By Liam Melrose and Ollie Nash
Are the Swans suddenly a genuine premiership threat? Photo: AFL Photos
The 2021 finals race is heating up
A few weeks ago many thought the top-eight may have already been well and truly locked away. However, with a couple of teams dropping off and a few teams taking their form up a notch, suddenly the finals race is wide open. As we move towards round 18 there is only two games separating 7th to 14th. Suddenly Fremantle have jumped to 7th, while reigning premiers Richmond find themselves in 12th position. The West Coast Eagles have slumped to 8th after a horror three weeks, while the Saints and Bombers are surging and the Giants are hovering around the 8th to 10th mark. It looks as though the finals may not be locked in until the end of round 23 and with the premiership race wide open, this season just got a whole lot more exciting.
Nick the slithering lizard has found his perfect rock
The Sydney Swans drafted Nick Blakey as a forward with the ability to go through the midfield. Throughout this season, he has been inconsistent and prior to the past fortnight had been in the worst form of his career to date as he was going in and out of the Swans’ best 22 as well as a couple of games as the medical sub. However, a shift to halfback has seemingly worked wonders, he is incredibly skilled and combined with his slithering dash off halfback it has proven to be a great move for the young Swan. Over the past two games he is averaging 18.5 disposals and 6.5 marks while going at around 80% efficiency with most of his disposals by foot. It’s only been a couple of weeks but it looks as though Horse has finally found a perfect place for his pet Lizard.
It has been a dismal four weeks for the struggling Eagles. Photo: AFL Photos
End of the Eagles’ fortress
I mentioned to someone the other day that the round 19 game at Optus Stadium between West Coast and St. Kilda was a very winnable game for the Saints. They’re in good form and the fortress the Eagles have built is no-where near as strong. He said ‘yeah, but you still tip West Coast.’ I agreed, but after Monday’s loss to North Melbourne at Optus Stadium, that decision might need some more thought. The utter dominance that the Eagles used to display at the ground is gone, and seemingly, like Richmond, the confidence has been zapped from them. In their last four games at Optus, they have lost three of them and the one win they managed was a four-point comeback win over Richmond when the Tigers collapsed. Like Richmond, I think the Eagles can re-group and have another crack at a premiership next year, but 2021 is gone.
Tom De Koning appreciation post
I’ve been a huge fan of Tom De Koning for a long time and he has been repaying the faith since becoming a regular in the Carlton line-up across the last couple of seasons. 15 disposals, six marks, four tackles, five intercept possessions, four score involvements, 284 metres gained and 14 hit-outs at the weekend was a great showing and highlights what the 21-year-old is capable of. Being so young and standing at 203cm and 100kg, down patches will come and he’ll be inconsistent. However, he will be a key part of Carlton’s spine for the next decade. Combined with Jacob Weitering, Harry McKay, Sam Walsh and Patricks Cripps, it is a strong spine for the foreseeable future to build around.
After falling to another top-eight team at home are Port Adelaide still the real deal we thought they were? Photo: AFL Photos
The Power is Dim
For a majority of this season Port Adelaide have looked as though they’re a genuine contender. However, after falling to another top-eight team at home on Thursday night it’s hard to see them challenging for the flag. The only current top-eight team they’ve defeated is Sydney and that came down to the last couple of minutes as they trailed with less than five minutes to play, they very well could have lost that game as well. They are dominant against the lower ranked teams but struggle against the best. You have to ask the question; can this team actually win the flag or are they flat track bullies? They face a St. Kilda team full of confidence at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night and right now my money is on the Saints.
Keep quarters the same
In answer to Chris Scott’s opinion that games are too long, as a regular consumer, I can happily say they’re not. The 2020 shortened quarters were crap and fans hated it. In response to shorter quarters allowing teams to play off shorter breaks, yes, that may be true. As professional organisations and athletes, if you can’t figure out how to play off shorter breaks with regular quarters, there’s something wrong. With the knowledge and technology we now have in sport rehabilitation and training along with the professionalism of the players, it’s very doable. In a time when so much is being changed in the game, just leave the quarters alone.
Cover Photo: AFL Photos