Two enormous F-grade shockers, three losers who gained respect: AFL Report Card

It was a weekend where two clubs earned enormous failing grades – with a pair of matching A-pluses.

But there were also a trio of valiant losers who gained plenty in defeat.

Every team’s performance analysed and graded in Foxfooty.com.au’s Round 4 Report Card.

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Browny SKOLLS 1.5L of milk in 30 secs | 02:08

ADELAIDE CROWS

So close, yet so far. The Crows were brave against the Bombers and never gave up in their narrow four-point loss at Marvel Stadium. Although Matthew Nicks looked understandably shattered on the final siren, there’s plenty of reason for optimism at West Lakes despite falling to 1-3 on the season. Adelaide will look to bounce back at home next week against Richmond.

In the votes

Taylor Walker made an impact and then some in his return with a game-high four goals, while Josh Rachele was enormous with three of his own. Rory Laird (38 disposals) and Ben Keays (27 disposals) were busy as per usual in the midfield, the former in just his second game in 2022.

Room for improvement

The Crows were smashed in the hitout count 44-25 as Reilly O’Brien got double teamed by Sam Draper and Andrew Phillips. The two-pronged ruck set up was praised by Fox Footy’s pundits as it gave the Bombers better looks streaming forward, The Crows may need to consider providing O’Brien with more support moving forward.

Grade

B

THIRD flag for high flying Crows! | 02:40

BRISBANE LIONS

They were mightily efficient, but ultimately the weight of Geelong numbers proved too much for the Lions, who lost their first game of the season on Friday night. After a goal-for-goal first half, the Lions gained ascendancy in the third term, pinching the lead after three straight goals. But Geelong found another gear in the fourth term to usurp Brisbane late, despite the Lions’ strong contested ball numbers in the final term.

In the votes

It was a great night for the Lions’ forward line, with Joe Daniher, Daniel McStay and Charlie Cameron kicking eight goals between them as they gave Geelong’s defence ample headaches. Lachie Neale fought through the Mark O’Connor tag to finish with a game-high 30 disposals, 21 contested possessions and 11 clearances, while Daniel Rich was crucial in his 250th game, finishing with 24 disposals, 11 rebound 50s and 796m gained. Marcus Adams was enormous in defence too, plucking seven intercept marks.

Room for improvement

If it wasn’t for the Lions’ efficiency (11.4) and the Cats’ inaccuracy (11.14), this could’ve been a much bigger win for Geelong. Brisbane only had 42 inside 50s for the game, compared to 60 for the Cats, who played the game in their forward half. It’s the third time this season the Lions have lost the inside 50 count. Elsewhere, Dayne Zorko had just 11 disposals – his lowest since Round 17, 2020 – as questions around his ability to play through his injury continued. Lincoln McCarthy finished goalless from 14 disposals.
Grade

C+

CARLTON

The Blues have been beaten for the first time in 2022, but the way they failed to find an avenue to goal during patches of dominance will concern coach Michael Voss most. With ruckman Marc Pittonet a late out and skipper Patrick Cripps subbed out at quarter time, the Blues engine room simply did not step up. Carlton were smashed in the clearances and made just two tackles inside 50 as the ball rebounded too easily.

In the votes

Zac Williams finished with a game-high 36 disposals for 800 metres gained off the halfback, while Harry McKay competed all day despite a likely broken nose. He may have been wasteful in front of goals, finishing with 2.3, but he provided the only target inside forward 50 for the Blues. Jack Silvagni did his best when pushed up into the ruck to win four hitouts to go with his 18 disposals.

Room for improvement

Carlton need to find a back-up ruckman. Marc Pittonet was a late out for the Blues against the Suns and it showed almost immediately as Jarrod Witts gave his midfielders first use. The Suns won hitouts (+33), clearances (+18) and inside 50s (+16) thanks to Witts’ dominance.
Grade

D

Nick Riewoldt cheers cousin’s miss! | 01:40

COLLINGWOOD

One of the most improved teams so far in 2022, the Magpies lowered their colours in Saturday’s loss to the undermanned Eagles. Dominating the play for the majority of the contest, Craig McRae’s side wasn’t able to covert its good play into scores against the more efficient Eagles in what ultimately proved costly for the black and white. Things won’t get any easier for the 2-2 Magpies too ahead of next week’s clash against Brisbane, while a serious shoulder injury to Jamie Elliott added to their woes.

