And then there were eleven. After a cracking round nineteen that saw the Tigers hold off an injury hit but brilliant Collingwood, the Swans sink further into trouble with a loss to the Bombers and Carlton actually notch a win, there looks to be only eleven teams left in the race for the top eight. The Adelaide Crows all but dropped out of contention after being overrun by a revitalized Melbourne in the city of churches, while the Giants marched into top four contention with yet another win, this time over a plucky but inaccurate Saint Kilda.
Port Adelaide kept its top four hopes alive with a comfortable win over the Bulldogs in chilly Ballarat, Hawthorn smashed Fremantle in Perth, and North Melbourne rekindled its finals chances with a stirring win over the West Coast Eagles in Tasmania. Geelong rode another seven goal haul from the red hot Tom Hawkins to easily account for Brisbane, replacing Sydney in the top eight in the process. With just four rounds remaining before the finals commence, there are too many finals permutations to contemplate - which is just the way we like it.
Here’s how the AFANA AFL Power Poll looks after all of the weekend’s action.
1. Richmond Tigers (Last Week: 1)
The Tigers were challenged by the Magpies in a sensational Saturday contest at the MCG, but once again upped the ante in the final quarter to run out winners. Another blockbuster awaits - this time against a red hot Geelong Cats.
2. Greater Western Sydney Giants (5)
The Giants won their third game in a row – once again without suspended forward Jeremy Cameron – and now have to be considered a serious contender with a top four spot within its grasp. Lachie Whitfield, Josh Kelly and Phil Davis are in sensational form for the “Orange Tsunami”.
3. Geelong Cats (4)
The Cats move back into the top eight after defeating Brisbane at Kardinia Park, with spearhead Tom Hawkins booting seven goals for the second week in a row. In more good news for the Cats, Dan Menzel returned to form with three goals of his own.
4. West Coast Eagles (2)
The losses of Josh Kennedy and Luke Shuey proved too much to overcome for the Eagles as they crashed to a 40 point loss to the Kangaroos at Blundstone Arena in Hobart. The good news is they remain in 2nd spot on the ladder with the western derby against a struggling Fremantle up next.
5. Collingwood Magpies (3)
Collingwood may have lost the match against league pacesetters Richmond however they didn’t lose any admirers in going down by 28 points. Losing backmen Jeremy Howe and Matt Scharenberg during the game proved too much for the Magpies defense, eventually cracking under immense Tiger pressure in a frantic final quarter.
6. Melbourne Demons (7)
After a heartbreaking loss to Geelong last week, the Demons were determined to land a big scalp as they faced the Crows at Adelaide Oval. Big Max Gawn and gun midfielder Clayton Oliver took up the fight in a sensational seven goal third quarter that set up a great road win for Melbourne. Finals football is firmly on the Demons agenda.
7. Hawthorn Hawks (8)
The Hawks crushed the Dockers in Perth on Sunday, no easy task given Fremantle’s recent home form. Luke Breust continued his stellar form, booting four goals in a best afield performance. With two wins in a row and a spot in the top eight, the Hawks have a huge game against fellow finals aspirants this Saturday.
8. Port Adelaide Power (9)
Port moved back into the winners circle and in turn the top four after finishing strongly to down the Western Bulldogs by 44 points in icy-cold Ballarat. Forward Charlie Dixon was unstoppable kicking five goals (as many as the entire Bulldogs team) in a greatly improved Port performance. Next week it is the all-Adelaide “showdown” against the Crows, which should be a cracking contest.
9. Essendon Bombers (11)
Essendon’s 43 point win over Sydney was its eighth out of its last ten games, making the Bombers one of the form teams of the competition. If the Bombers barely miss the final eight after its barnstorming finish, they will rue the round eight loss to lowly Carlton.
10. Sydney Swans (6)
The Swans are going backwards in a hurry. The Friday night loss to Essendon was Sydney’s fourth in its last five games, sending the proud club plummeting from fourth to ninth place on the AFL ladder. Coach John Longmire needs his team to regroup quickly as a loss to Collingwood next week could spell curtains for Sydney’s finals hopes.
11. North Melbourne Kangaroos (12)
The Kangaroos once again got the job done at their Tasmanian fortress, downing the West Coast Eagles and keeping their finals hopes alive in the process. Young Paul Ahern had a breakout game for the Kangaroos with 37 disposals, while ruck man Todd Goldstein returned to form in the center.
12. Adelaide Crows (10)
The Crows were pretty good for three quarters against Melbourne, unfortunately the third quarter lapse cost them seven goals and very likely any chance of playing in the major round. While injuries have played a part, missing the finals will be a bitter pill to swallow for the best team in last season’s minor round.
13. Brisbane Lions (13)
The Lions were competitive for a half at Kardinia Park against the Cats, but struggled to contain the Geelong midfield and a rampaging Tom Hawkins after the main break. The dual Daynes – Beams and Zorko – were brilliant for the Lions.
14. Gold Coast Suns (14)
All of last week’s excellent work in defeating Sydney was undone on Saturday at Metricon Stadium as the Suns handed Carlton just its second win of the season. A disappointing result.
15. St Kilda Saints (16)
Saint Kilda put on a solid display against the red hot Giants at Spotless Stadium, however once again the goal kicking radar was well off target. With 12 more entries inside the 50 meter arc and the same amount of scoring shots as the Giants, the Saints poor conversion rate cost them dearly once again.
16. Fremantle Dockers (15)
The Dockers had a shocker at home against the Hawks, never really threatening to take the game up to visitors. Scoring has been a big issue for Fremantle this season, leading to what should be a strong focus on recruiting quality forwards in the off-season.
17. Carlton Blues (18)
The Blues finally drag themselves off the bottom of the Power Poll with a stirring away win over the Suns. Patrick Cripps was immense, and must be an outside chance of challenging for the Brownlow as early as this season.
18. Western Bulldogs (17)
The Bulldogs young brigade is running out of steam as the end of the season approaches. Port’s big bodied midfielders were simply too strong for the Bulldogs, increasing their ascendancy as the game wore on.
Article last changed on Tuesday, July 31, 2018 - 4:03 PM EDT