Sports

Round 2 Talking Points, analysis, reaction, 0-2 start stats, Bulldogs, Port Adelaide, Buddy Franklin 1000 goals, $10 million contract

Four of last year’s finalists have been thrown into the 0-2 pit of despair, which can be very hard to escape from.

Plus the remarkable images that proved Buddy Franklin’s deal was “the best $10 million ever spent”.

The big issues from Round 2 of the 2022 AFL season analysed in Talking Points!

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1000 goals! Buddy’s BRILLIANT night! | 02:14

FALLEN POWERHOUSES STUCK IN 0-2 PIT OF DESPAIR

Let’s put this disclaimer nice and early: it’s bad losing two games in a row at any point in the season. And we haven’t run the numbers on what happens if you lose in Rounds 12 and 13, or whichever pair you want to look at.

But history shows that losing in Rounds 1 and 2 is a very bad sign for your top eight hopes – and now that’s a concern for four 2021 finalists.

Since 2010, if you’ve started the season 0-2, your chances of playing finals have been cut to roughly 1-in-8 – that’s eight in 63 teams (12.7 per cent) surging back up the ladder.

And if you’re thinking of achieving the ultimate, you should be worried, because only four VFL-AFL teams have started 0-2 and won the premiership, none since North Melbourne in 1999.

All of that is bad news for Port Adelaide, Essendon, GWS, Adelaide, West Coast and the Western Bulldogs.

Stewart commits brain fade for the AGES | 00:49

Now, clearly, a 1-in-8 chance doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Just last year, Brisbane, GWS and Essendon went 0-2 and played finals – though the Giants and Bombers didn’t get to 12 wins, the typical finals minimum – while the Bulldogs did it in 2020.

And most of the teams that went 0-2 and didn’t play finals were never good enough to do it anyway; a poor start didn’t doom them, it just let us know how bad they are.

But it’s a pit of despair you want to avoid, and 0-3 can be even more difficult to dig yourself out of.

We’re not as worried about Port Adelaide (who face Adelaide in Round 3), but the Bulldogs (who face Sydney), Essendon (who face Melbourne) and even GWS (who face an improving Gold Coast) all believe they should be playing finals this year, and all could be 0-3.

If you’re wondering, just three of 37 teams to start 0-3 since 2010 have played finals, though there’s an asterisk on that because one of them was 2013 Carlton (who got in via Essendon’s drugs saga punishment). The other two were 2017 Sydney and 2021 GWS.

Fans evacuate MCG due to false alarm! | 00:48

IMAGES THAT PROVE BIG BUDDY DEAL WAS ‘BEST $10M EVER SPENT’

For some, it’s the debate that will never be settled until Sydney wins a premiership with Lance Franklin in the side.

But perhaps the images from Friday night at the SCG after Franklin’s unforgettable 1000th goal can shut the loudest critics up once and for all: The big Buddy deal was the best bucks ever spent in the AFL.

Franklin is in the final year of the nine-year, $10 million contract that sent shockwaves through the AFL world at the end of 2013.

It was the most significant – arguably reckless – player deal ever struck in the AFL landscape. And, naturally, considering the size of the deal and the player in question, expectations were high.

During his Sydney stint, Franklin has won All-Australian selection four times, picked up two Coleman Medals and topped the club’s goalkicking six times. Individually, he couldn’t have done much more.

Buddy kicks 1000th as Swans smash Cats | 04:25

Since Franklin’s arrival in the Harbour City, the Swans have made the finals six times in eight years, including two Grand Final appearances, but for no premierships. He’s also missed his fair share of footy. He struggled with a heel injury in 2018 then underwent groin surgery prior to the Swans’ 2019 campaign, in which he only played 10 games because of hamstring injuries, before missing all of 2020.

But in a city where Aussie rules plays second fiddle to rugby league, Franklin is arguably its biggest sporting figure. In fact, he goes beyond sport.

