Round ten saw the top four teams on the AFANA AFL Power Poll all notch victories during the Sir Douglas Nicholls Indigenous round to tighten their grip atop the rankings. The top three didn’t have it all their own way however, as Collingwood, Geelong and the West Coast Eagles were all pushed to the wire their opponents in Sydney, Gold Coast and Adelaide respectively - the Eagles particularly impressive as they fought back from more than five goals down away from home against the Crows. For the Greater Western Sydney Giants, it was another story as they completely dominated Melbourne at the MCG, running out 26-point winners in a score line that flattered the Demons.
Under vastly contrasting circumstances, Swan defender Heath Grundy and North Melbourne coach Brad Scott have departed.
Sydney defender Heath Grundy has been forced to retire due to a debilitating back injury. Grundy initially suffered the injury during a preseason game and was hoping to play this season. However , the injury failed to respond to treatment and it began to affect his life away from the game. Whether or not he will require surgery will be determined in the next few weeks. As Grundy explained, "I couldn't do what I wanted to do at home ... I was struggling to get in and out of the car and I couldn't get my son in and out of the cot ... it starts dragging you down every day and that's where it got too."
The big three in Collingwood, Geelong and Greater Western Sydney all had wins over the weekend to strengthen their positions on the AFANA AFL Power Poll and put themselves in great shape as the season moves into round eight. The Magpies dominated Port Adelaide early in the Friday night game to cruise to victory, while Geelong was never threatened by a disappointing Essendon at the MCG on Sunday.
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.
by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
At the conclusion of Round 23, four more players announced that 2017 would be their last season: veteran Cat defenders Andrew Mackie and Tom Lonergan, Kangaroo Lachie Hansen and Kangaroo veteran turned West Coast rookie Drew Petrie. The Cats and Eagles still have a finals campaign to navigate in September.A few days later, Saint stalwart Leigh Montagna also announced his retirement.
A slick Adelaide Crows unit has sent North Melbourne packing for season 2016 with a dominant second half blitz at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night. Livewire Crows forward Eddie Betts stole the show kicking six goals to snuff out any chance of a North Melbourne challenge, a result in keeping with two teams at the opposite end of the form line.
In a scrappy contest in front of just over 40,000 fans at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night, North Melbourne helped to celebrate Brent Harvey’s games record with a 23 point victory over St Kilda. Harvey’s 427th VFL/AFL game broke the record held by Hawthorn’s Michael Tuck, and with seemingly plenty left in the tank it would take a brave man to suggest he cannot reach the amazing milestone of 450 league games if he decides to play on next season.
The West Coast Eagles overcame an early scare to finally dispose of a determined North Melbourne outfit at Domain Stadium in the second Preliminary Final. Despite going into the game as rank underdogs, it was the Kangaroos who made the early running by winning the contested ball and using the ball much better than their favored opponents. The Eagles could only manage two minor scores in the first quarter as their highly vaunted attack was starved of opportunities by a fired up North Melbourne.
North Melbourne earned a rare distinction in its dissection of the Sydney Swans at ANZ Stadium in the first Semi-Final. The Kangaroos are the only team in League history to make a Preliminary Final from eighth position after making Sydney look all at sea as they ran over them by more than four goals. Sydney never fired a shot in a scrappy and congested game that got away from them and saw some poor decision making by their coach.
When the legion of Richmond fans who packed the MCG for the first Elimination Final on Sunday saw the North Melbourne fan club banner – one side of which read “Tigers Don’t Win Finals” - they let out a ringing chorus of “boos”.