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).
After another top notch round of footy, Richmond holds onto top spot on the AFANA Power Poll as a result of its 47 point win over the Adelaide Crows, damaging the Crows chances of returning to finals football in 2018. Collingwood had to fight hard to defeat a determined Essendon, while the Swans stumbled at home against a very impressive Geelong.
Port Adelaide kept in touch with the top two after a comfortable win over Saint Kilda, the Eagles returned to the winners list in the “battle of the decimated forward lines” as they held off the Giants in Perth, and the Hawks solidified their run at the finals with a second half blitz to defeat the Bulldogs.
The Giants just hold off a rampaging Adelaide Crows this week in top spot due to a gutsy road win over in Perth against the West Coast Eagles. The Crows crushed Fremantle to stay firmly on the Giants heels in the race for number one in the AFANA AFL power poll.
1. Greater Western Sydney Giants (Last Week - 1)
The Power Poll returns after a few weeks hiatus as Boris was on assignment for another media outlet.
1. Greater Western Sydney Giants (Last Time - 2)
Some might point to a narrow victory at home over Collingwood and say the Giants were lucky. Deeper examination shows a team that played two players short for most of the game and three players short for the final quarter who found a way to win. A long injury list hasn’t stopped the Giants from winning. Expect a lot more.
While it was the hottest Grand Final in history with the mercury hitting 31.3 degrees Celsius (88.3 Fahrenheit), the much anticipated “close contest” between Hawthorn and the West Coast did not bring the heat many anticipated and - in the case of West Coast supporters - hoped for. In the end, this Grand Final was not a replay of “David and Goliath”. The Hawks entered the match favorites and they won nearly everything - the coin toss, all the important game statistics, the Premiership Cup, the Norm Smith Medal and the full-blown respect of the Australian football public. The Hawks' players were never challenged in a master class performance of Aussie Rules football. Alastair Clarkson and his coaching staff cemented a well-earned place in history as the Hawks won the “three-peat”, back to back Premierships in 2013 (defeating Fremantle), 2014 (dominating over Sydney) and now in 2015. No doubt West Coast fans are wondering what happened and how their break out season ended so lamely.
Hawthorn succumbed to the fierce pressure of the West Coast Eagles in the Second Qualifying final at Domain Stadium. Normally the composed Hawks show silky smooth skills and rarely panic with the ball. All their usual composure went out the window as this game unfolded and the Eagles took the Hawks apart.
It started as a battle of the defenses with both sides up against tough opposition as they tried to advance the ball. Hawthorn was kicking with the aid of a monster wind in the first quarter but could only manage two goals.
by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
Sydney midfielder Luke Parker has won his first Bob Skilton medal as the Swans' best and fairest. Parker polled in all but three games to finish on 758 votes, ahead of Josh Kennedy (709) and Lance Franklin (688). Parker, 21, is the youngest winner since Michael O'Loughlin in 1998. He also won the Paul Kelly Players’ Player Award, which is voted on by the playing group. Parker led the club in 2014 for tackles, averaging six per game, and was among the leaders for the season in disposals, contested possessions and goals. Coach Longmire praised Parker as a great competitor, saying the win - after just 82 games - was a great achievement. “When you look at the players behind him - Kennedy and Franklin - you quickly get an understanding of how good a season he has had, and how highly we think of him as a player. Luke was taken as quite a late draft pick, but he really is testament to where hard work can get you, and we value that really highly."
For just under 100,000 fans packed into the MCG and millions of TV viewers in Australia and around the world, the anticipation and tension in the lead-up to the 2014 Grand Final was mouth-watering. Experts had the Swans as outright favorites for the Premiership Cup, bolstered with an unchanged team and by expensive recruits and big men Kurt Tippett and Lance “Buddy” Franklin. Teamed up with athletic giants Adam Goodes and Ben Reid, the Sydney forward line loomed large and many thought unstoppable. The added drama of a Grand Final clash between ex-Hawk Buddy and his old teammates - with whom he won a Premiership only 12 months ago - laid the ingredients on the table for an outstanding contest. Most predicted a win by the Swans and only a few could mount an argument for the Hawks by the very smallest of margins, such was the perceived might of the Swans after their demolition of North Melbourne in the Preliminary Final.