A SCHIZOPHRENIC SCHEDULE
So we’re back to the full roster of nine games a week. Trouble is, though there might be three more than we’ve been treated to the past few weeks, you need a work planner and no social or family life to be able to see many of them.
This round nine games were played at eight different start times. And nor was there anything like a return to what these days passes for a “normal” weekend schedule, with a Thursday night thrown in again, three games instead of the usual five on Saturday, and four instead of the typical three on Sunday.
Hawthorn’s clash with Greater Western Sydney was a “blink and you missed it” scenario, starting at the bizarre time of 4.40pm, and the important West Coast-North Melbourne clash was due to finish about 10.30pm when most with work or school commitments were tucked up in bed.
Is any more evidence needed that the balance between live and TV audiences has tipped way too far towards the broadcasters?
EVEN DEMON DEFEATS IMPRESSIVE
Melbourne’s progress under the coaching of Paul Roos is becoming more obvious by the week. And, while there’s some way to go, you could already almost claim mission accomplished in one sense.
That is simple competitiveness, and the Demons this year have had it in spades, Saturday’s 20-point loss to Port Adelaide merely the latest example.
Indeed, in six losses this season, only once (against West Coast in round two) has Melbourne gone under by more than 31 points. Even with that thumping their average losing margin is only 30 points.
Last year the Demons lost no fewer than six games by 90 points or more (including 148-point and 122-point humiliations), with an average losing margin of 64 points. Enough said.
TIGERS’ TALE OF WOE
It took all of 15 minutes on Saturday to work out that Richmond’s dismantling of Greater Western Sydney wasn’t going to be the moment a season turned but rather the ultimate in “flat-track bullying”.
Far from using the smashing as a spur to greater efforts, the Tigers seemed to have decided it was all going to be that easy again, regardless of their opponent being far better-equipped this week than last.
Richmond conceded 60-odd possessions to Essendon’s tally but, despite chasing bumstails most of Saturday night, was still out-tackled by 17. Few stats could be as damning of a team than those couple.
If 3-7 isn’t a stark enough win-loss scoreline, Richmond fans should prepare for worse yet, with the next three weeks serving up top-eight opponents in North Melbourne, Fremantle and Sydney. This season had long since been consigned to the disappointing basket, but within a month nightmare might be a more apt description.