Contender’s credentials take massive hit as hoodoo worsens; three huge A+ grades: Report Card

There were two clear fails out of Round 8, one throwing doubt on a contender’s credentials.

At the other end of the scale, three A-plus winners can hold their heads high.

Every team’s performance analysed and graded in Foxfooty.com.au’s Round 8 Report Card.

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“You can all go and get f**ked!” | 03:18

ADELAIDE CROWS

The Crows may have kicked five last quarter goals to add some respectability to the scoreboard, but it was too little, too late after being blown off the park with just five goals to 15 to three quarter time. Adelaide struggled to get the ball forward, while their defence was shown up by Carlton’s big duo Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay. The Crows finished -25 for inside 50s, -11 in clearances and +5 in turnovers.

In the votes

Taylor Walker led up strongly in patches to finish with 2.1 from 16 disposals. Rory Laird racked up 33 touches – 12 of those contested, while going at more than 90% efficiency. Laird also had seven tackles, eight clearances and six score involvements. Jordan Dawson was the man to take the game on in the final term, and finished with 30 disposals, seven intercepts, seven score involvements and a goal.

Room for improvement

The Crows defence won praise earlier this year, but they struggled against the bigger Blues. Six of Carlton’s first 10 goals came from free kicks as defenders Jordon Butts and Billy Frampton conceded three each for the game. Despite winning the hitout count +24, the Crows mids were simply smacked in the contest as Carlton was able to get the ball to the outside too easily for more than two quarters.

Grade

D-

BRISBANE LIONS

The Lions are a premiership threat on the back of their forward line dominance. Even without key big man Joe Daniher, the Lions easily kicked a winning score in wet conditions at the Gabba. Brisbane were without Dan McStay for three quarters after he was subbed off with an ankle injury, but the depth of the team ensured Hugh McCluggage and Charlie Cameron stepped up with four goals each. The Lions finished +35 in inside 50s, +45 in hitouts and +9 for marks inside 50.

In the votes

Lachie Neale remains a Brownlow Medal contender in 2022, with another dominant display. He had 29 disposals, 10 clearances and five score involvements. Charlie Cameron was the forward who stood up when the match was on the line, with four goals midway through the third term. In the wet, Daniel Rich was impressive with 27 touches at more than 85% efficiency.

Room for improvement

Darcy Fort and Oscar McInerney had 56 hitouts between them against a rookie West Coast ruck combo. But the Lions only won clearances by +1. Cam Rayner was a little inaccurate in front of goal. And with a host of forwards to come back before the season end, someone will have to make way if Eric Hipwood can reclaim his best form. The only reason this 75-point win doesn’t get an A+ is… well, did you see the Eagles’ side? This probably should’ve been bigger.
Grade

A

Lions thrash Eagles! | 01:26

CARLTON

The Blues have jumped into the top four on the back of a big win over Adelaide. But they could have won by more than 48 points if they hadn’t eased off in the final term. The power duo of Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay is now up there with the best in the competition, while the work of a fit Patrick Cripps was marvelled. Carlton finished with an equal club record of 74 inside 50s in the clash against the Crows.

In the votes

Patrick Cripps is one of the Brownlow Medal favourites in 2022, on the back of another potential best on ground performance. The midfield bull finished with 35 disposals – 19 contested, 12 score involvements, seven tackles, 10 clearances and two goals. Curnow was the big of the forwards with six goals from his 21 touches. Sam Docherty continues his amazing return to the game after a second cancer battle, with 30 disposals and 11 intercepts.

Room for improvement

Carlton need to put together a four quarter performance before they can be mentioned as a genuine finals contender. The Blues were off to a slow start and were accused of looking “a little lost”. But they turned it around for the second and third terms. But once again dropped off in the last, allowing Adelaide to win the term by 16 points.

Grade

A

COLLINGWOOD

The Pies hung in the contest for as long as they could, but ultimately Richmond rolled over the top of them in a show of class at the MCG. It’s another loss for the Pies that is far from demoralising, but it’s a loss nonetheless and one that sees them fall out of the top eight. It’s hardly alarm bells for them, but they do seem to be coming back to the pack on the ladder after their sensational start to the season.

In the votes

Jack Crisp continues to perform in the midfield, racking up 30 disposals and kicking a goal to go with it, while Patrick Lipinski also hit 30. Jack Ginnivan once again hit the scoreboard, finishing with three goals in another display of great small forward craft. Taylor Adams and Nick Daicos both performed well despite having the flu during the week.

