Boris Kilpatrick, special to AFANA from Australia
Round nine was in keeping with the AFL season so far with upsets, great performances and a bit of controversy for good measure. The West Coast Eagles grabbed top spot on the ladder with a big win over Richmond in Perth, Melbourne crushed Carlton in continuing their strong form, and previously winless Brisbane broke their drought with an upset win over the Hawks.
An even bigger surprise occurred at the MCG on Saturday when struggling Essendon defeated Geelong, making a mockery of form and tipsters alike. Sydney welcomed back Lance Franklin with a big win over Fremantle, Adelaide dispelled fears over a massive injury list by comprehensively defeating the Bulldogs, and the surprising Kangaroos once again rode a great performance from Ben Brown to defeat the struggling Giants in Tasmania.
Port Adelaide, fresh off a showdown win over crosstown rival Adelaide, flew all the way to China to take down the Gold Coast for the second time in as many games in Shanghai, while the Saints once again struggled with basic skills in their loss to Collingwood at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.
The Eagles big weekend sees them retain top spot on the AFANA AFL power poll, but what does the big loss mean for the Tigers who head back to Melbourne licking their wounds from a big defeat at the hands of the league leaders?
1. West Coast Eagles (Last Week: 1)
If there was any doubting the Eagles credentials prior to round nine, their 47 point thumping of the reigning premiers on Sunday put those doubts firmly to rest. Richmond had no answer for the two-pronged Eagle attack with the in-form Jack Darling booting six goals in a best on ground display. West Coast now has top spot on the AFL ladder with a game in hand over the Tigers.
2. Adelaide Crows (4)
The Crows injury woes continue with nine first choice players missing from the line-up that took on the Bulldogs at Adelaide Oval. Despite the massive injury list and a torrential downpour on Friday night, the Crows performed admirably in conceding just two goals to take down the Bulldogs by 37 points. At 6-3, Adelaide would be well pleased given their wretched run with injuries.
3. Richmond Tigers (2)
The Tigers met their match in their first visit to Optus Stadium, going down to the Eagles by 47 points. Richmond had more inside 50 meter entries than the Eagles but were inefficient in converting their chances, in stark contrast to their opponents who scored almost at will. The Tigers have now lost two games – both interstate – which will give the Richmond coaching staff plenty to think about moving forward.
4. Sydney Swans (6)
The Swans comfortably handled Fremantle at the SCG to the tune of 59 points on Saturday, Lance Franklin booting three goals in his return to action from injury. Josh Kennedy also kicked three goals in a dominant performance from the Swans as they overcame their recent run of losses on their home turf.
5. Melbourne Demons (7)
While nobody would currently call Carlton a formidable opponent, the Demons methodical 109 point demolition of the Blues, giving them four wins in a row, should sound a warning to the rest of the league. Melbourne looks finally ready to deliver on the promise of the past couple of seasons, with a strong midfield, a disciplined back line and arguably the best ruckman in the competition in Max Gawn.
6. North Melbourne Kangaroos (9)
North Melbourne hosted the Giants at their home away from home, Blundstone Arena in Tasmania, and once again put on an excellent display of hard, contested football. Hungry to retain pace with the top eight after stumbling against Richmond last week, the Kangaroos powered home in the second half with outstanding performances from forwards Jarrad Waite and Ben Brown.
7. Geelong Cats (3)
Geelong’s dream start to the season turned into a nightmare at the MCG on Saturday, as the heavily favored Cats managed to score just 50 points in going down to Essendon by 34 in one of the biggest upsets this season. Gary Ablett and Tim Kelly, so often the offensive catalysts for Geelong this season, both had quiet games for the previously red hot Cats. Accordingly, Geelong drops all the way from three to seven on the power poll.
8. Port Adelaide Power (8)
Port went from playing in front of 50,000 screaming supporters last week to just 10,000 in Shanghai as they battled the Gold Coast Suns for the second season in succession in China. The result was the same as in 2017 with the Power running out comfortable winners in a game that never reached any great heights as a spectacle. Sam Powell-Pepper was Ports best, and ex-Brisbane Lion Tom Rockliff backed up his solid form last week with another strong game.
