As Round 14 looms umpiring remains a highly contentious issue for the AFL.
The under-performance by umpires, in the main, was exemplified during Port Adelaide’s 10-point win over Hawthorn at Adelaide Oval last Saturday night.
The free-kick count in the match was 20 to eight in Power’s favour.
Worse still in the hard-fought third and fourth quarters Port was awarded 14 free kicks against nil, yes nil for the Hawks.
There is no way that count could possibly an accurate assessment of the way the game was played.
In fact on frequent occasions obvious Hawthorn free kicks went unpaid as were free kicks to Port, although certainly in fewer instances.
That is not to say, necessarily, that a more even distribution of free kicks would have had impact on the outcome.
Although not particularly convincing for a ladder leader Power’s 9.14 to Hawthorn’s 9.4 really told the story of the team’s superiority over the Hawks, who tried wholeheartedly and played pretty much to the best of their ability.
Now Hawthorn opens Round 14 against another loser in Essendon at Adelaide Oval on Thursday afternoon.
With the prospect of a finals appearance at long odds both teams will be playing for the chance to salvage some degree of respect from a forgettable season.
Again the scores – discounting the imbalance of free kicks in the Port-Hawthorn encounter – told the tale in Richmond’s success against Essendon.
The defending premiers kicked 10.13 to 10.1 by the Bombers and that kept Essendon in the game.
Disturbingly for the other clubs in grand final contention the Tigers are increasingly able to shift up a gear, or two, when needed as they demonstrated with two late goals in the second quarter.
Dustin Martin is a typical example of someone, who can lift his game to another level when required.
Trent Cotchin is back to form after injury while others such as Shai Bolton, Daniel Rioli and Kane Lambert are entertaining to watch as well as being valuable contributors.
It must be said, however, that the trouble-prone forward Tom Lynch is becoming an increasing concern as the finals draw near, because he should be kicking more goals.
Richmond now go up against the West Coast at Metricon Stadium on Thursday night in a clash which will be a tell-all encounter about their premiership aspirations.
The Eagles registered their eighth consecutive victory against Greater Western Sydney at Optus Stadium on Sunday and even though at times brilliant they were hardly convincing.
It was not challenging to imagine the Giants would have won but for the record- breaking intercept marking of Jeremy McGovern in defence.
McGovern says he and his fellow players will be “right” for the conflict with Richmond.
That is difficult to envisage given the four-day break and club’s complaints and indifferent displays when sent into a hub earlier in the season.
The struggling Giants remain in the west to play Fremantle in what will be an interesting affair at Optus on Saturday afternoon.
It will be almost the last chance for GWS to remain in the finals race and that might be enough incentive to lift them over the line.
Adelaide and Brisbane have the byes in this round.
Last Week Tipped: 5
Hawthorn by 7pts
Richmond by 16pts
Geelong by 11pts
Port Adelaide by 18pts
GWS Giants by 10pts
St. Kilda by 20pts
Carlton by 4pts
Gold Coast by 25pts