A Fremantle performance for the ages proves the Demons are beatable, and the MCG is treated to a Collingwood-Carlton classic that could flip the script for two juggernauts.
Welcome to the AFL Round-Up, where we digest the week that was.
The Melbourne Demons lose an AFL game
With one sidestep and one back paddle, Michael Frederick ignited the 2022 season on Saturday afternoon.
Frederick’s fearless energy and commitment to attack in a career-making third quarter personified the Fremantle onslaught, which finally brought the Demons to their knees.
Melbourne were always going to lose at some point. This one defeat does nothing to dent their clear flag favouritism, and likely will have little impact on the confidence of the team.
But the manner of this loss, and the team that it came against, makes it a bigger moment than perhaps we might have predicted.
Fremantle are the first serious contenders Melbourne have played this season, and despite two bad weeks in the wet, the Dockers have consistently shown they have a game that should stack up against the best.
It came to fruition in remarkable fashion. Apart from a trademark burst in the second quarter, the Dees could not penetrate the Freo defence. And when the Dockers put the attacking foot down, a defence shorn of Steven May could not handle it.
In truth, it’s a game that means more to Fremantle than Melbourne. This was the best Freo footy we’ve seen in the best part of a decade, another significant step forward for a young team that has made itself one of the stories of the year.
And for the likes of Brisbane, Geelong, St Kilda and Carlton? They now know what is possible. It’s up for grabs now.
Pies and Blues play one to remember
If you needed any further proof that we finally have a season on our hands, see Sunday arvo at the MCG.
Whatever your opinion on the prospects of these two teams going forward, a down-to-the-wire thriller in front of 80,000 at the home of footy was a welcome sight.
In truth it would have been a hell of a burglary if the Blues had snatched it at the end, as the Pies held sway for more than enough of the game to be worthy winners.
Carlton may have found their breaking point in terms of key players missing. No Marc Pittonet was okay, no Harry McKay just about manageable, but no Jacob Weitering might be a bridge too far.
Without those key pillars, Collingwood dominated the air. But it was when the ball hit the ground, when pressure and commitment and intensity were the distinguishing factors, that the Pies really took control.
Now sitting on the fringe of the finals, Collingwood will have regrets about early games against Geelong and West Coast that they really should not have let slip.
But it’s all part of the journey for Craig McRae and the Pies, which, like Michael Voss and his Blues, is still at an embryonic stage.
It just turns out those two stories might more closely aligned than we first thought.
Around the grounds
Circular debate about an umpiring decision on the full-time siren sadly kept a cracking Friday night game in the shadows. Sydney and Richmond seem destined to play one hell of an elimination final come September.
Jeremy Cameron looks determined to make himself the difference for Geelong in 2022, and Chris Scott can sense it too. The Cats want Cameron in the play as much as possible, and even with some midfield time the goals are still coming.
It’s mad how West Coast can be in the midst of an historically bad season, plunging depths not even the rookie Suns or Giants reached, and the vibe from the club is still “eh, what are you gonna do hey?”. Carry on then, I suppose.
The Lions gave GWS a 20-minute head start and still managed to reel them in fairly comfortably. Yet again, Lachie Neale was at the heart of it — nobody is having a better season than the 2020 Brownlow Medallist.
The Suns are one win outside the top eight, and have North Melbourne and Adelaide coming up either side of the bye. And unlike the last time they were in such a strong position, it’s not all riding on the shoulder of one bald man.
Feels like Essendon would have just about been the happier of the two teams, despite losing to Port Adelaide in the wet on Sunday. Port did just enough, but in an incredibly congested season, are still well short of finals quality.
At the halfway point of the season, St Kilda are in the top four. They get a week off now, before a trip to the Gabba to play Brisbane. Can’t wait for that one already.
In the clubhouse
Here we take stock of who is leading the race for the season’s individual awards.
We stuck with Nic Martin as our Rising Star pick after last week, and he rewarded us this week.
As Jai Newcombe, Nick Daicos and co all had relatively quiet rounds, Martin stood up for the Bombers in their honourable loss to Port.
Todd Goldstein can claim the mark of the week honours, largely because his gigantic leg actually got stuck on Mason Wood on the way down.
His teammate Cam Zurhaar still holds the lead for MOTY.
It was a tough field to separate for goal of the week, but we’ll give it to Joel Jeffrey for his swivelling shot from the boundary line.
Sure, he didn’t really mean it, but we have overlooked intentionality to keep Ed Langdon in the lead for GOTY all year. And so it shall remain.
Source: AFL NEWS ABC