Room for improvement

Nick Riewoldt put it on the agenda pre-game and it played out in the match – the Collingwood defence gives its opponents a fair bit of room in order to try and be intercepting and counter-attacking as often as possible. Darcy Moore was destroyed by Tom Lynch in the first half and it proved the difference in the match. Playing against big key forwards continues to be a test for the Pies.

Grade

C-

Forearm to Ginnivan’s head sparks brawl | 00:43

ESSENDON

Under-fire and severely undermanned, Essendon on Saturday night pulled off one of the most remarkable victories of the AFL season, upsetting Hawthorn thanks to a dramatic 52-point turnaround. Amid a brutal week of external criticism and a whopping five late changes due to illness, the Bombers steamrolled the Hawks with a breathtaking seven-goal final-term blitz, turning a 25-point deficit into a 27-point win. Essendon produced its highest score of the season (108) and, more importantly, conceded its lowest score of the season (81) as Ben Rutten’s side proved it can apply match-winning defensive pressure.

In the votes

The two-metre Peter bandwagon is running out of room. The deadly-accurate Peter Wright booted 6.0 – his second-best haul in his AFL career – from 16 disposals and eight marks as he moved to equal-third on the Coleman Medal table. Rising Star nominee Nic Martin also showed immense class to finish with 2.2 from 22 disposals, 10 score involvements and nine marks. Midfield duo Zach Merrett and Darcy Parish had a total of 60 disposals but, crucially, combined for 21 score involvements, 12 clearances, 11 inside 50s and two goals. Nick Hind, Tom Cutler, Mason Redman and Dyson Heppell stepped up in defence with several other regular backmen sidelined due to illness.

Room for improvement

Outside of lifting the foot off the accelerator momentarily at the start of the third term, hard to pick any holes in this performance. As Pies legend Nathan Buckley told Fox Footy post-game, this wasn’t a win on system or talent. This was a win based on grit, guts and effort, and given the pressure on this side during the week, an A-plus is fully warranted.

Grade

A+

Bombers produce stunning comeback! | 02:42

FREMANTLE

The Dockers may have lost six players to the AFL’s Covid protocols, but it did little to shake up their remarkable team harmony. Fremantle are flying in season 2022, with a dual Brownlow Medallist still waiting in the wings. The Dockers, long criticised for their skills under Ross Lyon, went at almost 78% disposal efficiency against North Melbourne and won every stat that mattered – 15-3 goals, 14-7 marks inside 50, +17 in clearances and +35 inside 50s. It’s safe to say Freo are the real deal.

In the votes

Andrew Brayshaw’s brilliant 2022 just rolls on, with 34 disposals, 10 clearances and almost 600 metres gained. Bailey Banfield, who has been sitting as an emergency before the Covid chaos hit this week, made the most of his opportunity with 18 touches, eight score involvements, five tackles inside forward 50 and two goals. Young Heath Chapman came back from a two-match Covid absence and just patrolled the North attack, with a game-high 12 intercepts alongside his 25 disposals.

Room for improvement

It’s a tough ask to find fault with the way the Dockers are playing at the moment. The whole team buy-in implemented by coach Justin Longmuir is obviously resonating with players. There’s a host of big names to return for Round 9 off the back of the nine-day break. Expect Josh Treacy to be one to make way after failing to trouble the scorers as the key forward.
Grade

A+

GEELONG CATS

After starting 2022 focused on a fast-paced, risk-taking ball movement, it was the Cats of old who turned up in Canberra. And it got the job done. Despite losing Rhys Stanley hours before the match and having to head in with a recognised ruckman, Mark Blicavs used his endurance to run the Giants ruck combo across the ground. The Cats finished just -1 for clearances, despite losing the hitout count by -24. The Cats had a whopping +57 marks as the short option paved the way into a forward line boasting the Coleman Medal combo of Jeremy Cameron and Tom Hawkins.

In the votes

Jeremy Cameron was outstanding against his former side, with five goals. The former Giant worked up and down the ground to gather the footy, and finished with eight score involvements. Blicavs was influential with his 25 disposals, and managed to win 21 hitouts. He had eight tackles, more than 510m gained, six inside 50s and three centre clearances. Mitch Duncan stepped up in the absence of Joel Selwood to collect 33 disposals. In his first game back Patrick Dangerfield threw himself into every contest, finishing with 28 disposals – 13 contested. Tyson Stengle chipped in with three goals in another good day out for the 2022 recruit.

