The A-Z of Round One

Anything was possible if you believed in Round 22. (Images: @brisbanelions; @melbournefc; @NMFC - Twitter)

The penultimate round of the AFL saw heartbreak, streaks coming to an end, and a new contender coming to the table.

The Inner Sanctum takes you through Round 22, complete from A-Z. The defining highs, lows, and controversies surrounding Round 22 of the 2022 AFL Premiership season.

A is For An intense affair: Both St Kilda and Brisbane had something to fight for going into Friday night’s clash, and it certainly translated into the football that was being played. From brilliant pressure footy to fiery confrontations off the ball, there was a lot going on in this game. While the Lions remained composed and pulled away in the end, the game very nearly went right down to the wire and it entertained us until the very end.

B is For Beware the Tigers: Richmond recorded a thumping 61-point win over Hawthorn on Sunday afternoon, securing itself a spot in the finals and sending a warning to fellow contenders. The Tigers led at every change, with their impressive performance headlined by a massive nine-goal third term. Damien Hardwick’s troops know what it takes come September and loom as a dangerous prospect for opposition sides if they can ride this wave of momentum.

C is For Cunners returns: After 385 days out of the game due to two bouts of cancer, inspirational North Melbourne star Ben Cunnington didn’t look out of place on return. He finished the game against Adelaide with 17 disposals (six contested disposals) and five marks.

D is For Darcy’s derby dominance: Fremantle ruckman Sean Darcy put on a stellar performance during Western Derby 55, collecting 16 disposals, having a career-high 56 hit outs, and even scoring a goal. Darcy’s dominant game earned him the Glendinning-Allan medal as the Dockers secured their third straight derby win.

E is For Expectations smashed: Jeremy Finlayson has defied all expectations since his move into the ruck, and did so once again on Sunday night. He had a game to remember against Essendon, finishing with 25 disposals, six marks, six hit-outs, two goal assists, and two goals.

F is For Fourteen seconds away: The Blues were 14 seconds away from securing finals footy. Carlton led for most of the final quarter, even down until the last moments. That was until Kysaiah Pickett broke the hearts of the Blues, kicking the eventual winner.

G is For Green shoots at West Lakes: The Crows of 2022 keep building with their win against the Kangaroos showcasing their young talent. Darcy Fogarty continues to impress with four goals pairing with mentor Taylor Walker who kicked three. Young midfielder Harry Schoenberg kicked a classy goal to go with his 18 disposals, while first-year midfielder Jake Soligo had another impressive showing with 22 disposals, three marks, three tackles, and six score involvements.

H is For How did he do that? The pure desperation of Sydney’s defence was best summed up by an incredible goal-saving smother from Dane Rampe, saving what would’ve been a certain goal from Collingwood. On a memorable day for the Swans’ co-captain, Rampe also drifted forward and kicked his first goal since 2016 as well.

I is For Inaccurate ending: There were plenty of chances for the Saints to get past the Lions and move one step closer to sneaking their way into the finals. However, poor kicking ended up being their undoing, with Max King ending the game on zero goals and five behinds, while both Tim Membrey and Marcus Windhager missed very gettable set shots in the final term. It’s a sad way for their season to end, and fans will be hoping that they can finish on a high next week and come back fighting in 2023.

J is For Jacket for Stengle?: Tyson Stengle put on another fine display for the Cats, kicking three goals to make it 42 for the year. It has been an amazing season for Stengle, whose pressure and goal sense perhaps has put him in line for an All-Australian jacket.

K is For Klutch Kosi: After a heartbreaking loss last week to the hands of Collingwood, Kysaiah Pickett extinguished those thoughts against Carlton. Following repeat inside-50 entries, the Demons were fortunate enough for the ball to fall in the hands of Pickett. He danced his way around the Blues’ defence, before snapping around his body to kick the winning goal.

L is For Lynch feasts on inexperienced Hawks: Tom Lynch was an unstoppable aerial force for the Tigers, clunking 12 marks on his way to a commanding eight-goal haul. Lynch capitalised on a young Hawthorn backline, with James Blanck and Denver Grainger-Barras proving to be no match for the 199cm key forward. The 29-year-old has now booted 55 goals for the season.

M is For Making it Rayner: It was a breakout performance from Brisbane’s 2017 number one draft pick Cam Rayner, who has played every game this year after the ACL injury which put him out for the entirety of 2021. He snagged four goals on Friday night, including the final goal of the game which put the Saints to bed, and sealed it all with a ‘shhhhhh’ directed at the Saints faithful.

