AFL’s Greater Western Sydney defied all the odds to keep their final’s chance alive, chalking up their best result of the year in defeating Geelong at GMHBA Stadium.
The Giants, ravaged by injuries that forced them into eight changes and on the back of a five-day break, wasn’t given much of a chance against the second-placed Cats.
Speaking in the post-match presser, coach Leon Cameron was delighted; he said “It’s a significant win, one of the better we’ve had, we’re not going to deny that. It was really good watching at ground level, a pleasure to watch because they kept hanging in there. We’ll enjoy it tonight, those wins don’t come around a lot, but we wake up tomorrow with a smile on our face and we look forward to next week.”
He continued “The challenge for us is to get that consistency. We’ve had a little bad luck in the past six weeks, but you can’t shy away from that. If you want to play finals footy, you’ve got to turn up each week and play your four quarters. I understand we’re young and will make some mistakes, but clearly, we’re looking to close that gap. It was our most consistent performance tonight.”
The battle to finish in the top eight looks set for an exciting finish that will go down to the wire with several teams still in contention. Having got in last week, Fremantle is now back out after they were on the end of a thrashing by Brisbane.
Joe Daniher booted four majors for a rampant Lions side that rediscovered their best form and were rarely troubled. They led for nearly the whole evening, increasing their advantage at every change en route to a scoreline that boosts their percentage.
Richmond overcame a poor start before going on to produce a much improved second half and get up over North Melbourne to keep themselves in the hunt.
Jack Graham, Trent Cotchin and Toby Nankervis were at the heart of that recovery while Maurice Rioli Jnr, a father-son product taken with pick No.51 in last year’s NAB AFL Draft, lined up in the number 49 shirt, the same as his dad did at South Fremantle, and made an impression on debut which he iced with a third-quarter goal.
St.Kilda put in a powerful four-quarter showing to remain firmly in the mix as they picked up a very impressive 29-point success over a bang in-form Sydney.
Jack Higgins bagged an equal career-high four goals and captain Jack Steele (34 possessions, seven tackles and six clearances), in his 100th, was in fine form.
This encounter marked charismatic field umpire ‘Razor’ Ray Chamberlain’s 350th AFL game (which includes 29 finals and three Grand Finals) over a 17-year career.
Peter Wright kicked a career-high seven majors as Essendon knocked over leaders Western Bulldogs, to keep their September hopes alive, with a well-deserved victory.
Bombers coach Ben Rutton thrilled with his side; he said “We hadn’t beaten the Bulldogs since 2014 as a club, but we didn’t shy away from that as a club, playing group and coaching group. They’re the things that this group on their journey is wanting to achieve and re-shape. They’re a really driven group of players and tonight is an example of some of the things the group are working their way through.”
He continued “I just see so much possibility and growth in the group. I didn’t what to put a limit on what they could achieve, and that’s been a theme for us throughout the season. I feel we’ve been getting better and today was a more consistent, well-rounded performance.”
To compound a disappointing evening for the Doggies was the news that forward Josh Bruce suffered an ACL injury that will rule him out for the rest of the season.
Melbourne returns back to the top spot with Ben Brown scoring three goals as they travelled interstate and got the job done against West Coast at Optus Stadium.
The Demons were well in control of the contest before it had to be halted for nearly 30 minutes due to lightning and the severe weather approaching the area.
The break clearly benefitted the Eagles who came out upon the re-start with purpose and gave it a real go but, in the end, just fell short as they went down by nine points.
Carlton’s Jekyll and Hyde form showed up once more as they crashed to a frustrating 19-point loss to Gold Coast. This will once again raise questions over the future of current coach David Teague, in the midst of a review, at the club.
However, take nothing away from a Suns side that picked themselves up, after last week’s horror show, to put in a hardworking, spirited display and get the result.
Forward Jacob Townsend, pick 5 in the 2020 NAB AFL Rookie Draft, finally got to make his long-awaited debut and was on the scoresheet with two well-taken snags.
Port Adelaide came out on top in the 50th ‘City of Churches’ derby beating arch-rivals Adelaide in a thrilling, low scoring contest in front of a crowd of 15,000 at the Oval.
Power defender Aliir Aliir (21 disposals, 16 intercepts, 11 marks) won his first Showdown Medal, with a clean sweep of votes, for his best on ground effort.
Speaking, post-match, to Pirate Life TV the 26-year-old said “It was all about the win. Obviously, we didn’t show up in the first half and they just outworked us. Ken (coach) gave us a good spray, which we deserved, and the boys came back out and responded. At the end of the day, it is all about winning and we got the win.”
In a bottom of the ladder clash, at an empty MCG, Hawthorn made it back-to-back triumphs, for the first time this year, as they saw off Collingwood by 17 points.
It means the Hawks and four-time premiership-winning coach Alastair Clarkson, who is set to leave the club at the end of this campaign, will avoid the wooden spoon.
Shaun Burgoyne, in his 405th AFL game, scored in the opening quarter to set a record of kicking a major in 20 consecutive seasons to add to his illustrious career.
Round 21 Results
Geelong 8.17 (65)
GWS 13.6 (84)
Carlton 8.9 (57)
Gold Coast 11.10 (76)
Richmond 13.11 (89)
North Melbourne 8.8 (56)
Adelaide 7.9 (51)
Port Adelaide 7.13 (55)
St.Kilda 14.9 (93)
Sydney 10.4 (64)
Hawthorn 15.7 (97)
Collingwood 12.6 (78)
Western Bulldogs 12.12 (84)
Essendon 15.7 (97)
Fremantle 8.6 (54)
Brisbane 18.10 (118)
West Coast 9.9 (63)
Melbourne 10.12 (72)
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