Reigning Premiers Geelong bounced back to some form, heading into the bye, with a strong finish that allowed them to see off the challenge from the Western Bulldogs.
Defender Tom Stewart (27 disposals, 23 kicks, 10 marks and 697m gained) was pivotal for the Cats and even ventured forward to score his first snag in five years.
On that moment, he told Channel 7 “It’s a long time between goals. I gave it a bit didn’t I! It was good, I think 2018 was the last time I kicked a goal. I didn’t know whether to go left, right or straighten up but it went through which was nice.”
Speaking in the presser, coach Chris Scott (pictured below) said “I’m really proud of the approach our players took to the game. I thought it was a high-quality game. We didn’t feel like we had control of it for large periods, but our less experienced players played with the kind of assertiveness and positivity that we were after. That’s the exciting part.”Embed from Getty Images
He continued “A lot of teams, for good reason, don’t think if they get on a roll they can just win every week because they’re developing or whatever it is. We’re not over confident and we’re not thinking too far ahead.”
“But I think when you’ve got optimism, if the equation becomes you’ve got to win every game from here, I’ll sit here and say we can do that.”
A devastating first half performance set Port Adelaide up to make it a club record nine wins in a row as they hammered lowly Hawthorn to the delight of the home fans.
Jeremy Finlayson and the returning Todd Marshall both kicked five apiece as the Power chalked up their biggest score in an opening term, at the Oval, enroute to recording its highest half-time score ever under the tenure of coach Ken Hinkley.
There wasn’t a lot to cheer about for the Hawks other than forward Luke Bruest (pictured below) bringing up his 500th goal, in his 271st game, in what has been a stellar career.Embed from Getty Images
He joins Leigh Matthews, Jason Dunstall, Lance Franklin, Peter Hudson, Michael Moncrieff and Jarryd Roughead as players in club history to achieve that milestone.
It certainly wasn’t the prettiest spectacle but Melbourne got the job done as they bested Carlton in a fairly scrappy and low-scoring affair under the lights at the ‘G’.
Whilst the Demons were always in front, their failure to take their opportunities meant that they were unable to really pull away. However, in defence they were excellent and kept the Blues to their lowest score of the season which proved the key.Embed from Getty Images
Speaking in the rooms to Demons TV, midfielder Christian Petracca (pictured above) said “It was a scrappy game. Obviously the scoreline wasn’t great; we were inaccurate but I thought our contest and pressure all game was awesome and that is what we wanted. I felt like our method and the way we want to play was really there for four quarters and it was awesome to keep a team to 44 points.”
On the battle in the centre of the ground, he commented “We have probably been down with our clearance differential the last few weeks so it was nice to come back with that. They have got some great midfielders in Cripps, Cerra and Walsh, so we really wanted to make a statement out there tonight and I feel like we did that.”
Over in the west, such were the betting odds in the build-up that it wasn’t a question of who would get the chocolates, just more a case of how much Collingwood, top of the ladder, would win by as they rolled into town to take on bottom side West Coast.
In the end it was by a 63-point margin although the Magpies were certainly challenged, in the second and third, by a plucky Eagles outfit that faded in the latter stages and ultimately crashed to unwarranted club record tenth straight defeat.
Marlion Pickett was the hero, hitting the winner with just 24 seconds remaining, as Richmond got over the line in a thrilling contest against Greater Western Sydney.
The Tigers looked well on course for victory, at the end of the third, but credit to the Giants that stormed back, kicking their highest score in a final term this season, to actually sneak ahead, at one stage, but there was to be a final twist in the tail.Embed from Getty Images
It earns interim gaffer Andrew McQualter (pictured above) his first success, since taking over at the helm, following the departure of 3xPremiership coach Damien Hardwick a week ago.
Forward Jack Lukosius continued his fine form in front of the big sticks with another five-goal haul, third this season, as Gold Coast came back to defeat Adelaide.
The result means they maintain their excellent recent record up in Darwin and completes a successful 10-day stint in the Northern Territories, which also included a trip over to the Tiwi Islands that has produced such an incredible array of AFL talent.
In addition, the Suns were delighted to announce that Bailey Humphrey, pick 6 in the 2022 AFL National Draft, has committed his future to the club, with the 18-year-old rising star signing a four-year contract extension through until the end of 2028.
Speaking to the club’s website on the deal, he said “I am so excited to sign with the Suns long-term and continue my career on the Gold Coast. I had a real chat with my family and they thought it was the best option for me and so did I. Also spoke about a bit of loyalty, as well, and why would I let these mates down.”
He added “The Suns have been unbelievable at helping me settle into my new home and I’ve honestly loved every minute of being at this club. The people are so genuine; I love my teammates, I love my coaches, and that’s why I’ve signed on. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else to be honest.”
Closing out the round, rivals Essendon and North Melbourne put on a real cracker, which went right down to the wire, with a nail-biting finish for the crowd of 40,488.
It ebbed and flowed throughout, very tight, with the ledger tied late in the fourth before substitute Massimo D’Ambrosio kicked the sealer, with just two minutes on the clock, as the Bombers managed to get up and break the Kangaroos’ hearts.
Really tough on Brett Ratten’s side that played so well and actually put up their highest score for the season, so far, but in the end just fell agonisingly short.
Round 12 Results
Melbourne 8.13 (61)
Carlton 6.8 (44)
Port Adelaide 23.13 (151)
Hawthorn 14.12 (96)
West Coast 8.9 (57)
Collingwood 18.12 (120)
Western Bulldogs 10.15 (75)
Geelong 15.7 (97)
Gold Coast 16.16 (112)
Adelaide 13.9 (87)
GWS 15.14 (104)
Richmond 16.14 (110)
Essendon 16.9 (105)
North Melbourne 15.9 (99)
Bye: Brisbane, Fremantle, St Kilda and Sydney
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