29/02/2024
That photos that captured Round 17

That photos that captured Round 17 (Photos: Western Bulldogs - Twitter, Fremantle Dockers - Twitter, Gold Coast Suns - Website)

With a month and a half of the regular season left, in Round 17, dominant displays that could change the makeup of the top eight were witnessed with each game just as critical going forward.

The race for the top eight is heating up heading into the final month and a half of the 2021 AFL season. Round 17 saw GWS and Gold Coast put on a thriller in regional Victoria, Nat Fyfe celebrated his milestone 200th game with a win and number one pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan finally made his debut.

The Inner Sanctum takes you through the defining highs, lows, and controversies surrounding Round 17 of the 2021 AFL Premiership season. Complete from A-Z.

A is for Altitude sickness. Mitch Georgiades almost flew into the stratosphere when he climbed atop Demons big man Max Gawn. Georgiades was Port Adelaide’s only saving grace in what was an overall disappointing team performance.

Georgiades seemed disorientated as he came down from the flying attempt. After he managed to get up Georgiades turned around and walked back before missing what should have been an easy kick. The kick flew straight off the boot and never looked like going through for a goal as the ball veered off to the right.  

B is for Bad kicking is… Carlton yet again failed to claim a scalp against a top eight side as they kicked themselves out of the contest against Geelong, rubber stamping what will be an eighth consecutive season without finals action. The Blues missed gettable shots early in the game and while the game was within reach for two and a half quarters, the Blues’ accuracy in front of goal would ultimately go on to cost them the game.

The Blues kicked 1.13 in three and a half quarters in Round 17, including a run of 11 straight behinds, and went over an hour between scoring goals.

C is for Career revival continues. Luke Dunstan has taken matters entirely into his own hands, playing some of the best football of his career to earn an AFL contract for 2022. Unsure of his place in the team at the start of the season, Dunstan asked for clarity and was told to wait it out in the VFL.

Since returning to the AFL side, he has produced some strong football and it’s no coincidence the Saints have been back in winning form. His latest effort against the Lions included 29 disposals at 83 percent efficiency (19 in the first half) and six clearances. His career should continue next year, the question becomes where?

D is for Demon demolition. The Demons have asserted themselves as a top-four team and a premiership contender with a huge win against Port Adelaide. Captain Max Gawn lead from with front with Melbourne managing 42 hit outs compared to Port Adelaide’s 30.

The key for the Demons was their efficiency inside 50 – 67 percent of entries ended in scores. Between McDonald’s three huge goals and Christian Petracca dominating in an all-around performance, the Demons look like clear premiership contenders. The Demons have now all but guaranteed a home final. 

E is for Euros-esque. Sydney forward Joel Amartey brought a bit of the Euros Championship to Marvel Stadium with a fantastic intercept off his boot that went straight through the big sticks extending Sydney’s lead against the Western Bulldogs. 

F is for Full-frontal collision. Adelaide’s Tom Doedee put his body on the line early, perhaps dangerously so, in the loss to the Bombers, colliding heavily with Essendon’s Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti. Doedee came off second best, playing no further part in the game. McDonald-Tipungwuti, forever the good sport, was the first to check on his opponent post-match.

G is for Gold Clutch. The Suns are nailing it. After consistent questions about their professionalism and whether they should remain in the competition, they’ve claimed two significant scalps in recent weeks. The one-point win over GWS is huge moving forward and proves they can do it when they want to. It’s time for the Suns to do some damage. 

H is for Hawks’ thorns. A bramble is defined as a rough or prickly shrub or vine, but for Hawthorn, a Bramble is a 23-year-old midfielder, who was one of their best players against Fremantle and has taken his chance at AFL level this season. Only four games into his career, Lachlan Bramble was prolific in the defensive half of the ground, accumulating 27 touches at 85 percent efficiency, six intercepts, and eight rebound 50s.

However, losing livewire defender Changkuoth Jiath to a knee injury is a thorn in Hawthorn’s side over the next few weeks. With tests against Melbourne, Brisbane, and the Bulldogs looming, their defensive structure will seriously be challenged.

