In a hot autumn afternoon when the mercury sat at 89 degrees as the game opened, the Greater Western Sydney Giants wilted and allowed the Fremantle Dockers to run out easy winners. It was only the Dockers’ kicking inaccuracy that saved the Giants from a complete belting. To make matters worse this was the first time since 2013 that the Giants have lost their two opening games. The Giants started with strong intent in an opening spurt, which saw Jacob Hopper swoop on a loose ball and kick truly to open the Giants’ account within the first minute of play. However, from there it was the Dockers who got players to the contested ball to outnumber the Giants in packs. The Dockers won contested possessions 145 to 113 and then outran the Giants in open space to rack up 278 uncontested possessions to 113. The Giants simply did not have the desire to work hard in close and appeared not to have the will to run with the Dockers when the ball found open territory.
There is an old adage in footy that a team has to lose a few finals to win one. it proved true for Richmond as they lost their first ever final in 1916 - a semi-final against Carlton. They then lost their first Grand Final to Collingwood in 1919. They lost again to Carlton in 1920 in a semi-final, but since there were only four teams eligible at that time, they were still through to the Grand Final which they won. They have since gone on to win another 10 premierships.
This was supposed to be a one sided affair. The in-form Collingwood taking on the injury hit and sixth seeded Greater Western Sydney Giants with the result surely leading to a Richmond vs Collingwood Grand Final, to the delight of the AFL and Melburnians. The only problem with this narrative was that the Giants didn’t read the script.
In one of the biggest surprises in recent Preliminary Final history, GWS stunned the locals by first taking a big lead, then by defending grimly when a late Collingwood surge looked like taking the Magpies back to the Grand Final in consecutive seasons. The end result shows the Giants winning by just 4 points, but so much happened throughout this game. A frantic last quarter, that a crowd of mostly 70,000 strong Collingwood fans were left as empty shells in a roller coaster of a final.
Our top three on the AFANA AFL Power Poll all came through with wins this week, with Brisbane crushing the Suns, the Eagles defeating the Crows and Richmond too strong in the wet for the improving Carlton.
The Giants took a big hit on Friday night footy, registering a rare loss in Canberra while playing in even rarer conditions – snow! Yes, for the first time in a home and away AFL contest, snow fell at Manuka Oval in Canberra as Hawthorn gave the Giants a football lesson. Geelong took care of the Kangaroos in similar fashion, with Rhyce Shaw’s men managing just a single goal for the entire match.
The bye rounds are over, and as we head into round fifteen the battle for the coveted top four spots and the race for the finals is well and truly on. Geelong moves to top spot on the AFANA AFL Power Poll despite dropping a game on the road to an impressive Port Adelaide, while Collingwood continues to win despite not being at its best in recent weeks.
The big movers are the Adelaide Crows, moving from 8th to 5th on the back of a three game winning streak while Fremantle and Port continue to look the most likely to take a spot in the final eight unless Richmond can end its free fall down the AFL ladder.
An extended round six kicked off with the unusual Wednesday night game that saw Richmond victorious by 43 points over the struggling Melbourne Demons. The Anzac Day battle between Collingwood and Essendon was a classic that ended with the Magpies hanging on to win by four points in controversial circumstances as the Bombers fell just short of pulling off a great comeback. Brisbane, Port Adelaide, Fremantle and the Giants took care of business as expected while Carlton almost pulled off back to back victories before succumbing by just five points to a frantic Hawthorn down in Tasmania.
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.
Sydney Swans vs Greater Western Sydney Giants (SCG)
STATE OF PLAY:
Expect a fiery encounter as the cross-town rivals will leave nothing in the tank in this do or die elimination final. With the game being played at the SCG, you would usually think it was advantage Swans, but 2018 has been no cakewalk for Sydney when playing at home - where they in fact have a 5-6 record at a ground that in the past has been somewhat of a fortress.
After another top notch round of footy, Richmond holds onto top spot on the AFANA Power Poll as a result of its 47 point win over the Adelaide Crows, damaging the Crows chances of returning to finals football in 2018. Collingwood had to fight hard to defeat a determined Essendon, while the Swans stumbled at home against a very impressive Geelong.
Port Adelaide kept in touch with the top two after a comfortable win over Saint Kilda, the Eagles returned to the winners list in the “battle of the decimated forward lines” as they held off the Giants in Perth, and the Hawks solidified their run at the finals with a second half blitz to defeat the Bulldogs.
Boris Kilpatrick, special to AFANA from Australia
With three rounds in the books, incredibly Port Adelaide remains as the only undefeated team, underlying what shapes up as one of the closest races for the top eight in recent memory. The Power had an almighty scare at home as they scraped in by just five points over a rapidly improving Brisbane Lions. In the match of the round, crosstown rivals the Sydney Swans and the Greater Western Sydney Giants battled it out at the SCG,