The strangest season in AFL history is about to get real for the following 10 teams, but only eight of them will play finals football and in turn give themselves a chance to take home the Premiership Cup. AFANA runs the slide rule over where your club can finish after what should be another crazy round of footy. If your team isn’t mentioned below, it’s time to start thinking about next year…
The West Coast Eagles withstood a last quarter challenge from the St Kilda Saints to secure a place in this year's final series. The Eagles, struggling with injury to eight of their first-choice players and losing defensive linchpin Jeremy McGovern at the main break, looked gone, after St Kilda surged to the lead midway through the final quarter. However a goal to Josh Kennedy and then a sweeping handpass from Kennedy to Tim Kelly, put the Eagles back in front with twelve minutes to play and the Saints were unable to respond.
The GWS Giants have awoken from a form slump to stamp themselves as genuine contenders. After consecutive losses to Sydney and West Coast, the Giants finished their three match tour of the Western Australian hub with a thumping victory over the Fremantle Dockers. The Giants were too big and too strong around the ball for the Dockers and up forward Jeremy Cameron shook off his indifferent form to boot four majors.
Grey's Anatomy star Kate Walsh has been living in Perth since March. She came to Australia for a holiday but then the pandemic hit and Western Australia closed their borders. She has been enjoying it so much, she has decided to stay until the end of the year. One thing she has discovered since her stay is Aussie Rules and she has become obsessed and loves watching the game. Walsh, 52, said in an interview, "There's nothing else like it! ... It's very exciting and fast paced and I just really, really enjoyed it… There's really quite a spectacle to witness and it's a lot of fun." She says she is enjoying Perth, the people there and the Aussie traditions, "... I feel very, very fortunate ... to have quarantined there and be in WA during this kind of crazy time in the world."
There is also speculation that she may be one of the singers on The Masked Singer Australia. The station which airs the program put out a teasing clue that "a 'big name from an Emmy-winning series' will appear."
The Fremantle Dockers recovered from a spirit sapping post-siren loss to Carlton last week to shut down the Sydney Swans. The Swans won their last match, against the Greater Western Sydney Giants with attacking play, and the Docker defenders were determined to close them down. The Docker defense, with their three best defenders in stands due to injury, was again the story of the night. Though this week the ending was more to the Docker fans' liking. Brennan Cox and Luke Ryan had 11 marks (catches) between them and when they couldn't mark, they spoiled their opponents marking chances. The two main Docker defenders were well supported by Nathan Wilson, Reece Conca and Ethan Hughes. The Swans made 43 attacking entries but were only able to boot two goals. At the other end of the field, the Docker forwards didn't have it all their own way either, managing just eight goals from 34 entries.
On the August 13th edition of Eddie McGuire's "Aussie Footy Rules America" program on SiriusXM, one of the guests was Russell Crowe. While Crowe is a NRL guy, he is an observer of the AFL and of sports in America. During the program, he was asked by McGuire about promoting the AFL to fans in America. He said, in part, "The thing about Americans is they love sport. What you have to break through, of course, is the monopolization in the football area of the NFL. And it should have because it is a great spectacle, it is a wonderful sport and it has grown and has history and all that stuff. So you have to respect the fact that Americans love their football, they love basketball, they love ice hockey, they love baseball obviously. You have to appeal at the highest level of that, not the lowest. Rugby League tends to be sold to Americans on the basis of, ‘Look at how brutal and stupid these people are,’ as opposed to, ‘Feel the excitement of a play that just suddenly opens up.’ It is a different way of selling it. If you sell it to the smart kids in the room, Eddie, AFL goes great in America because it is a tactical game, it is a game that requires incredible skill and dexterity. You can see the moves of basketball in it, you can see so many areas of athletic prowess required by the players. So that would be simply my advice: If you’re going to approach America as to the sport of AFL, play to the smart kids in the room.” You can listen to a recording of this below.
The West Coast Eagles cruised to victory over a dispirited Hawthorn Hawks in a game where the Hawks never threatened one of the premiership favorites. The game started in dry conditions which suited the West Coast high leaping markers (catchers) and the Hawks were held scoreless in the opening quarter, as West Coast dominated. If the Eagles' goal shooting had been straight the match would have been over at quarter time. When the Hawks did attack, they were stopped in the air by Jeremy McGovern, who was returning from injury, and Tom Barrass, who together formed a defensive block taking 17 marks and 19 intercept possessions between them for the game.
The Fremantle Dockers "out-hawked" the Hawthorn Hawks at Optus Stadium in a game that signaled the turning fortunes of the two teams. The young Dockers played a traditional Hawthorn game plan, hard at the contest when the ball was in dispute but controlling the tempo of the game when they had the ball in hand. The Dockers were patient in setting their attacks and used their plan of retaining possession and moving the ball across the ground, until an avenue of attack opened. It was a dour struggle between the backlines as the defenses for both teams held firm for most of the game. The difference between the two teams was the tenacity of the young Dockers' attack on the ball supported by their ferocious tackling.
The Collingwood Magpies were surprised by the Fremantle Dockers with a shock defeat at Optus Stadium. The Dockers were harder at the ball and used pace to outrun their more experienced opponents, and recorded their first genuine home victory in this unusual season. A first quarter where a team failed to score would normally have a coach ranting, but Justin Longmuir was impressed with how his young players handled their higher profile opponents. What the young Dockers lacked in skill was compensated with by endeavor. They were first to the ball and won more than their share of contested possessions. A team of hungry committed players will often defeat a better credentialled team, and the Dockers showed that if a team can get enough players to the ball, the chances of winning are increased. A bit of straight kicking also helps.
Optus Stadium was the location for champagne football on a fine Sunday afternoon and the next day became the venue for a rain-sogged slugfest. This Monday night's (Perth time) game saw the Geelong Cats finish convincing winners by booting six goals against the undermanned Fremantle Dockers. It was a rain-soaked game where the team with the highest number of fit and mature bodies would win. The Dockers fielded a team without a recognized tall defender and their dual Brownlow Medalist captain Nat Fyfe was one of eleven Dockers on their extensive injury list. The Cats had an injury list nearly as long, which included Gary Ablett, Joel Selwood, and Rhys Stanley. It wasn't the number of non-injured players that won the Cats the game; it was the physical maturity of the players fielded, which gave them the winning advantage.