Tag Archives: rugby league

I Got A Fever! (Septocemia – 2009 AFL Finals Series)

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PaddyPunch

No final for you, Paddy. But if you have a handful of jumper when you hit a bloke, exactly like Luke Hodge did to you, you get away with it. Jumper punch equals no suspension…

LloydSewell

Same for you, Lloydy – a handful of jumper and you get away with it. Jumper Bump equals no suspension…ok, maybe not!

It’s finals time…you little ripper!!! After a home-and-away season filled with thrills, surprises, inspiring stories and some downright weirdness, we have eight teams left and four weeks to sort out the wheat from the crap.

This September, the League have again gone into promotional overdrive and declared the finals series as being In A League Of Its Own…it’s going to be harder, faster and fiercerer than ever before! Well, that’s a relief.

Personally, I think that the propensity for rugby league players to poo on the floor of hotels kinda puts the NRL in a league of their own but that’s just me.

Here at Half Back Flanker, the finals series will always be known as Septocemia in homage to my favourite AFL finals promotion from 2007 when the League attempted to transport us all to the mystical footballing fairyland that was Septopia! And it all kicks off tonight when Adelaide defeats Essendon in the opening game of the finals series…come on – they can’t win, can they?

FRIDAY NIGHT

BurtonMOTY

How the heck are you supposed to defend against this?

First Elimination FinalAAMI Stadium, 7:45pm (local): Adelaide v Essendon (SEVEN)

Gee, they are getting a little bit excited in Adelaide, aren’t they? Apparently this side is going to make history because they are better than the group that won two flags in the nineties! They are fully primed for finals action, choc full of flair (a term not usually associated with the Crows) and not even remotely fussed about missing a couple of key players. Are they getting too far ahead of themselves? Even if they are, they probably won’t get caught out this week…

BombersCelebrate

Essendon might just celebrate wildly tonight…if they kick more than two goals in a row against the stingy Crows, that is!

…because they are facing a depleted Essendon outfit that have little finals experience and a crap interstate record. They have some nice young kids and that ‘nothing to lose’ attitude but can the Bombers really pull off an upset of massive proportions? Um…no. Just no.

CROWS by 35

SATURDAY AFTERNOON

ablettgoal

Time for more Gary Ablett magic…the Cats certainly need some!

Second Qualifying Final MCG, 2:30pm (local): Geelong v Western Bulldogs (TEN)

Poor Geelong…what do you have to do to earn some respect around here? You dominate the comp for almost three seasons yet the Doggies were stoked to finish third (don’t be fooled!) to play them and avoid St Kilda. The Cats will find it tough to go all the way this year but with a little tackling practice and some good players returning, they might just earn the week off. This bloke sure hopes they do

ThumbsUpRocket

Beating the Cats, a prelim final, a week off…surely that would be worth two thumbs up, Rocket?

The Bulldogs have a couple of nice additions as well, meaning the coach has had one of those nasty selection headaches all week! It’s not about revenge from the 2008 finals…well, maybe a little – however the Dogs say they are better and not bitter. They are definitely better but if they can’t shake Geelong here, their path to the flag will become extremely difficult.

CATS by 21

SATURDAY NIGHT

lionspew

Are Brisbane a little nervous leading into this elimination final? Looks that way to me…

Second Elimination Final – GABBA, 7:30pm (local): Brisbane v Carlton (TEN)

The once-mighty Brisbane return to finals action but there were concerns early in the week that they might not be able to field a full team! Of course, that all changed come selection time and you just know that Michael Voss has been waiting most of his adult life to play all these crazy coaching mind games!!! Between that and his Rising Star, Vossy would be loving the week…

FevDenial

Given that he stops trying in the odd game throughout the season, Fev should be fresh and ready to fire in the finals!

And Blues fans are loving it too because Carlton are here – back in the finals! They would have loved it a little more had their team not screwed up royally last weekend to lose the home final…but they have a proven finals performer leading the way and the timely addition of a few time-challenged players. But I think that every Blues player can chuck their alarm clocks away after the weekend because they will be on holidays.

