Round 21 AFL Review

Friday
GWS Giants 4.5.29 defeated by Hawthorn 13.7.85

In a first for not only the Giants and Hawthorn but for the entire history of the AFL, on Friday night at UNSW in Canberra, it snowed during a match of footy. While this happens all the time in European and American sports, it was an Australian first, and it made for a very impressive sight! Perhaps the snow and cold were why the Giants appeared to do everything slower than their Hawthorn opponents. Whatever it was, the Hawks made them pay by keeping GWS to it's lowest ever score; hey, that's two firsts in the one match! Nice work AFL. Having lost their key-forward, Jack Gunston, before the match had begun, the Hawks spread the goal-kicking around, with nine players getting on the scoreboard. While the midfield dominated the Giants, again it was James Sicily (33 Disp, 6 Marks) who marshalled the troops down back, keeping the Coleman Medal leader to a single goal.

Saturday
Melbourne 7.11.53 defeated by Collingwood 10.10.70

At a cold MCG on Saturday afternoon, the Collingwood faithful got to watch their team have a 17-point win over the hapless Demons. In spite of a very even, and low-scoring, first quarter, the Magpies were able to build a solid 40-point lead through the second and third quarter. Then the fourth quarter came along and the Demons suddenly clicked into gear, scoring four goals three points to the Magpies one goal two points. While you never know what may happen, if there were another ten minutes in this match it would have been a pretty interesting finish! At the end of the day, the Magpies had more disposals, hit-outs and inside 50's. The Pies also made more of their opportunities when the ball was near their goals, with Brody Mihocek finishing up with four goals and a point, to go with 12 disposals and 7 marks.

Port Adelaide 15.13.103 defeated Sydney 7.14.56

While it ended up being temporary, after their 47 point running-over of the Swans at Adelaide Oval on Saturday afternoon, the Port Power finally made it into the Top 8 and, with their improving form, they loom as a real threat to the teams above them. The Power stopped the Swans from ever getting any type of run-on, holding them to a maximum of two goals in a row, halting any momentum Sydney tried to build. For the Power, Charlie Dixon (3 Goals) was the best forward on the ground and Connor Rozee continued his stellar rookie season efforts, while the rucks of Paddy Ryder (27 Hit-outs) and Peter Ladhams (19 Hit-outs) jumped all over the makeshift Swan rucks of Sam Reid (5 Hit-outs), Aliir Aliir (10 Hit-outs) and Hayden McLean (9 Hit-outs). I would be surprised if the Swans didn't make getting a quality back-up ruck, in the off-season, a very high priority!

Brisbane 22.12.144 defeated Gold Coast 8.5.53
As most would have expected of a Top 4 team playing a bottom of the ladder outfit, the Brisbane Lions had a very comfortable win over the Suns at the Gabba on Saturday evening. Leaving the Gabba with an 'almost' 100 point victory, and their highest score in a match for over a decade, the Lions certainly have cemented their position at the top of the ladder and with the form they are in, the Lions should give the finals series a real shake this year. In a match where the Suns could only manage one goal in three quarters, and yet Lion small forward Charlie Cameron kicked 6 goals, the Lions showed that they were several classes above their Queensland neighbours. In a fantastic solo display, the Sun's Jarrod Witts had more hit-outs (53) than the combined efforts of the Lion's Stefan Martin (22) and Oscar McInerney (25).

Essendon 4.9.33 defeated by Western Bulldogs 21.11.137
In a fixture that saw the Bulldogs hit the match full of running, and the Bombers looking tired in comparison, the Doggies have run out VERY comfortable 104 point winners; the score at half time was Essendon 1 goal 3 points and the Bulldogs 10 goals and 3 points, such was their domination, and much to the disappointment of everyone wearing red and black, that didn't change. After their first-quarter goal, it took the Bombers until the back-end of the fourth quarter before they scored another major, in a complete demolition by the Bulldogs! With there still being a chance they could drop out of the Top 8, the Bombers certainly weren't playing with the motivation I was expecting to see of a team in such a position. The Doggies smashed their opponents from one end of the ground to the other in a match they will happily remember and Essendon will want to forget.

Geelong 9.15.69 defeated North Melbourne 1.8.14
In a low scoring match, where the Kangaroos only managed to kick a single solitary goal for the entire match, on the turf of the 'Antarctic Freezing Cold Air Challenged' GMHBA Stadium, the Geelong Cats have recorded a 55-point win over the visiting Kangaroos, bringing a dramatic halt to their improved results. While North Melbourne did a good job of restricting Geelong's ability to score with any ease, the Roos structured up in a manner that had them struggling to move the ball forward, let alone scoring. With a new coach this can easily happen, but I am sure that Rhyce Shaw will have learned a lot from this match. For Geelong, Gryan Miers (17 Disp, 7 Marks, 3 Goals) was the most dangerous forward on the ground, always making things happen when he was around the ball and Tim Kelly (24 Disp, 4 Marks, 7 Tackles) was productive with the ball.

Sunday
St. Kilda 10.12.72 defeated Fremantle 10.9.69

In what was probably the most even contest in Season 2019, the Saints have recorded a three-point win over the visiting Fremantle Dockers at Marvel Stadium on Sunday afternoon, and pretty much ensured that the Dockers will take no part in the finals this season. While the match never reached any great heights, from a skill or 'swathes of quality play' perspective, what it lacked in these areas it made up for in being a tough grind. The Saints certainly started as the better team, but having three players go off injured, in pretty quick succession too, really put the brakes on their play, giving the Dockers an opportunity to get back into the match. Over the next couple of quarters, the Dockers managed to edge slightly in front, taking a seven-point lead into the final break. In the fourth, the goals had all but dried up, but the Saints got the win on a great finish by Josh Bruce.

Richmond 11.7.73 defeated Carlton 6.9.45

In a match played during a cold and wet Winter's day at the MCG, the Tigers have prevailed over the Blues, by 28 points and have kept alive their aspirations for a Top 4 ladder position finish. In an effort reminiscent of his Grand Final heroics, Richmond's Jack Graham (22 Disp, 14 Tackles) kicked four goals, to be the leading scorer for the match. For the Blues, Weitering and Liam Jones did a really good job of curtailing the impact that Tom Lynch (2 goals, 3 points) and Jack Riewoldt (2 goals, 1 point) can have on a match, while the Tiger backmen also put in efforts that kept their opponents (except Mitch McGovern who kicked two goals), to no more than a single goal each. Richmond is now back into 4th spot on the ladder, while the Blues remain in 16th position, but with their fans feeling a lot better about what the future holds for their club.

West Coast 13.12.90 defeated Adelaide 12.8.80

In the final match of Round 21, Adelaide travelled to Perth to meet West Coast in a match that would go a fair way to deciding if the Crows would make the Top 8, and where the Eagles would finish on the ladder. With only two matches left of the 2019 regular season, with their win today, the Eagles are now only percentage away from a Top 2 finish; the Lions have to face Geelong and Richmond over their remaining two games! Having played well to build a 22-point lead at three-quarter time, the Crows came out hard in the last and made a good contest of the match; they outscored the Eagles by two goals to fall short by just ten points. Willie Rioli was great for the home team, finishing with 21 Disposals, 5 Marks, 7 Tackles and 10 score involvements. For the Crows, Darcy Fogarty played a near lone-hand up forward, finishing the match with 5 Goals.

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