AFL H&V Round 4: Time for Brown to shelve his staging

While not overly high-scoring, Round 4 was a thriller -- with four games decided by a seven points or less -- but a star Kangaroo has a habit to kick. Here are this week's Heroes and Villains.


Brodie Grundy: Twenty-three disposals (18 contested), eight tackles, six clearances and four marks (two contested). These aren't the stats of your typical ruckman - but Brodie Grundy is not a typical ruckman.

In addition to his stellar work around the ground in Collingwood's 14-point win on Friday night -- his eight tackles was an equal game high, while his two contested marks was equal third only to Mason Cox and Aaron Naughton -- Grundy was also dominant in the air. He amassed an amazing 58 hit outs while his opposing ruckman, 23-gamer Tim English, could manage just six.

In fact, the hit out differential was so great that it broke an AFL record; according to stats guru @sirswampthing on Twitter, Grundy won 87.9 percent of hit outs on the night, 10.1 percent more than the previous record in the AFL era (since 1990).

Two quick questions about Grundy: In a star-studded line-up, is he Collingwood's best player? And, is he now the league's undisputed premier ruckman?

The heroic Giants: GWS went into Saturday afternoon's clash with Geelong having never won at GMHBA Stadium. In addition to facing the undefeated Cats on their home patch, Leon Cameron's men lost co-skipper Callan Ward to a knee injury within the first five minutes. They also gave up four of the first five goals to trail by 20 points at the first break. In short, things weren't looking good.

But something clicked for the Giants early in the third term after the Cats went 22 points up with the wind both in their sails and at their backs. Jeremy Cameron got busy, kicking two on the trot, and he was ably supported by last week's hero Jeremy Finlayson (who contributed three on the day) and Harry Himmelberg (who also kicked three and took an incredibly courageous mark running back with the flight of the ball). Lachie Whitfield continued his strong 12 months of form, while Josh Kelly looked comfortable in his second game back.

In winning by four points, the Giants moved to 3-1 on the year, with their one loss coming to West Coast at Optus Stadium in Round 2, which as many coaches will tell you, isn't something to be embarrassed about.

Jack Bowes: Every kid dreams of being able to kick the winning goal with just seconds remaining in a match, and Gold Coast youngster Jack Bowes lived out that fantasy during Sunday's thrilling two-point win over Carlton.

Down by four with less than 20 seconds remaining, Bowes found himself unmarked at the back of a huge pack of bodies. He gathered a nifty little Peter Wright handpass and threw the footy onto his left boot -- it dribbled through to give the Suns a shock two-point lead with just a handful of seconds left on the clock.

The 21-year-old No. 4 pick from 2016 is quietly putting together an excellent start to 2019; in addition to kicking the winning goal against the Blues, the Queensland academy product is averaging 23 touches (10 contested) and five tackles per game in Stuart Dew's 3-1 Gold Coast outfit.


Ben Brown: Sorry, Ben, but it's about time someone called you out for some your forward line conduct. You're a talented man, and an excellent set shot at goal but staging for free kicks -- and waving your limbs around like a wacky inflatable arm man in the process -- is not a good look for you or our great game.

Too often you'll be late to a pack, outmuscled or beaten to the fall of the ball, and decide to raise the arms, kick out the legs and look like a giraffe on rollerskates. And the umpires seem to fall for it. But for the betterment of our game, it's time to stop.

In the third quarter of your side's win over Adelaide, you were twice awarded what can only be described as soft free kicks inside forward 50. The first was in a ruck contest during which you were outpositioned and outmuscled ... Reilly O'Brien must still be wondering what he did wrong. The other was when you were, again, horribly outpositioned in a marking contest, and ran across the back of the pack with your arms flailing. It was not a good look.

If Alex Rance copped a $1000 fine for staging last season, then it's only fair you dig into those pockets. Over to you, Match Review officer.

SCG Swans: Generally, the idea of a home ground is that the home team plays well there. They more than likely train at the ground, understand its dimensions, draughts and quirks better than any other other team, not to mention enjoying hometown support from fans. But not, it seems, the Sydney Swans.

Following Thursday night's loss to the previously winless Demons, the stats are officially damning: the Swans have lost both SCG home matches so far this season, have lost five of their past six and nine of their last 14 at the venue, and have lost four on the trot there for the first time since the year 2000.

For a team that for so long prided itself on being able to adapt to any ground it plays at, Sydney are woeful at home. Is Giants Stadium available?

Wayward Dockers: It's not often you get the chance to knock off the reining premiers, and in Fremantle's case, it would have be twice as sweet considering the Eagles are their cross-town rivals.

But as the saying goes, bad kicking is bad footy, and the Dockers kicked abysmally for the first three quarters of Derby 49. In the first term they could manage just five points. By just after half time, they'd kicked just one goal and 10 behinds.

Remarkably, the Dockers were never out of the game. Just before three-quarter time they had pulled within 10 points of the Eagles, and when they finally found their kicking boots in the fourth (they kicked three goals and hit the post with their last four scoring shots) it was too late.

They finished with seven goals and 14 behinds, and it's not beyond the realms of possibility to suggest Freo could have pinched that game had they kicked straighter.