17/04/2024
Round Nine

The photos that captured round nine (Pictures: @melbournefc/Twitter; richmondfc.com; @NMFCOfficial/Twitter)

Round nine was action packed and full of twists. We’ve got you covered as we run through the moments that defined the weekend.

Round nine was an exciting one for fans as another chapter of AFL was written with plenty to unpack. The winless became winners, a coach was outspoken and a team who looked unlikely for top eight sits undefeated atop the ladder.

The Inner Sanctum takes you through the A-Zs of the round – the defining highs, lows, and controversies surrounding round nine of the 2021 AFL Premiership season.

A is for Adam Wojcik. The goal umpire enhanced his reputation as a professional for the second week in a row. After having his shoulder dislocated by the players running through, he stood on the goal line and sought a score review, and was confirmed to have made the right decision before he came from the field and was replaced by the emergency goal umpire. 

It comes off the back of last week, where he was the step ladder for Joe Daniher, while maintaining perfect position and again getting the decision right.

B is for Blakey in the ruck. Nick Blakey came back into the Sydney Swans side and had his best game of the year. Blakey’s stat line of 10 disposals, five tackles and four hit outs belied his influence around the ground, as he was involved in two scoring chains, and went toe to toe with Collingwood’s rucks. After a slow start to the season, and a tough time fitting into the Swans tall forward line, has Blakey found a niche as a wingman/second ruck?

C is for Crisp consistency. Jack Crisp played his 150th consecutive game in round nine (the last 144 of which have been for Collingwood). His streak is the longest active streak, and Crisp has played every game since he came across to Collingwood. Crisp still has a way to go to break Jim Stynes’ record of 244, but Crisp’s current streak highlights how consistent he has been for Collingwood over the last few years. 

D is for Dimma hates Marvel. Richmond’s clash against the Giants was the sides scheduled home game at Marvel Stadium – an agreement that all Victorians have to play one home game at the stadium each year. With only 18,000 fans in attendance (the Tigers lowest home crowd since 2004), Damien Hardwick expressed how he prefers to play at the MCG. 

E is for Everywhere Wingard. Chad Wingard had his hands on the football almost every time the Hawks went forward on Saturday afternoon. Wingard had 13 score involvements for the Hawks 20 total scores, including four goal assists, and two goals of his own. Wingard was one of the dominant Hawks on the day, and can hold his head high despite the loss. 

F is for Forgotten Forward. Dan McStay is reaping the benefits of Joe Daniher’s recruitment. He may not be the biggest name, or player, in the Lions forward line, but he plays a key role. Now that Daniher and Hipwood draw the key defenders each week, Dan McStay is in fine form, and added four goals straight from just nine kicks as the Lions dominated the Suns. 

G is for Guthrie. He may not be the flashiest part of the Geelong midfield, but Cam Guthrie is having a fine season to this point, and continued with another great game against St Kilda with 36 touches, four clearances and a goal. Already an All-Australian team member and a Cats Best and Fairest winner last year, he is mounting a strong case to do it again.

H is for Happy Birthday David Noble. The proud Tasmanian, in his home state, got his first AFL coaching victory. It continues an unusual trend that Alistair Clarkson has been the opposing coach when both of the two most recent new AFL coaches got their first win (Matthew Nicks in 2020). 

I is for Increasing in value. Darcy Parish continued his hot run of form in round nine, with 39 disposals, nine score involvements, 10 clearances and a goal. Parish’s permanent move to the midfield has been a stroke of genius this season, after strong games against Collingwood on Anzac Day and St Kilda over the Easter weekend, showing his ascension to the top tier of midfielders.

J is for Jesse’s bag of four. Jesse Hogan returned to the AFL two weeks ago, but stamped his return in round nine against Richmond. Hogan finished with four goals, all in the second quarter, as he reminded the whole AFL of his damaging abilities to break a game wide open. 

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K is for Kings’ kicking. Both Ben King and Max King left their kicking boots at home (particularly Max). The brothers combined for 3.7 in round nine, as they peppered the goals to little effect. Both their losing sides would have benefited from straighter kicking, and it may have cost St Kilda the game.

