Tom McDonald of the Demons.
Tom McDonald of the Demons.

The Tackle: Dees have the real money man

TOM McDonald is one of the hottest players in the AFL right now, and he's also coming out of contract.

His management would be reading with interest the figures being thrown around for another key forward, Gold Coast's Tom Lynch, and Tom Boyd's pay cheque from the Bulldogs.

McDonald tops Mark Robinson's list of likes from Round 11 while Gary Ablett, Shane Edwards and Shaun Burgoyne all get a mention.

Not so hot were the Bulldogs, Essendon and Alex Rance's dive. The umpires also had an interesting weekend.

See all Robbo's likes and dislikes below.





What a crazy situation. Tom McDonald has kicked 19.5 in six matches this year and Gold Coast's Tom Lynch has kicked 15.8 from seven matches. Both are out of contract at the end of the season. Lynch is linked to $1.5 million offers from Victorian clubs - Dermott Brereton says it could be $2 million if he stays. McDonald will almost certainly stay a Demons on a deal worth between $600,00 and $800,00 depending on how demanding his manager will be and, of course, his form. It is insane to think McDonald is half the player Lynch is and on Saturday he was arguably best afield with four goals, 23 disposals, 11 marks and 12 score involvements after starting the game on a wing. If I was McDonald's manager, I'd push for $800k and ask for five years.


Nathan Jones congratulates Tom McDonald after one of his four goals.
Nathan Jones congratulates Tom McDonald after one of his four goals.



Players stay for less, but performance needs to be rewarded. That's not always the case, mind you. Western Bulldog Tom Boyd played a ripper Grand Final and finals series in 2016, but he's now a shadow of that player. Boyd signed for an estimated $6 million over seven years and who could blame him. But when he has four disposals as he did on Saturday against Melbourne, the money does seem insane. Then again, what price is a premiership? You have to wonder if McDonald thinks about the money Boyd is getting, and Lynch will get, when he's in discussion with his management.



They are in the deep September conversation after yet another comprehensive victory, and after yet another imposing game from Shaun Higgins. No team would be confident against the Kangas right now because their balance of offence and defence is potent and they deserve to be in the premiership chat. Higgins is one of the hardest gut-busting runners in the competition and against the Lions he had a career-high 38 disposals, although it may not get him the maximum votes on Brownlow night. Dayne Beams had 32 and kicked five, which is a monster game in a losing team.




This was an easy kill for Collingwood against an inexperienced team, but you still have to make the kill. They have been described as having the best "flanker'' group in the competition - Wells, Sidebottom, Treloar, Pendlebury Maynard, Crisp, Phillips, Langdon, Thomas, De Goey, Stephenson and Greenwood - and they will need to be when they face a rampant Melbourne on Queen's Birthday. What a game that will be. And what a player Phillips has become after yet another 30-plus disposals. If the Pies beat the Demons, the lid will be off for first time in a very long time.


Brayden Maynard enjoys a goal against the Dockers.
Brayden Maynard enjoys a goal against the Dockers.



His best game of the year and it was even better than his performance in the 2017 Grand Final, when Richmond people believed he could have won the Norm Smith Medal. At least after Saturday night he can no longer be ''Invisible and Underrated'' which was the headline in Saturday's Herald Sun to describe him. He is the No. 1 score assist player in the AFL with 31 score assists - the next best player has 22. Against the Bombers it was a career-high in disposals (31) and metres gained (685). One of the all-time Tigers greats? Maybe not, but in coach Damien Hardwick's time, few have been as important.



Not only is he an indigenous great - and we celebrated all indigenous contribution at the weekend - but an AFL great. Burgoyne was super in Saturday's grafting win over Port Adelaide. He was huge all day, but in the third quarter when the Hawks were kicking against the breeze he stamped himself on this match. He had 53 ranking points, seven disposals, four contested possessions, three score involvements and kicked a goal. The Hawks restricted Port to 1.3 and kicked 2.4 themselves and Burgoyne's leadership was evident. We don't know if the walk-up Hall of Famer will play in 2019, but we do know he will be playing next week. His report for rough play was an embarrassment.



Career-best six goals in a St Kilda performance which did not secure the four points but gave every Saints fan a jolt of hope. Membrey was confident, aggressive with his leading and overcome what had to be some mental demons with his goalkicking. When the Saints were coming in the final quarter, Membrey was superb inside 50m. Overall, the Saints lost it in the first half, coughed up some big plays in the final quarter (Jack Lonie was twice at fault) when they had the ascendancy and a win was looming. Beating Sydney at Etihad next week is not beyond them.


Gary Ablett knows his way around Metricon Stadium.
Gary Ablett knows his way around Metricon Stadium.



Heartwarming to hear the booing of Gary Ablett because it showed the Gold Coast faithful have an edge to them and definitely more than their team did on Saturday night. For the first time this season, Ablett had real step about him and he said after the match his body was feeling as a good as it has all season. He finished with 37 possessions and three goals in a role former teammates Jimmy Bartel calls the first receiver. Of course, zero tackles isn't an issue when you win by almost 15 goals.



The national spotlight turns to Adelaide this week after three defeats in four games, the latest a loss at home to the Giants. In a brutal contested-ball game, Jeremy Cameron kicked two goals in the final quarter to lead the Giants to a much-needed win. Cameron, Ward, Shiel, Kelly, Whitfield and Coniglio - the big five at the Giants - were brilliant in victory and brilliant in work rate. Adelaide faces Fremantle next week and if they lose that, it is crisis at the Crows.



