We’ve made it through 21 rounds with just a fortnight remaining before finals kick off.
With the finish line edging closer by the day, here’s what we learned from a crucial weekend of football.
Ed Langdon’s comments were good for footy
We all heard Ed Langdon’s “one-trick pony” and “all duck, no dinner” Collingwood comments on SEN’s The Run Home in the lead-up to Friday’s big clash.
While Melbourne’s media manager may have been pulling their hair out at the statement, it was great for us as footy fans.
With the fuse lit for what already was one of the most anticipated games of the home and away season, we were treated to a match-up with a perfect storyline as well as top-four ramifications.
Somehow, what played out on-field exceeded the hype and expectations surrounding it and it was seriously refreshing to hear that honest talk coming from a player’s mouth ahead of a game.
While Langdon was eventually made to eat his words as the Magpies prevailed in the thriller, his comments added extra spice that we’re not often used to as supporters.
Pleasingly, it seemed like Langdon’s words were taken in good jest by fans and the media alike, hopefully, we see more of it.
There’s only one spot in the top eight still up for grabs
We’re 21 rounds in and six teams have officially qualified for finals with Geelong, Collingwood, Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Fremantle all booking their September ticket.
While that leaves two spots for the likes of Carlton, Richmond, St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs to fight for, it looks like only one of them is truly under threat.
Given Richmond’s position inside the eight and relatively easy run home with Hawthorn and Essendon to come, it’s Carlton on 12 wins who’ll be feeling shaky.
Although they probably only need one more win to make it, their next fortnight has them billed to play Melbourne and Collingwood, two teams that will finish higher than them in 2022.
There’s no doubt this team has enough talent to play finals and they would’ve expected to be there at 8-2 after 10 rounds.
It’s a simple equation, one more win should see them get there, but the Bulldogs and Saints will be hot on their tail should they drop next Saturday’s game to the Demons.
Collingwood needs to put a contract in front of De Goey
Collingwood midfielder Jordan De Goey has had a stellar two weeks since returning from a quad injury.
In two consecutive wins against quality opposition, the 26-year-old has arguably been his side’s best player, and there’s almost no doubt the Magpies don’t prevail over the Demons without him.
While the club pulled a contract off the table following the highly-publicized Bali incident, it’s time they put one back to him based on his on-field output.
Sure, whatever deal has to have incentives and behavioral clauses given his past, but he’s simply too good a footballer for Collingwood to let go of – particularly as he’s previously stated he wants to stay.
Craig McRae described De Goey’s one-goal, 25-disposal, nine-clearance performance as his best of the year and given that he helps remedy one of Collingwood’s glaring issues at the contest, his worth should be known at the AIA Centre.
The coach also said it best post-match when he said he hopes he stays.
Collingwood fans will be hoping he can convince the club’s board to see things similarly.
Kane’s right, Bolton is the best player in the competition
SEN’s Kane Cornes boldly claimed last week that Shai Bolton was the best player in the competition, and he might just be right.
The All-Australian lock was superb for Richmond again in their win over Port Adelaide on Saturday with another game-breaking performance.
With all of his touches turning to gold, Bolton’s 17-disposal, four-goal outing was again the spark the Tigers needed to win.
The dynamic star has kicked an impressive 39 goals this season while averaging 18 disposals and eight score involvements, but just imagine if he kicked straight.
On top of multiple out on the fulls, Bolton has booted 39 behinds this campaign, proving how many times he’s getting scoring opportunities.
If he does tidy up that one aspect of his game, there’s no doubting he could easily be a 60+ goal-a-year player, and that’s while playing a mix of wing, half forward and midfield.
He may be the hardest match-up in the AFL, there’s almost no player you’d rather have in your team right now.
GWS, where has that been all season?
Mark McVeigh stunned many last week after he slammed his players following the disastrous loss to Sydney, but it looks as though the message was heard.
After accusing the majority of his players of checking out, the Giants’ pressure and attempt was clear to see in their 27-point win over a resurgent Essendon side.
While it would be pleasing to see that the group is still playing for each other and the jumper, McVeigh must be wondering where that mentality has been over this season as they’re destined to finish in the bottom five.
It was going to be hard to salvage 2022 after Leon Cameron’s departure, but this team has far too much talent at the right age to be one of the competition’s worst teams.
Winning football is based on pressure, and it’s disappointing to see that it hasn’t clicked this year at GWS until seemingly now.
They’re so much more capable of what they’ve shown.
It’s a big week for Melbourne
While many still have Melbourne as the best team in it, are we sure they make the top four?
Friday’s loss to Collingwood was their sixth from their last 10 games and they now sit a game behind the top two sides.
Given that they’re on equal points with both Sydney and Brisbane, five can’t fit into four and the Demons aren’t locked into a double chance spot at all.
With Carlton and Brisbane (away) to come before the season’s out, Melbourne desperately needs to take care of the Blues on Saturday night before the big Gabba test awaits them in Round 23.
Their best is, without doubt, good enough to have them win both games, but that’s easier said than done given their recent form.
If they’re to finish top four next week is critical, let’s see if they can make themselves feel more secure with a win against a team that’ll be fighting for their lives.