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Kennedy, McEvoy, de Boer are Going, Going, Gone

McEvoy vs Essendon (file photo)

Three more veteran players joined this year's group of retired players. Matt de Boer, Ben McEvoy, and Sydney's Josh Kennedy. Just ahead of Round 22, GWS midfielder Matt de Boer, 32, announced his immediate retirement due to the lingering effects of a concussion he suffered in mid-June. He ends his career on 223 games, 138 of which were played for the Dockers before he joined GWS. It was at GWS he cemented his reputation as one of the game's most effective taggers. He was a crucial part of the teams that made it to the finals, including the 2019 Grand Final loss to Richmond.

In making the announcement, de Boer said, The Giants ... and its people is truly a special place ... “My heart is unequivocally full of gratitude and love for the friendships, memories and opportunities that playing in the AFL has availed me. “I’d particularly like to thank Leon Cameron for believing in me and challenging me always to be the best version of myself. I’d also like to thank the Fremantle Dockers for first recruiting me...".

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Two Forwards Shelve the Sherrin

Kennedy Celebrates a Goal

Eagle forward Josh Kennedy and Port forward Steven Motlop both announced their retirements ahead of Round 21. The game against the Crows was Kennedy's last while Motlop bowed out immediately. Kennedy, 34, was expected to retire at the end of the season, but a knee issue saw him decide to call time sooner. He was originally drafted by Carlton and played for the Blues for two seasons before being traded to the Eagles in exchange for Chris Judd. Many believe the Eagles got the better of the deal given Kennedy's longevity and goal scoring, in spite of Judd winning his second Brownlow Medal with the Blues.

In a club statement Kennedy said, “It’s been a privilege to play so many years at this great football club and I’ll forever be grateful for the opportunity to represent the West Coast Eagles and Carlton There are so many people to thank for helping me on the journey over 17 years. Obviously my wife Lauren and daughters Sage and Lottie, my family who always supported me, coaches John Worsfold and Adam Simpson, club staff and of course my teammates. Footy and the West Coast Eagles have given me so much and I’ve loved the journey. I’ve made lifelong friendships and learned so much from champions like Dean Cox, Darren Glass, Luke Shuey, Shannon Hurn and Mark LeCras ... My knee is a big reason ... my drive to play is still there, but I’m realistic my body is not going to be able to take me to another season. To be able to farewell West Coast supporters one last time at Optus Stadium and say thank you for the incredible support over the years will be the perfect way to finish my career.”

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Saints Hold Off Hawks To Go Back Into Top Eight

Sam Mitchell (file photo)

The Saints mauled Hawthorn earlier in the season at the MCG as their midfield and forwards dominated the Hawks. Now late in the season the two teams are not so distant on the ladder at Round 20 and both were outside the top eight prior to this match. Early in the third quarter today the Saints looked poised to repeat the dose, but a late fightback by the Hawks saw them trail by just two goals at the final siren, but still enough to carry the Saints into the top eight.

Played under the closed roof at Marvel, the two teams took a good period to feel each other out.  After seven and a half minutes the Saints put the first serious score on the board when Mason Wood outmarked Jiath in the forward pocket and converted the free kick into a goal.  But they failed to capitalize on good work of the midfield as King, Membrey and Lienart all missed set shots. 

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Fired Up Demons Demolish Dockers

Triumphant Demons 2021 (file picture)

After a month of indifferent form, the Melbourne Demons demolished the Fremantle Dockers on a damp and windy night at Optus Stadium. The Demons were hot from the opening bounce, contesting and tackling to put the Dockers under pressure. Luke Darcy was strong in the ruck for Fremantle, opposed to Luke Jackson and later Max Gawn, Darcy controlled the early taps but it was Christian Petracca and Todd Viney who won clearances for Melbourne. The Demons got away to an early lead with small forwards, Kysaiah Pickett and Charlie Spargo booting two goals and the mobile Bayley Fritsch adding one. The Dockers were rushed into poor plays by the ferocity of the Demon pressure around the ball. Halfway through the first quarter the Dockers recovered from the early onslaught and pushed forward to register goals from the pacy Michael Frederick and the skill of Michael Walters. Under pressure Fremantle turned the ball over too easily by hand and foot and Melbourne players found space in groups of two or three, to punish the poor defensive work of the Docker midfielders. Fritsch added another goal to give the Demons a useful lead by the first break.

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Tiger, Saint Hear the Siren

Geary vs Gold Coast

Just ahead of Round 18, veteran St Kilda defender Jarryn Geary announced his immediate retirement. Kane Lambert joined him in retirement a week later. Geary was one of the last selections in the 2006 rookie draft and went on to play 207 games over 16 years and was appointed captain in 2017. His work ethic and determination saw him become one of the most selfless and respected players of the modern era. Geary, 34, has battled injury issues over the past two seasons, with an ongoing shoulder injury this season requiring a reconstruction soon. In 2019, he suffered a serious leg injury which required emergency surgery for compartment syndrome. He finishes his career as a life member and was named best clubman in 2016 and 2019.
 
