Poor umpiring decided another game last Saturday night - and this time, Geelong was the loser.
The Cats, who were the beneficiaries of an umpiring howler in their win over Brisbane in round two, copped two terrible decisions in the last minute of their two-point defeat to Sydney.
Forward Jeremy Cameron was not paid a mark close to goal as umpire Mathew Nicholls adjudged the kick had not travelled the required distance, which it clearly did as the AFL acknowledged the following day. In the next piece of play, James Rowbottom should have been penalised for holding the ball from a tackle by Geelong skipper Joel Selwood. Nicholls was again the officiating umpire but he ruled the final siren had saved the Swans.
As Cats coach Chris Scott pointed out, all key statistics showed they should have won the game and it should not have come down to that dramatic last minute.
Port Adelaide should be permitted to wear its iconic prison bar guernsey for this Saturday night's Showdown against Adelaide.
The AFL's decision to deny the Power's request is farcical and merely provides more evidence the powerful Victorian clubs exert undue influence in what is supposedly a national competition.
It is hard not to empathise with Port Adelaide president David Koch's frustration and anger over this short-sighted decision. Eddie McGuire is no longer at the helm, but the former Magpie president's influence still looms large at headquarters.
Koch has been at pains to point out the jumper would be worn only for Showdowns - what's the problem with that? It would not worry me if the Power wore the jumper in games other than the Showdowns, as long as they were not playing Collingwood.
Pressure builds on Buckley
Collingwood and its embattled coach Nathan Buckley face much bigger issues than the battle with Port Adelaide over jumpers.
The pressure is already building on the Magpies, having lost their past five games, and they must defeat bottom-placed North Melbourne this Saturday.
If they lose, the fallout will be dire for Buckley, who is out of contract at the end of this season. The experiment of playing All-Australian defender Darcy Moore in attack has failed and Jordan De Goey is horribly out of form. With a finals berth out of reach this season, it is time for the Magpies to rebuild and invest in youth.
Tigers expose Dogs' weak links
While an undermanned Richmond proved it was far from a spent force, the Western Bulldogs' capitulation in the second half last Friday night exposed their frailties, which had been camouflaged in their 6-0 start to this season.
In their first big test against quality opposition at the MCG, the Dogs had a promising first half but failed to withstand the fierce pressure applied by Richmond's midfielders and small forwards when it mattered in the second half.
Statistics show the Bulldogs are the worst team for defending one on one in the competition and the Dogs' much-vaunted deep and talented midfield has protected their vulnerable defence.
Richmond spearhead Tom Lynch, who has been well down on his best form this season, was supreme in the air and once Lynch got his kicking boots on, the Bulldogs had no answer to him. Alex Keath, who is undersized and better suited as an intercept defender, and Zaine Cordy were overwhelmed, being caught out of position too often.
The weaknesses were not confined to the backline. Although the Bulldogs missed the presence of Tim English, there is an unhealthy reliance on the high-flying Aaron Naughton.
Josh Bruce, who kicked 10 against the hapless Kangaroos in round three, was soundly beaten and Josh Schache, who replaced the concussed English, has yet to prove himself at the elite level.
Clearly, the Bulldogs have to improve in these areas to be considered a genuine premiership contender.
No need to shorten quarters
While several coaches and players have been publicly advocating a return to shorter quarters employed last season, everyone needs to take a deep breath.
Generally, the tweaks to the game including the reduction in team rotations and longer quarters have provided a much better and entertaining spectacle.
Several coaches believe these changes have been major contributing factors towards the number of injuries this season, but the jury is out. Are there more injuries in 2021 than in previous years? At least one coach, the Western Bulldogs' Luke Beveridge, does not agree.
There are plenty of reasons why quarters are longer. The clock stops regularly for score reviews, which can last several minutes and at stoppages where umpires have to wait for each team to nominate a competing ruckman - that rule has to go.
If the umpire threw the ball up immediately, or dare I say bounced the ball around the ground, it would open up play and lead to less congestion. There have also been more goals kicked, a 50-second break between each goal to fit in TV advertisements and the long-standing blood rule, which contribute towards the increase in times of quarters.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @hpkotton59.
- This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.