After 23 rounds of sensational footy we now have our eight finalists ready to battle it out for the 2019 AFL premiership in a weeks time. The Western Bulldogs smashed their way into the last available finals spot by running out 34 point winners over a disappointing Adelaide Crows in Ballarat on Sunday. Just a couple of hours later, Richmond ended Brisbane’s nine-game winning streak with a 27 point win at the MCG, earning the Tigers a double-chance plus a road trip to Brisbane to once again face the Lions in week one of the finals.
After their tenth loss for the season against Geelong in Round 17, St Kilda decided to part company with senior coach Alan Richardson. The official announcement was that Richardson himself opted to step down although speculation has it that the decision was mutual after extensive discussions between Richardson, CEO Matt Finnis, and the board of directors.
In making the announcement, Finnis thanked Richardson for his commitment and contribution to the club and praised him for the work he had done under difficult conditions, "Alan brought great integrity, knowledge and experience ... and under his leadership, the foundation for future success has been laid. He inherited his role at a difficult point in the club’s history, developed the young players now beginning to make their mark, took the club to the cusp of two finals appearances, and ... showed great resilience in the face of adversity. Alan’s selflessness and focus on what is right for the playing group and club has always been immense, but it’s perhaps been best demonstrated in the past two days through his decision to step aside ...".
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.
Round nine was conspicuous in that the result of almost every game went as expected, an occurrence which has been extremely rare so far in 2019. Top teams Collingwood, Geelong, West Coast and Greater Western Sydney all had wins to solidify their spots atop the AFANA AFL Power Poll, while Adelaide pushed Brisbane away from home but ultimately fell by a solitary point.
Richmond proved too strong for an injury hit Hawthorn, Port Adelaide stormed home for a big win over the Gold Coast and Essendon scrapped out an untidy win against Fremantle at Marvel Stadium. The Sydney Swans produced the weekends only true upset, amassing a handy lead early before holding on by just five points over the Kangaroos at Blundstone Arena in Tasmania.
An extended round six kicked off with the unusual Wednesday night game that saw Richmond victorious by 43 points over the struggling Melbourne Demons. The Anzac Day battle between Collingwood and Essendon was a classic that ended with the Magpies hanging on to win by four points in controversial circumstances as the Bombers fell just short of pulling off a great comeback. Brisbane, Port Adelaide, Fremantle and the Giants took care of business as expected while Carlton almost pulled off back to back victories before succumbing by just five points to a frantic Hawthorn down in Tasmania.
The big movers on the AFANA AFL Power Poll this week were the Tigers and the Saints up four places each, while the Adelaide Crows fell four spots after a disastrous loss to the previously winless Kangaroos. Other notable happenings over another topsy-turvy round of footy were the Demons notching their first win for the season up in Sydney, while the previously unbeaten Cats were ambushed late by an impressive Giants outfit despite losing Callan Ward to a nasty knee injury in the first quarter.
Twenty one rounds into the AFL season and incredibly the finals and top four races remain wide open and just two weeks to go. A big win to Richmond over the Suns has locked up a top two spot for the reigning premiers while an amazing last gasp win to the Eagles – in almost identical fashion to their final in 2017, and once again over a distraught Port Adelaide – leaves them in great shape to finish in the top two and secure a home final.
A gutsy win to Hawthorn over Geelong has catapulted the Hawks into fourth position on the AFL ladder, in turn sending the Cats crashing out of the eight, while the Giants 14 point win over Adelaide kept them in great shape for a finals double chance while ending the Crows chances of any finals participation in the process.
Just after the conclusion of Round 18, St Kilda's Koby Stevens announced his retirement due to ongoing concussion issues. Stevens, 27, suffered a concussion - the eighth of his career - in Round One this year. He was still suffering delayed symptoms but did not inform the medical staff and played in Round Two. It wasn't until the lead up to Round Three that he finally went to the medical staff. The way he put it, "I'd just come back into the side, so I obviously didn't want to speak up and we had a pretty big game ... against North Melbourne and
With six teams enjoying the week off due to the programmed mid-season bye rounds, there was less quantity but no lack of quality during a fascinating round of football on the weekend. The festivities kicked off on Thursday night with Port continuing its good form with another win, but Friday night was what the AFL public was waiting for, with the Sydney Swans – the only team to defeat the Eagles – facing the West Coast again, this time on their home deck at the SCG.
Round thirteen will kick off with Thursday night footy at Adelaide Oval, with Port Adelaide – fresh off a victory over the reigning premiers – taking on the Western Bulldogs at Adelaide Oval. This makes for a short turnaround from a cracking Queen’s Birthday Monday clash that saw a red hot Collingwood take down the highly fancied Melbourne Demons in front of a massive MCG crowd.