5 Lessons Learned – AFL Round 18

Yet again, footy found a way to get through all the chaos of lockdowns and COVID during Round 18, and we were treated to some cracking contests over the weekend.

Now is the time for that five-leg multi of hindsight that we like to call – 5 Lessons Learned.

(1) A draw is a result

After the epic draw between Melbourne and Hawthorn on Saturday night, Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin in his post-game press conference said “I like to see a result. You know, we play the game to win,”

“If you looked at the last centre bounce of the game, we were setting up to try and win the game. That’s the way I like our team to think and how we want them to operate, and I think our supporters and fans would love that as well. To be able to see a result at the end of the day. I think as a competition we should look at it.”

It was an obvious comment from a coach of a team that blew a decent lead to ensure they remained top of the ladder only to split the points.

The next 48-hours ensured the silly hot-takes from American sport fanbois saying that draws should be scrapped because football is an “entertainment” product.

Some more clueless commentators have used the world game as an example, probably completely oblivious to the fact that extra time and penalties only occur in knockout events, not the regular season.

This is now the case in the AFL, for which home and away games have draws and finals, including the Grand Final after the events of 2010 have extra time.

In the 125+ year history of the VFL/AFL, there has been less than 200 drawn games.

The foundation years of the sport came up with an innovation to stop regular tied matches, the behind posts and the strike rate for that change has been pretty good.

Draws during the home and away season play a vital role in the shape of the ladder.

There’s no doubt the 54 punters who backed the draw at $101 plus the handful that caught it on the drift at $126 would agree with every word that’s been written in this lesson.

(2) North Has Crossed The Line…

Much has been said and written about North running out of petrol in yesterday’s game against the Bombers at Metricon Stadium, but the Kangaroos have become a friend of the punter in recent weeks.

Despite going down to the Bombers by 18 points, this was the seventh consecutive week the Kangaroos covered the line (+22.5 points)

The bookies still don’t seem to give North a chance, despite their recent improvement over the past couple of months and while we have no idea who or where they’ll play this weekend – I’d still back them at the line.

From a punting perspective, teams ranked down the bottom that frequently cover the long lines is a sign of improvement.

It’s just a shame they don’t get any Thursday/Friday night games to get them on the $2 lines on offer from Ladbrokes.

(3) S Walsh: 3 Votes

Get used to hearing that phrase during this years Brownlow count.

The Carlton young-gun had 38 disposals, five clearances, five tackles, nine marks and six score involvements and a ripping goal in the last quarter in the Blues sprited 29-point win over the Pies yesterday.

Averaging 30 disposals per game, with five of them in Carlton’s seven wins this season you’d have to consider that he’s a chance to take Charlie home, and we don’t mean Curnow.

He’s currently in the 6th line of betting at $11.

(4) Done and Dustyed

The Tigers had a much needed win on Friday night, only to suffer the devastating news that Dustin Martin is out for the rest of the season with a kidney injury.

No one likes to see superstars like Dusty out and it’s fair to say the Tiger threepeat premiership comeback is off.

Richmond has nothing to lose now.

The Tigers can have a decent crack by getting more games into youngsters, making sure they can get signatures on the likes of Shai Bolton and Mabior Chol and just having a crack.

Perhaps they’ll make the eight, perhaps they might even win a final and ruin a season for someone, and perhaps they won’t play finals at all.

Richmond 2021 won’t be a premiership year, but they still have plenty to look forward to in the future.

The Tigers are currently $1.95 to finish in the top eight and $17 for a miracle flag.

(5) Swans are a Buddy good chance

Buddy Franklin appreciation time.

Sydney trailed by 35-points early in the second quarter and looked down and out at half-time against the Giants and then came Buddy.

Franklin booted four goals, including his 400th career goal in red and white as the Swans recorded a famous 15-8 (98) to 11-6 (72) win.

The Swans run of nine goals, including six in the final quarter to ruin the Giants finals hopes was a stunning performance from Sydney…and Buddy was the cherry on top.

Given all the chaos, constant hub relocations and a list bursting full of talent along with Buddy getting back to his best you have to consider the Swans a chance to go all the way this season.

Sydney are $11 to win the flag.

Bonus lesson…

(6) No idea who’s playing but no crowd footy sucks.

We all know Delta and lockdowns are causing havoc and those responsible for writing the AFL fixture have done an amazing job in keeping footy going.

The crowdless Marvel Stadium and MCG sucked on the weekend.

It was dull, it was grim and it was sad.

Crowdless footy is on the agenda again this weekend, and while I don’t envy the task at hand arranging the games this weekend – but it should be avoided at all costs.

Play games wherever you can give them any sort of crowd.

Forget the petty Geelong v Richmond MCG debate, provided the government allows it – move the game to Tassie and play it in front of a packed house in Launceston or Hobart to give the match the dignity it deserves.

Then again, anything can change within an hour at the moment and we still don’t know who’s playing who, where or what time right now, but let’s avoid the empty stadiums where possible.