Room for improvement

Geelong big man Tom Hawkins didn’t have a great day out in Canberra, managing just 1.2 from his 11 touches. But with Cameron going well next to him, it’s scary prospect for rivals to try and contain both big men. Brad Close was quiet and coughed up three free kicks. Isaac Smith was unusually wayward with his disposals efficiency, finishing at just 52.4% for the game.

Grade

A

“I call bulls**t on them not knowing” | 03:04

GOLD COAST SUNS

Who saw that coming!? The Suns produced a shock upset win over the Sydney Swans at the SCG — marking Gold Coast’s third win from the last four encounters between the two clubs at the venue. It was all the more impressive considering Noah Anderson was a late out with an illness, while Stuart Dew’s side was challenged by Sydney through stages but held its nerve in the end. The result breathes life into the Suns’ season, snapping a three-game losing streak.

In the votes

Izak Rankine was lively all game, booting an equal-game high two majors in a game where goals were goals were scarce. Elsewhere, David Swallow played arguably his best game of the season, racking up 24 disposals to go with seven marks, seven tackles and one goal, while fellow midfielders Brayden Fiorini (29 disposals,) and Brandon Ellis (26 touches, 10 marks) and ruckman Jarrod Witts (19 disposals, 37 hitouts) were also busy. Sam Collins held Buddy Franklin goalless to comprehensively win their battle on the day.

Room for improvement

In a low-scoring game, Rankine and Levi Casboult were the only multiple goalkickers. And the Suns weren’t particularly accurate either, kicking 10.15, in an area of their game they’d love to be more efficient in moving forward. Of course though, Sydney’s 8.13 conversion was even worse.

Grade

A+

GWS GIANTS

After finally finding a winning forward combination, GWS only took backwards steps against Geelong. The Giants could manage just four goals in Canberra – two of those coming in the opening term. Despite facing a Geelong outfit without a recognised ruckman, GWS’ midfield could not capitalise on the tap dominance of Braydon Preuss and Matt Flynn. The Giants finished -18 for inside 50s, -1 for stoppage clearances and -8 for marks inside 50 in a match that will along heap more pressure on coach Leon Cameron.

In the votes

Tom Green tried to inspire his team with 26 touches – 16 of them contested. Green had eight clearances in a losing effort and nine tackles – including three inside forward 50. Lachie Whitfield was sent into the middle of the ground for a centre bounce for the first time in season 2022. He had 26 disposals at more than 88% efficiency, three inside 50s, six score involvements and four intercepts.

Room for improvement

The Giants were held to their lowest tally of season 2022 by the Cats. After kicking 17 goals against Adelaide last week, the forward line simply failed to fire. Toby Greene had just 10 touches for 2.2, Harry Himmelberg only hit the scoreboard late in the match, Jesse Hogan was wasteful with his 1.3.
Grade

D

Who is winning the Cameron trade? | 01:27

HAWTHORN

How the heck did the Hawks lose that? Despite a more reliable formline and a more settled team on paper, as well as the fact they led by 17 points early in the last quarter, the Hawks lost to an undermanned and under-fire Essendon by 27 points. The loss – the Hawks’ third in a row – means Hawthorn has now dropped back into a chasing pack that features five teams with a 3-5 record.

In the votes

James Sicily continues to put his hand up for All-Australian selection, finishing Saturday night’s game with 22 touches, seven marks, seven intercepts, seven rebound 50s and 499m gained. Jai Newcombe had an explosive first half – 22 disposals, 10 contested possessions, five score involvements and four clearances – but only had another six disposals for the game. Recruit Max Lynch stood up in the absence of injured duo Ned Reeves and Ben McEvoy, booting two goals and matching it with Sam Draper at stoppages. Ten of Jack Gunston’s 11 disposals ended up in a Hawks score – although four of them were Gunston behinds.

Room for improvement

The last quarter and a half we’re a disaster for the Hawks, who were outrun and out- hunted by a hungrier Bombers outfit. The Hawks lost contested possessions by -21, inside 50s by -19 and tackles by -5 in the second half as the Bombers got on a roll. Individually, Tom Mitchell had a subpar night, finishing with just 14 disposals and four score involvements, while Luke Breust was held to one goal from just eight touches. After a stunning start to the season, it seems Hawthorn has come back to the back.

Grade

C-

MELBOURNE

The Demons flexed their muscles against the Saints in arguably their most impressive performance of the season to extend their overall winning streak to 15 games. Collingwood legend Nathan Buckley noted it was shades of the Demons’ incredible 2021 finals form, while Lions great Jonathan Brown called it a “flex” in a scary statement to the rest of the competition. Simon Goodwin’s team set up the victory behind a scintillating first half including a four-goal burst in the second term, before withstanding St Kilda’s third-quarter fightback to ultimately win by a comfortable 32-point margin.

