Round 18 AFL Review

Friday
Adelaide 10.15.75 defeated by Essendon 15.6.96

On Friday night at Adelaide Oval, the Crows showed the same form, or lack thereof, that was on display against the Port Power just two rounds ago. While they started this home match completely dominating their Bomber opponents, coming out after halftime it was like we were seeing a different team take the park! After trailing Adelaide by 30 points near the end of the second quarter, the Bombers suddenly 'clicked' and piled on twelve of the last fifteen goals kicked for the match, totally eclipsing the Crows and surely putting their coach under some pressure as his team struggles to stay in the Top 8. Credit for this win largely has to go to the Essendon coach, John Worsfold. After watching his team get smashed most of the first half, Worsfold made some great lineup changes that played a large part in his team's great comeback victory.

Saturday
Richmond 15.11.101 defeated Port Adelaide 9.9.63

At the MCG on Saturday afternoon the Richmond Tigers made sure they had a bit of breathing space over the other teams on the ladder, by taking care of business in their win over the Port Adelaide Power. While the Tiger's win was a healthy 38 points, the Power never seemed to be in with a chance; every time the Power managed to get a goal or two, the Tigers would respond in kind, if not with more goals. The Tiger's Tom Lynch looks to be getting back to the form that saw him chased as the most sought free-agent around last year, not only did he kick three goals, he lead right up the ground and dished out some heavy bumps, and generally made his presence felt around the ground. In a memorable moment, the Power's Duursma thought 'firing up', and shooting off, an imaginary bow and arrow, was a good move after kicking a goal. It probably wasn't!

Carlton 15.9.99 defeated Gold Coast 11.9.75

After a sometimes gruelling 43 matches, the Carlton Blues have recorded consecutive wins when they were victorious against fellow cellar-dwelling Gold Coast Suns. Although it took nearly two years for the team to get the consecutive wins, the club's fans will be feeling much better about the team's direction, and future, thanks to the improved play under caretaker coach David Teague. Unfortunately for the Suns, they have now lost 13 matches in a row and will be facing a revitalised Essendon team, up at Metricon Stadium next week, that is looking to ensure they get to play finals. For the Blues, they will take the inconsistent Crows on at the MCG, in a game that suddenly looks like a tougher game to pick than it was a month ago!

GWS Giants 19.8.122 defeated Collingwood 11.9.75
After losses to the Tigers, Bombers and Lions across their past three matches, the GWS Giants came out in their Saturday fixture against the Magpies with some serious intent to get back on the winner's list, and through their midfield dominance, they got out to an 8.2.50 to 1.1.7 lead at quarter time. At halftime both teams had the same number of disposals, but while Collingwood had more Inside 50s they still trailed GWS by 36 points. By the end of the match, the Giants had stretched their lead to be a very comfortable 47 points, leaving their fans feeling much better, while Nathan Buckley would have been scratching his head, wondering where his team's intensity from the week prior had gone. Will opposition teams look to employ three talls against the Pies, as Cameron, Finlayson and Himmelberg had 13 goals and 25 marks between them for the home team.

Brisbane 12.15.87 North Melbourne 12.3.75
At the Gabba on Saturday, the Brisbane Lions took until the third quarter to get in front of a determined Kangaroo outfit, but once they got the lead it wasn't at all smooth sailing for the home team! As scores were tied with just two minutes remaining in the match, the game was truly still up for either team to win. Fortunately for the Lions, they have big paws with claws to grab the moment, and when Oscar McInerney converted a free-kick, the home side was locked-in for another win. This victory takes them closer to finishing in the top four of the ladder, something I doubt many people would have foreseen at the start of the season. While winning most of the important stats is great, the Lions need to ensure they don't go back to their wayward goalkicking ways. They should have had this game in the bag, but instead they made their fans endure such a heart-pumping finish!

Fremantle 7.10.52 defeated Sydney 7.9.51

In a very low-scoring affair at Optus Stadium on Saturday night, the Fremantle Dockers managed to *again* 'point-after-point' their way to a nail-biting one-point win, this time over the visiting Sydney Swans. While on paper it looked like the Dockers may have selected a team that was a bit top-heavy, as the match wore on the dominance that Sandilands, Darcy and Lobb gave to a Fremantle midfield missing Natt Fyfe, started to sway the game in the home team's favour; Fremantle ended up winning the Hit-outs 53 - 18, leading them to also win the Contested Possession count 160 - 125. In spite of this dominance around the ground, through their hard work, the Swans finished with a 50 - 48 edge in Inside 50s. Next round the Dockers travel to Melbourne to play the Bulldogs while Sydney hosts the Cats at the SCG.

Sunday
Geelong 8.13.61 defeated by Hawthorn 12.13.85

With a tradition of providing great matches, this fixture between Geelong and Hawthorn always loomed as a match that would be a great contest between two proud teams, and this match proved to be no different! Even after losing the in-form Jarman Impey in the second quarter, the Hawks lead at every change to run-out out 24-point winners in this contest at the MCG. The win lifted the Hawks to 10th place on the ladder, where they join Port Adelaide, Fremantle and the Bulldogs on eight wins. While the loss would not have been what the Cats were after, they are still a game clear of the Brisbane Lions, and West Coast Eagles, who are both sitting on 12 wins and 5 losses. For the winners, Tim O'Brien and Mitch Lewis had three goals apiece, while Liam Shiels was the game's most influential player, he finished with 29 Disposals, 5 Marks, 7 Tackles and 2 Goals.

Melbourne 11.12.78 defeated by West Coast 14.7.91

Going by the results of their last five matches (L, W, L, W, L), the Demons were due a win at Traeger Park on Sunday. But in their way was the third-placed West Coast Eagles, and after the way their match against Collingwood last week went, the Eagles certainly had to show some improvement to overcome Melbourne's quality midfield. In a match that Melbourne could have won, if it wasn't for numerous 'easy' shots on goals being missed by a number of players, the Eagles were forced to work hard to turn a 6-point three-quarter time deficit into a 13-point victory in Alice Springs. For the losing side, Bailey Fritsch (22 Disp, 14 Marks and 4 Goals) played a great game up forward for his team, while at the other end of the ground, Jack Darling (16 Disp, 9 Marks and 4 Goals) was a stand-out for the Eagles.

St. Kilda 17.14.116 defeated Western Bulldogs 14.5.89
In this match, all eyes would be on how the Saints respond after the resignation of their coach earlier in the week. As many observers have noted, teams often get a temporary 'bounce' in these circumstances, but if this happens will it be enough for the Saints to get past the in-form Doggies? As the final siren sounded, the Saints had managed to record a morale-boosting 27-point win over their red, white and blue opponents. As per early in the season, when they were winning games, the Saints really shared the ball around and ended the match with many players having 20+ possessions. In a pretty remarkable feat, the Bulldogs kicked ten goals straight after halftime, but even with this great accuracy, they weren't able to get past a determined St Kilda.

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