I see the soccer fans are trying to keep Rob and I out of their thread with addition of the "association" qualifier. Well, fair enough, and as it is I find it quite annoying to plough my way through the endless (and incomprehensible) array of transfer rumours and race rows to get to Rob's thoughts on Freo and beyond.
So with 8 rounds to go what do we take out of the weekends games? The ones I saw:
West Coast lost to Essendon - Jab Watson gets booed by the best booers going around. Why is he playing? He has admitted to taking a substance in 2012 that WADA has unequivocally stated has been banned since 2011. Yet, from the AFL we here nothing for a week, until this morning's reports that yes, Essendon could lose premiership points, suffer fines, lose draft picks. No mention of suspensions? Nothing about the Brownlow? Has all the hallmarks of an AFL standard sweep it under the carpet jobbie, once they work out the bare minimum they can get away with.
The game itself, well there's no denying the bombers ability to win the close ones this year, nor West Coast's general demise. They have good youngsters so I expect them to bounce back in a few years' time but until then they will get worse before they get better.
Sydney def Carlton - driving rain suits those big-bodied mids of Sydney to a tee, and it looked for a while like Carlton would be held goalless for a half until we had the biggest umpiring howler of the year to gift a goal to the blue baggers. They were better after half time and Yarran didn't sook it up about being the sub, but in the end it was a comprehensive win. Breakout game for Craig Bird with 33 touches, unbelievable midfield for the Swans: Goodes, Kennedy, O'Keefe, Parker, Bird, Hanneberry, Jack, Bolton, McVeigh. Then they add in Tom Mitchell (son of Barry) and Brandon Jack (brother of Kieren) who look like solid contributors right from the start. Will be tough to beat in September.
Geelong def Freo - I'm glad we get the footy live in Perth now, it's always my preference, but it does mean I frequently miss chunks of the night games as the tea-bath-bed routine happens with the kids. So most of this game I saw was in the second and fourth quarters where Freo were at their best, and even then it was far from convincing. It's always a tough ask to beat Geelong at Kardinia, and it seems that Chris Scott took the unusual step (for a Geelong team) of beating Ross Lyon at his own game by matching the numbers around the ball and locking it in their own F50. They paid the price with lower accuracy, but held Fremantle to a solitary inside 50 in the third quarter and kept them out of the contest all night. Allen Christensen was probably BOG, you have to admire Geelong's ability to recruit and develop quality youngsters in a period of dominance. Nonetheless, a not overly worrying hiccup for the Dockers.
North def GWS - Worst 86 point win ever? That's taking it a bit too far, but North were far from impressive in their demolition of the young guns from Blacktown. Sheedy decides to play a normal football game for one quarter, in which North dominated. After quarter time he puts 5 men behind the ball and the game as a spectacle nosedives after that. For the rest of the day it was a 10 man defence minimum from the Giants, but to North's credit they still outscored them 7 goals to 1 in the second half. Not much to take out of the win, except Leigh Adams finally showing a bit of form, Hansen continues to be a revelation at CHB (where he played all his junior footy, leading one to ask why North ever tried to mould him into a CHF) and Bastinac impressed early. For the Giants, Irish import and ex-Blue Setanta seems to have been told to tone down the goal celebrations - I suppose it was a bit over the top when your side loses by an average of 10 goals a week. Tomlinson adds his name to the ever growing list of their players who has shown a bit. This could be a very impressive side in 3-4 years if they can hold on to all their talent.
In the other games, Richmond appear to be the real deal, Bulldogs suffer the ignominy of being Melbourne's second scalp of the year and Port upset Collingwood to solidify their own chances while ptting the Pies in a bit of doubt. Really it seems that Hawthorn, Geelong, Fremantle and Sydney are the only real chances at the flag this year.