A career-best performance from Gryan Miers has helped a wasteful Geelong cruise to a 33-point AFL win over North Melbourne at the Gabba.
The Cats’ first-half yips, coming a day after Brisbane’s sloppy goal-kicking ruined any hope they had of defeating Richmond, could have proven costly.
But Miers’ composure allowed Geelong to ease to a 37-point lead in the third quarter and they never looked back, eventually triumphing 13.12 (90) to 9.3 (57).
Miers excelled in slippery conditions, booting a career-best four goals in his 35th AFL game.
Geelong registered six behinds between Miers’ third and fourth goals, during which Tom Hawkins, Mitch Duncan and Zach Tuohy uncharacteristically missed opportunities to bust the game open.
Jack Steven, whose recall was one of four changes made by Geelong coach Chris Scott in an effort to keep his side fresh after Saturday night’s loss in Perth, finished with 21 disposals and four tackles.
North’s loss was further soured by recalled forward Ben Brown’s knee injury.
Brown limped off in the first quarter and played no further part in the contest while Majak Daw returned to the field after hurting his ankle in the third term.
Returning captain Joel Selwood and Patrick Dangerfield, who spent limited time on the ball, had quiet nights but Lachie Fogarty and some of the Cats’ lesser lights stood up.
The Kangaroos trimmed Geelong’s buffer to 15 points when Jared Polec slotted his set shot with a tick under six minutes remaining in the match.
That was as close as they came to causing an upset; Dangerfield won the resultant centre-bounce clearance and set up a goal for Duncan.
The result extended Geelong’s remarkable recent dominance over North, who have not beaten the Cats since round 15 of the 2015 season.
Debutant Lachie Hosie kicked two goals for the Kangaroos while Jy Simpkin and Trent Dumont worked hard in the middle for North.
The 29-year-old provided the highlight of the victory when he kicked a goal in the final term, with every one of his teammates coming to jump all over him in celebration.
Daw finished with eight disposals, four marks and his goal.
North Melbourne’s victory ends a six-match losing run and leaves winless Adelaide stranded at the bottom of the ladder.
The Kangaroos’ tally of 119 is also the highest score by a team in 2020, eclipsing West Coast’s 111 against Collingwood in round eight.
The Crows’ unwanted club-record losing run is now at 12 and it will be more than a year since their last AFL win when they take to Adelaide Oval to play Melbourne on Wednesday.
Daw did not take long to make an impact on the match, playing a key role in the build-up to the opening goal scored by Luke Davies-Uniacke.
That score sent the Kangaroos on their way as they kicked four goals to none in the opening term.
Adelaide made an attempt at a comeback in the second term but a flurry of three goals at the end of the half ensured North had extended their margin to 34 points by the main break.
Saints hand Swans heavy loss
Tough midfielder Zak Jones starred for the Saints against his old side with 21 disposals and six clearances in the 15.11 (101) to 6.12 (48) triumph at the Gabba.
The Swans had no answer to St Kilda’s superior run and slick ball use after half-time as Jack Steele (24 disposals), Jade Gresham (23) and Jack Billings (19) racked up possessions through the midfield.
Emerging key forward Max King and Nick Hind both kicked three goals as Dan Butler, Josh Battle and Gresham chipped in with two each.
It was the first time the Saints had managed a triple-figure score this season.
Luke Parker (26 disposals and five clearances) and James Rowbottom (16 and seven) worked hard for the Swans and Tom McCartin finished with three goals.
Tom Papley, the Coleman Medal leader heading into round nine, managed just one goal under Ben Paton’s watch.
The only real sour note for St Kilda was a calf injury that led to Seb Ross’s late withdrawal before the bounce.
Ross had missed just one match in five seasons and was replaced by Shane Savage, who had 14 disposals in his first senior appearance of 2020.
Canberra has shown its class to sneak home with a 14-12 win over North Queensland in an NRL arm wrestle in Townsville.
Canberra and North Queensland scored two tries apiece, with a Jarrod Croker penalty goal proving the difference on the scoreboard
The Raiders welcomed back England John Bateman, who was making his first appearance of the season
Joseph Manu played a starring role in the Roosters’ 18-12 win over the Titans
Earlier in the afternoon, the depleted Sydney Roosters survived an almighty scare from an inspired Gold Coast Titans to escape with a vital 18-12 win at the SCG.
Up north, it was far from the Raiders’ best performance but they did enough to edge a willing Cowboys outfit, with both teams scoring two tries.
The Cowboys threw everything at their opponents but too often let themselves down with their kicking options.
Gunning for their third successive victory, the Raiders looked as if they were suffering jet lag early on after their long match-day flight to Canberra.
They were caught out just two minutes into the match when North Queensland hooker Reece Robson dashed over the line from dummy half.
The Raiders found their groove to level in the 18th minute when half-back George Williams started and finished a 70-metre try, helped by a big charge and fend by winger Nick Cotric.
