29/02/2024
Indigenous Round

The photos that captured indigenous round (Sources: @freodockers/Twitter @melbournefc/Twitter @brisbanelions/Twitter)

Indigenous round was action-packed and full of twists and turns. We’ve got you covered as we run through its defining moments from A-Z.

Australia and the Australian Football League celebrated indigenous culture and everything Indigenous Australians have contributed to the great game over the weekend as Sir Doug Nicholls round took place despite difficult circumstances within the AFL’s heartland.

The Inner Sanctum takes you through the A-Z of round 11 – the defining highs, lows, and controversies surrounding round 11, and the first wee of the 2021 AFL Premiership season.

A is for Amon’s record. Karl Amon broke Kane Cornes’ club record in the first quarter against Fremantle, finding a remarkable 16 disposals in the term.

B is for Baby Bombers going places. Many thought this year would be a tough one to stomach for Essendon fans after losing key established players in the off-season. But new coach Ben Rutten and a stack of talented youngsters have breathed new life into this football club. 

Bomber fans around the country are now wondering what might just be possible in the years to follow.

C is Crippa’s back. Just when it seemed liked Patrick Cripps had been usurped as the Blues no.1 mid, he reminded everyone what he could do with a captain’s performance at the SCG. Cripps had 27 disposals (18 contested) six clearances, six tackles, and 3 goals doing all he could as his side went down to Sydney

D is for Deadly performances on a special weekend. Indigenous round one of the best rounds on the football calendar for a reason, and across every team, Indigenous players rise to the occasion this round and make it their own with sparkling performances.

Charlie Cameron and Keidean Coleman lit up the Gabba before Anthony McDonald – Tipungwuti put on a clinic in Essendon’s massive win against West Coast in Perth. All before Marn Grook at the SCG on Sunday afternoon, veterans and competition favourites Lance Franklin and Eddie Betts were sparkling.

E is for Elliot Yeo. The West Coast Midfielder’s well-documented battle with osteitis pubis looks like it’s finally over, as he ran out with his teammates in Indigenous round again after 294 days on the sidelines. Yeo played 64 percent of the game, spending most of his time in the forward half with a few stints in the centre. Even on limited minutes, he still delivered a vintage Yeo performance, finishing with 14 disposals, 10 contested possessions, four tackles, and 14 pressure acts.  

F is for Finals hopeful. St Kilda’s first-half dominance, then eventual 20-point win over North Melbourne keeps the Saints in arms reach of finishing in the top eight, despite their 111-point thrashing from the Western Bulldogs last week. 

The Saints will finish 12th on the ladder, along with Essendon, Fremantle, and GWS; the Saints percentage the only reason they aren’t closer to eighth. 

G is for Ground to a halt. Under the roof at Marvel Stadium, the Western Bulldogs have been untouchable this season, until Friday’s blockbuster clash against Melbourne. Heading into the game the Bulldogs were 5-0 at Marvel, with an average final score of 127 points and an average winning margin of 65 points.

But Melbourne’s relentless pressure and defensive set-up undid the quick and slick ball movement that the Dogs usually enjoy at home. The Demons kept them to 59 points, the Bulldogs’ previous lowest score at Marvel this year was 100 against the Eagles in Round 2.

H is for Heeney. It was a brilliant performance from pillar to post for Isaac Heeney, who was instrumental in leading the Swans to victory over the Blues. Heeney had 22 disposals, a whopping 14 marks, and kicked 3.1 to be a deserving winner of the Goodes-O’Loughlin medal for a second time. 

I is for Izak electrifies: After a disappointing start to his 2021 campaign, it took Izak Rankine all of 10 minutes to stamp his authority on the contest against Hawthorn at the SCG. 

Rankine had 3 goals to his name within the first 10 minutes of the game, on his way to a career-high 4 goal haul in a comfortable win for the Suns to keep their season alive

J is for Jumper Clash?: Multiple sides including Melbourne and Essendon were unable to wear their Indigenous guernseys for this weekend’s games due to what was deemed as ‘jumper clashes’.

K is for Kicking woes. Collingwood and Geelong combined for an incredibly wasteful 14 goals and 28 behinds on Saturday afternoon. Brody Mihocek was one of the worst offenders, kicking 1.3, while 17 other players kicked at least one behind.

Collingwood failed to score a goal in the first half of its match against Geelong, the first time it’s happened to the Pies at the MCG since 2005. 

The goalless half also marks the 14th and 15th quarters from the Pies that they have gone without a major since the start of 2020, further indicating further concerns for the side.  Adelaide is the only side to have more quarters played without a goal in that time, with 16. 

