Pain’s Talking Points – AFL Round 21
1. The Bont is good, the Bont is great
Marcus Bontempelli’s performance on the weekend against the Magpies showed why he’s arguably the AFL’s best young player and a future Bulldogs captain.When the game got tight, the #4 pick in the 2013 Draft calmly helped lead the Dogs to victory over a pesky Magpies.
His second half in particular highlighted his future as an elite AFL player, if he’s not there already. Precise kicking, broken tackles and goal assists just a part of his repertoire that helped the Dogs overcome a third quarter deficit to win by three points.
Expect Bontempelli to poll well in this year’s Brownlow Medal count.
2. The Match Review Panel is still inconsistent
North Melbourne’s Brent Harvey clotheslined Hawthorn’s Sam Mitchell well after the Hawk had released the ball. The Kangaroo’s veteran was only given a $1000 fine, while earlier in the season, Essendon’s David Zaharakis was suspended for one week for a stomach punch to West Coast’s Jackson Nelson in Round 15.
It is decisions like these that has confused fans, players and coaches. One is suspended for a stomach punch while the other is fined, despite a clothesline to the head of an opposition player.
3. Cats storm home
Down 35 with just four goals kicked (and 13 behinds), Geelong’s chances at a comeback against Richmond seemed all but done. Naturally, the Cats went on to kick six goals and nine behinds to storm home and beat the Tigers by four points.
Geelong’s ability to continue to battling and find its way back into a game, despite such a large deficit, should serve the club well if it goes deep into September. The Cats now sit a game ahead of GWS in fourth place with two rounds remaining.
4. The kids will be alright
Essendon won just its second game of the season and ended a club worst 17-game losing streak with a 6-point victory over the Gold Coast Suns.
Led by its first-time captain Zach Merrett, Essendon’s third youngest ever, the Bombers used quick, direct football to stun the Suns. Other young players like Joe Daniher, Orazio Fantasia and Martin Gleeson, who stood tall in defence, showed fans that the club’s future is in safe hands.
The successful debut of Jake Long, son of club legend Michael Long, gave Essendon fans an even bigger reason to smile while singing the club song.
5. The top four race is wide open
After Round 21, the top seven sides all still have a chance of finishing first-fourth. Hawthorn has all but secured its place in the top four, but anything can happen in the AFL as it’s still possible that the Hawks finish as low as seventh.
If teams want to get a double chance in the finals, winning its remaining two games is paramount. But as four of the top eight sides are facing each other, some hearts and dreams of a top four finish may be broken after Round 22 has finished.