Majak Daw celebrates with teammates as North Melbourne demolished the Adelaide Crows by 69 points. Photo: Dave Hunt/AAP
Majak the story of 2020
North Melbourne’s Majak Daw completed one of the most miraculous comeback stories in AFL history. The 29-year-old hadn’t played at AFL level in 706 days since badly injuring his hips and pelvis in December 2018.
In what has been a sad and tough 2020 to date, the feel-good story lifted the spirits of everyone and gave those at home something to smile about. Daw finished with eight disposals, four marks, four tackles and a goal in the 69-point win for the Kangaroos.
Another dark day in Demon land
After eight games Melbourne sit 15th on the ladder with a game in hand, however even if they were to win that extra game they’d still be outside the top eight more than halfway through the season. They have arguably one of the most talented lists in the competition, but are struggling to live up to expectations for a second year in a row, after going all the way to a preliminary final in 2018.
The Demons almost got the job done against the red-hot Brisbane Lions in round seven, and were very strong against a struggling Hawthorn in round six, which brought increased optimism about Melbourne’s chances going into their clash with ladder leaders Port Adelaide on Thursday night. However, unsurprisingly the Demons disappointed us yet again, with the match over by quarter time, in an embarrassing performance. The Power made Melbourne look like traffic cones and diced up their defence on the rebound like it was a training drill, on their way to a 51-point win. Melbourne’s foot skills have haunted them in recent years, and it’s still an alarming issue more than halfway through 2020.
Melbourne fans don’t have to spit out the brie and camembert just yet, the Demons face the winless Crows on Thursday night at Adelaide Oval, in a must win game before facing North Melbourne in Round 11. However, if their side doesn’t turn things around fast, it is seeming more likely by the day Melbourne fans won’t even be able to make their annual escape to Buller during September/October, with increased lockdown restrictions in Victoria being extended further.
It's been a rollercoaster year for the dogs to date. Photo: AAP
2020 has been a rollercoaster for the Western Bulldogs, one week they’re at the top of the track, the next week they’re at the bottom again. The year started poorly with the Dogs going 0-2 before finding some form to win three in a row, with things beginning to look good.
However, they then dipped again with a shock 52-point loss to Carlton, but then climbed the track again five days later with a 42-point win over the Bombers, and a five-point win over the Suns. The rollercoaster then took another turn, with the players reaching another unexpected stomach wrenching drop at the hands of Richmond on Wednesday night. The Tigers were way too good for the Bulldogs, winning by 41-points in a disappointing display, as we struggle to work out where we categorise the Bulldogs in 2020. Top four? Top six? Or will their rollercoaster inconsistency cost them a top eight finish?
At their best the Bulldogs are a top six side, however they face Port Adelaide and the Brisbane Lions in their next two games which will show us where they truly sit in 2020.
Suns not there yet, but not far off
After the Suns flying start to the season, many people were quick to jump on the “Flagsuns” bandwagon. The Suns progress from last year has been quite evident, but their 26-point loss to the Giants being their fourth loss in five games, suggest premiership calls or possibly finals, may have been a little premature.
The Giants experience was on show on Sunday with all their major ball-winners standing up. Lachie Whitfield (29 disposals), Jacob Hopper (27 disposals and a goal) and Josh Kelly (28 disposals and a goal) were some of the standouts. Inaccurate kicking hurt the Suns (four goals, 11 behinds), while their stars didn’t see enough of the ball.
Gold Coast currently sit 11th, and while I don’t think they can contend this season, a finish inside the top 12 will have them well-placed for a premiership assault over the next few years.
Fremantle stunned Collingwood in one of 2020's biggest upsets yet. Photo: Paul Kane/Getty Images
Western sharp-shooters place question mark over Pies
17th placed Fremantle’s 12-point win over Collingwood, continued a terrible fortnight for the Pies in Western Australia. The loss comes a week after they were hammered at the hands of West Coast, and pushes them down to 10th spot on the ladder.
The Dockers refused to miss on Sunday night kicking seven goals, one behind and outplayed the Pies all around the park. Matt Taberner (four goals) was brilliant up front, while first-year draftee Caleb Serong (24 disposals) was influential through the midfield.
Without Jordan De Goey and Scott Pendlebury, the returning Steele Sidebottom (two goals and 25 disposals) was almost the saviour for the Magpies. Sidebottom wasn’t helped by the Magpies forwards, whose goal struggles continued.
With four games to come against teams ranked outside the eight, the next few weeks are must-wins for the Magpies and will help us here at 'On The Pine' decide whether they are pretenders or the real deal.
Crows out of form and without their stars
The Adelaide Crows only had 10 players from their 2017 Grand Final side against North Melbourne on Saturday. If you want to include Brodie Smith on that list, who played all of 2017 but missed the preliminary and Grand Final, that makes it 11. Of the remaining 11 that played that day, eight aren’t even on the list anymore. The other 11 that played in the 69-point loss to the Kangaroos have played a combined 428 games and Bryce Gibbs has played 267 of them. 161 games between 10 players proves how young and starless this Crows line-up is at the moment.
On paper, there’s no surprise Adelaide is 0-9 and with Melbourne, Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs to come in the next three weeks, it’s hard to see where their first win is coming from.
Cover Photo: The Mercury