WHILST South Australia took another week off from its state league action, most of the other major state leagues took place, with the Victorian Football League (VFL) joining the respective leagues in Tasmania and Western Australia. Though it was not without some controversy, with a snap lockdown in south east Queensland impacting the QAFL, and even calling off one VFL game based in the state at quarter time.
New South Wales/Queensland/Victoria (VFL):
It was a fitting return to action in the VFL for the 2021 season, with two games postponed and a third also called off after just one quarter of action. Gold Coast Suns were leading Southport Sharks 1.2 (8) to 1.0 (6) when the players were told to stop due to the state lockdown, while Aspley’s clash with Essendon, and Brisbane Lions’ match with Sydney Swans were also put on the back burner. It was ironically the complete opposite of the previous week when only Queensland games could be played and Victorian matches were postponed.
Of those games underway, it was hard to go past the thriller that was Coburg and Williamstown at Piranha Park on Sunday. In what was an entertaining contest, a six goals to one third term in favour of the Seagulls had the visitors up by 24 points at the final break, and seemingly home. Coburg had other ideas, as the Lions roared home to kick the next six goals and hit the front to lead by nine points with 10 minutes remaining. The Seagulls dug deep and kicked the last two goals of the game – after only kicking one behind in the first 18 minutes of the quarter – to steal the lead in a memorable last quarter. Mitch Hibberd continued his terrific form with another 35 disposals, nine more than any other player on the field. Nick Mellington (26 disposals and a goal) and Teia Miles (25 disposals and seven marks) were also lively, while ex-Bomber Noah Gown kicked 2.1 from 16 disposals and six marks in a promising display, one of four Seagulls to kick multiple goals. For the Lions, Charlie Thompson kicked 2.2 from 20 touches and three marks, as some former Northern Knights dominated the disposals. Marcus Lentini (25 disposals), Luke Bunker (24) and Tom McKenzie (23) all had some big days out.
Most of the other games were fairly big wins to the victors, with four of the remaining six games decided by 30 points or more. North Melbourne’s recent form continued with a 17-point win over last placed Port Melbourne, getting up 11.11 (77) to 8.12 (60). Harry Jones racked up 31 disposals and kicked a goal, as Charlie Lazzaro (26 disposals, five tackles and a goal) did his chances of a recall no harm. Chris Jansen (31 disposals, six marks and four tackles) and the ever-reliable Eli Templeton (30 disposals, four marks, seven tackles and 2.2) suffered leather poisoning as the Borough came close to a second win, but not quite close enough. Richmond also posted a 16-point victory over Frankston as the Dolphins form of late continues to slide after their fast start to the season. Patrick Naish had a game-high 32 disposals, as well as five marks, six tackles and a goal, with Derek Eggmolesse-Smith (29 disposals, five marks), Riley Collier-Dawkins (26 disposals, three tackles) and Will Martyn (26 disposals, nine marks and five tackles) all letting the Tigers’ selection committee know they are ready to step up. Nathan Freeman (31 disposals, nine marks) and Josh Newman (30 disposals, six marks and eight tackles) were again the best for the Bayside team.
In other results, the Western Bulldogs just somehow found a way to win, conceding six goals to zero in the opening quarter against Casey Demons, to kick 16 of the next 20 majors and storm to a 37-point win to remain undefeated in the 2021 season. Rhylee West (27 disposals, nine tackles and three goals) and Ben Cavarra (21 disposals, six tackles and three goals) both dominated, while Dees’ veteran Nathan Jones kicked 1.3 from 29 disposals, four marks and four tackles. In a similar comeback, Box Hill Hawks were held goalless in the opening term against a red-hot Collingwood outfit, and after hitting the front to lead by seven points at the final break, Box Hill piled on 9.2 to 0.0 to run away with an eye-opening 63-point win and remain in the top four. Fergus Greene, Emerson Jeka and Jackson Callow all combined for 11.6 and 19 marks, while Tom Wilson tried hard for the Magpies with 27 disposals, five marks, four tackles and a goal.
Meanwhile Carlton leapfrogged Sandringham with its fourth win of the season, defeating the Zebras by 39 points at Sandringham, as James Parsons and Sam Petrevski-Seton lit it up with 30 touches each, and Lachie Fogarty laid 12 tackles to go with 27 disposals and six marks, though three behinds, Jack Bytel (28 disposals, seven marks and 11 tackles) was the best for the Zebras. In the other match, Werribee took home the points on the road against Northern Bullants, with an 8.5 to 1.1 final term to reverse a 16-point deficit at the final break to turn it into a five-goal victory. Tom Gribble (36 disposals, six marks and nine tackles) and Matt Hanson (32 disposals, three marks, five tackles and a goal) were lively as Hudson Garoni booted 3.6 from 19 touches and 10 marks up forward for the winners. Will Mitchell had 31 touches and eight tackles for the Bullants, with eight more touches than any other teammate, while Paul Ahern slotted 4.1.
There was nothing close about the Tasmania State League (TSL) action in Round 18, as the three winners completely dismantled their opposition. With the sides missing a number of their young up-and-comers due to the Tasmania Devils Under 19s and Under 17s exhibition clash on Sunday, it was up to the more experienced players to get it done. Third placed Clarence had the bye, but the other top four sides – Launceston, North Launceston and Tigers – showed no mercy in their victories, combining for a mind-boggling 275 points.
