North Melbourne’s AFL pain providing the foundation for a brighter future


Football rebuilds are notoriously painful and sometimes seemingly never ending, as Carlton fans would attest.

In times of decline, supporters of clubs are desperately looking for glimpses of a more promising future. That glimmer of hope. The type of glimpses Essendon has given its fans this season as the young Bombers have looked to emerge again, more than 16 years after the club’s last finals victory.

As in daily life, expectation management plays a key part in shaping the supporter experience.

Carlton has long sold the “we’re coming” narrative. Until recently, Collingwood was projecting a confidence it could still play finals, while Hawthorn refused to acknowledge it needed to bottom out, with Hawks fans, so accustomed to success, in for less profitable times.

It’s a delicate balance between selling hope and reality.

To commit to memberships, fans need to feel they are either investing in something successful or something that’s entering a growth phase. There’s nothing less palatable than being somewhere stuck in the middle.

Essendon has been honest with its supporters, following a policy of under-promise and over-deliver. Bombers fans now feel like they’re embarking on an exciting journey, a feeling further fuelled by Sunday’s thrilling win over Freo.

North Melbourne is hoping to provide a similar ride for its supporters.

The Kangaroos came close to breaking their winless run before finally doing it on Saturday.(

AAP: James Ross

)

In recent times there are few examples of a club in a more dire state than the Kangaroos when David Noble took over.

The previous coach, Rhyce Shaw, had resigned after a period of absence from the club to deal with personal issues, North had won only three games in the 2020 season – one of its last 15 – and conducted a brutal list overhaul. Noble had seemingly inherited a basket case.

Highly experienced in a range of football roles across several clubs, Noble brought an immediate sense of calm and, most importantly, direction.

Port Adelaide, Gold Coast and the Western Bulldogs provided a torrid introduction to senior coaching, but North showed steady signs of improvement, culminating in a 54th birthday the coach will long remember in his home state on Saturday.

The winless Roos stormed from 32 points down to end their 16-game losing streak with a seven-point win over Hawthorn at York Park in Launceston. It was a huge result for a playing list and supporter base desperately seeking the affirmation and nourishment only victory can fully provide.

Noble was recently criticised for his assertion that nailing down process and game style was more important than winning for his developing side. Process would lead to outcome he said, and so it did.

You could sense North’s first win since round nine last season was coming. If not for some costly skill errors, the Roos would have beaten Collingwood the week before, and they were also very competitive against undefeated Melbourne in round seven, Adelaide in round four and Geelong in round five.

A group of North Melbourne AFL players walk off the field after losing to Geelong.
There is always pain for clubs in a rebuilding phase.(

AAP: Rob Prezioso

)

Like all the good North Melbourne teams of the past, Noble’s Kangas play with heart and physical presence. As former Essendon premiership player Adam Ramanauskas said on Grandstand, their intent is obvious.

“You look at passages of play from North Melbourne, you can see the system developing, you can see the process of what they’re trying to do,” he said.

“There’s no doubt [what] they’re going to be, when the final product is developed … it’s a high-pressure team that wants to get up in the face of the opposition, turn the ball over and then go offensively with speed.”

To compare their weekly playing list with that of the opposition can paint a grim picture, especially given the absence of key players like Robbie Tarrant, Luke McDonald, Jed Anderson and Aidan Corr. Jared Polec is also missing and, while an expensive acquisition given his relatively moderate output, he is one of the side’s few elite ball users.

But just as process and adherence to team principles lead to outcomes, they can also help bridge a gap in talent.

Richmond has won three of the past four premierships with, at best, a handful of players you could categorise as stars of the competition. The Tigers’ success has been built on the sum of all parts.

That’s not to suggest North Melbourne is talentless.

Jy Simpkin has now served a significant apprenticeship and is flourishing in the midfield. His 38-possession game was a career high and he complemented veteran Ben Cunnington – 37 possessions – superbly.

Luke Davies-Uniacke, the fourth pick in the 2017 draft, is starting to arrive as a player with his strength, step and clean finishing catching the eye, and Tarryn Thomas shows glimpses of his immense natural ability.

