Sunday, 10 May 2009

Go West. Lose. Come Back. Lose Again.

In the interests of tackling global warming and decreasing the AFL's carbon footprint I hereby propose that the league don't even bother flying us to Perth or Adelaide for the forseeable future. For the love of christ I've lived in 5 different places since we last won in either city. We'll never forget Brock and Peter Vardy going nuts in the wet against Freo, mainly because at this rate we'll never see the next win.

At least today we can say we went as close as we have since that day. The difference between the two sides today was clearly that one is a fallen giant fall of premiership winners, and the other is rapidly scraping it's way off up from the bottom. Experience and cool heads in the balance was what it was all about today, and we're just not good enough to deal with that yet.

Meanwhile in a convenient twist of events when I couldn't be bothered going outside this afternoon - somehow Fox Sports just appeared on my computer screen. I can't explain it. It's a round 7 miracle. Choppy as fuck but well better than the alternative of having to watch the game with... people. Did make it bloody hard to work out what was going on at any given time though.

Glad I wasn't paying for it to be honest. The pre-game 'entertainment' consisted of footage of Spud Frawley and Jason Dunstall doing gymnastics in front of small children in ill-fitting footy jumpers. Completely meaningless television. Just before that Gerard Healy called Cale Morton a "forward target of the future". So many low moments in the history of TV in such a short time. Then they threw to an ad break and those CGU ads that make me wish for nuclear holocaust came on.

So, in a rapidly evolving tradition we copped a goal straight from the first bounce. Surely no team has ever gone two weeks in a row conceding goals within the first 15 seconds. It could only happen to us. Not surprisingly Johnson was demolished in the bounce by Dean Cox and off they went. We were lucky not cop a second from the next bounce when precisely the same thing happened. Indeed it looked like some of the most comical MFC rucking at Subiaco since Nick Smith in the finals against Freo.

First quarter also notable for boundary umpire fiascos. Cam Bruce shanks one that lands closer to Rio De Janerio than Brad Miller but half a metre inside the line and the umpires almost give away a free, then on the other side one rolls out right under the boundary umpire's nose, the players stop and the field umpire had to tell them to play on. Shambolic. Five minutes later there's a questionable Bate kick that lands on the goal line and takes the zaniest bounce in history. Was it over? Who knows/cares, but it certainly wasn't a great day to be one of the minor umpires. Not a great day to be any umpire really - one of them botched the bounce and was caught on the microphone asking "is there something wrong with this" about the ball. No, you're just shit at your job.

Much like last week the first quarter consisted of getting slaughtered at the first bounce, almost repeating the dose on the second and then breaking even thereafter. Only difference was that we weren't kicking goals. As per usual we were pumping balls inside 50 at will but with little reward. Eventually after getting nothing from ten minutes of domination Rivers stuck a kick-in right down LeCras' throat for the Eagles second. BT claimed it was a Mother's Day present - does that mean he's a mother? Don't answer that.

For a quarter where nothing of any interest happened for about 15 minutes, the second term was certainly action packed. Before the whole thing slowed down to a crawl Bruce got a cheap 50 for falling over like a housewife and then the Eagles dominated for a couple of goals. Johnson continued to frustrate Cox in the ruck to such a degree that they eventually moved Deano into the forward line. Sadly it didn't last long so we were only treated to one centre bounce featuring the Stefan Martin Experience. He still looked more likely than Spencer.

Suddenly Jones exploded into life and was responsible for two goals in a minute. First he ran down an Eagle for holding the ball in what would have been a certain goal, leading to a Miller set shot at the other end and then won it out of the centre bounce and set up Miller for a second.

At the other end Jared Rivers, the unluckiest man ever born, courageously got in the way of an almost certain goal and injured his ankle in the process. It went down the other end and Miller got his third in a row on the back of Rivers' courage, but more importantly Mr. Black Cloud was being carried off at the other end looking shithouse. Eventually turned out that he hasn't completely destroyed it, which is something, but he still ended up on crutches so he's gone for the next few weeks.

