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AFL Finals - Ten into Eight doesn’t Go

The race for the cup starts now.

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…

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Winged Eagles Down Saints

Nic Naitanui (File Photo)

The West Coast Eagles withstood a last quarter challenge from the St Kilda Saints to secure a place in this year's final series. The Eagles, struggling with injury to eight of their first-choice players and losing defensive linchpin Jeremy McGovern at the main break, looked gone, after St Kilda surged to the lead midway through the final quarter. However a goal to Josh Kennedy and then a sweeping handpass from Kennedy to Tim Kelly, put the Eagles back in front with twelve minutes to play and the Saints were unable to respond.

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Eagles Cruise Over Hawks

Kennedy Boots First Goal

The West Coast Eagles cruised to victory over a dispirited Hawthorn Hawks in a game where the Hawks never threatened one of the premiership favorites. The game started in dry conditions which suited the West Coast high leaping markers (catchers) and the Hawks were held scoreless in the opening quarter, as West Coast dominated. If the Eagles' goal shooting had been straight the match would have been over at quarter time. When the Hawks did attack, they were stopped in the air by Jeremy McGovern, who was returning from injury, and Tom Barrass, who together formed a defensive block taking 17 marks and 19 intercept possessions between them for the game.

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Show Time In The West

Seven Goals to Kennedy (File photo)

The high-flying West Coast Eagles dominated fellow premiership favorites, the Collingwood Magpies, in a game that was more of a show for the Eagles than a game of football. While there was no running onto the arena from the inside of an inflatable Eagle and no show girls dancing, there was still plenty of razzle-dazzle as West Coast rang rings around the befuddled Collingwood Magpies. Freak goals from either pocket by Josh Kennedy and a near-certain behind (worth a point) converted to a goal (worth six points) by Oscar Allan (courtesy of a freak bounce of the ball and frozen Collingwood defenders) added to the entertainment. Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley succinctly surmised after the game. "We played our Washington Generals role really well today to the West Coast Globetrotters." The allusion to the Harlem Globetrotters was appropriate, as the Eagles could do nothing wrong and the Pies could do little more than spectate after the early going, as the Eagles put on a demonstration of classic dry weather football.

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Undefeated Power Crunch Eagles

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.

Charlie Dixon marks as Robbie Tarrant reaches to tackle
Dixon against the Roos in 2019

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.

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AFL Hall Of Fame for 2020

Black playing against Essendon

The AFL began announcing its annual Hall of Fame inductions at the beginning of June. Due to the pandemic, the usual gala ceremony could not be held. The announcements were made gradually over a period of days and everything had to be done remotely. Brisbane premiership teammates Jonathan Brown and Simon Black were inducted, joining fellow teammates Michael Voss (2011), Jason Akermanis (2015), and Nigel Lappin (2016). Their admissions reinforce Brisbane's status as one of the most dominant teams of the early 2000s. Beloved St Kilda stalwart Lenny Hayes was another inductee. Also inducted were two greats of the Port Adelaide Magpies in the SANFL: John Albey and Greg Phillips; as well as former Eagle ruckman Dean Cox and beloved commentator Dennis Cometti. Coaching great John Kennedy Sr was elevated to legend status. Kennedy was one of the inaugural inductees as a coach in 1996. AFL boss Gil McLachlan visited Kennedy and his wife at their home to inform Kennedy of his elevation.

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AFL Season Returns June 11th

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan has announced that the AFL season will resume on June 11th. Just prior to the announcement, teams were permitted to begin non-contact training in groups of no more than 10. Teams will now be allowed to begin full contact training on the 25th. However, training will be limited to two sessions per week. Players and officials from all clubs will be required to be tested 24 hours before each training session. When matches do resume, umpires will also be tested. Testing will continue for all for the duration of the season.

The league is still working on the schedule for the season but is expected to have that by the end of the month. In making the announcement, McLachlan said, "Today is a significant step in getting footy back ... as this situation continues to evolve, we have to remain agile and flexible to ... adapt ... while ... we continue to prioritize the health and welfare of our players, staff, and the wider community and ... don't place any burden on the public health system."

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AFL Moves Closer to Restart

Did you say Gold Coast Eagles?

On the day the AFL began COVID-19 testing of AFL players, its hopes of restarting the competition were rocked by a letter from the South Australian government. The AFL intended to have a three-week training period for all teams, in a lead-up to the first AFL game in mid-June. The league looked set to announce an opening game on June 11th, between Collingwood and Richmond, but those plans may now be derailed. The South Australian government has ruled-out an exemption for AFL teams entering its closed borders without a mandatory 14 day quarantine. The Crows and Power were planning to fly in and out of South Australia on a weekly basis, to play in Victoria. In a further blow, the South Australian Government has also stipulated that no football players in South Australia can train in groups of more than ten (and training must be non-contact) until June 8th. The Crows and the Power will now have to find a training base at an east coast location, as soon as possible, if the league is to meet its mid-June restart date.

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AFL Season Return

Gillon McLachlan (left) 2019 AFL GF

AFL boss Gil McLachlan has been in consultation with all state governments, premiers, and medical officers about a return date, which could be as early as mid-June with 16 rounds and the Grand Final at the end of October. The league wants to do everything possible to conclude the season before the horseracing season which commences soon after the Grand Final under normal circumstances.

The prospect of hubs in their full capacity is looking more unlikely. The season could resemble the traditional format with a few exceptions. Fremantle and West Coast, both of whom oppose hubs as an option, ironically could be forced to play "home" games in other states due to West Australia's strict border restrictions. So far, the clubs have not had success convincing the WA state government to ease those restrictions.

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Eagles’ Structure Burns Demons

Hurn Eyes on the Ball (file)

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.

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