Cam Zurhaar played his best game for the season with four goals, while Lachie Young’s late contest back with the flight was a moment that epitomised North’s commitment. Charlie Lazzaro, Tom Powell and Will Phillips are all gaining valuable exposure to the top level.

To borrow from football’s extensive bank of cliches, the Roos are playing for one another and they’re also playing for their coach.

While North Melbourne won’t be imminently contending for premierships, they are taking significant steps towards becoming a highly competitive side again.

Nobly laying the foundations for many more happy returns.

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Time for CTE to be recognised an “industrial disease”: expert


The investigation into Tuck’s death is before the Coroners Court, which will examine the correlation between CTE and the head trauma he suffered during his sporting career. All parties, including the AFL and AFL Players Association, are currently preparing submissions into the proposed scope of the investigation.

Concussion campaigner and AFL player agent Peter Jess is pushing for dementia linked to professional sporting careers to be recognised as an industrial disease, declaring it has already been proved scientifically and medically here and in overseas cases.

Jess said he was working with legal advisors in the United Kingdom and the USA on developments involving “collision-based sports” and says it’s time for CTE linked to the AFL to fall in the industrial disease category.

“Sports-related dementia is the full suite of the problems that emerge from CTE and dementia is the end game, where you are restricted in your quality of life,” he said.

“Sooner or later it is going to require legislative action, which has already in place in the US and also mooted in the UK.

The Western Bulldogs are taking a cautious approach with the return of Tim English (right) from concussion.Credit:Getty Images

“Shaun Smith was really the benchmark in Australia where two independent medical panels confirmed that his brain injury was the result of playing in the AFL. That meant causation was no longer an issue, that it means scientifically and medically we can prove it beyond reasonable doubt using the Bradford Hill criteria.”

The Bradford Hill criteria is a group of nine principles that can establish epidemiological evidence of a link between a “presumed cause and an observed effect”.

The AFL did not wish to comment. However, it has tightened its concussion protocols this season, with players subbed off required to have a minimum 12-day mandatory break. The league continues to consult experts on all head-related injuries.

Pearce has advocated for players to spend at least 14 days sidelined after being concussed, even though his research shows 30 days is the ideal time to recover, because he was concerned players would not honestly report their symptoms.

Jess, who maintains at least 30 days is also the ideal time, said the Western Bulldogs should be acknowledged for the manner in which they have treated Tim English. The beanpole ruckman has sat out the past three weeks because of a head knock while playing Greater Western Sydney.

“Hopefully, that becomes the standard within the industry,” Jess said.

“I cannot be other than impressed that the medical advisors to the club are ensuring the safety of the player to not return before his brain has fully healed.”

The AFL recently appointed two executives, Associate Professor Catherine Willmott and Rachel Elliott, to run its concussion strategy.

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Wallabies, All Blacks, Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos, New Zealand Rugby, James O’Connor


Late last year it was revealed James O’Connor was considering making the move across the ditch to play in New Zealand.

O’Connor approached the Chiefs because he wanted to test himself weekly against New Zealand opposition.

The Chiefs left a spot open in their roster for the Wallabies playmaker, but the move was blocked by Rugby Australia because they wanted to look after their own backyard and needed star power to sell the game.

But the sight of seeing Wallabies plying their trade on the other side of the ditch and All Blacks playing in Australia could be the way forward, if Rugby Australia gets their way.

Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos revealed on Monday the governing body were having “philosophical conversations” with New Zealand Rugby about opening the borders, so players could play in the same competition but on other sides of the ditch and still remain eligible for their national teams.

“From an RA perspective, if we’re playing in a competition whether it’s here, New Zealand, you start looking ahead to Japan and other markets, I think if you’ve got all players that are playing in that competition eligible it’s only good for the comp because you get the cross pollination of the player, you’ll be able to create that unpredictability in outcome,” Marinos said.

“That’s something we’re open-minded about.

“I know my compatriots across the water have a very firm view in terms of how they want to manage their eligibility.

“But I think looking at the world today, we’re probably going to have to be a little bit more open-minded about what that looks like.”

Wallabies great Mark Ella has been advocating this direction for years.

Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos (C) has revealed he’s open to opening the borders within Super Rugby to allow players to play across the entire competition.Source: AFP

Currently, New Zealand Rugby won’t pick a player for the All Blacks if they’re playing overseas while Rugby Australia has shown some flexibility with their eligibility laws in recent years.

Sceptics undoubtedly will ask, what’s in it for New Zealand?

The answer is New Zealand would be able to unearth more depth for the All Blacks, which would also help the competition.

Already the Force have former All Blacks Jeremy Thrush and Richard Kahui in their squads, while a number of Australians – Michael Alaalatoa, Pete Samu, Sam Lousi – also benefited from playing in New Zealand.

Marinos’ interesting revelation comes off the back of a frustrating opening weekend of Super Rugby trans-Tasman fixtures where Australia went winless from five matches.

After a discouraging opening night, Australian rugby were two kicks away from finishing the weekend with a draw and a win.

Noah Lolesio missed a conversion against the Crusaders after the full-time siren that would have given the Brumbies a draw. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Noah Lolesio’s conversion miss after the full time hooter meant the Brumbies left Christchurch without a share of the points, while Argentine international Domingo Miotti failed to convert his try after the siren which would have given the Force a brilliant upset win.

Despite the winless weekend, Marinos remained adamant Australia would have five franchises going forward.

“Where we are now, absolutely,” Marinos said, speaking from the Sydney Cricket Ground ahead of the release of tickets for July’s three match Test series against France.

“It’s what we’ve packaged up and we’ve committed to.

“I think that’s part of the overall strategy certainly from our side about the regeneration of the game from the grassroots up. We’ve certainly got a strong youth and underbelly to Australian rugby. Our under-20s and our schoolboys have performed, so there’s a good nursery coming through.”

The Western Force almost pulled off a gigantic upset against the Chiefs. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Yet, Marinos added that they would continue to work with Australia’s franchises to target foreigners to fill areas within squads that have glaring holes.

“It’s about the equalisation of our talent across our five franchises,” the former SANZAAR boss said.

“Having the ability to be a bit more astute and discreet in terms of how we populate those franchises with foreign players, and probably have a bit more of an open-minded approach to that.”

The Force, in particular, have benefited from an influx of Argentinian talent, which has seen halfback Tomas Cubelli, prop Santiago Medrano, back-rower Tomas Lazana and Miotti feature heavily. Irish great Rob Kearney and England under-20s star Jordan Olowofela have also helped strengthen the squad.

Marinos admitted the weekend’s results were “disappointing”, but said the results wouldn’t dictate the structure of next year’s Super Rugby competition.

“What we can’t move away from is that we’ve got to be able to test ourselves against other opposition,” he said.

“We can’t be introspective the whole time.

“My whole remit is to do what’s best for Rugby Australia and what’s going to give us the best platform to excel on the international stage as well.”

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The worst rule in football and how it should be paid, or not


But the next paragraph mandates that a player with prior opportunity is penalised if they do not correctly dispose of the ball “immediately when they are legally tackled”.

The word “immediately” introduces a spoke into the wheel. It creates the expectation of an adjudicated outcome the instant a tackle is laid. The mere act of laying it is enough. Interpreted this way, it privileges the tackler.

Often it is misinterpreted to allow a player to fight through a tackle, or several. This bugs fans. The way the law is written, they are right to be bugged. This seems to be at the heart of the present widespread disgruntlement.

Only three of St Kilda’s 87 tackles were rewarded with holding the ball on Friday night.Credit:Getty Images

But I’d come at it another way. Tackling is a skill, but it is not – or should not be – the game’s foremost. Surely we should protect and encourage the ball-getter in the first instance. Otherwise, what do we mean when we hallow those who “take the game on”?

Seen this way, the act of dispossessing the ball-carrier should be reward enough for most tackles in most instances, whether or not they had prior opportunity – which is such an ethereal concept anyway.

Exceptions should be made only if the ball-carrier illegally disposes of the ball – dropping it when run down from behind, for instance – or with prior opportunity is literally caught in possession – that is, he still has it.

The mere act of laying a tackle should not automatically bring a reward. If a tackled player is good enough to dispose of the ball legally, even if after a period of time – while being slung through 360 degrees, for instance – then it should be play on.