LIONS by 9

SUNDAY

MaxBaby

To play Max or not to play Max…what a tricky question

First Qualifying Final – MCG, 2:40pm (local): St Kilda v Collingwood (SEVEN)

A lot can change in a month. St Kilda went from being on the verge of immortality four weeks ago to being questioned about their somewhat flaky play during irrelevant games and upcoming team selection issues. But they have finished off an outstanding regular season and can focus on winning that flag…though facing the Pies at the ‘G is not the greatest reward for finishing a clear first.

magpiecrack

Not meaning to bash Collingwood…but is THIS what we want to see on Grand Final day???

Collingwood didn’t fire in last week’s big game but it might be the kick in the arse they needed. But Josh Fraser has a bit of ‘the Adelaides’ about him; he reckons his Pies are fully primed for finals action and poised to go all the way. Yet he also thinks that Anthony Rocca can still play a role…really? Rocca might get a chance if/when St Kilda do the business on Sunday but not sure how much help that will be…

SAINTS by 19

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Round Eighteen – Limping To The Finish Line

SimpsonOver

“Shit! It’s all over…oh well, never mind. Beer?

The business end of the 2009 AFL season is here and those teams that harbour finals and/or premiership aspirations are busy plotting their course for September. But for clubs that are struggling with injury and/or no hope of finals action, the last remaining weeks of the season will be tough work. But before these players start throwing in the towel to focus on what dress to wear on Mad Monday, they should spare a thought for blokes like Kangaroos veteran Adam Simpson.

SimpsonCalf

And TWAAAANG goes the calf muscle!!! At least Adam Simpson’s final ever training session was memorable…

Simpson announced his retirement early last week with his final game to be played on the Friday night against Carlton. Problem was…he injured his calf at his final training session, a mere 24 hours before the Roos were due to play! This didn’t stop Simpson from taking his place in the side and although Carlton managed to spoil the party, Simmo’s effort to play was clearly the highlight of the night.

OttensAlive

Hang on, that looks like…no, it couldn’t be…Yes, it is! It’s Brad Ottens playing football!!!

The mighty Geelong Cats may appear to be limping towards the finals yet they keep finding ways to win. But a rare Brad Ottens sighting was probably even bigger news than the victory – whether he plays in September, or just how good he will be, is still unknown but the Cats sure do need him!

RichoSidelined

Richo’s comeback game consisted of nine minutes of footy and a couple of hours of sitting around.

Is Matthew Richardson limping towards the finish line of his AFL career? His comeback game for Coburg in the VFL didn’t go so well and for a guy who is 34 years old, out of contract, coming off major hamstring surgery and playing at an unsuccessful club looking for a new senior coach, showing he can still play AFL right now is pretty damn important, yes? So when Herald Sun hack Mark Robinson rants about how Richo shouldn’t bother trying to play again in ’09 on Channel Seven’s AFL Game Day show on Sunday morning, what was the response from fellow panelist and former Tigers coach Terry Wallace?

RobboWallace

If only there was somebody with just the tiniest amount of knowledge about Tigerland that could help Mark Robinson understand why Richo needs to play again this year. Anybody? Anybody that might just be sitting next to him?? Anyone whose name rhymes with Jerry Schmallace???

Nothing! Nada! Zip! You could hear crickets in the background! When Terry is forced to explain why his time at Richmond went to crap, you can’t shut him up on how all the decisions at Tigerland (made by people other than him, of course!) contributed to his lack of success. But a situation with a guy he actually coached for four-and-a-half years and was directly involved in the decision on how Richo should approach his comeback (because he was the actual coach when the injury occurred) yet he has absolutely nothing to say about this? Is this why he just walked into media gigs within minutes of being sacked? How does this even happen???

KarmichaelKicks

Rugby league player Karmichael Hunt kicks that funny-shaped red football at Broncos training. Looks like he needs all the practice he can get…

But the club that is currently limping towards (or out of) the finals race which is the biggest surprise? Is it Hawthorn? Is it Essendon? No…try the Brisbane Broncos! They just copped the biggest hiding in their illustrious history and are in danger of missing the NRL finals…for the first time since 1991! But I’m sure the Broncos players are going all out to win and are not distracted with kicking AFL footballs at training because their young star is leaving the code to join the new AFL franchise on the Gold Coast. This kind of thing happens all the time…no, wait! It hasn’t happened before? Hmmm…

The Games:

PetrieShattered

Cheer up, Drew Petrie…at least you get to play another game next week! What about poor Simmo?

