With the AFL’s Trade and Free Agency period now well under way one thing has become patently clear, the system is a mess. I say it has ‘become’ clear but that isn’t really accurate, it’s been clear it was a mess from the moment Free Agency was first implemented in Australia’s indigenous game a couple of years ago. The issues were largely passed off then as ‘teething’ problems that would be ironed out over time, but they haven’t been and in fact are getting worse as clubs look to exploit the gaping loopholes available.
Sydney 9.11 (65) defeated by Richmond 10.8 (68)
It seems sometimes fairytales do come true, even for the formerly finals cursed Richmond Footy Club. The Tigers, incredibly, won their 9th game in a row by defeating minor premier Sydney in Sydney on Saturday evening, and after starting the season with 3 wins from their first 13 games are officially finals bound. It got off on the right foot for the Tigers before the game even began, the Swans doing exactly what they said they wouldn’t in pulling out another of their stars in Buddy Franklin to rest him before the finals next week. Already without Josh Kennedy, Ben McGlynn and ruckman Mike Pike it made the Swans seem considerably less scary and no doubt put the scent of blood into the Tigers nostrils who would have sensed their opponent were much more worried about next week than the contest in front of them, and predictably that’s exactly how it began.
Photo : Getty Images
Sydney v Richmond
SCG, Saturday 30 August, 4:40pm AEST
When it comes to the Richmond Football Club in the past 30 years most of their stories at this time of year haven’t had happy endings.
Hawthorn 14.10 (94) defeated Geelong 11.5 (71)
It was a tale of two halves in a battle between two premiership fancies at the MCG last night, the Cats got out to the hot start and led by 31 points at halftime before being completely overwhelmed by the Hawks in the second half. The Hawks would eventually run out 23 point winners after at one stage kicking 10 goals in a row in a stunning turnaround, Geelong seemingly had no answers once the Hawks got going in a result that will provide some concerns for Geelong coach Chris Scott as the two sides are likely to meet again in the first week of the finals.
Richmond V Essendon – Round 20 – 7:50 PM August 08, 2014, MCG
Round 20 sees the return of the good old fashioned Friday Night Blockbuster, with traditional rivals Richmond and Essendon meeting in a game that could barely be more important for either side. The Tigers improbably – or not depending on how you view their history in recent seasons – are making a late season surge and remarkably despite earlier this season having a 3-10 record are still a remote chance of making the finals. They’ve won 5 in a row the Tiges, and while they haven’t all been stellar performances winning form is good form – including last week when they shot away from GWS early before having to grind out a 27 point win.
North Melbourne 10.19 (79) defeated by Geelong 16.15 (111)
Geelong has moved ahead of Fremantle and at least temporarily Hawthorn into second place on the AFL ladder following a convincing 32 point victory over the Kangaroos in front of 32,564 fans at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night. After a tight opening the Cats blew the contest open with a 6 goal to 1 second quarter, and although the Roos would challenge in the 3rd quarter the gap proved to be too great.
Photo : APP: Joe Castro
Etihad Stadium, Sunday July 20, 4:40pm AEST
Sunday afternoon at Etihad this week features possibly the most intriguing game of the round, with the surging Bombers taking on a Bulldogs outfit playing with renewed confidence.
The game shapes as season defining for the Bombers, who despite showing great form to win 5 of their last 7 games including strong wins over finals contenders Adelaide, Port Adelaide away and last week Collingwood, have a nasty habit of dropping games they should win. Those wins over strong teams have been somewhat cancelled out by poor losses to Melbourne and St Kilda, and far from convincing wins over Brisbane and these Bulldogs.
A win this week would cement the Bombers place in the top 8 and could move them above North Melbourne into 6th on the ladder, while a loss could drop them straight back out of the 8. For that reason alone it should be a highly motivated Essendon outfit on Sunday. They smashed the Pies last week, but getting motivated to play Collingwood has always been easy for Essendon teams, it’s the games they enter as strong favorites that are the problem.
North Melbourne 16.12 (108) defeated Hawthorn 13.10 (88)
We should have known.
Defeated by cellar dweller Brisbane last week, it was just like North Melbourne to come up and beat the top placed Hawks on Friday Night Footy. And beat them they did, on the back of 5 goals from Drew Petrie and a dominant aerial performance from Lachie Hansen the Kangaroos ran out 20 point winners over the reigning premiers. Both Kangaroo key forwards found some form, with Aaron Black kicking 3 goals in a display that must have pleased coach Brad Scott.
North Melbourne v Hawthorn
Etihad Stadium, Friday July 4, 7:50pm AEST
The opening game of Round 16 sees a clash of two teams who couldn’t have had more contrasting results last weekend, top of the ladder Hawthorn versus 7th placed North Melbourne.
The Hawks come off a strong win over the Gold Coast Suns at Aurora Stadium. In a game that was competitive for much of the first half the Hawks put their foot on the gas just before half time and blew the Suns away, scoring 57 points straight without the Suns hitting the scoreboard at one point. The only negative to come out of the game was yet another serious hamstring injury to star small forward Cyril Rioli, who looks set to miss at least the next 2 months.