In front of the largest crowd for a sporting event in Western Australia history (59,608), the West Coast Eagles demolished the Melbourne Demons in a one sided contest that crushed the Demon faithful. It took Melbourne a full half of football before they scored their first goal of the match and left their supporters bereft at what might have been in 2018.
Melbourne Demons vs Geelong Cats (MCG)
State of Play:
This is a battle between two differing line-ups: the finals hardened Cats and the young enthusiastic Demons. After a disastrous end to 2017, Melbourne finished strongly this season to book their finals berth for the first time in 12 years. By contrast, Geelong has missed the finals only once in the same 12 year period. The contrast continues with the Cats playing two easy beats in Gold Coast and Fremantle to complete the minor round, winning both games by over 100 points each.
With just one round to be played before the finals series begins, the top eight is finally taking shape, but there is still plenty to be decided with some big match-ups in the final round. The big winner out of round 22 was Melbourne, which finished strongly against the West Coast Eagles in Perth to book their first finals appearance in 12 seasons, much to the relief of Coach Simon Goodwin. Last year the Demons crashed out of the race late in 2017. Collingwood strengthened its hold on a top four finish with a big win over Port Adelaide at the MCG, effectively ending Port’s finals campaign in the process.
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.
by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
The Swiss Court For Arbitration in Sport (CAS) has dismissed the appeal filed by the 34 former and current Essendon players. The player were initially cleared by the AFL Anti-Doping Tribunal, but WADA's appeal to CAS overturned that verdict and the players then launched their appeal against the banishment. With the penalty backdated to account for procedural delays, the players were effectively ruled out of the entire 2016 season.
by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from ChicagoEssendon's worst fears were realized on January 11 with the Court of Arbitration for Sport finding 34 past and present players guilty of taking banned substance Thymosin Beta-4. Even with backdating and time served during the provisional suspensions, the active players in both the AFL and at other levels of competition are banished until mid-November. The suspensions also mean no contact whatsoever or training with their respective clubs.Twelve of the 34 are still at Essendon while the others have either retired, been delisted and gone elsewhere or traded.
Brook “Boris” Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA
Off field distractions haunted both teams in the lead-up to “Dreamtime at the G”, with Essendon players continuing to be interviewed by ASADA and Tiger Alex Rance in court to face his one time acquaintance turned stalker. There were further problems on the injury front for Richmond, with young Tiger Brandon Ellis pulling out with a hamstring injury incurred at training prior to the big match.
Peter (241 games) and Shaun (210) Burgoyne became the 12th pair of brothers in League history to reach a combined total of 450 games. The leaders are: Madden (710 games - Simon 378, Justin 332), Nankervis (578 - Ian 325, Bruce 253), Coventry (533 - Syd 227, Gordon 306), Richardson (518 - Wayne 277, Max 241), Wakelin (513 - Darryl 252, Shane 261), Rocca (499 - Saverio 257, Anthony 242), Matthews (487 - Leigh 332, Kelvin 155), Cornes (483 - Chad 248, Kane 235), Hocking (473 - Stephen199, Garry 274), Collier (470 - Harry 253, Albert 217), Voss (459 - Michael 289, Brett 170), and the Burgoynes.