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If tackling is a skill, then so is the ability to break or ride with a tackle to constructive effect.

Next week: throwing.

MICHAEL GLEESON SAYS:

A player is running down the wing. He takes two bounces and from nowhere an opponent runs him down from behind, just as he is trying to kick the ball.

The player is brought down and the ball spills to ground.

Does the umpire correctly: a) call play on as the ball has spilt free in the tackle; b) call play on because the player swung his leg at the ball, so made a genuine attempt to dispose of the ball; c) blow his whistle and give a free kick for holding the ball; or d) curl into the foetal position and wish he was home playing with his train set?

The answer is: e) all of the above.

These options prove the farce of the holding the ball rule. The most famous, storied, screamed, loved and loathed rule in football, the one that gives rise to its own crowd chorus, is the worst rule in football.

The most famous, storied, screamed, loved and loathed rule in football, the one that gives rise to its own crowd chorus, is the worst rule in football.

It is utterly misapplied because it is so appallingly written it cannot be consistently applied.

Three different umpires on the ground will look at that same incident and correctly under the rules of the game come up with three completely different interpretations. And they could all be right.

How can the rules be written so no one is ever wrong but never right?

The most trite complaint in football about umpiring is the cry for consistency but you cannot have consistency with a rule that is so open to inconsistent interpretation. It is not the umpires’ fault.

Brett Ratten was right to be frustrated on Friday to have so few tackles rewarded for it was remarkable in that game, and across the weekend, how the tackler became an irrelevance.

Yes, the guiding philosophy of the rules should be that the player with the ball – the playmaker – be given every chance to get rid of the ball. But the player with the ball is also not the guardian of all virtue in the game.

Being given the chance to get rid of the ball does not, or should not, include the right to canvas the seating position of fans in every stand in the ground, before selecting at his leisure where to send the ball.

Football is a game about playmakers but it is also a game at its core about the contest and about winning the ball. The tackler is trying to win the ball back for his team and should be justly treated.

The rules ask the player with the ball to get rid of it immediately upon being tackled if they have already had a chance to get rid of it (the ill-defined prior opportunity). There is no subtlety in the word immediately, no wriggle room. If you are tackled you don’t get to then do a 360-degree turn and sum up your options.

Furthermore, the rules do not define a tackle. They do not ask that it be a good tackle, a strong tackle, only that it not be a dangerous tackle. They do not ask that the tackle be sufficient to retard the opponents’ arms, simply that the opponent be tackled. That is, that the player be grabbed. That is all. So, if you are grabbed and have had your prior opportunity you should be penalised.

For a player, doing nothing in this instance is not an option. But if you are an umpire, doing nothing is an option.

Postscript: the rules also do not include – we’ve checked and it’s not there – a rule saying that if you are in the top salary bracket you get more time to get rid of the ball than rookies.

RULE 18.6 Holding the ball

18.6.1 Spirit and Intention. The Player who has Possession of the Football will be provided an opportunity to dispose of the football before rewarding an opponent for a Legal Tackle.

18.6.2 Free Kicks – Holding the Ball: Prior Opportunity. Where a Player in Possession of the Football has had Prior Opportunity, a field Umpire shall award a Free Kick if that Player does not Correctly Dispose of the football immediately when they are Legally Tackled.

18.6.3 Free Kicks – Holding the Ball: Incorrect Disposal. Where a Player in Possession of the Football has not had Prior Opportunity, a field Umpire shall award a Free Kick if that Player elects to Incorrectly Dispose of the football when Legally Tackled. For the avoidance of doubt, a Player does not elect to Incorrectly Dispose of the football when: (a) the Player genuinely attempts to Correctly Dispose of the football; (b) the Legal Tackle causes the football to be dislodged from the Player’s possession.

18.6.4 Free Kicks – Holding the Ball: No Genuine Attempt. Where a Player in Possession of the Football has not had Prior Opportunity, a field Umpire shall award a Free Kick if the Player is able to, but does not make a genuine attempt to Correctly Dispose of the football within a reasonable time when Legally Tackled.

18.6.5 Free Kicks – Holding the Ball: Diving on Top of the Football. A field Umpire shall award a Free Kick against a Player who dives on top of or drags the football underneath their body and fails to immediately knock clear or Correctly Dispose of the football when Legally Tackled. 

