The A-Z of Round 16

There were many unexpected surprises this weekend across the league. (Photos: GWS GIANTS/Twitter; Essendon FC/Twitter; Collingwood FC/Twitter)

As we passed Round 16, we saw that while some teams may be out of the running, they're not above throwing a few curveballs to those still in the hunt.

As we passed Round 16, we saw that while some teams may be out of the running, they’re not above throwing a few curveballs to those in the hunt.

The Inner Sanctum takes you through Round 16, complete from A-Z. The defining highs, lows, and controversies surrounding Round 16 of the 2022 AFL Premiership season.

A is For Another chapter in a modern rivalry: For the 11th time since 2010, an Essendon/Sydney clash was decided by 10 points or under. Out for revenge after being demolished by their New South Wales rivals in their first encounter earlier in the season, the Bombers mounted a five-goal straight surge in the second quarter to get back in the contest, wrestling their way to victory from there.

B is For Back in the pack: It was a matter of too little, too late for the Power against the Dockers. There was a late opportunity for a hero moment from Todd Marshall and serial match-winner Robbie Gray, but the Power were 40 points down earlier in the match and only have themselves to blame. Effectively they can not play finals now, which is well below pre-season expectations. How much longer do they have in the premiership window?

C is For Crucial victory: Coming off three consecutive losses following the bye, the Saints were desperate for a win to reignite their hopes of playing finals in 2022. Against Carlton they did just that, running away with 15-point victors. While they do still sit outside the eight, behind Richmond and Sydney on percentage, the Saints’ chances are well and truly alive and they will take great confidence out of a win against a team contending for the top four. 

D is For Dogs Debut: Dominic Bedendo made his AFL debut for the Western Bulldogs on Thursday night against the Brisbane Lions, playing largely on a wing after being taken in the 2020 draft at pick 55. He played a solid game finishing with 11 disposals and his first goal. He kicked a 45m set shot in the second quarter with teammates lining up to celebrate.

E is For Easily mark of the year… or is it? Hayden Young put up his hand for mark of the year, only to be topped by Mitch Georgiades in the same match. Georgiades came from the clouds with an unbelievable leap while Young had serious hang time. They will both feature prominently in the final decision for the award. Docker Caleb Serong also kicked a phenomenal goal from the pocket.

F is For Fly-ing towards September: In a must-win game to keep its finals hopes alive, Collingwood only just managed to inch its way closer to September. Exciting duo Josh Daicos and Jack Ginnivan combined for six goals as the Pies won by five points. Their sixth win in a row puts them a game inside the eight deep into the season.

G is For Get ready if you are travelling to Perth: Fremantle’s victory over Port Adelaide after surviving a late scare gives them some breathing room in the top four. If the Dockers are able to secure a home final, beware opposition teams. With the Fremantle faithful behind them, Optus Stadium holds a 58.82 per cent winning record. A tough trip at the best of times, a big advantage is up for grabs.

H is For Hewago? More like here, we go: Hewago Paul Oea was a late inclusion for his debut against Collingwood and provided an instant highlight. Raised in Papua New Guinea, Oea joined the ‘first kick, first goal’ club in the first quarter, and became the first player to come through the AFL PNG development program to play an AFL game.

I is For In good Nick: The rising star race has seen many twists and turns this season, but Nick Daicos has proven his weight in gold for the Pies and may have just got himself ahead in the standings. Daicos collected a career-high 37 disposals and 674 metres gained in the tight win over Gold Coast.

J is For Just too good: Brisbane was much too good for the former grand finalists with a comprehensive 41-point win at the Gabba. With the game in the balance after one half, Charlie Cameron was a handful, kicking two goals and three score assists in the third term. Meanwhile, Jimmy Tunstill celebrated his second AFL game with his first goal in the third quarter after a Charlie Cameron assist. This win keeps the Lions entrenched in the top four with 11 wins and four losses.

K is For Keays to success: They may be struggling somewhat this season, but the signs are promising for the young Crows side – none more so than Ben Keays. 30 disposals and two goals against the reigning premier, as well as six tackles, are a small sample of what Crows supporters have to look forward to in years ahead.

L is For Less than ideal conditions: Wet weather footy anyone? With New South Wales experiencing torrid conditions. Hawthorn and GWS played off at a rain-sodden Giants Stadium, one where clean possessions were tough to come by and vision was often impaired by blankets of heavy rain. In the end, it was the Giants who stood up in the slog, moving to 3-3 under caretaker coach Mark McVeigh. 

M is For Magnificent Membrey: With names like Charlie Curnow, Max King, and Harry McKay gracing the Marvel Stadium turf on Friday, you wouldn’t expect that the standout key forward for the evening would be Tim Membrey. However, with four goals to his name, along with 10 touches at 100 per cent efficiency, Membrey was as impactful as ever and he was vital to the Saints’ victory over the Blues. 

