthuse about with a livewire performance from Chris Johnson in attack (4 goals), while Bamford fired the crowd with some blistering runs. Another youngster, Ben Robbins, also showed plenty of speed and when you consider Brisbane still have to fit Akermanis into the side, it's a little scary. Lappin and Shaun Hart did well on the ground, Clarke was too good in the ruck and Daryl White entertained in attack. Ruckman/forward Clark Keating was very good with 5 goals from CHF, most in the second half. Not much to say for the Saints, who worked hard across half-back and the centre but fell down badly up forward. Heatley was left in the twos again and booted another 7. What's he gotta do, Stan? Jason Cripps did a superb tagging job on Voss and helmetless Burke tried hard with 30 touches. Jones and Brown were OK. Harvey was relatively quiet and didn't use the ball too well. Loewe kicked 2 goals. Both coaches were critical of the early start (12:45, for TV purposes). Alves said after the game, "I feel sick". Gotta steer clear of those processed meats. There's been the inevitable speculation over Stan's position. The "senior players unhappy" stories are starting to be leaked. I seem to remember one of last years' Grand Final coaches lost his first three games, including two absolute pastings from sides who didn't reach the finals. Funny. Northey couldn't be anything other than satisfied, really.
Essendon 1.4 5.6 10.7 14.9.93 Port Adelaide 3.8 3.9 4.11 8.12.60
I tuned into Channel Seven and thought, "Why have they built a grandstand at CHF?". It turned out to be Ryan O'Connor.
Perhaps Port 'aint so bad after all. They certainly learned plenty from last week's debut thrashing, manning up and exerting a lot more pressure in midfield. Port skipper Gavin Wanganeen made his debut, although you mightn't have noticed. Instead it was another ex-Bomber, the heavily criticised Scott Cummings, who was prominent early as Port opened with a strong breeze. He led fast and straight, marked strongly and kicked woefully, with 1.4 in the first term followed by an out-on-the-full in the second. Sheedy replaced the injured Wallis with former Camry Wellman and Cummings had little influence thereafter. Essendon capitalised on the wind a little better in the second term and took a narrow lead into the long break. After a very tight first half the Dons won it in the third when they kicked 5 goals into the breeze, with Misiti and Mercuri working hard, and some superb marking in the forward line from Hird, Cockatoo-Collins and Alessio. The margin blew out in the last quarter as the Dons gained full control of the match, but Power booted 4 goals in the final 10 minutes to add respectability to the scoreboard.
Joe Misiti (27 touches) and half-forward Mercuri (3 goals) were the Bombers' best, although Alessio was important up forward with 3 goals, and Long continues to impress in his comeback. Captain O'Donnell did well and Lucas galloped around to good effect. Defender Prior was handy. For Port, Brayden Lyle (35 touches) was again very good in the middle and David Brown did well also. Mead did a good job on Hird, who departed late in the game with a worrying ankle injury. Primus battled away in the ruck. Breuer was alright and Burgoyne looks a promising type. Port had eight goalkickers. John Cahill said his side blew it in the third quarter, and again called on senior players to do more. He was disappointed with losing, but saw improvement. Sheedy was typically effusive in his praise of a side he knows is no threat. "In a month, they'll be like us in 1993"...."Port will really be coming home"...."I'm glad we played them early". Yeah, yeah. You know you're a good side when Kev whinges about the umpires or injuries after a game, or waves his jacket about.
Fremantle 6.1 9.5 9.8 13.9.87 Hawthorn 3.1 5.6 9.13 10.13.73
It's an Indian summer for the Dockers, with their first win over Hawthorn, more goals than points and two wins from two. The pace of runners like McManus, Norrish and Callaghan confounded the Hawks early, although Crawford got close enough to Norrish to thump him and get reported. Mann and Dan Parker actually performed in attack. I don't know how the Dockers managed to kick straight, as Channel 7 decided not to televise this one. Probably more Essendon supporters than Hawthorn ones, I guess. Neesham later said he was disappointed at half time as the Dockers hadn't scored in ratio to possession, and in the third quarter the Hawks came back with some hard running from Tallis and Lord, strong tackling and goals for Dunstall. But for the second week running Freo finished the better, with two goals from ruckman/forward Bandy helping them over the line.
Greg Harding was probably Freo's best with 23 touches in defence, in midfield Callaghan, McManus and Leach were excellent as they rotated off the bench and Wills was again busy on the wing. Bandy did very well in the ruck and in attack with 3 goals, while Daniel Parker showed improvement on last week with 2 goals. For the Hawks Daniel Harford was superb with 37 touches, Salmon was a monolith in the ruck and Justin Crawford and Platten worked hard around the ground. Jonathon Robran did well in defence and Dunstall, after a slow start to the year, booted 4 goals at timely intervals. Neesham was pleased overall, especially with the accuracy in front of the sticks. Hawk coach Judge said you can't expect to win when you only play for a half.
North Melbourne 2.2 7.8 11.12 12.14.86 Carlton 1.6 2.9 4.11 8.12.60
Pre-match speculation surrounded the Roos' fortunes without Carey, although Carlton had more injury worries. No Kernahan, Spalding, Pearce, Brown, Hanna or History's Greatest Fullback. North lined up with Glen Archer in attack. Carlton's Luke O'Sullivan played his 50th game, in his 10th year at the club.
The game was played in heavy rain early on, and bitterly cold conditions. Even first quarter. Peter Dean, who's swathed in so many bandages these days he looks like a mummy, started up forward and led and marked very well, but kicked like a backman. North got two very handy early goals, from Bell and Allison. Carlton's lack of key players was accentuated by a dopey game plan where players tried to chip the ball around in defence and bomb it high into a forward line filled with lumbering big men. North concentrated on their "always move the ball forward" philosophy and went with a smaller, mobile attack. The Roos romped clear in the middle two quarters as players like Rock, Martyn, Allison, Archer, Bell and Freeborn revelled in the conditions while Carlton's forward line appeared to be coordinated by Intergraph. Dean was switched to defence on the dangerous Archer and proceeded to wave his arms about, fall down and yell madly like he WAS playing a mummy in a 1930s horror movie. The Kangas eased off the pedal a bit in the last and Carlton's total embarrassment was spared as they slotted four late goals.
No outstanding contributor for North, but the following can take a bow...Archer (2 goals), Allison (3) and Bell in attack. Anthony Stevens, Rock and Freeborn in the middle. In defence, Martyn did well against the very promising Whitnall, Laidley was his usual tough self and Pike did a good job on Koutoufides. For Carlton, CHB Michael Sexton towered above his teammates and was just about BOG. This man is true footballer, unlike "Kouta" or, dare I say, Richardson. Manton tried hard in defence and attack and was the Blues' only multiple goalkicker with 2, Bradley covered plenty of territory in winning his usual bunch of kicks and Ratten battled away. Williams, playing because of the court injunction, was booed even more vigorously than usual and didn't have much influence. Interesting confrontation next week for the Blues, who allegedly will run out at Princes Park in a sky-blue guernsey to confront the well and truly rocketed Adelaide Crows.