Young Bulldog Clay Smith, 25, has been forced to retire due to recurrent knee injuries. He started training on Thursday ahead of Round 16, but came off the track and reportedly was in tears as he knew it was the end. In making the announcement, said, “It was a very difficult decision ... but the right one ... given my knee hasn’t been able to fully recover. I’ve given everything to try to make ... but unfortunately it hasn’t worked out ... ". Smith went on to thank the club and medical staff for all of their support and giving him the opportunity to play AFL football and said "... “While life without footy will leave a big hole in my life, it has shaped me as a person and helped me grow and I’m thankful for that.” Being a part of the Dogs' 2016 premiership, he said despite all the setbacks, he would not change anything about the seven years he spent at the club.
Chris Kowald reporting for AFANA from Optus Stadium, Perth
The Fremantle Dockers continued their unbeaten streak at their new home by comprehensively dismantling the inconsistent Western Bulldogs. The Dogs had defeated the Essendon Bombers and pushed the Sydney Swans in recent weeks, showing signs that they were regaining the form that won the a premiership in 2016.
by Lisa Albergp reporting for AFANA from Chicago
In mid-August, three more veterans announced they would be retiring at the end of the year - Bulldog Robert Murphy, Hawk Josh Gibson and Cat turned Bomber James Kelly. Murphy joins teammate and fellow 300-gamer Matthew Boyd in retiring.
On a perfect cool night for football, the West Coast Eagles and the Western Bulldogs showed how a dour and intense game can thrill a crowd. Numbers around the ball, slick hand passing and high pressure tackling was the order of the night. Despite the Bulldogs missing nine of their best players, they matched or bettered the Eagles in all aspects of the game with the exception of marks (catches) within the attacking fifty meter arc and crucially, on the scoreboard.
by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
The Swiss Court For Arbitration in Sport (CAS) has dismissed the appeal filed by the 34 former and current Essendon players. The player were initially cleared by the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal, but WADA's appeal to CAS overturned that verdict and the players then launched their appeal against the banishment. With the penalty backdated to account for procedural delays, the players were effectively ruled out of the entire 2016 season.
Fans should carefully note the start and end times of Grand Final coverage in the USA and Canada. We have been advised by Fox Sports that due to music rights guarantees requested by the host broadcaster Seven Network, many broadcasters including Fox Soccer Plus will be unable to show anything except the Grand Final game itself. This will mean coverage will be limited to a window between 12:24 AM and approximately 3:30 AM EDT in the US. Coverage will end shortly after the match ends. Fox has indicated they expect to be able to air the medal ceremony. Fox Soccer Plus (FSP) in the USA and TSN2 in Canada will carry the Grand Final between Sydney and Western Bulldogs LIVE on Friday night / Saturday morning, September 30th / October 1st. US coverage on FSP will begin at 12:24 AM EDT Saturday. Set your DVR accordingly by adding extra time before and after so you don't miss any of the medal ceremony or extra time if it occurs! Coverage will continue until approximately 3:30 AM EDT Saturday concluding after the medal ceremony. No other pre- or post-match coverage will be provided. Canadian coverage on TSN2 will begin at 10:30 PM EDT Friday and run to 4:00 AM Saturday. If you have no access to any of the preceding options, the game will be live via the internet on WatchAFL (payment required, US$22) and you can sign up at this link. WatchAFL coverage will begin at 11:30 PM EDT. Fans should check our TV Schedule page for full TV listings including any repeats and our TV Info page for more information on FSP, WatchAFL, and TSN2. For those looking for parties, see our listings on our Grand Final Party page. (Note: the only live coverage in North America is via these outlets and they are available nationally via cable and satellite services -- see our TV Info page. Asking us if there are others will not get you a different answer because there isn't one.)
In a Thursday night (Perth time) elimination final, the Western Bulldogs defied history and the betting markets by shredding the West Coast Eagles at Domain Stadium.
So, who wins it all? In what looks to be the most open finals series for some time, you could mount a solid argument for six teams that could potentially take out the 2016 premiership. Read on for my take on who can win the Aussie rules championship in 2016 and why – and my pick for the two teams that will meet in the biggest AFL match of the year on October 1st.
I’ll start in reverse order of regular season finish, from eighth to top spot.