A-Z of Round Eight

There was plenty to love this Mother's Day Weekend. Pictures: @CarltonFC @Richmond_FC @GoldCoastSuns

On Mother's Day Weekend we saw records extended, boilovers aplenty, and a big statement from a few as the competition heats up.

On Mother’s Day Weekend we saw records extended, boilovers aplenty, and a big statement from a few as the competition heats up.

The Inner Sanctum takes you through Round 8, complete from A-Z. The defining highs, lows, and controversies surrounding Round Eight of the 2022 AFL Premiership season.

A is For A big milestone for a big Demon: Melbourne key forward Tom McDonald celebrated his 200th game in style with a great win over St Kilda on Sunday afternoon. He kicked two goals for the Demons to go with 14 disposals and six marks. Ben Brown, Kysaiah Pickett, and James Harmes also chipped in for eight goals collectively.

B is For Biggest Record Loss? Not today: Many expected Brisbane’s clash with West Coast to be testing the record books, but it was not the case. The Eagles’ senior heads Shannon Hurn, Jeremy McGovern, and Tom Barrass kept restricting some of the Lions’ movement early on.

C is For Consecutive Win Number 15: Melbourne looked as terrifying as it can be with a dominant team performance against St Kilda. This win keeps the winning streak going with eight wins this season, its last loss coming against the Western Bulldogs in round 19 last season. The question is: how long can this streak continue?

D is For Downward Dogs: It may have kicked the first two goals of the game, but that was the beginning of the end for the Western Bulldogs. Already missing rested skipper Marcus Bontempelli, the injuries just kept on coming. Tim O’Brien (calf) was subbed out while Laitham Vandermeer (hamstring) shortly followed him on the bench in the third quarter. A shoulder injury in the last quarter for Cody Weightman only added to their pain, as the Dogs went down by 17 points.

E is For Enemy and Friend: You got the sense former teammate now opponent Jeremy Cameron was keen to play well against his former side, and boy did he salute in Round 8. Cameron kicked five goals and celebrated each one with extra gusto, before enjoying a laugh with his former teammates at the end of the game.

F is For Frustration: the Rankine Problem and how to fix it: It has been recognised since the night that he debuted that Izak Rankine is a freak. The young man does things that most others wouldn’t even be able to conceive in their most ridiculous dreams. Just before halftime at the SCG, Rankine saw the play unfolding before most and broke hard left to be on the end of a chain of handballs from David Swallow and Brayden Fiorini after a centre bounce. He then cruised to 50 metres from home and finished exquisitely. The biggest issue is that over his career, Rankine only averages 11.8 disposals per match.  If he can find a way to increase that to 16 or 17, he may be the missing link needed for the Suns to play finals at long last.

G is For Great Expectations: When Jordan Dawson left his first club, the Sydney Swans, there was a high expectation on his back to provide the same strong service he did in the Harbour City in Crows colours. And with 30 touches, 10 marks, and 577 metres gained against the Blues, Dawson continued showing why he was worth every penny to his new club.

H is For He is back: The game has missed Dustin Martin. A 23 disposal and two-goal return was met with loud roars by Tigers fans on Saturday – none louder than after a signature snap in the last quarter. After a six-game break, Dusty is back and ready to elevate the Tigers to September.

I is For Inconsistent Hawks: So far this year, the Hawks have been competitive in all bar one game, narrowly losing to the top placed Demons, beating the Cats, and smashing the Power, however, their inconsistency in games is costing them. The Hawks were two goals up against the Swans in Round 6 before losing by 40 points, and this weekend they led the Bombers by four goals in the third quarter before allowing them to kick eight in the last to lose by five goals. Inconsistency is to be expected with a young side, but this would still frustrate the coaching staff and supporters.

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J is For Jack the Rising Star? Jack Ginnivan continues to capitalise on his touches and add scoreboard impact. The small forward finished the game with three goals from five disposals following three goals from 11 touches the week before. His tally now reads 17 goals from seven games played. With no real small forwards standing out across the AFL, Ginnivan has been a big find for the improving Pies. The Rising Star award beckons as the milestone for the Anzac Day Medalist.

K is For King Lynch: Tom Lynch sent a not so gentle reminder to the competition about how much firepower he possesses. Six goals and a career-high 25 disposals helped steer the Tigers to a win against the Magpies. Whether it was in the air or an awesome crumbing goal for his first, Lynch dominated from start to finish. He now sits two goals clear on top of the Coleman Medal race.

L is For Long Season Ahead: North Melbourne has started the season 1-7 and has lost its last six games by an average of 63 points. The Roos could only manage three goals, in what was a dismal display on Friday night against the Dockers. An already sour night was worsened when star key back Ben Mckay, who had taken eight marks and 10 intercept possessions was subbed out with a suspected medial ligament injury. There doesn’t seem to be much light at the end of the tunnel yet for the rebuilding Roos, they now face a resurgent Port Adelaide, followed by premiership favourites Demons.

