The Richmond Tigers defeated the West Coast Eagles to move to within two points of the top eight. The Tigers had moments of individual brilliance, punctuated by long spells of indifferent form as they ground out a victory against the spirited West Coast. The Eagles have been enlivened by the return of some of their best players but ultimately fell short of what was required to overcome the more talented Tigers. The struggling Eagles have now won just three of the past forty-four matches and this year sit at the bottom of the ladder, with just one win, way back in the second round against the GWS Giants. The Tigers have won three of their past four games and are within striking distance of the top eight, but would need to show much more than they did against the Eagles to get ahead of the log jam in front of them.
The Melbourne Demons hit the West Coast Eagles with a scorching third quarter, using their big-bodied midfielders to tackle and pressure the younger Eagles out of the game. The Eagles were forced to make seven team changes due the injury carnage sustained against Fremantle the week before; and their inexperienced replacements gave it everything they could - and more - until half time. Harassment from the willing Eagles at the fall of the ball worried the Demons out of their usual game style early in the match.
The West Coast Eagles held off the brave Adelaide Crows, to put a speed bump in the way of the Crows' push for the finals. Much was at stake for both sides. The Crows were playing for a place on the top eight, the Eagles were playing for a chance to creep into the top two. In perfect football conditions, the first quarter was an arm wrestle. The Crows concentrated on retaining the ball to stop the Eagles using their kicking game to control proceedings. It worked for a while, as both defenses applied plenty of pressure. The first goal was scored by the Eagles at the twelve-minute mark when Oscar Allen took a good mark (catch) and converted from a set shot from the boundary. (Ed.note: It was his first of three, in what was recognized as a performance that earned a Rising Star nomination on Monday.)
Three minutes later Jack Darling marked an Allen kick, after the Crows turned the ball over in defense. Darling's set shot from the boundary was also accurate. The Crows' only goal came from a Matt Crouch pass to teenager Darcy Fogarty, who marked and converted from fifty meters. Live-wire West Coast forward, Liam Ryan, gathered a loose ball and weaved through traffic to goal for West Coast with just seconds remaining of the quarter. The Eagles entered the attacking zone 21 times for three goals. The Crows failed to make full use of their six entries, finishing with just 1.4 for the quarter.
Round fifteen has opened up the race for the top eight with some highly fancied teams dropping games they were expected to win. Geelong bounced back from defeat at the hands of Port Adelaide last week by taking care of the other Adelaide team (the Crows) at GMHBA Stadium, holding on to top spot on the AFANA AFL Power Poll in the process.
Collingwood drops down to third on the Power Poll courtesy of a shock loss at the hands of a resurgent North Melbourne which climbs all the way to eighth under the control of interim coach Rhyce Shaw. The Eagles once again used some last minute heroics to defeat an unlucky Hawthorn at the MCG, with Jamie Cripps providing the match winning goal on this occasion.
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.