Western Bulldogs, Geelong, Adelaide and GWS notched important wins in blockbuster matches over a Queen’s Birthday round that shook up the AFL ladder.
Hawks rout Bombers
Hawthorn dished out a chastening 108-point belting to archrivals Essendon in an unsurprising mismatch. Essendon, already depleted with 12 players banned for the year, were resigned to defeat from the start. Even the absence of stars Sam Mitchell and Luke Hodge was not enough to bridge the gulf in class. Grant Birchall and Liam Shiels had noteworthy performances while Jack Gunston, Luke Breust and Paul Puopolo each kicked four goals. David Zaharakis was a shining light for the bottom-of-the-table Bombers with 33 touches.
Bulldogs snatch thriller in Adelaide
Western Bulldogs edged Port Adelaide by three points in a thrilling game of football at Adelaide Oval. Trailing by nine points at three-quarter time, the Bulldogs exploded with three goals in five minutes to start the final term, inspired by Jesse Stringer. Earlier, Jack Redpath’s straight kicking from long range was instrumental, kicking three goals in the opening term and finishing with four. Robbie Gray recorded a game-high 32 disposals, while Jasper Pittard was also influential for Port running out of half back.
Dockers on a roll
Fremantle won for the second week in a row, but again it was against an easy-beat. The Dockers smashed a dreadful Brisbane by 83 points at the Gabba with young key forward Matt Taberner having a breakthrough game, stepping up in the absence of Matthew Pavlich by kicking five goals. He was ably supported by Hayden Ballantyne, Lachie Weller and Chris Mayne, who all kicked four goals. Brisbane started reasonably well, with scores level at quarter time, only for Fremantle to open the floodgates with nine straight goals in Q2.
Dangerfield stars as Cats oust Kangas
Patrick Dangerfield had a game worth six Brownlow votes, not three, with a performance that left Cats fans purring. He had a career-high 48 disposals and two goals in perfect conditions under the Etihad Stadium roof in Geelong’s 31-point defeat of ladder-leading North Melbourne. Dangerfield’s masterclass almost overshadowed the game itself and certainly outshone his captain’s fine performance – Joel Selwood finished with 38 disposals. Andrew Swallow, Nick Dal Santo and Ben Cunnington were either taken out of the game or played out the match injured and Geelong capitalised. They kicked seven goals to three in Q3 to set up the win with Daniel Menzel and Shane Kersten stepping up in the absence of Tom Hawkins.
Crows storm back in Perth
Adelaide pulled off a 55-point turnaround, rallying from 26 points behind in the third term to ultimately win by 29 points away to West Coast. The Crows, who statistically are the most attacking team in the comp, kicked the last eight goals of the game. Eddie Betts continued his All-Australian form with five goals, while Rory Sloane was tough as nails when the game was on the line in the final quarter with 11 disposals. Q4 was West Coast’s first ever scoreless quarter at Domain Stadium and it was their first loss since last year. To make matters worse for West Coast, Nic Natanui will miss eight weeks after undergoing Achilles surgery.
Blues’ run halted in Saints upset
St Kilda beat Carlton by 32 points at Etihad Stadium to put a screeching halt to the Blues’ inspirational mid-season run. Carlton came in having won six of their past seven under new coach Brendan Bolton. The Saints were without Nick Riewoldt, who had just signed a one-year contract extension, however younger leaders stood up to fill the void. Tim Membrey kicked five goals, while Jack Steven was classy with 25 disposals and three goals.
Tigers leave their run late against Suns
Richmond left it late but eventually beat Gold Coast by 17 points at the MCG. However, it required eight goals to four in the final quarter and a sensational performance by Dustin Martin (36 disposals, two goals) to hand the Suns their ninth consecutive loss. Martin set a goal up for Sam Lloyd and kicked one himself to put the result beyond doubt. Trent Cotchin and Alex Rance also had noteworthy performances. Two-time Brownlow medallist Gary Ablett was the Suns’ best with 24 disposals and goal.
Momentum swings in Sydney derby rivalry
GWS made a statement to the rest of the competition by comprehensively disposing of cross-town rivals Sydney by 42 points in front of a bumper crowd. In what was GWS’s 100th game in the AFL, the crowd of 21,541 set a new record at Spotless Stadium to mark the occasion. Nathan Wilson, Zac Williams and Brett Kirk medallist Heath Shaw were awesome driving the ball out of half back while Toby Greene made it count at the other end of the field by kicking four goals. Kurt Tippett’s injury was a huge blow for the Swans – he will miss up to six weeks with a hamstring tear.
Dees break Queen’s Birthday drought
Melbourne beat Collingwood on Queen’s Birthday for the first time in nine years, prevailing by 46 points at the MCG. The win was set up with seven goals to one in Q2. Jesse Hogan, Max Gawn and Dean Kent all kicked three goals. Gawn won the Neale Daniher Trophy for being best on ground with 27 disposals and 31 hitouts to go with his goal tally. Jack Viney made his return from injury three weeks ahead of schedule by recording 30 disposals while Bernie Vince had a game high 42.