When Carlton play on a Friday night, two things usually happen – Robert Walls writes (yet) another article about the Blues and they get beaten. This time only one of those things happened…and there was no way Wallsy could write about anybody else! The Blues spoiled the Adam Simpson party though it was far from convincing or attractive. In fact, the Roos could quite easily have claimed victory and placed Carlton’s finals hopes in real jeopardy. They will probably make it now…but will they be any good once they get there?

JohnnoRecord

Brad Johnson claims the Bulldogs games record from Chris Grant…while that old bloke in the background is still pissy that he doesn’t hold it because he was sacked and forced to finish his career at Fitzroy!

It was Brad Johnson day for the Western Bulldogs and his teammates sure didn’t let him down. They didn’t let Lindsay Gilbee down either, standing up for him on what must have been a tough, tough afternoon! Fremantle weren’t too concerned with their lack of success at Whatshishead Stadium…as they have little success wherever they go!

CatsExcited

You think these Cats are happy about the win? Just wait until Cam Mooney joins in…he lurves a good man-cuddle!

The Adelaide Crows went to the regional centre of Geelong looking for a genuine footy scalp and a top-four spot. They almost got it…if only they knew how to stop those baldies! These Cats might be thin up top and down back for the moment but they are working together to earn wins and second spot behind the undefeated Saints is a great place for them to be.

ShatteredCrows

No four points, no big scalp, no long-term memory. Can somebody help these Crows take off their boots? They all seem to have forgotten how to do it!

DidakDives

Alan Didak takes an overly-dramatic dive to try and con a free kick from the umpires

rivaldo

…which was more reminiscent of Brazil’s Rivaldo than Aussie Rules…

DidakLoser

…yet the Brisbane Lions guy is a loser? Seriously??? Pot – Kettle!

With The Big Announcement and a ninth win from ten matches, Collingwood are back to their smart-arsy best and are setting themselves for the top four. The Lions looked primed for the upset after Browny’s accidental head clash left Simon Prestigiacomo groggy but the skipper struggled after the main break when he had anywhere between three and five defenders pushing back on him. If only Jono Brown had another big forward to help him out

KingShoulder

Um, your shoulder is probably not meant to do that! But, in typical St Kilda-2009 good fortune, Steven King was able to keep playing.

I tipped Sydney to knock off the Saints, ending the quest for The Perfect Season and possibly becoming the only tipster in Australia to pick all eight winners for the round. The Swans lost by one lousy point! And St Kilda’s season has been so outrageously blessed that The Age is now writing feature articles about that little twerp Milne!!! I’m so depressed…

MickeyOMiss

Mickey O misses a sitter that might have cost his side the upset of the season, and my perfect tipping round. Yep, thanks for that…

TigerSandwich

Jade Rawlings learns something new about Richmond in the dramatic win over the Dees…Nathan Brown prefers to be on top!

Dean Bailey could barely believe it…and neither could I! Richmond managed a great escape with the win over Melbourne courtesy of a goal after the siren from Jordan McMahon. Coach Rawlings knew that McMahon would be fine taking the match-deciding kick despite his regular displays of bad decision making…highlighted by his decision to leave the Western Bulldogs for Richmond two years ago!

RickyOAdelaide

Perhaps Channel Seven showed this match in ten-minute delay in case Ricky Olarenshaw’s head overheated during his hyper-speed quarter-time summaries!

There must be a logical explanation as to why Ch.7 would bother broadcasting the Port Adelaide-Hawthorn match into Melbourne with a slight delay…or is Adelaide further behind the time than we realise? Otherwise, we live in a world where dickheads like Kyle and Jackie O broadcast live when they need a delay (actually, they need new jobs!) but the biggest sport in Australia is not ‘live’? Crazy!!! Anyway, Port Adelaide won and find themselves in the top eight…well, for this week at least.

EaglesRookie

A first-gamer kicking goals to help the Eagles win? Forgive Callum Wilson for he knows not what he does!

