The A-Z of Round 9: Who’s Firing and Who’s Flailing?

The A-Z of Round Nine
There were some teams restamping their authority on the competition this round. (Pictures: @Richmond_FC; @PAFC; @westernbulldogs)

Round 9 was business as usual for many, but some were caught by surprise as the second month of the season wound up.

The Inner Sanctum takes you through Round 9, complete from A-Z. The defining highs, lows, and controversies surrounding Round 9 of the 2022 AFL Premiership season.

A is For An A for effort: Izak Rankine has been called out for being a mercurial presence that can win matches off his own boot, but one who needs to give us more. An average of 13 disposals per match and some questionable defensive displays had many wondering whether the hype was justified. The match against Fremantle showed just what he is capable of, with 18 disposals, 15 of which were contested and a willingness to run both ways. Although he only contributed two points to the score, he registered 11 score involvements. This is what the people want – may there be much more of it.

B is For Biggie, Biggie, Biggie: Richmond debutant Bigoa Nyuon got his chance in the yellow and black against the Hawks. Although he did not have the biggest day on the stat sheet, he did have a handful of highlights with a strong tackle on Hawthorn’s debutant Sam Butler and played goalkeeper to prevent a Hawks goal from Butler as well. With Noah Balta likely to miss weeks with a hamstring injury, there may be more opportunities for ‘Biggie’ in weeks to come.

C is For Courageous Caldwell: One of the toughest contests of the Sydney Vs Essendon match saw Jye Caldwell come off second best in a clash with Tom McCartin. Caldwell may have been subbed out, but lost no admirers for his courage, though it may see him miss a few weeks with injury.

D is For Does Dixon come in? Port Adelaide’s forward line is in the best form it has seen in a long time with nine individual goalkickers against the Roos. But, with Charlie Dixon on the way back, does he find his way into the Power lineup?

E is For Electric Zurhaar: North had very few highlights, but Cam Zurhaar provided plenty. 17 touches and kicking 3.4 is a decent outing for the young Roo, who has 11 goals for the year, behind only Nick Larkey for the club.

F is For First-quarter surge: The Western Bulldogs came to play against the Collingwood Magpies on Friday night. The Dogs piled on six goals in the first quarter to put the result beyond doubt after coming into the game having lost four of their last five. Buku Khamis and Josh Dunkley kicked two each in the first quarter blitz for the Dogs.

G is For Gutsy win at GIANTS Stadium: The Blues had their backs up against the wall at GIANTS stadium with history against them, having never won there previously and having been defeated by the Giants in the past five occasions. A gutsy game saw Carlton take home the four points and restore its spot in the top four ahead of a massive Friday night clash with Sydney.

H is For Hawk Dive: Much like its strong 2-0 start to the season, Hawthorn started the game off on the right foot, leading at the first break, and keeping tight with Richmond throughout the first half. But what is becoming a recurring issue, the Hawks were unable to keep up with their opponents for the whole game. James Worpel kicked a late goal to bring the margin back to 10 points, but the Hawks eventually fell to their fourth consecutive loss.

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I is For Inspiring Injured Man of Steele: St Kilda captain Jack Steele sustained a significant shoulder injury in the second term, but courageously played out the game and was a key contributor in the Saints’ nail-biting win. Unfortunately, the skipper will be out for at least six weeks, but his heroics in continuing on sums up the Saints star.

J is For Jack’s on fire: Jack Silvagni was outstanding for Carlton against GWS, providing a lively target up forward and pressure across the ground. Silvagni finished the game with two goals, 20 disposals, seven score involvements, and eight pressure acts.

K is For Kicking Boots Missing: Sydney rarely looked challenged by Essendon at the SCG and the 58 point margin could have been a lot worse for the Dons had the Swans kicked straight. 14.21 was not helped by 2.5 in the last quarter and some goalkicking practice will be needed ahead of the Blues next week.

L is For Lively Lions forwards: Despite missing both Joe Daniher and Daniel McStay due to injury, the Lions forward-line was at its potent best against the Crows on Saturday night, booting 16 goals to secure a 36-point victory. Charlie Cameron (four goals) and Zac Bailey (three goals) were damaging inside forward 50, while Lions fans will also be pleased by the return of key-forward Eric Hipwood from an ACL injury sustained last year.

M is For Martin masterclass: After taking some time away from the Tigers, Dustin Martin is reimposing himself on the league. In just his third game for the season, Martin provided a highlight by kicking a goal of the year contender in the third quarter. The three-time Norm Smith medallist ended the game with 20 disposals and three goals, as the Tigers ran out 23 point victors.

