Heroes & Villains: The worst finals performance of this century?

If Week 1 of the AFL finals was an absolute cracker, then the semis brought us all back down to earth with two, well, underwhelming, contests. Nevertheless, here are your Heroes & Villains from the weekend.


Patrick Dangerfield: Patty had just kicked his second of two goals from the pocket that would have left Jason Akermanis blushing, but instead of celebrating with a hand over the mouth or a handstand, he walked back to his starting position with a stoic, emotionless face, barely high-fiving his teammates as we went.

Dangerfield was a man on a mission during Saturday night's win over Collingwood, and his four-goal, 19-disposal effort to put Geelong through to their fourth prelim in five years was monstrous. And it shows just how big a threat he can be when he's used as a forward ... effectively.

Over the journey, we've given Chris Scott some flak for playing Dangerfield forward when it doesn't make sense. In last week's qualifying final, Dangerfield was prowling a barren forward 50 in the last five minutes of the Cats' loss to Port Adelaide while his side was down by between two and three goals. He was needed around the ball.

But on Saturday night, with Mitch Duncan, Sam Menegola, Joel Selwood, Cam Guthrie and Co. controlling the midfield, Dangerfield was most useful, effective and damaging in the forward line. And it worked a treat.

He kicked two in the second from 'Aker's pocket', and then the first two of the last term to put an exclamation point on a comprehensive performance - one which shows the Cats are serious about winning their first flag since 2011. And with Dangerfield in dangerous form, they could just do it...

Shai Bolton: A week is a long time in footy - just ask Richmond's Shai Bolton.

During the Tigers' qualifying final loss to Brisbane, he was sloppy and undisciplined as the Lions won straight through to a prelim.

But against the Saints on Friday night, he was electric and showcased an array of skills that make him one of the league's most exciting talents.

With the game there to be won -- the Saints certainly put up a brave fight, with poor kicking for goal proving costly -- his two first-term goals were jaw-dropping. The first came from 50m on a tight angle after some fancy footwork gave him just enough time and space to evade an opponent and launch towards goal. The second was brilliant in a different way, with Bolton tapping the ball to himself under immense pressure from five (yes, five!) opponents about 30m from goal, before a blink-and-you'll-miss-it gather and kick with the outside of the boot which found the target.

He may have only notched 11 touches overall, but his three majors and creativity with the ball was pivotal as Richmond won through to their fourth consecutive preliminary final.

Still just 21, he looms as a major wildcard as Richmond strive to win their third flag in four seasons.


Collingwood: It's almost hard to know where to begin. The Magpies' 'performance' on Saturday night had statisticians racing for the record books.

With just two scoring shots on the board by three-quarter time and with a tally of 1.1 (7), Collingwood were in real danger of posting the lowest full-time score in a final since Melbourne's 0.8 (8) in 1897. It might even have been the worst finals performance seen this century, and there have been some shockers over the years.

Port Adelaide fans -- and Cats fans, for that matter -- might cast their minds back to the last Saturday in September of 2007, when the Power were humiliated on the grandest of all stages by 119 points, but at least the Power had posted 10 scoring shots to three-quarter time - five times that of the Pies on Saturday night.

In fact, the top seven possession-winners on the night were Cats, and the eight lowest possession-getters were Pies. They just couldn't get near the ball all night, and finished -13 in clearances, a whopping -141 in uncontested possessions, -88 in marks and -12 in marks inside 50. It's hard to even imagine a more comprehensive smashing in a final.

Even when Geelong took their foot well and truly off the pedal in the final term, they still outscored the Pies 6.2 to 4.1. That last quarter alone would have beaten the Pies on the night.

Tom Lynch: Fool us one? Shame on you. Fool us twice? Shame on us. Fool us three times? Erm... FOUR? It's official, Tom Lynch's reputation as a dirty player is growing.

In 2020 alone, we've seen four incidents which have come under close scrutiny, with the most recent being his knee into the neck/shoulder area of Saint Dougal Howard during his side's win on Friday night.

Prior to that, Lynch has found himself in hot water for shoving Richmond defender Harris Andrew's head into the turf in Round 10, his tummy tap -- which was well off the ball -- on Gold Coast's Sam Collins in Round 12, his (also off-the-ball) closed fist hit to the chops of Michael Hurley in Round 13

Lynch was charged -- bizarrely -- with misconduct and was issued a paltry $750 fine with an early plea - a laughable 'slap on the wrist' given Lynch's priors and the MRO's punishment table; was it not clearly intentional conduct, low impact and high contact? All signs pointed to a one-week suspension.

Instead of being handed any time off to think about his blatantly unsavoury actions in 2020, Lynch has escaped suspension on every single occasion. There are others in the league, St Kilda's Ben Long among them, who would look at Lynch's record with confusion, ire and, ultimately, envy.

Perhaps there is something in the 'Richmond MRO conspiracy' we joked about on last week's podcast...