As we enter the home stretch of season 2021, Round 16 saw plenty of clubs make their move on the eight. The Suns delivered in prime time, the Giants upset the Dees at the MCG while there’s a pulse at the Blues.
The Inner Sanctum takes you through the defining highs, lows, and controversies surrounding Round 16 of the 2021 AFL Premiership season. Complete from A-Z.
A is for a sick joke? Jack Madgen was left very unimpressed at the MCG on Sunday, asking the umpire if his call was “a sick joke”. Madgen arguably did get his hands into the back of Ben Long though, causing the decision. Although leading the free kick count, Collingwood was left questioning some decisions made by the umpires throughout the game. Late in the second quarter, Roughead’s mark was not paid, despite what looked like to his teammates and fans that he had a substantial hold of the ball. Jordan De Goey was handled without ball in hand also in the second quarter by Cam Wilkie, which could have also easily been a free-kick.
B is for Blown chances galore. After Richmond lost to the Gold Coast on Thursday night, the door was wide open for Fremantle to jump back into the top 8. After pegging back a 23 point deficit early in the game, the game was tied heading into the 4th quarter after a dominant 3rd quarter.
The Dockers smashed Carlton in the clearances (45-26) all night thanks to the work of Sean Darcy, doubled the inside 50 count in the second half (32-17), and had 4 more scoring shots overall. A massive opportunity was blown that they will look back on and rue when all is said and done.
C is for Centre clearance challenges. The Tigers’ midfield was comprehensively beaten by the Suns’ when clearing the ball out of the middle, which has contributed to their losses over the past two weeks. Dustin Martin and Trent Cotchin combined for Richmond’s four centre clearances in Round 16, while the Gold Coast finished with 12. Their game plan relies on their work in the middle, however, with 10 clearances in the past fortnight, it’ll be a test to see where they go with an ever-shifting midfield as they look to find form again before seasons end.
D is for Daicos dazzles in his 50th game Josh Daicos celebrated his 50th game in Collingwood’s loss to the Saints. He contributed a much-needed goal late in the third quarter, and one of the Pies major ball getters, racking up 20 disposals before getting subbed out in the 4th quarter with a finger injury.
The son-of-gun continues to follow in his father’s footsteps, being an integral part of the Pies midfield and forward line.
E is for Exposed Demons, but not done. Melbourne has enjoyed one of the most exciting and promising years in decades. The ladder leaders look poised for a deep finals campaign. However, with consistent wins comes complacency, which was their downfall against the up-and-coming Giants. Melbourne has enjoyed selection headaches with their key forward line-ups and this may need further tweaking. Tom McDonald was held to 2 behinds while rising star nominee Luke Jackson couldn’t impact the scoreboard. Is now the time to trial Ben Brown on the run home to finals?
F is for Finding their Fire. The Sydney Swans have posed as a threat all season, but their 92 point victory against the West Coast Eagles, has set them ablaze for the remainder of the season. It was an all-around excellent performance, with every goal kicker kicking at least two, players applying pressure around the ground, and burning off the West Coast Eagles. While Sydney found and added fuel to their fire, West Coast will need to find its’ again before it’s snuffed out entirely by the likes of Brisbane or Melbourne, who they are yet to play.
G is for Grounded by Gravity. Western Bulldogs forward Aaron Naughton was subbed out of his side’s clash against North Melbourne in the second quarter with a concussion, after contesting well in the air, only to hit the deck as his head hit the deck and ricocheted off the turf. Patrick Lipinski was then subbed on as the medical sub.
H is for Hey Youngbloods! Their time certainly isn’t running out in fact, it’s just beginning. Numerous emerging stars drew blood from an older, more experienced West Coast outfit, landing blows around the ground. Will Hayward, Sam Wicks, Errol Gulden, Jordan Dawson, and Joel Amartey shrugged off the Eagles’ stellar defence with ease, kicking two goals apiece. Meanwhile, Ollie Florent, James Bell, Tom McCartin, and Nick Blakey, were a persistent force that unloaded ceaseless pressure to shut down West Coast’s danger men. If John Longmire’s youngsters can tear down West Coast the way they did, he has nothing to fear ahead of September.
I is for It’s your time up there Giants. After being disappointed last week, missing their chance to enter the eight, they were given another this week. They took the fight directly to the Demons holding the lead for all but 2 minutes. They have announced themselves as finals contenders with a flourish. Now they must build on this momentum. In any given year it is a challenge to reach the top eight, but the Giants must now continue the fight to make it their permanent home.
J is for Jeremy on ice. After missing the first five rounds of his Geelong career through injury, Jeremy Cameron has been sidelined once again with another hamstring issue. The star key forward had been recapturing his best form, kicking 25 goals across eight games and forming a dangerous combination alongside fellow forwards Gary Rohan and Tom Hawkins. What makes the injury even more conspicuous, however, was Chris Scott’s description of Cameron’s “iffy” hamstring post-game, saying he had issues with it in the warm-up.
K is for Keep calm and carry on Dees. Despite suffering their third loss of the season, but there is no reason for Melbourne to press the panic button. The Demons led GWS in almost every way apart from the final score. 75% disposal efficiency, 138 contested possessions, and 20 contested marks all suggest Melbourne is just as dangerous as ever. Individual highlights include Steven May’s career-high 13 intercept possessions, and Christian Salem’s 31 disposals and 1 goal. This is the time for Melbourne to take a deep breath, move on, and gain back some momentum on the run to finals.
