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Dyson Heppell

Round fifteen has opened up the race for the top eight with some highly fancied teams dropping games they were expected to win. Geelong bounced back from defeat at the hands of Port Adelaide last week by taking care of the other Adelaide team (the Crows) at GMHBA Stadium, holding on to top spot on the AFANA AFL Power Poll in the process.

Collingwood drops down to third on the Power Poll courtesy of a shock loss at the hands of a resurgent North Melbourne which climbs all the way to eighth under the control of interim coach Rhyce Shaw. The Eagles once again used some last minute heroics to defeat an unlucky Hawthorn at the MCG, with Jamie Cripps providing the match winning goal on this occasion.

Other favorites to lose were the Greater Western Sydney Giants, taken down in Thursday Night Football by a fast finishing Essendon, Port Adelaide who couldn’t handle the torrential downpour at home against the Western Bulldogs and amazingly Fremantle, who went down to an undermanned last-placed Carlton in one of the biggest upsets of the season.

The Brisbane Lions continued their brilliant Season by taking down Melbourne, Richmond broke a three game losing streak with a very important win over a competitive Saint Kilda and the Sydney Swans notched another win as expected against the young Gold Coast Suns.

As we head into round sixteen, the AFANA AFL Power Poll looks like this….

1.    Geelong Cats (Last Week - 1) 
Geelong coach Chris Scott pulled a few surprises against the Adelaide Crows, sending in-form defenseman Marc Blicavs back into the ruck and veteran midfielder Joel Selwood back into the middle for a large chunk of the game. Both moves worked beautifully as the Cats held off a solid Crows outfit for a handy 27-point victory.

2.    West Coast Eagles (3) 
Nic Naitanui returned from a long term knee injury and immediately had an impact despite limited game time against Hawthorn at the MCG. In a tight tussle that saw the Eagles concede the lead after a solid first half, the disciplined West Coast snatched victory after a gutsy Oscar Allen mark snatched momentum for the reigning premiers.

3.    Collingwood Magpies (2) 
Collingwood Coach Nathan Buckley said after last week’s narrow win over the Bulldogs that it was the worst his team had played all season. One week later, and things were even worse for the Magpies as they were not only crushed by the Kangaroos, but also lost injury-prone key forward Ben Reid to what looked to be a nasty calf injury.

4.    Greater Western Sydney Giants (4) 
The Giants played some good football against Essendon on Thursday night, building to a 16-point lead in the final quarter and seemingly headed for victory. Things unraveled for Leon Cameron’s charges from there as they conceded six final quarter goals to the Bombers to lose by six points. While undoubtedly boasting one of the best playing lists in the AFL, the Giants have to learn to consistently win in Melbourne to be considered a legitimate premiership threat.

5.    Brisbane Lions (6) 
The Lions claimed another scalp at their Woolloongabba home on Sunday, this time it was the hapless Melbourne Demons as young forward Eric Hipwood booted five goals in a scintillating display. Lachie Neale racked up 38 touches as Chris Fagan’s men strengthened their claims on a finals berth.

6.    Adelaide Crows (5) 
Adelaide had the tough task of taking on Geelong at their fortress of GMHBA Stadium, with the Cats also coming off just their second loss of the season. The Crows were competitive in the midfield, matching Geelong in clearances with Rory Sloane and Matt Crouch doing the grunt work for the Crows. Despite breaking even around the ground, Adelaide was no much for the dynamic Cats forward line which had plenty of contributors including Tim Kelly, Gary Ablett Jr. and impressive rookie Gryan Miers. Paul Seedsman was the only Crow who troubled the Cats with his pace and classy finishing.

7.    Essendon Bombers (9) 
The Bombers notched their third win in four games as they finished fast to take the points against highly fancied Greater Western Sydney. In a low scoring affair, Essendon hung tough for three quarters before exploding for a six goal final quarter to steal an important victory. Dylan Shiel was outstanding against his old club, while Shaun McKernan was at his best with 19 hit outs, 8 marks and two goals.

8.    North Melbourne Kangaroos (10) 
The Kangaroos transformation under interim coach Rhyce Shaw has been nothing short of spectacular with four wins in its last five starts, most recently dominating 2018 Grand Finalist Collingwood at Marvel Stadium en-route to a 44 point drubbing. Ben Cunnington kept his name in Brownlow Medal contention with another stellar display, racking up 37 possessions and seven clearances.

