The Western Bulldogs survived early pressure from the Fremantle Dockers to overcome their young opponents and jump back into the top eight, at the expense of the Melbourne Demons. The Dogs had to beat the Dockers to make the finals and were the more desperate team as the game progressed. The Dockers' cause was not helped with the late withdrawal of their leading scorers, Matthew Taberner and Michael Walters due to injury. The Dockers were already missing four of their first-choice defenders, so a win against the desperate dogs was always against the odds.
It has taken until the completion of round sixteen, but the reigning premiers are back at the top of the AFANA AFL Power Poll after thumping cross-town rivals Fremantle by 91 points on Saturday. The Eagles win coincided with Geelong going down to an improved Western Bulldogs and Collingwood being run over in the last quarter by Hawthorn on Friday night, signaling a change in not only the AFANA Power Poll but betting markets all over the country.
The Brisbane Lions announced to the rest of the competition that they are not only big improvers but a genuine threat to the top four with an away win full of merit against the fancied Greater Western Sydney Giants. Port Adelaide continued it's up and down season by crushing the favored Adelaide Crows in the "Showdown" at Adelaide Oval and the resurgent Kangaroos had another comfortable win, this time over a faltering Saint Kilda.
When two sides that have a history of strong contested possessions meet, you are going to have fireworks. The Dockers were ranked fifth for winning contested possessions and the Bulldogs were ranked sixth. Throw in the significance of the Len Hall match (in honor of the last Western Australian World War One Veteran); and Docker stalwart David Mundy’s 300th game and you have something special. The Bulldogs didn’t travel to Perth to lose and when the ball was up for grabs no player gave an inch.
Boris Kilpatrick, special to AFANA from Australia
In a quirky scheduling twist this week, round eleven – celebrating Australia’s Indigenous heritage - saw the top eight teams pitted against the bottom eight, giving the top teams the chance to stretch their advantage while those struggling had the opportunity to make up some ground. Fast forward to Monday, and with all of the games in the books, the top six teams on the AFANA Power Poll all had wins, keeping them at the top of the tree.