It couldn't have looked much worse for the West Coast Eagles. Last week the Eagles were smashed 205 points to 34 by the thirteenth placed Sydney Swans. The Eagles' reserves team mirroring their senior team by anchoring the ladder of the local competition, were yesterday thrashed by East Fremantle 215 to 31. Their best player Tim Kelly was ill and unable to play against the St Kilda Saints - and the Saints gunning for a percentage boost (percentage calculated by dividing points for by points against) to get them into the top four. The Saints had their first goal on the board after just fifteen seconds of play courtesy of youngster Mitch Owens. The script said the Saints would win convincingly but the problem was that the Eagles hadn't read the script.
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.
The Saint Kilda Saints celebrated their first win in Perth since 2012, by outplaying and then outgunning the Fremantle Dockers. The Dockers were expected to win, but St Kilda surprised the locals with their attack on the ball and then took over in the third quarter, as Max King came to life and booted four second-half goals.
The Dockers started well by kicking accurately in the opening quarter with goals to Rory Lobb, Travis Colyer and Michael Walters. The windy conditions didn’t initially suit St Kilda who, despite matching the Dockers in the mid-field, were sloppy in attack and registered just four behinds (worth a point each). Lobb provided a high-flying target for the Dockers who consistently used the boundary to launch attacks. Saint Kilda pushed attacks straight for goal, from wherever they could win the ball, but their kicking was consistently astray.
The free agency period began at the end of October and ran through the first week of November. The first day was a busy one with five players heading to other clubs. The breakdown on the first day:
In October, GWS forward Jeremy Cameron told the club he wanted to explore his options as a restricted free agent. Cameron has played 171 games for the club since joining as a 17-year old in 2010. In 2020 he played 17 games and kicked 24 goals. Cameron has named Geelong as his preferred club.
The Fremantle Dockers survived a third-quarter attack from the Adelaide Crows to break through for their first win of the season. The more experienced Adelaide players controlled the ball in the midfield for long periods of the game, but the Crow forwards were wasteful in front of goals and delivered spirit-sapping misses. The once-mighty Crows, who were Grand Finalists in 2017, now sit at the bottom of the AFL table with little to suggest they have the players, or the desire, to challenge other teams. The young Dockers played without their captain and dual Brownlow medallist, Nat Fyfe, were missing their three biggest defenders; and yet ran out comfortable winners against the physically stronger Adelaide team.
Port Adelaide kept a firm grip on top spot on the AFL ladder with a rampant 75-point win over crosstown rivals the Adelaide Crows on Saturday night at Adelaide Oval.
With the season’s first batch of fans – 2240 in total – present at the ground, the Power completely outclassed a struggling Crows outfit that lost defender Jake Kelly early to concussion, then Captain Rory Sloane with a thigh injury that kept the Adelaide favorite sidelined for all of the second half.
The winning margin was the highest by Port against their local rivals while also restricting the Crows to their lowest total score in all previous “showdowns”.
Early in the first quarter there was no indication of the drubbing that eventually took place as Adelaide produced eight of the first nine entries inside the 50 meter arc, resulting in goals to Rory Sloane and young forward Darcy Fogarty. That was where the joy ended for the underdog Crows as Port completely dominated proceedings from then on, finishing on the positive side of the ledger for a total of 57 entries inside 50 compared to just 30 for the shell-shocked Crows.
Port was continually first to the contested ball, and it was the young guns that once again shone for the Power just as they had done in 2019. Connor Rozee (17 disposals, 8 clearances, 6 tackles) continues to play at a level that belies his experience, Xavier Duursma (17 disposals, 3 goals) is on fire and Zak Butters (21 disposals, 7 marks and 8 tackles) completed the domination of the second year Power draftees.
After quarter time when Adelaide trailed by just 13 points, it was one-way traffic with the Power brushing aside the Crows with ease. Half time saw Port’s advantage balloon to 32 points as the Crows showed frustration in giving away two late 50 meter penalties that resulted in Port goals.
When the Port Adelaide veterans decided to join the party, there was no stopping the boys wearing the old-school “prison bar” jumpers made famous by the original Port Adelaide that dominated the South Australian Football League back in the day. Justin Westhoff and Charlie Dixon chipped in with three goals each while Steven Motlop added two more plus the mark of the day with a screamer that had the 1,400 odd and spaced out Port supporters in raptures.
The West Coast Eagles held off the brave Adelaide Crows, to put a speed bump in the way of the Crows' push for the finals. Much was at stake for both sides. The Crows were playing for a place on the top eight, the Eagles were playing for a chance to creep into the top two. In perfect football conditions, the first quarter was an arm wrestle. The Crows concentrated on retaining the ball to stop the Eagles using their kicking game to control proceedings. It worked for a while, as both defenses applied plenty of pressure. The first goal was scored by the Eagles at the twelve-minute mark when Oscar Allen took a good mark (catch) and converted from a set shot from the boundary. (Ed.note: It was his first of three, in what was recognized as a performance that earned a Rising Star nomination on Monday.)
Three minutes later Jack Darling marked an Allen kick, after the Crows turned the ball over in defense. Darling's set shot from the boundary was also accurate. The Crows' only goal came from a Matt Crouch pass to teenager Darcy Fogarty, who marked and converted from fifty meters. Live-wire West Coast forward, Liam Ryan, gathered a loose ball and weaved through traffic to goal for West Coast with just seconds remaining of the quarter. The Eagles entered the attacking zone 21 times for three goals. The Crows failed to make full use of their six entries, finishing with just 1.4 for the quarter.
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.
Thursday night saw Geelong continue its early season dominance with a stirring win over Adelaide, the upstart Brisbane Lions stormed home to defeat the vastly improved Port Adelaide and the Grand Final replay saw the Eagles once again victorious over a disappointing Collingwood.
Highly fancied Melbourne are yet to register a win after faltering against Essendon, the much maligned Gold Coast Suns won again, and Richmond added a couple more players to its ever increasing injury list in a big loss to an impressive Greater Western Sydney Giants at Spotless Stadium.