The roof was open for today’s Saturday afternoon match at Marvel Stadium. The conditions overcast but comfortable and a good crowd rolled in through the first quarter. For those that didn’t make it until quarter time they missed eleven goals and eight lead changes. Quarters two and three were uneventful as the Swans slowly edged away before a final quarter that saw the Blues open up a window of opportunity but were unable to climb through it.
With Melbourne still under daylight savings the season opened during twilight at 7:25 PM at the MCG. A minute’s silence for the Christchurch massacre silenced the crowd before the 85,016 fans in the house roared at the first bounce. The Tigers would pour on the pressure through the likes of Graham, Cotchin and Martin from the start and the Blues would show little apparent improvement from their wooden spoon effort of 2018 in the first quarter.
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.
It took until the third quarter for the Fremantle Dockers to break the shackles after a pedestrian start to take down bottom of the ladder dwellers the Carlton Blues. Carlton were struck a blow when their premier ruckman Matthew Kreuzer was omitted, possibly for the rest of the season, with an elevated heart rate when training the day before the match in Perth. After having lost five of the last six matches in the West, Carlton were going to need all the help they could get.
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.
On a midwinters night in what was effectively a dead rubber, the best that could be hoped for was a close match with some big highlights. Neither brief was filled. Having the roof closed was a small mercy at Etihad Stadium for the 33,780 fans. On form this match would almost certainly be a bankable win to the Saints. In the end it was so, and no mercy was shown to the Blues on field. St Kilda won the toss and kicked to the Lockett end in what seems like a formality in the windless conditions. Carlton tonight were wearing their dirty grey clash strip with the curious fake pockets on their shorts.
Round fourteen saw the last of four “bye” weeks played out, with top teams Sydney and Richmond having the week off along with Geelong, Adelaide, Fremantle, Adelaide and Saint Kilda. The big winner of round fourteen was Port Adelaide, who beat fellow top four aspirants Melbourne in a tough game of tightly contested football at the Adelaide Oval. The biggest loser of the round