15/08/2022

There was plenty of clubs who rose and fell at different points this weekend. (Photos: @sydneyswans; @WestCoastEagles; @PAFC)

A full round of footy, where every game had high stakes, saw some major shakeups to the finals picture, while some teams were at a new low.

A full round of footy, where every game had high stakes, saw some major shakeups to the finals picture, while some teams were at a new low.

The Inner Sanctum takes you through Round 15, complete from A-Z. The defining highs, lows, and controversies surrounding Round 15 of the 2022 AFL Premiership season.

A is For Apprentice and His Master: Darcy Fogarty has long been an apprentice of fellow Crows spearhead Taylor Walker. The pair had a field day against a hapless North Melbourne outfit kicking 10 goals combined. Fogarty in particular has had a consistent couple of outings, kicking four on Sunday, two against the Suns, three against the Eagles and three goals against the Cats. His biggest highlight was the mark of the day and the goal he slotted to consolidate the Crows’ dominance.

B is For Bit Part Players: Opportunities are often there for the taking at AFL level, and Ryan Clarke and Dylan Stephens made the most of theirs. Recalled to the Swans for his first proper AFL game since 2020, Clarke kicked two first-half goals, then nullified the dangerous Jack Sinclair from there, keeping him to just 17 disposals, his lowest of the year. Stephens meanwhile had a new personal best of 23 disposals, another performance that will cause headaches at selection this week.

C is For Chicago Still To Be Conquered: The great Michael Jordan coined the phrase “They still have to come through Chicago” during his playing days which spoke volumes of the fear that opposition teams had when it came to playing at the United Centre in the middle of their incredible run. For eight years now, the Lions, have been coming to the Aussie Rules Football equivalent of Chicago, the MCG and coming up empty-handed. While the opportunities they have had to play at the ground have been limited, it’s a hoodoo that will loom large when the crowds and the finals games descend on football’s most famous arena.

D is For Dogs Bite Back: Trailing by 19 points at quarter time, the Bulldogs arrested all the momentum on Friday night to claim a comfortable 42-point win over the Hawks. Led by Jack Macrae (31 disposals) and Tom Liberatore (30 disposals), a hungry Bulldogs midfield out hunted the Hawks after the first break, ultimately winning the contested possession count by 17 and clearances by 11.

E is For Eighth vs Ninth: In a round full of season-defining clashes, the battle for a spot in the top eight was the prize on offer for Sydney and St Kilda. It was the Swans who made it clear they weren’t giving up theirs, with a dominant display that saw them restrict the Saints to their lowest score against the Swans, and their lowest score under Brett Ratten, a worrying blow to their finals push.

F is For Four Goals, Four More Years for Mitch Lewis: Fresh off a four-year contract extension, Hawthorn key forward Mitch Lewis was mightily impressive under the Friday night lights, albeit in a losing cause. Lewis collected nine touches in the first quarter alone, clunked six marks, and slotted two goals. The 23-year-old finished the night with four majors to his name and was a constant aerial threat, crashing packs and leading up at the ball carrier. Lewis has now kicked 31 goals across 10 matches this season.

G is For Game Restored: It was the game Melbourne needed. It was billed as the heavyweight clash between first and second to see who would be dubbed Premiership favourites. It ended with the Demons reminding everyone of just what they are capable of. Returning to the top of the ladder and the number one seed. All the elements of their game were back. The forward pressure, the intercept marking and the quick transition, as all their key men found some much-needed form.

H is For Henry’s Heroics: Geelong needed a miracle, and along came Jack Henry. With the Cats trailing in the dying minutes of the game, Henry kicked a goal (his second of the match) to put them in front by three points, ultimately winning them the game. The Henry name has become synonymous with clutch moments this season, with Jack’s younger brother Ollie doing the same for Collingwood on a few occasions.

I is For Innate Ability: The last time Tom De Koning was tasked with playing opposite Sean Darcy, it was nothing short of a lesson for the young man. Nine rounds later facing the same task but with plenty of solo rucking responsibilities, De Koning was serving the ball on a platter to his midfielders. De Koning is a natural talent and has huge upside with the opportunity to form a dangerous ruck/forward combination with Marc Pittonet in the future.

J is For Just a Son of a Gun: Jackson Archer, the son of Shinboner of the century, Glenn Archer made his debut in front of family and friends who had travelled to Tasmania when North Melbourne played against the Adelaide Crows on Sunday afternoon. Becoming Shinboner #1044, Archer had a reasonable game considering the scoreline, collecting 15 disposals (six in the first quarter), three marks, and two tackles. A trademark of his father’s game, Archer also got involved in a scuffle, within the first twenty minutes of the game with the young roo looking at home at AFL level.

K is For Kangaroos Backline Woes: The Kangaroos had many concerns on Sunday and with the output of the Crows’ forwards clearly, their weakness was their defence. Over the last few weeks, this area of the ground has needed reinforcements but Ben McKay returning from concussion should have provided that help. However, a questionable decision to play McKay down forward to provide another tall target and stretch the Crows’ defence, exacerbated their weakness further and it led to easy scoring for the Crows. This move only yielded one goal through McKay due to inaccuracy in front of the goal while tall defender Josh Walker needed assistance.

