The Fremantle Dockers defeated the Sydney Swans by the smallest of margins to keep Fremantle's slim chance of making the finals alive. The Swans bowed out of the finals race last week, a rare event for the Swans. It is even rarer for it to happen with six matches to play. The Dockers' season was hanging on by the thread of statistical possibility, but it was the Swans who played as if they were desperate to make the finals. The Dockers played like a team that finally got desperate.
In early October, the trade period began. It ran through October 17. A number of players had previously told their clubs they wanted to go elsewhere. Some were restricted or unrestricted free agents.
Fremantle was the first club to sign a player during the free agency period. They signed Richmond defender Reece Conca. Conca, 26, is originally from West Australia and decided he wanted to return home after eight seasons and 204 games for the Tigers.
Richmond players faced St Kilda at the MCG in the final game of Round 22, knowing their fate was well and truly in their own hands. Riding the wave of an incredible seven game winning streak that included on the road wins against the West Coast Eagles and Adelaide Crows, the Tigers had to beat the Saints to keep their slim Finals' chances alive. After Round 14, Richmond held a 3-10 win-loss record, placing them 16th on the AFL premiership ladder. Fast forward to Sunday, and as the Tigers ran out onto the hallowed turf of the MCG, a win would send them to 11-10 and into the Top Eight with one round to play.
Geelong went into the Round 7 clash with Richmond holding an imposing record. The Cats had beaten up the Tigers in the last ten clashes between the two combatants with an average winning margin of 65 points. To find the last Richmond victory against Geelong you have to flick the pages of AFL history book back to Round 9, 2006 - a sobering thought for a Richmond team already struggling to regain any of the solid form it displayed in 2013. Complacency would not be an issue for the Cats who tasted defeat for the first time this season at the hands of an impressive Port Adelaide in the previous round.
After going down to arch-rival Geelong last week, a fired-up Hawthorn met a struggling Richmond outfit at the MCG on Sunday afternoon. The Tigers went into the match with some recent success against the reigning AFL Premiers, having defeated the Hawks in their last two encounters.
Richmond and Carlton met in a Thursday night clash of considerable significance despite the AFL season being just one round old. Last year the Tigers narrowly defeated the Blues in Round One, only to give up a big lead in the Elimination Final against the Blues in a crushing defeat for Richmond and its army of loyal fans. With both Carlton and Richmond suffering first round defeats, the Round Two meeting was a “must win” for both clubs with Finals aspirations taking a big hit for the loser.
Brook “Boris” Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA
This is what footy is all about. An Elimination Final between traditional rivals Carlton and Richmond on a beautiful sunny day in front of over 95,000 rabid footy fans. For the Tigers, it was about being back where they so desperately wanted to be after 12 years in the football wilderness. For Carlton, it was a chance - due to an unprecedented slice of luck when Essendon were stripped of their premiership points to vacate a spot in the Finals for the Blues - to restore lost faith under a new regime.
Most Games, Indigenous Player: Shaun Burgoyne (HAW) will play his 240th game in Round 22, putting him equal with his brother Peter in tenth place for most games by an Indigenous player. Ahead of them are Andrew McLeod (340 games, ADE), Adam Goodes (331 games, SYD), Michael O’Loughlin (303, SYD), Gavin Wanganeen (300 games, ESS and PA), Darryl White (268 games, BRIS), Chris Johnson (264 games, FITZ and BRIS), Peter Matera (253 games, WCE), Nicky Winmar (251 games, StK and WB) and Jeff Farmer (249 games, MELB and FRE).
100 consecutive games: Jack Riewoldt (RICH) has played 99 consecutive games for Richmond since Round 10, 2009. His current streak of consecutive games is behind only Brett Deledio (135 consecutive games for Richmond since Round 18, 2007) and Josh Kennedy (102 consecutive games for Hawthorn and the Sydney Swans since Round 14, 2009).
Brook "Boris" Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA
The Sunday special this week belonged to Richmond and St Kilda, two clubs with differing fortunes and vastly different short term futures. The Saints, only a couple of years removed from a Grand Final appearance, seem to have bypassed their potential Premiership window as their older players move away from their prime. The Tigers on the other hand, have put a dark recent past behind them, forging a bright future on the back of 60,000 plus members and a three game winning streak that should help them build towards their first Finals appearance since 2001. The sideshow to every St Kilda versus Richmond clash is the match up of gun forward cousins in Nick (St Kilda) and Jack (Richmond) Riewoldt, with Jack having the better of the spoils over the last few contests including a seven goal haul the last time these two teams met. Tiger young gun Nick Vlastuin was a late withdrawal prior to game time, while St Kilda were without feisty goal sneak Stephen Milne after off field issues that could potentially end a tumultuous but effective career.
Brook “Boris” Kilpatrick reporting for AFANA
Richmond headed to the MCG looking to climb back into the Top Eight after their Round 11 bye. The Adelaide Crows, fresh off a 77 point belting at the hands of a rampaging Sydney Swans, were keen to make amends and show the fans they were still in the hunt for a Finals berth. In the past Adelaide has had the wood over the Tigers winning six of their past eight encounters. However the return of young guns Brandon Ellis and Reece Conca had the bookmakers installing Richmond as the favorites to win over a determined Adelaide outfit.