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Gresham celebrates a Saints goal

With the byes behind us, the first full slate of AFL games in a month gave us an absolutely sensational round of football with upsets, tight finishes and a brand new AFANA Power Poll leader!

Round fifteen highlights included a win for the Tigers over the second placed Swans, upset wins by Saint Kilda, the Western Bulldogs, Essendon and Brisbane and a big win by the Giants over the Hawks that has really opened up the competition for the final eight as we head into the last two months of the minor round.

The Adelaide Crows bounced back from a week of controversy to defeat the suddenly vulnerable West Coast Eagles, who after heading the AFL ladder in round nine, finds itself dropping to third after three losses in a row.

What the topsy-turvy round of football means is a heap of movement on the AFANA AFL Power Poll with the reigning premiers snatching back top spot after a great win over Sydney. Here’s how the rest of the teams shape up after 15 rounds of the season.

1.    Richmond Tigers (Last Week: 2) 
The Tigers were challenged by the Swans in a classic encounter on Thursday night, but once again had the answers to triumph by 26 points. Dion Prestia returned from a long injury layoff and showed no signs of rust, while Jack Riewoldt was magnificent hauling in 16 marks for the night. No sign of a premiership hangover here.

2.    Collingwood Magpies (3) 
Collingwood keep winning, racking up its sixth victory in a row after taking care of the Gold Coast Suns at Metricon Stadium. Whilst there have been questions about the quality of opposition the Magpies have faced, there is no denying that Collingwood can lay claim to the most improved team in the AFL this season. 

3.    Sydney Swans (1) 
Sydney had designs on sitting atop the AFL ladder after taking on Richmond at Etihad Stadium where the Swans had won 14 of their past 15 games, but the Tigers had other ideas. While Lance Franklin did manage to kick four goals, the Swans didn’t cope with the immense pressure applied by the Richmond boys, having just 12 scoring shots for the match.

4.    Port Adelaide Power (6) 
Port enjoyed a solid win over Carlton at the MCG on Saturday, notching their fourth win in succession, and setting up a realistic chance of not only finishing in the top four, but taking one of the coveted top two spots. Justin Westhoff continues to produce for Port, while Jared Polec is enjoying his best season since moving to Port from the Brisbane Lions.

5.    West Coast Eagles ( 5) 
The Eagles appeared likely winners for three quarters of their match against the Adelaide Crows at Adelaide Oval, taking a seemingly comfortable 20 point lead into the final break. In a complete transformation, the Eagles managed just four entries into the 50 meter arc in the final quarter as a rampaging Crows had 24 to overrun the Eagles and take the win. That’s three losses in a row for the Eagles who desperately await the return of Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling.

6.    Geelong Cats (4) 
Geelong almost snatched victory after the siren against the Bulldogs on Friday night at Etihad Stadium, but Harry Taylor’s shot was well wide, condemning the Cats to an unexpected loss and some nervous times ahead. The eight is still in reach but Chris Scott’s men have made their job more difficult in losing to the lowly Bulldogs.

7.    Greater Western Sydney Giants (9) 
The Giants, written off by many after key forward Jeremy Cameron was slapped with a five week suspension, produced their best football of the season in defeating fellow finals aspirant Hawthorn at Spotless Stadium. Lachie Whitfield and Callan Ward were brilliant for the Giants who moved into the AFL top eight after the raft of upsets over the weekend.

8.    Essendon Bombers (11) 
The seemingly schizophrenic Bombers kept up some of their best form to beat the Kangaroos in what was termed an “eight point” game due to the significance in ladder position. In a game where defense was an afterthought, Essendon used the pace of Orazio Fantasia and Adam Saad to come out on top in a classic shootout. The door remains slightly ajar for a top eight finish.

9.    Hawthorn Hawks (7) 
Tom Mitchell racked up 50 possessions against the Giants but it wasn’t enough to bank a win for the up and down Hawks. The late withdrawal of forward Jack Gunston robbed the Hawks of some valuable firepower as they went down by just 11 points.

10.    Melbourne Demons (8) 
The Demons once again had more inside 50 meter entries than their opponent, winning the stat 62 to 50 against the unfancied Saints. The result was the same, as Melbourne dropped the game by just two points after trailing by 22 points at the final break. The Demons are generally playing good football but not translating it on the scoreboard, giving Coach Simon Goodwin plenty to think about ahead of the Demon’s next match against Fremantle.

11.    Adelaide Crows (13) 
Adelaide simply had to beat West Coast to give itself any chance of playing in the major round in 2018. Twenty points down at three-quarter time, a win was not looking like a reality. Enter Captain Taylor “Tex” Walker, who simply dominated the final term in front of a rabid home crowd to lead Adelaide to a startling 10 point win and keep the Crows finals hopes on life support.

12.    North Melbourne Kangaroos (10) 
North were lucky to scrape home last week against the Bulldogs, but this week they had no such fairytale finish, beaten by a slicker Essendon unit in one of the most attacking contests seen this season. After dropping out of the top eight, the Kangaroos will look to move back in with a home game against the struggling Gold Coast Suns next week.

13.    Western Bulldogs (14) 
The Bulldogs were magnificent in beating Geelong at Etihad Stadium, with Luke Dalhaus and Josh Dunkley leading the charge. Toby McLean was also inspirational with a game high 11 tackles as the Bulldogs were back to the high-pressure football that saw them take out the 2016 premiership. They won’t make the eight, but the young Bulldogs might very well help shape it.

14.    St Kilda Saints (15) 
In yet another upset in what was a crazy weekend of footy, the Saints came back from an early 19 point deficit to control the game and take a sizeable lead before hanging onto a two point win. Jack Steele all but tagged Demon midfield accumulator Clayton Oliver out of the game while Jade Gresham (4 goals) and Jake Carlisle were outstanding for the Saints.

15.    Brisbane Lions (16) 
Brisbane won for just the second time this season, crushing a hapless Fremantle by 55 points at Optus Stadium on Sunday. Number one draft pick Cam Rayner kicked two goals while ex-captain Dayne Beams had game high 33 disposals. 

16.    Fremantle Dockers (12) 
A shocker from the Dockers as the purple haze had its colors lowered by a more committed Brisbane outfit. Losing Nat Fyfe to a hamstring injury didn’t help, but this was a poor performance from the Dockers any way you slice it.

17.    Carlton Blues (17) 
The Blues showed their fans a bit for the second week in a row, but never seriously looked like beating a much more skilled Port Adelaide outfit. Charlie Curnow once again excited Blues fans with his flair, while 300 gamer Kade Simpson was close to best for Carlton in his milestone game.

18.    Gold Coast Suns (18) 
It is now nine losses in a row for the Suns after they went down to Collingwood, with more questions than answers plaguing the struggling franchise. Touk Miller and Lachie Weller were good for the Suns, but it is hard to see where the next Gold Coast win will come from.


Article last changed on Tuesday, July 03, 2018 - 5:52 PM EDT

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