The finals race heats up as the top eight was nearly secured in Round 22. Adelaide and Sydney played out a possible grand final preview with a familiar champion running down the wing, a Docker made his long-awaited debut in a disastrous Domain Stadium farewell, and the Demons, Bombers and Saints pulled off crucial wins.
Franklin goal of the year contender ignites Swans
Sydney Swans defeated Adelaide Crows by three points in a thriller on Friday night at Adelaide Oval. The game lived up to its blockbuster billing as the Crows came hard at the Swans for most of the night after the visitors jumped out of the blocks early. Adelaide had Rory Sloane and Matt Crouch dig in deep, while returning Swans captain Josh Kennedy was inspirational for his side. This game will be best remembered for Lance Franklin’s amazing solo goal in the third quarter – similar to his two against Essendon in 2010.
Late Power show leaves Dogs needing a miracle
Port Adelaide finally had some success against a finals contender after beating the Western Bulldogs by 17 points on Saturday afternoon at MARS Stadium. The Power stayed close to the Bulldogs all day, eventually getting the reward they deserved breaking away late. Power captain Travis Boak played his best game of the year, reaping the rewards from teammate Paddy Ryder in the ruck, while strong forward Charlie Dixon dominated against an undersized backline.
Dangerfield keeps on giving as Geelong edge past plucky Pies
Geelong Cats have cemented themselves in the top four with an 11-point win over Collingwood on Saturday afternoon at the MCG. The Pies could only manage three goals after quarter time as Geelong put the clamps on the Pies’ ability to run into space after a dominant first quarter. Geelong had Patrick Dangerfield tear it up in the second half, tallying 22 disposals after halftime as he imposed himself when it mattered most.
Josh Kelly leaves Eagles in his wake
Greater Western Sydney has continued its push for a top-two finish after a 21-point win over West Coast on Saturday evening at Spotless Stadium. GWS star midfielder Josh Kelly brought his own football to the game, such was his dominance with a career-best 43 possession effort, including a bone-crunching moment of desperation trying to spoil Eagle Josh Kennedy. The disappointing loss means the Eagles must defeat the Crows next week by a fair bit to play finals.
Bombers swoop on opportunity to jump into the eight
Essendon has made the most of some favourable results to sneak into the top eight after grinding out a 33-point win against Gold Coast on Saturday night at Metricon Stadium. The Bombers were once again made to rue not being able to kick a bigger score despite having 71 inside 50s. David Zaharakis put in a best-on-ground performance, with Brendon Goddard and first-year player Andrew McGrath providing solid support. If the Bombers beat the Dockers next Sunday they will be playing finals for the first time since 2014.
Carlton banish 14-game Hawk hoodoo
Carlton has provided a shock upset against Hawthorn, winning by seven points on Saturday night at Etihad Stadium. The Blues were well supported by a mix of experienced and young stars, including captain Marc Murphy, Sam Docherty, Jacob Weitering, Charlie Curnow and Jarrod Pickett. Meanwhile, Hawk Tom Mitchell continued to rack up possessions, gathering a massive 44. Jaeger O’Meara marked his return from a long injury layoff with 17 possessions and managed to get through unscathed.
Hogan delivers on comeback to lead Dees to victory
Melbourne survived a spirited effort from Brisbane to hold on for a 13-point win on Sunday afternoon at the MCG. The Demons were boosted by the return of spearhead Jesse Hogan from injury as he helped himself to six majors. The win almost certainly ensures Melbourne will be featuring in the finals series.
Saints deliver in ‘Rooey’s’ final home game
St Kilda has celebrated retiring champion Nick Riewoldt with a 55-point win against North Melbourne on Sunday afternoon at Etihad Stadium. Riewoldt kicked two goals and will retire holding the record for the most goals and games at Etihad Stadium with 452 and 184 respectively. The win keeps the Saints’ finals hopes alive, but they need a few upsets to jump into eighth spot.
Tigers keep foot on fourth with Docker demolition
Richmond showed no mercy against Fremantle with a 104–point belting on Sunday evening at Domain Stadium. Midfielder Jacob Townsend went bananas playing his first game of the year for the Tigers, helping himself to six goals. Dustin Martin has competition for the three Brownlow votes with Shaun Grigg playing a blinder on the wing. Docker Harley Bennell was able to finally make his debut for Fremantle after switching from the Gold Coast at the end of the 2015 season, finishing with six possessions – but it was a dismal farewell to their home ground for the Dockers.