The Adelaide Crows returned to the top of the AFL ladder with a punishing victory against a sloppy and despondent Western Bulldogs side 104-45 in the opening game of AFL round 16. The Crows attacked while the Dogs sputtered despite a nearly even number of inside 50 chances. Josh Jenkins, Tex Walker and Eddie Betts combined for nine goals, while seven other Crows got in on the scoring fest. Rory Laird anchored the backline with 32 disposals, while Matt Crouch also notched 32. In one of the worst performances for the Bulldogs all season, they lacked a multi-goal scorer, only Toby McLean had more than 30 disposals, and players like Mitch Wallis, Caleb Daniel, and Jason Johannisen were quiet. It appears more likely than ever that the reigning premiers will miss the finals, while the Crows have returned to reign atop the ladder.
Fremantle Nicks The Kangas Again
A strong first term helped Fremantle hold off North Melbourne again, they won 86-82, the second time they have beaten North by the narrowest of margins this season. The loss moves North closer to a wooden spoon, and Fremantle as likely the most outside contender to make the top 8, as their percentage is worse than their record. Ben Cunnington and Jack Ziebell had 28 disposals, and were excellent for North, while Ben Brown had four goals and Shaun Higgins scored a magical dribble kick from the side pocket, but once again North dropped a close game, unable to finish off the final term as winners, in this case failing to complete a second half comeback.
Rookie Ryan Nyhuis had four goals on debut, Michael Walters had three, while Shane Kersten and Darcy Tucker combined for four goals. Nat Fyfe helped in the middle of the ground with 33 disposals, while Connor Blakely added 32 after missing last week. Fremantle are from the best side in the AFL, but when healthy they seem to have enough talent on their list to contend, and deserve credit for this win despite the Kangaroos poor record.
Melbourne Slides Past Carlton After Slow Start
Melbourne trailed in the stat sheet, but they likely ended Carlton’s finals hopes with a narrow 90-82 victory. Leading in the final term, Carlton simply didn’t kick enough goals to win despite having five players (Kade Simpson, Sam Kerridge, Marc Murphy, Sam Docherty, and Bryce Gibbs) with more than 30 disposals. Jack Silvagni also added three goals for the Blues, while Murphy, Charlie Curnow, and Matthew Wright had two goals each.
It was a gutsy performance for Clayton Oliver, who had 29 disposals, Tom McDonald and Jeff Garlett combined for seven goals, as McDonald continues to be a revelation in the forward line, and both Alex Neal-Bullen and Josh Wagner had two goals. Winning the game while lacking some of their best players not only moves Melbourne up the ladder, it shows they are going to be a threat in the finals.
Final Term Propels Port Adelaide Past West Coast
South Australian footy fans were quite happy over the weekend, as Port Adelaide were also at their best, they won what was a close contest through three terms 120-88 over West Coast, propelled by an eight goal fourth quarter. They also led the statlines, sending West Coast outside of the top 8, and their own side into the top 4. Andrew Gaff and Sam Mitchell were best on ground for the Eagles, while Mark LeCras and Jack Darling had four goals from the forward line. Brad Ebert, and Ollie Wines led the Power in disposals, Charlie Dixon was the key player for the Power, as he kicked five goals, Robbie Gray also had three, while Paddy Ryder booted a pair from the ruck. For the first time Port was able to get the win against a team that are considered genuine finals contenders, although the Eagles may miss the eight at this point.
St. Kilda Holds Richmond to One Goal At the Half
The Saints led Richmond 14 goals to one at the half, as they dropped Richmond from the top four and gained a pivotal 138-71 win, destroying the Tigers in their worst loss of the season. The key cogs in the machine for St. Kilda were Seb Ross, Jack Steven, and Leigh Montagna who churned out more than 90 disposals between them. Tim Membrey and veteran Jack Riewoldt combined for eight goals while Jack Steele and others helped keep the Tigers in check. Dustin Martin had his worst game of the season with just 19 disposals and a goal, only Shaun Grigg and Kane Lambert were notable for the Tigers, while Jason Castagna was their only multi-goal scorer, Jack Riewoldt held to just a goal as the Saints showed how to beat Richmond in a resounding way.
Geelong Returns to Winning Ways Against Brisbane
Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan called the Geelong Cats “bigger and stronger”, and their performance on field certainly showed that, as they dominated Brisbane, kicking 25 goals en route to a 163-78 win where they were able to keep the ball in the forward half, despite Dayne Zorko’s amazing effort. Zorko kicked four goals, posted 12 tackles, and 36 disposals, Ryan Bastinac and Eric Hipwood also had multi-goal games, but they were pretty isolated compared to Geelong’s lethal attack. Tom Hawkins and James Parsons combined for seven goals, Mark Blicavs and Patrick Dangerfield combined for six, and four other Cats, including Mitch Duncan had two goals each. Duncan and Dangerfield both 38 disposals, as this was Geelong’s forward line at its best, a forward and midfield attack that even without Joel or Scott Selwood proved it could match up with any team in the competition.
Essendon Puts On a Show Against Collingwood
Essendon broke into the open ground at the MCG and galloped away against Collingwood, ending the Magpies finals chances with a 117-80 win that keeps their own finals hopes very much alive. The Bombers kept building their lead quarter by quarter, they dominated the stat line overall, as the Collingwood forward line was again sloppy and the Pies had a mistake filled afternoon. Alex Fasolo and Jamie Elliot combined for seven goals, but no Collingwood midfielder had more than 29 disposals. David Zaharakis had 38, Zach Merrett kicked two goals, and James Kelly, Dyson Heppell, and David Myers were all key, along with Michael Hurley. Joe Daniher kept in touch in the race for the Coleman medal, kicking three goals, while Orazio Fantasia kicked 5, and ruckman Tom Bellchambers added two more.
Sydney Swans Rebuke Gold Coast By 67
The Gold Coast Suns were exposed as finals pretenders by Sydney. The Swans continued playing dominating footy, as they thumped the Suns 118-51, pulling away in the second term and never looking back. Under the pressure from the Swans midfield, the Suns coughed up the footy and wilted. Sydney was better prepared, more physical, and faster. Luke Parker had 29 disposals, Jake Lloyd had 30, and Gary Rohan and Lance Franklin combined for eight goals, as even the loss of Josh P. Kennedy did nothing to dim the Swans momentum. The Suns got 3 goals from Tom Lynch and 29 disposals from David Swallow, but were lost without Gary Ablett.
Hawthorn and GWS Battle to a Draw
It’s been decades since a team had two draws in a row, which the GWS Giants just matched drawing Hawthorn 97-97 in a truly neck and neck contest. The result doesn’t matter that much for the Giants, but it’s key they fought back in the final term, while the loss should finish off Hawthorn’s finals hopes. The Hawks gave it all their effort and had every chance, Tom Mitchell had 39 disposals and a goal, Will Langford had three goals, and three more Hawks kicked a pair. GWS got 30+ disposal games from Josh Kelly, Callan Ward, and Dylan Shiel though and big Jon Patton had another huge game, kicking five goals. Devon Smith and Tom Scully adding a pair each. As GWS gets healthier, they should get better, as they would have beaten the Hawks if they hadn’t given up a goal in the last minute of the game.