The Brisbane Lions triumphed in a tight and enthralling game against the Fremantle Dockers, where the lead changed hands ten times. The Lions were fighting for a shot at the top two position after losing two of their past three matches. The win keeps them in the frame for two valuable home finals. The Dockers had the slimmest of mathematical chances of making the top eight and played with confidence after their victory in Geelong last week. It was a game where both teams played a similar game style: pressure around the ball and either careful buildups in attack, or quick transferences from defence to attack. The difference was Brisbane had an edge in the air, taking more marks (catches) than the Dockers, and the Dockers used handball and pace to run the ball into attack.
First year field umpire Michael Pell and three others were arrested in mid-November for leaking Brownlow votes. Apparently. the votes from specific matches were leaked. The AFL was alerted by one of its betting partners who detected suspicious betting and the AFL launched an investigation, leading to the arrests. The irregularities and leaks did not compromise the Brownlow count on the night according to the AFL. The bets which raised red flags ranged in size up to several thousand dollars.
However, the fallout could be severe in that it allegedly involves a match official divulging information. A police statement said in part that, " ... The criminal offenses police are investigating are engaging in conduct that corrupts or would corrupt a betting outcome of event or event contingency, and using corrupt conduct information for betting purposes ...". When the three others were arrested, cell phones and computers were also seized. Criminal charges are pending, but conviction carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Police are investigating how many matches potentially had votes released and the magnitude of the bets involved. If the allegations are found to be true, the umpire could also face AFL sanctions.
A pleasant Friday evening welcomed the 62,162 crowd to the MCG for tonight's Second Semi Final. Before the first bounce the official business for the night got underway. With all players, official and match day staff lined up on the ground, the Welcome To Country, a minute's silence was observed for Queen Elizabeth II following her death this morning and the lowering of the stadium lights, God Save the King was played. Delta Goodrem sung Advance Australia Fair accompanied by guitar in the minutes leading up to the start of the match. Just to top it off a little bit of ACDC's Thunderstruck rolled up to the bounce.
Big forward Joe Daniher was a late out today, for family reasons. His loss up forward would mean all the focus was on Hipwood and less options up forward for the Lions who had three goals kicked by the big man in the previous game. The Demons dominated early and led the Brisbane to the ball and in all the statistical categories. Ed Langdon, unguarded in the pocket, kicked the first goal of match after five and half minutes, from 35 meters out with the set shot. Melbourne had more early chances as they had the ball in their forward half for most of the first quarter. The usual suspects in the middle for Melbourne led the way with Oliver and Petracca up and about early.
The Fremantle Dockers absorbed a first half attack from the Brisbane Lions, to set up a third quarter break-away and run out victors by fourteen points in a pulsating game at Optus Stadium. The match had everything that makes Australian football so watchable: high marks (catches), strong tackles, open attacking play, lighting quick handpasses, sweeping transitions from defense, and skillful goal kicking. Brisbane started in a ferocious manner, intent on putting the Fremantle play makers under pressure at every opportunity. The Lions laid more tackles and won more contested possessions than the Dockers in the first half and got away to an early lead. It wasn't quite rope-a-dope, but the Dockers' game mirrored those of an experienced boxer; absorb everything that your opponent can throw at you; and then when the time is right - lay a flurry of counter punches to win on points.
Round fifteen has opened up the race for the top eight with some highly fancied teams dropping games they were expected to win. Geelong bounced back from defeat at the hands of Port Adelaide last week by taking care of the other Adelaide team (the Crows) at GMHBA Stadium, holding on to top spot on the AFANA AFL Power Poll in the process.
Collingwood drops down to third on the Power Poll courtesy of a shock loss at the hands of a resurgent North Melbourne which climbs all the way to eighth under the control of interim coach Rhyce Shaw. The Eagles once again used some last minute heroics to defeat an unlucky Hawthorn at the MCG, with Jamie Cripps providing the match winning goal on this occasion.
The Fremantle Dockers wore down the Brisbane Lions to post a season-reviving home win, with a dramatic kick after the final siren. In a match where the lead changed nine times, it was the desperate Dockers who did enough in the final quarter, to draw level with the Lions and then score the winning point when Michael Walters’ set shot hit the post. That single point, for hitting the post, made for a walk-off win.
Round nine was conspicuous in that the result of almost every game went as expected, an occurrence which has been extremely rare so far in 2019. Top teams Collingwood, Geelong, West Coast and Greater Western Sydney all had wins to solidify their spots atop the AFANA AFL Power Poll, while Adelaide pushed Brisbane away from home but ultimately fell by a solitary point.
Richmond proved too strong for an injury hit Hawthorn, Port Adelaide stormed home for a big win over the Gold Coast and Essendon scrapped out an untidy win against Fremantle at Marvel Stadium. The Sydney Swans produced the weekends only true upset, amassing a handy lead early before holding on by just five points over the Kangaroos at Blundstone Arena in Tasmania.
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.
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.