Source: The Laws of the Game, 2021

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Essendon Bombers vs North Melbourne Kangaroos Tips, Odds and Teams – AFL 2021


Marvel Stadium will play host to Sunday”s
Round 10 AFL game between Essendon Bombers and
North Melbourne Kangaroos. The game kicks off at 4:40 pm with Essendon Bombers heading into the game as favourites with the bookmakers. Continue reading for our in-depth preview of the Essendon Bombers vs.
North Melbourne Kangaroos
game and give you our free tips and bets.

When: Sunday May 23, 2021 at 4:40 pm

Where: Marvel Stadium

Bet 💰: Bet On This Match HERE

Essendon Bombers vs North Melbourne Kangaroos Odds

Essendon Bombers vs North Melbourne Kangaroos Preview

Essendon get a great chance to make it back-to-back wins when they take on North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium.

The Bombers were too good for the Dockers last week while North Melbourne recorded their first win of the season over Hawthorn.

I think the Bombers ability to score of opposition turnovers should suit them this week. Happy to back them in here.

First Goal Scorer

First Goal Scorer:

Harrison Jones at $.



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AFL 2021: Four Points – The cause and effect of Hawthorn’s Chad Wingard route


It’s a simple enough scenario, and one made with the smartarsery of hindsight, to consider the difference had Hawthorn kept their player and their draft pick and used that pick on Duursma. Or, if not Duursma, then another player of similar quality. Would they not be further advanced in development and closer to a flag had they taken the step back to step forward sooner, back in 2018?

Port Adelaide’s Ryan Burton and Hamish Hartlett.Credit:Getty Images

The difference in that decision would have been reflective of a broader plan and youth-led philosophy that would not have seen them waste time with the Jonathon Patton trade. Not withstanding the reason for his departure from the club, in pure football terms Patton was physically shot by the time he got to Hawthorn.

Yes, they only gave up a fourth round pick for him, but it was wasted effort and energy, distracting them from focusing on players who could actually take them somewhere.

If you consider the Wingard trade from the perspective of Port, it shines a brighter light on the choice Hawthorn made, and how they were seduced to think they were still closer than they were. Port Adelaide had been muddling along mid-table, finishing ninth, 10th, seventh and 10th when they took action on their list and avoided the bottom falling out of it before they rebuilt.

Port’s aggressive list choice was brave but also far easier to make than Hawthorn’s because they had been so stunningly mediocre for so long that doing nothing was not an option. Hawthorn had been so good for so long, the idea they could remain good was a tempting option.

Hawthorn’s problem, as they fall to second last, is that the elite young players they have taken in recent drafts — Will Day and Denver Grainger-Barras — are both injured. So there is an absence of hope on the field of the young players who will form the next generation team. Essendon’s season is differently cast, not only because of a smattering of wins but because of the showcasing of their elite kids.

We are yet to glimpse much of Hawthorn’s best picks. Day looked promising last year and will be good. Grainger-Barras was enormously rated as a junior but we haven’t seen him yet.

What Hawthorn did do well was not get suckered on their academy player, Irving Mosquito. When Essendon bid on him, the Hawks passed. This week, Mosquito returned home to WA and it is doubtful he will come back again. The pick Hawthorn did not use on Mosquito was saved to be used later in the draft on Jacob Koschitzke, who is now maturing into a reasonable key forward.

Moneyball

Nick Hind was fantastic for Essendon on Sunday at Marvel Stadium and is proving one of the canniest moneyball selections of the off-season.

Fast, hard running, and clever, the back flanker has offset the loss of Adam Saad and cost a fraction of the price. St Kilda must be wondering what they hadn’t seen in him at Moorabbin.

Maybe it’s just the change of environment that makes a difference though, given he was a mature recruit out of the VFL. Hind has made a career of developing late. He played 21 games for the Saints as a small forward but is relishing the run and dare off half-back.

Nick Hind takes a stellar mark against Michael Walters and the Dockers at Marvel Stadium.

