Welcome to Balls of Steel’s AFL Beat!
Round 1 Recaps and Highlights
AFL Footy is finally back! We started off the season with the traditional Richmond-Carlton matchup on Australian Thursday night which turned into late Wednesday night in North America.
As expected, the Tigers (#1 in the Home and Away season last year) beat the Blues (Wooden Spooners from last year) handily. It was all over in the first quarter where the Tigers held the Blues to one behind while scoring 34 points. The rest of the match went on cruise control.
However, one big concern for the Tigers is the loss of star defender Alex Rance, who tore his ACL and is out for the season. It remains to be seen if the Tigers can make up for that massive loss over the course of the year. Here are the highlights:
The following night (in both Australia and North America), the Geelong Cats traveled to the MCG to take on the Grand Final runners-up Collingwood Magpies. It was just the first of a string of games against top opposition from last year for Geelong and they needed to do something special.
Well, they debuted four new players, shook up their lineup putting Gary Ablett in as forward and Joel Selwood as wing, and ended up taking the close contest after Tom Hawkins scored his 500th AFL goal in the fourth quarter. Here are the highlights:
Finally, we got to watch a game that started at a decent hour. Unfortunately, the Demons-Power match was on opposite the Carlton-Fremantle AFLW Preliminary Final, so I only caught a piece of the action. It was worth it, though, to see the Power run the Demons out of the park.
Much is being made in the Australian media about how the Power used a physical approach successfully to deal with the Demons’ star ruck, Max Gawn. However, I think a much bigger deal was the speed by which the Power’s midfielders were able to run through the corridor and set up scoring opportunities.
Six of one, half a dozen of the other, I suppose. Here are the highlights:
Later that night, the Adelaide Crows hosted the Hawthorn Hawks and apparently my pre-season prediction of the Crows getting back into the Eight was a little premature. At least based on this game.
The Hawks beat the Crows for the 11th time out of the last 12 games after a brilliant third quarter blew a close game wide open. To add injury on top of insult, the Crows lost star defender Tom Doedee to an ACL and midfielder Richard Douglas to an ankle sprain.
Meanwhile, the Hawks are off to a stellar start and a light schedule in the beginning of the year should set them up nicely for finals positions later in the year. Here are the highlights:
The first of the Late Late North American Friday night games had the Western Bulldogs hosting the Sydney Swans in what turned out to be one of the surprises of the Round. After a good start from the Swans, the Doggies took over the game, scoring seven straight goals.
The Swans made a fierce comeback in the fourth, but the Doggies held on for a well deserved victory. At least Chris Hemsworth and Matt Damon went home happy:
Here are the highlights:
The second and probably bigger surprise came when the Brisbane Lions stunned the defending champion West Coast Eagles at The Gabba. It wasn’t only the fact that the Lions won, it was HOW they won and by HOW MUCH.
The young Lions started off slowly as the Eagles built a 27 point Quarter Time lead, but that was all she wrote. The Lions scored nine goals in a row starting in the second quarter and did not look back. At the end, the final margin was 44 and it was well-deserved.
Here are the highlights:
North American Saturday night brought three more games, the first of which had the St. Kilda Saints hosting the Gold Coast Suns at Marvel Stadium. This was a close game throughout with neither team getting much of an advantage.
The Suns were ahead in the first quarter, but a second quarter rally had the Saints on top. The Suns hung tough and managed to get the game all square in the third and deep into the fourth. One solitary behind put the Saints ahead and then the Suns had multiple chances at the end to either tie it or go ahead. Check out the last two minutes:
For some reason, they did not shoot at goal and try to at least get a behind to tie it. They will surely rue that decision. In the end, the solitary behind was the difference in the game. Here are the full-game highlights:
Later that night, I managed to watch the first half of the GWS Giants-Essendon Bombers match. It was an interesting and not-so-happy return to Sydney for former Giants star Dylan Shiel. The Giants’ Jeremy Cameron scored four goals while midfielder Stephen Coniglio added another three and controlled things in the middle of the ground.
The Giants got a big win at home that showed everyone that even though many of last year’s stars may be gone, there is plenty of quality left in Greater Western Sydney.
Here are the highlights:
The last game of the Round had the Fremantle Dockers hosting the North Melbourne Kangaroos. Much like what happened in AFLW Round 7, the Dockers completely demolished the Kangaroos at home.
It was the biggest margin of the weekend and puts the Dockers right behind GWS for first place on the ladder due to how the percentage is calculated. Here are the highlights:
It’s always nice when the season starts with a few upsets. That gives clubs and fans hope that this year truly is a new year and anything can happen. We’ll see if the surprise winners from this week can keep in the good work in the weeks to come.
Let’s take a look at the ladder, shall we?
|6||Port Adelaide Power||1||0||0||4||142.6|
|9||St. Kilda Saints||1||0||0||4||101.2|
|10||Gold Coast Suns||0||1||0||0||98.8|
|16||West Coast Eagles||0||1||0||0||56.9|
|17||North Melbourne Kangaroos||0||1||0||0||41.8|
Here is where we would normally do the Balls Graph, but since it’s the first round, we’d only have dots, so we’ll skip it this week:
It’s only one round, so there is not much to get excited or depressed about. It’s a long season and a lot of things can and will happen.