In the votes

It feels like we’re going to say this a lot this year, but Nick Daicos really is something else, tallying a game-high (and career-high) 32 disposals as his teammates leaned on the fourth-gamer across half back. Brother Josh (28 disposals) was also lit up for the Magpies in a promising sight for the black and white army, while Brodie Grundy (19 disposals, five marks, six tackles, 33 hitouts) played probably his best game of the season.

Room for improvement

As the old adage goes, bad kicking is bad football. The Magpies will be ruing their missed opportunities in front goal, kicking 10.14 compared to West Coast’s much more accurate 14.3. McRae’s side had its opportunities to break the game open — particularly in the third term — but simply couldn’t convert its chances, while it also highlights the club’s need for a more reliable key forward.

Grade

D

ESSENDON

The Bombers finally got their first win on the board in 2022 after a thrilling four-point win over the Crows that went right down to the wire. You’ve got to feel for Ben Rutten, who would’ve been watching the epic finish from home after entering health and safety protocols. But his troops good the job done in the end in a crucial four points that might be the lift Essendon need to kick its season into gear

In the votes

Peter Wright was enormous in the first half with three goals, while Darcy Parish (38 disposals) battled hard all day in the midfield. Sam Draper and Andrew Phillips combined for 44 hitouts (and won the count +19) to give their midfield first use in a decisive part off the game.

Room for improvement

Essendon’s goalkicking, although not costing it the game, let it down at stages, kicking 15.13 at 54 per cent accuracy. Peter Wright could’ve had an even bigger day out, finishing with 3.2 in the end. Although it mattered not in the end, finishing can be the difference between winning and losing in tight games such as these.

Grade

B

Bombers clinch win over Crows! | 01:13

FREMANTLE

The Dockers are in the top four for the first time since Round 6, 2019 after the 34-point win over GWS. For the second consecutive week, Fremantle ran riot in the final term, piling on six goals. Stand in coach Jaymie Graham was impressed with the midfield depth the Dockers showed without skipper Nat Fyfe and Rising Star Caleb Serong. Their ability to move the ball with pace, setting up the likes of Michael Frederick, Lachie Schultz and Travis Colyer was impressive to watch.

In the votes

Will Brodie is proving the bargain buy of the AFL Trade period. The former top 10 draft pick had 37 touches, including 20 contested possessions. Andy Brayshaw’s ability to fight through the Lachie Ash tag was also the key to Fremantle’s final quarter surge. Brayshaw finished with 26 touches, six tackles, seven score involvements and four intercepts. Young Nathan O’Driscoll continues to find goals in just his third AFL game. The youngster made beautiful tribute to his late grandmother, kissing his black arm band and pointing to the heavens after his first goal of the night. Heath Chapman’s ability to break a tackle set up numerous drives for the Dockers going forward, and the youngster showed no fear of going through the corridor.

Room for improvement

Matt Taberner could not get into the game. When he finally managed a mark in a threatening position, his kick missed both Travis Colyer and Michael Frederick who were streaming inside 50. He finished with nine touches at just 44% efficiency and kicked a late goal when the match was already over. Fellow forward Rory Lobb fared a little better, but just two goals between he and Taberner is not the output coach Justin Longmuir would be after. The goal kicking accuracy remains an issue for the Dockers, with six straight goals in the final term adding respectability to the 7.10 three quarter time score.

Grade

A

GWS slump again as Freo finish fast | 02:55

GEELONG CATS

It was hard work, but Chris Scott’s men ultimately earned the four points they were desperately after against the Lions. Although they were their own worst enemy throughout the night, finishing with an extra 10 scoring shots but only winning by 10 points. But when the Cats were challenged, they found another gear to go to, while their new-look game plan – highlighted by exhilarating, direct ball movement – was beautiful to watch.

