The A-Z of Round 17

There was plenty of love and things to love this round. @essendonfc @GoldCoastSuns @sydneyswans

With just a quarter of the season to go for some teams, Upsets went hand in hand with statements in an amazing round of footy.

With just a quarter of the season to go for some teams, upsets went hand in hand with statements in an amazing round of footy.

The Inner Sanctum takes you through Round 17, complete from A-Z. The defining highs, lows, and controversies surrounding Round 17 of the 2022 AFL Premiership season.

A is For Amartey party: Getting the party started early at the SCG, Joel Amartey set the tone for the Swans, contributing two goals to what was a terrific first term on the scoreboard. Amartey then moved into the ruck to support Sam Reid with the early loss of Peter Ladhams, playing a crucial role in a must-win match-up with Bulldogs.

B is For Bodies on the line: The Power and Giants were not shying away from the footy on Sunday evening. The tone was set when Isaac Cumming took two big hits in the opening term, Tom Green made Travis Boak aware of his presence in the third quarter, and finally, Power forward Mitch Georgiades collected Adam Kennedy with a foot to the face in the final term, resulting in the Giant sitting the remainder of the game out with concussion.

C is For Close but no Cigar: It was a valiant effort from North Melbourne at the MCG on Saturday afternoon, but in the end, it just wasn’t enough to get past Collingwood. Aside from the first, which saw the teams level, the Roos were ahead at every other break and were up by 26 going into the last. But the Pies collected themselves and stormed back to claim a seven-point win. North Melbourne can take many positives out of the performance, but ultimately, it will be gutted with how the game ended. 

D is For Don’t fool me twice: The last time Essendon played Brisbane it was the Lachie Neale show, with the 2020 Brownlow Medallist racking up 41 disposals in a game-changing display. With an already depleted team due to COVID, the Lions needed their stand-in skipper Neale to shoulder even more of the load. Enter young Bomber Jye Caldwell. He squashed Neale’s impact on the match to 21 disposals and gathered 26 and a goal of his own. Essendon may have unearthed another role for Caldwell. 

E is For Ending the streak: Since 2014, Carlton has failed to walk away with the four points against West Coast, losing its last seven match-up in a row. But, with two bags of five to Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay respectively, the Blues finally broke the duck, and also recorded their biggest win over the Eagles in Perth in the process.

F is For Flexibility personified: Harry Himmelberg displayed his versatility against the Power, playing in almost every position possible. He began across half-back, before shifting into the middle during the third quarter, playing ruck and rover. Himmelberg played the final term at half-forward, and while he only kicked 0.2 for the match, filled an important role.

G is For Guthrie’s miracle Goal: In a game full of pressure, poor kicking was bound to be prominent, yet Cam Guthrie managed to take the pressure to checkside a fantastic goal from the boundary. The Cats’ midfielder was one of the best on the ground, with 28 disposals, seven tackles and two goals, however, his goal was the highlight of the night.

H is For Holding out for Howard: The St Kilda backline was exposed in Saturday night’s loss to Fremantle, with the key defensive brigade seemingly missing the presence of stalwart Dougal Howard massively. While Matt Taberner was kept quiet, Nat Fyfe, Rory Lobb and Sean Darcy combined for seven goals. Youngster Tom Highmore tried to fill the gap with eight intercepts and seven marks, but alongside the inexperienced Darragh Joyce, they were no match and were wasteful with ball in hand.

I is For It’s amazing what happens when a player plays where they are best suited: Tom Atkins started his career late, was trialled as a small forward, then as a defender, and now finally the Geelong coaching staff have played him for the last two months where he is best suited – in the midfield. It is no surprise Geelong’s form increase has coincided with this move, and Thursday night’s top-of-the-table encounter allowed Atkins to show what he is made of. 21 disposals, but most importantly, nine clearances and a game-high nine tackles provided the dominance and pressure to help the Cats claim the top spot.

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J is For Josh Kennedy goals: Already West Coast’s greatest ever goalkicker, Kennedy added another accolade to a memorable career by becoming the first Eagle to kick 700 goals. Fittingly the milestone came against Carlton, where he spent the first two years of his career and kicked his first 11 goals. 

K is For Key forwards are back – Part 17: 2022 has seen the return of the key forward as a genuine attacking weapon, following several years of diminishing returns. On Sunday, Marvel Stadium showed two of remarkable potential. Mitchell Lewis for Hawthorn may have had a somewhat anonymous second half, but he had done the work in the first two quarters, kicking 5.1. At the other end though, there was Riley Thilthorpe. He is a couple of years behind Lewis in his development, but make no mistake: this player will kick a lot of goals for the Crows. He took three contested marks in the third term, and whilst he may have only registered two goals for the match, all Adelaide fans will be excited by what he may be able to achieve.

