At the end of Round 17, three more players announced their retirements- Hawks Ben Stratton and Paul Puopolo and Carlton defender Kade Simpson. Both Stratton and "Poppy" were selected as mature-age recruits in the 2009 and 2010 drafts respectively. Both quickly cemented their positions in the side and were part of the club/s incredible run of success, Stratton as a tough and clever defender, Puopolo as a reliable forward who could apply plenty of pressure on opposition defenders. Stratton, 31, assumed the captaincy in 2019 when Jarryd Roughead retired at the end of 2019.
The Brisbane Lions retain top spot on the AFANA AFL Power Poll this week, courtesy of win number seven in a row over a competitive Western Bulldogs outfit. The Eagles remain right on the Lions tail after an impressive road win against a resurgent Carlton, Richmond overcame a slow start to roll the Demons at the MCG and the Giants stayed hot with a win against crosstown rival Sydney.
Geelong once again stumbled, this time losing to an injury hit Fremantle at Optus Stadium, Essendon had its winning streak broken by an up again Port Adelaide, the Kangaroos took care of Hawthorn after a sluggish start and finally the Adelaide Crows showed some form to end Saint Kilda’s finals hopes at Adelaide Oval.
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.
With just one round to be played before the finals series begins, the top eight is finally taking shape, but there is still plenty to be decided with some big match-ups in the final round. The big winner out of round 22 was Melbourne, which finished strongly against the West Coast Eagles in Perth to book their first finals appearance in 12 seasons, much to the relief of Coach Simon Goodwin. Last year the Demons crashed out of the race late in 2017. Collingwood strengthened its hold on a top four finish with a big win over Port Adelaide at the MCG, effectively ending Port’s finals campaign in the process.
With six teams enjoying the week off due to the programmed mid-season bye rounds, there was less quantity but no lack of quality during a fascinating round of football on the weekend. The festivities kicked off on Thursday night with Port continuing its good form with another win, but Friday night was what the AFL public was waiting for, with the Sydney Swans – the only team to defeat the Eagles – facing the West Coast again, this time on their home deck at the SCG.
The Giants just hold off a rampaging Adelaide Crows this week in top spot due to a gutsy road win over in Perth against the West Coast Eagles. The Crows crushed Fremantle to stay firmly on the Giants heels in the race for number one in the AFANA AFL power poll.
1. Greater Western Sydney Giants (Last Week - 1)
by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
The round three Showdown match between Adelaide and Port Adelaide was marred by several unsavory incidents. Which came first is unknown but there was a brawl between a number of spectators in the stands and verbal racial abuse directed at Crow Eddie Betts (who had a banana thrown at him in 2016 - the perpetrator had her membership revoked) and Paddy Ryder. Both clubs have issued statements condemning the incidents and are working with the AFL, Adelaide Oval management, and police
While it was the hottest Grand Final in history with the mercury hitting 31.3 degrees Celsius (88.3 Fahrenheit), the much anticipated “close contest” between Hawthorn and the West Coast did not bring the heat many anticipated and - in the case of West Coast supporters - hoped for. In the end, this Grand Final was not a replay of “David and Goliath”. The Hawks entered the match favorites and they won nearly everything - the coin toss, all the important game statistics, the Premiership Cup, the Norm Smith Medal and the full-blown respect of the Australian football public. The Hawks' players were never challenged in a master class performance of Aussie Rules football. Alastair Clarkson and his coaching staff cemented a well-earned place in history as the Hawks won the “three-peat”, back to back Premierships in 2013 (defeating Fremantle), 2014 (dominating over Sydney) and now in 2015. No doubt West Coast fans are wondering what happened and how their break out season ended so lamely.
Hawthorn succumbed to the fierce pressure of the West Coast Eagles in the Second Qualifying final at Domain Stadium. Normally the composed Hawks show silky smooth skills and rarely panic with the ball. All their usual composure went out the window as this game unfolded and the Eagles took the Hawks apart.
It started as a battle of the defenses with both sides up against tough opposition as they tried to advance the ball. Hawthorn was kicking with the aid of a monster wind in the first quarter but could only manage two goals.
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.