In the votes

Ed Langdon (39 disposals, eight marks) was sublime on the MCG wings after being well held by the Hawks last week. Angus Brayshaw (31 touches, 13 marks) was also damaging off half back, while usual suspects Clayton Oliver (37 disposals) and Christian Petracca (36 possessions) were again at the peak of their powers together in the midfield. Up forward, Kysaiah Pickett and Ben Brown booted three goals apiece.

Room for improvement

The Demons were dominant in nearly every facet of the game, although St Kilda ruck duo Paddy Ryder and Rowan Marshall probably just edged out Max Gawn and Luke Jackson — not that any of the quartet were particularly dominant. But even just to nullify the Saints’ combo is a big win.

Grade

A

Amon drawing interest from Dees & Hawks | 01:28

NORTH MELBOURNE

For the second time this season, the Kangaroos drew a WA team hampered by a Covid outbreak. But unlike the win over West Coast, the Dockers had the depth to stand tall in Perth. North Melbourne were belted in every facet of the game, with coach David Noble lamenting his side’s repeat turnovers as the scoreline blew out. It was clear the match was between a contender and a side rebuilding.

In the votes

Ben McKay’s defensive strength limited the damage inflicted by the Dockers. The big man had four intercept marks in the third term alone before he was subbed out with a knee injury. McKay ended up with 10 intercept marks – five of those contested. But he was a lone hand in stifling Fremantle’s forward momentum.

Room for improvement

Without the suspended Nick Larkey, North Melbourne’s forward line appeared disjointed. Cam Zurhaar ended up with two of his team’s three goals, but there was no ability to lock the ball in once it got forward. The ruck duo of Todd Goldstein and Callum Coleman-Jones failed to stamp any dominance on the match. Tempers from players threatened to spill over for a second successive week.
Grade

F

PORT ADELAIDE

It wasn’t the most alluring of wins, but if there’s one thing Port Adelaide fans won’t take for granted after the opening five rounds, it’s the four points. The Power scored with incredible frequency going inside 50 and the ease with which they transitioned from defence to offence won’t be doable against most other sides in the comp, but you can only beat who is put in front of you. Injuries may’ve decimated the Dogs, but this was an impressive win and, more importantly, three straight after the horror start to the year.

In the votes

Travis Boak continues to defy father time. This time, he finished with 30 disposals (14 contested), 10 score involvements, a goal assist and a goal of his own. Jeremy Finlayson and Todd Marshall had plenty of opportunity in front of goal and Sam Powell-Pepper did a fair bit of damage despite only having eight disposals. Riley Bonner was flying before getting injured in the second half.

Room for improvement

Port Adelaide was dominated at clearance for much of the night before the numbers started to turn following the Dogs’ injuries in the latter stages of the match. The ability to score so frequently and easily saved them in the end given how much they were opened up initially in the match before getting their counter-attacking game going. For a second straight week, the Power couldn’t hit the side of a barn door in the final term, although admittedly a fair few posters contributed to that.

Grade

B+

Powerful third term helps Port edge Dogs | 02:28

RICHMOND

Jason Dunstall labelled it an “old style” Richmond game and that’s what it was – relentless pressure in the forward half and scores from turnover aplenty. Dustin Martin’s return was the story heading in, but by half-time it was all about Tom Lynch, who put in one of the more extraordinary first half performances in recent memory. It was a classy Richmond outfit that looks to be hitting its straps and still has Dion Prestia and Nick Vlastuin to return next week. Good signs after a shaky start to the year.

In the votes

Tom Lynch, take a bow. A whopping 18 disposals and five goals in the first half, with a couple of other golden opportunities going begging. It was a sensational, match-winning performance from the key forward. Jack Graham and Jayden Short racked up the footy, with Short continuing his stint in the midfield. Trent Cotchin was great on return, while it was awesome to see Dustin Martin back and kicking goals.

Room for improvement

They never really put Collingwood away until the end of the game despite having several chances to do so. Again, dominance in the hitouts didn’t necessarily translate to clearance dominance even though they came out on top in that department. More than a couple of easy goals went begging throughout the match – sometimes Shai Bolton moves too quickly for his own good!

