Geelong’s Tom Hawkins is chaired off the SCG in his 250th game by Joel Selwood and Harry Taylor after the win over Sydney Swans. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Geelong’s Tom Hawkins is chaired off the SCG in his 250th game by Joel Selwood and Harry Taylor after the win over Sydney Swans. Picture: Phil Hillyard

The Tackle: Selwood’s touching message for mate

It's been another great round of footy, with plenty to celebrate and plenty of controversy.

From a big Cat's milestone celebration to the another bumbling weekend of score review drama, Mark Robinson wraps up Round 19 in The Tackle.

 

 

 

LIKES

 

1. GREAT MATES 1

Tom Hawkins kicked five goals in his 250th game, and he and Joel Selwood topped the player rankings with 147 and 146 points. With a bunch of family in attendance, Hawkins would have set himself for this game. So did Selwood. His tweet in the lead-up needed no explanation about how much Hawkins has meant to him. "My mate @tomhawkins is a first class human in all of the below: Husband. Father. Son. Brother. Mate. A loyal leader and passionate teammate for 249 games in the blue and white hoops. All bases …"

 

 

2. GREAT MATES 2

Common sense surely will prevail when the match review officer looks at the footage from the weekend of Grant Birchall playfully squeezing Luke Hodge's private parts. If they weren't best mates, it would probably be considered as a misconduct charge. The point is they are best friends - so much so that Hodgey was anxious to play it down in the post-match. "It was an accident,'' he joked. Thankfully, we have such a unique game that a player can take a quick grab of an opposition player's private parts and we can all have a laugh.

 

3. BARKING DOGS

They are clearly the best team outside the eight, and yesterday's win was their fourth from their past five matches. If not for the interim-coach curse, which worked against them last week with the Saints, the Bulldogs would be in the eight. But every team has its sob stories. Losing to Gold Coast in Round 3 is their biggest sob story of the season. The Bulldogs play Brisbane Lions (away), Essendon (Marvel), Greater Western Sydney (away) and Adelaide (Mars) in the run home, and must win three of those games. They have found another forward in Bailey Dale (10 goals in two weeks), and the midfield group is in terrific form. If the Dogs do make it, they will be the team no one wants to play.

 

The Bont has the Bulldogs humming. Can they sneak into the eight? Picture: AAP
The Bont has the Bulldogs humming. Can they sneak into the eight? Picture: AAP

 

4. WEST COAST BOOKENDS

The last thing those not barracking for West Coast needed was Josh Kennedy back in form. He had kicked two goals in three matches before his seven goals against North Melbourne on Saturday, meaning the Kennedy-Jack Darling partnership is looming as dangerous as the Tom Lynch-Jack Riewoldt combo at Richmond. The performance of Tom Barrass up the other end was just as influential as Kennedy's seven goals. Barrass made 17 spoils, the second most in a game this season (behind Melbourne's Tom McDonald in Round 6).

 

5. THE COACH AND CAPTAIN

David Teague is a better coach when Patrick Cripps plays good football, and together they are making it happen at Carlton. Cripps gave a reminder to those wondering who is the best player in the league with another awesome performance. Just think about what it takes to win 19 clearances in a game - although it does help when the opposition coach fails to apply a tag. As for the interim coach, he can do no more in his bid to win the role full time. When Alastair Clarkson said no to a reported offer from the Blues - how could he say yes after his recent verbal commitments to his players? - then Teague surely became the short-priced favourite.

 

Patrick Cripps and David Teague are all smiles after a Blues win. Picture: Michael Klein
Patrick Cripps and David Teague are all smiles after a Blues win. Picture: Michael Klein

 

6. IT'S NOT JUST CRIPPS

Sam Petrevski-Seton to a back flank, the blossoming of Jack Silvagni and the emergence of Will Setterfield on a wing would please Blues fans more than watching Cripps do his work in the middle. Gee whiz, Saturday's effort might not even be Cripps' best game of the season. That could be his 38 disposals, eight clearances and four goals against the Brisbane Lions in Round 12. It was, however, Setterfield's best game yet. He had 24 disposals, a career-high seven inside-50s, and a career-high 554m gained. Those green shoots are growing.

 

7. SAINTS, LET THERE BE LIGHT

Two 100-point scores in two weeks under interim coach Brett Ratten - which didn't happen in 22 previous matches under Alan Richardson. The light also comes from the kids. Rowan Marshall virtually squared the contest against Max Gawn, and Nick Coffield and Hunter Clark continued to impress. Coffield has produced three of his top-four ranking matches in his past three games, while Clark has produced four of his top-six ranking matches in his past five games. Importantly, they have played the past five matches together, after having played just five together in their first 34 matches on the list. If you're looking for darkness, look at Melbourne. It is a basket case.