L is For Luke’s big day out: Despite the heartbreaking loss, Luke Davies-Uniacke had another brilliant performance for the Kangaroos. He picked up 33 disposals, 16 contested possessions, 11 tackles, and 12 clearances, dominating from the very first bounce. He was a huge reason for North’s lead which stretched late into the contest and will be a centrepiece of their rebuild for the years to come. 

M is For Missed the boat? Are finals out of reach now for St Kilda? With a charging Gold Coast and Port Adelaide beneath it, the next three weeks loom as vitally important. Wins against the Bulldogs, Eagles and Hawks are not only there for the taking, but will keep the Saints’ season in the balance.

N is For No real advantage: In his first game back from a concussion, Tim English just didn’t quite have the impact the Dogs were hoping for from their ruckman. Despite narrowly leading the hit outs and contributing a goal, English couldn’t capitalise on the loss of Peter Ladhams, with the Swans’ stand-in ruckman Sam Reid applying physical pressure throughout.

O is For Outstanding blanketing performance: Finn Maginness was given several opportunities in the first half of this season, without it ever being clear what his best role is in this Hawthorn team. His chances in recent weeks have been fewer and further between, but his role has been clearly defined: stick to your opponent and limit his influence. On Sunday, Maginness went to Jordan Dawson, keeping him to 15 disposals whilst collecting 13 of his own and adding to his growing reputation within the Hawthorn squad.

P is for Pressure forward: With finals in their sights, it was a must-win game for both sides, but in the end, it was the Swans who ultimately got the win. With Ryan Clarke on Bailey Dale, the relentless, suffocating pressure helped get the Swans over the line. Clarke, who was a late inclusion to the side, nullified Dale’s influence and even kicked a goal.

Q is For Quota met, again: Renowned for being one of the competition’s strongest defensive teams, giving up an average of just 67.06 points per game, Fremantle is now also turning into one of the best offensive sides too. Other than a small blip against Carlton, the Dockers have kicked over 90 points every week since Round 12, and look to be one of the most well-balanced squads heading into September.

R is For Right on Trac: Despite the loss, Melbourne fans would be excited at the return to form of Christian Petracca. Three goals against the Cats to go with 21 disposals made for a great night, with his ability to burst from the centre square and goal from long range a highlight. More of that come September and the Demons will be hard to stop.

S is For Skilled Siblings: It was another brilliant performance for the Daicos brothers, Josh and Nick. With 28 and 21 touches, respectively, as well as a goal each, the pair had a huge impact on the result. The highlight came early in the fourth quarter when Josh sent a handpass to his younger brother, who kept the Magpies in the hunt with a brilliant goal. 

T is For Tipping point: It seems the weight of numbers out due to COVID-19 was a bridge too far for the Brisbane Lions on Sunday. Their first loss at the Gabba for 2022 was without star full-back Harris Andrews (who would have played on five-goal hero Peter Wright) amongst eight other changes from the team that comprehensively beat the Bulldogs the week before. The 10-point loss has now blown the race for the top four wide open and left the Lions vulnerable to losing the double chance.

U is For Unlimited metre Peter: ‘Two metre Peter’ as he is known has unlimited potential for his AFL career. Another five-goal match-defining performance against the Lions sees him tally 40 goals for the year. Taking marks for fun, plenty of them contested, he is a very difficult match-up for defenders in the air. Wright is 25, approaching the peak of his career, and looks to be a matchwinner for years to come in the red and black. 

V is For Veteran in the wars: GWS’ Phil Davis suffered another suspected hamstring injury, this time on his right leg. The 31-year-old veteran injured his left hamstring in the Round 2 loss to the Tigers, only recently returning to full-strength fitness in Round 15. Davis was helped off the field and it appears he will, unfortunately, miss more football.

W is For What a finish! Noah Anderson realised a childhood dream of many prospective footballers on Saturday when he lined up for a goal for a chance to pinch a win for the Gold Coast Suns. He slotted his eighth goal of the season to give the Suns their eighth win of the season, keeping them in the race for the finals.

X is For X-citement machine: If any of the Richmond Tigers deserved a win on Saturday against the Gold Coast Suns, it was the most in-form Richmond player in Shai Bolton. He had 29 disposals and three goals in a mammoth effort for the home team. 

Y is For Yet another third quarter deficit: In 15 matches played so far this season, Hawthorn had lost 11 of them. After Sunday against Adelaide, you can make that 12 from 16. After an excellent first half that reaped the Hawks a 38-point lead at the main break, they appeared to leave their brains and their boots in the dressing room when they came out for the third term, kicking only three behinds for the quarter.  At least the defence held up well, only conceding 2.3 and restricting the damage to the scoreboard.

Z Is For Zero first, Zero fourth: What was looking like a mauling at quarter time for West Coast, ended that way, as it was held scoreless in both the first and last quarter while the Blues kicked 12.10 in response over the same time. The result was hugely disappointing considering the effort (seven goals in the second quarter) to get back in the game in the first place. 

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