Josh Kennedy - Photo: Will Russell/AFL Photos/Getty Images
Eagles stamp premiership claim
If last week the wheels started rolling out west, then this week the Eagles well and truly cemented their place as one of the premiership favourites.
The Eagles demolished the Pies by 66 points on Saturday night at Optus stadium, with plenty of contributors all over the ground. Josh Kennedy reminded the competition that he’s still got it, kicking seven goals, while young tall-forwards Oscar Allen and Jake Waterman combined for five goals.
Hyped midfield recruit Tim Kelly (29 disposals and a goal) had his best performance in Eagles’ colours, while Andrew Gaff (26 diposals and a goal) was his damaging self.
With plenty more games to come at home, opposing teams will have to be at their best to account for the 2018 Premiers.
Carlton not the Blues of old
On paper most would have tipped the Blues to easily account for North Melbourne on Saturday afternoon, with the latter on a five-match losing streak. Although Carlton only got up by seven points in the end, the win held a lot more significance for the rising side.
In recent times the Blues have been known to give away “winnable games” far too easily and have lacked the ability to grind out an ugly win – something the best teams in the competition regularly do. The result represents a significant step in the young sides’ quest for finals footy, and right now you’d be a brave person to write them off.
Standouts for the victors included usual suspect Marc Murphy (22 disposals), as well as backman Lachie Plowman (18 disposals and nine intercept possessions). Young midfielders Will Setterfield (20 disposals) and Matthew Kennedy (20 disposals and two goals) also look to have found their feet in the side.
Tom Papley - Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Young Cygnets stand tall
The Sydney Swans defeated Hawthorn in a thriller on Saturday by seven points on the back of Tom Papley’s four goals. However, it was the Swans’ brigade of Cygnets that stood tall during a number of critical moments when the game was in the balance, looking much cleaner with their ball use than the Hawks. Ollie Florent only just turned 22 but almost looked as though he was a veteran in this young Sydney team. He was huge in the final quarter with nine disposals and six of them contested using the ball extremely well against a much more experienced midfield in Hawthorn.
There were a number of moments throughout the game where this young Sydney team stood tall, taking it up to their much more experienced counterparts. Nick Blakey, who has been out of form for the most part of 2020 laid a strong tackle early in the game stamping his authority and kicked truly early in the final quarter to give the Swans some breathing room, with the game in the balance. James Rowbottom looks as though he is going to be a star, looking stronger and playing with more confidence every week. He finished with 18 disposals and 11 contested possessions against a strong Hawthorn midfield.
Elijah Taylor showed a glimpse into why the Swans handed him the famous number 37 jumper, kicking the first goal of his career early in the second quarter with a snap deep in the pocket. Matthew Ling also showed his potential in just his first game, racking up a number of clearing kicks out of the Hawthorn attacking 50 late in the last quarter, looking calm and composed helping the Swans get over the line.
Are we seeing a power outage or are Port Adelaide just really not as good as we thought? They are still sitting atop the AFL ladder at 6-2, however five of their six wins have come against teams outside the top eight, and both of their losses have come against teams inside the top eight being Brisbane and St Kilda. There is no doubt Port Adelaide is a vastly improved team from previous years, but will they be that team that teases us starting the season strong and falling away as it goes on?
Taking nothing away from St Kilda, it was a great performance, kicking five goals to none in the last quarter to run away with the win convincingly in the end. However, alarm bells are beginning to ring at Alberton, and if Port Adelaide are going to remain in the top four and be contenders in 2020, they’re going to have to get the power up and running again quickly. It starts on Thursday night against a Melbourne team who have lifted and are no longer easy beats.
Photo - Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images
Change of coach and game plan a blessing for St Kilda
St Kilda and Carlton are two clubs that are reaping the rewards of a new coach and a new game plan. We can’t underestimate how much recruits like Bradley Hill, Zak Jones, Dougal Howard and Dan Butler have positively affected their form, but a lot of praise has to be given to Brett Ratten and his coaching staff. The freedom with which they move the ball is fun to watch and it’s clear they enjoy the way they play. A fresh face leading the charge, recruits breathing new life into the team and a new and improved St Kilda the end result, something St Kilda fans have been waiting for.
No need to worry about the Tigers
A week is a long time in footy. After Richmond’s round seven win over North Melbourne, experts were convinced the Tigers had found their form and were back in the premiership hunt. Following this weekends’ loss to the Giants, they’re seen as chasers for the flag. With nine games to go in 2019 the Tigers were in the exact same spot as they are now, missing key players to injury and sitting ninth on the ladder. We all know what happened from there. Their pressure, ball movement and execution has of course been inconsistent, but their style of play is one that can be improved dramatically in one week. A win on Wednesday night against the Bulldogs is still a must, but I wouldn’t be too worried about the Tigers just yet.
Cover Photo: IMDB