AFL Round 14 is in the books, and here is your look at all the action in the final bye round of the season.
Port Adelaide Overtakes Melbourne on the Field and the Ladder
Port Adelaide claimed a home victory in Adelaide to overtake Melbourne on the ladder and continue their push for a top 4 regular season finish. The Dees led at three quarter time (and at every quarter) but in the last term Port snuck away as their midfield carried them to a 75-65 victory. Ollie Wines put up 29 disposals while Justin Westhoff, Robbie Gray, and Brad Ebert combined for 6 goals and Sam Powell-Pepper laid an incredible 17 tackles.
Melbourne got great games from Max Gawn, Tom McDonald and Jack Viney, but in the end it wasn’t enough. No one doubts the Dees are a good team, but advancing in finals will require something more than they managed on the road on Friday night.
Essendon and GWS Claim Wins to Stay in Finals Hunt
West Coast suffered a shocking defeat to a rejuvenated Essendon side. The Bombers won 80-52 after pulling away in the first term. West Coast goal kicking was a disaster as they were 1.6 at the half and 6.16 overall compared to 12.8 for the Bombers. Devon Smith and Zach Merrett led Essendon with Smith and Jake Stringer combining for 6 goals. and Merrett combining with Dyson Heppell to post 57 disposals.
With how poorly the Eagles forward line played Andrew Gaff’s good game in the midfield went for naught. More than likely this will just be a blip on the Eagles season, but the warning signs are there.
GWS Giants got the job done 109-82 against Brisbane. The Giants were the more physical team while the multi-talented Josh Kelly racked up goals and disposals in a Brownlow quality performance. Jeremy Cameron and Jonathan Patton combined for 6 goals for GWS. While Daniel Rich, Luke Hodge, and Eric Hipwood were best on ground for the Lions.
North Melbourne Edges the Dogs
With teams behind North Melbourne on the AFL Ladder posting wins, the currently top 8 Kangaroos badly needed to beat the Western Bulldogs. They got the result they needed by the skin of their teeth 77-75 on a late Jack Ziebell goal that denied the struggling Bulldogs a reprieve from their spate of losses. The Roos leaders Todd Goldstein, Ziebell, Shaun Higgins, and Ben Cunnington stepped up with Ziebell and Ben Brown combining for 8 critical goals in the win.
Lachie Hunter and Hayden Crozier stepped up for a depleted Footscray side while Billy Gowers and Aaron Naughton kicked 5 in forward roles. However, the Bulldogs remained 14th on the ladder with their 9th defeat of the year.
Hawthorn and Collingwood Win as Expected
Fans of the big Victorian clubs Hawthorn and Collingwood can’t complain as their sides posted confident wins over struggling Gold Coast and Carlton respectively. The Hawks won 96-43 as Gold Coast endured a second half collapse. Liam Shiels and Tom Mitchell were over 30 disposals while Jack Gunston kicked 3 goals in the win. Jarryd Lyons was among the best on ground for the Suns.
Collingwood beat their rivals 79-59 as Steele Sidebottom and Scott Pendlebury led the midfield while Will Hoskin-Elliot and Jaidyn Stephenson combined for 6 goals. Patrick Cripps, Kade Simpson, and Charlie Curnow all fired for the Blues but the young Carlton side was simply outmatched in every line.
AFL Ladder after the Bye Rounds
1: Richmond (40)
2: Sydney (40)
3: West Coast (40)
4: Collingwood (36)
5: Port Adelaide (36)
6: Melbourne (32)
7: Geelong (32)
8: North Melbourne (32)
9: Hawthorn (32)
10: GWS Giants (30)
11: Adelaide (24)
12: Essendon (24)
13: Fremantle (24)
17: Brisbane (4)
18: Carlton (4)
Brisbane and Carlton look likely to accept the wooden spoon this year at the bottom of the ladder, while 13 sides are credibly in finals contention (though the window is narrow for Essendon, Adelaide, and Fremantle). At the top of the ladder things are tight with a game or just percentage separating the top 5 sides. All 5 teams could end up minor premiers, while this group of 5 will most likely produce the year end top 4 that get double elimination finals berths.
The 6-10 teams are an interesting group and no matter what it looks like a couple of talented teams will be missing finals this year.