The “close” game of the weekend was the Battle of the Bombers, with North Launceston triumphing 18.7 (125) to 6.5 (41). In what was a fairly comprehensive first three quarters, the home side led by 31 points at the main break, having missed their chances in the third, before piling on a whopping 10.5 to 2.0 in the last quarter to run away with the 64-point victory. Brad Cox-Goodyer slammed home five majors, with Zach Burt and Jack Avent slotting three goals apiece, while Jay Foon and Judah Edmunds were also named among the best. Allen Christensen was the sole multiple goalkicker for Lauderdale, working hard all game, as Josh McGuinness and Luke Paton were also named among the best.
In a top-against-bottom clash with Launceston heading in 13-1 and North Hobart 1-13, it was never expected to be much of a contest, but few could have predicted the 121-point shellacking that the Blues handed out. Keeping the Demons to just one goal in the first three quarters – whilst booting 18 majors from 32 scoring shots – Launceston led by 114 points, though to North Hobart’s credit the Demons rallied in the last to only concede three more goals and kick two themselves for a 21.18 (144) to 3.5 (23) final scoreline. Jake Hinds kicked five goals in a best on ground performance, but what made the game so unique was the fact that the Blues only had four multiple goal kickers, and 14 individual goalkickers. Alex Wright, Cody Thorp and Fletcher Seymour were deemed the best in a strong performance. Jack McCulloch and Bailey Walker were the best for the Demons in a performance they would rather forget.
The game predicted to be the closest of the round turned into a fizzer, as fourth placed Tigers trounced sixth placed Glenorchy at Twin Ovals to the tune of 90 points. The Kingborough-based outfit piled on 12 goals to four in the first half, and then 11 goals to four in the second half, to fall short of bringing up the ton. Will Campbell and Max Collidge both slotted four goals apiece to be among the best on the ground, with Marcus Gardner (one goal) and ex-Carlton player Sam Duigan (three) also lively. Callen Daly (three goals) and Brayden Webb (two) were the multiple goalkickers for the Magpies, with Harrison Gunther (one) named best-on in the losing side.
Western Australia (WAFL):
In Western Australia, Subiaco took full advantage of a Claremont loss to go outright top on the WAFL ladder, as West Coast grabbed its fourth win of the season with victory in the bottom two clash against Perth, and East Perth leapfrogged Peel Thunder with the unlikely win over the Tigers in Round 17 of the League competition.
East Perth’s seven-point upset over Claremont was the biggest result of the round, as they nervously held on in the lat term after leading by 15 points at the final break, to record a 12.6 (78) to 10.11 (71) victory. Jackson Ramsay had 31 disposals, eight tackles and two goals, and the Royals player was only bettered by Claremont ball magnet Jye Bolton (41 disposals, five marks, eight inside 50s and three tackles). Former Carlton talents Rohan Kerr (22 disposals, eight marks and one goal) and Angus Schumacher (26 disposals, six marks and three inside 50s) were lively for the Royals, as Bailey Rogers (29 disposals, three marks, three tackles and two goals) and Ben Edwards (27 disposals, four tackles, seven inside 50s and one goal) were important for the Tigers.
West Perth put up a fight against ladder leaders Subiaco, but conceded six gaols to two in the opening half to trailed by 30 points at half-time. They tried to fight back in the second half, but ultimately could not get over the line, going down by 20 points, 10.12 (72) to 8.4 (52). Greg Clark had a team-high 29 disposals for the Lions, as Harrison Marsh (28 disposals, seven mars, five tackles, five inside 50s and a goal) was busy, as was Nick Martin (21 disposals, 10 marks, three inside 50s and two goals). Shane Nelson tried to haul his team across the line with a match-high 34 disposals, as well as four marks and seven tackles, as former Roo and Cat, Aaron Black had 26 touches, four marks and seven tackles.
Meanwhile other top three side South Fremantle showed no mercy in a dominant 116-point thrashing of Peel Thunder. The Bulldogs slammed home a ridiculous 13.2 to 1.2 in the first half to lead by 72 points at the main break. They still managed nine goals after half-time, getting up 22.9 (141) to 3.7 (25). Haiden Schloithe (42 disposals, seven marks, seven inside 50s, three tackles and two goals) unsurprisingly led the way for the Bulldogs, as Jacob Dragovich and Tom Blechynden both had 30 touches. Ex-AFL talents Mason Shaw and Blake Schlensog shared in five goals apiece, as well as 30 disposals and 17 marks. Tyrone Thorne was one of the shining lights for Peel Thunder, picking up 25 disposals, five marks, three inside 50s and a goal.
In the remaining two games, East Fremantle won a low-scoring slot against Swan Districts to the tune of seven points, while West Coast dominated Perth by 56 points in a rare big victory for the AFL-aligned club. The Sharks kept their finals hopes alive with the win over the fifth placed Swans, moving to within 12 points of finals, but not able to make a mistake on the run home. Luke English (25 disposals, four tackles, three inside 50s and a goal) and Luke Strnadica (19 disposals, seven marks, 39 hitouts and three inside 50s) were impressive for the Sharks. Sam Fisher (27 disposals, three marks, seven inside 50s and a goal) and Jesse Turner (26 disposals, four marks, four tackles, four inside 50s and a goal) topped the charts for the Swans. Alex Witherden (40 disposals, 11 marks and seven inside 50s) suffered leather poisoning in the Eagles big win, with Jarrod Brander (33 disposals, 13 marks, two tackles and thee inside 50s) also putting his hand up for a recall. Jack Avery (26 disposals, 11 marks and three tackles) was the top disposal winner for the Bombers.
Picture credit: AFL Photos