After 23 rounds of sensational footy we now have our eight finalists ready to battle it out for the 2019 AFL premiership in a weeks time. The Western Bulldogs smashed their way into the last available finals spot by running out 34 point winners over a disappointing Adelaide Crows in Ballarat on Sunday. Just a couple of hours later, Richmond ended Brisbane’s nine-game winning streak with a 27 point win at the MCG, earning the Tigers a double-chance plus a road trip to Brisbane to once again face the Lions in week one of the finals.
Thursday night saw Geelong continue its early season dominance with a stirring win over Adelaide, the upstart Brisbane Lions stormed home to defeat the vastly improved Port Adelaide and the Grand Final replay saw the Eagles once again victorious over a disappointing Collingwood.
Highly fancied Melbourne are yet to register a win after faltering against Essendon, the much maligned Gold Coast Suns won again, and Richmond added a couple more players to its ever increasing injury list in a big loss to an impressive Greater Western Sydney Giants at Spotless Stadium.
Welcome to the first AFANA AFL Power Poll for 2019, and what a crazy couple of rounds of footy we have witnessed to kick off the season! If what we have seen so far is any indication, Aussie rules football fans are in for a crazy ride in 2019. Nothing should surprise us given the last three premiers have come from 8th, 13th and 6th on the ladder in the year prior to taking out the big one.
In early October, the trade period began. It ran through October 17. A number of players had previously told their clubs they wanted to go elsewhere. Some were restricted or unrestricted free agents.
Fremantle was the first club to sign a player during the free agency period. They signed Richmond defender Reece Conca. Conca, 26, is originally from West Australia and decided he wanted to return home after eight seasons and 204 games for the Tigers.
With six teams enjoying the week off due to the programmed mid-season bye rounds, there was less quantity but no lack of quality during a fascinating round of football on the weekend. The festivities kicked off on Thursday night with Port continuing its good form with another win, but Friday night was what the AFL public was waiting for, with the Sydney Swans – the only team to defeat the Eagles – facing the West Coast again, this time on their home deck at the SCG.
The big winners in Round 18 were the Adelaide Crows and the Sydney Swans. The Crows win over second placed Geelong in Adelaide gives them a six-point buffer at the head of the table, providing a great chance at finishing in first at the end of the minor round with the bonus of home finals. For the Swans, their big win over the Saints has them sitting 6th as the best performed team in the last two months.
The big loser over the weekend was the West Coast Eagles, whose final quarter capitulation against an undermanned Collingwood dropped them out of the top eight, leaving them with an uphill battle ahead to work their way back into finals contention.
1. Adelaide Crows (Last time - 1)
by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
The round three Showdown match between Adelaide and Port Adelaide was marred by several unsavory incidents. Which came first is unknown but there was a brawl between a number of spectators in the stands and verbal racial abuse directed at Crow Eddie Betts (who had a banana thrown at him in 2016 - the perpetrator had her membership revoked) and Paddy Ryder. Both clubs have issued statements condemning the incidents and are working with the AFL, Adelaide Oval management, and police
In Round 8, Richmond returned to the scene of last season’s 57 point Elimination Final debacle, determined to put up a better fight against a Port Adelaide team yet to find its best form in 2015. Although the game was to be a celebration of retiring Port legend Kane Cornes on his 300th and final game in front of a home crowd of more than 45,000 fans, it was the Tigers who burst out of the blocks early with a Jake Batchelor goal at the seven minute mark. Port players were being denied the space they crave for their free-running game as Richmond piled on the pressure with fierce tackling and an uncompromising attack on the ball. Jack Riewoldt found Brett Deledio right on the 50 meter arc at the 16 minute mark and Deledio did the rest, sending a towering kick through the goals to give Richmond a handy 19 point lead at quarter time. In a massive turnaround from when the teams last met, Port failed to kick a goal in the first quarter and the home fans grew restless with the slow start.
A couple of last minute goals to Lachie Neale and Hayden Ballantyne saw the Fremantle Dockers sneak a win over Port Adelaide Power in their Round 1 clash at Domain (formerly Patersons) Stadium in Perth. Neale’s goal was a shot on the run from 50 meters out in the last minutes of the game, while Ballantyne played on from a match winning tackle by Zac Clarke who won a free kick after chasing down Jasper Pittard in the forward 50 metre zone. A four goal contribution by Matthew Pavlich, two of which were at critical times in the final quarter, also helped the Dockers to a stirring win.
Port Adelaide’s Robbie Gray kick-started his team's Semi-Final victory over the Fremantle Dockers and was the difference between the two teams, scoring four goals in the third quarter. Along with brilliant support crew Ollie Wines and Chad Wingard, who threw everything they had at the Dockers, the Power got sweet revenge after being defeated by Fremantle for a Top Four finish just two short weeks ago.