Footy Tipping Contest
Here is where we are after Round One:
|Total Tips||Total Margin|
|5||Joliet Jake Delhomme||4||10||4||10|
|7||Son Of Spam||3||5||3||5|
|9||Game Time Decision||3||15||3||15|
|10||Why Eagles Why||2||9||2||9|
It’s funny that our resident American/Australian, WhyEaglesWhy, is bringing up the rear. Honestly, though, there were a lot of upsets this week. The competition is nice and tight, so well done everyone!
We have more than 10 entries, so I WILL be offering a prize this year! If anyone wants to join in, click the link below and sign up!
It’s free to join and it’s the ESPN Australia website, so it’s secure. Join in the fun!
DONT FORGET TO PUT THE FOOTY TIPS IN!
AFL Round 2
Here is the schedule for this week (all times Pacific):
Thursday, March 28, 2019
1:20 AM (Late Wednesday Night) – Richmond Tigers v Collingwood Magpies – at the MCG
The Pies will be wanting to take advantage of Alex Rance’s absences and record their first victory after this week’s surprising loss.
Friday, March 29, 2019
1:50 AM (Late Thursday Night) – Sydney Swans v Adelaide Crows at the SCG
Both teams lost games in which they were favoured to win. The Swans get this one at home, which should give them the edge.
10:35 PM – Essendon Bombers v St. Kilda Saints at Marvel Stadium
The Saints barely beat the Suns while the Bombers got humiliated. It’s a “home” game for the Bombers even though both teams call Marvel Stadium home.
11:10 PM – Port Adelaide Power v Carlton Blues at Adelaide Oval
Port is looking to stash away valuable points for the end of the season against last year’s Wooden Spooners.
Saturday, March 30, 2019
1:25 AM – Geelong Cats v Melbourne Demons at GMHBA Stadium
This should be an interesting game. Last year, both of the games during the regular season went down to the wire while the Demons dominated in finals.
2:10 AM – West Coast Eagles v GWS Giants at Optus Stadium
This is probably a good barometer game for these two squads. The Eagles will be eager to prove they haven’t lost it while the Giants will want to prove they’re for real.
7:10 PM – North Melbourne Kangaroos v Brisbane Lions at Marvel Stadium
The Lions will also want to prove they are for real after last week’s surprise win over the Eagles. The Roos at home coming off an embarrasing loss should be a good test.
9:20 PM – Hawthorn Hawks v Western Bulldogs at the MCG
Both of these teams were surprise winners last week. I would tend to give the edge to the Hawks, but you never know.
10:40 PM – Gold Coast Suns v Fremantle Dockers at Metricon Stadium
The Suns will be disappointed after almost beating the Saints. Based on last week, the Dockers do not offer an easy opportunity for points.
AFLW Preliminary Finals
In addition to the AFL season starting, we also had the two games that will determine the two Grand Finalists for this year’s AFLW competition!
If you remember from last week, I posted a picture of Carlton’s Tayla Harris with the caption, “Nice guernsey!” This particular picture generated some controversy as trolls in a major Australian site used the comment section to make bad sexist comments and the site took the picture down in response, which was a bad reaction.
Tayla took the opportunity to hit back at the website and at the trolls and the rest of sporting Australia backed her up. The website ended up apologizing for taking the picture down and giving in to the trolls. It was with this background that the first preliminary final took place.
The first game was on at a very nice time on North American Friday night, so I was able to see it. You can colour me surprised as the Blues started off the game well and kept the momentum going the whole game.
The second quarter proved decisive as the Blues thoroughly outplayed the Dockers and built an insurmountable lead. In the end, the Blues quieted the critics and undid a lot of the Conference A vs B discussion. Here are the highlights:
The less I talk about the second Preliminary Final, the better. Suffice to say that the Geelong Cats did not score A POINT until deep into the fourth quarter.
Here are the highlights of the utter destruction:
The Cats set the AFLW record for lowest score in a game after earlier this season inflicting that pain on the Brisbane Lions.
AFLW Grand Final
The Grand Final between the Adelaide Crows and the Carlton Blues will take place in Norwood Oval in Adelaide on Saturday, March 30, 2019 at 6:30 PM Pacific time.
Will the Crows become the first team in AFLW history to win a second Premiership or will the Blues keep up the momentum and shock the AFLW world for their first championship? Tune in and find out!
Lady Footy Tipping Contest
The Footy Tipping Contest for AFLW is pretty much done! We go through the Grand Final, so there is only one game left to tip!
Here are the standings after the Preliminary Finals:
|Total Tips||Total Margin|
|1||Son of Spam||2||22||26||201|
|5||Joliet Jake Delhomme||2||16||22||182|
|8||Game Time Decision||1||48||17||213|
Congratulations to SonofSpam for successfully tipping the two Preliminary Finals and thus winning our competition! You, sir, will get a prize of your choosing. Luckily, I live relatively close to you, so I don’t need to mail it to you. I’ll be contacting you soon for details.
Bummer for Litre_cola as he blew his chance at prolonging the contest until next week by forgetting to put the footy tips in! There is a special foot fetish gif just for you, but I’ll be nice and not post it. Also, congratulations to Dolph Ucker for shooting up the rankings and taking second place!
Thank you to everyone that participated this year! I’m happy that, through this contest and the weekly updates, we’ve given a little more exposure to a great women’s sport. Don’t forget we still have one more week, so if you want to maintain your spot in the tipping ladder, make sure to put the Footy Tips in!
That’s all for this week! Next week, we’ll have the results of the AFLW Grand Final as well as Round Two of AFL. See you next week!
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