Tuesday 17 October 2017 / 03:11 PM

HANGERS & CLANGERS: AFL ROUND 10

In what is shaping as the best season this millennium, Round 10 was filled with thrillers, drama and injuries. The cream is starting to rise with GWS and the Crows being big winners although the middle of the ladder is still congested and the finals makeup looks entirely uncertain.

Here are the things I liked and disliked from round 10 of the AFL.

Hangers

Lewis Jetta Returns

It’s taken 18 months, but, finally, the real Lewis Jetta stood up. The premiership winning Swan has been a major disappointment since coming home during a stint lacking continuity due to being in-and-out of the team.

At West Coast, Jetta had looked totally lost on the field, ambling around like he had barely ever played the sport before. There was a jarring lack of energy in his game as Jetta was frustratingly unable to reignite his electrifying form.

Recalled against GWS, Jetta was a shining light for West Coast in clearly his best game for the club. The 28-year-old had 28 touches, kicked two goals and had 900 metres gained in an eye-catching performance reminiscent of his best at Sydney.

Jetta is exactly the type of player a middling West Coast desperately needs if they are going to become a genuine contender; he’s fast, has a penetrative kick and is a line-breaking. West Coast’s much maligned midfield desperately needs a spark and Jetta lit a fuse against GWS.

Now he needs to replicate that against Gold Coast in what is shaping as a must-win game for a slumping West Coast.

GWS’ Drought-Breaking Win

GWS have achieved plenty since entering the competition in 2012. After a tough initiation, the Giants had a breakout last season and almost made the grand final. However, their bogey team had been West Coast, who remained the only side they had never beaten.

West Coast had continually pummelled them, most notably a 19-goal hiding in 2014 best remembered for an 11-goal haul from Josh Kennedy. Even late last season, the Giants somehow grasped victory when Eagles ruckmanNicNaitanui memorably kicked the match-winning goal on the siren.

On Sunday, the Giants finally ended their hoodoo with an impressive eight-point victory in Perth. Withstanding a ferocious early Eagles onslaught, the Giants’ growing maturity was evident as they controlled proceedings and should have won more easily if not for errant kicking at goal.

Impressively, the Giants won despite having a current injury scourge with numerous stars sidelined. The victory spoke of their vaunted depth and mental fortitude to prevail against the odds.

The Giants are starting to build an aura and you feel aren’t just the team to beat this season – they should own the rest of the decade and perhaps even longer.

Hawthorn v Sydney Throwback

Hawthorn and Sydney has been the best matchup in recent times as evidenced by the teams having played each other in the 2012 and 2014 grand finals. In fact, there hasn’t been a grand final without at least one of these teams since 2011.

However, the two powerhouses have slipped this season with each sporting woeful records of 3-6 coming into the Friday night contest. Despite the identical records, the in-form Swans were heavy favourites having won their previous three matches.

However, the injury-plagued Hawks defied the odds to win a memorable encounter with inspirational skipper Jarryd Roughead kicking the match-winning goal with a minute left. The ageing stars – some of the very best players in the AFL over the past decade – turned back the clock with Lance Franklin starring against his former team and sage Hawk Shaun Burgoyne showcasing trademark poise in a fitting performance during the Indigenous round.

It was a throwback contest for the ages.

Clangers

Josh Kennedy‘s Injury

It is always a horrible sight when a superstar of the competition goes down with a serious injury. Kennedy, the Eagles spearhead, innocuously tumbled to the ground in the final quarter against GWS and had to be helped off by two trainers.

Immediately, there was a reverberating collective gasp from the Eagles faithful who momentarily lost focus on the tense proceedings unfolding in front of them. Initially, it seemed Kennedy had suffered an Achilles injury which would end his season and, bigger picture, cast doubt over the 29-year-old’s future. An Achilles injury is a tough one for ageing athletes to overcome.

However, coach Adam Simpson said post-match that Kennedy had suffered a calf injury but was still likely to miss matches. Whatever eventuates, the dual Coleman Medallist is set for a stint on the sidelines in a major blow for a struggling West Coast stuttering at 6-4 after consecutive losses.

In a much needed silver lining for crestfallen Eagles fans, Jack Darling, the ever maligned key forward, had his best season – in 2012 as a 20-year-old – when Kennedy was mainly sidelined.

Demoralised Dockers

Fremantle has enjoyed a surprisingly strong season having won 6 of 7 to vault into the top eight and finals calculations. Despite the progression, the Dockers were somewhat hard to gauge having won numerous matches in the dying minutes.

Against the Crows in Adelaide, Fremantle were blown off the park losing by 100 points – and the scoreboard flattered them. It was arguably the worst performance of any team this season with the Crows having 43 scoring shots to the Dockers’ miserly 13.

It was a major step back for the upstart Dockers, who had been building much goodwill during this transition season. However, these types of setbacks are going to happen occasionally against very good sides and should not derail the steady rebuilding job.

However, ever pugnacious coach Ross Lyon will be seeking a fiery response from his charges in a highly winnable game against Collingwood at home on Sunday.

Contentious Call

As usual, the umpires have been treated as piñatas by fans and critics. A prime example was the debate overPort Adelaide forward Charlie Dixon’s error of timing against Geelong. Late in the match, Dixon took longer than the prescribed 30 seconds to take a shot at goal after marking in the forward line when Port held a two-point lead. He subsequently lost the ball after being called to play on and the Power eventually lost the game in heartbreaking fashion.

Critics, most notably South Australian football legend Graham Cornes, slammed the decision and predictably social media melted with diatribes aimed firmly at the umpires. However – what was ultimately lost amid the white noise – the correct decision was made and, truth be told, it was about time the umpires made a stand on the rule.

Players have been wasting too much time when they have a set shot, as was Dixon’s desires. Players had been given far too much leeway before the Dixon incident. Hopefully, with an example set, the umpires will be consistent on the rule.

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About the author

Tristan Lavalette

Tristan is a freelance journalist based in Perth. He has written for The Guardian, ESPN and Yahoo Sports. Previously he was a newspaper journalist for almost a decade.

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