In the votes

It seems age shall never weary Tom Hawkins, who pulled out another stunning – and ultimately match-winning – display. The 33-year-old finished with 5.3 – including two of Geelong’s final three majors of the match – from 14 disposals and seven marks inside 50 (five contested). Isaac Smith also played arguably his best game since joining the Cats, finishing with a team-high 29 disposals, 10 marks, eight score involvements, eight inside 50s and a goal. Mark Blicavs was huge in a hybrid ruck role, finishing with 22 disposals, 10 score involvements, eight tackles, seven marks, five clearances and 20 hit-outs, while inclusions Gryan Miers (25 disposals, 8 score involvements) and Mark O’Connor (22 disposals) were important. Sam De Koning and Mitch Duncan also impressed in defence.

Room for improvement

Gosh the Cats had some chances to pull away from the Lions, but their inaccurate kicking kept the visitors in the game. According to Champion Data’s expected score measure, the Cats should’ve beaten Brisbane 89-61, not 80-70. Elsewhere, Patrick Dangerfield was a little quieter than past weeks, finishing with only 19 disposals.
Grade

A

Cats outlast Lions in absolute epic | 02:22

GOLD COAST SUNS

The Suns have recorded their first win at home in almost one year, with victory over the previously unbeaten Carlton. Off the back of a disappointing loss to GWS in Round 3, the Suns turned the tables on the Blues and beat them at their own clearance game. Coach Stuart Dew was impressed with his side’s commitment to play quickly through the corridor, but used his half time address to urge his players to slow down and consider their options – which paid off in the third term as the Suns put on five goals to just one and effectively seal the win.

In the votes

Sam Collins was a rock in defence against Blue Harry McKay. Collins finished with eight intercept marks in a game where he spent 100% of time on the ground. Young midfielder Noah Anderson used teammate Jarrod Witts ruck dominance to his advantage with 35 disposals, 10 clearances and eight inside 50s. Touk Miller, who was well tagged in the loss to GWS, found plenty of footy against the Blues with 32 touches – 21 of those contested. Mabior Chol had another strong outing for his new club since crossing from Richmond, with three goals from his nine touches and 10 hitouts.

Room for improvement

The Suns could have really put Carlton to the sword at Metricon Stadium, but ran out of steam in the final term. The home side managed just 1.4 in the final term against a Carlton outfit missing skipper Patrick Cripps and ruckman Marc Pittonet who was a late out. Coach Stuart Dew is likely to have a quiet word with Ben Ainsworth who almost cost his side a shot on goal as his scuffle with Blues opponent Nic Newman went too far. Luckily for the Suns, the free kick went against Newman and Mabio Chol slotted a goal, but Fox Footy’s Alastiar Lynch wasn’t impressed with Ainsworth’s actions. “Chol is about to have a shot, Ainsworth should have been nowhere near it,” he said.
Grade

A

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

The Giants managed a solid three-quarter effort against Fremantle, but were blown away in the final term before finishing 34-point losers. Ill-discipline cost the visitors any chance at victory, conceding a whopping 42 free kicks – with many ending in goals or direct avenues to goal. Despite winning the hitouts (+3), the clearances (+2) and tackles inside 50 (+3), the Giants failed to capitalize on the scoreboard.

In the votes

Isaac Cumming gave it his all against the Dockers, finishing with 29 disposals at 86% efficiency, almost 680m gained, seven intercepts and four score involvements. Harry Perryman also did a great job in defence, with eight intercepts at 95 efficiency. Jesse Hogan was impressive in the first half with two early goals, but failed to replicate that form to see out the match. Lachie Whitfield fought through the pain to collect 25 touches, despite a lingering knee issue suffered early in the contest.

