In the final game for round one of 2020, the West Coast Eagles showed why they would be considered one of the favorites to win the competition this year. (Ed. note: the AFL has suspended the season until at least May 31st.) The home team enjoyed the warm day (88º F. ), but it was their team structure and discipline which cooked the visitors. Melbourne started the game determined to show they are a better team than results from last year suggested. However, it was their delivery into their attacking zone that demonstrated they had learned nothing over the summer break. By quarter time, the Eagles were up five-zero in goals and it was already clear that Melbourne lack the structure of the home side.
The West Coast Eagles knocked the Essendon Bombers out of the finals series in an emphatic fashion. Having defeated the Fremantle Dockers at the same ground, and seen the Hawthorn Hawks defeat the Eagles at Optus, the Bombers gave themselves a real chance against the reigning Premiers. The Essendon game plan was simple. Run the ball through the middle of the ground to expose West Coast's lack of pace in that area; and then keep the ball low into attack to avoid high marking defenders, Jeremy McGovern and Tom Barrass.
Essendon's first goal, after two minutes of play, went to plan. Michael Hurley intercepted at half forward, a gather from Dyson Heppell and a measured handpass to Andrew McGrath who kicked truly from 48 meters.
A dramatic change has taken place on the AFANA AFL Power Poll over the past weekend with some big results that could have a significant effect on the race for the 2019 premiership. After finally reaching number one on the back of a string of brilliant performances, the West Coast Eagles came crashing down to earth and have dropped all the way to fourth on our Power Poll after an unexpected loss at home to its 2018 premiership victim in Collingwood.
The Cats move back into the number one spot after a hard fought win against Saint Kilda, while a red hot Brisbane Lions move up to second after a road win full of merit against a frustrating Port Adelaide. Essendon needed a last gasp goal from their barometer in Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti to down the Kangaroos, Richmond overpowered an undermanned Greater Western Sydney and the Adelaide Crows smashed the Gold Coast Suns up at Metricon Stadium.
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.
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 West Coast Eagles traveled to Melbourne today, looking to take an MCG scalp ahead of their run home towards the finals. The Eagles came in heavy favorites on a gloomy and damp Saturday afternoon. They led by 20 points at half time and survived a comeback by Hawthorn to hit the lead again in the final minute and claim the four premiership points.
Inside the first minute the Eagles won the center clearance and goaled through Darling. Nic Naitanui was back for the Eagles and was leaping high early to give his team mates the first use of the ball. He looked strong and in control early, his return could have been dubbed a full success already had his early snap for goal been on target.
The bye rounds are over, and as we head into round fifteen the battle for the coveted top four spots and the race for the finals is well and truly on. Geelong moves to top spot on the AFANA AFL Power Poll despite dropping a game on the road to an impressive Port Adelaide, while Collingwood continues to win despite not being at its best in recent weeks.
The big movers are the Adelaide Crows, moving from 8th to 5th on the back of a three game winning streak while Fremantle and Port continue to look the most likely to take a spot in the final eight unless Richmond can end its free fall down the AFL ladder.
West Coast Eagles vs Collingwood Magpies (Optus Stadium)
STATE OF PLAY:
The Saturday clash between West Coast and Collingwood is a top four battle of two teams that have been hit hard by injury during the season but have come through in pretty good shape nonetheless.
The West Coast Eagles have confirmed that Nic Naitanui has a torn the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) on his right knee. His left knee was reconstructed in late 2016 and kept Naitanui out of the competition for all of 2017. American specialist Bill Knowles, who assisted Naitanui with his recovery in Philadelphia last July, has suggested that this second reconstruction could require a longer recovery period. It is expected that Naitanui will undergo reconstruction surgery as soon as the initial swelling subsides. He will miss the rest of this year and most of the 2019 season. The twenty-eight year old has played 160 games for West Coast; he will be nearly 30 when he returns to the game.
Round seventeen was full of upsets, great finishes and some very big injuries. The Giants resurrected their season with a win over the Tigers, the Eagles rode their big forwards to a classy win over Collingwood, and the Crows celebrated the re-signing of favorite son Rory Sloane by banking a win against the highly fancied Cats.
Biggest loser of the weekend has to go to Port Adelaide, who not only forfeited a chance at second place on the ladder by losing to an undermanned Fremantle,