M is For Milestone Pear: A special night for Port Adelaide, as two of its key players celebrated milestones. After making his debut in 2017, Sam Powell-Pepper notched up 100 games for Port, while veteran Travis Boak became the first player to play 100 games at Adelaide Oval. Powell-Pepper scored two goals, and Boak once again proved that he’s only getting better with age, collecting 30 disposals. He has now had 20-plus disposals in 40 consecutive games.

N is For No Miss for Amiss: Jye Amiss has joined AFL folklore, kicking his first goal with his first kick in Fremantle’s big win over North Melbourne. Seven minutes was all Fremantle fans had to wait to see the much-anticipated talent kick his first goal of many to come. Pick 8 in the 2021 draft, the young key forward looked far from a COVID call up with two goals, five marks, and nine disposals whilst regularly providing a lead and target for teammates.

O is For Oh my, McCluggage: Against the Eagles, Hugh McCluggage made the game his own with 26 touches, four goals, and 10 tackles in a frightening display. Having not had less than 20 touches since Round 1, McCluggage is stringing together another brilliant season.

P is for Power surge: After a rough 0-5 start, Port Adelaide has flicked the switch on its season. Sam Hayes led the hit-outs 37-16, while key forwards Jeremy Finlayson and Todd Marshall combined for five goals as the Power secured their third straight win.

Q is For Queensland gets one up over NSW: There’s always a great degree of satisfaction for any Queenslander in defeating their tormentors from the south. Whether it’s rugby league, union, cricket, or tiddlywinks, there is never any quarter sought or given when the overlords from the south meet the noisy neighbours of the north. And when the underdog that is the Gold Coast Suns lead all day to defeat the Swans from Sydney, the taste of victory is all the sweeter. All wins are pleasant for Stuart Dew’s crew. This one was special.

R is For Rookie Best and Fairest? Nic Martin could easily be leading Essendon’s best and fairest after eight rounds. Another massive performance, collecting 22 disposals, nine marks, and kicking two goals to be an integral part of the Bombers come behind victory. How did he not get drafted earlier?

S is For Steal of the trade period: Let’s talk about Will Brodie. Traded to Fremantle at the end of 2021, Gold Coast parted with picks 19, 61, 69, and Brodie for future second and fourth-round choices. The Suns are still paying Brodie’s wage for him to establish himself as one of the competition’s elite midfielders and most improved players. Brodie is stringing his talent into consistent performances and flourishing under Justin Longmuir with a 37 disposal performance (equalling his personal record from Round 4) from 67% game time on Friday night, bringing Brodie’s season average to 27.1 touches per game.

T is For Two Thousand Millimetre Peter: Peter Wright’s performance was so big, a bigger number to describe him is needed. Just as the Bombers looked to let another game slip by, Wright stepped up, kicking three last quarter goals to end up with six for the game and be the match-winner in the come from behind victory.

U is For Ubiquitous: Mitch Duncan was absolutely everywhere against the Giants. Starting at halfback, Duncan ran rampant, amassing 16 disposals in the first quarter and setting up many Geelong surges forward. He was just as skilled defensively also, reading the play beautifully to intercept the Giants on numerous occasions. Duncan finished with 33 disposals, 12 marks, and 11 score involvements and was a key part of the Cats’ easy victory.

V is For Very first for Windhager: Marcus Windhager came on in the final quarter as the medical substitution in place of Dan Butler. In doing so, Windhager kicked his first-ever major in the league, a highlight for Saints fans.

W is For Who Needs A Ruckman? Rhys Stanley’s late out meant the Cats went in without a recognised ruckman. The Giants’ duo Matt Flynn and Braydon Preuss started well early, however as the game wore on, Mark Blicavs’ athleticism wore them down. The Cats’ utility was absolutely everywhere, finishing as the highest-ranked player on the ground and helping his side to a comfortable victory.

X is For Xeric: Or, as the dictionary will tell you, adapting to a dry environment. It is well documented just how much rain has fallen in the northern states so far in 2022. The Gold Coast Suns and the Sydney Swans were presented with a lovely day for football in Sydney on Saturday afternoon. And as Swans do when denied water on which to do their best work, it was Sydney that was unable to operate with its usual style and grace as the Suns shone over the harbour city.

Y is For You Better Believe It: Opposition defences already had their hands full stopping one Carlton key forward in 2021 Coleman Medallist Harry McKay. And much to their chagrin, he’s got company. Charlie Curnow’s career has had plenty of ups and downs over the last three years, but he has been injury-free so far in 2022 and showed exactly what he’s capable of with six goals, 21 disposals, and 10 marks, feasting on the Crows defence.

Z Is For Zero Lids: You’d be hard-pressed to find a Carlton fan who isn’t cautiously optimistic at this stage of the season. While Adelaide and North Melbourne aren’t exactly the biggest challenges Carlton has faced so far in 2022. Two big wins in a row, helped by captain Patrick Cripps’s consecutive 35 disposal games see the Blues in the top four after Round 8, well placed for a return to finals at this stage.

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