Room for improvement

The lack of discipline was a clear issue for the Giants after half time. Braydon Preuss lost his cool in the third term and cost his team a goal while Jake Riccardi killed his side’s momentum with a silly post-scuffle bump that resulted in a goal to Travis Colyer. Forward Harry Himmelberg failed to get a kick in the second half while Bobby Hill failed to have an impact in front of his home fans, as coach Leon Cameron lamented his side’s inability to put forward pressure on.

Grade

C-

“Likely suspended for a week, maybe two! | 01:11

HAWTHORN

Now that’s the definition of a reality check. After three eye-catching performances that yielded two wins, Sam Mitchell’s Hawks were handed a 69-point defeat at the hands of St Kilda on Sunday. After booting the first two goals of the game, the Hawks struggled to handle the Saints’ pressure then couldn’t stop their momentum on turnover.

In the votes

Ruckman Ned Reeves competed hard in the ruck against Paddy Ryder and Rowan Marshall, taking three contested marks, kicking one goal and finishing with 10 disposals and four clearances. James Sicily (20 disposals, 9 intercepts) tried hard in defence and Luke Breust booted three goals. Tom Mitchell stuffed the stats sheet — 32 disposals, 18 contested possessions, nine clearances, nine score involvements and five inside 50s — but had very little support in the midfield.

Room for improvement

Where do you start? The fact the Saints were able to score 32 times from their 46 forward 50 entries would’ve been alarming for coach Sam Mitchell, who also lamented his side’s inability to handle the Saints’ pressure. In fact the Saints had just one more inside 50 for the game yet almost doubled Hawthorn’s score. The Hawks had chances throughout the game but couldn’t capitalise on their opportunities, booting 10.13. Elsewhere, Chungkuoth Jiath had 22 touches but just 268m gained as he struggled to cope with the Saints’ pressure. Much-improved forward Mitch Lewis didn’t have his kicking boots on, kicking 1.5 across the first three quarters of the game, while Jack Gunston (0.1, 3 disposals) and James Worpel (0.1, 5 disposals) had days to forget.
Grade

F

MELBOURNE

The frightening thing is Melbourne isn’t even playing at its absolute best and is still disposing of teams with ease. Defensively the Dees were awesome and once again they showed their ability to put a team to the sword in the space of five to 10 minutes. Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca didn’t set the world on fire but it’s such an even side that it didn’t matter. They’re four from four and don’t look like missing a step.

In the votes

Max Gawn was huge across the ground even before Scott Lycett injured his shoulder. He and Luke Jackson continue to get even better as a one-two combination in the ruck, up forward and down back. James Jordon was an unlikely candidate for the most disposals for any Demon on Thursday night, while Ed Langdon was once again brilliant on the wing. Credit to the entire backline of the Dees for their stringy defence, headlined as always by Steven May and Jake Lever.

Room for improvement

They missed some chances they should’ve taken before kicking into gear midway through the second term, but it doesn’t really matter when you don’t concede scores the other way. Sam Weideman couldn’t replicate last week’s performance and might be under pressure from Ben Brown as he looks to return.

Grade

A+

Pressure on Hinkley, Port rolled by Dees | 03:31

NORTH MELBOURNE

What a turnaround for the Kangaroos! After being embarrassed by the Lions in Round 3, it was an “aggressive” North Melbourne that showed up at the SCG and they pushed the Swans all the way in a tight tussle. The visitors used the corridor at every opportunity and showed good form for three quarters. But the Roos simply ran out of steam in the final term, conceding four goals to one. Coach David Noble was left both impressed and “frustrated” when they didn’t come away with the four points.

In the votes

David Noble pulled off a masterstroke pushing skipper Jack Ziebell forward. Despite never kicking a goal at the SCG, Ziebell finished the game with five in a brilliant display. He led strongly, took marks inside 50 and more importantly, was able to lock the ball inside the forward line. Jy Simpkin also found plenty of footy (33 disposals, six score involvements, five clearances) while Jason Horne-Francis, in just his fourth AFL game, continues to impress. He finished with 23 touches and six clearances in the 11-point loss.

