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AFL 101: three things we worked out from round 22

West Coast’s season reached its highest and lowest points within half an hour of each other, Dockers fans were left wondering whether rock bottom was here yet and the rest of the competition was left pondering what century some Port Adelaide supporters were living in. 

Our crack(pot) panel returns to run the rule over round 22 of the AFL season.

AFL plays of round 22

Kennedy heading for back to back Coleman’s, Swan Heeney too fast, too good, Stevie J works his usual magic, Eddie Betts with yet another Goal of the Year nomination and Carlton’s Dylan Buckley proves his name is not so unlucky.

The panel:
Brendan Foster (WAtoday’s resident grumpy old man); David Prestipino (WAtoday wine writer and footy tragic); Simon White (WAtoday editor and chief puppet hater)

Six doesn’t go into the top four but has there ever been a more thrilling end to the home and away season?
2. Jeremy McGovern is a certainty for All-Australian selection. His intercept marking is sublime.
3. The Hawks are finally looking vulnerable. Teams will rush to watch Mark Hutchings’ shutdown job on Sam Mitchell! 
Footnote: Dear Dockers, for the love of God show some ticker this week and send Pav off on a high note. 

A dejected Nic Naitanui on the Eagles bench on Friday night.
A dejected Nic Naitanui on the Eagles bench on Friday night. Photo: Getty Images/AFL Media

Nic Naitanui endured a solemn 2015 after losing his mother and now this season has ended with sadness, but spare a thought also for his coach Adam Simpson, who’s been without his matchwinners at rotten times in the past two years. That premiership window is closing fast.
2. There’s still going to be ugly sides to every AFL club’s fanbase but this season it seemed the anti-social behaviour had somewhat subsided until the Adelaide Showdown on Saturday night… what possesses a seemingly grown woman to throw a banana at a black footballer, and in angst? It’s time these bigots were punished with more than a fine and their membership cancellation. This is Australia. 
3. It wasn’t so much a case of the blues but the demons for Melbourne… with a finals berth still within reach and a lowly opponent on their MCG, they either felt the pressure (for the first time in a long time), underestimated the desire of Carlton or fell for the oldest one in the book – not coming to the party. A real shame for their fans who would have relished a final-round finals fling against Geelong this week.

First Nat Fyfe, now Nic Naitanui, the cover of Men’s Health is now officially Australia’s version of the Sports Illustrated jinx (with thanks to AFL Instagram)

Uncanny, really...

Uncanny, really… Photo: AFLCentral Instagram

2. Speaking of Nic Nat, given he’s never been a ball-winner (less than 13 touches per game for his career) and has a game built almost entirely around phenomenal athleticism, there has to be a question mark about whether he can return from a knee reconstruction as the same player.
3. About 13 years ago, working in Kalgoorlie, I got a call from a lady invited me to her Boulder home to interview her son, who was an All-Australian under 18 footballer. The kid turned out to be Eddie Betts. Eddie’s come a long way since that day, it’s just a shame that some members of AFL crowds haven’t matched that journey.
Footnote: As a Dockers fan living in Adelaide in 2009, I went to a game at Footy Park against Port Adelaide. On a rainy night made even more miserable by Freo’s performance, a Power-supporting lady kindly (and completely voluntarily) lent me her spare poncho.  It’s unfortunate that the weekend actions of one Port Adelaide person will taint perception of an entire supporter base.

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