Nick Hind takes a stellar mark against Michael Walters and the Dockers at Marvel Stadium.Credit:Getty Images

Secured for just pick 54, that was a very clever deal from Essendon and puts him with Tom Hickey and Stef Martin as the canniest targeted needs-based trades of the off-season.

Hickey was traded to the Swans from West Coast for a fiddle of late and future picks, and Martin arrived at the Dogs in exchange for defender Lachie Young.

All three trades were classic moneyball deals: identifying a proven player with a certain skill set who costs little in contract or trade terms.

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Jon Patton was more a case of what happens when a moneyball play does not work.

The resurgent Tom McDonald

This is the weekly reminder that Tom McDonald was available to any club just months ago. Sure, his wage bill was high, but it suddenly doesn’t feel that high for a goal-kicking, marking tall forward.

(And yes, all this list commentary is so much easier after the event).

Ham commentary

“And Ham might have just about smoked it,” Kelli Underwood throatily cried as Brayden Ham snapped a match-leading goal. Look it’s an, ahem, hammy line, but an amusing one nonetheless from the likeable Underwood channelling her best Dennis Cometti.

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Herman Ese’ese send off, high shot on Brian To’o, Gold Coast Titans vs Penrith Panthers, referee crackdown, Magic Round


League great Gorden Tallis has backed the decision to send Titans forward Herman Ese’ese off for a high shot on Brian To’o, saying “that probably was a send off even when I was playing.”

Ese’ese became the third player to be sent off during Magic Round when a “lazy” arm collected To’o.

Ese’ese shot out of the line in the 37th minute to make a tackle that went very wrong.

To’o was flung to the ground like a ragdoll and instantly his Penrith teammates rushed in.

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The NRL had warned clubs about a serious crackdown coming this round on foul play and as Fox League commentator Warren Smith said about Ese’ese: “he must have missed the memo.”

“He realises the extreme nature of the mistake… and this is a sin bin at a minimum,” Smith added.

“When you come out of the line like that, the margin for error is so small.”

After the pushing and shoving simmered down, referee Adam Gee gave Ese’ese his marching orders for a “direct” and “forceful” play.

“Direct, forceful, you charged off the line and you’re off-side as well. You’re off,” he said.

And Smith found it hard to disagree

“Given what we’ve seen prior to this one, you had no option but to send him straight from the field,” he said.

Fox League analyst Cooper Cronk couldn’t understand how Ese’ese could make such a huge error after watching the seven games before his team’s clash with the Panthers.

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‘TOTAL STATE OF CONFUSION’: League great reveals huge issue at Broncos training

Raiders star Josh Papalii was sent off on Saturday and even in the game right before Ese’ese’s, Tyrell Fuimaono was sent off too. That’s on top of the 13 sin bins that had happened in previous games as well.

Fuimaono high shot ends Paps’ day | 01:07

“Considering this has been in since Friday night, Herman Ese’ese has seen seven games go before (his), seen the reports, seen the sin bins and send offs we’ve had this weekend, you need to steady your feet,” Cronk said.

“He was off-side to started with, flies out of the line — I like the intention — but had to steady his feet.

“To leave his arm out there lazy and makes contact with To’o’s head, what else does a referee have to do but to send him from the field?”

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The crackdown hasn’t been welcomed with open arms from the rugby league world. In fact, it was straight up slammed following Friday’s games.

Tallis is sceptical about the crackdown at this stage and said the timing of it over the competition’s big Magic Round weekend was “poor.”

“I love rugby league, I just want it to be the game I played as a kid,” he told Sunday Night with Matty Johns.

“But we know that the kids that play at eight, nine, 10, it’s a different game to the NRL and I don’t want to ruin the spectacle, I don’t want the oxygen to leave the stadium, I don’t want to spoil what we’ve got as a game.

“But I’m happy for them to clamp down because they took the shoulder charge, they’ve taken the punch and our game’s still as great as ever.

“But today with Magic Round with 120,000 people coming through the gates, I think the timing was poor.”

However, Tallis and most fans were in agreeance that Ese’ese’s “brain fade” was definitely worthy of a send off.

Titans coach Justin Holbrook admitted he was disappointed with Ese’ese’s decision after what had preceded the final game of Magic Round over the weekend.