Room for improvement

Remarkably, it was the Roos clearance work that let them down against Sydney. North Melbourne were +7 in clearances in the loss to Hawthorn and +7 in clearances in the 108-point loss to Brisbane last weekend. But against the Swans, North Melbourne’s midfield group couldn’t get first hands on the ball, smashed by 12 in the count at the SCG.

Nick Larkey had a tough day out and needed to stand tall against the Swans defensive duo of the McCartin brothers. But Larkey finished the day with just six touches and one behind.

Grade

B

PORT ADELAIDE

Everything Port Adelaide needed to be on Thursday night, it wasn’t. There was no dare from them until it was too late, their midfield was obliterated and their attack was barely given a chance to fire, which resulted in a goalless first half for the first time in the side’s history. In a two team town, there aren’t many places to hide and, rightly or wrongly, much of the focus will centre on Ken Hinkley. Performances like Thursday nights do nothing at all to help him and if anything will ramp up the pressure considerably.

In the votes

Riley Bonner and Travis Boak were lone hands in the engine room particularly with Ollie Wines subbed out at half-time. There were flashes of brilliance from Zak Butters but he still wasn’t as involved in the game as he can be. Not too much went right other than that.

Room for improvement

They were demolished in the middle overall and were horrible going forward in the first half, giving their forwards barely any chance and playing into the hands of Melbourne’s elite defence. They tried to slow the game down considerably and went away from their general method of play, which worked for a time but they didn’t take their chances and it cost them dearly once Melbourne started firing. It was a horrible performance that was masked on the scoreboard somewhat in the final quarter when the game was done.

Grade

F

Should the Power target big free agent? | 02:10

RICHMOND

The Tigers’ topsy-turvy start to 2022 continued on Saturday night, storming over the top of an inaccurate Bulldogs outfit. After they were thumped in the second half of both of their losses to Carlton and St Kilda, Damien Hardwick’s men flipped the script to kick seven of the last eight goals of the game and record a 38-point win over the Dogs. The Tigers got their season back on track with the victory, leveling their campaign at 2-2.

In the votes

Shai Bolton’s rise as a player is awesome to watch. He was at his damaging and efficient best against the Dogs, with 10 of his 20 disposals ending up in a Tigers score – including an early goal of the year contender – while he also had 13 contested possessions and five clearances. Tom Lynch kicked four goals, while Jayden Short (35 disposals) and Dion Prestia (30) found plenty of the footy. Marlion Pickett also played a cracker, booting one foal from 20 disposals, eight contested possessions and seven marks, while he had a kicking efficiency of 93 per cent.

Room for improvement

The Tigers lost the disposal (-47), clearance (-12) and inside 50 (-9) counts. If the Bulldogs (7.19) had kicked straight, it could’ve been a different story. Ultimately, the Tigers (15.9) made the most of their opportunities.
Grade

A

Tigers thrash Bulldogs in solid win | 02:11

ST KILDA

Another round, another win and another sign of growth and maturity by the Saints. After conjuring comeback wins in Rounds 2 and 3, St Kilda showed off a ruthless edge, extending its lead at every change over Hawthorn to run out commanding 69-point winners. The win – their third on the trot – leaves the Saints in the top four after four rounds.

In the votes

The best and fairest votes from this game will be healthy, with almost every Saints players significant roles and contributing to the win. A remarkable four players kicked four goals each, including Jade Gresham — who proved he could be St Kilda’s ‘striker’ forward of centre — and Bradley Hill — who thrived in a high half-forward role in arguably his best game for the club yet. Jack Sinclair (35 disposals) provided terrific outside dash, while Jack Steele (33), Brad Crouch (29) and Seb Ross (26) did the damage on the inside. And Jarrod Lienert continues to reward the Saints for the lifeline they’ve given him, finishing with 23 disposals, eight marks and seven rebound 50s.