What? The West Coast Eagles won? But aren’t they meant to be ‘tanking’? Well, yes…if you paid any attention to lazy hack journos who throw out the ‘T’ word willy-nilly with no substantial thought behind it. There is clearly a problem rewarding defeat with a priority draft pick but  when you lose by less than a kick in round 17, it’s not ‘tanking’. And when you beat a top-eight side (at the time of the opening bounce) to register a fifth win for the season, giving up your entitlement to the priority draft pick, it’s not ‘tanking’ either. Using the ‘T’ word inappropriately actually helps Andy D with his ‘media beat-up’ argument! Maybe those guys at the Herald Sun are just struggling a bit themselves…limping to the finish line, perhaps?

Round Eleven – The Excitement Builds In Western Sydney

WesternSydney

The suburbs of western Sydney look exactly like this year’s NAB ad…well, it would if you removed every single Sherrin!

Half Back Flanker went on a bit of a field trip for round eleven of the AFL season and ventured out into the Aussie rules footballing hotbed that could well be soon on the receiving end of the 18th AFL franchise. I thought it might be nice to gauge the levels of excitement and anticipation from the millions of  residents in the west of Sydney as they count down to the arrival of their very own AFL club.

Well, having left Sydney and returned to Swine Flu Central…I can’t say that Sydney’s west is exactly swept up in AFL fever. It was like round eleven never actually happened! Not exactly sure why Andy D is so gung-ho about expanding into western Sydney..no, actually I am – there are a shitload of people out there! And they are watching plenty of footy. But let me tell you something…they ain’t watching our game!

If you wanted to talk to the locals about how the Tigers died in the arse during the second half on Friday Night football, they would have agreed. But they are talking the Wests Tigers in the NRL…not Richmond! And while the coach of the West Tigers might be in trouble, at least he still has a job…and he actually won something during his time there. Terry Wallace has neither of those things

Terry Farewell

Richmond fans in western Sydney had to stay up past 2am on Saturday morning to watch Terry Wallace coach the Tigers to the last loss of his career.

And just say that you were keen to check out the Tigers-Doggies game and lived in western Sydney – you had to wait until after 11pm for the start of the match on Channel Seven. The Friday night marquee event AFL game and a massive audience in the largest growth area in Australia that has been targeted to adopt your code…and they are the last group of people in the entire country to see it?

And things didn’t improve on Saturday either. The ladder-leading Saints had another win? Nuh, they didn’t play until Monday night and they (being St George Illawarra) lost to the Gold Coast. And if you settled down in the family home to watch the action on a Saturday night, no AFL either. It was rugby union between the Wallabies and Barbarians…where the Lions were British, not Brisbane, and the Blues were from Auckland, not Carlton. If you went to the pub for some pay TV footy action, it was all about Johnathan Thurston and his Cowboys – not Toby Thurstans and the victorious Port Adelaide!

At least we saw some AFL action on Sunday with the Sydney Swans playing Hawthorn…it was live and everything. Sure, every pub with a TV had the rugby league on but those with a second screen were showing the Swannies. Sure enough, the Swans lost; in part to a classic Barry Hall brain-snap; and big bad Bazza has pretty much been the only AFL coverage in the Sydney media for the next three days.

BazzaMitchell

Another Barry brain-snap…but it’s probably the only way to keep AFL and the Swans in the Sydney papers!

Say what you like about the hot-headed Swans spearhead but if it wasn’t for Barry Hall doing stupid things on a regular basis, the term ‘AFL’ would barely be uttered up there. Gary Ablett and the Cats keep tearing up the competition…read the scores in the paper the following day. The Crows and Bombers put on a great show with some spectacular goals…didn’t watch or listen to a second of it! Probably just as well for me…

And how about the latest teenage whizkid to hit the big time! Huh, who the hell is Jack Watts? They are talking about rising Wallabies star James O’Connor and his selection in the best rugby team in the country. They wouldn’t have the first idea about Watts making his highly (try ‘overly’) publicised debut for the worst team in the league – which just happened to coincide with Melbourne’s home game blockbuster against the biggest crowd drawing team. What a funny coincidence…

So, despite the miserable skies and hail storms greeting me at the airport, it was great to arrive back at the home of AFL football and catch up on what happened in round eleven. The guy behind the success at the Swans has doubts about the new Sydney club…and after my experience last weekend, I would have to agree.