Title challengers’ pair of A-pluses; one giant F could tear club apart: AFL Report Card

There were four A-plus performances on the weekend, two of them from the top contenders to Melbourne’s throne.

But one enormous F saw an ailing club’s situation somehow get even worse.

Every team’s performance analysed and graded in Foxfooty.com.au’s Round 7 Report Card.

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Brodie falls HARD! | 00:35

ADELAIDE CROWS

The Crows are lucky they steadied after half-time, because that could well have been a triple-figure thumping after the first-half demolition at the hands of the Giants. A lot of the goodwill the Crows have built up over the past couple of weeks was eroded given the sheer ease with which the Giants picked them apart in transition. Hopefully for Matthew Nicks it’s an aberration rather than a sign of things to come – their midfield can’t afford to let up against a side like Carlton.

In the votes

Ben Keays and Rory Laird were again prolific in the middle, but Laird’s 35 disposals included 26 handballs. Taylor Walker once again seized his opportunities, even though they were few and far between and came once the game was decided. It was a pretty sordid affair for the Crows barring that.

Room for improvement

They were absolutely pulverised in the middle and across the ground in the opening term. Scores came with alarming ease for the Giants before the Crows finally stemmed the bleeding in the second half. As mentioned above, Laird had plenty of it but lacked his usual impact given how many of his disposals were handballs. They’ll need to be a hell of a lot better as a group next week.

Grade

D

Joe Daniher subbed out of the game | 00:38

BRISBANE LIONS

The Lions have leapt into second spot on the AFL ladder after banishing their SCG hoodoo on Sunday. Brisbane are now the leading contender to challenge Melbourne in 2022 after outplaying the Swans on their home deck. The Lions had too much firepower, and showed it at the SCG, kicking 17 goals – even without Joe Daniher who was subbed out at half time with injury. But it’s the Lions pressure to lock the ball inside forward 50 that impressed the most.

In the votes

Lachie Neale’s remarkable run of form continued against the Swans, with 37 disposals – 26 of those contested, nine score involvements and a goal. Dayne Zorko was the player to get the Lions on the front foot, with two quick goals after shifting from half back. He finished with 22 disposals and 2.3. Dan McStay proved lively up forward with three goals, and could have had four if not for dishing one off to Lincoln McCarthy in the goalsquare.

Room for improvement

Jarrod Berry was unusually quiet with nine touches. Darcy Gardiner was overpowered by Lance Franklin in the third term, which forced coach Chris Fagan to turn to Marcus Adams in a defensive reshuffle. After his six-goal heroics in the QClash, Zac Bailey finished with just 1.1 from his 12 disposals, going at just 33% disposals efficiency.
Grade

A+

Lions tame Swans the SCG | 02:37

CARLTON

Who would‘ve thought the third quarter would be the one Carlton fans enjoyed most? After some poor third quarters and second halves to start the season, the Blues turned on the afterburners this week to demolish North Melbourne in the space of one term, putting in an impressive performance that has them back on track after last week’s loss to Fremantle. The usual suspects performed for the Blues and they dealt with the loss of Marc Pittonet well. It wasn’t significant competition they faced, but they got the job done.
IN THE VOTES

Patrick Cripps and Harry McKay dominated the match in the middle and up forward respectively. For Cripps it was 35 disposals and three scoring shots, while for McKay it was four goals and two behinds from 15 disposals and 11 marks. Elsewhere, Jack Newnes played very well and stepped up in the absence of George Hewett, while Sam Docherty, Sam Walsh and Matthew Kennedy continued on their merry way. Adam Saad was another who thrived under the roof.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

They were matched quite well by the Roos for three or so quarters, with the Blues still a bit easy to score against. Todd Goldstein dominated the hitouts but it didn‘t count for much given how good Carlton performed yet again in the clearance count.
GRADE

A

Carlton second half blitz slams Kangaroo | 01:09

COLLINGWOOD

The Magpies were clinical at the MCG on Sunday afternoon in a 25-point win over Gold Coast, while putting up 115 points for their biggest total in three years. There were several highlights plays, including Jack Ginnivan’s amazing goal of the year contender after blowing by three Suns defenders, and Beau McReery’s goal assist to Brody Mihocek on the goal line. Collingwood has seemingly found its best forward mix, boasting 10 different goalkickers against the Suns, to climb back into the top eight and set up a huge clash against Richmond next week.

