Tom Hawkins

AFANA AFL Power Poll Round 13
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By Boris Kilpatrick, special to AFANA from Australia

Finally the bye weeks are all done and dusted, and how the footy landscape has changed as we head into the final 10 rounds of the season. In the tightest finals race seen in recent times, there are 12 teams that currently have realistic claims to a finals berth. Here’s how the AFANA Power Poll shapes up as we head into a fascinating stretch run.

1.    Adelaide Crows (Last time - 2)

Accurate Cats Dismantle Dockers
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by Chris Kowald reporting for AFANA from Domain Stadium, Perth.

Geelong capitalized on Docker errors to post a convincing win to launch their season. With the return of Aaron Sandilands, Fremantle dominated in the ruck and won more clearances than Geelong, but Fremantle’s frequent skill errors gifted the ball to their opponents. The Cats midfielders, Patrick Dangerfield, Mitch Duncan and Joel Selwood punished any Fremantle turnovers and shot the ball deep into the Geelong forward zone. Tom Hawkins

Giants Come of Age in Canberra
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Brook “Boris” Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA

A sell-out crowd of almost 14,000 saw the Greater Western Sydney Giants overcome finals favorites Geelong in a stirring performance that signals their arrival as a team to be reckoned with. The fact that the Giants did it with ex-Cat Stevie Johnson kicking two important goals made it all the more memorable for the fledgling club.

Holmes Makes Debut in Saints and Cats Draw
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Janet Linn reporting for AFANA from Australia

An energetic and committed St Kilda has stayed the course to force a drawn game against Geelong in Round 21. While players say they never enjoy a tied game, this one had enormous ramifications with the Cats’ Finals chances dealt a heavy blow. Jason Holmes debuts for the St Kilda Saints. Photo by Kim Densham for AFANA.For American fans, the most newsworthy facet of the game was the impressive debut of James Holmes from Chicago and the first American-born and raised AFL player. (Read more about Holmes at http://www.afana.com/drupal5/news/2015/08/21/chicago_native_set_debut_saints-7811).

In an entertaining first quarter, St Kilda threw down the gauntlet and ran all over Geelong for the first ten minutes, kicking the first four goals before the Cats could take a breath.

West Coast Eagles Defeat Geelong in Romp
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Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Domain Stadium, Perth

Despite some atrocious kicking on goal, the West Coast Eagles overran a determined Geelong Cats in Round 9. It was a close game until the fourth quarter when West Coast players finally found their kicking radar and took the Cats apart. The game was evenly matched for much of the first half with Geelong getting out to an early lead with a couple of quick goals. One was a gift when the West Coast runner ran too close to Tom Hawkins giving away a 50 meter penalty right in front of goals. Steve Johnson slotted a clever goal from the left pocket and Jordan Murdoch was lively in Geelong’s forward line kicking two of his own. The Eagles' Josh Kennedy kicked two in the first quarter to keep the game even.

Club Awards
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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Sydney midfielder Luke Parker has won his first Bob Skilton medal as the Swans' best and fairest. Parker polled in all but three games to finish on 758 votes, ahead of Josh Kennedy (709) and Lance Franklin (688). Parker, 21, is the youngest winner since Michael O'Loughlin in 1998. He also won the Paul Kelly Players’ Player Award, which is voted on by the playing group. Parker led the club in 2014 for tackles, averaging six per game, and was among the leaders for the season in disposals, contested possessions and goals. Coach Longmire praised Parker as a great competitor, saying the win - after just 82 games - was a great achievement. “When you look at the players behind him - Kennedy and Franklin - you quickly get an understanding of how good a season he has had, and how highly we think of him as a player. Luke was taken as quite a late draft pick, but he really is testament to where hard work can get you, and we value that really highly."

No Fear Hawks
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Janet Linn, reporting for AFANA from Melbourne, Australia

A traditional rivalry began the 2014 Finals series with Hawthorn and Geelong meeting in the First Qualifying Final at the MCG. This was a match up that promised everything and, in front of almost 75,000 excited fans, it delivered on that promise early with a torrid opening quarter of hard physical contests, wayward kicks, nervous fumbles and both teams taking the game on at full throttle.

Fremantle Celebrates With Pav
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Rick Browner reporting from Patersons Stadium for AFANA

Baby Pav  Pavs Big Day
Matthew Pavlich celebrated his 300th game in fine style against Geelong and the Dockers joined the party defeating the Cats by five goals. Patersons Stadium in Perth was bursting at the seams as the Freo faithful packed in to cheer Pavlich on his special day. Football and fairy tales are rarely mentioned in the same sentence, but this game was the exception. The Dockers have been a thorn in the Cats’ side for several years and the Round 9 clash proved more of the same as the Dockers got out to a game winning lead in the first quarter.

Cats Halt Late Tiger Charge
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Brook "Boris" Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA

Geelong went into the Round 7 clash with Richmond holding an imposing record. The Cats had beaten up the Tigers in the last ten clashes between the two combatants with an average winning margin of 65 points. To find the last Richmond victory against Geelong you have to flick the pages of AFL history book back to Round 9, 2006 - a sobering thought for a Richmond team already struggling to regain any of the solid form it displayed in 2013. Complacency would not be an issue for the Cats who tasted defeat for the first time this season at the hands of an impressive Port Adelaide in the previous round.

Adelaide Comeback Stuns Cats
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Jamie Kloeden reporting for AFANA from AAMI Stadium, Australia

When we talk about the 2013 AFL season, the two teams that squared off against each other at AAMI Stadium in Round 17 could not have more contrasting tales. Geelong traveled to Adelaide having dropped just two games all year and looking destined to continue on for the rest of the season entrenched in the Top Two. In contrast Adelaide had seen its season go from bad to worse. After a successful 2012 that almost resulted in a Grand Final berth the Crows now faced the real prospect on missing out on Finals' action altogether.

Things did not quite go to plan as the Crows dominated the general play in the first quarter and only some inaccurate kicking in front of goals stopped them from having a sizable lead at quarter time.

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