A year ago, Geelong felt they were a star forward short of a flag and with Jeremy Cameron available threw everything at him. They gave up a lot to get Cameron because Cameron had proven he was also worth a lot.
Brisbane, too, felt they were a dynamic key forward short of a flag and with Joe Daniher available gave up a bit to get him. They sacrificed considerably less than Geelong did to get Cameron because even at 26 (now 27) Joe Daniher was worth considerably less. He had barely played in three years before being traded.
Joe Daniher reflects after the Lions were beaten by the Bulldogs.Credit:AFL Photos
After two finals, the wisdom of Geelong’s purchase has been validated. Cameron has been very good. Geelong might not go on from here to win a flag, but if they fall short, the responsibility will not necessarily fall at Cameron’s feet. Not being good enough this year might have more to do with Tom Stewart getting injured, their rucks still being weak and their midfield looking beaten up.
Brisbane have not gone the distance this year, they’ve gone out in straight sets. That they have not won the flag does not fall at Daniher’s feet, but he has played some role.
There are other reasons the Lions have not won a final and are now eliminated. Firstly, they got into the top four through a last-round percentage boost over a weakened West Coast and when a timing stuff-up wrongly extended the game.
Secondly, they lost Cam Rayner, Eric Hipwood and Daniel McStay to injury. These are the big reasons.
But in the semi-final, when the Lions had a chance to win and go to a preliminary final, they needed something from Daniher and he went missing. In a one-point loss their star forward could have and should have had an impact. OK, he managed 24 games his year, which after only 15 in the previous three was a win. And yes, Daniher was coming from a long way back in terms of form. But they brought him in to play and to have an impact in finals – and he fell short.
Last week he didn’t kick a goal, had 15 touches and five marks. In the first quarter on Saturday night when he kicked a goal it looked as though he might be in for a good night. Then he had one touch in half a game.
Yes, he drew more focus this finals series as the only key target once Hipwood and then McStay went out, but that is little excuse for such a pallid performance. There have been plenty of occasions when Tom Hawkins has been the only key target for Geelong and he has still had an impact.
Daniher is a likeable fellow and athletically gifted, but he has to find a way to narrow the gulf between his best – which is the equal of the best forwards – and his worst, which renders him irrelevant. Were it not for the fact he is so big, you would not notice he was out there.
In contrast to Daniher, his fellow forward Charlie Cameron emerges from the finals with his standing only enhanced. Now it could be argued there is a cause and effect there, that while Daniher did not get much of the ball he helped create moments for Cameron by bringing the ball to ground. That’s possibly true, but it felt like Cameron’s impact came when he was targeted inside 50, not Daniher.
Good week for Macrae
Jackson Macrae might be most highly rated player who remains underrated. And he is that, despite being named All-Australian for three years in a row.
Ranking underrated players is admittedly a uniquely silly thing we do – people talked so often of Kade Simpson being underrated that he became highly rated for it – but Macrae is better than has been popularly recognised. Well, at least until Saturday night when his performance made the football world appreciate just how unerringly excellent he is.
Partly the underrating happens because he plays at the Bulldogs. Partly it happens because he plays next to Marcus Bontempelli, who has become the best player in the league and casts shade on those around him.
Jack Macrae is underrated despite being named All-Australian for the last three years.Credit:AFL Photos
Partly it is because he isn’t eye-catching in the way his extravagantly hirsute teammates Bailey Smith and Aaron Naughton are. He also doesn’t have Homer Simpson tattooed on body parts and a Groucho Marx moustache like pack burrower Tom Liberatore. Macrae’s hair looks more accountant than barista.
And yet, he delivers weekly with the reliability of a Toyota. He amasses possessions – he averaged 33 touches a game this year, is a big body and an excellent kick. He doesn’t do anything badly. Maybe he is a poor cook, or can’t do origami. It would be his only weakness.
Toby and Joel
As of Friday night, Joel Selwood and Toby Greene had done the same thing this season – fended off a player with a forearm that got the would-be tackler in the throat.
Greene got two matches. Selwood got nothing.
Joel Selwood was cleared for his fend-off of Josh Kelly.Credit:AFL Photos
Same action, different outcome with the match review officer. But it was also true that it was the same action and a different outcome for the “victims” involved. Patrick Dangerfield had to be subbed out of the game and spent the night in hospital. Josh Kelly played on without apparent ill effects.
So a difference in penalty from the same action is understandable and not unreasonable, but the gulf in the difference between penalties is not reasonable. Two matches out versus nothing at all is too big a gap.
Both incidents had the potential for serious injury and in Dangerfield’s case sufficient injury to miss half a game.
Greene’s punishment still seems too high for an accidental act, but that is what the algorithm of the punishment formula delivers.
Squeaky bum time
Special mention to Taylor Duryea for his last-minute contest on Saturday night. As former Tigers defender Will Thursfield tweeted, this was about the last place any defender would want to be – one-out with Cameron in the last minute of a semi-final with the Lions a point down and in a foot race for a loose ball.
Taylor Duryea and Charlie Cameron go one-on-one in the final seconds of Saturday night’s semi-final.Credit:AFL Photos
Sir Alex Ferguson had a term for that sort of last-minute tension. Duryea did well to keep goal side of Cameron and not let him past. He also got lucky with the ball bouncing sideways away from Cameron and ricocheting off Duryea’s leg over the boundary. It looked accidental and rightly was not paid as a free kick.
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