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Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti
"Walla" for the Win!

A dramatic change has taken place on the AFANA AFL Power Poll over the past weekend with some big results that could have a significant effect on the race for the 2019 premiership. After finally reaching number one on the back of a string of brilliant performances, the West Coast Eagles came crashing down to earth and have dropped all the way to fourth on our Power Poll after an unexpected loss at home to its 2018 premiership victim in Collingwood. 

The Cats move back into the number one spot after a hard fought win against Saint Kilda, while a red hot Brisbane Lions move up to second after a road win full of merit against a frustrating Port Adelaide. Essendon needed a last gasp goal from their barometer in Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti to down the Kangaroos, Richmond overpowered an undermanned Greater Western Sydney and the Adelaide Crows smashed the Gold Coast Suns up at Metricon Stadium.

The Western Bulldogs kept their finals chances alive with a narrow win against the Demons, Hawthorn comfortably took care of the ice cold Fremantle Dockers and Carlton continued a recent run of good form with a win over the Sydney Swans at the SCG.

After 17 rounds of footy, here’s how the AFANA AFL Power Poll shapes up….

1.    Geelong Cats (Last Week - 2) 
The Cats have all but locked up a top two finish on the back of their 27 point win against the Saints, which could give Coach Chris Scott the luxury of resting a few veterans in the run home to the finals.

2.    Brisbane Lions (3) 
The Lions have now taken the scalps of big fish Greater Western Sydney and Port Adelaide in consecutive weeks, providing proof to the doubters that Chris Fagan’s young team is indeed a serious premiership threat. 

3.    Collingwood Magpies (4) 
Talk of the Magpies demise after losses to Hawthorn and the Kangaroos may have been exaggerated. A trip out West to face a rampaging Eagles outfit looked to spell trouble for Nathan Buckley's men, but a gutsy one-point victory keeps Collingwood right in the hunt for the coveted double chance.

4.    West Coast Eagles (1) 
What a difference one point can make. The Eagles went into Friday night’s clash with Collingwood as hot favorites and looking to establish claims on a top two finish and home finals. The narrow loss plus another injury to the dynamic Nic Naitanui has thrown those plans into chaos.

5.    Essendon Bombers (6) 
Another tight one at Marvel Stadium saw the Bombers steal victory with a last gasp goal from Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, keeping John Worsfold’s team well and truly in the finals race. The form of Zach Merrett will go a long way to determining whether Essendon will have the chance to win their first final in a long time. As of the time of writing, that was 5,427 days ago!

6.   Richmond Tigers (8) 
It has taken a long time, but finally Richmond is gaining momentum. Jack Riewoldt is the latest injured Tiger to return to the field, and he appeared to get through Saturday’s win against the Giants unscathed. With a three game win streak in the bank, finals are once again back on the agenda. Upcoming games against Port Adelaide and Collingwood will give us a guide as to how far Damian Hardwick’s men can go.

7.    Greater Western Sydney Giants (5) 
It wasn’t without irony that the Giants were defeated by a Richmond team finally getting back to near strength after a horrendous early season run with injury. Both teams have a superstar on the shelf for the season, Richmond in Alex Rance and the Giants in Callan Ward. The difference is that the Tigers are getting players back, while the Giants are trending in the opposite direction on the back of injuries to star players in Josh Kelly and now Stephen Coniglio. A tough few weeks ahead awaits the Giants.

8.    North Melbourne Kangaroos (7) 
The Kangaroos looked to be heading for another victory against the Bombers at Marvel Stadium on Saturday, but some mistakes late in the final quarter ended up costing them victory. Ben Brown was sensational with six goals, but talisman Ben Cunnington was well held by Essendon’s Dylan Clarke. 

9.    Adelaide Crows (10) 
A walk in the park as Adelaide smashed Gold Coast by 95 points. Ex-Tiger Tyson Stengle made his Crows debut, kicking three goals in a promising performance.

10.    Western Bulldogs (11) 
The Bulldogs continue to fly under the radar but remain in striking distance to steal a top eight berth with six weeks to go in the minor round. Their eight point win over Melbourne was highlighted by an amazing individual performance by Josh Dunkley who had 39 possessions, 15 tackles and two goals to his name.

11.    Port Adelaide Power (9) 
Since round nine, Port have alternated between winning and losing from one week to the next, and there appears to be no logical explanation. After losing to Brisbane on Sunday, Port travel to the MCG to take on a resurgent Richmond, who they will surely beat given their crazy W-L roundabout.

12.    Hawthorn Hawks (12) 
The big news for the Hawks was the return to the field of defender Grant Birchall after almost two years away from the game in rehabilitation from adductor and PCL injuries. Birchall performed well in Hawthorn’s 31 point victory over Fremantle at UTAS Stadium. 

13.    Fremantle Dockers (13) 
Fremantle’s loss to Hawthorn on Saturday was its fourth in a row including a home defeat to an undermanned Carlton and a thrashing at the hands of the West Coast Eagles. If the Dockers haven’t already fallen out of the finals race, their chances are at least hanging by a thread.

14.    Sydney Swans (14) 
The Swans quietly bowed out of the finals race on the back of a seven point win to Carlton at the SCG on Saturday. Sydney was out-hunted in the clearances by a hungry Blues outfit and trailed for most of the day. 

15.    Carlton Blues (17) 
Carlton finally appears to be on the up. In its last five encounters, the Blues have three wins and two narrow losses (both under a goal) to their name. It has been a long time coming, but with a fresh start under interim coach David Teague, a big leap will be expected from this team in 2020.

16.    Melbourne Demons (15) 
The Demons were at least in the contest against the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium on Sunday, but still couldn’t manage to snare the four points. Their list is talented, but 2019 has to go down as a wasted year for Melbourne. Somehow Coach Simon Goodwin has avoided the scrutiny afforded to other coaches such as Alan Richardson and John Worsfold, but surely a big improvement is needed next year for the status quo to remain.

17.    St Kilda Saints (16) 
The Saints gave Geelong a run for its money at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday night, taking a narrow lead into half time. As expected, the Cats ran over Saint Kilda late, consigning the Saints to their fourth successive defeat. 

18.    Gold Coast Suns (18) 
The Suns lost to Adelaide by 95 points after going down to Richmond by a similar margin last week. The AFL is not seeing a return on investment in the Gold Coast franchise, and no doubt will make the club a focus of the off-season. Expect further handouts in the form of draft picks to occur.

Article last changed on Friday, August 16, 2019 - 10:54 PM EDT

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