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Melbourne Ruffles Some Feathers

Demons Celebrate the Win

Apparently no one had read the script to the Melbourne Demons. They hadn’t beaten a team in the top eight all season and it was a West Coast Eagles home game, Optus Stadium is a fortress and at 75 degrees, it was supposed to be too hot for Melbourne teams to last four full quarters. All that mattered little when the siren sounded and the Demons put on a display worthy of finalists when they ran over the Eagles in an upset in the West.

From the very first moments it was clear that Melbourne had come to play. They were ferocious in their tackling and hunted the Eagles down in packs all over the ground. West Coast were rattled and started to make disposal errors that played right into Melbourne’s hands.

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Saints Pressure Almost Derails The Hawks

Gunston Takes A Mark. 2016.

Outside it was cold and wintry (by Melbourne standards) but good conditions under the roof at Etihad on Saturday night shielded fans. Inside, it was the Hawks who nearly got the chill. Despite the indoor game, the crowd numbers were down on recent clashes between these two teams. 

Early it was Gunston who opened the scoring for the Hawks. The Saints worked hard around the contests to shut down Hawthorn's run and delivery into the forward link.  Burgoyne finally managed to eke out a second for the Hawks.  St Kilda had plenty of the ball, but not a lot of it in their forward 50.

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AFANA AFL Power Poll - Round Twenty One

It's been a dark year for the Blues

Twenty one rounds into the AFL season and incredibly the finals and top four races remain wide open and just two weeks to go. A big win to Richmond over the Suns has locked up a top two spot for the reigning premiers while an amazing last gasp win to the Eagles – in almost identical fashion to their final in 2017, and once again over a distraught Port Adelaide – leaves them in great shape to finish in the top two and secure a home final.

A gutsy win to Hawthorn over Geelong has catapulted the Hawks into fourth position on the AFL ladder, in turn sending the Cats crashing out of the eight, while the Giants 14 point win over Adelaide kept them in great shape for a finals double chance while ending the Crows chances of any finals participation in the process.

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Fremantle Fights Off The Blues

Fremantle team enters stadium

It took until the third quarter for the Fremantle Dockers to break the shackles after a pedestrian start to take down bottom of the ladder dwellers the Carlton Blues. Carlton were struck a blow when their premier ruckman Matthew Kreuzer was omitted, possibly for the rest of the season, with an elevated heart rate when training the day before the match in Perth. After having lost five of the last six matches in the West, Carlton were going to need all the help they could get.

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Four More Call Time

Gibson Goes For Smother vs St Kilda

As the 2018 season heads towards finals, some players have already started toward the door by announcing their retirements. With just a few weeks left, Melbourne's Harley Balic, Adelaide's Sam Gibson, Gold Coast's Matt Rosa and Fremantle's Lee Spurr have all called time on their careers. 

Balic was originally drafted by Fremantle in 2015 but a wrist injury kept kept him sidelined in 2016. He finally debuted in 2017 but played just four games. He took a leave of absence from the club in May and later July 2017, and returned to Melbourne for personal reasons. He then asked to be traded back to Victoria, also for personal reasons. He had struggled with homesickness and feelings of isolation during his time in Perth.

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Initial Schedules for Finals Coverage in 2018 Posted

https://mbsy.co/lhBGw

Over the weekend, we updated our TV schedules page and companion Google calendar to include the preliminary scheduled times up to the Grand Final for Fox networks and WatchAFL. For Fox, all finals in weeks one to three are live on Fox Sports 2 (FS2) only and repeats on Fox Soccer Plus (FSP). The Grand Final is on FSP only. WatchAFL has all matches, live and on-demand. Canadian schedules haven't been released yet but we're expecting something soon.

All live times are, of course, subject to change since the AFL adjusts match times during finals on a weekly basis. We've gone with what Fox provided us and for WatchAFL, with what the AFL did last season. The two vary a little for week one but we should have something firm by the end of August. The weeks 2 and 3 plus the Grand Final all line up and agree with recent years. We'll continuously update the schedules as we get closer to the end of the season and more info comes in.

We also are offering discounts for all WatchAFL subscriptions through the end of the season. It's 10% off for fans using code AFANA10. Be sure to go to https://mbsy.co/lhBGw and enter the code before you select which subscription option you want. Then click apply and choose the length of your subscription. If you have a bar, pub, or other venue hosting a party or showing AFL matches, contact us for a special code and save massively.

Need meat pies? Save 15% at DUB Pies using code afana18 (lower case) at https://www.dubpies.com/ Using our links and discount codes helps fund what we do at AFANA. We receive no financial support from the AFL or networks and depend entirely on you, the reader, to keep us going.

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Eagles Win And Lose In Fiery Derby

Hutchings flies with McCarthy

The West Coast Eagles outclassed and out-muscled the Fremantle Dockers to strengthen their grip on second spot on the ladder.  However, their win could have serious ramifications for their premiership hopes as their main play maker, Andrew Gaff, looks set to be banned for an extended period. Gaff swung a left arm haymaker into the Dockers’ second draft pick, Andrew Brayshaw, breaking his jaw and re-arranging several teeth. The incident sparked several ugly melees as Fremantle players targeted Gaff with ferocious tackles and bumps. The Eagles absorbed the renewed vigor of the Dockers and finished the game playing conservatively, but still in control and making good use of their forward line air superiority.

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AFANA AFL Power Poll - Round Nineteen

Martin takes mark away from Greenwood

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.

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Hawks Hammer Dockers

Mitchell kicks for Hawthorn

The Hawthorn Hawks boosted their campaign to make the 2018 finals by convincingly defeating the Fremantle Dockers. In a one-sided game the Hawks picked up valuable percentage points (based on scores kicked for and against) that could prove vital at the end of the season. The Dockers, who were already out of finals calculations, had a game where little worked for them and as they repeatedly butchered forays into their attacking zone. In contrast, the Hawks were brutal when required to contest the ball, swooped on any errors made by the rattled Dockers and clinical in their forward thrusts.

In the absence of Aaron Sandilands, Fremantle’s Luke Darcy competed well in the ruck with The Hawk’s big man, Jonathan Ceglar. Hit-out honors were even, which resulted in Lachie Neale and David Mundy matching Hawthorn’s Tom Mitchell and Jaegar O’Meara with center clearances. However, once the Dockers cleared the ball from packs, they lacked the purpose and pure intent of Hawthorn. Hawthorn would routinely work the ball wide and then make a direct assault on the full-forward zone. If Jarryd Roughead was covered, Luke Breust was available for a chip pass, Ryan Schoenmakers was setting himself to fly, or Jack Gunston was lurking at the back of a pack. The Hawks simply had too many forward weapons for the Dockers to cover. 

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Magpies Challenge But Tigers Thunder Home

Dustin Martin drives home another goal

With De Goey and Treloar out of the Collingwood team over the past few weeks, few gave Collingwood a chance of defeating ladder leader and reigning premiers, Richmond. They pushed the Tigers for three quarters before the toll of losing two defenders in Howe (to concussion) and Scharenberg (to a knee injury) saw Richmond run away to a 28-point win.

As July days go this was a warm one in Melbourne. It was an overcast day and perfect conditions for footy and 88,180 fans in black and white or black and gold packed the MCG. There was an earlier than traditional Saturday afternoon kickoff time but most fans were in well ahead of first bounce.

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