Grade

B+

Tigers dominate the Pies | 02:26

ST KILDA

Sometimes you’ve just got to acknowledge the brilliance of a great side. The Saints lost no admirers in a 32-point loss to the Demons at the MCG and will come away with plenty of positives. Although there were stages where it looked like Melbourne would run away with it — leading by as much at 47 points in the second term — St Kilda held its nerve to fight back into the game and even challenged the Demons in the second half in an overall positive performance from Brett Ratten’s troops. “What they’ve been able to do is really match it with the best team in the competition…. I think it’s really encouraging,” Collingwood great Nathan Buckley told Fox Footy during the call.

In the votes

Brad Crouch (27 disposals, nine tackles) continued his stellar second season for the Saints as their best midfielder on the day. Dougal Howard (18 disposals, 10 marks) was key in the third quarter in standing up behind the ball and setting up the Saints the other way, while there was otherwise an even spread of contributors.

Room for improvement

The Saints got right on top of the contest in the third quarter but couldn’t capitalise, kicking two goals to Melbourne’s one. Their forwards were also well down on their normal output, most notably Tim Membrey (one goal) and Jack Higgins (goalless).

Grade

C+

SYDNEY SWANS

The Swans’ SCG hoodoo against the Suns continued — where Sydney has now lost three of the clubs’ last four meetings at the venue. It’s a big blow for a Swans team that was only a few short weeks ago being talked about as a legitimate flag contender. But they’ve now not only failed a big test against Brisbane last week, but also dropped a game they couldn’t afford to against Gold Coast. What’s more, it came on the day the Swans celebrated their 10-year premiership reunion as several greats were welcomed back to the club.

In the votes

Paddy McCartin (17 disposals, 10 marks) played arguably his best game for the Swans after a week lay-off from concussion, taking several intercept marks as a wall Gold Coast couldn’t get past at times. Jake Lloyd (26 disposals) and Nick Blakey (25 touches) were also busy off half back and Chad Warner (19 disposals, seven tackles) was probably the Swans’ best midfielder.

Room for improvement

There were several Swans stars down on form on the day including Callum Mills (20 disposals), Isaac Heeney (13 disposals, no goals) and Buddy Franklin (11 disposals, no goals) compared to their normal output. Expect a response from them against Essendon next week.

Grade

F

WEST COAST EAGLES

It was billed as a David v Goliath battle at the Gabba as the undermanned Eagles headed to Brisbane. And it was clear from the opening minutes that the Lions weren’t going to allow a West Coast miracle upset. The Eagles were smashed -35 for inside 50s and -45 for hitouts, but they managed to be just -1 for clearances as the thrown-together midfield really got to work. West Coast only went down -2 for contested possessions for the entire match in a sign the players were up for the fight.

In the votes

Shannon Hurn does not give up. The veteran defender saved his team a goal with a desperate tackle on Charlie Cameron, he had 15 disposals to half time and continued to throw his 34-year-old body into every contest. He had eight intercepts, three of those contested marks, and two score involvements to go with his 27 touches – and went at almost 93% disposal efficiency in the wet. Jake Florenca was impressive on debut with 19 disposals – 13 of those contested in trying conditions, and four tackles.

Room for improvement

The ability to find a target inside 50 is missing from West Coast in 2022. Liam Ryan may have kicked three of his team’s four goals, but just one came from a mark inside 50. Josh Kennedy was missed by foot multiple times and Tom Barrass was forced to head into attack in a bid to find a marking target. The ruck kids Callum Jamieson and Harry Edwards were monstered, losing the hitout count -45 for the match. Tim Kelly’s disposal efficiency continues to let him down for such an experienced player, going less than 60% against the Lions.

Grade

C-

West Coast furious after nightclub visit | 02:56

WESTERN BULLDOGS

The Dogs are in a world of pain figuratively and literally. Injuries are decimating them, but they were picked apart with alarming ease even before those injuries struck on Friday night against Port Adelaide. There’s some significant star power missing, but the way they’re playing suggests even the cattle coming back isn’t the panacea. Something needs to change for the Dogs and quickly, or they face a staggering fall from grand finalists to finals no-shows.

In the votes

Aaron Naughton did everything he could with four goals, two behinds and 15 disposals, while Bailey Smith ran hard all night and kicked a couple of classy goals. Jackson Macrae once again surpassed the 30-disposal mark, while Adam Treloar was serviceable.

Room for improvement

Port Adelaide scored 60 points from its defensive half, which would be of significant concern to Luke Beveridge given the defence is already under pressure enough as it is. Caleb Daniel wasn’t allowed to do what he usually does and finished with just 13 disposals and minimal impact. As always this season, it was Naughton or bust. Injuries to Cody Weightman and Laitham Vandermeer are only going to increase the reliance on him.

Grade

C-

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