The strangest season in AFL history is about to get real for the following 10 teams, but only eight of them will play finals football and in turn give themselves a chance to take home the Premiership Cup. AFANA runs the slide rule over where your club can finish after what should be another crazy round of footy. If your team isn’t mentioned below, it’s time to start thinking about next year…
Port Adelaide’s Robbie Gray sensationally kicked the game winning goal after the final siren to snatch victory from a gallant Carlton in Brisbane on Sunday afternoon. With a three-point deficit and time ticking down, Gray marked on a tight angle 40 meters out from goal with the final siren blaring before taking his kick. Having missed a much simpler attempt just minutes before (as did two of his teammates in Charlie Dixon and Kane Farrell), Gray showed no sign of nerves as he split the center with a magnificent drop punt to seal the 64-61 win and strengthen the Power’s grip on top spot of the AFL ladder.
The fact that Carlton led into the final minute of the game seemed most unlikely in the early going as Port notched the first three goals of the game with some early midfield dominance. Carlton hit back through some Eddie Betts magic who helped Michael Gibbons register the Blues first goal. That was followed by another from second year star Sam Walsh, en route to one of his most notable performances for some time. Jacob Weitering was holding down the fort in Carlton’s defense while Port appeared less organized in their usually well-structured back six, allowing the Blues to score through multiple turnovers which led to a one-point Carlton lead at quarter time.
Port Adelaide Power continued their bright start to the season with a convincing win over the West Coast Eagles. Port Adelaide played rugged no-nonsense physical football, where they used their muscle to crunch the opposition in the packs; and then distribute the ball to their unheralded outside players, who moved the ball quickly to unsettle opposition defenses. West Coast were hoping the fine conditions would finally allow them to play their possession and clean delivery game; however, the Power rarely gave them space and dictated the game from within the packs.
Big forward, Charley Dixon, dominated the air in the Port forward line and finished with six goals. To the casual observer, it may seem that Dixon was a one-man band, but it was a team effort.
A powerful second quarter, in a deluge of biblical proportions, was enough for Port Adelaide to set up a commanding lead over the Fremantle Dockers. The young Dockers challenged Port in the first quarter but were easily pushed aside during the waterlogged second term. The bigger bodied Power played hard-nosed wet weather football and the Dockers watched. The bruised Dockers steadied in the clear conditions after halftime but were unable to make inroads on the Port lead.
The Dockers began the game with plenty of pluck, matching Port in the packs in the first quarter. Two goals to Matt Taberner and singles to Travis Colyer and Brandon Matera saw the Dockers lead by a goal at the first break. As the match progressed, the undermanned Dockers
The improving Fremantle Dockers held Port Adelaide Power scoreless in the final term and raised questions about Port Adelaide’s ability to make the finals. The inconsistent Power have been on the road collecting frequent flyer points in recent weeks; where they lost to Hawthorn in Launceston, Tasmania and then won against the Saints in Shanghai, China. They came to Perth with confidence, having beaten the West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium in Round 5.
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.
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.
Bitter rivals Port Adelaide and Adelaide once again packed Adelaide Oval for the much anticipated Round 5 Showdown. Coming off a win against reigning Premiers Hawthorn, the Power had earned favorite status against a Crows outfit which has been playing much better football under the tutelage of new coach Phil Walsh.
A couple of last minute goals to Lachie Neale and Hayden Ballantyne saw the Fremantle Dockers sneak a win over Port Adelaide Power in their Round 1 clash at Domain (formerly Patersons) Stadium in Perth. Neale’s goal was a shot on the run from 50 meters out in the last minutes of the game, while Ballantyne played on from a match winning tackle by Zac Clarke who won a free kick after chasing down Jasper Pittard in the forward 50 metre zone. A four goal contribution by Matthew Pavlich, two of which were at critical times in the final quarter, also helped the Dockers to a stirring win.