The improving Fremantle Dockers held Port Adelaide Power scoreless in the final term and raised questions about Port Adelaide’s ability to make the finals. The inconsistent Power have been on the road collecting frequent flyer points in recent weeks; where they lost to Hawthorn in Launceston, Tasmania and then won against the Saints in Shanghai, China. They came to Perth with confidence, having beaten the West Coast Eagles at Optus Stadium in Round 5.
Round nine was conspicuous in that the result of almost every game went as expected, an occurrence which has been extremely rare so far in 2019. Top teams Collingwood, Geelong, West Coast and Greater Western Sydney all had wins to solidify their spots atop the AFANA AFL Power Poll, while Adelaide pushed Brisbane away from home but ultimately fell by a solitary point.
Richmond proved too strong for an injury hit Hawthorn, Port Adelaide stormed home for a big win over the Gold Coast and Essendon scrapped out an untidy win against Fremantle at Marvel Stadium. The Sydney Swans produced the weekends only true upset, amassing a handy lead early before holding on by just five points over the Kangaroos at Blundstone Arena in Tasmania.
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.
Thursday night saw Geelong continue its early season dominance with a stirring win over Adelaide, the upstart Brisbane Lions stormed home to defeat the vastly improved Port Adelaide and the Grand Final replay saw the Eagles once again victorious over a disappointing Collingwood.
Highly fancied Melbourne are yet to register a win after faltering against Essendon, the much maligned Gold Coast Suns won again, and Richmond added a couple more players to its ever increasing injury list in a big loss to an impressive Greater Western Sydney Giants at Spotless Stadium.
Bitter rivals Port Adelaide and Adelaide once again packed Adelaide Oval for the much anticipated Round 5 Showdown. Coming off a win against reigning Premiers Hawthorn, the Power had earned favorite status against a Crows outfit which has been playing much better football under the tutelage of new coach Phil Walsh.
A couple of last minute goals to Lachie Neale and Hayden Ballantyne saw the Fremantle Dockers sneak a win over Port Adelaide Power in their Round 1 clash at Domain (formerly Patersons) Stadium in Perth. Neale’s goal was a shot on the run from 50 meters out in the last minutes of the game, while Ballantyne played on from a match winning tackle by Zac Clarke who won a free kick after chasing down Jasper Pittard in the forward 50 metre zone. A four goal contribution by Matthew Pavlich, two of which were at critical times in the final quarter, also helped the Dockers to a stirring win.
by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
Sydney midfielder Luke Parker has won his first Bob Skilton medal as the Swans' best and fairest. Parker polled in all but three games to finish on 758 votes, ahead of Josh Kennedy (709) and Lance Franklin (688). Parker, 21, is the youngest winner since Michael O'Loughlin in 1998. He also won the Paul Kelly Players’ Player Award, which is voted on by the playing group. Parker led the club in 2014 for tackles, averaging six per game, and was among the leaders for the season in disposals, contested possessions and goals. Coach Longmire praised Parker as a great competitor, saying the win - after just 82 games - was a great achievement. “When you look at the players behind him - Kennedy and Franklin - you quickly get an understanding of how good a season he has had, and how highly we think of him as a player. Luke was taken as quite a late draft pick, but he really is testament to where hard work can get you, and we value that really highly."
by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
Fremantle midfielder Nat Fyfe has won the Leigh Matthews Trophy as the AFL Players' Association MVP. The award is decided with players from all clubs nominating three teammates. Each club then tallies the votes for their players. Out of that, the field is narrowed to 54 players. Players then award votes on a 3-2-1 basis for the 54 nominees. Fyfe just edged out Gary Ablett in one of the closest counts in the history of the award.
On a warm, blustery Adelaide Sunday afternoon, footy fans descended on Adelaide Oval hoping to witness a tantalising contest. The visitors, Richmond, were on a roll, having won nine games in a row to somehow steal a spot in the Final Eight. An incredible number of Richmond fans had made the journey from Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and even as far as Europe. There must have been 10,000 rabid Tiger fans in full voice prior to the game. They would be quickly silenced once the game was underway. Port Adelaide, having stumbled somewhat after an incredible start to the season that saw them top of the table, had regained their mojo. More importantly, they had regained their two key back men in Alipate Carlisle and Jackson Trengove.
Just a month ago Port Adelaide was on top of the AFL ladder with dreams of a home Final all but in their keeping. Since then, losses to Sydney, Adelaide and Essendon have seen the Power drop to third on the AFL Ladder and in danger of dropping out of the Top Four. Coming up against Richmond would have seemingly been just what Port needed, with the Tigers - despite coming off a two game winning streak against lowly Brisbane and St Kilda – not yet having beaten a team above them on the Ladder all season. With the game being played at Etihad Stadium with the roof closed, most experts were tipping that Port’s extra leg speed would prove too much for an inconsistent Tiger outfit that had struggled against the quicker teams in 2014. The optimistic Tiger fan might have pointed to Richmond’s strong record against Port in recent times, winning two of their last four games with a draw in between. Nathan Foley started as the substitute in the green vest for Richmond while fellow on-baller Kane Mitchell assumed the same role for Port Adelaide.