Nathan van Berlo contemplates the Crows' upset loss to the Lions at the Gabba
Photo: Getty Images
WHAT WE LEARNED: Adelaide might have blown its fading flag hopes and Carlton is in the box seat for eighth...
Oh, they're a happy team at Hawthorn
The real winners this weekend were the Hawks, who were handed the minor premiership on a platter by Brisbane and North Melbourne. Thanks to a pair of Saturday night upsets, the Hawks need only beat Sydney and West Coast to swoop into top spot on the ladder after 23 rounds. In fairness, the Hawks are arguably the most deserving team in the comp and have been since they turned their season on its head in round 10. But Brenton Sanderson must be fuming behind the scenes, and rightly so. The flat-footed Crows let a gilt-edged chance go begging up in Brisbane, and could very well find themselves in Melbourne facing the Hawks in week one of the finals. That's got to be the least desirable assignment in footy at the moment.
Carlton leads the race for eighth
We predicted last week that the Blues would lock up eighth spot and the last finals berth, but we were still astonished by the savagery of their victory over Essendon over Saturday. It proved two things: the Blues are far more dangerous side with a healthy list, and the Bombers are crumbling to pieces around James Hird. Fremantle sits in eighth for now thanks to its win over Richmond but after North Melbourne's showing against the Pies it's hard to see the Dockers getting the four points in round 22. Carlton v St Kilda in round 23 will decide whether the Blues or Freo get up, and Brett Ratten's men will be comfortable winners in that one if this weekend's form is anything to go by.
If you can't say anything nice...
Then what can you say about Travis Cloke and Chris Dawes? Collingwood's bumbling double-act had an absolute stinker on Saturday night, recording an astonishing six marks and zero goals between them. It was actually embarrassing to watch how comprehensively Scott Thompson and Luke Delaney towelled them up. At this point it's impossible to make an argument for Dawes retaining his place in the side. Cloke is either on his way out of the Westpac Centre or frozen by the fear that he might be unwittingly playing his way out of the Westpac Centre. More seriously, Collingwood's dysfunction up forward will neuter any hopes they have of defending their flag if it isn't sorted soon. The top-four sides will tear them to shreds in September.
The pieces are falling into place for Sydney
The most promising aspect of Sydney's shellacking of the Western Bulldogs was not the margin (which was comprehensive) or their ability to rally after an uncharacteristically poor start. No, it was the sight of a menacing Adam Goodes roaming the forward 50 that will have gladdened the hearts of the Swans' faithful. With Sam Reid still a colt that is short of a gallop, Sydney desperately need Goodes to be somewhere near his best to be a genuine flag threat. He hasn't been close to it since returning from injury but his three-goal, 22-disposal effort against the admittedly limited Dogs could be the catalyst.
- Lance Franklin's withdrawal through illness means he is either the unluckiest man in football or there is something the Hawks aren't telling us about their star forward. Let's hope for everyone's sake that Buddy returns against the Swans.
- Imagine how good Ryan Griffen would be if he could reliably deliver 85 per cent of his blinding game against the Swans every week?
- Ross Lyon bullied his way into Fremantle's post-match presser determined to make it clear that Aaron Sandilands' inclusion was not mind games. His shifty eyes may have given him away, however.
- Gold Coast have been playing Steven May at the wrong end of the ground. The NT lad was a star as a forward at under-18 level and showed with three goals against Hawthorn that he belongs there in the big time.
- Saturday's game between GWS and Melbourne showed us what football looks like when two teams don't really want to be there.
- Brendon Goddard says he wants to stay at St Kilda, and his effort was commendable on Friday night. However, his body language against Geelong looked less than promising from a Saints perspective.
- Travis Boak's withdrawal must have hit Port Adelaide supporters like a kick in the guts. Fingers crossed, you guys.
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