In the votes

Brody Mihocek led Collingwood’s makeshift forward line with an equal career-high four goals — and he missed two chances in the final term to fall short of a personal best of five. Darcy Cameron (16 disposals, 15 hitouts, two goals) also stepped up in Brodie Grundy’s absence, while Scott Pendlebury (25 disposals), Jack Crisp (28 disposals) and Taylor Adams (23 disposals) were busy as usual.

Room for improvement

The Pies had chances to put the Suns to the sword and get a massive percentage boost, but weren’t able to capitalise on their opportunities. With the competition so tight in the middle of the ladder, Craig McRae’s side may rue some of its missed chances. Furthermore, Jordan De Goey, who was in doubt after a bout of gastro during the week, was well held with just 11 disposals and one goal in his most quiet performance this season.
Grade

B+

Magpies swoop to back to back victories | 01:00

ESSENDON

It wasn’t a belting on paper, but it felt like Essendon lost by a lot more than 32 points on Sunday. After kicking two of the first three goals of the game, the Bombers barely gave a whimper after that as the Dogs kicked 10.3 to 4.7 across the second and third terms. Although three late Essendon goals made the margin somewhat more respectable. The Bombers made the finals last year from 2-6, so there’s still time. But the Bombers after Round 8 last year had a percentage of 95.2 — much higher than their current percentage of 72.3.

In the votes

On a dirty day for his side, Jordan Ridley delivered a terrific key-position defender’s game, keeping Aaron Naughton goalless for the first time this season and finishing with 20 disposals, eight marks and seven rebound 50s. Peter Wright made the most of his limited forward 50 opportunities to boot four goals, while Tom Cutler, Nic Martin and Sam Draper could hold their heads high.

Room for improvement

Where to start? Coach Ben Rutten appeared most frustrated by his side’s over-handballing, with the Bombers winning the disposal count (+12) yet losing inside 50s convincingly (-27). The ball was constantly stuck in the Bombers’ back-half, with the Bulldogs generating 50 points from 29 forward-half turnovers compared to Essendon’s paltry three from 10. Individually, Zach Merrett won a truckload of the ball, but of his 36 disposals, 27 were handballs and only five of them were won in the forward half. Jake Stringer, Alec Waterman and Kaine Baldwin kicked just three goals between them. Very close to a fail grade.
Grade

D-

Kane Cornes channels Jack Ginnivan! | 00:49

FREMANTLE

What a win! The Dockers claimed their biggest scalp yet in a narrow win over Geelong at GMHBA Stadium against the odds. Playing without Nat Fyfe, Sean Darcy and Matt Tabener — arguably three of the Dockers’ five most important players — they beat Geelong at Kardinia Park for the just the third time in their history and prove they’re the real deal. There’s been plenty of praise for Justin Longmuir’s much-improved side, but it’ll now draw serious plaudits as a premiership contender — sitting 6-1 to trail only Melbourne on the ladder.

In the votes

Blake Acres was enormous with 27 disposals, 10 contested, six marks, and 675 metres gained, with his two-way running a highlight. Fox Footy’s pundits went so far to declare it was the best game they’d ever seen Acres play. Rory Lobb was particularly busy in the first half with two goals, while it was an otherwise a strong performance across the board from Longmuir’s side.

Room for improvement

In what will go down as one of the Dockers’ most famous victories — and their best to date in 2022 — you really can’t fault their performance at all. The upside is that they’ll welcome back Fyfe, Darcy and Taberner at some stage in a scary proposition for rivals.

Grade

A+

Dockers take down Cats in thriller | 02:20

GEELONG CATS

Geelong’s loss to Fremantle at GMHBA Stadium probably says more about how legit the Dockers are in 2022. But it remains a disappointing outcome for the Cats on a ground they’re normally so dominant at — winning 100 of their previous 113 games at — and would usually pencil in a win against just about any side. In a positive for Geelong, it never gave up until the final siren, kicking two clutch goals to nearly overrun Fremantle in the end. Adding to their woes was an ankle injury to Max Holmes that caused the young gun to get subbed out of the game.

In the votes

Tom Stewart was on another level — racking up career highs across the board in disposals (40), kicks (26), handballs (14), marks (14) and inside 50s (six) to go with 962 metres gained in a dominant showing across half back. Mark Blicavs (20 disposals, 20 hitouts, two goals) was also busy across the ground in a variety of roles, while Tyson Stengle finished with three goals.

