It took until the dying minutes of the game for the West Coast Eagles to overcome a spirited Collingwood Magpies in the 2nd Qualifying Final. It was the second trip to Perth for the Pies in as many weeks, and they proved that they are not overawed at the prospect of playing in front of nearly 60,000 hostile fans in the cauldron of Optus Stadium. There were a dozen lead changes over the course of the game and it could have gone either way as time ticked down. Both sides were spent, but it was Lewis Jetta who danced on a dime to put the Eagles in front when it mattered – five minutes out from the final siren.
by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
The Trade period in mid-October was a very busy time for most clubs. Perhaps the two biggest were Hawks Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis heading to West Coast and Melbourne respectively. Perhaps the biggest disappointment was Bryce Gibbs unable to return home to Adelaide. Gibbs, still with three years remaining on a five year deal, had requested a trade home for family reasons. However, with the Blues demanding more than what Adelaide was willing to give up, a deal could not be struck. Below are all the trades in order as they happened.
Hawthorn has been Fremantle’s bogeyman ever since the 2013 Grand Final and the Dockers' disappointing defeat. If there were a team that Fremantle would rather face in the Preliminary Final it would be anyone other than the Hawks. Fremantle may have had the week off courtesy of a good win over Sydney but the Hawks, having beaten the Dockers in their last encounter at Domain and in the dynamic form they showed in last week's demolition of Adelaide, had nothing to fear in coming back West to play them in the Peliminary Final. As it turned out Hawthorn dominated Fremantle to have them sliding out of the Finals and racing gently into that good night called the off season.
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.
Nine unanswered goals in the third quarter gave the Fremantle Dockers the breathing space to overcome a determined Port Adelaide Power in Round 23 at Patersons Stadium. It proved to be the difference in the end but the Power switched on and stormed back with five in a row of their own to give the Dockers a fright. The tendency of the Dockers to take their foot off the gas when they think they have the win was exposed.
Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Perth
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon proved his adage that he and his Dockers will take on Geelong, “Anywhere, anytime,” when his team powered away for a win at Simonds Stadium in their Qualifying Final encounter. Geelong had a 99% win ratio at Simonds going into the game and had every reason to expect another notch in their belts. It was a bruising and often spiteful match that epitomized the standard of play in a Finals series.
Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Patersons Stadium, Perth
Coming off their first win of the season last round, the Greater Western Sydney Giants were brutalized by a rampant Fremantle Dockers team in their Round 20 clash. GWS won the toss and inexplicably kicked into a breeze that was worth at least a couple of goals. Fremantle started with a bang when Nick Suban kicked their first goal within 30 seconds of the bounce down. They were pressuring the exits from the back line with precision and the GIants were finding it hard to hit up targets as they tried to move forward. It was intense football from the home team with an avalanche of goals the result. Michael Walters scored the next goal with his uncanny sense of where the big sticks are, snapping truly off his left foot from 40 meters out. The Giants were rattled and gave up three more goals due to Docker intensity at the ball. Hayden Ballantyne, Chris Mayne and Lachie Neal all registered goals to have six different goal scorers at that stage of the game. Three of those six goals came from turnovers by a struggling GWS. It could have been a lot worse as the Dockers kicked seven behinds to go with those goals. GWS had limited opportunities to score including one shot from Jonathan Giles that hit the post. The luckless Giants had failed to score a goal in the quarter and trailed by a whopping 40 points at the change.
Round 20 milestones include:
250 games: Gary Ablett (GC)
200 games: Ted Richards (SYD), Brent Stanton (ESS)
150 games: Bryce Gibbs (CARL), Daniel Merrett (BRIS)
100 games: Dennis Armfield (CARL), Chris Mayne (FRE), Tyson Goldsack (COL)
50 games: Phil Davis (GWS), Jack Gunston (HAW)
50 club games: Danny Stanley (GC)
Brook “Boris” Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA
Fremantle flew in to Melbourne determined to continue the excellent form that had seen them win ten of their last 11 contests. Richmond was looking to beat a team above them on the Ladder for the first time this season. When the same two teams met on Fremantle’s turf earlier in the season, only one point separated them as the Dockers snatched victory in the dying seconds. The battle of fifth versus sixth certainly shaped up to be a defining game in the context of the remainder of the home and away season. A Dockers' win would have them knocking on the door of a Top Four finish and the prospect of an all important home Final. A Tigers' win would cement them well and truly in the Top Eight with only a tough run home standing between them and their first Finals appearance since 2001.
Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Patersons Stadium, Perth
No matter where each team is on the Ladder, the Western Derby is an exciting game, up for grabs every time it is played. Fremantle has had a lock on the contest over the past few seasons and, with both teams needing a win to consolidate Finals football, there was everything to play for in the 38th Derby at Patersons Stadium during Multicultural Round 16.
Fremantle got off to a flying start when Tendai Mzungu flew above the pack to haul in a great mark and kick the first goal. West Coast evened it up soon after when a poor kick in from a point gave Jack Darling a free kick on the 50 meter arc in the pocket. He booted a towering goal to register the Eagles’ first. From then on Fremantle dominated the quarter with some hard tackling and swarming around the contests. Chris Mayne kicked two goals and was ably supported by Michael Walters who kicked one of his own. It was starting to look ominous very early for West Coast until Josh Kennedy got a late one to keep them in the game. It was a scrambling, untidy quarter of football that had the Dockers up by 11 points when it ended.