L is for Lids off? Will you believe in Melbourne now? In a top-of-the-table clash to kick off Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round, the Demons delivered an outstanding performance against fellow finals contender, the Western Bulldogs. They passed a massive acid test for their credentials as a legitimate contender for 2021. 

M is for Mitch Robinson. Game number 221 would have to be among his best, with a brilliant showing against Greater Western Sydney. Robinson had 30 disposals, 12 marks, and kicked 4.1, including a pearler from beyond 50 on the three-quarter-time siren in a best-on-ground performance for Brisbane. 

N is for No love lost. Taking the field for just the third time this season (and two games as the unused medical sub), Mason Wood led St Kilda from the front against his old side North Melbourne. He kicked three goals for the first time since 2019, finishing with 18 disposals, eight marks, and nine score involvements.

O is for On the road again. In the words of Willie Nelson, it looks as if all the Victorian clubs will be ‘on the road again as the AFL continues to do its best to outrun COVID-19 amid Victoria being plunged into lockdown last week. 

Indigenous round celebrations continue with the Essendon vs Richmond Dreamtime clash taking place at Optus Stadium next week, while other games involving Victorian sides are in the process of being rescheduled to different venues across the nation.

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P is for Pressure. Huge momentum swings off the back of tackling pressure kept both the Tigers and the Crows on their toes all afternoon, but it was the forward line pressure of the Crows that was the most eye-catching. Forward trio Ned McHenry, Shane McAdam, and James Rowe laid 10 tackles between them, McHenry also performing 19 pressure acts.

Q is for quiet achiever: Touk Miller continues to put together another prolific season without much fuss or fanfare. Saturday night against Hawthorn was his fifth game in a row with 30 touches or more. Add 9 marks and seven tackles to his 37 touches and you’ve got a complete captain’s performance. A smokey for All- Australian honours.

R is for Riewoldt Risen. With the Tigers needing a lift in the final quarter against Adelaide, Jack Riewoldt rose to the occasion with an unbelievable contested mark. Converting the goal helped stop the Crows run, and he added two more for the quarter to finish with five, and the win. 

S is for Selfless Brayshaw. At his best, Angus Brayshaw has shown that he can be a dominant inside midfielder, finishing third in the Brownlow Medal after his breakout 2018 season. But while his current role as a wingman wouldn’t be getting him any Brownlow votes, he’s earning the plaudits and respect of every Melbourne player, coach, and supporter. He only had 13 touches on Friday night but had several key moments where he cut off the Bulldogs’ attacks and halved contests. His willingness to buy in and play a crucial team role epitomizes the attitude that currently has the Demons on top of the ladder.

T is for Tall Hawker. 211cm ruck Ned Reeves has been a revelation for Hawthorn and led the game for hit-outs with 35. He competed hard against experienced Gold Coast ruck Zac Smith all game and even managed to kick his first goal in what was a disappointing night for the Hawks.

U is for Unused on debut. The medical substitute has always been contentious and under the microscope since it was introduced on the eve of the season. How it would be used as a major talking point and continues to be a talking point after GWS Giants youngster Callum Brown made his senior debut being named as the medical sub and didn’t see any game time. 

Commentator Gerard Healy slammed the move, labelling the rule and the episode “nonsense”.

V is for Victory after Victory. A few teams are beginning to build some strong form and lengthen their winning streaks in Indigenous round. Brisbane sits on a monstrous seven wins straight after a dominant performance against GWS, Geelong has four, and Essendon three.

W is for the Waterman brothers face off.  Siblings faced off for the first time at Optus Stadium, when Jake faced off against Alec in the West Coast and Essendon clash. And it was Alec and the Bombers who came away with bragging rights with Alec kicking the sealer in the final minutes to bury his former team and help the Bombers to a memorable win. 

X is for X marks the spot. But Freo isn’t hitting it. They have a glaring issue – their accuracy in front of goal, which was once again evident in their clash against Port Adelaide. Freo has kicked more behinds than goals in all but one game, which has cost them wins. The Dockers kicked 9.15 goals against the Power, with Nat Fyfe – whose accuracy has been criticised, kicking two goals to become their top scorer. 

Y is for Young Pie lives out a childhood dream. Trent Bianco ran out with Magpies for the second time in his life as he made his debut on Saturday afternoon. The lifelong Collingwood fan became their seventh debutant as Taylor Adams missed out due to injury. Collingwood faithful have plenty to be excited about as he gave an exceptional performance, amassing 19 disposals, three tackles, six score involvements, and nine pressure acts.

Z is for ‘Zombie’. Callum Coleman-Jones, or ‘The Zombie’ as his teammates call him, had been in the news in 2020 for all the wrong reasons. But today he went a long way to making amends for Richmond. In just his second game, Coleman-Jones had four goals from five marks and may just be a new spearhead for the Tigers going forward. 

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