Room for improvement

The Cats’ star forward pairing of Tom Hawkins (2.2) and Jeremy Cameron (goalless), who went into the round first and second on the Coleman Medal leaderboard, were well down on their normal output. Although it mainly comes down to how the Cats couldn’t get good flow going inside 50, it’s be rare to see the duo combine for just two goals.

Grade

C-

Browny sings Stand By Your Man! | 00:43

GOLD COAST SUNS

The Suns slumped to their third-straight loss in a 25-point defeat to the Magpies. Gold Coast was brave on the day and never stopped trying, but was ultimately outclassed by a classier Pies outfit. Questions will now be asked of the Suns as yet another season looms where they’ll miss the top eight, while their fixture doesn’t get any easier ahead of clashes against Sydney, Fremantle then the Western Bulldogs.

In the votes

Levi Casboult was dominant with several big contested marks inside 50, but his inaccuracies in front of goal (4.4) hurt the Suns. Touk Miller fired in the midfield with 36 disposals, six tackles and two goals to lead the Suns superbly until the final siren. Noah Anderson (32 disposals) also found plenty of the ball, while Jarrod Witts (44 hitouts) dominated the ruck contest against Darcy Cameron and Aiden Begg.

Room for improvement

The Suns didn’t do much wrong, but simply had no answers for the Pies when they got on top and couldn’t stop them from scoring. Being able to shut down such momentum when the chips are down and not bleed on the scoreboard will be a focus for Stuart Dew and co.

Grade

D

Is Browny the best to have a beer with? | 01:21

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

Where has this side been? The Giants took the game on and their stars were firing on all cylinders. It was an incredibly dominant performance that shocked the Fox Footy commentary team watching on and certainly would’ve shocked much of the footy world. There was plenty to like and Leon Cameron couldn’t have hoped for a better performance given the speculation around his future.

In the votes

Toby Greene and Tom Green put the result beyond doubt in the first half. Josh Kelly finished with 41 disposals, two goal assists and 11 score involvements, Isaac Cumming was great, Stephen Coniglio kicked three goals and Braydon Preuss was huge in the ruck yet again. There were good performances everywhere for the Giants.

Room for improvement

They took their foot off the pedal in the second half, which you can forgive given just how far in front they were. There isn’t much else to fault in a performance like that.

Grade

A+

Greene leads Giants to victory! | 01:30

HAWTHORN

The Hawks took the fight to Melbourne early at the MCG but the challenge of going four quarters with the reigning premiers proved a mountain too large to conquer. But in Hawthorn’s favour was their ability to respond every time the Demons threatened to take the game away. The Hawks just needed a more accurate return than the 11.15 they kicked, and they could have become the first team to beat Melbourne this year.

In the votes

Jacob Koschitzke was up against the best defence in the competition and he wasn’t overawed. The 21-year-old kicked four straight goals from his 10 disposals to be his side’s most dominant forward. James Sicily was tireless in defence, racking up 26 disposals and 10 intercepts. Jack Gunston finished with three goal assists in his 18 disposals – but was let down by his finish with 0.3 on the scoreboard. Finn Maginness kept Ed Langdon quiet – something no other team have done in 2022, in an impressive role.

Room for improvement

The ruck battle was always going to be tough for young Max Lynch and first-gamer Jackson Callow against premiership skipper Max Gawn. And Gawn’s dominance showed with the Hawks finishing -20 in hitouts, -11 in clearances, with most of that damage coming from stoppages. The Hawks were also exposed for a lack of height in defence as the Demons went tall inside 50.
Grade

B

McDonald: I’ll have to buy him a beer! | 01:04

MELBOURNE

The Demons are just continuing on their merry way in 2022, as their unbeaten run extends out to 14. Melbourne have been challenged this year, but find the ability to go up another gear regardless of who is on the park. Without FIVE premiership players and coach Simon Goodwin under the AFL’s health & safety protocols against Hawthorn, Melbourne showed they have the best squad depth in the competition.

In the votes

Max Gawn has taken his game to another level by become a genuine forward when resting from the ruck. The big man finished with 29 disposals, 11 score involvements, nine clearances and two goals, on top of his 35 hitouts and four intercepts against the Hawks. Ben Brown showed why he deserves to hold his spot with four straight goals. Clayton Oliver’s outstanding season pushed on, with 33 touches, five tackles, five clearances and eight inside 50s. Tom McDonald had 2.2 from his 13 disposals but ended up down back to cover for injured Joel Smith, showing his versatility in the battle for spots.

