Reigning Premiers Richmond, chasing a ‘three-peat’, showed that you right them off at your peril after a vital victory over Brisbane to put them back in the finals picture.
Jack Riewoldt, making his 300th AFL appearance, was in sparkling form as he kicked a bag, taking his career tally to 706 goals, as the Tigers got up by a 20-point margin.
Speaking to Fox Footy on his big night, the 32-year-old said “Obviously it has been a whirlwind last few days and the most amazing week. I want to thank my team mates for doing something for me tonight; I really appreciate it.” He added “It was a big game for our season as Brisbane are a great side. To come up to Queensland on a quick turnaround, get a result is a great achievement and one we are proud of.”
He continued “It was really special. I have some family here; my two brothers and my uncle. The rest of the family were watching at home; Carly, my two girls, my parents were all probably screaming in our lounge. A big thank you to the Tiger Army as well; I’ve had the best day and couldn’t have written the script any better.”
Sydney recovered from a slow start to produce a stunning comeback in the 21st ‘Battle of the Bridge’ derby in getting up over arch-rivals Greater Western Sydney.
The Giants, who lost both Toby Greene and Matt de Boer on the day of the game as they were forced to isolate, got off to a flyer and looked to be in the ascendency.
However, as poor as the Swans were in the first quarter, they were magnificent after the main break. Lance Franklin and Tom Papley scored four majors apiece as they hit strongly back, scoring twelve of the last fourteen goals, to get home in style.
Melbourne remain top of the ladder but saw their lead cut to just two points following a thrilling draw with Hawthorn at an empty MCG. They had opportunities to seal it with both Angus Brayshaw and Kysaiah Pickett missing the big sticks with set shots.
That proved costly as the Hawks kept going and were rewarded when Luke Bruest fired home, with 47 seconds remaining, to ensure a deserved share of the spoils.
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, number one pick in the 2020 AFL draft, scored his first senior goals for the Western Bulldogs as they remain hot the Demons’ heels. They got the job done although were pushed all the way by a spirited and improving Gold Coast.
Speaking, post-match, to Fox Footy the 19-year-old said “It was a tough game. I learnt from my debut last week, focussed on this week and had the support of Bruce and Nordy (Naughton) behind me so I just felt more comfortable and supported.”
He added “I was like wow, I just kicked a goal in AFL. It was unreal, I’ll remember that forever. Bevo just wants me to play my game, just go out and have fun.”
Over in the west, Tom Hawkins booted four majors as Geelong proved far too strong and gave their percentage a real boost by thrashing Fremantle at Optus Stadium.
Led by captain Joel Selwood, who earlier in the week agreed a one-year contract extension that will see him at the club for a sixteenth season in 2022, the Cats led for the whole evening, increased their lead at every change and were never troubled.
West Coast put a difficult few weeks behind them and got their season firmly back on track, recording their biggest interstate success of the year, in defeating Adelaide.
Jamie Cripps scored five goals while Nic Naitanui, in his 200th game for the club, Liam Ryan, Andrew Gaff and Tim Kelly all played important roles for the Eagles.
Harry McKay, the current Coleman Medal leader, kicked four snags as Carlton put a strong final-term together to run over the top of Collingwood by 29 points at the ‘G’.
All the Blues players wore black armbands for the match to mark the passing of club legend Sergio Silvagni (formally inducted in 2016), a dual premiership player (239 appearances, 136 goals), two-time champion, club captain, long-serving committee member and selector; he sadly passed away on the morning of 15 July (aged 83).
Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinckley admitted that he “couldn’t be more pleased” after watching his side get over the line, by 13 points, against an in-form St.Kilda outfit.
Speaking in the presser, he said “It was a strong win, a strong performance, more about the quality of the opposition. They’ve been playing really strong footy; playing for a position in the top eight. Taking all the other factors (COVID-19) in and put them all together and it’s a pretty strong performance from our footy club.”
He continued “We’ve been stretched a little bit by injuries, no doubt. At the start of the year I said we would need a squad to get through this year and today we used that squad pretty deeply. I’m so proud of what the boys were able to do, but it is one of twenty-two and we need to keep collecting wins. Our next game is a significant one, Travis Boak will play his 300th game, and that will be a really important for us.”
Jake Stringer will have Essendon club officials even keener to get the rumoured three-year contract done and signed following another best on ground display.
The 27-year-old stepping up when it really mattered, booting two majors in the final term (four for the game), to finally see off the challenge of a plucky North Melbourne.
A special mention to the Yeppoon Swans from the AFL Capricornia League who became the first senior team ever to win 100 games straight – congratulations to everyone at the club.
Round 18 Results
Fremantle 3.13 (31)
Geelong 14.16 (100)
Richmond 16.10 (106)
Brisbane 13.8 (86)
St.Kilda 8.13 (61)
Port Adelaide 10.14 (74)
Gold Coast 11.13 (79)
Western Bulldogs 14.6 (90)
Melbourne 11.13 (79)
Hawthorn 12.7 (79)
North Melbourne 11.8 (74)
Essendon 13.14 (92)
Collingwood 9.8 (62)
Carlton 13.13 (91)
Adelaide 8.8 (56)
West Coast 14.14 (98)
GWS 11.6 (72)
Sydney 15.8 (98)
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