Although Sydney, St. Kilda, and Carlton remain outside of the AFL top 8 this season, big wins in round 13 kept their finals hopes alive and continued the trend of parity this season in the AFL that looks more like the rule, than the exception at this point.
Despite trailing for all but the final portion of the final term, the Sydney Swans nicked the Richmond Tigers 80-71 to move to 5-7 and within striking distance of finals. The loss dropped Richmond to 6th now that every team in the competition has played twelve games. The Tigers would be much better than that if not for their terrible record in final quarters. The Swans kicked eight of the final nine goals, as they got off the mat and overcame an aggressive Richmond backline led by Alex Rance. Rather than a single champion emerging for the Swans, they got a true team effort on the day, only Sam Reid kicked two goals. The Swans kept it moving forward, securing an edge in inside 50’s that resulted in eleven different goalscorers. No Swan had more than 26 disposals (Nic Newman and Zak Jones leading), but their entire list played with great chemistry on the day.
Richmond lacked leadership in the final term, despite two goals from Jack Riewoldt, Dustin Martin, and rising star Shai Bolton on the day. Bachar Houli and Trent Cotchin led with 28 disposals but it certainly looked like the Tigers could use another tall on their forward line late in the contest, as the Tigers were again left to think about what could have been.
Saints Put Away Roos
89-72 doesn’t look that impressive on paper, but St. Kilda fans have to be proud of their big win against North Melbourne on Friday night. The Saints dominated a contest that North never had more than a toehold in and despite a poor final term, still came out as clear winners, and the team with a shot at finals between the Victorian pair.
The 6-6 Saints will need to improve their use of the footy but they still got 32 disposals from Seb Ross, and 28 from recently criticized veteran Leigh Montagna, while Josh Bruce, Tim Membrey, Jack Billings, and a tagged Jack Steven combined for eight goals. The Saints posting eight goal scorers total.
Another miserable performance for North Melbourne has doomed their finals hopes, the bright spots being Ben Cunnington with 32 disposals, and Ryan Clarke with 2 goals. The Kangaroos forwards, particularly Ben Brown, were abysmal on the day and North did not look like a side that could compete with a middle tier list like St. Kilda.
Blues Squelch Suns
Carlton only won 83-73 against Gold Coast, but that scoreline betrays the fact they dominated the Suns for a majority of the contest, and fought back from falling behind in the final term, a big feat for a young side that now sits at 5-7 with a host of other contenders. Veteran Bryce Gibbs spearheaded their effort with the best individual performance from Blue this season, with 43 disposals, 10 tackles, and 2 goals, Gibbs was a one man army that helped Carlton rack up a big edge in disposals. Kade Simpson, Marc Murphy, and Sam Docherty all broke 30 disposals as well while Jack Silvagni and Daisy Thomas booted a pair of key goals. Liam Jones also did a fantastic job locking down Suns key forward Tom Lynch, a second straight quality outing from the once fringe best 22 player.
Despite Jack Martin’s 3 goals, most of the Suns had down performances compared to the last time they played Carlton, Gary Ablett led with 25 disposals, but was badgered all night, and only Jarryd Lyons had 2 goals. Michael Barlow also suffered a broken leg, a big blow for a Suns side that at 5-7 may have missed its window to make a move towards finals. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them slide further after a crushing defeat such as this.
Eagles Find Form Against Cats
West Coast only defeated Geelong by a score of 83-70, but they add much larger advantages in both pressure and inside 50’s as the Eagles showed they are a bugger of a side to defeat when playing at home. The Selwood brothers had down performances, and despite Patrick Dangerfield’s 34 disposals and a goal, Geelong couldn’t make up the loss in production. Mitch Duncan finished with 32 disposals, and Rhys Stanley kicked three goals, Daniel Menzel and Harry Taylor combining for four.
Eagles midfielders Luke Shuey, Andrew Gaff, and Sam Mitchell combined for more than 90 disposals, while Dom Sheed, Lewis Jetta, and Jack Darling combined for six goals, making up for the continued absence of Josh Kennedy. The Eagles were more solid in the backline as well, they didn’t leak goals, and despite scoring just 83, that secured the win.
Port Adelaide Powers Past Brisbane
Port Adelaide never trailed, as they kept Brisbane in their rearview mirror and won 121-81, a margin that probably should have been more given the inside 50 differential. The Lions are playing for pride at this point, and Chad Wingard (3 goals), and Ollie Wines (29 disposals and 2 goals), were having none of it. Paddy Ryder took advantage of the Lions continuing to make the strange choice of starting Archie Smith over Stef Martin in the ruck, kicking 2 goals. Despite 32 disposals and 2 goals from Dayne Zorko, the Lions were again poor, not helped by the fact Tom Rockliff was sick, and didn’t spend near as much time on ground as he usually does.
Bulldogs Woes Continue With 57 Point Loss to Melbourne
The Western Bulldogs forward line was a disaster, and Jason Johannisen couldn’t shake a tag, as the Bulldogs fell 113-56 at the hands of a renewed Melbourne Demons side that look like real contenders as they get healthy. The Bulldogs lost Lin Jong to injury and were a step behind the Dees in every part of the game despite 29 disposals and 9 tackles from Tom Liberatore, their best on ground.
Jordan Lewis, Clayton Oliver, and Michael Hibberd were the big three for Melbourne, combining for nearly 90 disposals, Jack Watts also kicked three goals, stepping up big time on the forward line. The Bulldogs lacked a multi-goal scorer while Melbourne had five of them. With ruckman Max Gawn coming back into the side, Melbourne is looking fearsome, while the Dogs are playing like puppies heading into the second half of the season.
AFL Ladder After 12 games
1: Adelaide Crows (36 points)
2: GWS Giants (36)
3: Geelong Cats (32)
4: Port Adelaide Power (28)
5: Melbourne Demons (28)
6: Richmond Tigers (28)
7: West Coast Eagles (28)
8: Essendon Bombers (24)
9: Western Bulldogs (24)
10: St. Kilda (24)
11: Fremantle (24)
12: Sydney Swans (20)
13: Collingwood Magpies (20)
14: Gold Coast Suns (20)
15: Carlton Blues (20)
16: North Melbourne Kangaroos (16)
17: Hawthorn Hawks (16)
18: Brisbane Lions (8)