L is for Lyons QClash medal. Jarryd Lyons was delisted by the Gold Coast Suns at the end of 2018. They would have loved to have him as part of their midfield ever since, but particularly on Saturday night, where he dominated the QClash to win the Marcus Ashcroft Medal. Lyons finished with 38 disposals, nine clearances, nine tackles and was best on ground. Fair to say his path to revenge and redemption included this match, as he has become one of the elite midfielders of the competition. 

M is for Matt Taberner. Taberner stood tall for the Dockers, kicking half of their eight goals by himself. He got a hold of the Bombers defence, and was given great service by his midfield, with all seven of his marks being uncontested. He will hope that the midfield precision continues for the rest of the season, and more goals will follow. 

N is for nutmeg. Two in one week!

O is for Off the ball. The Bombers vs. Dockers game was marred by off the ball niggle, pushing and shoving as the Dockers players targeted Zach Merrett. Caleb Serong was responsible for tagging Merrett, but his teammates were happy to show their physicality across the ground. A number of players are likely to have lighter wallets next week if the Match Review Officer decides to fine players for their involvement. 

P is for Persistence pays off. Former top 10 pick Chayce Jones had to earn his spot before coming into Adelaide’s senior side. After struggling for form in the SANFL, the Tasmanian was trialled in a new role down back. As Jones’ confidence grew and his performances improved, he forced his way back into the Crows’ line-up for his first proper game this season (he was the unused medical sub in round two). Against West Coast on Sunday, Jones had a career-high 19 disposals and looks to have found a new spot in defence. 

Q is for a Quarter to savour. Jack Darling had a memorable second term against Adelaide, with five goals to his name. The Crows had hit the front to start the term, and Darling’s tear turned the game the Eagles’ way and helped the side to their sixth win of the year. The five goals also included the 100th goal for Darling at Optus Stadium, the first player to reach the milestone.

R is for Rioli’s sealer. After a week in the media spotlight for an incident that occurred with him and teammate Shai Bolton on a night out, Rioli put all the noise aside to kick Richmond’s stealer against GWS. Richmond was trailing behind its 2019 grand final opponents from half-way through the first quarter, but it was Rioli’s goal with four minutes to play that proved that the Tigers still hold the upper hand over the Giants. 

S is for Streak. The Melbourne Demons undefeated streak now sits at nine. An early challenge from Carlton was seen off on Sunday afternoon at the MCG and, for the first time since 1956, Melbourne is 9-0 to start a season. The Dees have fought off all challengers so far and will go into next week’s match against Adelaide favoured to make it 10-0. 

T is for Tuohy’s Torp. Zach Tuohy launched a moon-shot from the defensive goal square that was reminiscent of past eras.

U is for umpiring – again in the spotlight for too many reasons. Whether it was the missed free kicks that Toby Greene may have been entitled to in the dying seconds, or the missed free kicks for Robbie Gray, or the dubious free kicks awarded to Jordan De Goey, the umpiring is yet again in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. 

V is for Victory in Adelaide. The Western Bulldogs stamped their premiership credentials in their win over the Power. Playing the Power in Adelaide is one of the biggest challenges in football, and the Western Bulldogs went in and won by three goals. The Power threw the kitchen sink at the Bulldogs, and they had an answer every time. The Bulldogs are playing great football, and are genuine contenders for this year’s flag. 

W is for where to from here? Carlton and Collingwood have been left scratching their heads after strong starts petered out and gave way to disappointing losses against Melbourne and Sydney respectively. The Pies kicked a dismal 1.10 after quarter time against the Swans while the Blues failed to threaten after a bright start against the undefeated Dees. There will be some soul searching needed yet again this week from both sides. 

X is for X-Factor. Cody Weightman was electric for the Western Bulldogs. Three goals, including a kick-and-pray blind shot, five tackles and three inside 50s were part of why the Bulldogs ran out as winners. His late goal killed off any hope of a Power comeback and sealed the game.

Y is for Young Stars. The young stars of the competition were in full flight in round nine. Tom Green starred for the Giants in the midfield, James Jordon was dominant for the Demons, and Chad Warner and Justin McInerney played key roles for the Swans. The competition is in good hands for the future.

Z is for Zurhaar. Cam Zurhaar kicked a big bag of four goals, and was dominant, finishing the game as the difference for the Kangaroos. His two goals in the final term were critical as they held on to defeat the Hawks by seven points.

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