Round 22 was full of stories. There was heartbreak in Adelaide as the Crows and Power likely blew their chance at playing finals, but there were also two of the season’s greatest games played between four of the league’s best teams. Both of those incredible games were physical, skillful contests that came down to one kick for goal that separated the winners from the losers. Brisbane’s last gasp win over Geelong in front of a rampant Lions home crowd came courtesy of a potential “Mark of the Year” by Lincoln McCarthy who goaled for a one point win, while it was Richmond’s favorite rascal in Jack Riewoldt who snapped truly to give his Richmond team a meritorious win against a gallant West Coast Eagles on Sunday at the MCG. All four teams will no doubt play a big part in September.
Other big winners in a stunning round of footy were the Western Bulldogs who followed up 21 consecutive goals the previous week against Essendon with a dozen in a row against a disappointing Greater Western Sydney who let their home fans down.
Speaking of letting home fans down, Adelaide, with a finals spot on the line, were decimated by an undermanned yet clinical Collingwood at Adelaide Oval, while cross-town Port Adelaide incredibly put up an even worse showing against North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium, falling by a whopping 86 points to the Kangaroos.
Essendon bounced back to clinch a finals berth with a solid win over Fremantle at Optus Oval, Hawthorn kept it’s faint finals pulse alive with a big win over the hapless Suns and the resurgent Carlton notched up another win as newly installed coach David Teague got the better of Brett Ratten’s Saint Kilda.
The Friday night game saw Melbourne serve up the same bland football it has all season, going down to a younger, less experienced Sydney Swans by 53 points. With just one round to go before the pre-finals bye, there is still plenty to play for as teams jostle to either finish top four and gain a “double chance” while one finals spot is still up for grabs.
1. Brisbane Lions (Last Week: 1)
Brisbane notched its ninth consecutive victory with a win over Geelong by a solitary point after trailing at every quarter change. Charlie Cameron added another five goals for the Lions while Lachie Neale, Jarryd Lyons and Hugh McCluggage were magnificent in the midfield. What a season the young Lions are putting together.
2. Richmond Tigers (3)
In an epic battle between the 2017 and 2018 premiers, Richmond were stunned early by the Eagles to trail by 29 points late in the first quarter. The well-drilled Tigers, on the back of a best afield performance by Dustin Martin, fought their way back into the contest to finally prevail in wet conditions by just six points.
3. West Coast Eagles (2)
The Eagles went down by a single goal after looking magnificent against Richmond in the early going before losing momentum and the lead, but fought back late to tie the scores before finally succumbing to the Tigers in one of the matches of the season. Elliot Yeo and Jack Darling were sensational for West Coast who remain on track for a top four finish.
4. Collingwood Magpies (5)
Collingwood was having none of its underdog status as it thumped Adelaide on the road by a 68 point margin despite missing numerous quality players through injury. Jamie Elliott booted five goals in brilliant return to form while skipper Scott Pendlebury was back to his best with 34 disposals and 10 marks. A top four finish is once again a reality.
5. Geelong Cats (4)
Geelong did everything but win the match against the red hot Brisbane Lions up in Queensland on Saturday afternoon. Big guns Patrick Dangerfield, Tim Kelly and Gary Ablett Jr. all had fantastic games for the Cats but in the end some individual brilliance from the Lions forwards conspired to steal the game for Brisbane. The narrow loss aside, there were some great signs from Geelong heading into the finals.
6. Western Bulldogs (8)
Fresh from kicking 21 unanswered goals against Essendon last week, the Bulldogs traveled to Sydney to take on the Giants in what looked to be a close contest on paper. This proved to be correct up until half time where the Giants led by just three points. The second half however was all Western Bulldogs as they piled on 12 goals in a row to smash the Giants and set up a likely finals berth heading into round 23. Jackson Macrae and Josh Dunkley were best for the Bulldogs.
7. Essendon Bombers (10)
Essendon headed west to take on Fremantle in what loomed as a must win if they wanted to cement a finals berth, given a round 23 encounter with Collingwood was on the menu. While general field play favored the Dockers, the Bombers ran out 32 point winners by being much more efficient with the ball (27.7 disposals per goal compared to Fremantle’s 61.6). Essendon have now locked in an elimination final, but can they finally win one?
8. Greater Western Sydney Giants (6)
All you need to know about the Giants current form is that their last two second half scores read like this: 0.3 against the Hawks, followed by 0.5 against the Bulldogs. How this much talent cannot produce one goal in two halves of football is a huge concern for Coach Leon Cameron leading into a finals campaign.
9. Hawthorn Hawks (11)
Hawthorn had an easy go of it against the lowly Gold Coast Suns on Sunday, but the 70 point win at least gives the Hawks an unlikely yet small chance of scraping into the finals if a lot of results go their way in round 23. Veteran forward Jarryd Roughead was given a farewell game and did not disappoint, kicking six goals in a performance that thrilled the Hawks faithful.
10. North Melbourne Kangaroos (12)
The Kangaroos bounced back from a terrible performance against Geelong in round 21 by completely demolishing Port Adelaide by 86 points at Marvel Stadium ,in turn ruining Port’s finals aspirations on the back of a 10 goal haul by full forward Ben Brown.
11. Carlton Blues (14)
Carlton notched a 10 point come from behind victory over Saint Kilda at the MCG on Saturday, giving the Blues six wins out of their last five starts to give their fans hope of better times ahead under new Coach David Teague in 2020.
12. Port Adelaide Power (7)
The Power take a massive hit on the Power Poll this week after an insipid performance in losing to the Kangaroos by 86 points. With so much on the line for Port, it was a bad time for their seemingly schizophrenic form to go back to some of the worst of the season. Ken Hinkley’s men have to beat Fremantle in round 23 and hope other results fall their way if finals football is any possibility.
13. Adelaide Crows (9)
Adelaide put in a stinker at home when they desperately needed a win against a depleted Collingwood to cement a finals spot. After capitulating by 68 points after trailing by just 17 at half time, you would have to imagine a shake-up is about to occur at Crows headquarters in the off-season for the losing 2017 Grand Finalists.
14. Sydney Swans (16)
Sydney proved much too good for Melbourne on the big stage of Friday Night Football at the MCG, running out 53 point winners on the back of brilliant games from Oliver Florent (28 disposals and 4 tackles) and Luke Parker (25 disposals, 8 tackles and 6 clearances). The future looks bright in Old Sydney Town.
15. St Kilda Saints (13)
The Saints were once again competitive but couldn’t stay with the Blues in a frantic final quarter. Expect the brains trust to open the coffers in the off-season to add some more top end talent.
16. Fremantle Dockers (15)
The retro jerseys from 1995 looked great, unfortunately Fremantle’s performance did not match their style as the Dockers went down to Essendon by 32 points. As of about an hour ago, Fremantle have moved on Coach Ross Lyon and CEO Steve Rosich, signaling a changing of the guard for Fremantle in 2020.
17. Melbourne Demons (17)
The Demons seemingly have a very good playing list. They have been playing terrible football, and lost badly to the Swans on Friday night. It appears that Melbourne have mentally checked out, which is tough to take for Demon fans, but I would expect a rapid improvement in 2020.
18. Gold Coast Suns (18)
That’s seventeen losses in a row. Still Ouch.
Article last changed on Tuesday, August 20, 2019 - 1:39 PM EDT