N is For Nic Nat is back: The West Coast Eagles have been waiting a long time to get their best side back on the park, and there is no doubt that this side includes three-time All-Australia ruckman Nic Naitanui.  He immediately gave the Eagles an immense lift against the Tigers; 11 kicks and eight handballs, six clearances and 26 hitouts added up to a major influence in keeping West Coast in the match. A 40-metre snap on his weaker left foot put the cherry on the cake as Naitanui nestled neatly amongst the Eagles best three on the day.

O is For O what love he has for Adelaide Oval: Clayton Oliver loves playing the Crows at Adelaide Oval, and this weekend proved no exception.  36 disposals and an impressive 13 tackles helped lead his side to an important victory in what was a danger game.

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P is for Potential Plus: Josh Gibcus was drafted by Richmond with pick nine in 2021, and debuted in Round 1 against Carlton. In the weeks since he has shown week by week how much he has learned.  He has rarely been beaten as a key defender and shown admirable versatility by going forward when the Tigers have needed it. He conceded an early goal to Jack Darling but kept him under control from there, keeping him goalless for the rest of the day whilst kicking one of his own. We’ve only seen glimpses of what Gibcus can do, but what we have seen is very exciting.

Q is For Quality midfielder? He’s currently leading the Coleman, but the Cats are also using Jeremy Cameron more and more through the midfield to great effect. Against the Kangaroos, Cameron kicked 4.3 but also amassed an equal career-high 30 disposals. His pinpoint kicking adds another dimension to the Geelong midfield.  

R is For Return of the ‘Woof’: A once-famous tradition at Carlton made its return on Friday night, with the Blues faithful bellowing the word ‘Woof’ every time Adam Saad threw the ball onto his left boot. The tradition started in the early 1980s with dual premiership player Val Perovic and continued into the 1990s with 1995 All-Australian back pocketer and premiership star Ang Christou. While previous attempts to bring the ‘Woof’ back have never caught steam, it has finally been revived in 2022. 

S is For Swansong Spoiled: Luke Parker wasn’t able to celebrate his 250th match with a win but put in another consistently strong performance as he has done for most of his career to date. He was the equal highest ball-winning Swan with 25 disposals, gathering nine clearances, six tackles, six score involvements, and three inside 50s.

T is For Trac is Back: After a quiet few weeks, Christian Petracca reminded us all that he is still one of the elite players in the competition, amassing 33 disposals, six tackles and three goals in a best-on-ground performance. Petracca in form spells trouble for the rest of the competition in the run to the finals.

U is For Under the pump, Package delivers again: In the midst of another inconsistent season marred by injury, Essendon’s Jake Stringer stood tall when the game was on the line. Two goals, including a freakish checkside snap from 45 metres out, were the difference in a game decided by a single-digit margin.

V is For Volume of entries: After a close first quarter, the Cats put their foot down, with North Melbourne only amassing 13 inside 50s after quarter time. The Cats meanwhile, finished with a huge 75 inside 50s compared to the 25 of the Kangaroos. This volume of entries made it impossible for the Roos defenders to stem the tide, with Tom Hawkins (six goals) leading the way.

W is For Where to from here? What can North do for the remainder of the season? The effort against Geelong was sub-par for much of the match, and now the club sits well and truly entrenched on the bottom of the ladder. All supporters want to see is some effort and a glimpse into the future. Luke Davies-Uniacke tried hard for 35 disposals, as did Simpkin with 27, but efforts overall were too few and far between.

X is For X-Factor inclusion: A late-in for GWS, Callum M. Brown made the most of his opportunity with an unexpected knock-up forward. In just game number four, Brown kicked four goals to top score for the day, alongside 13 touches and six tackles. The Irish category B rookie became the difference in attack on a rain-sodden day. 

Y is For Yellow and Black is back… in the eight: There is a school of thought that if Richmond can make the finals, it will be a threat to the competition at large. The big problem is, can the club make the finals?  The Tigers’ loss to Geelong last week tipped them out of the top eight, while their win here over the Eagles tipped them back in. With their next five matches containing four opponents either in the eight or fighting with the Tigers for the last couple of spots within it, it’s much better to approach the next month from seventh rather then ninth or below, so this was an important win.

Z Is For Zero wins at Giants Stadium: Six times Hawthorn has arrived at Giants Stadium, and six times it has left without the points. Today, despite 36 touches from Tom Mitchell, the Hawks lacked a clear target, with Mitch Lewis and Jack Gunston goalless, and Luke Breust having just one. 

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