Oh so close (one minute, forty seconds to be precise), yet so far away (the other side of the country or 32 premiership points, depending which way you look at it). A football cliché maybe, but these are the thoughts that have been circulating inside Henry’s vast mind since the Blues heartbreaking last-quarter Subiaco fade out.
Following the Catters example from last week, Henry’s baggers surrendered a 44-point lead to the top-placed Eagles – a seemingly game-winning lead gained through attacking, confident, team-orientated football that went missing in the final 20 minutes. The Blues outplayed last year’s runners-up for three and a half quarters of football and thoroughly deserved the four points, but it just goes to show the value of a winning mentality.
Second-placed Adelaide nearly, and probably should have, come undone against a fiercely competitive Lions outfit at the Gabba. Inaccuracy from the Lions spread like the plague during the first two and a half quarters when they noticeably outplayed the Crows and it would eventually cost them the game.
As the match wore on in very much un-Brisbane like conditions, Captain Roo, following an earlier groin complaint, returned to the field to lead from the front, combined with the ever-silky Stiffy Johncock and Andrew McLeod, ensured Adelaide overcame a spirited Brisbane team.
The Tiggers continued to defy their critics with a relatively easy win over the struggling Kangas. Few, apart from those in the Tiger Army, would have thought that Plough’s boys would have won more than they’ve lost at the halfway point, sitting just outside the eight. The talking point to come out of the match was Jade Rawlings’ head-high bump on Tigger youngster Richard Tambling.
It was announced Monday that because of a clean record and with an early plea of guilty, Rawlings can escape with a one-match suspension, which contradicts the opinion of many experts. David Parkin and Sam Newman are just two high-profile identities, who in the past week have stated that instances like this should incur a minimum six-week penalty.
Jimmy Bartel will be another player feeling a little anxious in coming days following a similar style bump on the Dons’ Damian Peverill. Similarly, Bartel has been offered a one-match ban by the match review panel; however, if the club decides to fight the charge (“Which would be silly,” Henry says) and doesn’t succeed he could end up spending two or three weeks on the sidelines.
The AFL is basically saying that one of the most frowned upon aspects of our game deserves a one week rest, while others suggest six weeks as apt, reflecting the level of uncertainty on the legitimacy of the hip and shoulder in the modern game. By dishing out the same penalty to Mad Dog Charman’s corker of a bump on Pebbles Rocca last week and Rawlings’ dangerous bump on Tambling, the tribunal has only added to the confusion.
Whatever the outcome of the Bartel case, the Catters must overcome the Dockers this Saturday at the House of Pain if they’re any chance of resurrecting their season. They usually play well on the vast confines over in the west and with their confidence rejuvenated after beating the lowly Essendon in a canter, I’m predicting the Catters to cause a mini-upset against Connolly’s men.
With Port Adelaide at home and Carlton in the next month, Geelong has to win one of their next two matches (against Fremantle and Adelaide at AAMI Stadium) if they still intend on making the finals (and, some might say, saving Bomber Thompson’s job).
Stay tuned for Henry’s half-yearly AFL report card in the coming days…