Welcome to our newest VFL column, Talking Points, where we discuss the biggest stories each round. There was plenty to unpack this week, with milestone wins and losses, as well as ANZAC Day Eve Clash to remember.
Stay tuned next week, as there’ll also be a VFLW installment coming your way.
Without further ado, let’s get into round five’s talking points:
Footscray’s second-half woes went from bad to worse against Southport on Saturday afternoon, and are now a glaring issue that has to be resolved, with the Dogs winless from their eight second-half quarters in 2023.
To make matters worse, Footscray were fresh off the bye against Southport on Saturday, but to their credit didn’t look to be entirely run out of the game. Instead, they were marred by wastefulness in front of goal, kicking nine straight behinds to finish the match and failing to produce a fourth-quarter goal.
That being said, they’ll be looking for a big second-half effort against Carlton on Saturday to allay the concerns.
Demons’ first home loss in 1373 days
Losses seem to be few and far between for the dominant Casey outfit these days, and even more so on their home turf, with Michael Robinson (via Paul Amy on Twitter) revealing it had in fact been 1373 days since the Demons lost at home, way back in round 16 of 2019.
The result came as somewhat of a shock to many, with Richmond running away 12-point victors despite an incredible 48-disposal, 12-clearance, 12-mark, two-goal showing from Casey’s Luke Dunstan.
The reigning premiers were a class above, and then some, over their first four opponents, barely shifting out of second gear yet racking up 30+ point victories for fun. It was a different story against Richmond though, with the Tigers bringing plenty of pressure to force the upset.
Losing is unfamiliar territory for the group, given they lost just one match for the entirety of last season. It’ll be interesting to see how they respond when they face Box Hill in Wonthaggi on Sunday.
Bullants’ first win in 371 days
It was a long-time between drinks for the Northern Bullants, whose impressive victory over Sydney on Saturday was over a year in the making. Following a disappointing 2022 campaign that heralded a lone win, the Bullants have undergone a significant list overhaul in 2023, blooding 10 debutants in round one and 17 over the course of the season.
The victory, made particularly special by the fact it was against an AFL-affiliated side, will do this young Bullants group a world of good as they set about building a competitive list for seasons to come.
Sydney slump to 0-4
On the flip side of the Bullants success story, is the fallout for Sydney’s VFL unit, who have slumped to 0-4 and sit 20th.
It’s a far cry from the team that went 13-5 last season to finish fourth, but the Swans have been decimated by injuries at AFL level, which no doubt flows-on to affect the VFL side.
Speaking to Sydney Swans Media post-game, coach Damien Truslove lamented his side’s ill-discipline, estimating they gave away four or five 50m penalties which proved costly. He also noted the Swans have a very young group at the moment, with an average age of 20-21, and that inconsistencies are bound to arise with said age profile.
The Swans have a round 6 bye to regroup, before taking on the 1-3 Dolphins in pursuit of their first victory. It’s Sydney’s second bye in the space of a month, which also hinders the group’s ability to put out consistent performances.
ANZAC Day Eve Success
The Monday night fixture at Kinetic Stadium, which saw Frankston host fellow standalone club Port Melbourne, was a resounding success. A few thousand people packed in to watch Port Melbourne prevail by 15 points in what was a thrilling contest, and the place was buzzing.
Last year the Dolphins hosted the corresponding fixture against North Melbourne, but given that was a Sunday night and shuffled in amongst four games that day, it carried somewhat less significance.
If logistically possible on a Wednesday night (which ANZAC Day Eve will fall on in 2024), the match should be locked in as a recurring fixture by the VFL, with somewhat of a tradition built between Frankston and Port Melbourne, not dissimilar to the AFL’s Richmond-Melbourne clash.
Also seen in Casey Radio Sport.