The free agency period began at the end of October and ran through the first week of November. The first day was a busy one with five players heading to other clubs. The breakdown on the first day:
The Collingwood Magpies defeated the West Coast Eagles in an epic battle by one point, to knock the Eagles out of the final series. The Eagles had been unbeatable in their seven home ground games this year but were knocked off their perch when it mattered most. The Pies were thrashed by the Eagles at Optus Stadium earlier in the year and few pundits expected them to come out of a COVID-19 lockdown and trouble the home team. With their respective seasons on the line, both teams began the match nervously with players dropping marks (catches) and fumbling the ball in the opening minutes.
The strangest season in AFL history is about to get real for the following 10 teams, but only eight of them will play finals football and in turn give themselves a chance to take home the Premiership Cup. AFANA runs the slide rule over where your club can finish after what should be another crazy round of footy. If your team isn’t mentioned below, it’s time to start thinking about next year…
The Collingwood Magpies were surprised by the Fremantle Dockers with a shock defeat at Optus Stadium. The Dockers were harder at the ball and used pace to outrun their more experienced opponents, and recorded their first genuine home victory in this unusual season. A first quarter where a team failed to score would normally have a coach ranting, but Justin Longmuir was impressed with how his young players handled their higher profile opponents. What the young Dockers lacked in skill was compensated with by endeavor. They were first to the ball and won more than their share of contested possessions. A team of hungry committed players will often defeat a better credentialled team, and the Dockers showed that if a team can get enough players to the ball, the chances of winning are increased. A bit of straight kicking also helps.
The high-flying West Coast Eagles dominated fellow premiership favorites, the Collingwood Magpies, in a game that was more of a show for the Eagles than a game of football. While there was no running onto the arena from the inside of an inflatable Eagle and no show girls dancing, there was still plenty of razzle-dazzle as West Coast rang rings around the befuddled Collingwood Magpies. Freak goals from either pocket by Josh Kennedy and a near-certain behind (worth a point) converted to a goal (worth six points) by Oscar Allan (courtesy of a freak bounce of the ball and frozen Collingwood defenders) added to the entertainment. Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley succinctly surmised after the game. "We played our Washington Generals role really well today to the West Coast Globetrotters." The allusion to the Harlem Globetrotters was appropriate, as the Eagles could do nothing wrong and the Pies could do little more than spectate after the early going, as the Eagles put on a demonstration of classic dry weather football.
Geelong supporters usually grumble when their team has to travel an hour to Melbourne to play a "home" game against Collingwood at the MCG. Even in their wildest dreams they couldn't envision their team traveling across the nation to play a home game against Collingwood in Perth. Yet in a football world turned upside-down by COVID-19, that is what just happened; and for the Cats the result was not good. In a cold and wintry Perth night, the Pies seemed right at home in the stadium normally reserved for the Eagles and the Dockers. A crowd of 22,000 braved the elements and entry restrictions, to be treated to moments of sparkling football as Collingwood's Jordan de Goey shone bright in the forward line; and a resurrected Adam Treloar and imperial Scott Pendlebury ruled the midfield. Before this game, the Cats were the most attacking team in the league, but the Pies denied them space and shut them down with fierce tackling and rock solid defense.
In a pulsating Grand Final replay at the home of the reigning Premiers, the undermanned Collingwood Magpies beat the West Coast Eagles by a solitary point. It was a tough win that steadies the Pies' hope of a top two finish. Spectators were treated to an enthralling exhibition of tough competitive football between two of the league's leading teams, where neither side was prepared to surrender.
The first quarter opened with classic attacking football from both sides. A West Coast goal within the first minute had its genesis at the opening bounced down, where Nic Naitanui tapped to Andrew Gaff who kicked to Luke Shuey, who kicked to Jack Darling, who took a strong mark (caught the ball) and kicked accurately from a set shot.
Round nine was conspicuous in that the result of almost every game went as expected, an occurrence which has been extremely rare so far in 2019. Top teams Collingwood, Geelong, West Coast and Greater Western Sydney all had wins to solidify their spots atop the AFANA AFL Power Poll, while Adelaide pushed Brisbane away from home but ultimately fell by a solitary point.
Richmond proved too strong for an injury hit Hawthorn, Port Adelaide stormed home for a big win over the Gold Coast and Essendon scrapped out an untidy win against Fremantle at Marvel Stadium. The Sydney Swans produced the weekends only true upset, amassing a handy lead early before holding on by just five points over the Kangaroos at Blundstone Arena in Tasmania.
The big three in Collingwood, Geelong and Greater Western Sydney all had wins over the weekend to strengthen their positions on the AFANA AFL Power Poll and put themselves in great shape as the season moves into round eight. The Magpies dominated Port Adelaide early in the Friday night game to cruise to victory, while Geelong was never threatened by a disappointing Essendon at the MCG on Sunday.
An extended round six kicked off with the unusual Wednesday night game that saw Richmond victorious by 43 points over the struggling Melbourne Demons. The Anzac Day battle between Collingwood and Essendon was a classic that ended with the Magpies hanging on to win by four points in controversial circumstances as the Bombers fell just short of pulling off a great comeback. Brisbane, Port Adelaide, Fremantle and the Giants took care of business as expected while Carlton almost pulled off back to back victories before succumbing by just five points to a frantic Hawthorn down in Tasmania.