Room for improvement

The only think that irked Brett Ratten was the opening few minutes of the match, which saw Dylan Moore stun the Saints with two quick goals. The exact same thing happened against Richmond the week before. Ratten labelled the mini trend “a bit annoying”. Ultimately, it was the only downside on a near-perfect afternoon for the Saints.
Grade

A+

Saints sink 22 goals against Hawthorn | 01:53

SYDNEY SWANS

Sydney had to fight right to the final siren to get over the top of North Melbourne. They kicked the final four goals of the match to run out 11-point winners in a see-sawing contest at the SCG. Ultimately, Sydney won the stats where it mattered – kicking 13 goals to 12, +12 in clearances, +3 inside 50s and +14 in disposals. The win ensures Sydney are 3-1 heading into matches against West Coast and Hawthorn before the blockbuster clash with Brisbane in Round 7.

In the votes

Recruit Paddy McCartin is relishing his new role in defence, finishing with an equal game-high nine intercepts for the match. Despite a nasty-looking head clash, McCartin was able to return in the dying minutes as the Swans got on top. Ollie Florrent was also damaging through the centre of the SCG, with 10 inside 50s and two goal assists from his 23 disposals. Justin McInerney also made a welcome return against the Roos, collecting 30 touches.

Room for improvement

The tall timber of Lance Franklin and Sam Reid combined for just three goals – all coming before half time. Franklin was subbed out just on three quarter time with a broken finger, but Reid failed to step up in Buddy’s absence. Luke Parker (18 disposals, three frees against and just one inside 50) had an unusually quiet day. For the third straight week, he failed to trouble the scorers.

Grade

B

Franklin injured in Swans’ win over Roos | 01:09

WEST COAST EAGLES

What a win for Adam Simpson and co., stunning the Magpies at Marvel Stadium for their first victory of the season. After being decimated by Covid-19 chaos throughout the year — much worse than any team — while still missing an array of stars to injury, it was simply an enormous win for West Coast to give its season life. The Eagles didn’t play particularly well, but got never gave up, stayed in the contest and converted their chances. Simply a huge win that would’ve had the fans back home jumping in joy off their couches.

In the votes

Josh Kennedy stepped up for West Coast when it needed it, finishing with an equal-game high three goals alongside Willie Rioli, who was also brilliant. Alex Witherden (27 disposals, seven marks), Jeremy McGovern (22 disposals, eight marks), Liam Duggan (19 disposals, 10 marks) and Tom Barrass (11 disposals, six marks) were al brilliant in controlling the game across half back and in defence to help the Eagles control the tempo.

Room for improvement

The Eagles lost the inside 50 count 61-42, and against a more efficient side, may not have come away with the win. Getting more ball going their way will be important moving forward.

Grade

A

Undermanned Eagles stun Collingwood | 01:18

WESTERN BULLDOGS

Not many would’ve thought the reigning Grand Finalists would be 1-3 after Round 4, but that’s the tricky predicament the Bulldogs now find themselves in. Despite winning the disposal (+47), clearance (+12) and inside 50 (+9) counts against, the Dogs lost to the Tigers by 38 points. They’ll no doubt rue the array of opportunities they missed in front of goal throughout the match.

In the votes

You couldn’t fault the endeavour of the midfield. Marcus Bontempelli (33 disposals) and Jack Macrae (34) were the top-two rated players on the field, while Bailey Smith (36) and Josh Dunkley (37) found plenty of the footy. Ruck Tim English (20 disposals) covered the ground well, while recruit Tim O’Brien also showed good signs in defence, going at 86 per cent by foot and finishing with 14 disposals, nine spoils and three intercept marks.

Room for improvement

Again, the Bulldogs’ conversion was a major issue, kicking 7.19 against Richmond. Over the past three weeks, the club has kicked 28.48, with coach Luke Beveridge conceding the wayward kicking “snowballed out of control” on Saturday night. They conceded seven of the last eight goals of the game as Richmond ran over the top of the Dogs. Bontempelli (1.3) and Aaron Naughton (2.3) were the worst culprits. Elsewhere, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (0.0, 5 disposals), Lachlan McNeil (0.0, 5 disposals) Anthony Scott (0.1, 5 disposals), Cody Weightman (0.1, 8 disposals) were all quiet.

Grade

D

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