9.   Richmond Tigers (11) 
The Tigers welcomed back seven first choice players after a horrendous injury run throughout 2019, and despite showing some rust early on, managed to finish strongly and run out 33 point-winners over a tenacious Saint Kilda. Dustin Martin was influential for Richmond, but it was two first year players in Sydney Stack (4 goals) and Mabior Chol (3 goals) that stole the show in the much needed win.

10.    Fremantle Dockers (7) 
While round fifteen had its share of upset results, Fremantle’s loss to a last place Carlton side missing its best player in Patrick Cripps was surely the boilover of the season. A five goals to none first quarter had the Dockers following the script early, but a lackluster second and third quarter had Carlton just 12 points behind at three quarter time. The Dockers hung on grimly until Marc Murphy broke the home fans collective heart in the final minute to condemn Fremantle to a brutal loss.

11.    Port Adelaide Power (8) 
Upset results were happening all over the country and Port joined the party by going down to the Western Bulldogs in a very wet Adelaide. Port had plenty of opportunities to score, going inside the 50 meter arc 20 more times than the feisty Bulldogs, but were horribly inefficient in attack which ultimately cost victory. Scott Lycett (42 hit outs and 21 disposals) and Hamish Hartlett (29 touches) were Port’s best.

12.    Sydney Swans (12) 
The Swans took care of business over the Gold Coast Suns, running out 42 point winners at the SCG. The win came at a cost however with ruckman Callum Sinclair dislocating his shoulder not once but twice during the game. Sinclair is expected to miss at least a month, stretching Sydney’s already thin ruck stocks.

13.    Western Bulldogs (14) 
Luke Beveridge’s men pulled off a sensational win in Adelaide in horrible conditions. Marcus Bontempelli led the way for the Bulldogs with a magnificent display of wet weather football, and his midfield comrades in Jackson Macrae and Josh Dunkley joined in to spoil the Port party. The Bulldogs commitment was evident as they laid a whopping 109 tackles for the match.

14.    Hawthorn Hawks (13) 
The Hawks almost pulled off an upset win over the Eagles at the MCG on Saturday, going down to a Jamie Cripps snapped goal in the final minute of the game. Hawthorn started sluggishly to trail by 14 points at the half, but played the much better football in the second half as Jaeger O’Meara (37 possessions) and Liam Shiels (30) led the comeback. Poor finishing in front of goal ultimately cost the Hawks a hard fought victory.

15.    Carlton Blues (17) 
The Blues pulled off the upset of the season at Optus Oval over an in-form Fremantle Dockers. Stand in Coach David Teague had to deal not only with injuries to young guns Patrick Cripps and Harry McKay, he lost key forward Charlie Curnow early in the match as Fremantle jumped to an early five goal lead. Pure work rate helped Carlton to claw back into the game until they hit the lead with a couple of minutes left. When Sam Switkowski stole the lead back for Fremantle a minute later, it looked like the Blues comeback was all in vain. Enter veteran Marc Murphy who danced around a few Dockers before hitting a check-side punt on the run to seal a famous win for his team. 

16.    St Kilda Saints (15) 
The Saints played fast football to take an early lead against Richmond at Marvel Stadium, getting out to a four goal lead in the second quarter. The Tigers bounced back to keep the scores tight and at three quarter time just seven points separated the teams. Unfortunately for the Saints, Alan Richardson’s men missed chances early in the final quarter as the Tigers ran away to a five goal win. Hunter Clark had his best game in defense for the Saints, while Seb Ross continued his solid form in the midfield.

17.    Melbourne Demons (16) 
The Demons dirty season continued with a 33 point loss to the Brisbane Lions. Ruckman Max Gawn also injured his ankle in the contest, and with the Demons season all but over it is time for Coach Simon Goodwin to but their abysmal 2019 behind them and to start planning for 2020.

18.    Gold Coast Suns (18) 
The Suns narrative of being competitive but losing continued against the Sydney Swans at the SCG on Saturday. The Suns will continue to get games into young players with a view to climbing the table in 2020.

Article last changed on Tuesday, July 02, 2019 - 12:24 PM EDT

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