Front and Square

A BIG agenda heads this week’s long awaited return of Front and Square, beginning with the deliberate free kicks fiasco in Perth on Friday night…

You’ve got to be kidding, ump!

Nine deliberate free kicks were paid over the boundary line in the West Coast-Geelong match on Friday night and while most of them were there, that many hasn’t been paid all season.

A message from the umpiring department has come down prior to this game, so confusion is widespread.

Umpiring boss Jeff Gieschen came out on Monday to say that seven out of the nine were current calls, I beg to differ.

Geelong coach Chris Scott also talked about this in his press conference after the match and he was spot on.

It wasn’t the umpires fault, its the message that was delivered from higher authorities.

Will things change or will the same message continue to be delivered going forward?

Time will tell, but this writer can speak for most of the football public in saying that we hope not.

Well done North Melbourne

Clearly the team of the round and a massive turnaround from the 115 point capitulation to Hawthorn in Launceston back in round 10.

Since then the Roos have won every game except a close two point loss to the West Coast Eagles in round 15, surrendering a five goal lead.

Coach Brad Scott has led North to two ninth placed finishes but in his third year looks to grant the club their first finals birth since 2008, where they finished seventh under Dean Laidley.

The weekend’s win after old foe Essendon was bitter sweet, given their history, but even more impressive after losing Leigh Adams and Daniel Wells to injury before Nathan Grima broke down mid-way through the last quarter.

Expansion clubs will take time

The Gold Coast Suns have copped several whacks in their second season, unfairly this writer might add.

Despite the spirited efforts of the new boys in Western Sydney, the Suns are on the right track but its going to take time.

This should not be a shock to many, given both the Suns and the Giants are in the very early stages of building a successful club in the rugby dominated states of Queensland and New South Wales.

In their defense, the Suns have been cruelled with injuries this year – with the likes of Nathan Bock, Michael Rischitelli, Campbell Brown, David Swallow and skipper Gary Ablett all missing at various stages, some more than others.

Not to mention the unfortunate departure of Nathan Krakouer at the start of 2012 and it also must be noted that they’re playing kids out of their depth at the moment.

Likewise for GWS, until these kids get 50-100 games under their belt, its going to be a struggle.

Patience is needed but whichever club makes the finals and wins a premiership first will no doubt have the upper hands over the other.

Your club’s verdict

Adelaide: Will finish top two and get desired home final. Handy draw following solid win. Dangerfield is a star and future captain, Wright a revelation.

RUN HOME: BL (G), Melb (MCG), GC (AS)

Brisbane Lions: Mental lapses brought Lions undone again after encouraging start. Former Hawk Lisle showed a bit and Green provides energy as small forward. Need to finish season well and get a couple wins to build into 2013.

RUN HOME: Adel (G), PA (AS), WB (G)

Carlton: No.1 picks Murphy, Gibbs and Kreuzer pivotal in win that keeps their finals chances alive, despite poor percentage. Blues have at least found in a few players in McInnes, Bell and Casboult.

RUN HOME: Ess (MCG), GC (MS), StK (ES)

Collingwood: Season defining win v Swans without the suspended Swan and Thomas, who was subbed out early. Dawes’ last quarter significant and the rise of Beams to elite big boost.

RUN HOME: NM (ES), WCE (PS), Ess (MCG)

Essendon: Inefficiency killed them yet the fade-out even more disheartening given what’s on the line. Dons look far from finals bound going by that effort. Crucial three weeks coming up.

RUN HOME: Carl (MCG), Rich (MCG), Coll (MCG)

Fremantle: Dockers effort unquestionable, but with Pavlich well held lacked the class to win. Good draw gives them finals hope and realistically the best chance of any club outside of the eight to feature in September.

RUN HOME: Rich (PS), NM (ES), Melb (PS)

Geelong: Tough loss but were always in the contest, good effort without Kelly and Chapman, while Christensen and Hawkins were injured early. Top four aspirations shot, which makes it hard from here.

RUN HOME: StK (ES), WB (SS), Syd (SS)

Gold Coast: Picked up second win of the season through shire effort but will be glad for the season to be over after second-year blues. Expectations will continue to rise but development into a super team will take time.

RUN HOME: Haw (MCG), Carl (MS), Adel (AS)

GWS: Hoskin-Elliott and Treloar shining lights for the Giants missing a few players. Made Suns work hard but wasn’t enough, starting to tire.

RUN HOME: Melb (MO), StK (ES), NM (SK)

Hawthorn: Poor start redeemed by an impressive finish and an 11-goal final term. Injuries to Rioli and Gibson big blows ahead of September.

RUN HOME: GC (MCG), Syd (SCG), WCE (MCG)

Melbourne: Another mental lapse proved costly again, but competitive for longer this time. The efforts of 5-goal hero Blease super but a long way to go before the Dees play finals.

RUN HOME: GWS (MO), Adel (MCG), Frem (PS)

North Melbourne: Inspiring win without Adams and Wells and have just about cemented their spot in the finals for the first time since 2008. Lots to like.

RUN HOME: Coll (ES), Frem (ES), GWS (SK)

Port Adelaide: Failed to capitalise on flying start and blown away in the end, but at least showed intensity. Boak terrific, but will be a big loss if he departs. Lots of work remains to be done.

RUN HOME: WCE (AS), BL (AS), Rich (MCG)

Richmond: Finishing the season well after a series of narrow defeats costing them a tilt at finals action. Cotchin, Deledio, Martin and Riewoldt leading the way. Tigers need to continue strong form as a backbone for 2013.

RUN HOME: Frem (PS), Ess (MCG), PA (MCG)

St Kilda: The loss of skipper Riewoldt to knee injury hit hard but ex-Eagle Wilkes able to fill the void as lesser lights stepped up. Finals hopes rest on not dropping another game.

RUN HOME: Geel (ES), GWS (ES), Carl (ES)

Sydney Swans: Unbeaten run brought to an end but lost game due to blowing opportunities early. Need Reid back to settle forward structure and it may be time to bring in Morton, who has been in ripping form for the reserves for most of the season. Biggest tests will come against the Hawks and the Cats.

RUN HOME: WB (ES), Haw (SCG), Geel (SS)

West Coast Eagles: Got their confidence and resilience back, but up against it for a top four finish. Cox and Naitanui remain their biggest weapon ahead of any finalist and still boast the talent to go all the way.

RUN HOME: PA (AS), Coll (PS), Haw (MCG)

Western Bulldogs: Up against it after late withdrawal of Griffen and showed fight in stages but four quarter effort missing. A side rebuilding and will take time.

RUN HOME: Syd (ES), Geel (SS), BL (G)

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