Optus Stadium was the location for champagne football on a fine Sunday afternoon and the next day became the venue for a rain-sogged slugfest. This Monday night's (Perth time) game saw the Geelong Cats finish convincing winners by booting six goals against the undermanned Fremantle Dockers. It was a rain-soaked game where the team with the highest number of fit and mature bodies would win. The Dockers fielded a team without a recognized tall defender and their dual Brownlow Medalist captain Nat Fyfe was one of eleven Dockers on their extensive injury list. The Cats had an injury list nearly as long, which included Gary Ablett, Joel Selwood, and Rhys Stanley. It wasn't the number of non-injured players that won the Cats the game; it was the physical maturity of the players fielded, which gave them the winning advantage.
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.
After another top notch round of footy, Richmond holds onto top spot on the AFANA Power Poll as a result of its 47 point win over the Adelaide Crows, damaging the Crows chances of returning to finals football in 2018. Collingwood had to fight hard to defeat a determined Essendon, while the Swans stumbled at home against a very impressive Geelong.
Port Adelaide kept in touch with the top two after a comfortable win over Saint Kilda, the Eagles returned to the winners list in the “battle of the decimated forward lines” as they held off the Giants in Perth, and the Hawks solidified their run at the finals with a second half blitz to defeat the Bulldogs.
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.
The West Coast Eagles survived a second-half fight back by the Geelong Cats, to pull themselves back into finals contention. The Eagles, coming off three consecutive defeats, had been criticized for not laying tackles and not winning their share of contested balls. They responded with a determination to compete and to not let Geelong’s rampant midfield have a free run into attack.
A sell-out crowd of almost 14,000 saw the Greater Western Sydney Giants overcome finals favorites Geelong in a stirring performance that signals their arrival as a team to be reckoned with. The fact that the Giants did it with ex-Cat Stevie Johnson kicking two important goals made it all the more memorable for the fledgling club.
Geelong went into the Round 7 clash with Richmond holding an imposing record. The Cats had beaten up the Tigers in the last ten clashes between the two combatants with an average winning margin of 65 points. To find the last Richmond victory against Geelong you have to flick the pages of AFL history book back to Round 9, 2006 - a sobering thought for a Richmond team already struggling to regain any of the solid form it displayed in 2013. Complacency would not be an issue for the Cats who tasted defeat for the first time this season at the hands of an impressive Port Adelaide in the previous round.
Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Perth
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon proved his adage that he and his Dockers will take on Geelong, “Anywhere, anytime,” when his team powered away for a win at Simonds Stadium in their Qualifying Final encounter. Geelong had a 99% win ratio at Simonds going into the game and had every reason to expect another notch in their belts. It was a bruising and often spiteful match that epitomized the standard of play in a Finals series.
Brook “Boris” Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA
Richmond faced the undefeated Geelong in Round Six action with both teams having plenty to play for. If the Cats could get through with a win, they would carry a sensational 6-0 record into a week seven match up with a potentially 6-0 Essendon. For the Tigers, a solid 3-0 start had quickly turned sour with defeat at the hands of Collingwood then Fremantle by the barest of margins. Geelong has owned Richmond in recent years, the Tigers not having tasted victory over the Cats since Round 9 in 2006.
by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
Chad Cornes (254 games) and Kane Cornes (244 games) are now the sixth pair of brothers in League history to reach 500 combined games. The leading families are: Madden (710 games, Simon 378 and Justin 332), Nankervis (578 games, Ian 325 and Bruce 253), Coventry (533 games, Syd 227 and Gordon 306), Richardson (518 games, Wayne 277 and Max 241), Wakelin (513 games, Darryl 252 and Shane 261), Cornes (500 games, Chad 355 and Kane 245), Rocca (499 games, Saverio 257 and Anthony 242), Matthews (487 games, Leigh 332 and Kelvin 155), Hocking (473 games, Stephen 199 and Garry 274), Collier (470 games, Harry 253 and Albert 217).