 

Richmond’s Dylan Grimes put his name in front of All Australian selectors’ faces with a dominant defensive performance against the Pies. Picture: Michael Klein
Richmond’s Dylan Grimes put his name in front of All Australian selectors’ faces with a dominant defensive performance against the Pies. Picture: Michael Klein

 

8. GRIMES SHINES

Two weeks ago in the kitchen at Fox Footy, there was discussion about who would play back in the All-Australian team. Harris Andrews, Robbie Tarrant, Jeremy McGovern, Mark Blicavs, Shannon Hurn, Dane Rampe, Jake Lloyd, Tom Stewart and Daniel Rich were prominent names. Then Jack Riewoldt spoke up. "What about Dylan Grimes?'' he said. There was affirmation more than absolute confirmation that Grimes was a serious contender. After Friday night, Grimes has to be in line for his first All-Australian selection. Against the Pies, he took an equal career-high six intercept marks, and his 10 spoils were the seventh-most of his career. With Alex Rance out for the most of the season, Grimes has been enormous. His numbers might not be as prolific as others, but his effectiveness simply can't be ignored.

 

9. THE INTERCEPTORS

When the margin is as close as it was at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night, determining why a team won or lost is essential discussion. The two main reasons? Port Adelaide couldn't kick goals - again - and the Giants controlled the air in the back half. The Giants took 21 intercept marks against the Power, the second-most of the season. Skipper Phil Davis took six and Nick Haynes four. The pair combined for 23 marks overall. Whoever plays the Giants simply must curtail this pair's influence. Davis leads the league this year for intercept marks with 3.9 a match and Haynes is fourth at 3.2 - yet Port allowed them to dominate. As David King would say, don't get beaten by what you know.

 

Should Dayne Zorko be All Australian? Picture: AAP
Should Dayne Zorko be All Australian? Picture: AAP

 

10. TALKING ALL-AUSTRALIAN

Let's mention Dayne Zorko. He's averaging 22 disposals and 10 contested possessions for a midfield-forward. His seven score involvements are the fourth most of midfielders, his seven tackles are the fifth most of midfielders. His 0.9 goals per match ranks No.3 for midfielders behind Stephen Coniglio and Patrick Dangerfield. He should be All-Australian, so much so that Jonathan Brown even suggested Zorko, along with Shannon Hurn, should be strongly considered as the captain. But after the selectors last year awarded the captaincy to Lance Franklin in a legacy-type selection, it's unlikely Zorko will get the nod. Gary Ablett will be in the team, and if the AA selectors are true to form, Ablett for captain is very much in the offering.

 

 

DISLIKES

 

1. SCORE REVIEW

What's worse? Calling for a score review for a behind when it's not a score - which happened in the Port-Giants match - or not calling for a score review when a goal was kicked and the call is play-on, which happened in yesterday's match at the Gold Coast. I blame the goal umpire. The goal kicked by Essendon was a half-metre over the line, and the umpire was in the perfect spot and failed to make the decision. None of the field umpires interceded, either. It's a controversy, but not as big as it would've been if Essendon lost the game. It was a thriller, no doubt, and if not for Jake Stringer and Shaun McKernan - especially Stringer in the midfield - the Bombers would've coughed up this game.

 

2. IS DON, IS (NOT) GOOD

The expectation from any team is effort. In the first quarter on Saturday at the MCG, Carlton laid 20 forward-half tackles to Adelaide's one. In the same quarter, forward-half intercepts were 11-0 to Carlton. What sort of football is that from the Crows? They are a broken team. They lack care for each other, cohesion, morale and spirit. They want to play cheats' football. They won't do the hard work. Coach Don Pyke got some heat about his selection, but that pales against what the players served up. "Absolutely inexcusable,'' footy great Graham Cornes tweeted. "Appalling selections but same old story: no forward line presence or intensity; no attacking options from defence and, worse, no obvious enthusiasm and a complete lack of optimism.'' Can't disagree.

