Last week I said that the Fremantle v Brisbane game was the ugliest one I had seen in a long time.
Who knew that statement would become redundant just a week later, let alone because of the match between the two most fancied premiership sides of the season. Saturday night’s game was nothing short of awful, and yet, as a spectacle, it still worked. Everything was horrible. The kicking was atrocious, the handballs missed targets, tackles slid, goals went unkicked. It was the scrappiest game I have ever seen, with skills I would have likened to Gold Coast v Greater Western Sydney then two premiership favourites.
12 behinds for no goals is an abysmal return for a team boasting the likes of Jack Darling and Josh Kennedy as tall forwards. The fact that it took until the third quarter for them to kick their first goal made me scratch my head a bit. The end score of 5.21.51 to 5.16.46 made me scratch my head even more. Needless to say, to go a whole half without a goal and still win the match is something I thought I would never see happen, and the Eagles did well to put it off. However, if this is how two premiership favourites battle it out, I do not know whether I want these two teams in the Grand Final. It was a defensive game, yes. It was wet, yes. But it was a horrible game and it is hard for me to understand why anyone would say otherwise. Im sure the auskickers were using the ball better during their half-time games.
As it is, the game was a good win for the Eagles, who solidified their spot on the top of the ladder and proved their first three wins were not just because of easy opponents. Usually this is the place where I put down what I liked about the game, but to be honest, I hated the game and almost fell asleep during it, so Im going to say what I did not like about it.
What I Didn’t Like About the Game
Playing through Injury: When Luke Shuey clutched his shoulder in pain after a tackle, I went “oh oh”. When he fell to the floor in agony trying to get off, I went “double oh oh.” The Eagles did not need to lose another good player for a few weeks. When Luke Shuey walked back on the field, I was a bit gobsmacked. Surely a player as important as Shuey is becoming to the Eagles needs to be better protected when an injury like that occurs. It was fair play for the Hawk’s Lewis to test the shoulder out in one of the next contests. Lose him for a quarter or lose him for a couple of weeks, surely it couldn’t be that hard of a decision to make? Hopefully the injury is small and doesn’t warrant an extended time on the sidelines.
Tackles: Im not going to weigh in on the whole West-Coast-Milk-Free-Kicks debate except to say the following. It is understandable when opposition coaches get frustrated that a tackle that starts legal ends up around the neck because the player being tackled drops their knees. Im not going to comment on whether it is legal or illegal because that is not up to me, but every team in the AFL tries to twist the rules to milk free kicks, which is how the ducking rule came into effect. It is definitely something the AFL needs to keep an eye on and make a decision about whether they want the tactic in the league or not.