With six teams enjoying the week off due to the programmed mid-season bye rounds, there was less quantity but no lack of quality during a fascinating round of football on the weekend. The festivities kicked off on Thursday night with Port continuing its good form with another win, but Friday night was what the AFL public was waiting for, with the Sydney Swans – the only team to defeat the Eagles – facing the West Coast again, this time on their home deck at the SCG.
The Swans did it again, winning an enthralling contest that sets up a fascinating second half of the season as the all-important top four spots become a dogfight between the league’s elite teams.
Fremantle continued Carlton’s horror season, Saint Kilda pulled off a last quarter heist to take the points against the hapless Gold Coast Suns, and Hawthorn sent the Adelaide Crows deeper into crisis with a big win at the MCG. The Sunday game was a brilliant contest between Richmond and Geelong, with just a point separating the teams at the final break. Once again it was the Tigers getting the four points, the return of Daniel Rioli proving the icing on the cake as Richmond returned to its manic pressure that helped capture the premiership in 2017.
With some big winners at the top of the AFANA AFL Power Poll this week, the landscape has been changed somewhat, with the West Coast eagles relinquishing top position – at least for now.
1. Sydney Swans (Last Week: 2)
The Swans notched up their sixth win on the trot on Friday night at the SCG, taking down the league leading West Coast Eagles by 15 points in front of 36,000 very happy fans. Young Oliver Florent was magnificent with 29 possessions, ably supported by Josh Kennedy and Jake Lloyd as the perennially strong Swans firmly established their premiership credentials against a very strong eagles outfit.
2. Richmond Tigers (3)
Richmond was challenged by a Geelong team that won the all-important clearance battle, with both teams going all out in a great game of footy in trying conditions. With the game in the balance in the final quarter, the Tiger small forwards in Jason Castagna, Dan Butler and the returning Daniel Rioli were the difference as their speed and fierce attack on the ball and man drove Richmond to a memorable 18 point win.
3. West Coast Eagles ( 1)
The Eagles were far from disgraced against a brilliant Sydney Swans, leading the Swans with 11 more entries inside their 50 meter arc but failing to capitalize in their forward line. Missing Jack Darling due to an ankle injury, the usual potency of the Eagles forward line just wasn’t there. There is still plenty to like here, with Elliot Yeo and Jack Redden putting in superb performances once again for the Eagles.
4. Geelong Cats (4)
Geelong was excellent for three quarters against the reining premiers, but was found wanting when the game was on the line. Joel Selwood was magnificent for the Cats, while Gary Ablett started brilliantly before fading late. With plenty of talent such as Dan Menzel and Cam Guthrie to come back from injury, Geelong should remain a top four contender. The Geelong dominance over the Tigers however appears to be over, with the high pressure tackling of Richmond arresting the 13 game Geelong win streak in the last two contests between the teams.
5. Collingwood Magpies (5)
6. Melbourne Demons (6)
7. Port Adelaide Power (9)
Port had a comfortable 57 point win over an injury hit Western Bulldogs at Adelaide Oval, and there is plenty to like about the recent form of the Power. Chad Wingard’s move to the midfield has seemingly reinvigorated his season, while recruit Tom Rockliff is almost back to his best after a sluggish start in his new colors. With Robbie Gray in great form up forward and Jared Polec kicking goals, Port are well placed for the run home with a relatively easy draw.
8. Hawthorn Hawks (10)
The Hawks continue to move up the Power Poll on the back of a smashing of the Adelaide Crows at the MCG by 56 points. Hawthorn celebrated Shaun Burgoyne’s 350th game in style, with defender James Sicily starring with 24 possessions and three goals. The Hawks currently sit in 9th place on the AFL ladder, and are poised to jump into the top eight with a great run home.
9. Greater Western Sydney Giants (7)
10. North Melbourne Kangaroos (8)
11. Essendon Bombers (11)
12. Fremantle Dockers (13)
Making a mockery of their struggles in Melbourne, Fremantle crushed a frustrated Carlton by 57 points at Etihad Stadium on Saturday. The Dockers ran rampant over the Blues, leading by 70 points at half time while keeping the hapless Carlton goalless. Nathan Fyfe and Lachie Neale were unstoppable for the Dockers who won for the second time in as many weeks, taking their record to a respectable 6-7.
13. Adelaide Crows (12)
The Crows hung with Hawthorn for the first half on Saturday night before capitulating in the second half to lose their fourth game in a row. Injuries aside, the Crows seem bereft of confidence right now and look unlikely to feature in the top eight despite appearing in the Grand Final last season.
14. Western Bulldogs (14)
Easton Wood, Jackson Macrae and Toby McLean all suffered injuries in the Bulldogs 57 point loss to Port Adelaide on Thursday night. The young Bulldogs fought the game out but simply couldn’t match the strength and skill of the Power. Coach Luke Beveridge will use the rest of the season to assess the young playing list with a view to rapid improvement next season.
15. Saint Kilda Saints (17)
At three quarter time against the Gold Coast Suns on Saturday afternoon, the Saints trailed by 31 points and were two players down due to injury. It looked like coach Alan Richardson was in for another week of answering questions on his own future and that of his struggling team. Thirty minutes later, Jade Gresham sharked a ruck contest and snapped a goal to put the Saints in front and seal an unlikely victory. While the quality of the opposition can be questioned, the significance of the come from behind win cannot.
16. Brisbane Lions (15)
17. Carlton Blues (16)
Carlton can thank the Gold Coast Suns final quarter fade out for keeping it out of the cellar on the Power Poll this week. The Blues effort against Fremantle was bordering on putrid, so much so that its own fans booed the team off the ground at the conclusion of a goalless first half. Carlton has hit rock bottom, and the supporter base has had enough.
18. Gold Coast Suns (18)
For three quarters at Metricon Stadium the Suns looked pretty good, controlling the match against Saint Kilda and seemingly heading for a solid win with a 31 point lead. The Suns went goalless in the final quarter to lose by two points. The damning fact for the Suns, is that its last four final quarters has yielded a TOTAL of just two points. Just two points in what amounts to a full game of football! Are they unfit or mentally weak? Coach Stuart Dew needs answers, and he needs them quickly.
Article last changed on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 - 2:44 PM EDT