We all know Triple M's Dave Noonan loves his footy...
As a self-proclaimed aficionado, we've asked him to share a little bit of his knowledge and insight every week by covering off on his favourite three things and his least favourite three things of the round.
Dave's 6-Pack - Round 6
1. What a round of upsets! Unpredictability in results is keeping the season alive! Ok it is bad for my tipping- the fact my wife is way ahead in a tipping comp says it all- but it is fantastic to watch. It was the first time ever all the top 5 sides have lost in one round and the first time all nine winners beat a team above them on the ladder! And my wife got 6 out of 9? Last week I said there is only one position in the eight up for grabs after round six but form suggests there are now multiple possibilities and a number of big improvers in 2017. Gold Coast, the Bombers, Melbourne and Freo could all compete for a bottom 8 slot and there are several teams that could fall away- Richmond, Port and St Kilda could be vulnerable. Perennial finalists the Swans and the Hawks are now lurking too. The other aspect of this equalisation of the teams at finals time is that another side could threaten for a flag from outside the top 4 as the Doggies did last year. If the Saints maintain the rage they could be that team. At the beginning of the season I thought it would be the most even competition in years and now it is looking as if this will be the case. Bottom 8 sides Carlton, Gold Coast, Sydney, North and the Hawks will all beat current top 8 sides.
2. North Melbourne finally showed that coach Brad Scott was correct in his assessment of the list after a severe prune of elder statesmen last year. He said there was depth in the younger members of the squad that would develop in 2017. North Melbourne's first quarter was remarkable. 10.4 to 0 against the ladder leaders Adelaide was fantastic to watch. They showed the talent of their young guns-Dumont, Wood and Marley Williams and their new group of senior leaders are standing up. Their speed, contested footy and accurate delivery would have thrilled their supporters. Thompson was great on Tex Walker despite the odd brain fade. Waite was brilliant with 6 goals but could be out after a sling tackle left Tom Lynch with concussion. The only disappointment was a crowd of only 10,383 at Blundstone Arena to watch the ladder leaders get beaten by the locally affiliated team. North must be ruing losing those three close games that they led all day earlier in the year. With an ounce of luck they would be near the top 4.
3. It was a pleasure to see the Saints winning their first Friday night game in 7 years beating GWS by 23 points. OK I love seeing anyone beat GWS but St Kilda showed grit, speed and an improved midfield against the team the AFL has blessed with withering talent. They are good GWS but the Saints wanted it more. Jack Steven is a great leader in tight moments and it was exciting that with senior citizen Nick Riewoldt down on form it was the younger players who stood up in the last quarter. Acres, Gresham, Billings and Tassie boy Jimmy Webster showed great character and poise to triumph over the AFL’s glamour team. Alan Richardson has proven himself to be a very astute manager of his list. They needed big-bodied defenders so they recruited Carlisle and Brown which has released Roberton and Webster to be effective rebounding backs. Richardson is a calm and considered media performer and has rebuilt the Saints a lot more rapidly than most commentators expected. I like his game-plan based on speed and contested footy. If they can play like they did on Friday night they could beat anyone if they make the finals.
1. Geelong are showing chinks in their armour. Close checking of Selwood and reduced output from Dangerfield exposes the next rung of Cats midfielders and so far they are not standing up. Consecutive losses to the Pies and now Gold Coast, both well outside the eight, demonstrates a vulnerability we did not expect after winning 5 on the trot. None of the younger Cats are showing the match turning or winning ability that Bartel, Enright and Stevie J exhibited on many occasions during Geelong’s glory years. Not sure they will be top 4. Having said that Gold Coast are getting on a roll. They have an impressive bank of talent courtesy of the AFL and maybe coach Rodney Eade is starting to see the results of culture change he has been trying to implement. The Suns have struggled with commitment and consistency but if they manage to start playing for one another they could threaten for a finals berth. Those saying Ablett was finished may have to eat their words too!
2. The deliberate OOB is a joke. Every week there are multiple decisions which affect games and are questionable. This week the final minute of the Tigers v Doggies game was marred by a shocking DOOB call. Inside the last 60 seconds Richmond were attacking with the ball in the pocket when Richmond player Jayden Short desperately lunges towards the ball and fumbles it over the line. All logic would tell you he would want to keep the ball in for a chance to score. But no, the ump calls a DOOB and the Bulldogs relieve the pressure! He actually decreed there was “inadequate intent”! Result-a win to the Doggies! Now they may have won anyway but we do not need a poor interpretation of a rubbish rule to impact results. The Aussie Rules ball is an irregular shape so the bounce can send it over the line unpredictably. The rule requires umpires to be mind-readers- did the player intend it to stay in for his team or not? Was that player capable of better skills on that occasion when the ball went over the line? If so, did he do it deliberately? It also encourages some players to bleat to the umpires every time the ball crosses the boundary which I hate to see. In the SANFL they are playing a last team to touch rule as in basketball which is ludicrous for football. Some commentators are saying this could be an option but I hate it and I think most footy fans would. Reverse the rule AFL! You have enough employees at AFL house to get the paperwork done.
3. Melbourne are a very difficult team to support- trust me, and every scarred Demons fan I know. They never win games you expect them to. After Hawthorn were smashed by St Kilda last week Melbourne made them look like ladder leaders in the first half. They made fringe players like O’Brien and Sicily look like world-beaters. Melbourne have not played finals at all since 2006 and even then were bit players. We are the worst performed side over the last 11 years and have not won a flag since 1964, currently the worst AFL record. We still lack depth, A-grade players, marking power and at the moment a ruckman. It has often been observed in the last 4 seasons since the guru Paul Roos was installed to right the sinking ship that was the Melbourne Football Club that we cannot win the games we are expected to win. The game against the Hawks was such a game. We are still too inconsistent. I like Goodwin as coach but can he please get the side to kick sometimes instead of handballing! Having said that our kicking accuracy is woeful so maybe not!
Can't see us playing finals this year. Just to put the season in perspective we are now only one game ahead of North Melbourne and Hawthorn who have had disastrous starts to the year. At some point this team has to turn promise into performance or I will start following the A league. Despite myself I was happy to see Jarryd Roughhead playing his best game since returning from life-threatening melanoma.
PS: Bucks is gone. I don’t think they will disrupt the season and march him out before the end of the year but he will not be coaching the Pies in 2018.
Thanks to Cripps - Cripps Master Loaf. Number 1 Choice for Tasmanian's daily bread!