Sport AFL AFL Round 4: Suns, Saints continue to rise to challenge

AFL Round 4: Suns, Saints continue to rise to challenge

Jarrod Witts and David Swallow lead out the Suns at Metricon Stadium before its nailbiting win over Carlton on Sunday. Photo: Getty
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More Carlton heartache

Carlton’s Lochie O’Brien can hardly believe his side lost on Sunday. Photo: Getty

For a while it looked like long-suffering Blues fans would watch Carlton notch its first win of the AFL season, but it wasn’t meant to be.

What’s worse, the comeback win by Gold Coast Suns at Metricon Stadium on Sunday was sealed by a Jack Bowles goal with only 13 seconds left on the clock.

However, the tight margin should not have come as a surprise to Suns fans. All four games that the Suns have played in 2019 have been decided by five goals or less.

The last-minute goal understandably had Carlton coach Brendon Bolton looking utterly bereft.

Bowes’ opportunistic match winner saved the Suns from embarrassment after a chance was butchered only moments earlier.

Tipping torture

The close results have been a nightmare for those in tipping competitions. Photo: Getty

Each year we peer into a crystal ball and hope that what we see is what is played out on the field.

So far, this season, many punters who based their picks on merit and knowledge have come up errr … well, lacking.

It has been so hard even the Herald Sun‘s Kiss of Death was second after three rounds of tipping, and is now poised to take the lead.

Who would have thought Brisbane, St Kilda and Gold Coast would be equal top and Fremantle, 14th in 2018, just behind leading those with two wins?

But it is important to remember that this is not an entirely un-typical start to an AFL season.

We are only in Round 4 and until the teams begin to show what they have been up to in the off-season, it will take some time for us to have confidence in tipping.

A round of close finishes

It was a round of nail bitters this week.

Geelong lost to Greater Western Sydney by a narrow four-point margin, Richmond trumped Adelaide by seven points, while the Gold Coast Suns pipped the luckless Carlton by two.

The more comfortable victories in this round were only margins of a few goals.

The most skewed victory went to Essendon, which notched a 47-point win over the high-flying Brisbane Lions at the MCG on Saturday.

The trend of close results follow the 6-6-6 rule changes that were brought in to open up the play and increase scoring.

But Hawthorn coach Alistair Clarkson is still somewhat bemused .

“They’re strange games at the minute,” Clarkson said.

“I reckon six of the nine games, in pretty good conditions, are decided by 10 goals each, in a competition where we’re trying to get teams to score more.

“All the changes we’ve made to the game and we’re scoring less.”

Danger zone

Geelong’s 2016 Brownlow Medal winner Patrick Dangerfield was the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons, with two incidents in the Cats’ loss to Greater Western Sydney being put under the microscope.

But Dangerfield had the full backing of his coach Chris Scott, who wasn’t holding back in his post-game press conference.

“There was an umpire there and it wasn’t even a free kick. So let’s just deal with the facts … or do you want to hang him? Who wants to hang him?”

Wonder if match review officer Michael Christian feels similarly?

The wonder of ‘Walla’

Essendon’s Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti was as electric as ever in scoring a round-high seven goals against Brisbane on Saturday.

Nicknamed “Walla”, the speedy small forward used his renowned pressure tactics to create several of his chances that are sure to feature on the highlights reel of most Bombers fans.

The accuracy of McDonald-Tipungwuti was a major reason why the Bombers got off to a flyer with seven first-quarter goals, building further momentum after kicking four in the Round 3 victory against Melbourne.

Special mentions

Football is a team sport, but individuals deserve recognition for outstanding efforts.

Collingwood ruckman Brodie Grundy perhaps stood tallest of all, recording an AFL record 87.9 per cent of the hitouts in his side’s win over Western Bulldogs at the MCG.

He also made a few decent tackles along the way.

Western Bulldogs’ Marcus Bontempelli is tackled by Collingwood big man Brodie Grundy at the MCG.

Former Gold Coast captain Tom Lynch made his mark for Richmond, kicking 6.2 for the undermanned Tigers to help them upset Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval.

The speed of thought of Harry Himmelberg also deserves credit. After taking a courageous mark, the Giant passed to Jeremy Finlayson, who kicked the last goal for Greater Western Sydney in its morale-boosting win over Geelong and GMHBA Stadium.

Gold Coast’s Jack Bowes chose his moment to shine, snapping the winner in the last minute against Carlton, and wayward St Kilda forward Jack Lonie followed suit, putting his team ahead with the last goal of the match in the Saints’ thrilling win over Hawthorn.

Kudos also to Melbourne and North Melbourne, which opened their accounts against Sydney and Adelaide respectively.

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