The Eagles got a couple late to undo all our good work, but it was no surprise that gaps started to open in the backline when not only Rivers was off but Frawley gone with an injury as well. Bate got a late one to close the gap, but with two players down, only one ruckman and the fact that we're generally shit hardly filled me with confidence.

As with every other week this year there were signs but a lack of quality. Some of our run - particuarly from Jones - was sublime, but when we try to hit up short targets and deliver to around the 50m line it all goes horribly wrong. No surprises that when we bombed it in a bit more we had some success. Miller was doing a good job getting it at half forward but we just couldn't get it to a target inside. Bate was ordinary in the first half but he fired up for a great performance in the second and played an important role. Grimes and Maric were also much improved on their first half performance in the third quarter.

Eventually we hit the lead. That wasn't in the script. Surely not supposed to happen. Indeed it wasn't, and justifiably didn't last. Cheap free kick out of a ruck contest to the Eagles and all of a sudden they go nuts and kick four in a row to redress the balance. The fourth was a farce - the West Coast bloke (whoever he was - I couldn't tell) tried to take half the world on, got tackled, hit the ground and THEN handballed for Hunter to soccer through. Just what we needed to really stitch us up. We got a late one back but still went into the last quarter two players down. They lost Kerr, but still had the numbers.

I'm not even going to go into the last quarter in depth. You saw it as well as I did (although presumably not in a tiny box on a computer screen). The Eagles missed a million chances to put the game away and we came home like a freight freaking train at the end. Petterd's goals put us within two kicks before Sylvia marked 50m out with just under two minutes left. He took his time over it and then botched it anyway. Gee, thanks a lot. Much to the chagrin of Cool Breeze Taylor in the Fox Sports commentary box the Eagles then proceded to refuse to ice the game and instead gave us about three more chances to score in the last minute. Sadly we weren't good enough. Meh - what did you expect?

Incidentally that was our first loss by under ten points since Daniher's last game.

Crumb Watch
Once again there was none. Maric did some nice things in the second half outside of 50. Mind you it's no surprise that crumb doesn't come into it when most of the time we turn it over at 50m.

2009 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

5 - Nathan Jones
4 - Jamie Bennell
3 - Brad Miller
2 - Cale Morton
1 - Brent Moloney

Apologies to Johnson, Bruce, McLean, Grimes and Bate (second half only), Davey and Bartram.

Leaderboard

No votes for the leader this week. He went close with a great second half though. Frawley's injury could open the door for Martin in the Seecamp, and Bennell racks up his first votes of the year to put the heat on Cheney in the Hilton voting.

17 - Aaron Davey
12 - Brent Moloney
10 - Nathan Jones
8 - Brad Green, James Frawley (LEADER: 2009 Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
7 - Brad Miller
5 - Kyle Cheney (LEADER: 2009 Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year), Brock McLean, Stefan Martin
4 - Matthew Warnock, Jamie Bennell
3 - Ricky Petterd, Colin Sylvia, Cameron Bruce, Russell Robertson
2 - James McDonald, Jared Rivers, Cale Morton
1 - Matthew Bate, Lynden Dunn

Crowd Watch
Perfect silence in my loungeroom. Further proof that I'd be in a much better mood if I could sit in a superbox all season. I'd always rather be at the game but there's nothing like the chance to get away from others. Scored free tickets to North vs Port last night - that, and the Adelaide game, are about as close as you get. God forbid I supported one of the big four I'd have a nervous breakdown. Apparently Collingwood fans have to pay $400 extra to sit where I do in the Ponsford Stand. Hillarious!

Next Week
Footscray @ the MCG. 2.10 on Saturday. Great news for us that they're now back in form. It could get ugly. They haven't exactly got the best forward line ever but the way we're going we'll have to ring Phil Gilbert and ask if he's interested in a game.

Final Thoughts
In two years we'll play the same game and win it.

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