L is for Leveling up. Tarryn Thomas’ stocks keep rising whenever he takes the field. The former top 10 pick has been in scintillating form this season, making an impact in the midfield and up forward. Against the Western Bulldogs, Thomas recorded a career-high 24 disposals, to go along with his eight clearances and one goal. As North Melbourne continues its deep rebuild, Thomas will be a cornerstone of the team for years to come.
M is for Medals aplenty. Darcy Parish added a third medal to his cabinet for 2021, winning the Tom Wills Medal as the best afield in the Country Game. He had previously won both the ANZAC and Yiooken Award, becoming the first player to win all three in the same year. The question remains: with Parish’s incredible midfield form, could he add a fourth medal come the end of the year?
N is for Need another forward. The revolving door of the second key forward spot at the Adelaide Crows is a problem. Riley Thilthorpe is only in his first year, while Darcy Fogarty, Elliott Himmelberg, and Billy Frampton are all fighting to be alongside him and Taylor Walker. However, none of the three has put their best foot forward, and Walker injured himself in the loss to the Lions. Someone needs to step up or they’ll see themselves well and truly on the outer.
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O is for One game out of the eight. St Kilda’s once dwindling finals hopes have been revived, with the team only one game outside of the eight. Despite five unanswered goals in the fourth quarter from the Pies, the Saints held on for a nine-point win on Sunday. The Saints kept the Pies to only one goal going into the major break, and a six-goal surge in the third made the result look like a fait accompli. Then out of nowhere in the last, Collingwood surged home to give St Kilda a scare at the death. But the much-needed four points are the only thing St Kilda would care about in the end.
P is for Pulse detected. It may only be faint and as remote a chance as anything but, somehow, there is a pulse in Carlton’s season yet. Remarkably, after their abysmal start to the season, Carlton only sits a game and a half outside the top 8, and with a favourable draw over the next 6 weeks, the Blues could come back into finals contention. If of course, they keep winning.
Q is for Quick succession. The Brisbane Lions struggled to put the Crows away for the first two and a half quarters on Saturday evening. However, they absolutely blitzed them in the dying stages of the third and then the fourth quarter. The Lions’ forward line is in stellar form, with Charlie Cameron and Lincoln McCarthy firing on all cylinders, while Joe Daniher has been terrific so far this year.
R is for Raising the bat a fourth time. What a champion of the game Shaun Burgoyne has been. The man affectionately known as Silk pulled on the boots for game 400 on Saturday night, with his Hawks going down to his old side Port Adelaide. Alastair Clarkson said during the week they’d only expected to get three years out of him when they signed him from Port, but remarkably, he’s played 11 seasons since.
S is for Sharp shoots to stardom. Second-year Sun Jeremy Sharp kicked the first goal of his AFL career late in the fourth term against Richmond. With seven minutes to go, Sharp’s goal gave his side a one-point lead that they were able to hold onto. He had 15 disposals to complement his 20 last weekend, stepping up with 12 touches in the second half, along with five intercept possessions, giving Suns fans a glimpse of hope for the future.
T is for Touk, Touk, Chugga, Chugga. Gold Coast midfielder Touk Miller was electric from the first bounce in the win over Richmond, amassing 13 disposals in the first quarter. He ended the game with 36 possessions, three shy of his career-best. It’s the ninth consecutive game where Miller has recorded 30+ touches, adding seven tackles and nine clearances. One of the best players in the competition, this game highlighted why Miller is due for a maiden All-Australian blazer.
U is for Underestimate Danger at your own peril. Patrick Dangerfield put his critics aside after a slow return post-injury. He was key to giving the Cats first use out of the middle as we faced against a dominant Darcy Parish. He finished with 37 disposals, 18 contested possessions, 11 marks, eight inside 50s, eight score involvements, and a goal to cap off a night of Danger at his best.
V is for Vindication. Port Adelaide has been often challenged this season, with many pundits questioning their premiership credentials. Port again dominated the first half against a lesser opponent, before falling away in the third quarter. With the Hawks coming hard, Port again put the foot down and blitzed the Hawks. A challenge against top-four Melbourne at Adelaide Oval awaits.
W is for Weitering the wall. How many key defenders can you put in the All Australian team? With every passing week, despite Carlton’s leaky defence this year, Jacob Weitering’s case for a maiden blazer grew with another stellar performance against Fremantle. Weitering nullified the influence of Rory Lobb and had 20 disposals, 9 intercepts, and had 9 inside 50s. He was immovable late in the game, marshaling Carlton’s defence and setting up the win.
X is for X-factor personified. Despite being just 20 years old, small forward Cody Weightman is quickly becoming an integral part of the Bulldogs’ side. After being made to wait until Round 9 to break into the side, the second-year Dog has made every post a winner since then. Weightman burst out of the blocks against North Melbourne with three goals in the first quarter, before kicking his fourth and taking to the skies in the third. Averaging two goals a game this season, Weightman is part of the present and future of the Western Bulldogs.
Y is for Yippee-Yi-Yeo. If there is one thing the Eagles can take from their abysmal round 16 performance, it’s Elliot Yeo. In the best of a bad bunch, the midfielder looks to be very close to his best and added extra grunt in a dire situation. Yeo attacked contests well, finishing with 26 possessions, (11 contested) eight tackles, five clearances, and 27 pressure acts. It’s encouraging to see Elliot Yeo hasn’t lost his bull-like touch and is gradually increasing his game time – spending 80% of the game on ground.
Z is for Zak’s back. Port Adelaide again did the job on Saturday night against a lower-ranked side, this time Hawthorn. However, reinforcements are coming and there are not many better than Zak Butters. The third-year superstar took a while to get into his return game in the SANFL against Central District, but he rocked up at the right time, kicking two clutch goals to snap the Magpies’ three-game losing streak. Watch out.
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