It’s why his feat at the SCG on Friday night was so special. Not just because he became only sixth player in VFL/AFL history to reach the 1000-goal mark – and it’s conceivable Franklin will be the last AFL player ever to reach the milestone – but because of what it meant to the Sydney-based Swans faithful, particularly of a younger generation.

“You know what he’s done? I’m sitting here in my 40s and love him. People in there 50s, 60s (too). But everyone that ran on looked aged between 12 and 18,” Western Bulldogs legend Brad Johnson told Fox Footy.

“He’s captured the hearts of everybody.”

Mad scramble to catch Buddy ball | 00:33

Former Hawks teammate Jordan Lewis added on Fox Footy: “I think we’re all lucky to live in this era and generation … It’s a story we’ll tell our children and our grandchildren: He’s a one in a generation type of player.”

In the aftermath of Franklin’s feat, his ex-manager Liam Pickering – who helped strike the famous deal – began a text exchange with former Swans boss Andrew Ireland.

“I said if he hadn’t given value for money up in Sydney, I will give up, and Andrew Ireland, who did the deal, came back with ‘Best $10 million ever spent’,” Pickering told SEN’s Off The Bench.

He added: “When you think about it, he (Franklin) has been so big for footy in the northern states … he has been worth every cent for the Swans.”

Still, some will doubt the deal until a Swans flag is won. Although considering the Swans’ start to their 2022 campaign, you wouldn’t put it past Franklin and his Swans from emphatically ending the debate at season’s end.

Is 2022 an ‘asterisk season’ for Eagles? | 04:24

THE FALSE ECONOMY CREATING MISLEADING WINS

When is an impressive win not quite as impressive as it seemed? When it “shouldn’t” have happened.

Smart AFL teams focus more on the process than the outcome, which is where statistics like Champion Data’s Expected Score comes into play. It evaluates goalkicking based on the average performance from each spot on the field.

Given that there’s at least some luck involved in goalkicking, it helps analyse a team’s true performance – did they deserve to score as much/as little as they did, based on the shots they created?

Remarkably, as pointed out by Twitter user Oliver Gigacz, in four of the first six games of Round 2, the expected score result was different to the real one – that is, the winner kicked way better than you’d expect them to, and were at least somewhat lucky.

Carlton defeated the Western Bulldogs 102-90; they “should’ve” lost 69-85.

Sydney beat Geelong 107-77; they “should’ve” lost 80-86.

Brisbane beat Essendon 97-75; they “should’ve” lost 78-85.

Melbourne beat Gold Coast 82-69; they “should’ve” lost 75-77.

It makes sense when you look at the scorelines. Carlton (16.6), Sydney (17.5) and Brisbane (15.7) all kicked extremely well, while Melbourne (12.10 to Gold Coast’s 10.9) was only slightly better than expected.

And all of that doesn’t even include Hawthorn’s stunning upset of Port Adelaide. The Hawks kicked 19.6, with remarkable set-shot accuracy, to the Power’s 7.14.

In reality it was a 64-point margin; based on how teams normally kick for goal, the Hawks should have won by 19 points. Still a great win, but not as spectacular, right?

Hawks hammer hapless Power in boilover | 02:14

You should take this information into account when you’re looking at doing your tips next week, or even just how you feel about the teams generally.

For example, in Round 1 against West Coast, the Suns won 16.11 (107) to 12.8 (80) – a good win, but not a great one.

Yet on expected score the Suns “should’ve” won 124-59, suggesting they were actually more dominant. They then looked better than almost everyone expected against the Demons in Round 2 – in fact, if you were doing an expected score ladder, you’d have Gold Coast 2-0.

As we said, smart AFL teams think of the game in this way – focusing on the process rather than the outcome. You’ll become a smarter fan if you do the same.

AFL’S ‘HOTTEST PROPERTY’ JUST GOT HOTTER

Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd last week declared out-of-contract Demon Luke Jackson could be the “hottest property” in the game by mid-season.