L is For Limping to the Line: Three-quarter time rolled around, and Collingwood looked well and truly settled in for a victory with a 37-point lead. But GWS clawed the margin back to as close as 10 points with a seven-goal onslaught before the top eight fancies held on to jump to seventh with a favourable fixture ahead.

M is For Match of the Year? Saturday afternoon at the MCG played host to what was arguably the game of the year so far, as Geelong raced out to a 35-point lead that was whittled back before Richmond opened up a 17-point break that was whittled back. The lead changed twice in the final minutes, with Maurice Rioli Jr taking the lead for Richmond, only for Geelong to take it back, securing a three-point win.

N is For Name Your Price: Luke Jackson is a wanted man and fair enough too. Still yet to re-sign at the Demons beyond this season, the Premiership player was thrust into the spotlight again on Thursday as he shouldered the number one ruck duties in the absence of Max Gawn. The 20-year-old didn’t let the extra responsibility phase him, producing another mighty impressive performance collecting 21 disposals and 10 contested possessions, giving his midfielders first use all night which led to a Demons clearance domination, he also kicked an impressive goal.

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O is For Outstanding Pressure: The Blues were put to the task by coach Michael Voss to rectify their midfield monstering last week and did they deliver. The core of Carlton’s game is its contested football and led by Sam Walsh (40 disposals) it put Fremantle to the sword. Its pressure all around the ground did not allow Fremantle to get the game on its terms. The tackling, smothers, and heat were brought all day and were key in its tenth win of the season.

P is for Pride Game: An important game on the AFL calendar is the Pride match between the Swans and Saints, highlighting the importance of support shown to the LGBTQI community and their contributions to our game. Both Sydney and St Kilda wore special pride guernseys, and both ran through a special pride banner on the night.

Q is For Quick Thinking from the Boundary: If goal assist of the year was an award, Will Hoskin-Elliott would be the front runner to win. In Sunday’s win against GWS, the Collingwood forward reacted almost instinctively to a spilt the ball off a marking contest and perfectly swing the footy with an aerial boot towards teammate Brody Mihocek, who goaled accordingly.

R is For Rest on your Laurels at your Own Risk: Rest on your laurels against the Eagles for the remainder of the year, and you do so at your own risk. Post bye they have pushed the second-placed Cats to the final few minutes and have knocked off a Bombers side that smashed the Saints the week before. With Josh Kennedy, Jamie Cripps, Willie Rioli, Jack Darling, and Liam Ryan all kicking multiple goals, their forward line will take some beating. Now Luke Shuey, Elliot Yeo, and Tim Kelly are all back together in the midfield, the forward line is bound to get more supply. West Coast will be no easy pushover from here on out.

S is For Son of a West: Playing in just his 18th game of AFL football, Rhylee West produced his best performance to date on Friday night, kicking an equal team-high three goals to go with 19 disposals. The son of former Western Bulldogs great Scott West was lively inside forward 50 all night, finishing the game with 13 score involvements. It could have even been a bigger outing for the 21-year-old, had it not been for three behinds.

T is For Tom to the Tribunal?: He may have collected a game-high 29 disposals and helped lead the Cats to victory but Tom Stewart’s bump on Dion Prestia is all that is important in the fallout of the victory. The Cats defender’s high bump knocked Prestia out, forcing him off the field in the first term with a concussion. Stewart will be awaiting his fate when he fronts the tribunal, likely to miss a few weeks.

U is For Undoubtedly for the Big Stage: Charlie Curnow and his Coleman medal-winning sidekick Harry Mckay were born to perform in September. The undermanned Blues win against the Dockers all but sowing up a spot in September. If Charlie doesn’t get you- then Harry will. It was Curnow’s turn for a day out with a four-goal display and some eye-catching moments. Both forwards have game-changing abilities that could bring even more smiles to long-suffering Blues fans.

V is For Vintage Cheese(ball): Known to his teammates as Cheeseball, young Isaac Cumming has come on as one of the competition’s most improved defenders. Known for his maturity and calmness under pressure, Cumming stood up again with 27 disposals, 12 rebound 50s, nine marks, and four score involvements.

W is For the Wright Stuff: New Kids On The Block almost had it when they sang ‘you got the right stuff’.  What they really meant was that the Bombers ‘got the Wright stuff’. Wright was almost unstoppable in the air, clunking eight marks. If it were not for his inaccurate goal-kicking (4.4), he would have had a dominant display to drag his Bombers over the line.

X is For X-clamation Mark: Mabior Chol, the Suns’ unexpected number one key forward, keeps providing the highlights. Chol would have had five goals if not for EDGE denying two set shots but there was no denying this one in the last quarter that kept the Suns in touch, fighting until the end.

Y is For You Don’t Need to Teach an Old Dog New Tricks: Josh Kennedy may be getting near the end of his career, but Friday’s encounter showed he still has something to give the Eagles. Five goals, including two vital ones in the final quarter, helped the Eagles to their first victory since Round 4.

Z Is For Zero-Margin For Error: For Gold Coast and Port Adelaide, if either wanted to remain in touch with the finals, a win over the other was not up for debate. In a tight, see-sawing affair, it was Port with the victory over the Suns by two points and a finals berth with a glimmer of hope. But, this is only the beginning. There’s no margin of error for the Power from here.

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