A 35th-minute penalty strike by captain Jarrod Croker allowed his team to take an 8-6 lead to half-time.
Canberra prop Josh Papalii was both hero and villain within two minutes, stripping the ball but then being placed on report for a forearm to the head of the Cowboys’ teenage full-back Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow.
Cowboys skipper Jason Taumalolo steamed to the try line to put his side up but it was short-lived with the Raiders hitting back four minutes later.
England international John Bateman, playing his first match of the year after two rounds of shoulder surgery, found Curtis Scott, who fended off winger Murray Taulagi to score.
Sharpshooter Croker then showed his value, nailing the conversion from the sideline to put his side ahead again.
The final 12 minutes saw four captains’ challenges, with the Cowboys correct with both but they couldn’t find the points for a win or to take the match into golden point.
Roosters deny gutsy Titans
In an action-packed match laced with drama, the Roosters overcame their crippling injury toll to preserve their place in the top four thanks largely to the heroics of classy centre Joseph Manu.
The AFL has handed out heavy sanctions to four clubs for breaches of the league’s COVID-19 return-to-play protocols during the past week.
Hawthorn, Carlton, North Melbourne and Richmond were all fined by the AFL
The Hawks’ breach relates to an incident involving non-selected players during the club’s recent match against the Swans
The Blues, Kangaroos and Tigers were sanctioned for incidents while based in their Queensland hubs
Hawthorn was fined $50,000, with half of that amount suspended for the remainder of the season.
Carlton, North Melbourne and Richmond received $45,000 fines, $25,000 of which is suspended.
The Hawks’ breach of the protocols occurred in Sydney last weekend, while Richmond, Carlton and North Melbourne were sanctioned for incidents while based in their Queensland hubs.
AFL General Counsel Andrew Dillion said there was no excuse for clubs committing protocol breaches.
“The protocols are in place to not only protect players, officials, staff, and now their visiting families, but also the wider community in which we have been given the opportunity to train and play,” he said in an AFL statement.
“We all have to modify our behaviours in order for the competition to continue in a safe manner.”
The Hawks were sanctioned for an incident that occurred during last Saturday’s match against Sydney at the SCG where non-selected players entered a public area of the stadium.
“We are incredibly disappointed that we have breached the AFL protocols,” Hawks president Jeff Kennett said.
“We expect much more of our players and the club, and we take full responsibility for the breach in question and accept the sanction which has been handed down.
“On behalf of the club, I would like to apologise to the AFL, all clubs, our Hawthorn members and the broader community for stepping outside of the protocols, putting the game at risk and bringing our club into disrepute.”
The Blues also accepted their penalty, which related to a member of their travelling group seeking assistance with childcare duties.
“We fully understand the seriousness of this breach and acknowledge that an opportunity to seek clarification of these rules was missed, which has resulted in this breach,” Blues chief executive Cain Liddle said.
“For context purposes, the period in which this breach occurred was after the quarantine timeframe had concluded. This individual had sought support with childcare, which is approved within the AFL protocols.
“However, the activity undertaken by those caring for children is where we have let ourselves down, given this is where the opportunity to seek clarity should have been taken.
“In saying that, we acknowledge our role in ensuring all parties are fully compliant and aware of the measures that are in place.”
The Tigers and Kangaroos also announced they had accepted their penalties.
While the league has previously been exempted from restrictions on previous COVID-19 hotspots, it must re-apply each time Queensland tightens its measures.
Earlier in the season, Melbourne Storm relocated from Victoria to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast due to border restrictions between Victoria and the rest of the country.
Canterbury’s trip to the Sunshine Coast next weekend in round 13 would be the first game under threat.
The NRL previously had to force players back into a tight bubble on both sides of the Tweed River given the threat of a second wave of coronavirus.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys insisted that for that reason, the new measures imposed by Queensland should not be an issue.
“The latest advisory from the Queensland Government doesn’t affect us at all – the competition will go ahead as per normal,” V’landys told News Corp.
“We’ve had no further conversations with the Queensland Government, they have already given us a letter asking us to reinstall our strict COVID protocols, which we have done.”
The New Zealand Warriors have been based in New South Wales since the season resumed.
Meanwhile Sydney’s two AFL teams, GWS Giants and Sydney Swans, will accelerate their plans to leave New South Wales.
GWS, who face Gold Coast on Sunday, will now fly out on Thursday afternoon.
The Giants and Sydney were already both playing their next two games in Queensland before heading to a hub in Western Australia, but the border closure means they won’t be able to return home after round nine.
Super Rugby AU will also be impacted, with two teams, Western Force and NSW Waratahs, both based in Sydney.
The Waratahs are set to host the Rebels at Leichhardt Oval on Friday.
The Melbourne Rebels and ACT Brumbies, who take on the Queensland Reds on Saturday, are based in Canberra.