In what was the final round of matches before the footy festival of 33 games in just 20 days, it was a contrasting weekend of fortunes for the Eagles and Dockers in Round 8 of the 2020 AFL Season.
It’s time to break down all the key points from both matches from Optus Stadium, the best stadium in Australia…You heard me…
West Coast Eagles Def Collingwood Magpies by 66 Points – Optus Stadium – Sunday Afternoon
Kennedy ain’t done yetEmbed from Getty Images
After his 4.4 in the Western Derby, Kennedy stepped up a gear with another seven goals against a depleted Collingwood defensive structure.
He was in superb form in game #251 and set up the Eagles big win with an emphatic first half with some good marking inside the forward 50.
But after seven goals in his first 24 quarters of the season, the dual Coleman medallist has now kicked 11 in his last eight terms.
Back in form after four goals and a best-on-ground Glendinning-Allan Medal in last week’s Western Derby, Kennedy became the first player to kick seven goals in the shortened quarters of this season.
His unblemished day went a long way towards the Eagles’ extraordinary accuracy.
An all-round team performance
Despite a slow start where they conceded the first three goals in the match, the last three quarters were a scene of the Eagles lifting up a gear by continuing the punishment on the Magpies by showing their desperation to get first to the ball.
Naitanui and Kelly were dominating the centre clearances (in fact they won the count 32-24) and they had more direct attack giving the forwards better looks and more space inside 50.
Shuey, Gaff & Kelly also controlled the tempo of the match with overlap handballs allowing the Eagles to shift forward and break the contest open in their favour, making Collingwood try to force stoppage after stoppage,
That did not work for the Magpies as it was vintage Eagles football, while Oscar Allen proved to the one of the most vital talls in the game chiming in with three majors and 10 score involvements.
The big matchup in the leadup was between the two burly ruckmen, Nic Naitanui VS Brodie Grundy.
The dual All-Australian Magpie did get the early jump but was torn apart by the dynamic duo of Naitanui and Kelly, so much so that the Pies had to reshuffle their lineup for the second half and shift Grundy into attack,
That didn’t work as it allowed Nic Nat to dominate the ruck contest even more, although he won the hitout count only by 1 (28-27) but the centre clearances made it look like a one sided affair which was critical for the Eagles.
The Magpies don’t have a second string ruckman and the Eagles exposed that one key weakness in the Magpies Engine room.
Fremantle Dockers def. by Geelong Cats by 32 points – Optus Stadium – Monday Night
The dilemma in defenseEmbed from Getty Images
Fremantle were punished in the wet conditions, largely due to:
a) their lack of height in the defensive 50, something that got them their only 2 wins to date in 2020.
b) the withdrawal of Brennan Cox – why wasn’t he included, maybe they would have won the game if he was selected?
They may have only conceded 6.12 to the Cats at a very slippery Optus Stadium but it felt like more, they allowed the forwards like Tom Hawkins and Mitch Duncan rule inside 50 and it was very confusing to see this Dockers side in the wet considering they had shown themselves elite in the wet earlier this year.
However they overhandled the wet ball against the Cats and it was a wet ball all night.
Serong it’s so right
Despite his team copping a wet weather belting, there was one young kid who I’m starting to see some increased potential for the next few years.
Caleb Serong’s efforts were outstanding and it awarded him with the Rising Star Nomination for Round 8.
The former Gippsland Power recruit amassed 22 touches, 10 more then his previous best to go with 7 tackles, 3 clearances and a goal to boot, winning his battle against Patrick Dangerfield who only had 18 disposals and only two score involvements for the Cats.
His impact may have limited as the Cats had more of the football but his game on Monday Night was impressive enough to earn him a consistent starting place for the Dockers for the rest of the season.
All tuckered out
As if Fremantle’s injury crisis couldn’t any worse, in the opening minutes of the match, big midfielder Darcy Tucker went down in the opening minutes of the match and may face surgery on a injured hamstring.
This is a massive blow for Fremantle compounded by an hamstring injury to Michael Walters late in the match but Tucker’s stint on the sidelines will look to be long term, maybe for the rest of the season which will deplete Fremantle’s midfield stocks.
But with Nat Fyfe set to return for the game against Collingwood they’ll look to boost their depth, while Jesse Hogan is a slight chance to return on Sunday Afternoon.
EAGLES VS CATS – Optus Stadium – Saturday Night
DOCKERS VS MAGPIES – Optus Stadium – Sunday Afternoon