Don’t look back

t-rex dance.

I don’t where to start with this one. We comprehensively pulled off the upset of the season; Jack Billings played a great game and the Bombers season has been shoved off-course and into I don’t know where.

Oh, and I forgot to mention: the Saints are now 3-2 heading into a match against the toothless Lions in NZ. Shi* just got real.

Just like it’s part and parcel of a rebuilding process to witness efforts like last week’s against Adelaide, where there is next to nothing for fans to take away, there are occasions when youngsters are going to surprise you in a nice way. Last night, that happened in abundance, and the old fellas got in on the act in a big way too. All round, it was a very even performance.

Two goals deep into junk-time of the second term finally gave the Saints some scoreboard reward for the toil they’d exerted to erase Essendon’s early lead. More importantly, the second – kicked by Geary – got them on even terms and had us in the stands starting think that the unthinkable could actually be on the cards.

You would’ve almost been satisfied or understood if the Saints punched-in their cards for the night from that point. They’re still incredibly young and not yet rebuilt after all.

There were passages of play that pretty much filled my quota of excitement for the night in isolation. Jack Billings’ goal on the run early on from 50m, was one of said moments. When Billings, Dunstan and Eli combined later that quarter I also declared myself done for the night.

Heading into the game I was mainly excited to see those guys –  such as Jack Billings, Josh Bruce and Sebastian Ross. In fact, when Tom asked me about my predictions for the result I pretty much said I wasn’t fussed. Seeing these guys against pretty accomplished opposition and in front of a decent crowd wasn’t something we had seen previously this year.

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Bombers 65, Saints 81

brad pitt dancingHow the hell did that happen?! Incredible stuff at the Corporate Dome last night – in a good way!

Surely, not even the most ardent Saints fan could’ve predicted that win.

Riewoldt had 5, 2 for Jack Billings and Lenny Hayes had 32 touches. But like Richo’ said in the post-match it was a really even contribution across the board.

I flicked on the second replay when I woke up and it’s still hard to grasp. What. A. Win.

The match report will be up a bit later today.

Here’s my votes for the game. Add yours in the comments section below.

<3

3 votes – Nick Riewoldt

2 votes – Lenny Hayes

1 votes – Jack Newnes

Mentions of honour: Leigh Montagna, Jack Billings, Jimmy Gwilt, Jimmy Webster, Rhys Stanley

 

Cbf playing Essendon

So the mood’s been a lot different this week.

The first three weeks of this season were rather incredible, for the Saints were in the spotlight for all the right reasons. Even the loss to West Coast felt good, and even after that loss the praise kept coming.

It took an 86-point thumping against the winless Crows in the echoey depths of an empty Corporate Stadium for order to be restored. Footy Classified‘s “Good Call/Bad Call” segment this week raised the interesting prospect that St Kilda’s draw had “bluffed” the football world, but that discounted the performance against the Eagles entirely and I think it was folly for expect inconsistency being improbable this season. Also, that show’s pretty shithouse.

But whatever. I’m not looking forward to Saturday night, but more so because we’re playing the Bombers.

After all the Essendon bullshit offered up by the club and a number of their ridiculous fans in the past nearly 15 months, the idea of actually attending a game of football against them in the same space as said fans is really boring and something I honestly I cbf with.

That’s for a number of reasons, most I think of which I summed up enough over three years ago. We’re all aware with stereotype of Essendon supporters being arrogant, aggressive and crass. But Essendon – both club and fans – has become something else to opposition supporters. They’ve either performed an incredible PR campaign or their many boorish fans have been guzzling Kool Aid, but it’s most probably both, and it’s been detestable to watch. With the shadow of ASADA still looming after all this time – on top of the heavy punishment already handed out by the AFL last year – they’re still a “did they/didn’t they” proposition in the back of many minds and their season thus could still be derailed.

The thing about that is, Essendon look a more complete team than the past two seasons. Both of those ended in huge fade-outs, with last season’s arguably because of the toll taken by the drugs saga over a number of months. But this year with the spotlight off them – crucially, for now – and with the inclusion of Chapman, and extra year of experience for Carlisle, Daniher and Hurley down the spine and others like Zaharakis and Heppell who started off well anyway and are still on the way up to their prime. They look much more solid than the teams that took them to the heights of the ladder for so much of the previous two seasons.

They’ll benefit this week too, for despite losing BJ they welcome back a fresh Chapman and Fletcher, who were rested for the Perth trip, and Paddy Ryder back in the ruck, which brings their midfield back to equilibrium after having to deal with Sandi dominating against no ruck specialist on their side. Whilst it’s a six-day break those wise heads will be ready to go and good team don’t back up a loss like that with disappointing efforts.

The Saints bring in a bunch of young guys in Bruce, Hickey, Ross and Billings, as well as Schneider. That’s really exciting, and I think we might be more competitive than people expect us to be. I’d still be backing Essendon to take the points, but they just might be made to work for it a little in terms of contested footy and finding time and space on the ball.

I don’t like the idea of already seeking out “honourable losses” before anything else. An alternative outcome last week wouldn’t have really changed my tip going into this game, but it showed that the off days we’ll inevitably have can be pretty bad, even against unrated opposition. The floor is pretty deep; the ceiling we’ve seen isn’t bad, but I don’t think we can maintain it just yet to knock off a genuinely good team.

Bombers vs Saints flashback

A sobering Sunday

jack nicholson

It’s easy to throw the baby out with the bath water anytime you incur an 86 point loss – whether you’re challenging or you’re a minnow. In reality, this decimation just came one week later than most of us thought it would.

That’s not to say it was fun at all, or that I’m completely accepting of it. I scoffed down a block of Lindt chocolate quick smart on the quiet tram ride home from the Dome.

And I’m sure the conversation of whether the team signed off on “the trademark” was a rather brief one post-game.

This was the type of loss where when you’re a good team, one with ambitions, you potentially scrap the Monday review and move straight onto next week without looking back at all. After quarter time the result was never in doubt and to be fair, the Saints were lucky to be in it scoreboard-wise for that long.

When it’s all said and done though, win, lose or draw yesterday the Saints are still in rebuild mode. And when you’re consigned to that, you expect there to be days like these where, as a fan, you just have to suck it up to a degree. Granted, that’s much more easily done when visibly there seems to be some pieces of the puzzle falling into place already.

Right out of the gate though, the Saints were dead flat. Scott Thompson had a picnic in the middle; he and Sam Jacobs had their own game going in the center square all day long. Tommy Curren did a nice job in curtailing Paddy Dangerifield (19 disposals) for the afternoon, but aside from him the Saints didn’t have any winners through the midfield. Lenny Hayes toiled very hard, Josh Saunders bobbed up here and there but it was a cakewalk for the Crows otherwise. If it wasn’t David Mackay bursting into space unhindered, then it was Brodie Smith, or Matthew Jaensch, or Kyle Hartigan or RWB Favourite Rory Sloane. Those 5 had 93 uncontested possessions between them.

And uncontested possessions were really the damning area of the game for the Saints – the Crows had 56 more than their counterparts by half time. Most of the bog-standard statistics were relatively even, but the Adelaide did what they pleased in that regard. I guess the most damning part about it is that it’s no secret the Crows thrive on run-and-carry football, particular through the corridor where it felt like the Saints had laid out a red carpet for them at times.

One of the few game notes that I jotted down from my vantage point on the Saints members wing, was Roo’s big set shot major at the 9 minute mark of the second term. This goal brought the margin back to five goals. That was effectively the last glimmer of a comeback for the Saints. It was quickly snuffed out soon of course.

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