The players play, the coaches coach and the volunteers do it for love. Terrific gestures from West Coast and the Western Bulldogs for two long-time workers. The Eagles players sang the song around the training equipment, which was the domain of club volunteer Trevor Perriam, who passed away this week. The Bulldogs had a banner for Kevin O'Neill, who celebrated his 350th game as a trainer. It's a cliche, but people like Trev and Kev make football clubs.







Nervous for Nathan. A fine is the likely outcome, but wouldn't be surprised if he is suspended. He raised his forearm into the face of Collingwood's Levi Greenwood after Greenwood had disposed of the ball. It was late and high and uncalled for. The Brownlow Medal favourite was lucky Greenwood was not injured and got to his feet because if he was concussed, Fyfe would definitely be suspended. This is another case of outcome over the act. But was it intentional? That's the question for MRO Michael Christian.


Charlie Dixon can’t get past Frawley and Blake Hardwick.
Charlie Dixon can’t get past Frawley and Blake Hardwick.



The Suns finally get to play at home and are munched by Geelong by 85 points. Unless Lynch is the most loyal person in football ever - and for the Suns' sake, we hope he is - Lynch will be moving south. No one could blame him. He played footy as a child and dreamt of playing AFL. He is good enough to be drafted, is taken by Suns and eight years later, with his career past the halfway mark, he has precious little to show for it other than an attractive bank account. He's played in 37 wins and 90 losses and no finals. The Suns and the AFL haven't lived up to their end of the bargain, so why should he stay? There's more to football than helping the AFL build its legacy.



The Dogs up front, actually, all over the ground. It's beyond a joke how poor the Bulldogs are converting and it has to be the system they play. No team can have this much bad luck inside 50m. Here's the inside-50 counts and goals kicked this season, starting from Round 1: 51-7, 54-9, 56-14, 60-11, 42-8, 49-11, 61-11, 64-16, 52-8 and 51-7 against the Demons on Saturday. The Bulldogs have scored a goal from 17.6 per cent of their inside-50s this season, which is ranked 18th. They give up 92 points a game. They can't sustain their swarming pressure. There's pressure on veterans. And they're 14th on the ladder. It's a mess.



Tom Lynch kicked 1.3 against Geelong.
Tom Lynch kicked 1.3 against Geelong.


Tom Boyd had just four disposals against Melbourne.
Tom Boyd had just four disposals against Melbourne.





You can bring the heat, but you also have to handle the heat from the opposition. Essendon was OK in the pressure stakes, but its ball use disintegrated under Richmond's defensive system, which broke the Bombers. They went at 59 per cent efficiency and coughed up 89 points from their turnovers, 10 goals coming from turnovers in the defensive half of the ground. They were jittery on the big stage, which is becoming a unwelcome trend.



The worst decision of the season was not to pay contact below the knees against Hawthorn's Ben McEvoy during the second quarter in Tasmania on Saturday. McEvoy ran in and slid with his knees and legs and took out the legs of Port Adelaide's Dan Houston. The contact was so explosive Houston looked like a cartoon character as he lost all balance, was flipped into the air and hit the turf. The AFL wants to enforce the sliding/front-on rule amid criticism from the football world for not rewarding the player in first for the ball and then this garbage - which was akin to Lindsay Thomas on Gary Rohan in 2012 without Rohan's broken leg - is allowed to go unchecked. Little wonder fans are frustrated.



It was party time for umpires paying 50m penalties for players ignoring the exclusion zone at the weekend, depending on what ground you were at. It was a frenzy in Tasmania, which only highlighted the lack of consistency of interpretation. Try these: Justin Westhoff was about nine metres away and the umpire called 50m and Tom Mitchell kicked the goal. Bulldog Ed Richards marked the ball outside the arc, was skipping back and looking at options and Melbourne's Jesse Hogan ran by only two metres from Richards. No penalty. It happens across every weekend.



Charlie Dixon ran too close to Hawthorn's Tom Mitchell in the second quarter and gave away a 50m penalty. He gobbed off at the umpire and it seemingly was the reason why a second 50m penalty was given, which took Mitchell to the goalsquare. The score was 32-20 before Mitchell's goal and it gave the Hawks the momentum in their stunning comeback after quarter-time. If it wasn't Dixon, it was another Port player to blame for the second 50m. We can call it unlucky or we can call it stupidity - we favour the latter - because goals were precious in Tasmania. The final margin was three points.


Charlie Dixon can’t get past Frawley and Blake Hardwick.
Charlie Dixon can’t get past Frawley and Blake Hardwick.




He got the nudge and dived like he had been shot out of a cannon. The free kick was probably there, but Rance's dive was ridiculous. He has form, and although it's not a hanging offence, it is a blight on his game and the competition. It would be courageous call from MRO Michael Christian to fine Rance for staging, but even Rance wouldn't like what he saw on the replay.



It was confirmed late Sunday afternoon Jake Lever had ruptured his ACL which, of course, is devastating news for him. He was considered one of the final jigsaw pieces in Melbourne's collection to build a September team and in the past five weeks had played the kind of football which attracted the Demons in the first place. His replacement will probably be either Joel Smith or Sam Frost. At West Coast, Jack Darling's foot will be in a moon boot as we await results. They are two horror blows for teams in the premiership contention.



Not pleasant by the Dockers and CEO Steve Rosich told 3AW pre-match they will be heading to the draft for a third year to restock the list. He also said the club was hoping to re-sign Harley Bennell despite his injuries and off-field efforts which have yielded just two matches in two years. The previous big-name signing, Cam McCarthy, continues to disappoint. In 11 games this year, he has kicked just 12 goals after kicking 25 from 19 matches last year. He is not the player they hoped he'd be after he sat out the 2016 season to get to Fremantle.

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