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).
Outside it was cold and wintry (by Melbourne standards) but good conditions under the roof at Etihad on Saturday night shielded fans. Inside, it was the Hawks who nearly got the chill. Despite the indoor game, the crowd numbers were down on recent clashes between these two teams.
Early it was Gunston who opened the scoring for the Hawks. The Saints worked hard around the contests to shut down Hawthorn's run and delivery into the forward link. Burgoyne finally managed to eke out a second for the Hawks. St Kilda had plenty of the ball, but not a lot of it in their forward 50.
And then there were eleven. After a cracking round nineteen that saw the Tigers hold off an injury hit but brilliant Collingwood, the Swans sink further into trouble with a loss to the Bombers and Carlton actually notch a win, there looks to be only eleven teams left in the race for the top eight. The Adelaide Crows all but dropped out of contention after being overrun by a revitalized Melbourne in the city of churches, while the Giants marched into top four contention with yet another win, this time over a plucky but inaccurate Saint Kilda.
Round eighteen gave us some sensational football with Geelong stealing the limelight. Twenty nine points down in the final quarter to a steadfast Melbourne, the Cats conjured some more Kardinia Park magic to steal a two-point win on a goal after the siren to Zach Tuohy. The Giants won a hard fought away game against a suddenly struggling Port Adelaide, setting themselves up for a top eight finish in the process.
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.
By Troy Thompson reporting for AFANA, from Etihad Stadium in Melbourne.
Billy Hartung had an early chance to get a goal against his old club, opening the scoring for North Melbourne but could only manage a behind. By the end of the quarter he would be glad to be in his new colors. The opening goal of the match came from Jarrad Waite after two Hawks defenders collided in the air Frawley and Mirra, leaving Waite to clean up and drill it home.
A fearless Hawthorn completely dominated the Adelaide Crows in front of over 70,000 fans at the MCG on Friday night. With their potential “three-peat“ under threat after an indifferent performance against the West Coast Eagles just a week earlier, the Hawks showed no mercy as they piled on eight first-quarter goals.
Adelaide, despite coming into the game in season-best form, had no answers for the Hawks' brilliant ball use and pinpoint accuracy.
Hawthorn overcame a sluggish start to stamp their claim for a "threepeat" (three consecutive AFL premierships) when they came from behind to take down a determined West Coast Eagles. West Coast went into the game without in-form ruckman Nic Naitanui who had flown to Fiji after his mother’s death.
A traditional rivalry began the 2014 Finals series with Hawthorn and Geelong meeting in the First Qualifying Final at the MCG. This was a match up that promised everything and, in front of almost 75,000 excited fans, it delivered on that promise early with a torrid opening quarter of hard physical contests, wayward kicks, nervous fumbles and both teams taking the game on at full throttle.