AFL Round-Up: Brisbane and Fremantle’s wins shape 2022 season, West Coast’s worst still ahead of them

The two blockbuster games on the weekend delivered on their promise, and their victors leave round seven with stocks soaring

Welcome to the AFL Round-Up, where we digest the week that was.

Lachie’s Lions look legit

Thursday, June 23. Clear your calendar and prepare your Friday sickie.

That’s the date of Melbourne’s first meeting with Brisbane this season. The second will come in round 23, and likely be a poker game between two sides keeping cards very close to their chests.

The third meeting may well be the last Saturday in September.

The Lions came away from Sydney with the points and plenty of credit.(Getty Images: Cameron Spencer)

What was most impressive about Brisbane’s win over Sydney was the many ways they had to beat the Swans. The first half was complete defensive shut-down, the second a fire-with-fire outgunning.

The Lions stared down a vintage Lance Franklin freak show after half-time and came back harder, all on the shoulders of the incredible Lachie Neale.

His third quarter — 12 disposals, nine contested possessions, three clearances and a goal — was as good as we’ve seen this season.

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A team built on excellent defence, loaded with a variety of avenues to goal and boasting a midfielder with genuine claims to being the best in the game? Sounds like you’ve got yourself a red hot flag chance right there.

Fremantle can win the premiership

Don’t worry about the finals, don’t worry about the top four. Fremantle can win the lot.

Admittedly the word “can” is doing a lot of heavy lifting there, but it’s a scenario now that demands consideration.

Blake Acres holds his arms out wide and yells in delight
Blake Acres played his best game for Freo in the win over Geelong.(Getty Images: Robert Cianflone)

The only pending concern is the Dockers’ comparatively low inside 50 and shots on goal numbers, but the fact that Freo rank poorly in those statistics only goes to show how convincing they have been defensively. That’s certainly a more sustainable balance than the other way round.

But even more than that, there’s spirit at Fremantle that can’t be quantified. Interstate teams don’t go to Geelong and win unless they can boast a healthy share of bottle.

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The Dockers have the substance, now they’re adding the style. It’s becoming a must-watch mix.

Eagles’ nadir may be yet to come

It’s come more suddenly and more dramatically than expected, but there is little to be surprised about in West Coast’s plummet down the ladder.

Jeremy McGovern grimaces and puts his hand on his head while standing around teammates
The Eagles have finished the round in 18th position for the first time in their history.(Getty Images: Paul Kane)

The issues currently plaguing the Eagles have been lurking to some degree since 2019, the year after Adam Simpson took the team to a premiership. They were exacerbated by the hub disaster of 2020 and were clear for all to see in the second half of 2021.

This is a team that hasn’t kept up with modern footy, unable to make the transition from cautious control to fast-paced chaos. It has been smashed with serious, long-term injuries which, depending on your level of sympathy for West Coast’s plight, can either be placed to bad luck or bad management.

It’s taken an injury and COVID eruption in 2022 to finally turn the whole thing to dust. On Friday night, TV broadcasters were comparing the Eagles’ record to those of the Suns and Giants in their maiden years, and the infamous 2013 Demons.

Luke Shuey and Jack Redden look serious while talking to each other
The stars of the 2018 premiership team are not contributing at the same level, and are reaching the ends of their careers.(Getty Images: Paul Kane)

The difference between those teams and these Eagles is they knew they were at ground zero. Those were young teams starting from scratch, taking the necessary bumps and bruises that come with a full rebuild. 

West Coast haven’t even hit that point yet. They’re an old team. They’ve hardly touched the draft in years. On current evidence, Oscar Allen is the only player under 25 worth hanging significant hopes on, and he’s going to miss half of this season at least with a stress injury in his foot.

Like Chief Wiggum with his tie in a hot dog oven, this is gonna get worse before it gets better.

Around the grounds

The Hawks are fearless. They showed no scars from being blown out late by Sydney last week and never stopped taking the game to Melbourne. It’s as good a loss as they could have had.

Port Adelaide players including Connor Rozee and Ollie Wines smile as they walk off the field
Port Adelaide snuck home by a point over St Kilda in Cairns.(Getty Images: Ian Hitchcock)

Port Adelaide have had three games now decided by less than a goal, and four by less than two goals. This one against the Saints was the first to fall in their favour. They’re not done yet.

Footy has badly missed Toby Greene. His status as the game’s “bad boy” has always been somewhat overplayed, but his ability certainly has not. He gives the Giants their soul back. 

GWS players stand around and high five Lachie Whitfield
A thumping win over Adelaide was just was GWS needed.(Getty Images: James Elsby)

Carlton came back to life in the third quarter against North. They rediscovered the swagger that lit up their first few weeks, playing with pace and physicality. They will live and die on how many chances they can give McKay and Curnow every week.

The Suns put in their best attacking effort since round one against the Pies, but matched it with comfortably their worst defensive showing of the year. Almost out of necessity Collingwood are unpredictable and multifaceted going forward, and it’s working.

Brody Mihocek tries to catch a ball but Sam Collins punches through his grip
Brody Mihocek kicked four for Collingwood in their win.(Getty Images: Robert Cianflone)

It’s been feast or famine for the Dogs this year, but going into a critical clash with Port Adelaide they needed a confidence boost. Loser of that game on Friday night is suddenly a long way back.

In the clubhouse

Here we take stock of who is leading the race for the season’s individual awards.

Josh Rachele remains our leader in the race for the Rising Star Award despite the Crows’ belting. Jason Horne-Francis is getting a bit cranky as his Roos struggle and Nick Daicos is still yet to prove as damaging as he was as an underage player.

Both will continue to get better, but in the mean time it’s probably Bomber Nic Martin or Demon Jake Bowey who trails Rachele closest.

On to the mark of the year race, and we’ve got ourselves a bit of a conundrum. The best grab of the year so far was taken this weekend, but it’s not a replay that you want to watch too many times.

Brodie Smith’s hanger on the wing was outstanding, and in our books goes ahead of Mitch Lewis and becomes the current leader. But he absolutely wrecked his head on the way down.

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Despite the concussion, it thankfully sounds like Smith is okay now. Which makes it slightly easier to celebrate his incredible mark.

Jack Ginnivan can claim this week’s best goal, having breezed through half the Gold Coast defence before snapping truly.

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It’s a contender for the GOTY gong, but for now we still lean towards Ed Langdon. Just.

Reference-www.abc.net.au

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