IN A world where nothing makes sense any more, it would be more remarkable if something remarkable didn’t happen in the footy.
And Saturday’s VFL action brought almost anything you could not have possibly imagined, with three games postponed, including Gold Coast and Southport players being called off the field 10 minutes into the first quarter when Queensland announced Australia’s latest snap lockdown.
Aspley v Essendon and Brisbane Lions v Sydney also did not proceed, with the AFL releasing a statement at lunchtime on Saturday saying those clubs would catch the lost game up.
"All six affected clubs have played at least 10 games this season and are scheduled to have a bye in the remaining rounds," the statement said.
BONKERS!— Rhett Bartlett (@rhettrospective) July 31, 2021
Here's the moment the VFL Suns vs Southport Sharks match was suddenly cancelled 10mins into the 1st quarter, due to snap lockdown announcement. pic.twitter.com/6UV05RJJ2B
"They will play today's postponed match during their scheduled bye (although) the match-ups may change to ensure the games can be played.
"All VFL clubs remain fixtured to play 12 home-and-away games to complete the season."
On the field, there were three remarkable turnarounds in one day as Footscray, Box Hill Hawks and Werribee came from hefty deficits to win convincingly against Casey Demons, Collingwood and Northern Bullants respectively.
The undefeated Bulldogs made the ultimate statement about their premiership credentials, coming from 46 points down in the second quarter to thrash a Demons team that had lost just one game for the season by 37 points on their home deck.
The Hawks slipped 26 points behind the Magpies entering time-on of the second term before piling on the last four goals of the half and nine unanswered in the last quarter, to win by 63 points and move into the top four.
And the Tigers found themselves 36-0 down against the Bullants in the shadows of quarter-time before taking over for a 30-point triumph to keep their season alive.
At Casey Fields, the Demons took full toll of their wind advantage in the opening term, hitting the ground running with a terrific long goal from Nathan Jones and booting six goals to none.
Jones returned in sublime touch, Kye Declase was outstanding in his 50th VFL match and Jimmy Munro terrific under the packs as Casey looked like making a mockery of having lost seven AFL-listed players from its previous match.
The Demons led 47-1 when skipper Mitch White curled one home against the wind early in the second quarter, but then the Bulldogs woke up.
They had overturned a 42-point deficit to beat Sydney in their previous game and charged back into contention this time, led by the classy Rhylee West (27 disposals, three goals), Will Hayes and Robbie McComb, kicking six in a row to get back within eight points at half-time.
Footscray’s third quarter was even more impressive, adding five majors to one against the wind with Ben Cavarra and Lachie McNeil (three goals each) doing as they pleased.
Jordon Sweet had six tackles and monstered inexperienced Casey pair Jack Bell and Austin Bradtke in the ruck with 49 hitouts to 19.
The Demons had no answer and fell 48 points behind before George Grey saved some face with two of his three goals to reduce the final margin – in fact, from White to Grey they conceded 16.8 to 1.4 as Footscray claimed its 18th consecutive home-and-away victory.
Collingwood was terrific early at the Holden Centre in its 350th VFL/VFA game, kicking the first five goals before being overwhelmed by a Box Hill team that grabbed a sixth victory in a row and the club’s 599th in its VFA/VFL history.
Unlike Footscray, Box Hill only fell behind due to wayward kicking – 0.7 at one stage – and dominated when it cleaned up that aspect.
Oliver Hanrahan produced one of the best games of his career with 36 possessions and five marks, Callum Porter was named best-on-ground and Jordan Cunico and skipper Damian Mascitti starred as the Hawks had eight of the 10 men to reach 20 disposals, while Fergus Greene (five goals) and Emerson Jeka (four) cashed in up forward.
Tom Wilson had 27 and a goal for Collingwood while Anton Tohill, Jacob Booth and Cody Stackelberg also had their moments, but the Magpies conceded 9.2 to 0.0 in the last term and will fall out of the eight if Williamstown wins on Sunday.
The last time Werribee ventured to Preston City Oval – only 69 days earlier – it won by a club record 160 points.
This time the Tigers were shellshocked as the fast-developing Bullants marched out of the blocks with the first 11 scoring shots, led by a brilliant four-goal first half from Paul Ahern and another outstanding effort from skipper Tom Wilson and rookie midfielder Will Mitchell.
But with their season on the line, reigning Liston medallist Tom Gribble and his right-hand man Matt Hanson dragged Werribee back from the brink.
They shared 68 disposals, 14 tackles and a goal to take over a contest that threatened to boil over at times, none moreso than when big Bullant Danny Hughes was crunched on the half-time siren before being ruled out with concussion.
Billy Murphy sent the home team into the shed 19 points up and with renewed confidence after Hudson Garoni kicked three goals to cut the margin to 13.
Werribee showed its intent by being ready to resume five minutes early, but the Bullants played their own mind games by ignoring their rivals and the umpires by going through their regular routine and only moving into position at the allotted time.
It worked better for the visitors, with only woeful set-shot goalkicking – Garoni (3.6) missed six sitters on his own and they kicked 2.10 at one stage – made the job harder than it should have been.
However, five goals in nine minutes to start the last term blew the game wide open and Gribble’s little brother Noah put the exclamation mark on with a classy banana from 35m on debut.
Carlton ended Sandringham’s finals hopes with a 49-point thrashing at Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Oval.
The Blues were unstoppable early with 6.7 to 0.1, and despite conceding 5.2 to 0.5 in the second term should have won by a lot more after 39 scoring shots to 15.
Essendon’s Andrew Phillips made the most of gaining permission to have a run with his old club in a best-on-ground display, outclassing Sam Alabakis with 21 disposals, eight marks, 27 hitouts and three goals, Ben Crocker was terrific in his 50th VFL game with four majors, James Parsons, Sam Petrevski-Seton and Lachie Fogarty dominated and Mitch McGovern blew out the cobwebs with six marks and 2.4.
Trent Dennis-Lane answered a surprise call out of retirement for the Zebras, kicking two second-quarter goals, while Darragh Joyce and James Frawley did their best to hold back the tide, but Sandringham fell to its 850th VFA/VFL defeat and 100th home loss in the VFL era.
North Melbourne heaped further misery on Port Melbourne, winning by 17 points at Arden St.
The Kangaroos kicked six goals to two in the third quarter to blow the game open, with debutant Charlie Comben impressing up forward with five marks and 2.3, while Charlie Lazzaro was also terrific and Jacob Edwards kicked a late major.
The Borough, which on Friday announced they would advertise legendary coach Gary Ayres’ position, were best served by experienced heads Corey Wagner, Nash Holmes and Eli Templeton.
SATURDAY, JULY 31
Sandringham 9.6 (60) lost to Carlton 14.25 (109) (Match Centre)
North Melbourne 11.11 (77) def Port Melbourne 8.12 (60) (Match Centre)
Collingwood 9.6 (60) lost to Box Hill Hawks 18.15 (123) (Match Centre)
Casey Demons 10.9 (69) lost to Western Bulldogs 16.10 (106) (Match Centre)
Northern Bullants 10.11 (71) lost to Werribee 14.17 (101) (Match Centre)
Gold Coast 1.2 (8) v Southport 1.0 (6) postponed
Aspley v Essendon postponed
Brisbane Lions v Sydney postponed
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