Harmsy's Handle - AFL Round 21

Image courtesy of adelaidenow.com.au
Harmsy was impressed with the Fremantle's performance against Hawthorn. Image courtesy of adelaidenow.com.au

If every scene of the movie that is the AFL season is like Round 21, we’ve got a dead-set Academy Award winner. What a ripper round!

Hang onto your Jaffas folks: there’s plenty of twists left in this tale.

I generally calibrate my footy watching, ensuring that across the weekend I spend at least some time with the family. I managed to sneak in basic trampoline-time and gardening-time while listening to GWS v the Dees but, other than that, the whole shebang warranted strict attention.

Start with the top of the ladder. Friday night fish’n’chips set the scene for what we hoped would be a Geelong demolition of the Blues. But in a game which had the quality of a less-then-adequate tomato, the Cats somehow fell in. Chris Yarran was one of the few to give us five-star quality on the night (what a beautiful footballer!).

Plot-line 1 (consistent throughout the season): Geelong keep falling in, leaving the entire football world clueless on where they are in the scheme of things. However, they keep getting good time into the young ones, expecting them to fill the roles responsibly. Bit players like Mark Blicavs and Josh Caddy are stepping up. Cam Guthrie thinks he should be top billing already. The Cats are the mystery side.

(Ask a Catter how they’re going and they will give nothing away. Secretly, however, they are saying to each other, “Well, we were top of the ladder for 18 hours on the weekend.”

Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au/Stephen Harman

Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au/Stephen Harman

Saturday. Theo and I go to Auskick and then I watch the Fitzroy v Old Melburnians match in the ammos at Brunswick Street Oval. Buddy is going nuts in Sydney and it’s pouring rain at the Gold Coast. Port are desperate to stay in touch with the top 4, but the Suns are putting up a fight. Port eventually handle the conditions better and get the points.

Plot-line 2: Can the Power find the spark they had in the opening scenes of 2014?

Plot-line 3: Is there any hope for the Suns, who would have made the eight had G. Ablett not come a cropper.

I flick over to see the Eagles come out of the blocks. They’ve got too much firepower.
 
By the time I get to the MCG to join a whole party of visiting Brisbane and Townsville reprobates in the MCC dining room, the Bombers are fighting back. It’s desperate. But David Zaharakis, who has the knack of being in the action in close finishes, kicks a goal to give the Bombers belief, and the Eagles are wobbly. Remarkably, Essendon get home.

Plot-line 4: The court scene is a classic of the filmic genre, but Justice Middleton is no match for Jason Winderlich, and it’s the footy which ultimately wins the day. Only a terrible twist can keep them out of the finals now – surely?

Plot-line 5: The Eagles were granted a chance and blew it. On balance, that will keep the viewers happy.

Image courtesy of perthnow.com.au/Getty Images

Picture courtesy of: perthnow.com.au/Getty Images

It’s freezing at the MCG, but the footy is being pinged around in an open first quarter. The Lions actually look OK. Then they really get going against a depleted Collingwood outfit in the second: very quick ball movement in the style of Geelong and Port Adelaide. Zorko is lightning; Rockliff and Hanley are classy; and who is this Lewis Taylor? Eye-catching. Star-quality. The Pies get hammered.

Plot-line 6: Will Collingwood miss the finals? Will the spotlight fall on Nathan Buckley? What is his destiny?

While this is happening, quite a few of us are ducking in and out to catch glimpses of the see-sawing Crows-Tiges match. That’s because it’s about minus 2 in the south-facing members’ stand and it’s warm enough inside to justify the purchase of amber fluid. There is not a Pie scarf in site. They’ve all nicked off home to contemplate the Spring Carnival. The Crows fight back (oh dear, so, so Richmond), but just as the locals look to have claimed the match, and the manic Adelaide Oval crowd is celebrating their place in the finals, the Tiges find a way. And win!

Plot-line 7: Does the script have the Tiges winning eight in a row only to have them lose to Sydney in the final round? Or is that too clichéd?

Plot-line 8: Do the Crows have to win their final two matches, or can they get away with a loss to North and a smashing of the Saints in the final round?

And the best match is yet to come.

North get over the Doggies and GWS show the depths to which the Dees have sunk as we get the garden beds ready to plant Spring marigolds.

But it’s inside to watch Freo and Hawthorn. All of it. Kids, just find something to do.

Conventional wisdom (before the bounce) still says there’s only two teams in the premiership race: Sydney and Hawthorn.

This is a brilliant game. Fast-flowing, highly skilful. Yet also physical. The best players shine. It’s close for two-and-a-bit quarters but then Stephen Hill, David Mundy, Nat Fyfe and Michael Walters turn it on. Magnificent. And Pav. How pure is Pav! What a classical player. Olivier? De Niro? What a role he plays. The Dockers add a complication.

Plot-line 9: Is it now three possible premiers? Or four? Or are Freo dependent on being in their home country? Do they just have too many good players? And who will stop each one of them?

Plot-line 10: What happens to Hawthorn? How do they fare against Geelong, their home and away nemesis, when they’re coming all the way from Perth on a six-day break?

This will have you on the edge of your seats.

Meanwhile the Swannies are sitting back in their directors’ chairs calling for the smokers’ jackets.


John Harms, Editor of footyalmanac.com.au

@ratherbeatlunch


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