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.
A crowd of just above 60,000 witnessed a thrilling Elimination Final on Saturday night as the Adelaide Crows ensured the Western Bulldogs would be the first team knocked out of the Finals race in 2015. Despite leading most of the statistics that usually result in victory (contested possession, time in forward half, clearances and shots on goal), the Bulldogs let themselves down in front of goal, while their Adelaide opponents nailed crucial shots which turned out to be the difference between living to fight another day or packing the footy boots away for another season.
by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
Just one week ago, young Bulldog Lachie Hunter was cleared of any gambling wrongdoing after he and the club self-reported a bet placed on his account which involved the NAB Challenge game between the Bulldogs and Melbourne. In that case, investigators were told by Hunter that the bet was placed by a player from VFL club Footscray. It is still unclear how that person had Hunter's account details and the VFL is investigating.
A blisteringly hot Perth day did not keep over 36,000 die hard West Coast Eagles fans away from Patersons Stadium for their clash against the Western Bulldogs. Round One had already produced some unexpected results, the biggest being the upset defeat of the Sydney Swans by fledgling hometown rivals, the GWS Giants. Wins by Fremantle, Gold Coast, Port Adelaide, Geelong and Essendon point to a tightly contested season while Hawthorn’s easy defeat of the Brisbane Lions signals they are again the team to beat. None of these outcomes affected West Coast fan’s enthusiasm at having their “boys” back on the park after a 2013 season which went horribly wrong. Injuries to high profile players, underwhelming performances in home fixtures and a jaded game plan sent the Eagles from a widely-predicted Top Four finish to a lowly 13th on the Ladder.