By Liam Melrose and Ollie Nash.
Essendon produced one of their most disappointing performances of the season. Photo: Getty Images
Bombers way off the mark
Going into 2020 I was optimistic about Essendon, I didn’t have them as one of the competitions best, but I said they could finish anywhere between 5-14 on the ladder.
Obviously, the Bombers have been without a number of stars for a majority of the season through injuries including Dyson Heppell, Joe Daniher and Jake Stringer and this has definitely hampered their progress. However, for a team that hasn’t won a final in almost 20 years, with their season on the line against Geelong on Sunday they lacked any fight at all.
While I didn’t expect them to win the game, it would’ve been a promising sign to see Essendon compete with one of the competitions best in Geelong. Their first half in particular was horrendous. They struggled to provide any pressure all over the ground, and lacked intensity in one of their most important games of the year, as the Cats piled on 12 goals to two.
It’s hard to see a rapid improvement going into 2021, and unless major changes are made Essendon will continue to be that mediocre team that hovers around the middle of the ladder.
The Eagles’ Gold Coast hoodoo 2-1
West Coast are 1-4 at Metricon Stadium this season. I’m not reading anything into it, because they’re still one of my flag favourites, but is there a hoodoo there for the Eagles?
A 44-point loss to the Gold Coast, a 48-point loss to Port Adelaide, a 27-point loss to Richmond and a two-point loss the Bulldogs. They were able to grab an impressive 34-point win over Sydney, but it’s not a happy record for Eagles fans.
What really matters is there record at the Gabba where the grand final will be held. They’re 2-1 there this season, with wins against Essendon and Adelaide and a loss to Brisbane way back in round three. Not panic stations for them but need a win this week to keep that top four dream alive.
Izak Rankine has already experienced the tough nature of AFL media. Photo: AAP - Brendon Thorne
Don’t turn Izak Rankine into a robot
David King decided to turn Gold Coast’s loss to Brisbane into the “bring Izak Rankine down a peg” show on Wednesday night. Now that the dust has settled on the small forward’s exciting start to his career, this has been creeping into the media each week.
With all the talk about the state of the game, we need Rankine to keep his flair and put bums on seats. That’s an easy fix to the apparent entertainment problem in the AFL.
Secondly, go back and watch the three sets of vision that King was critical of. I don’t see any issue with any of them.
The first instance he went to give the handball to Noah Anderson, who had an opponent on his tail, so he tried to get out the other side into the space and turned it over. Skill execution error, not trying to be flashy as King suggested. Second instance, he flew for a hanger that he almost took and was well within in his rights to fly for. King tells him to focus on playing his role. The third instance, he tapped it between his and his opponents’ legs to a teammate that he knew was there, but apparently that wasn’t the high percentage play.
All three were the right decision. Even if they weren’t, let him play. The Suns need it and the AFL well and truly needs it.
Melbourne have featured a number of times in our six packs to date in 2020, however is there a club in the AFL that is more disappointing than Melbourne? They’ve got the list to compete with the best in the league. We’ve seen they can do it, take one look at their finals run in 2018, progressing all the way to a preliminary final.
However, was that run just a peak of form at the right time? Was it a fluke? If you remove the 2018 season from the equation, the Demons have done nothing in 15 years. Melbourne fans are impatient and rightly so. They’ve been to the draft multiple times, they have constantly rebuilt the list, however they’re staring down yet another year without making the top eight.
Most people had Melbourne as a lock to make the finals with two of their remaining four games against teams below them on the ladder in Sydney and Fremantle. However, they lost both, meaning they’ll have to rely on other teams around them on the ladder to lose if they’re any chance of still making the eight.
They play GWS and Essendon to finish the season, and with both of those teams also struggling, they’re every chance to win and scrape into the finals. However, it is Melbourne, and they’re just as likely blow those games and cause their fans to spit out the camembert and pinot, while watching the finals from their Buller Chalet once again.
Alastair Clarkson has been in the news for the wrong reasons in 2020. Photo: Getty Images
Clarko needs to chill out
I’ve been watching football for a long time and I can’t remember a coach criticising the opposition team that just beat them because he doesn’t think their style of play will hold up in finals. That’s what Alastair Clarkson did however, post-game after his sides’ 14-point loss to St Kilda on Sunday.
All the stats point towards the kick/mark style that the Saints played being successful. The only team in the top eight now that doesn’t dominate in this area is Port Adelaide. Every other top side plays this way.
I didn’t mind him commenting on the holding the ball rule, that’s an AFL issue. But he has now twice taken aim at opposition clubs this season, and was unprovoked to do so. It’s a weird flex from a coach whose team sits 16th on the ladder with just four wins, and has lost six on the trot.
Crows soaring into 2021
Adelaide have struggled in 2020 losing their first 13 games before finally getting a win. However, they’ve suddenly won two straight and with two games remaining their finishing the season on a high note. Even if they don’t get another win for the year there’s promising signs at Adelaide.
Elliot Himmelberg and Shane McAdam were impressive against the Giants looking as though they’ll be a key part of the Crows forward structure for years to come. Adelaide have blooded nine debutants in 2020, with all of them showing they’ll be an integral part of the club’s future.
Strong momentum to finish the season is vital going into 2021 as the Crows look to soar back up the ladder. They take on Carlton and Richmond to finish the season, and even if they don’t manage to find another win, for a club that looked as though it might have the first winless season since 1964, their past two matches have been massive for the confidence of their young list going forward.
Cover Photo: Getty Images