Monday 18 December 2017 / 02:45 AM

AFL ROUND 23 WRAP

Sydney wrapped up the minor premiership, GWS and Hawthorn notched key wins in the top-four scramble, and Fremantle farewelled their GOAT in fitting style during a compelling final regular-season round.

Eagles continue giant-killing form

West Coast head into the finals in red-hot form after upsetting Adelaide by 29 points. The win is the Eagles’ third in a row against quality opposition – having beaten GWS and Hawthorn in the previous two rounds – and what’s more is they did it without influential ruckman Nic Naitanui. Andrew Gaff had a career-best 41 disposals, while Matt Priddis and Dom Sheed were also crucial in the Eagles’ midfield. Up forward, Josh Kennedy kicked five goals to secure his second Coleman medal. The result meant Adelaide miss out on the top four after being considered by many as one of the premiership fancies as recently as a week ago.

Cats crash listless Dees

Geelong belted Melbourne by 111 points in a brutal display. This was Paul Roos’ last match as Demons coach and he couldn’t have much to be pleased about from his players’ efforts. There were injury concerns for stars Patrick Dangerfield (shoulder) and Joel Selwood (neck), but both dusted them off and finished as probably the two best players on the field. The Cats stormed out of the blocks with eight goals in the opening term, four of them kicked by Tom Hawkins who finished the day with six, revelling in the supply from the midfield.

Bombers finish tough year on a high

Essendon beat archrivals Carlton at the MCG by 24 points for just their third win of the season, but they still finished the wooden spoon on percentages. The Bombers had a dominant six-goals-to-one third term to set up the win on the back of Joe Daniher’s five-goal haul. It was a glimpse into the future with Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti booting four and Kyle Langford three. Zach Merrett and Matt Dea were the major ball-winners for Essendon. Matthew Kruezer was the only shining light for the Blues, taking a stack of marks inside 50.

Sydney finish top with Tigers rout

Sydney claimed the minor premiership in style, obliterating Richmond by 113 points at the SCG. The Swans missed Lance Franklin in their last finals campaign but along with Gary Rohan and Ben McGlynn, they now have a formidable forward line. The trio combined for 16 goals, with Franklin kicking seven of those. The home side kicked 14 goals to one in the first half and they did not relent in the second half. At one stage, the lead stretched out to 136 points, threatening to break all manner of records. But Trent Cotchin saved some pride by kicking three goals in the last quarter.

Giants surge into top four

GWS took full advantage of Adelaide’s slip-up, securing the final spot in the top four after beating North Melbourne by 37 points at Etihad Stadium. It means they get a double chance in their first-ever finals campaign. Jeremy Cameron was quiet but Jonathan Patton booted five goals to back up his six from last week, while Steve Johnson continues to thrive in the twilight of his career after kicking four. In what could have been Brent Harvey’s last game in Melbourne, a disappointing crowd of 22,295 turned up.

Port prevail in dead-rubber

Port Adelaide beat Gold Coast by 23 points at Metricon Stadium in a match that had no bearing on the finals equation. Robbie Gray was outstanding, 34 disposals and four goals basically guaranteeing him three Brownlow votes. Jay Schulz kicked three goals in his last match for the Power after being told his contract will not be renewed. First-year player Brayden Fiorini filled in the void of an injury-ravaged Suns midfield with 34 disposals.

Saints power through Lions

In another match that pitted two bottom-10 sides against each, St Kilda thumped Brisbane by 58 points at Etihad Stadium. Nick Riewoldt was the standout player on the ground, kicking nine goals, which equals his career best. It wasn’t just the goals, though; he took 21 marks and had 24 kicks in a vintage display. The Lions avoided the wooden spoon, but only by narrowest of margins.

Hawks leave it late against Pies

In what turned out to be the match of the round, Hawthorn edged Collingwood by one point at the MCG in a thrilling climax. The unlikely hero was Jack Fitzpatrick, who kicked a monster goal from inside the centre square with less than two minutes remaining. Fitzpatrick was playing his first game for Hawthorn after 22 at former club Melbourne and only came into the side as a late replacement for Ben McEvoy. The goal itself only tied the game, which is all the Hawks needed to sneak into the top four. It was a direct response to an Adam Treloar goal only moments earlier which had Pies fans thinking they had pinched it, only to be heartbroken minutes later when Paul Puopolo kicked a behind with 33 seconds left. Treloar did not have a touch in Q1 but finished with 36 possessions and two goals.

Dockers farewell Pavlich in style

Fremantle finished a season to forget on a high, upsetting Western Bulldogs by 20 points at Domain Stadium to provide a fitting farewell for a club legend. Matthew Pavlich, who is the club’s record holder for games and goals, only kicked one but it was a milestone 700th of his career. Stephen Hill, Danyle Pearce and Lachie Neale all had over 30 possessions for the winners. The Bulldogs will be disappointed but have the week off to regroup before another trip to Perth for their elimination final.

[YouTube – AFL]

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Farhan Shah

A recent addition to the roster, Melburnian Farhan is a sports nut who has come on board to provide golf, tennis, AFL and rugby league coverage for CBS.

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