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After the siren: Can Danger's move forward be his senior moment?

Ashley Browne  July 16, 2017 8:24 PM

The 10: round 17's best moments We turned the clock back this weekend with some speccies and a huge torpedo
AFL 2017 Round 17 - Geelong v Hawthorn

Patrick Dangerfield takes a strong contested mark against Hawthorn

SATURDAY at the MCG was endlessly entertaining, and in the end it was a vitally important win for the Cats in their bid for a top-two finish and all the benefits that follow.

But it might also have been a window into what is to come – one exciting and one potentially problematic.

To the good stuff first, and of course it is Patrick Dangerfield, who on one leg and barely leaving the 50-metre arc, singlehandedly delivered Geelong the win.

He has dominated games and monstered teams for years now, especially since joining the Cats at the start of last season, but nobody in the Cats rooms could remember putting a team to the sword in a fashion quite like he did the Hawks.

WATCH: Danger goes from hobbled to hero

He kicked 5.6 and as teammate Daniel Menzel told this column, "he could have kicked 10."

Dangerfield may yet pay a price for his heroics. He played full-forward after hurting his foot in the opening term and how sore it is in the first part of this week will determine whether he returns to Adelaide to face the Crows in a monstrous Friday night clash.

And while nobody is advocating a positional change for Dangerfield any time soon, it is a scary thought that in two or three seasons he could play primarily out of the forward line and kick 80 goals a season.

In shape and style, he certainly resembles Gary Ablett snr, one of the greatest of all, who fashioned for himself a fantastic final few seasons while playing as a permanent forward.

Dangerfield gave us a glimpse of that on Saturday and it was wonderful. Certainly, it threw the Hawthorn backline – admittedly quite inexperienced – totally out of whack.

What made Dangerfield's performance all the more impressive is that he doesn't train with the Geelong forwards all that often. He leads the competition for inside 50s and clearly his strength is getting the ball to the forwards rather than being one. As Menzel explained, "We need him at training kicking the ball to us so we know what to expect on game day."

Champs are gone, but famous rivalry lives on

Some premature obituaries were being written for the Geelong-Hawthorn rivalry after the Easter Monday massacre when the Hawks lost by 86 points.

The lustre was restored on Saturday in a game that sits nicely among the pantheon of the many great games between the two clubs over the last decade.

A feature of the rivalry are the enormous crowds, and irrespective of how the clubs are faring, the people come. There were more than 70,000 fans at the MCG for this one, a great figure, although boosted a bit by Hawk champion Luke Hodge's 300th game.

Every game between the two clubs since 2008 has been at the MCG, regardless of who the home club is. But if the Cats have their way, they'll play all 11 home games at the 35,000 capacity Simonds Stadium next year, including the Hawthorn game if need be.

Now, with the 'six-six-six' fixturing model, there is no guarantee the two clubs will play twice next year. The Cats will finish in the top six for certain and the Hawks quite possibly in the bottom six (keep that in mind for your futures betting in 2018) which means they quite likely will only play once next year.

Presumably they'll play for certain on Easter Monday at the MCG as the Hawks' home game, but the AFL and the Cats might need a hard conversation about any return clash.

How would it go down if 30,000 people were locked out of the best rivalry in Victorian football?

Saints undo a month's work in two hours

You had to like the approach taken by the Bombers against St Kilda on Friday night.

Never mind that Jobe Watson was coming off his best game of the season the week before against Collingwood. John Worsfold recognised that he might not be as effective against the Saints coming off a six-day break and left him out for the clash with the Saints, with Craig Bird his replacement.

So good were the Bombers that they didn't really need the former skipper and he will be refreshed for the clash with North Melbourne this week, the first in a series of winnable games for the Bombers that could elevate them into the finals.

The run home: How the race for the finals is shaping up

But you wonder whether the Saints might have done the same with Nick Riewoldt. The suspension to Tim Membrey probably forced their hand a bit, but Riewoldt seemed to be labouring and struggling to get across the ground for much of the night.

This was a bad loss for the Saints and it undid much of their good work against Richmond the week before. Perhaps they were overdue for a defeat – four straight wins by any team this year is a monumental achievement – but the SCG and the Adelaide Oval, where they play the next two weeks, have served as graveyards for the Saints in recent times.

St Kilda's form line has been a bit like that this year – win a few, lose a few. It would be enormous if they can steal a win away from home in the next fortnight.

Nine things we learned from round 17

Other observations

1. Head-scratcher of the year? How about the apparent decline of Todd Goldstein? Brad Scott admitted on Saturday that the big man was struggling, but the problem for the Kangaroos is that none of their big men are giving them much at the moment. Goldstein is battling, Majak Daw is still a work in progress after eight years while the tantalising Braydon Preuss is battling back soreness. One of the big questions facing the Kangas this spring is what to do with Goldstein, an A-Grader at his best, but whose best might be past him.

Around the state leagues: Who starred in your club's twos?

2. What a stinker Fremantle served up in the final Western Derby to be played at Domain Stadium. Missed targets, terrible conversion (5.14) and a raft of decision-making errors, particularly forward of centre. It's been a bit of a thread for the Dockers all year and their forward line hasn't really settled. And the Eagles were just good enough to take advantage, with skipper Shannon Hurn, who racked up a career-high 34 touches, especially great in defence. 'Away' derby wins are always sweet, although there were loads of Eagles fans in the house.

3. Lewis Young. 21 touches and nine marks on debut playing across half-back. The Western Bulldogs might have found a player with the 49th overall selection at last year's NAB AFL Draft and who was not projected to play a senior game this year. That's the bonus out of Sunday's workmanlike win over Carlton, but the hamstring injury to Jake Stringer is a blow. He might not be in the best of form, Jakey, but he causes opposition side a few more headaches in the match-up department than either of his likely replacements, Tory Dickson and Travis Cloke.

4. Good on Will Sutherland for making up his mind so quickly and decisive. Sadly, it won't be footy but hey, most of us love the summer game and wish him well in his cricket going forward. Hopefully the whispering campaign, which goes along the lines of "he wasn't that good anyway" won't now start from a handful of AFL recruiters as it did when Alex Keath chose cricket over footy a few years back. Our game has had plenty of victories at the expense of cricket, so let's not be too churlish from here.

5. A nice touch for the Blues to confirm the re-signing of Liam Jones on the eve of a game against the Western Bulldogs, his former club. His is one of the great redemption stories in the AFL and he owes a beer (or three) after the season to whoever it was who moved him from the forward line to centre half-back.

6. How about the barrel from Jayden Hunt? There is a time and a place for a bit of old-school footy, and that was it. Bernie Vince and his flying elbows? Not so much.

7. Collingwood's win over Gold Coast was no real surprise. Daniel Wells has now played six games for the Pies and they've won five of them. They're 1-9 without him. One thing Collingwood has been good at under Nathan Buckley is winning on the road when under the pump. Getting away as a group seems to the be the elixir for Nathan Buckley's men. Maybe 22 road games in 2018 could be the way for him to keep his job?

8. Given the personnel challenges through the year, the Giants have probably done well to still be in the top three as we enter the final quarter of the home and season. But this would have been a precious four points had they been able to grind out a win while missing a few key players. They started with a flourish and should have been further ahead early on, but this was a reverse of the game early in the season when it was the Swans who started so brightly.

9. Granted, Channel Seven and Fox Footy pay the big bucks to stick their cameras pretty much everywhere and yes, AFL coaches are very well remunerated. However, on Sunday, we got shots of Brendon Bolton storming out of the coaches box after a Carlton error and Ross Lyon knocking over a bottle of soft drink. Great TV? I'm not sure.