9. Collingwood Magpies (10)
Collingwood bounced back from last week’s loss to Geelong with a workmanlike victory over a struggling Saint Kilda. The Magpies trailed by a solitary point at the main break, but rallied in the second half with superior foot skills leading them to a comfortable 28 point win. Jordan De Goey, playing as a key forward, was magnificent for Collingwood, kicking six goals in another strong performance for the soon to be out of contract young gun.
10. Hawthorn Hawks (5)
The Hawks take a big drop in the power poll after going down to the previously winless Brisbane Lions by a whopping 56 points. It was the first time the Hawks have lost to the Lions since 2009. To rub salt into the Hawk wounds, ex-Hawthorn captain Luke Hodge was excellent for the Lions, picking up 19 possessions and taking seven marks.
11. Greater Western Sydney Giants (11)
The Giants traveled to Hobart to take on North Melbourne in blustery conditions, desperate for a win to stay in touch with the top eight. At half time the Giants appeared to be in good shape as they led by five points after a six goal second quarter. That’s where it ended as the Kangaroos controlled the second half to run out 43 point winners. The Giants have now lost three in a row and clearly need some of their injured starts to return from injury if they are to turn things around.
12. Western Bulldogs (12)
The Bulldogs worked hard in torrential rain at Adelaide Oval on Friday night against the Crows, but were simply outclassed by the likes of Eddie Betts and Bryce Gibbs. Jack Macrae was again a standout for the Bulldogs with 36 touches and 13 tackles, but overall the Bulldogs were thrashed 53-33 in clearances and struggled to convert in front of goal.
13. Brisbane Lions (15)
The Lions finally broke through for a win that has appeared close in previous weeks, and what a win it was, smashing Hawthorn by almost 10 goals in an inspiring performance that delighted the home crowd. Dayne Zorko and Dayne Beams were instrumental in setting up the win, while young forward Eric Hipwood provided the finish with four goals to his name. Once again accuracy helped the young Lions, kicking 20.9 after booting 18.6 at the same venue against Collingwood two weeks ago.
14. Fremantle Dockers (13)
The Dockers had no answer to the Swans potent attack at the SCG, going down by just under 10 goals. While Fremantle matched Sydney around the ground for clearances, it was the forward pressure that let them down as Sydney’s Jake Lloyd ran amok in defense, racking up 41 possessions and starting numerous attacks from the back line on the small SCG surface. Michael Walters was solid with two goals on his return from injury, while Nat Fyfe, Ed Langdon and Luke Ryan made solid contributions for the Dockers.
15. Essendon Bombers (17)
In a performance that was in complete contrast to what they have served up in the last month, Essendon blitzed a shell shocked Geelong by 34 points at the MCG on Saturday. The Bombers tackled hard, ran hard and executed a game plan that had the Cats on the back foot from the opening bounce. With a talented playing list, it is hard to fathom why the Bombers haven’t shown the same positive running and tackling game style in previous weeks. We will watch with interest when they take on the struggling Giants in round ten.
16. Gold Coast Suns (16)
The Suns continued their season long road trip with a visit to Shanghai to take on Port Adelaide. The Suns were competitive in the first half, going in to the main break trailing by 13 points, but Port overpowered the Gold Coast to run out comfortable 40- point winners. The Suns have a well-earned rest with the round 10 bye before finally playing their first home game of the season at Metricon Stadium against Geelong in round eleven.
17. Carlton Blues (14)
The Blues euphoria from their first win of the season last week was well and truly dampened on Sunday, as Carlton were absolutely smashed by 109 points at the hands of the in-form Melbourne Demons. Carlton had just 33 entries inside the 50 meter arc compared to Melbourne’s 63 in a game that showed just how much work the Blues have ahead of themselves to be once again considered a contender.
18. St Kilda Saints (18)
Coach Alan Richardson would have been pleased with the effort of the Saints, as they matched Collingwood in most statistical categories throughout the match. Unfortunately once again the Saints let themselves down with skill errors when in possession, as well as missing relatively simple shots at goal. There is talent to work with, but until the Saints reduce the amount of basic errors, they will continue to struggle.
Article last changed on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 - 3:18 PM EDT