IT WAS early in the 2018 season when the AFL judicial system baulked at making the tough call it must now make early in the 2021 season.
Patrick Dangerfield needs to be suspended for his head-on-head bump on Jake Kelly on the weekend. One week wouldn't be enough, three might be one too many, so let's settle on two.
There was no malice in Dangerfield's actions on Saturday. His intent was to bump, he made accidental head contact. The Match Review office on Sunday referred the matter to the Tribunal, declaring Dangerfield's conduct as careless, the impact severe and the contact high.
The same assessment should have been applied to Ryan Burton after his hit on Shaun Higgins three years ago. But on that occasion, the Match Review office staggeringly cleared the aggressor.
Subsequent explanations of the decision cited the need to allow players the right to "instinctive decision making" and that lenience needed to be applied to incidents of "accidental contact". The Burton bump, despite terribly concussing Higgins as Dangerfield did Kelly, was astonishingly cleared as a "legal bump".
Banning Dangerfield for multiple matches is not a ban on the bump, and any attempt to make noise around that is nothing but a smokescreen. Some players may soon choose not to bump. But there will always be a rule giving footballers the right to bump in the AFL - they just need to ensure they don't make any form of contact with an opponent's head.
When accidents involve contact with an opponent's head, a penalty now, simply, needs to be applied, as it should have with Burton. The AFL already this year has introduced two major rule changes around concussed players – ruling that any concussed player must miss a minimum 12 days before his next match, and also providing clubs with a medical substitute for each match.
Hitting Dangerfield with a meaningful suspension for his hit on Kelly would make a statement far stronger than any rule change. It would, finally, remove the mixed messages that for too long have been at play when it comes to protecting the head.
Hint of 'Horse' about Swans' teen sensation
If anyone knows what it takes to burst into the top level as a key position teenager, it's Swans coach John Longmire.
Introduced to senior VFL football as a 16-year-old in a brutal overseas exhibition match, a Coleman medallist as a 19-year-old in 1990. That was Longmire at North Melbourne.
On Saturday night, the Sydney premiership coach provided a first AFL game to 18-year-old, 196cm Logan McDonald. A star was born.
The burly forward, taken at pick No.4 pick in last year's NAB AFL Draft, has long had a massive junior reputation, and with three goals in a surprise win against Brisbane he simply looked as though he belonged.
Imagine if the Swans were able to get Buddy Franklin back into their side, with McDonald to play alongside him. Could happen as early as next Saturday at the SCG, for a round two game against the Crows. Bring it on.
Dees' one-two punch in defence KO's Freo
Melbourne missed the finals last year by two premiership points. In so many ways it was a wasted year. In other ways, particularly the official emergence as an A-grader of Christian Petracca and the bonding of defenders Steven May and Jake Lever, it was a nice foundation for 2021.
Petracca was again very good in the Demons' season-opening win against Fremantle on Saturday.
And May and Lever continued their surge toward potential status as the games' best one-two, key defensive act. They combined for 15 marks and 42 disposals. Unrecorded on a stats sheet is their chemistry. It is elite.
Tex turns back the clock
Round five, 2013, Carlton v Adelaide at the MCG. It may have been the end point to what was looming as one of the great AFL careers.
Taylor Walker is too humble to ever refer to the events of that day, when he destroyed his knee, as career-changing. But other observers are convinced that he was never able to play with the same abandon and flair in his matches since.
Big Texan and his bung knee wound back the clock on Saturday, helping to cause a massive upset with five goals in his Crows' big win against 2020 grand finalist Geelong.
There were long bombs and clever marks, telling calm when required, authority with every attack on the ball.
Walker was voted by his peers as the game's best captain in consecutive seasons, 2016 and 2017. He no longer has that role with the Crows, but he's never led better than his most recent match.
Win in Sydney's west one of Saints' best
No Marshall, King, Ryder, Paton, Geary, Hannebery, Frawley, Crouch. No worries.
Under those player unavailability circumstances, St Kilda's gutsy away win against GWS on Sunday was as good as any of its 11 in 2020 (10 in the home-and-away season, one in the finals), and quite possibly better than most.
Every available player against the Giants played a role. It was the true definition of a team win.
Can't wait for King to return, hopefully for next Saturday night's match against Melbourne.