“I was disappointed with what he tried yeah,” Holbrook said.

“We were the last game. We had all the time in the world to get our own house in order and it was just a completely reckless decision on his behalf and we paid the price for it.

“He definitely didn’t mean it, but we had all weekend to look at it and we spoke about it and so I don’t think he would have an answer for it either, but it definitely hurt us.”

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Tim Kelly, Nic Naitanui fire as West Coast Eagles romp over Adelaide Crows


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His work should have been the catalyst for a second-half thrashing but the Eagles come out in cruise control to start the second half. The Crows battled back, at least until Kelly returned from the bench and started winning clearances again. His return and two late goals to Jake Waterman saw the Eagles again run clear. They continued to control the match in the last term although McAdam kept them honest when the ball found its way into the Crows’ forward line.

After the lost revenue of a COVID-19 lockdown a few weeks ago, the Eagles will also be buoyed by a crowd of 43, 427 fans attending Sunday’s match.

When the Eagles are flying and huge crowds are roaring, they are a force to be reckoned with.

The clanger, the response

The Eagles could be accused of being in cruise mode in the third term as the Crows tried to fight back but they awoke when defender Jeremy Rotham tried to kick backwards to full-back, only for McAdam to intercept the ball and kick an open goal.

McAdam rightly celebrated but at the centre-bounce Naitanui and Kelly forced a turnover and Kelly passed to Waterman, who kicked a goal.

It was seconds between embarrassment and glory for the Eagles.

BEST
Eagles: Kelly, Gaff, Naitanui, Darling, Kennedy, Witherden.
Crows: Laird, Keays, McAdam, Smith, McAdam, Schoenberg.

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Live scores, updates, video, stream, stats, live blog


Melbourne can make this its best start to a season in 65 years when it battles a Carlton side still dreaming of the finals this afternoon.

The Demons (8-0, 145.1%) have started a season 9-0 just twice in their history – 1955 and 1956. On both occasions, they went on to win the premiership.

The Blues (3-5, 95.2%) were disappointing last week when they allowed the Western Bulldogs to come back and win from 27 points late in the third quarter, but have at least continued to be competitive against top eight sides.

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New for the 2021 season, each team names a medical substitute one hour before the bounce. This 23rd player can be brought into the game replacing an injured teammate.

This match gets underway at 3:20pm EST from the MCG.

Watch it live on Fox Sports 503 from 3pm EST.

Follow Melbourne v Carlton in our live blog below!

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St Kilda Saints’ Brad Crouch injury news, has depressed cheekbone fracture, club waits for foot scans on Rowan Marshall


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St Kilda ruckman Rowan Marshall is expected to be sidelined for a month after the Saints decided to operate on his troublesome foot to fix the plantar fascia issue that has plagued him this season.

The 25-year-old was forced from the ground midway through the third quarter on Friday night and replaced by the medical substitute Ben Long. The game shifted course from that pojnt with Geelong eventually overpowering the inaccurate Saints.

Brad Crouch may be right to play next round, despite a fractured cheekbone.Credit:Getty Images

After scans on Saturday and consultation with specialists the club opted for surgery after Marshall again experienced pain while playing on Friday.

Saints’ football manager Simon Lethlean described the injury as frustrating to manage and said it was important that Marshall be given time to recuperate fully.

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“It can seem a bit like one step forward, two steps back but that is the nature of the issue,” Lethlean said.

“The only thing we can do is support Rowan and give him the time he needs to recover.”

His absence is a huge blow for the Saints who face the Western Bulldogs next week needing a win after a heartbreaking loss to Geelong on Friday night where they threw away their chance at victory with inaccurate kicking for goal.

However they are hopeful midfielder Brad Crouch will be available next week despite suffering a depressed fracture of the cheekbone in Friday night’s loss to Geelong. He will have surgery on Sunday to get him right for the clash against the Bulldogs.

The 27-year-old was in good form in the middle before he copped a heavy knock in the second half forcing him from the ground for an extended period. However he courageously returned late in the game in an attempt to get the Saints over the line.

Small forward Jack Lonie was considered to be sore but in reasonable shape after the game after he bravely backed into a pack in an attempt to take a mark in the middle of the ground.

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