N is For No comeback for you: Even when Collingwood had been on the back foot for most of the game, all it needed was a sniff to get some hope. Two late third-quarter goals may have been that sniff. But the Swans, through desperate, miserly defence ensured that for the first time in eleven games, the Magpies would not get the four points.

O is For One last time: The perfect finish for a legend of the game, fans cheered as David Mundy took to Optus Stadium for his 31st and final Western Derby outing. The Dockers gave it their all for their man, securing the win against the Eagles, as Mundy collected 25 disposals and a game-high eight clearances.

P is For Power pile-on: Snapping a four-game losing streak against top eight opposition, Port Adelaide was only playing for pride against Essendon. Ken Hinkley’s men were determined to close out their season in the best way possible, with a massive nine-goal final term. It was headlined by two goals each to Sam Powell-Pepper and Jeremy Finlayson. The former has now kicked a solid 23 goals in 2022.

Q is For Quickly regressing: Just when the Bombers had looked to bounce back and recapture their 2021 form, they’ve now slumped to a two-game losing streak. The loss to Port Adelaide was its biggest loss since the Round 1 thumping at the hands of Geelong. Essendon has one last chance to show what it’s made of in Round 23’s MCG clash with Richmond.

R is For Ruck? Forward? Back? Mid?: Mark Blicavs played every position on the weekend, amassing 27 disposals, eight hit outs, and kicking two goals. The definition of a utility, Blicavs was near best on ground again in the Cats’ easy win over the Suns.

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S is For Swingman Sicily: There weren’t too many highlights for Hawks fans at the MCG on Sunday, however, James Sicily offered a reminder of his versatility. Accustomed to a role in defence, Sicily spent a significant portion of the game in the midfield, collecting 30 disposals and kicking his first goal of the year. The 27-year-old eventually returned to the backline, keeping Tom Lynch goalless for the last quarter, however, by that point, the damage had already been done.

T is For Tall timber: While the result didn’t go the way of the Giants, the forward duo of Jesse Hogan and Jake Riccardi were strong for the Giants in a scrappy match against the Bulldogs. The pair combined for a total of four goals and while finals are well out of reach for the Giants, Hogan and Riccardi are sure to cause havoc for opposition defenders in 2023.

U is For Undisciplined Cordy: It wasn’t the best quarter for Bulldogs defender Zaine Cordy who gave away two crucial free kicks late in the game. The first came off the back of a Bulldogs goal, with an incident against Giants forward Daniel Lloyd allowing him to advance the ball from the centre square for a shot on goal. The second allowed the ball to be advanced 50 metres and allow for an easy kick inside 50 for the Giants.

V is For Venom: It wouldn’t be a cross-town clash without some sort of scuffle. Trailing by four points midway through the first term, West Coast’s Hugh Dixon kicked a goal against his old side to put the Eagles in front by two points. Shortly after, an all-in brawl ensued and a few gentlemen may find their wallets a little lighter after the tussle at Optus Stadium.

W is For Welcome to the top two: For most of 2022, Sydney has been going about its business week in and week out with limited fanfare but this may be a statement too big to ignore. Sunday’s win over Collingwood was its sixth in a row, and if Sydney makes it seven in the last game of the season, then a home qualifying final is the likely reward.

X is For X marks the spot: Following the Blues’ narrow loss to the Demons, Sunday in Round 22 will hold all the drama. Both Carlton and the Western Bulldogs will have it all to play for to secure a finals position. If the Bulldogs beat the Hawks in the early fixture, then the Blues will most likely have to defeat the Magpies, which will be in front of a jam-packed MCG.

Y is For Young Pups stand tall: It was the Bulldogs’ young guns that stood up when it mattered, keeping their finals hopes alive with a win over the Giants at Marvel Stadium. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is continuing to cement himself in the Bulldogs forward line, kicking sealer for the Bulldogs.  While only in his second game of AFL, Sam Darcy took a few crucial marks in the Bulldogs’ defensive 50. Another young star that stood up was Ed Richards who was one of the best players on the ground for the Bulldogs, continuing to flourish in 2022, finishing the match with 24 disposals and six marks.

Z Is For Zero forward impact: Unfortunately for the Suns, their forwards were not able to capitalise when they had some dominance in the middle. Levi Casboult managed just one possession, Sam Day (four), and Mabior Chol (six), while the trio just kicked one goal between them. The Suns will certainly welcome back Ben King in 2023.

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