Old school, new school
From the old school comes Josh Kennedy, West Coast’s stuttering full-forward, kicking 11 goals in a game, a figure that had become unthinkable in the heavily-defensive modern game. Eleven straight, in fact, to show that his method is not madness even if it is the butt of many jokes.
From the new school comes men being bumped for bumping. Four players face sanctions and possibly suspension from the match review panel on Monday for head-high contact. There is no escape for them as there was for Jack Viney of Melbourne last week.
Round eight saw Port Adelaide regain top position on the ladder after Ken Hinkley’s team survived the sternest of tests against Fremantle at Adelaide Oval. Hawthorn, the previous holder of the mantle, suddenly looked vulnerable after a defeat by Sydney and the loss of more important players to the injury blight.
Goalfest in Perth
Josh Kennedy’s 11.0 haul on Sunday against the GSW Roadkill was the highlight of a round that featured a few games that were more aesthetically-pleasing, as West Coast flogged the Giants. Kennedy’s farcical run-up is one thing, but he could not miss at Subiaco; even his miskicks went sailing through.
Deep in the last quarter West Coast found a way to get the Sherrin to him for the round 10 goals, and they mobbed him as though he had reached a century for the season. Then he added another as the Eagles booted 30 for the day, winning by more than 100 points.
This is the era of the spread of goals, with multiple targets. The coaches don’t necessarily like the singular focus. But it is sure as hell fun when the players disobey.
It was the highest tally since Lance Franklin’s amazing 13 for Hawthorn against North Melbourne at Launceston two years ago. On television, Kennedy delivered the mandatory thanks to his teammates for setting him up that made it thoroughly old-school. One of these days, a player will be more blunt: “Yeah, I was great!”
‘The bump is back’ screamed several newspaper headlines after Jack Viney’s reprieve at the AFL Appeals Board last week but in reality, it is not. The rule is plainly written. Players who choose to bump and make forceful head-high contact will be suspended.
There were four over the weekend, just to make sure that the talkback radio lines will be clogged for another couple of days. Jarryd Roughead went past the football to clunk Ben McGlynn of Sydney in the head and with carry-over points from a similar incident last year, is bound to be out of football for two matches even if he pleads guilty. McGlynn was pole-axed for a minute or so and left the field, although he completed the game.
Mark LeCras (West Coast) is in trouble for cannoning into Will Hoskin-Elliott of GWS on Sunday, although his penalty will be lighter than Roughead’s, while Mark Duffield of Fremantle’s hit on Chad Wingard also was at the lower end of the scale. The latter two could escape with reprimands.
Not so Liam Jones of Western Bulldogs, whose bump to the head of Dean Turlich of Melbourne at the MCG knocked Turlich out for some time and saw him substituted out of the game. Brendan McCartney, the Bulldogs’ coach, has already acknowledged on ABC radio that Jones will miss football over that incident.
This is the pragmatic approach, and many people get it. Ross Lyon, the Fremantle coach, has said that the bump will disappear from the game in the current climate. Sydney veteran Adam Goodes said recently that the Swans were being coached not to bump at all.
Melbourne coach Paul Roos said he supported the rule. “As far as I’m concerned it’s black and white,” he said. “If you choose to bump when you have an alternative then you suffer the consequences. Jack Viney did not bump. His case was about bracing for contact and I hope that didn’t get lost in the whole week.”
It is relatively simple: there is no rule against bumping, but how can a player guarantee that in bumping, he will not make head contact?
There is shrill debate in some circles; Eddie McGuire tried to defend Roughead’s action and Alastair Clarkson attacked Tom Harley for merely doing his job as a commentator.
Yet there is shrill debate in some circles; Eddie McGuire tried to defend Roughead’s action and Alastair Clarkson attacked Channel Seven’s Tom Harley for merely doing his job as a commentator on the game. McGuire is right in one sense, that there is too much emphasis by media on potentially-reportable incidents. But Roughead should have gone for the ball and deserves to sit out for a while.
The AFL is petrified by the recent class action taken by NFL players in America over concussion, and has good reason to be so. That little lawsuit cost the NFL nearly $800 million. As for the AFL, the players will adapt soon enough. Many of them have already.
Roughead’s likely suspension is only one of Hawthorn’s issues. Cyril Rioli twanged a hamstring, on the opposite side to the one that troubled him last year. Brian Lake and Sam Mitchell have leg problems that will have them sidelined for some time. Fortunately for the Hawks, they have money in the bank in terms of wins, and impressive depth.
Lance Franklin played with a bung knee and was a straight kick or three away from producing an overwhelming game; he had seven consecutive behinds on the board with his errant left boot before he stepped up and booted two significant goals in the final quarter of Sydney’s groundbreaking win at the blight on the game that is the Olympic stadium.
The Swans are momentarily in the top four and looking dangerous with Kurt Tippett (four goals) back up and running. Despite his travails, particularly on the roads and with the Sydney paparazzo, Franklin has won three games for the Swans already.
The Swans have a tricky draw ensuing. They meet Essendon in Melbourne after the bye, the Bombers having held off Brisbane Lions at the Gabba over the weekend, and then Geelong. But the 2012 premiers are starting to find the mojo that had many observers tip them for the flag this year.
Port is the constant of this season with its frenetic running and it’s kamikaze game plan. Fremantle threw all that Ross Lyon could muster at Ken Hinkley’s team but five consecutive goals to start the last quarter did the trick. The Power are a genuine premiership threat, especially with Chad Wingard (five goals) in magnificent form. He is a sensational player.
A fine line
Western Bulldogs are not contenders but they did eke out a win over a dogged Melbourne at the MCG when a fourth consecutive defeat loomed midway through the final quarter.
Mind you, had Stuart Crameri not been gifted a late goal from a bad decision by field umpire Craig Fleer, and Demon Matthew Jones not been so exhausted from his exhilarating run through the middle that he butchered his kick deep in the final quarter, it might well have been different.
Crameri proved to be the matchwinner. The competition works on fine lines, still, as much as it has changed in other ways.
Martin Blake can be heard on ABC 774 and SEN.