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I for Is this a win for Harvey’s CV? Collingwood’s 16-point win over Richmond in Round 17 was interim coach Robert Harvey’s first win since taking over from Nathan Buckley, and it will be a win he never forgets. The Pies kicked seven goals to Richmond’s one in the fourth term to hand the reigning premiers its fourth straight loss. For Harvey however, the win will look impressive on his application should he be considered for the official role, despite talks that Mark Williams is currently one of the main contenders.

Despite falling short to the Saints last week, again the Pies put on a magnificent fourth-quarter effort to steal the win. He’s proven that he can turn any 50/50 competition into a position that secures a win for the Pies. Time will tell on who gets what is one arguably of the biggest gigs in Australian team sports.

J is for Jack’s 700th goal. Jack Riewoldt’s only goal against Collingwood in Round 17 was enough to become the 24th player in VFL/AFL history to reach the 700 goal milestone. With seven seconds to go in the second quarter, Riewoldt took a mark just out of the goal square, and his goal gave the Tigers a 17-point lead into the main break. The crowd and his teammates were quite aware of the achievement, celebrating in cheers and a huddle as he muchly deserved.

K is for Kicking itself out of it. West Coast will rue poor kicking in its loss to North Melbourne, as its spot in the top eight gets even shakier. Five goals in the last quarter didn’t do much to hide a performance that saw 3.12 in the first three quarters, with the Roos able to weather the storm and pull off their best win of the season as they try to avoid the wooden spoon. Some serious soul-searching will be required if West Coast is to hold on to their spot in the final six rounds. 

L is for Lion’s left with a big hole. Eric Hipwood went down with a suspected ACL injury In the opening quarter of Brisbane’s loss to St Kilda. The forward jumped for a mark and landed awkwardly, remaining on the ground clutching his knee. The diagnosis was confirmed by the club in the days after

Medical-sub Rhys Mathieson came into the game, but the Lions’ forwards struggled to fire without their key man. Scans on Monday confirmed Hipwood has injured his ACL and will miss 10-12 months of football, putting a big dent in the Lions’ premiership push.

M is for Mighty Saints marching home. Since the mid-season bye, St Kilda has three wins from three games. In Round 17, it was a four-quarter, team performance to demolish the Brisbane Lions by 32 points. Yes, Max King kicked three goals, Jack Steele had 32 disposals and two goals and Tom Highmore took nine intercepts, but the other 19 players were just as impactful.

The bye seemingly came at a very good time for the Saints to regroup. Now knocking down the door of the top eight, can they march all the way to finals? 

N is for No chance for Giants. The GWS Giants are well and truly cooked again. While they may still make the finals, they will struggle to do significant damage judging by their horrific loss to Gold Coast in Ballarat. Now facing an extended stint away from home due to the worsening COVID crisis in Sydney, the Giants will require some miracle to do anything in September. 

O is for Old bulls, young bucks. Like Freo’s club podcast, the midfield’s classy mix of old and new was on show in Round 17. Sean Darcy continues to elevate in his coming of age season, impressing with 27 hit outs, nine intercepts, six contested marks, and 25 touches at 91 percent efficiency.

Around him was the evergreen David Mundy (30 disposals, three tackles, 10 score involvements) and 200-gamer Nat Fyfe (31 touches, five inside 50s, and 12 score involvements). Youngsters Andrew Brayshaw (32 touches, nine marks), Caleb Serong (30 touches, 10 clearances), and Adam Cerra (26 disposals, seven score involvements) also comfortably dominated in the middle. Could this be one of the most underrated midfield groups in the competition?

P is for Pickett’s precise perfection. Kysaiah Pickett bounced back to have a massive impact for the Demons in Round 17. The small forward kicked two remarkable goals in what was a perfect return to form. Pickett’s first goal was incredible weaving through Power players before launching from 50 and slotting it perfectly between the big sticks.

