Round 23 AFL Review

Friday
Collingwood 10.16.76 defeated Essendon 10.5.65

On Friday night at the MCG, over 85,000 fans watched a tough-fought battle between traditional rivals Collingwood and Essendon. During the initial portions of the match, the Bombers really took it up to the more fancied Magpies, leading by three goals at quarter time. During the second quarter, disaster struck for the Bombers, when key defender Michael Hurley left the ground with a shoulder injury; up until that point Hurley had been one of the Bombers best. The Pies also suffered injuries to key players, with Matthew Scharenberg (concussion) and Darcy Moore (hamstring) both lost to the match, in the first quarter and last quarter respectively. Depending on how other results go, these two teams could be facing off again in the first round of the finals in two weeks, and I am sure it will be another quality contest if that comes to pass.

Saturday
Sydney 17.7.109 defeated St. Kilda 8.16.64

At the SCG on Saturday afternoon the Sydney Swans welcomed back a key lynchpin of their team, Lance Franklin, and to celebrate 'Buddy' responded with four goals, in Sydney's 45 point win against the 14th placed Saints. After St Kilda kicked the first goal of the match, the Swans replied with six unanswered goals of their own, taking a handy lead, before the Saints turned the game around to level scores up at half time. After exchanging goals to start the third, the Swans completely took over the game, kicking eleven second-half goals to St Kilda's three, sending off three club champions in a style that every team wants at that time. Ex-Swan Dan Hannebery was looking to be in good form, and Rowan Marshal continued his development, they were outshone by Lance Franklin, Josh Kennedy and Luke Parker, who has probably had his most consistently good year.

North Melb. 13.10.88 defeated Melbourne 12.11.83
In the final match of the season for both teams, the Kangaroos and Demons headed to Tasmania with the goal of finishing the season off on a positive note, for both the players and the fans. With the scores tied late in the last quarter, the Demons Bayley Fritsch and Jake Melksham both scored points from their opportunities to give Melbourne a narrow lead that turned out to be short-lived for the visitors. As the clocked ticked down, North Melbourne's Shaun Higgins turned his snap into a goal, and his team's one-point deficit into a five-point lead, which is where the scores stayed until the siren. While the eight thousand fans who braved the wind didn't get to see the best spectacle, the Kangaroo fans would have been happy with the result, as they got to sing the theme song one last time for 2019.

Geelong 19.15.129 defeated Carlton 8.13.61

In their last game of the season, the Carlton Blues were brought back to earth with a resounding 'thud' as the Cats outplayed the Blues across all parts of GMHBA Stadium on Saturday. The big win over Carlton has seen the Catters reclaim top spot on the ladder and with Richmond getting the win over Brisbane on Sunday, it is where they stayed as we move into the finals series for 2019. In a warning to the other teams in the finals, Geelong's Patrick Dangerfield was in brilliant touch, finishing the game with 34 Disposals, 5 Marks, 6 Tackles, he also managed to add a lazy 4 goals to round out an impressive display of footy. For the Blues, Ed Curnow did a great job in reducing the impact of Geelong Captain, Joel Selwood, with the Carlton tagger keeping Selwood to just 15 Disposals, while he had 29 for the match.

Gold Coast 7.13.55 defeated by GWS Giants 20.7.127
Much to no-one's surprise, the Giants pulled the blinds on a dismal season for the Suns at Metricon Stadium on Saturday night. After a fortnight where the Bulldogs and Hawks really showed up the vaunted Giants, GWS will appreciate the opportunity for its players to get back some touch and a needed confidence boost under their belts. Out of all the players on the park, it was the Giant's Jeremy Cameron who benefited most. At the start of the game, he needed six goals to tie and seven to get to the front in the race to take out the Coleman Medal for the year, and while Cameron only managed two goals for the first half, things changed dramatically for him in the third quarter. During the third, Cameron kicked five goals to take the lead for the Coleman, and ended up with a career-best goal haul of nine majors in the win.

West Coast 9.13.67 defeated by Hawthorn 16.9.105
At Optus Oval in Perth on Saturday night, the West Coast Eagles would have gone into the match knowing that a win would seal a top-four spot for them in 2019, while the Hawks were chasing the opportunity to sneak into eighth spot on the ladder, and a chance to re-set for a charge into the finals. Having won four of their past five matches, and being back at home, the Eagles quickly found themselves three goals down in the first, before riding a wave of momentum to kick the following four goals, taking a one-goal lead into quarter time. From the second quarter onward, the Hawks made more of their possessions (the Eagles had 30 more disposals than the Hawks for the match) and turned that into wins on the scoreboard, where they outscored West Coast thirteen goals to five across the next three quarters leading them to a great win.

Sunday
W. Bulldogs 18.13.121 defeated Adelaide 13.9.87

In the first game on Sunday, the Western Bulldogs played host to the Adelaide Crows at Mars Stadium, Ballarat, and keeping true to the teams' form across the past few months, where the Bulldogs have won 7 of 10 matches while the Crows have seen their form slump, getting just 4 of 10 wins in the same period. With the talent on their list, Adelaide's performances over this time have been really mixed, whereas the Bulldogs have been building into consistently great form that has included quality wins over the Cats, Bombers and Giants. While the Crow's Matt Crouch had a huge 47 disposals, as a team they weren't able to match the intensity of the quality Bulldog mids, and Bailey Dale who finished with 5 goals in a watershed game for him.

Richmond 12.10.82 defeated Brisbane 8.7.55
In the match of the round at the MCG on Sunday afternoon, two of the AFL's top teams met in a contest that could cause the loser to drop a few places down the AFL's pecking order; if Richmond had of lost, they would have likely found themselves sitting in 5th spot, below Collingwood and the Eagles, but as it stands the Tigers are third and I believe they will be heading up to the Gabba to play the Lions again in week one of the finals. For the Lions, before today's loss, they had won nine games in a row, quite an achievement and a huge improvement on last year. While Brisbane won most of the statistical categories there are, the Tigers ensured that the ball heading into their Inside 50 was mostly rushed, and often scattered. So even with having four more Inside 50s, the Lions took fewer marks in their Forward 50, and had seven less scoring shots than Richmond.

Port Adelaide 15.20.110 Fremantle 10.7.67
At Adelaide Oval on Sunday afternoon the Fremantle Dockers got off to a great start in their match against the hometown Power, but in the second quarter the game began to change as the Power applied a lot more pressure across the middle of the ground, slowing up the Dockers ball movement and causing turn-overs they capitalised on with a four-goal to nil second term. Across the second and third quarters, the Power restricted the Dockers to a single goal, while managing eight goals themselves; if Port Adelaide had of kicked straighter, they could have had a huge lead before the last quarter even began! In the fourth quarter things tightened up, but by then the damage had been done and the Power went on to be very comfortable winners. Both teams have big off-seasons coming up, with the Dockers also in search of a new head-coach.

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