Room for improvement

The AFL world has taken notice of the job done on Ed Langdon. The Dees winger was restricted to just nine disposals in his lowest output since 2018 – before he joined Melbourne. Sam Weideman provided a contest and moved into the ruck without Luke Jackson, but didn’t stamp his authority on the match against the Hawks ruck debutant.
Grade

A

Demons remain unbeaten, hold out Hawks! | 01:15

NORTH MELBOURNE

It was better for the most part from the Kangaroos, but they‘re still miles behind the rest of the pack barring perhaps West Coast. There are glimpses of promise from some young guns like Jason Horne-Francis, but they almost always have a patch in a game where they are blown apart by the opposition and this time it was the third quarter. It’s going to be a long year for Roos fans, but at least they had a bit to cheer about in the first half.
IN THE VOTES

Jy Simpkin and Bailey Scott looked good in the middle, while Todd Goldstein slid straight back into the number one ruck mantle with ease in the absence of Tristan Xerri. Nick Larkey made the most of his chances, as did Cameron Zurhaar.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

That third quarter was brutal for the Kangaroos as Carlton opened up a huge lead in rapid time. Reducing the duration of those slumps is key moving forward to remain competitive in games. They were smashed at clearance, albeit against a Carlton side that prides itself on that area. Callum Coleman-Jones looked off the pace in his second game for the club and needs a lot of improvement to keep his place when Xerri is fit again.
GRADE

C+

Demon intercepts ‘goal of the year’ | 00:39

PORT ADELAIDE

Coach Ken Hinkley refused to rule out finals after five straight losses to start the season, and two games later the Power are slowly moving their way up the ladder with a hard-fought win over St Kilda in Cairns. Port managed to get home by a single point in a match played in slippery conditions, despite losing a host of key stats including inside 50s, clearances and hit outs. It was a win banked on heart and determination to never give in.

In the votes

Robbie Gray turned the match in the second half. He was the only multiple goal kicker on the ground, with two in the third term. He also kicked the match-winning point and ensured the Saints couldn’t have one last roll of the dice by marking outside 50 and milking the clock to the final siren. Gray finished with 15 disposals and eight score involvements. Aliir Aliir, 15 disposals – nine contested and 14 intercepts, dictated where the Saints entered forward 50 in an impressive display. Sam Powell-Pepper also stepped up to play in the ruck at times in wonderful example of team-first mentality.

Room for improvement

Ruckman Sam Hayes was well beaten on the night, with just seven touches and 12 hitouts. Young Mitch Georgiades didn’t have a great night before he was subbed off with a calf injury, failing to kick a goal from his eight disposals. Fellow forward Jeremy Finlayson was also quiet with just 10 disposals and 0.1.
Grade

A

One point thriller sees Port Prevail! | 02:32

RICHMOND

The Tigers have suddenly found form, and with experienced trio Trent Cotchin, Dustin Martin and Robbie Tarrant set to return, it’s all good news for Richmond. Their forward line fired with 18 marks inside 50. The club had been averaging just nine in the matches leading up to Friday night. The Tigers went at more than 70% efficiency inside forward 50 in a stunning display. They put through 25 goals for their highest score since Round 21, 1996.

In the votes

Tom Lynch kicked seven goals, Jack Riewoldt had four while Maurice Rioli Jnr, Shai Bolton and Kamdyn McIntosh all kicked three. Bolton ended up with 30 disposals, seven clearances and 15 score involvements. But it was the move of Jayden Short into the midfield in Cotchin’s absence that proved a masterstroke by coach Damien Hardwick. Short ended up the leading disposal getter on the ground with 31, almost 800m gained, five clearances, three goal assists and nine inside 50s.

Room for improvement

The challenge for the Tigers now is to replicate the effort against the Eagles – especially if the experienced trio mentioned above return to the side. Nathan Broad is still finding his feet in 2022 and finished with just eight disposals.

Grade

A+

West Coast absolutely thrashed by Tigers | 03:07

ST KILDA

There’s plenty of discussion over whether the Saints got bang for their buck taking a home game to Cairns after the one-point defeat to Port Adelaide. On a run of five straight wins, St Kilda were widely tipped to get the job done over the Power. But the conditions crippled the Saints free-flowing game, while inaccuracy cruelled their hope of victory. St Kilda finished +5 for inside 50s, +25 in hitouts and +24 in contested possessions but simply couldn’t find a forward to kick a winning score.

In the votes

Seb Ross tried his heart out in less than ideal conditions, finishing with 31 disposals and more than 750 metres gained. Jack Steele had six clearances in his 27 touches, while Paddy Ryder made a welcome return from suspension with 27 hitouts. Jimmy Webster was also efficient with the ball, at 84% for the match.