That billing was only enhanced on Saturday night as Jackson produced arguably his best game yet against the Gold Coast Suns.

Jackson, the 2021 Rising Star winner and Melbourne premiership player, gracefully yet powerfully moved around Metricon Stadium and asserted his authority across all three thirds of the ground.

Dees fight hard to overcome plucky Suns | 00:50

He used his terrific aerobic capacity to push back and help out his defence, either spoiling the ball away or clunking an intercept mark. But his best moment came late in the first quarter, grabbing the ball cleanly out of a boundary throw-in, sprinting away from the stoppage and snapping a terrific goal on his non-preferred left boot.

By quarter-time, Jackson had nine disposals and a game-high five clearances to his name. He’d never had five clearances in an entire game, let alone a quarter, from his previous 31 games.

At that stage, Brownlow Medallist Gerard Healy labelled Jackson a “unit” and a “beast”, declaring on Fox Footy he would “drag people through gates everywhere”.

Jackson would ultimately finish with two goals from 21 disposals, 11 contested possessions and seven clearances, while five of his 16 hit-outs went to a teammate’s advantage.

“He’s an absolute star, he’s an absolute legend, he’s a freak,” Dees teammate Christian Petracca told Fox Footy post-game.

“His ability to be a forward and be as a mid and help Gawny. The scary thing is he’s only 20 years old so hopefully we sign that deal Tim Lamb, and get him to stay here.”

Skipper Max Gawn added: “I still haven’t worked him out – I’ve known him for three years now and he changes every day … He’s just running around and playing footy like everyone wants to when they’re under 12s.”

Speaking post-game, Jackson said it was “so good to be a part of a team like this”, lauding the culture created under coach Simon Goodwin.

Then asked specifically about whether he’d like to sign a new five-year deal with the Dees, Jackson told Fox Footy: “Who knows? Just focusing on footy right now and leaving that stuff with the manager.”

The WA native remains out of contract, but no doubt will be a high priority for the Demons’ list management team over the coming months.

Jackson Nelson injured in warm Up! | 01:53

BABY SWANS SHOULD BE PREMIERSHIP BOUND

Sydney’s next generation will lead the club’s premiership push within the next two years, Fox Footy duo Brad Johnson and Cam Mooney believe.

The Swans have started 2022 with a bang, and sit 2-0 with impressive wins over GWS and Geelong.

On Friday night, Sydney fielded 12 players aged 23 and under – with just 21-year-old Justin McInerney sidelined with a knee injury, in the 30-point victory at the SCG.

Johnson was so impressed by the performance, he said the “baby Swans” were “premiership bound”.

“This Sydney Swans team with a group of players aged 18 to 23 is the best in the competition by a long way, by a long way,” he said post-game.
“You look at the names … I looked at Port Adelaide. They’ve only got seven or eight in that bracket. Even Carlton, who are on fire at the moment, have got seven in that bracket 18 to 23.

“No one’s got double figures. No one’s got near the quality either.

“We’re talking about 12 guys that make up the core of this footy club now. You’ve got (Luke) Parker playing forward/mid, (Josh) Kennedy to half back, (Isaac) Heeney’s doing what’s he‘s doing as a 25-year-old.
“All of a sudden, the make up of this group is premiership bound with a cygnet-type set up – the baby Swans.”

The group of rising young guns include 23-year-olds Hayden McLean, Will Hayward and Ollie Florent, 22-year-olds Sam Wicks, Nick Blakey and Tom McCartin, 21-year-olds Dylan Stephens and James Rowbottom, 20-year-olds Chad Warner and Braeden Campbell and 19-year-olds Logan McDonald and Errol Gulden.

“I think over this year and next, they have to be playing a grand final with what they have,” Mooney said.

“They have unbelievable youth … plus they’ve got great role models around the club to help these kids through.”



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