Round 8 of the 2020 AFL season saw Clarko go off the boil, some big forwards fine form, and a number of terrible coach killers. Here are this week's Heroes & Villains.
Toby Greene: Say what you will about Toby, he knows how to play football.
The Giants star was in supreme form in Friday night's 2019 Grand Final rematch, booting five brilliant goals from his 18 disposals to turn the tables on the Tigers and even up GWS's ledger at 4-4 after eight rounds.
Greene was in everything from the get-go, picking up possession at halfback before moving himself into the forward line where he wreaked havoc all evening. His first goal, from outside 50m highlighted his range, while his third, a snap from the pocket, showcased his class.
But perhaps the most important was his final major, which put the Giants up by two goals with five minutes remaining and the Tigers storming home. The ball was kicked long to the goal square and Greene cleverly waited at the bottom of the pack, roved and kicked truly.
The other No. 4 on the ground wasn't half bad, either. Dustin Martin finished up with two goals of his own, 23 disposals and nine clearances.
Josh Kennedy: There's no place like home for Josh Kennedy, who was back to his vintage best against the Magpies on Sunday.
Following a lean start to the year, including two goalless games and three outings for just one goal, Kennedy has now kicked four goals and seven goals in two weeks at Optus Stadium, and was instrumental in both reeling in Collingwood's early lead and putting the game out of reach.
The 32-year-old was under fire for his poor performances earlier in the season, but his return to Perth has coincided with the Eagles once again looking a premiership threat.
Further, Kennedy also passed phenom Brendan Fevola to move to 30th on the AFL's all-time goalkicking list, and within striking distance of other big names including David Neitz, Alastair Lynch and further down the track, Matthew Pavlich.
Kennedy isn't the only Eagle relishing the homecoming; Nic Naitanui comfortably out-duelled Brodie Grundy, and Tim Kelly looked like the player the Eagles thought they were getting from Geelong at the end of last season. It's fair to say the Eagles are back in the premiership frame.
Sharp-shooting Saints: They say good kicking is good footy, and it's little wonder the Saints are playing good footy considering their accuracy in front of goal this year.
Up against the ladder leaders Port Adelaide on their home track -- and with a raucous crowd in attendance, no less -- the Saints had the unenviable task of trying to secure just their second ever win at Adelaide Oval. Their first, coincidentally, came just last week against lowly Adelaide.
What they did was magnificent, surging away from Port late in the match, and their accuracy in front of the big sticks went a long way to securing the much-needed four points.
St Kilda goalkicking accuracy season by season— Daniel Cherny 📰 (@DanielCherny) July 25, 2020
2017: 271.299 48%
2018: 225.256 47%
2019: 233.247 49%
2020: 86.47 65%
They kicked 12.1 on the night to Port's 6.8, meaning the Power had one more scoring shot but lost the match by a staggering 29 points.
You only have to ask Saints fans about their side's accuracy in years gone by to understand just how impressive they've been in front of the big sticks this year. No wonder they're inside the top four!
Clarko's comments: Oh Alastair. You just couldn't keep it to yourself, could you?
Here's what happened: Tom Papley (who dominated during the Swans' win over the Hawks with four majors, by the way) celebrated a goal in the face of former teammate Tom Mitchell, much to the dismay of James Frawley who forced the small forward to the ground with an elbow to the back. Awarded an immediate free kick, it meant the in-form Swan booted two goals in under a minute.
Here's what Clarko said: "He (Tom Papley) milks free kicks as good as anyone in the competition and he did so on this occasion again."
Sorry, what? Sure, some players accentuate contact to gain an advantage by sucking the umpires into paying a free kick, but it's not like it's legitimately second nature to an AFL footballer. So unless Papley has eyes in the back of his head and saw Frawley charging at him, he definitely did not dive.
But that's besides the point. As Swans coach John Longmire put it after the game: "Don't talk about opposition players and clubs."
With pressure continuing to mount on Alastair Clarkson and his Hawks after dropping their fourth-straight game, the last thing they needed was more headline-worthy statements. The free kick count read 22-13 against Hawthorn, to which the four-time premiership-winning coach said it's "nearly like an extra player on the ground".
To be fair, he was just responding to reporters, but some things are better left unsaid.
Address your side's lack of polish in the front half and poor foot skills around the ground. There's a reason Hawthorn have lost four in a row and it's not because an opposition player 'milks' free kicks.
For what it's worth, Papley was awarded just one free kick on the night and is averaging one a game this season.
Jasper Pittard: Look up the word 'moronic' in the dictionary and you'll probably see a photo of Pittard doing perhaps the dumbest thing we've seen on a football field in 2020.
Locked in an arm-wrestle against the Blues on Saturday afternoon, North Melbourne had a chance to pinch the lead with a kick at goal after the three-quarter time siren.
Jared Polec had taken a great mark 35m out from goal but before he could even begin his routine, Pittard came charging in and dumped Marc Murphy (who was out-marked by Polec) onto the turf. It forced the umpire to reverse the decision and rob Polec a shot at goal.
The act meant a deflated North went into the final change behind, instead of in front by a point and riding a wave of confidence. It proved costly.
In the end, Carlton held on to win by seven points, but you have to wonder how different things could have been without Pittard's stupidity.
"Jasper showed a lack of discipline and it's cost us," North coach Rhyce Shaw said after the game. "He's a leader and he knows he was in the wrong. We'll leave it at that."
This fake aggression and toughness in the game is so unnecessary. Stop. Doing. It!
Coach killers: It's not often you get a villain from the winning side, but if Gold Coast had managed to defeat the Bulldogs on Thursday night, Billy Gowers might have mysteriously gone 'missing', with Luke Beveridge as the prime suspect.
The Dogs were putting in a monumental effort holding off relentless late attacks from the young Suns, and Gowers' awful shanked kick straight down the throat of an opponent in the corridor -- in the last minute of action -- almost handed Gold Coast the match.
Mercifully, his skipper came to the rescue, fending off the last-minute attack, and the camera moved to Bevo in complete disbelief in the box. Fair to say Billy is a very lucky lad.
Aidan Corr, you're on notice too. The GWS defender failed to realise he could rush a behind when he had two Richmond attackers bearing down on him on the goal line. He instead allowed himself to be tackled, was pinged for holding the ball and the Tigers kicked a goal. Luckily the Giants were too good on the night.
Coach killers, ironically, could be the death of playing careers...