N is For No Pressure: Having had its best quarter of footy for the year in the come from behind win against Hawthorn, Essendon would be disappointed with its performance against Sydney which saw it register just 30 tackles for the match. With the Swans ramping up the pressure on-field, it consigned the Dons to another big loss, a disappointing showing in Dyson Heppell’s 200th.

O is For Outstanding day for Petracca: Averaging 30 disposals across the opening eight games of the season, Petracca was once again stellar against the Eagles finishing the day with 28 touches and two goals which could’ve been six. Rotating through the midfield and the forward line, he was influential wherever he was deployed.

P is for Plucky Crows: Although Adelaide failed to collect the four points, its performance against a much more fancied Brisbane team should be cause for optimism amongst the Crows faithful. Matthew Nicks’ side led by 15 points during the second quarter, only to be pegged back by a few late Lions goals in the final minutes of the half. Rory Laird was particularly influential, gathering 33 disposals to go with 10 tackles.

Q is For Quiet Achievers: Against Melbourne, Jack Redden had something to celebrate when he lined up for game 250. As one of the most experienced members of the Eagles lineup, Redden battled hard to garner 20 touches, seven tackles and five clearances, a very serviceable outing for the premiership midfielder who was honoured by the Dees as he was chaired off the ground.

R is For Ruck Dominant Final Term: With the game on the line, St Kilda ruckman Paddy Ryder stood up in the final term, dominating the hit-outs and pushing hard forward to snag two key goals. Ryder finished with 3.1 for the game and was instrumental in the Saints’ comeback win.

S is For Sweet return: The Bulldogs enjoyed great service from the returning ruck Jordon Sweet who helped the midfield to get on top of the Magpies early with 26 hit-outs, 13 disposals, five marks, and three tackles. His midfield was too good for the Pies with Bailey Smith, Jack Macrae, Adam Treloar, Tom Liberatore and Marcus Bontempelli combining for 170 disposals and four goals.

T is For Trouble for the Pies: Trouble came in a few forms for the Magpies on Friday night. First, they lost their captain Scott Pendlebury before the game due to illness and were replaced by Callum Brown. Then in the second quarter defender Jack Madgen suffered what seemed like a serious shoulder injury and was replaced by Finlay Macrae. This was the tale of the tape for the Magpies and they suffered their biggest loss of the year.

U is For Unforgettable impact: Coaching in his final game as senior coach, Leon Cameron was unable to get the win but the impact he has had on the Giants will never be forgotten with appearances in five finals series including the 2019 Grand Final and a 54 per cent win rate.

V is For Very Useful Homecoming: Will Brodie left the sunshine of the Gold Coast for the… err… sunshine of Fremantle at the end of 2021, having never really established himself in the Suns’ best side. He has impressed everyone at the Dockers with his attitude and his thirst for the battle, and his first clash with his former employers did not disappoint. An early centre clearance and tackle set him up for the day, and 27 possessions and eight tackles later: he can be very satisfied with his day’s work.

W is For Wonder who saw THIS coming: The Gold Coast Suns looked like they were in real trouble in their forward line when Ben King ruptured an ACL in the pre-season. But the club recruits: Mabior Chol from Richmond and Levi Casboult from Carlton and the pair have proved their weight in gold. After nine rounds the duo have kicked 39 goals between them, third behind tall-forward pairings Curnow and McKay at Carlton (47), and Cameron and Hawkins at Geelong (52). Chol and Casboult are a big reason for the Gold Coast’s 2022 improvement: don’t completely count them out of the finals race yet.

X is For X-hiliarating team performance: Having looked like an unstoppable force in the opening eight rounds of the season, it was more of the same in Round 9 for the Demons. Pitted against the hapless Eagles, the Dees didn’t hold running out 12-goal victors.

Y is For Young Guns Battle: Young emerging superstar forward Max King had a terrific tussle with emerging Cats defender Sam De Koning all day. Whilst King snagged two goals, De Koning was often intercepting forward thrusts of the Saints and is fast becoming one of the league’s finest defenders. Let’s hope these two have many battles like that one on Saturday for years to come.

Z Is For Zorko Magic: With his side trailing by three points at the main break, Brisbane skipper Dayne Zorko produced a dominant second-half display to help Brisbane secure their eighth win for the season. Finishing the game with 26 disposals and two goals, Zorko was instrumental through the midfield and centre forward, headlined by a spectacular goal from the boundary in the final term.

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