Monday, 31 July 2006

Search and Destroy

The good news - we've taken the Jakovich Cup back off the Bulldogs after they beat us in Round 2. The better news - it was done in slashing fashion.

Of course it's not all roses. When it comes to Melbourne is it ever? 51pt wins over teams in the eight are ace but what does it really mean when it's against a team who are falling apart rapidly due to an injury list longer than World War One AND costs you two of your most important players through injury? In the short term it means that we're back in third (and as it stands off to Perth for the first week of the finals - how thrilling) but it's a big knife in the back for our chances of making the top four. For more dissection on that topic see the bottom of the report - for now let's concentrate on positives.

The first quarter was rather reminscent of last week. Goals flying in at both ends and the opposition running Melbourne off their feet to set up an apocalyptic second/third quarter outburst and win comfortably. Good idea in theory but obviously the tapes of last week have been watched so many times the film has worn out because from the moment the second quarter started and Neitz goaled within the first minute it was all Melbourne - all the time and the Dogs were strangled out of the game with extreme prejudice.

But before we go back to the game a moment please for one of the worst attempts at crowd humor ever. One wag in the bottom of the Ponsford Stand, as Brad Johnson marked in front of Cameron Bruce in the first quarter was heard to yell "Hey Bruce! You're Loose!" as if it were the most cutting insult ever delivered. Needless to say it wasn't and instead led to an entire end of people pissing themselves laughing at his expense. With spectacular rhyming talents like that I've got no idea why he was sitting there on his own shouting out randomly things and not in a clubroom somewhere writing future slogans to be used on banners. If you're going to just yell out random abuse because it makes you feel better about being a fat bastard who sits in the stands and has never had the guts and determination to play the game at the highest level then at least make it funny or especially biting. Otherwise you're that guy and you're a cock.

Back on field things were starting to look up. The Bulldogs had forgotten how to kick, Godfrey was having the time of his life tagging Scott West (9 kicks, shitloads of handballs) and The Jurassic Pack - featuring guest member Daniel Ward also having a spectacular day - were murdering the Dogs forwards who had looked so potent early on. 4.3 to 0.4, the Next Big Thing running wild and free in the midfield and Ben Holland kicking Jakovich-esque goals. Could life have been any better? Then Pickett necked himself and the carnival atmosphere died in the arse a bit. Then we kicked four goals to one in the third (including an Yze special for goal of the day) and it was back on again.

Incidentally did anyone notice just how many times people sold the dummy in this game? Both sides were just running around faking from one side to other. I suggest that yesterday's clash be referred to as the "Sucked-In Cup". The worst one of all was when Matthew Bate ran to 50 in the last quarter and did the MOST OBVIOUS FAKE EVER by almost falling to the ground he went so far left before drawing back to the right and running around his opponent. He missed the kick but I'm appalled that anybody could have fallen for such a blatantly obvious dummy.

The margin blew out to 40 before the Dogs kicked two goals in a row and Chris Sullivan Law was invoked (that no margin under 46pts is a "certaintly" before time-on of the 4th quarter - see Round 6, 1992 @ the MCG vs Essendon for the birth of this law). Fortunately love came back to town rapidly and the margin re-blew out to 45 before Yze capped off a top 250th game and goaled on the siren. Game, set and match. Four points in the bag etc..

Next Big Thing Watch
A new feature to fill the space left by Philthy and Pickett Watch.

- The Next Big Thing (NBT)
McLean was absolutely magnificent. I suggest selling your house and investing every cent you've got on him winning the Brownlow next year. If he stays fit he'll be an absolute legend. As far as I'm concerned he's almost graduated from the NBT Academy and become a superstar in his own right.

- The Next Next Big Thing (NNBT)
Bate was quiet for the first couple of quarters but as we started to put the Dogs to the sword in the third The Total Package emerged and started running riot. 17 touches, 8 marks and a goal. Good stuff.

- The Next Next Next Big Thing (NNNBT)
Dunn was a late withdrawal for Brown. I have no idea why - given that I'm in the Amish faction who never read the papers or watch television - but there's some suggestion that it was always on the cards so that Brown could play instead. Will be back with a vengeance, possibly to collect the Heaver Medal for Rookie of the Year.

- The Next Next Next Next Big Thing (NNNNBT)
A very solid debut by Jones. Cocked up a few disposals early on but as he started to get into the game and settle he started distributing top ball and going in for everything on the deck. Has all the makings of an absolute gun. Will be interesting to see what role he plays for the rest of the year now that Green will return but Pickett and Davey are crocked.

End Next Big Thing Watch

2006 Allen Jakovich Medal Votes

5 - McLean
4 - Yze
3 - Ward
2 - Carroll
1 - Whelan

Apologies to Bruce, Bate, Godfrey, McDonald, Davey, Rivers and White.


35 - Cameron Bruce
30 - Brock McLean
25 - James McDonald
20 - Brad Green
18 - David Neitz
17 - Aaron Davey
16 - Byron Pickett
15 - Travis Johnstone
14 - Jared Rivers (Leader: 2006 Marcus Seecamp Medal for defender of the year)
13 - Nathan Carroll
12 - Matthew Whelan
9 - Colin Sylvia
6 - Russell Robertson
6 - Adem Yze
4 - Chris Johnson
4 - Daniel Ward
4 - Ben Holland
2 - Brent Moloney
2 - Brad Miller
1 - Nathan Brown
1 - Jeff White
1 - Matthew Bate

The Run Home
Round 18 - Carlton @ MCG

All signs point to us winning this one and winning it well but we said that in Round One didn't we? And look what happened there. Now this is a much better unit than it was four and a half months ago, and Carlton have proven to be fairly rank ever since but I won't be assuming anything until we've crushed them. Fevola scares me - and not just because he looks like an evil sideshow clown who may rip my throat out at any moment.

Round 19 - Sydney @ MCG
They've not got a bad record at the 'G, and with three imminently winnable games in the last three rounds (Geelong/Brisbane/Carlton) they'll be thinking top four as much as we are. Instant blockbuster. As seen earlier this year we can beat them - farcical 50m penalties and 35m last quarters included - and this playing group has an excellent record against the Swans in the last few years so I'm comfortable with our chances.

Round 20 - North Melbourne @ MCG
Again you'd expect that we'd win this one. They ran us close earlier in the year when we were still finding our feet but their form hasn't been completely rancid recently and they're probably still capable of springing some surprises. I'd pencil in a win but don't expect to see Nathan Thompson get bored and wander off to find something else to do if the result is in doubt this time.

Round 21 - Geelong @ Kardinia Park
There's no possible way that we can top the drama and excitement of THE BEST GAME EVER in the corresponding fixture last year so I can't see any reason why we should win. Sure Geelong are balls but presumably they'll still be somewhere in the mix for the final 8 with two rounds to go and will be playing like their lives depend on it knowing that they should beat Hawthorn in R22. We should win but just because I'm a negative piece of shit I'll put it down as a loss.

Round 22 - Adelaide @ Football Park
Surely you jest? The only hope we've got is if they've got 1st place sewn up by a mile, rest half the team and bring back an all-time Crows 22 featuring Rodney Maynard, Simon Tregenza and Sudjai Cook. Then our reward will be either a trip to Perth or a "why didn't we just stay here?" rematch against the full strength Crows the next week.

The theory going around is that it's better to finish 5th and play Fremantle at the MCG in the first week of the finals. That's probably an accurate portrayal of things but fuck settling for an easy draw in the first week - I want the best result possible. And if that means getting tonked in Perth and then coming straight back here to bend over and cop it from St. Kilda in the 2nd week then so be it. No more settling for second best.

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