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.
The AFL will continue its experiment with its radically shortened version of the game, AFLX, in a round-robin tournament at Marvel Stadium on Friday, February 22nd. The competition will climax with a final between the top two teams.
It’s AFL, but not as we know it...
The game format is intended to showcase the fast and furious aspects of Australian football, but played on a rectangular field similar to a soccer or American football field. The playing area is just 110 meters (120 yards) in length. There is a 10-meter "launching zone" in the middle of the ground and a 15-meter "forward zone" at each end of the field. The resemblance to AFL is maintained by using standard AFL goal posts.
Each team has fourteen players with only eight of their players permitted on the field at any one time, while the rest sit on the interchange bench. There are no limits on the number of interchanges or substitutions permitted. The game is played in two ten minute halves with no time on added for delays or stoppages.
Play starts with the umpire throwing the ball up in the center of the ground.
A packed house at the MCG for the two clubs with (probably) the biggest following in Melbourne made the most noise heard all year at the MCG. It began in the lead up to the sides running onto the arena for the first Preliminary Final. Richmond were undeniable favorites going into the game, but there has been something special building at Collingwood this season under a more relaxed coach Nathan Buckley, Perhaps taking his lead from the 2017 Damien Hardwick success story.
Richmond Tigers vs Hawthorn Hawks (MCG)
State of Play:
This game has all the makings of an absolute classic. On one hand you have Richmond, the reigning premier coming into the game riding a 21-game winning streak at the MCG. On the other you have Hawthorn, the form team of the competition boasting a massive total of 265 games of finals experience (the Tigers have just 114).
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.
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.
With the byes behind us, the first full slate of AFL games in a month gave us an absolutely sensational round of football with upsets, tight finishes and a brand new AFANA Power Poll leader!
Round fifteen highlights included a win for the Tigers over the second placed Swans, upset wins by Saint Kilda, the Western Bulldogs, Essendon and Brisbane and a big win by the Giants over the Hawks that has really opened up the competition for the final eight as we head into the last two months of the minor round.
Chris Kowald reporting for AFANA from Optus Stadium, Perth
The West Coast Eagles recorded their eighth consecutive victory and rose to the top of the Premiership table by defeating the Richmond Tigers on a perfect day for football in Perth. The Eagles used their ruck dominance and forward marking power to outscore the Tigers, who made uncharacteristic skill errors and were found wanting in the midfield.
The mercury hit 77 degrees Fahrenheit and was hot by Melbourne standards.
The Richmond Tigers have pulled off a stunning Grand Final victory over the Adelaide Crows at the MCG, smashing the premiership favorites by a whopping 48 points in front of a raucous crowd of 100,021. The Tigers put any controversy about wearing their yellow “clash” strip away with a stellar performance, wiping away 37 years of pain for their massive band of loyal supporters.