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Fletcher Leads Essendon Departures

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

After weeks of speculation, it is now official that Dustin Fletcher has retired. Fletcher was subbed out of his 400th game due to an abdominal injury and never played again.Dustin Fletcher is carried off by his captain Jobe Watson and Brent Stanton after playing his 400th game and becoming the third player in AFL history to do behind Michael Tuck and Kevin Bartlett. Photo by Kim Densham for AFANA. The club was hopeful he would be recovered for a send-off game, but it was not to be. Fletcher, 40, expressed disappointment that he could not get up for one more game. He pushed himself in the past few weeks to get back and interim coach Matthew Egan also lamented that one more game for the veteran defender had not proven possible. Egan said the Dons gave Fletcher every chance to play on Sunday but he ruled himself out.
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Roo Resurgence Eliminates Bombers

Janet Linn reporting for AFANA from Melbourne, Victoria

In a no holds barred Second Elimination Final in front of 78559 fans, Essendon lined up against North Melbourne for the right to advance further into the Finals series. The Bombers had much to prove after two tumultuous seasons marred by the ASADA investigation into the use of prohibited substances at the club in 2012. Banned from the 2013 Finals series as a result, finally they had a chance to play on the big stage and give their fans something to celebrate. For North Melbourne it was “make or break’ type pressure hanging over their heads with the absence of team “barometer” Brent (Boomer) Harvey (through suspension) a definite disadvantage.
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Franklin Joins Swans

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

In the week after the Grand Final, the free agency period began. The biggest move was Hawk Lance Franklin accepting a nine year deal with Sydney, reportedly worth $10 million. There had been speculation for months as to whether or not Franklin would depart Hawthorn. Initially, GWS was interested in Franklin but backed out. Franklin's manager Liam Pickering said Franklin's decision to move from Victoria was partly due to the relentless hounding he received by the media. Pickering said that when Franklin lost his driver's license in 2012, reporters were camped out in front of his home for several weeks.

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Geelong Old Guard Sets Up Win

Janet Linn reporting for AFANA from Melbourne, Australia

After a disappointing loss against Hawthorn in the Qualifying Final last week, Geelong coach Chris Scott was not about to take an over-optimistic approach to the Semi Final against Port Adelaide. However during the week he did say that he was confident “our best footy will still be good enough” to progress the Geelong’s Finals’ campaign.

Port Adelaide was coming fresh off one of the upsets of the season, after bundling huge Melbourne club Collingwood out of the Finals series with their “never say die, run all day” brand of football. Given the basket case that was Port Adelaide just over twelve months ago, coach Ken Hinkley and the Port players could have been excused for resting on their laurels and satisfying themselves with their gains so far but that is not the Power way and so a great contest got underway in front of over 52,000 fans on a glorious evening at the MCG.

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Week One Finals Milestones

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Chris Newman and Brett Deledio (RICH) will play their first finals match in the first week of Finals. Newman has played 232 games without a Finals appearance while Deledio has had to wait 194 games. This puts them fifth and eighth respectively as the longest wait for a Finals appearance.

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Round Three Milestones

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Most club games: Ryan O’Keefe (SYD) played his 260th game in Round Three, putting him equal with John Rantall in fourth spot on the club's games list. Ahead of him are Adam Goodes (322 games, 1999-Round Three), Michael O’Loughlin (303 games, 1995-2009) and Jude Bolton (304 games, 1999-Round Three). They are followed by

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Matthew Scarlett Retires

by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Opposition forwards will be relishing the start of the 2013 season. In recent weeks, it was widely speculated in the media that 2012 would be Matthew Scarlett's last season. This was confirmed after the Cats lost their Elimination Final to Fremantle, with the ace defender later making it official.

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Cats Hot Form Continues

Jamie Kloeden reporting for AFANA from Australia

Facing Geelong after a big win over Essendon promised to be a huge challenge for the Adelaide Crows and making it especially hard was the venue being Simonds Stadium. The visitors hadn’t tasted success there since 2003 but their great form presented them with their best chance for some time. The Cats are known as a good performing team in wet conditions. With rain forecast, they were going into the encounter as favorites although perhaps not by as much as previous seasons.

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Round 20 Tribunal

TRIBUNAL
Paul Chapman (GEEL), striking Bulldog Liam Picken: assessed as intentional conduct (three points), low impact (one point), and body contact (one point), equaling five activation points, a Level Two offense, 125 demerits, and a one game suspension.

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Freo Three 0

Rick Browner reporting for AFANA from Subiaco Oval

Reigning Premiers, the Geelong Cats, traveled to Perth to do battle with the Cinderella team of the AFL, the Fremantle Dockers. With full forward Cameron Mooney suspended and ruckman Brad Ottens injured, the loss of the two biggest Cats gave 28 year-old James Podsiadly the chance to make his debut. Fremantle had won their first two games of the season and on their home turf were tipped to take the game right up to the Cats.

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