Heroes & Villains, R6: Stunning Swans and a wayward Don

Football is a funny game sometimes. Salary caps are growing, players are getting fitter and more skilled, so it's only logical that accuracy in front of goals is... down?

Despite conditions being perfect for footy in just about every game (three matches were even played under a roof!), the AFL's best were incredibly wayward in front of goal -- a trend we've started to notice in recent weeks.

Yes, Round 6 was a strange one. Not only did Carlton bizarrely feature on Friday night, but Melbourne won at Etihad Stadium and the Cats lost at the Cattery.


No Buddy, no worries: Sydney, take a bow. Without superstar forward Lance Franklin and engine room maestro Dan Hannebery, there weren't too many people giving the Swans a chance against Geelong at GMHBA Stadium, but a remarkable fourth quarter saw them pull off one of the club's greatest wins under John Longmire.

Trailing by 22 points at three-quarter time and looking like certain losers, Sydney booted seven goals to one in the final term to overrun the shell-shocked Cats on their home deck and jump back into the top eight.

Josh Kennedy was superb throughout the afternoon finishing with 33 disposals, 17 contested possessions, 13 clearances and nine inside 50s. The skipper lifted enormously in the last quarter with 13 disposals and crucial clearances to help guide his side to a third straight win in Geelong.

Who said the Swans need Buddy to win?

Round 6 Debutants: There were no shortage of players pulling on their AFL jumpers for the first time in Round 6, and all eight proved to be valuable contributors in their side's matches at the weekend.

There were two in the Demons' win over the Bombers; Charlie Spargo was a massive part of Melbourne's second term surge, kicking two goals among his 18 touches, while Essendon's Kobe Mutch was one of the Bombers' best on the day, finishing with 20 disposals and six marks.

Sydney's Ben Ronke had a debut to remember. In hostile territory down at the Cattery, the rookie-listed small forward was a standout, touching the footy 15 times while also piling on the forward pressure with seven tackles. He finished with two goals in the Swans' brave win.

Hawthorn's James Worpel was another to impress on debut with 13 touches in his side's win; the 45th pick in last year's draft was described by team mate Luke Breust as "ready-made for AFL footy" after the game.

Meanwhile the Pies blooded Flynn Appleby who set the tone early in the clash against Richmond with a crunching tackle on Trent Cotchin.

Elsewhere, the Giants debuted local lad Nick Shipley, Brisbane threw Oscar McInerny into the fold, while West Coast gave prized draft pick Jack Petruccelle a taste of AFL in the derby.

Isaac Smith: The stat sheet might suggest Tom Mitchell's 45 disposals was the difference between Hawthorn and St Kilda on Saturday evening but when Brownlow Medal night rolls around, "I. Smith" should be receiving the three votes for his game-winning performance.

The three-time premiership player was a class above in difficult conditions, providing his trademark run-and-carry for 24 disposals at 92 percent efficiency, six marks and three inside 50s. However, it was his scoreboard impact which did the most damage, kicking four goals -- and directly assisting on two others -- in a game that proved so difficult to score.

Smith has been one of Hawthorn's most consistent players in 2018 averaging 23 disposals and almost two goals per game.


The AFL's scheduling: Heading into Friday night's clash between the Western Bulldogs and Carlton, most people would have been desperately hoping for a contest, but expecting a primetime fizzer.

Carlton, into the third year of their "reset", were 0-5 prior to the clash, while the Dogs had just one win to their name in 2018. That's on top of a 2017 in which the Bulldogs finished 10th and lost their last three games while Carlton won just one of their last 10 games of the season.

Not only that, but the three previous clashes between these two teams hardly inspire a Friday night berth; the Bulldogs have won all three with scorelines of 82-62 (2017), 85-45 (2016), 64-53 (2015).

So, what were brave viewers treated to? Not only a low-scoring bore, but also a swag of turnovers, poor conversion in front of goal, and amateur decision making in both halves of the ground.

The bad news? Carlton have two more Friday night appearances; Sydney at the SCG and St Kilda at Etihad Stadium. Book your Friday night dinners for Rounds 11 and 17, folks.

Joe Daniher: He's one of the AFL's most talked about young forwards, but Joe Daniher is officially in a form slump. Through six rounds, he's kicked just seven goals compared to his 13-goal start to 2017, while his accuracy is yet again a major talking point among fans and commentators.

On Sunday against Melbourne, when the Bombers desperately needed him to step up and stamp his authority on the match, Daniher was unable to have an impact, kicking just three behinds on the day. This week's poor output comes four days after he managed just one goal against the Pies on Anzac Day -- a performance which also lacked presence and authority.

After an incredible hot patch in the middle of last year where he kicked 21.2 over six weeks, Daniher again seems to be unable to settle his approach at goal. Already in 2018 we've seen him try checksides and snaps from set shots, while his long-range radar has been well off target.

The Bombers, sitting 14th on the ladder, are far from being a dark horse for the flag as the preseason chatter foreshadowed, and underperforming leaders like Daniher need to make a statement if the Dons are to stay in the finals hunt.

Kicking for goal: There's not much the modern day AFL player can't do, but one part of the game which continues to be a real struggle is converting opportunities in front of goal.

Round 6 saw some awful shooting for goal as players failed to capitalise from all parts of the forward 50. Over the course of the round, the 18 teams combined for an atrocious 203 goals and 215 behinds.

In fact, it's the third year in a row that conversion in front of goal is getting worse in the AFL; on the year so far, players league-wide are converting just 51.6 percent of their shots into goals -- the lowest percentage since 1990.

But interestingly it's not only the AFL teams which are struggling. In the SANFL at the weekend, Norwood kicked 14.23, in the WAFL, Perth kicked 6.15, while in the NEAFL, Southport kicked 6.19.

As for the worst miss of the round? It has to be Saint Tim Membrey's shocker from three metres out directly in front against the Hawks. Wow!