 

The pressure is mounting on Adelaide coach Don Pyke. Picture: AAP
The pressure is mounting on Adelaide coach Don Pyke. Picture: AAP

 

3. WHAT OF THE COACH?

He has two years left on a contract, so sacking him would seem to be kneejerk. But the Crows don't tolerate failure. They dumped Brenton Sanderson after the 2014 season when he had a 39-30 win-loss record. Pyke is 21-19 since playing in the 2017 Grand Final. It's difficult for Victorians to understand the pressure on a losing team in a two-club state. Suffice to say the loss to Carlton on Saturday after lacklustre defeats to Essendon, Port Adelaide and Geelong won't be tolerated. Change is coming. Certainly on-field, where they will scour the country for speed, and maybe even off-field if these soulless displays continue.

 

4. DALE MORRIS

Sad scenes yesterday as Morris trudged from the field with a limp and in a tracksuit top, the fear being he has again ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament. At 36, it would appear his career is over if he has done his knee. That said, Morris has previously overcome serious injury. But this is different. This week coach Luke Beveridge said: "If he's physically OK and he's playing good footy and we believe he can again next year, then he'll go on.'' Fingers crossed.

 

It was a sad sight on Marvel Stadium when Bulldogs favourite son Dale Morris went down with a knee injury in his AFL comeback. Picture: AFL Photos
It was a sad sight on Marvel Stadium when Bulldogs favourite son Dale Morris went down with a knee injury in his AFL comeback. Picture: AFL Photos

 

5. STEELE SIDEBOTTOM

It's not about Sidebottom as a player, more his impact. You suspect coach Nathan Buckley is looking at making adjustments, not least stopping the first-quarter failings of the past two weeks. Positional switches might be in play. Sidebottom is averaging 0.4 assists, which is the fewest of his career, and is averaging 0.4 goals, the fewest since his debut season. As good a kick and decision-maker as any player, he is spending just 7 per cent of the game as a forward. That is down from 23 per cent last year. From afar he looks to play a lot as a defensive midfielder or sweeper. That is understandable with his skill set, but as the Pies' season teeters, a more offensive role could be an option.

 

6. NOW THERE'S MORE INJURIES

If Collingwood wins the flag from here, it should be regarded as its finest and pluckiest premiership. But that's one almighty if. Jordan De Goey's hamstring injury will sideline him for at least two weeks, and youngster Isaac Quaynor will spend 10 days in a moon boot after suffering a foot stress injury. If a review has not already started at Collingwood into its savage run of soft-tissue injuries, it should start today.

 

7. SAME, SAME FOR PORT ADELAIDE

Did they lose it in the coaches' box? Ken Hinkley allowed Greater Western Sydney to have a spare at the back for too long - usually Nick Haynes - and too often plopped the ball on Robbie Gray's head in the forward 50m in the final quarter when Port had control. Dare we say it, they missed the big target of Charlie Dixon. Port's season has been an exercise in midfield-forward dysfunctionality. It has scored a goal from just 19 per cent of its entries this year - the only team worse is Gold Coast. They have also lost five matches while having more entries than their opponents. That's unheard of.

 

8. GOOD PLANNING, BAD KICKING

A game and 11 per cent from eighth-placed Adelaide means finals are a chance for the Hawks. It could have been different for an unusually inaccurate Hawthorn on Saturday. The Hawks kicked 1.11 from set shots compared to 6.3 from Brisbane, five of those misses coming from the corridor inside 40 metres. It was Hawthorn's worst shot-at-goal accuracy (26 per cent) since Round 4, 2012.

 

Will Brandon Ellis be able to hold onto his place in the Tigers’ side? Picture: Getty Images
Will Brandon Ellis be able to hold onto his place in the Tigers’ side? Picture: Getty Images

 

9. BRANDON ELLIS

There's so much pressure for spots at Richmond, it might come down to a moment to decide who's in or out. On Friday night Ellis had a moment when he thought contact was coming, and played survivor instead of committing to the ball. Coach Damien Hardwick might live with the moment or he might say, with finals looming, we can't have a player being so hesitant. Ellis has a spot on the wing and halfback, but Kamdyn McIntosh is in the VFL and Josh Caddy is playing wing-midfield in the VFL, so there are options. Ellis does a lot right, but bad moments can decide footy games.

 

10. KICK OUTS

It's as if the AFL has instructed the umpires to allow the kick-in player to run with the ball for as long as he wants without bouncing it. A kick-it-to-the-wing rule to discourage the short kick to the pocket. It's beyond a joke how far the kicker can run. In the third quarter on Saturday night, Giant Lachie Whitfield took 15 steps at virtually full pace, which took him 25m without bouncing. The umps pulled up Sydney's Callum Mills yesterday - at last.

 

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