Room for improvement

Jade Gresham wasted three opportunities for the Saints in a tight encounter decided by a single point. Jack Higgins was quiet with 1.3 from nine touches in conditions that better suited a small forward to their big marking Max King. Dan Butler was quiet with eight disposals, while Brad Crouch went at just 45% disposal efficiency.
Grade

C-

‘It wasn’t the way the Saints wanted’ | 02:01

SYDNEY SWANS

If not for Lance Franklin’s six-goal heroics, the clash with Brisbane would have been a blow out. The Swans were unable to stem the tide of Lions goals, conceding 16 in just three quarters of footy. Sydney finished -14 in hitouts, -3 in clearances, -5 in inside 50s in the 24-point defeat. Defender Dean Rampe admitted the Swans had tried to prepare for a “high pressure game”, but Sydney just couldn’t match it with the Lions for four quarters.

In the votes

Franklin single-handedly turned the tide at the SCG and brought the Swans back into the contest. His six goals was superb, and forced Lions coach Chris Fagan into a defensive reshuffle in a bid to combat him. Callum Mills gave his all for his 30 disposals, including an after-the-siren goal at three quarter time that gave the Swans some hope. Luke Parker finished with 33 touches – 21 of those contested in a tough day out.

Room for improvement

Without Franklin, the Swans forward line was uncompetitive. Hayden McLean couldn’t get into the match and finished with just two behinds. Sam Reid also failed to kick a goal from his 11 disposals. Dane Rampe had uncharacteristic shaky moments in defence and ended up with just five touches. Tom Papley looked underdone in his first match for the year. His match ended with 10 touches and two inside 50s.
Grade

C

Brown: Eagles ‘should be embarrassed!’ | 02:44

WEST COAST EAGLES

It was a dark night for the Eagles at home, with fans even turning on their own to Bronx cheer Jack Darling in the 109-point loss. West Coast were belted in every stat that mattered, -29 for inside 50s, -30 for hitouts and -15 for marks inside 50. Coach Adam Simpson admits the club is in a situation “no one wants to be in”, but with matches to come against Brisbane and Melbourne, there’s not much relief coming.

In the votes

The Eagles look to have found a bargain in Mid-Season recruit Greg Clark. The Subiaco local was impressive on debut, racking up 24 disposals, four clearances and four intercepts. The return of Andrew Gaff is promising for the Eagles, as he collected 14 disposals in a half after coming on as the sub for injured Willie Rioli. In a dour night, Josh Kennedy brought a moment of joy for the fans, kicking his 700th career goal. The crowd gave their WA hero a standing ovation for his efforts – he was West Coast’s only multiple goal scorer with four for the night.

Room for improvement

The Eagles defence was obliterated by the Tigers on Friday night. With Tom Barrass a late withdrawal, young Harry Edwards was taught a tough lesson by Richmond’s big duo. Jake Waterman still hasn’t locked himself in to the line up and finished with just six touches. He didn’t hit the scoreboard. Liam Ryan had just four touches and 1.1 on a tough night.

Grade

F

Bulldogs bounce back against Bombers | 02:42

WESTERN BULLDOGS

A clinical display led to a much-needed win for the Bulldogs against a hapless Essendon side. After conceding two of the first three goals of the match, the Bulldogs found their rhythm and skipped ahead to lead by as much as 50 points midway through the last quarter before eventually winning by 32. The Dogs showed they can spread the load, with key forward Aaron Naughton held goalless yet 10 individual goalkickers impacting the scoreboard.

In the votes

This was one of Josh Dunkley’s most influential games for a while. The 25-year-old starred with two goals from 29 disposals, 16 contested possessions, seven score involvements, six inside 50s and six tackles. Marcus Bontempelli was so damaging, with eight of his 19 disposals leading to Dogs scores, including one goal himself. Caleb Daniel and Bailey Dale both provided excellent run off half-back, while Tom Liberatore was at his best around the contest. And in game No. 2, Robbie McComb booted two goals from 21 disposals.

Room for improvement

Dogs coach Luke Beveridge post-game lamented how the Bombers kicked three unanswered goals during late-game junk time, consequently reducing a 50-point Bulldogs lead to 32. Overall, the Dogs won the territory battle convincingly but managed just 29 shots at from 66 inside 50s (44%). But in general, there’s not too much to worry about for the Dogs.
Grade

A

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