After bursting onto the scene in 2020 with glimpses of brilliance, Pickett has gone from strength to strength in 2021. Albeit after a few slower games over the last month, Pickett’s goal tally is now up to an impressive 24 for the season, as he becomes one of the Demons’ most pivotal players. If the Demons are to go deep into September, Pickett will have a big part to play.

Q is for Quite the journey to the ton. After first arriving on the AFL scene in the rookie draft in 2011, 10 years later, and at his third club, Sam Menegola finally brought up his 100 game milestone for Geelong. The 29-year-old who elevated himself into the 40-man All-Australian squad last year has had another consistent season and celebrated his milestone in Round 17 with a comfortable win over the Blues, collecting 24 disposals.

R is for Rohan soars high. Gary Rohan added his name to a big pool of Mark of the Year contenders when he leapt on the shoulders of Tom De Koning in the second quarter and pulled down a screamer. It’s another sensational highlight for Rohan, following his goal to win after the siren against the Bulldogs a few weeks ago, in the midst of his best season at Geelong.

S is for Star-chie Perkins. Rising Star, that is. Top 10 pick Archie Perkins played one of his best games in Bombers colours yet (despite some wayward set shots). The young gun was an offensive force when they moved the ball forward, finishing with two tackles inside 50 and 11 pressure acts. The headliner, however, was his three goals, 18 disposals, four inside 50s, and nine score involvements. Rising Star Nomination inbound?

T is for Tricky Tassie test ticked off. Fremantle entered their Round 17 battle against the Hawks with a 1-11 record at UTAS Stadium, and left with a 62-point victory, keeping its finals hopes alive. Additionally, after last week’s display of inaccurate goal kicking, things looked much better up forward.

The visitors finished 16.12.108, with Rory Lobb kicking four goals, Bailey Banfield kicking three, and Josh Treacy, David Mundy, and Sam Switzkowski finishing with two apiece. Additionally, in his 200th game, skipper Nat Fyfe also snagged himself a goal after much scrutiny surrounding his goal kicking.

Us is for Up among the elite. Touk Miller’s star continues to rise and rise after another unbelievable performance against the GWS Giants in Round 17. Miller accrued 35 touches and two goals in the Suns’ stunning win. The AFL could be quite nervous come Brownlow Medal night with the star midfielder suspended earlier this season.

V is for Vacant goalsquare. The six, six, six rule struck again with the Bulldogs receiving two free-kicks out of the centre after the Swans didn’t have a player in the goal square at the start of two centre bounces. Luckily for the Swans, they were able to spoil the Dogs party and come away with possession. 

W is for Worst score ever. The Crows put up the lowest score in their history on the Friday night stage in Round 17, only managing to convert a measly 36 percent of their inside 50s to scores, finishing with just two goals and nine behinds. Essendon managed to consistently push the Crows as wide as possible, and without a strong marking target, the forwards couldn’t find a score as Jayden Laverde and Mason Redman found intercept after intercept.

X is for X-pectations have changed for Tigers captain. Tigers coach Damien Hardwick admitted post-game that he’d “love to manage [Trent Cotchin] to be honest,” after he was kept to just 13 disposals in his side’s loss to Collingwood in Round 17. Hardwick backed his statement by saying that the game has changed significantly over Cotchin’s 15-year career, which may mean a position change is on the cards for him.

Although Cotchin’s stats haven’t been as decorated as they once were, his leadership abilities have not gone unnoticed or changed for that matter, however reconsidering his position in the side is a must for a game where uncontested footy is more dominant. 

Y is for Young pup gets his chance. Number one draft pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan got his chance at AFL level, debuting during the Bulldogs clash against the Swans. Although he didn’t set the world on fire he did enough for many footy fans to know that he’ll be one of the stars of the game in a few years. 

Z is for Zero above. Few can say they have held or hold a record in the AFL. Todd Goldstein, having previously registered a record 80 hitouts in a game in 2015, now has two. The North Melbourne ruckman registered hit-out number 8503 in the first quarter of the game against West Coast, breaking Aaron Sandilands’ record, and cementing a permanent legacy as one of the best ruckmen of the modern era. 

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