By Ollie Nash and Liam Melrose
Jacob Koschitzke and Riley Thilthorpe enjoyed a day out in their round six clash. Photo: AFL Photos
The young key forward crop is as strong as ever
A key takeaway from the early rounds of 2021 is how strong the current crop of key forwards is. Three of the top five picks taken in the 2020 draft were key forwards being Jamara Ugle-Hagen (Western Bulldogs), Riley Thilthrope (Adelaide Crows) and Logan McDonald (Sydney Swans). McDonald was the first of the three to show us his strong potential with three strong games to start his career, while Thilthrope put on a show in his debut against Hawthorn in round six, kicking five goals and finishing with 16 disposals. While at the other end we saw young Hawk Jacob Koschitzke kick five goals in just the fifth game of his career. Ben King also tallied a career high five goals for the Gold Coast Suns in round six. As well as the key forwards who are showing strong signs in their debut seasons, those who are a few seasons in around, the 50-game mark are also starting to blossom. Harry McKay (Carlton) has kicked 22 goals so far this year, while Oscar Allen (West Coast Eagles) has kicked 16. The future of the AFL’s key forwards is as strong as ever.
Lay off Richmonds' Tom Lynch
People are quick to forget, recency bias I like to call it. Tom Lynch is one of the main reasons why Richmond won the 2019 premiership. Played the early parts of the year clearly hampered with his knee, without Jack Riewoldt, therefor forced to take the best defender. Missed one game for the season and kicked 63 goals. Kept the Tigers in the preliminary final by himself, a game they trailed by 21 points at half-time, with five goals, 19 disposals and 10 marks, four of those contested. Now is he having an amazing year to start 2021? No, not stats wise. He does take the best defender every week though, always brings the ball to ground and never gets out marked. Still averaging 1.7 goals a game, 5.7 score involvements and 4.5 marks, 2.3 of those inside 50, so he’s stats are not even awful. Like Hawthorn from 2013-2015 or the Golden State Warriors in the NBA from 2015-2019, I’m not counting Richmond or their top players out, no matter how out of form they may seem to be, until they are eliminated from contention.
It was bizarre scenes at the weekend with Tom Lynch scrambling to get ready at three-quarter time. Photo: Fox Sports
What the f*** Tom Lynch?!
Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks said it was the club’s plan to give medical sub Tom Lynch 15 minutes to prepare himself and get ready before running onto the field in the final term against Hawthorn on Sunday. That’s fine, I can agree that is a good plan. However, if this is the plan, be ready Tom Lynch. Have your playing kit on underneath your tracksuit. Do warm-ups at each quarter break, do some runs and light skills up and down the boundary line, just be even slightly prepared so that when you’re called upon, you are ready. For a professional football club, it was a weird situation and a poor display.
What’s happened to the Saints?
Going into their clash with Port Adelaide the Saints had been struggling, however there was hopes they could turn things around and at least compete with the Power. The Saints didn’t go close, they looked unfit and at times even disinterested through their lack of effort. 12 months ago, this club was back on the map and well and truly in the finals race. Now, alarm bells are ringing as they sit 2-4 but more alarmingly with a percentage of 67. The most concerning thing is the way opposition teams are just carving them up, out-running them and executing their game-plan at a much greater efficiency. Their come from behind win in round four over West Coast provided hope, however they’ve since lost to Richmond by 86 points and in round six they fell to the Power by 54 points. They face Hawthorn who are no easy-beats in round seven, in what is a must win if they want to keep their season alive.
It's been a roller coaster start for Patrick Cripps and the Blues in 2021. Photo: AFL Photos
'They know we’re coming' … where did they actually go?
The famous ‘They know we’re coming’ Carlton membership slogan was heavily marketed to us as part of the Blues’ 2009 membership campaign. However, it’s been twelve years and Carlton has never actually arrived. Where were they actually aiming to go? The club obviously got lost as they bottomed out again a few years on after a couple of failed finals campaigns. In 2010, we got another taste with ‘Can you smell what the Blues are cooking?’ … well while we might have been able to smell it, it never quite made it to the table. Carlton haven’t made the finals since 2013 and it’s looking more likely each week that they’ll miss the finals again in 2021. While things could turn around, it just seems like the same old Carlton, they tease us with a list full of potential and a couple of strong performances only to let us down with poor showings. The past two losses to both Port Adelaide and Brisbane have been expected, however if this club is going to feature in September again these are the games they need to start winning or at least be a lot closer in. As mentioned their list is packed with talent but they need to lift soon because this proud club simply can’t afford another rebuild both for their sake and their supporters who are well and truly over it. After all they are the team that ‘never lets you down’.
Port Adelaide under the radar
The talk of the town at the moment is Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs and it’s fair enough, 6-0 catapults them to a legitimate premiership contender. While Richmond will be my flag favourites until they are officially knocked out, Port Adelaide is the other contender that isn’t getting any praise but certainly deserves it. They messed with St Kilda on Sunday night. They went at 80 per cent, got the job done by 54 points and front up to Brisbane this Saturday night full of confidence. Every player in that side knows their role and plays it superbly. Every game they bring an intent and hunger that all the good teams in history have had and if their opponent doesn’t match it, the Power are already two steps ahead. Watch out for Port come September.
Cover Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getting Images