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:
Richmond Tigers vs Hawthorn Hawks (MCG)
State of Play:
This game has all the makings of an absolute classic. On one hand you have Richmond, the reigning premier coming into the game riding a 21-game winning streak at the MCG. On the other you have Hawthorn, the form team of the competition boasting a massive total of 265 games of finals experience (the Tigers have just 114).
Boris Kilpatrick, special to AFANA from Australia
Almost a third of the way into the 2018 season and round seven gave us some answers while it also gave us plenty of questions. The West Coast Eagles are for real, Richmond are showing no signs of the dreaded “premiership hangover” and the Sydney Swans have seemingly lost their home ground dominance. Hawthorn is once again a contender after moving out the old and adding some ready- made talent.
While it was the hottest Grand Final in history with the mercury hitting 31.3 degrees Celsius (88.3 Fahrenheit), the much anticipated “close contest” between Hawthorn and the West Coast did not bring the heat many anticipated and - in the case of West Coast supporters - hoped for. In the end, this Grand Final was not a replay of “David and Goliath”. The Hawks entered the match favorites and they won nearly everything - the coin toss, all the important game statistics, the Premiership Cup, the Norm Smith Medal and the full-blown respect of the Australian football public. The Hawks' players were never challenged in a master class performance of Aussie Rules football. Alastair Clarkson and his coaching staff cemented a well-earned place in history as the Hawks won the “three-peat”, back to back Premierships in 2013 (defeating Fremantle), 2014 (dominating over Sydney) and now in 2015. No doubt West Coast fans are wondering what happened and how their break out season ended so lamely.
Reigning champion Hawthorn traveled north to take on the up-and-coming Greater Western Sydney Giants at Spotless Stadium in Round 6, with all but the staunchest of Giants' fans expecting a Hawthorn victory. Despite losing team leaders Luke Hodge and Jordan Lewis to suspension, the highly skilled Hawks were expected to comfortably account for a Giants team that had been smashed by the West Coast Eagles just a week earlier.
Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
Dustin Fletcher (ESS) has played in 219 career wins for Essendon. The Bombers' next win with him in the side will put him equal with Craig Bradley (CARL), Gordon Coventry (COL) and Leigh Matthews (HAW) in fifth place for most wins in League history. Ahead of them are Michael Tuck (302 wins from 426 games), Kevin Bartlett (260 wins from 403 games), Bruce Doull (238 wins from 356 games) and Simon Madden (223 wins from 378 games).
by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
Champion St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt will play his 250th game this weekend. Also celebrating his 250 game milestone will be his teammate Nick Dal Santo.
Janet Linn reporting for AFANA from Australia
It was a Grand Final for the ages. A crowd of 99,683 screaming fans was treated to an outstanding contest after a week of talk about the weather potentially spoiling the spectacle. Meteorologists were forecasting bitter cold, strong winds, heavy rain and hail so when the storm clouds held off to provide a windy but otherwise clear afternoon, there were sighs of relief around Australia. Rumors that swirled pre-game about Sydney ruckman Shane Mumford, all-Australian Ted Richards and Hawthorn skipper Luke Hodge under injury clouds also appeared groundless with both teams lining up as expected. In a notable first, goal umpire Chelsea Roffey became the first female and the first Queenslander to officiate at an AFL Grand Final.
Brook Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA from Australia
Hawthorn will meet Collingwood in a Preliminary Final after comfortably defeating Sydney by 36 points at the MCG on Friday night. The Hawks dominated the contest early and at one stage in the third quarter held a 46 point lead before the Swans fought back. In Adam Goodes’ 300th game the Sydneysiders worked their way back to trail by just 18 points late in the third quarter. However Hawthorn showed poise under pressure to wrest back the initiative and cruise home with a six goal victory.