Coach Brett Ratten said, “We would not be in the position we are today without Gears’ leadership, honesty and courage ... It’s always sad when one of your great warriors calls time, but you can’t help but feel immense pride for everything Jarryn has achieved  ...  He's never backed down or thrown in the towel, he's always fought hard and put his body on the line for his teammates, and his bravery is rivalled by very few. Above all, Jarryn is fiercely loyal, both to his football club and those around him. He’s led the club through some challenging times and pushed those around him to improve and bring a high standard consistently. As a leader, Jarryn has influenced so many people around him over his time. From the players, to the football department and the wider staff, we owe him a debt of gratitude for everything he has poured into this club, Jarryn has ... the entire club’s respect for the way he has conducted himself throughout his career.”

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North Melbourne Sacks Coach Noble

The Monday after Round 17 saw North Melbourne and coach David Noble part company.  He had coached the team for less than two seasons and comes away with just five wins from 38 games and accepted the blame for the team's poor performance. Noble said he was not surprised at his termination, saying it was the right call for all, “I am comfortable that I gave my all … but ultimately the scoreboard doesn’t make for great reading,” He believes he has laid a foundation for future success but warned, “There’s a little bit of pain to go before the team really kicks into gear. Until you get that next group of 20-gamers into the 50s and the 70s into the hundreds, there is still a little bit to go. But it’s a great club, it has got a great future …".  Ahead of Round 18, the team had just one win and endured a 14-game losing streak. Assistant coach Leigh Adams will be North’s interim coach for the rest of the season. 

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AFLW Season 7 Schedule

Crows Celebrate 2022 AFLW Flag
The schedule for the new AFLW season was announced on 4th July. The start of the 7th AFLW season, which will see Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide and Sydney enter the national women's competition, was brought forward from January 2023 to August this year, after the AFL and AFL Players Association signed a one-year bridging Collective Bargaining Agreement in May. It will be the first and only time two AFLW seasons is held in a calendar year. Like the previous season, it will comprise a ten-round regular season, but will be followed by a four-week finals series featuring the top eight teams, with the Grand Final scheduled for the last weekend of November.
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Dockers Survive Late Power Surge

Lobb kicks over Aliir

The Fremantle Dockers survived a late surge from Port Adelaide Power to bolster a position in the top four. In a contest that was punctuated with soaring high marks (catches) and skillful goals, the Power played for their season but fell agonizingly short. Illness and injury forced the Power to use forwards Jeremy Finlayson and Charlie Dixon in the rucking role. The Dockers took full advantage with Sean Darcy controlling the ruck and the home team dominating clearances. Caleb Serong, Ethan Hughes, Andrew Brayshaw and Darcy himself got first use of the ball 28 times throughout the day. Ollie Wines and Travis Boak did more than their bit for Port in the midfield and Darcy Byrne-Jones at half-back played an influential game, but ultimately the quick ball movement by the Dockers, through most of the match, sealed Port's fate.

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Majak Daw Calls Time

Daw Kicks a Goal (file photo)

At the end of June, Melbourne's Majak Daw announced his retirement after 12 seasons. He was the first player of Sudanese decent to be drafted by an AFL club. He was drafted as a rookie by North Melbourne in 2010 and debuted in 2013. He was elevated to the seniors in 2015, delisted and "re-rookied" at the end of 2016. He played 54 games and kicked 43 goals for North before being delisted at the end of 2020. He was set to play in the Northern Football League in 2021 but the Demons selected him in the 2021 Supplemental Selection Period. He failed to play any senior games for Melbourne, but was a consistent player in the VFL.

Daw said he was extremely proud of the of what he achieved during his career, “I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that North Melbourne and Melbourne ... have provided me ... I walk away from the game with immense pride in what I’ve been able to achieve and the challenges I’ve been able to overcome. With my current injury troubles, I’ve taken the opportunity to reflect on where I’m at and where I’m heading and in speaking with my management and the club, we’ve all agreed that the timing is right for me to retire ... I can focus on the next stage of my life and spend much more time on my most important and favorite job, being a loving and caring father to my son Hendrix. I would like to thank my family, friends, teammates, coaches and the wider football community for their support and care ... I walk away ... with life-long memories and friendships and real pride in what I’ve achieved.”

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Eagles Break Drought

Cripps kicks

The West Coast Eagles ended a club record losing streak of nine consecutive losses by beating the Essendon Bombers at Optus Stadium. It was the Eagles' first victory at their home stadium in eleven months and the lively home crowd enjoyed the ride in a game where the lead changed nine times. The Bombers pushed away to an early lead in the first quarter with Jake Stringer finding plenty of space and booting the first goal. The Eagles' first goal came three minutes later when they worked the ball out of defense to Josh Kennedy, who marked and kicked truly. From there the Bombers took control and produced three goals. The first, a good snap by Matt Guelfi from a stoppage near the goals. The second by Stringer after a turnover in the center and the third by Peter Wright after the Bombers had transitioned from defense. The Bombers were running and the Eagles had lead boots. The first quarter was played mostly in the Bombers' half of the ground. A rare change of play saw Jack Darling complete a clever one-handed mark (catch) and convert, which inspired the home team.

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