Certainly did all they could on Saturday against Collingwood to remove any doubts about their premiership credentials. Despite not having any of the best two or three players on the ground, the Hawks won by eight goals with the whips put away early in the final quarter.
Jordan Lewis is having a career year, Sam Mitchell has hopped on the rejuvenation machine, Jack Gunston is making the most of his belated opportunity in the Hawthorn side, and they still have Luke Hodge and Lance Franklin to return.
We’ve been trying to figure out if the Cats still have what it takes to make waves in September, and while some remain unconvinced, it’s hard to think of anything more Geelong could have done last Friday night other than demolish Essendon. With youngster Mitch Duncan best on ground, and improved performances from Tom Hawkins, Steven Motlop and Billie Smedts, the Cats look to have once again discovered a bunch of young talent that could keep Geelong in the top half of the ladder for years to come. Whether that means the Cats can push into the last couple of weeks of the finals this year remains to be seen.
The Shinboners continue to demonstrate their credentials as the team most likely to emerge from the pack to claim eighth spot. Make no mistake, Richmond threw everything but the gas hot water heater at the Roos on Sunday, only for North Melbourne to come through with another win against a key rival.
Drew Petrie produced another excellent performance kicking five last quarter goals for a match total of seven. As footy folklore tells us, key forwards who take contested marks are worth plenty come finals time, and North Melbourne have a great one who is in form.
I couldn’t care less about Saturday’s match from Collingwood’s point of view. But the events of the following few days have shown that the Westpac Centre may be short a key marking forward come 2013.
The news that the negotiation between Collingwood and Travis Cloke has been postponed until after the season is an onimous one, considering it has all been confirmed that Fremantle and Melbourne have offers before Cloke worth $1 million per year, and also Carlton and Richmond are interested. On top of all that, Cloke’s form is not good at the moment. Something needs to change.
Certainly the most worrying performance of the weekend, as a tired and injured Essendon list limps towards finals and another meek exit. While long term everything is ticketyboo at Windy Hill, the tough preseason conducted by James Hird and his conditioning staff has caught up to the players, and they are breaking down with monotonous regularity.
Despite all that, the other worrying signs are the indications that other teams have figured out how to beat Essendon, and more generally, Essendon’s form. With a tough remaining fixture, even the prospect of missing finals is looking increasingly likely for the men with the red sash.
It was supposed to be a great round with all the final eight playing each other, but it didn’t hit any great heights until Sunday afternoon. There were numerous dubious decisions, especially with the video review, which needs to be altered considering players are now (successfully) appealing for incidents to be referred. The Q-Clash was forgettable, Buddy got done for speeding, and GWS need the finishing line like no other team since the Royboys were going around. Hopefully things start to pick up soon.