Harmsy's Handle - AFL Round 15

Luke Breust - Hawthorn Hawks
Hawk Luke Breust still has a perfect goal-kicking record this season. Image courtesy of dailytelegraph.com.au/Herelad Sun

Friday. People are talking tennis and soccer. Footy has become routine by comparison.

I had lucked on the Nick Kyrgios match flicking between Footy Shows (while doing my footy tips), World Cup shows, and European golf and whatever else was on the late-night sporting smorgasbord.

The nineteen year-old from Canberra had just saved three match points against the old campaigner, Richard Gasquet. But it looked like it was a matter of time for the gangly colt.

My first observation was that Nick looked raw, emotional, uncontrolled; like it had been a thrill to just play at Wimbledon. Like that was enough.

But he hung in. It was the Frenchman who was getting increasingly frustrated; who was thinking he was supposed to win the match; who felt the gods were against him.

Because in some way, they were. Realising Gasquet would punish a weak second serve, Krygios was happy to gamble on his own talent. In going for too much he appeared to give the match up on a double fault. But he challenged – a token challenge when all other options were exhausted? And the ball had caught the line.

Then, a couple of let cords.

He saved another match point and another.

I changed my view. Things were going his way. He wasn’t chucking it in. Significantly, at a time of imminent defeat, he had found the will to swing the racket without fear, to continue to go for his shots.

He got on top. And he won.

It was a memorable half hour of sport.

Nick Kyrgios Image courtesy of: couriermail.com.au
Image courtesy of: couriermail.com.au

The footy seemed a grind by comparison. But, like all sport, footy offers promise.

It looked a pretty easy tipping round – on paper. Essendon were a chance to upset the Cats, and the Dogs-Dees game was 50-50, the others appeared straight forward.

As it turned out, a couple of upsets have kept the fight for the top eight alive.

Geelong stayed in touch with the top four with a lucky win. They started well, their experience and skill shutting the Bombers out, to lead comfortably. But the game had a twist in it and the surge from the Bombers, who can be quick (Colyer really added something to them), gave them the lead. Geelong were gone. Enter Mitch Duncan and Stephen Motlop. It turned into a desperate end-to-end game and they fell in. The Cats may still be in touch, but they’re no Sydney.

The Swans and Hawks continue to look powerful. Hawthorn gave the young Suns a real lesson for a couple of quarters in Launceston. No sunny winter there. And the premiers reminded their challenger of the gap between the two. It was generally an uncomfortable afternoon.

So, too, Sydney, who remain the flag favourites, with Buddy proving impossible to contain for the whole game.

Image courtesy of foxsports.com.au/News Limited
Image courtesy of foxsports.com.au/News Limited

Freo, less so, against the Eagles, who gave Ross Lyon’s boys a scare in the Derby.
The two big losers across the weekend were North Melbourne in Brisbane on Saturday night, and Port Adelaide in the Showdown on Sunday evening.

The Kangaroos are a crazy side. Perhaps there was something in the coach’s post-match approach at the press conference which gives an indication of why. When asked by freelance sports (and music) writer, Andrew Stafford, where his side had lost the game, Brad Scott bit, asking, “Is that a question?”

Stafford held his ground, and so he should have, inviting Scott to answer the question.
Scott answered. And the substance of his answer demonstrated why it was a legitimate question. He explained why his side had lost!

It was arrogance and petulance from Brad Scott. No wonder the Roos struggle for on-field leadership.
Scott was also asked about what he said in an incident with the Lions’ Tom Rockliff. Rockliff and Boomer Harvey had exchanged words at game’s end. Scott then confronted Rockliff.
Brad Scott can do what he likes, but people will form a view of why his side plays like it does, and his role in that.

All focus should have been on Jonathan Brown and the Lions tremendous (upset) win. On his farewell night before those who had loved watching him dominate games for three premierships across more than a decade, Brown came bolting out to greet his players. It was all about them, and their future. And he was fair dinkum. That’s leadership.

Image courtesy of: couriermail.com.au
Image courtesy of: couriermail.com.au

Brown is much-loved because he fits into an Australian archetype. But that’s unfair to him. It is the qualities of that archetype which make him so lovable – tough, skilful, fun-loving, beer-in-hand, country bloke. And he had a greyhound called Slabavic.

So to Adelaide for the Showdown. The Adelaide Oval was rocking as it has all year and the two sides put on a fantastic show. It was the Crows Grand Final – lose and the season was pretty much gone. They threw everything at Port, who had some players down and didn’t take their chances. A cracking match. How the young Port side responds against Essendon this week will be interesting. Essendon are also playing their Grand Final!

Port have conceded top position. There are now five sides within a game of each other, so the jockeying is on.

With eight rounds to go, and ladder positions vital, sides will be calling on the brave fortune of Nick Kyrgios.

John Harms is editor of footyalmanac.com.au

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