AFL 2023 Round 21: Hawks shock leaders, Battle of the Bridge, Clarko’s 400th, Rosebury umpiring record, Langford heroics

AFL 2023 Round 24

Lowly Hawthorn scored arguably the shock result of the season, with a superb performance, as they toppled ladder leaders Collingwood at a packed MCG.

There were notable showings from many Hawks players, including Finn Maginness (pictured below, left) who did a masterclass tagging job on Brownlow favourite Nick Daicos (pictured below, right) and kept him to his quietest match of the year (5 disposals) – there was further bad news for the Pies with their star midfielder now set to miss the next six weeks with a knee injury.

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Once again, captain James Sicily (37 disposals, 24 kicks, career-high 19 marks, 10 intercept possessions, three goal assists and 515 metres gained) was dominant.

Talking in the rooms to Hawks TV, the 28-year-old said “Awesome. We had been looking forward to the game against Collingwood because you know it is going to be a big game, big crowd. Really proud of the way we handled ourselves out there. We didn’t fall for the trap of their momentum and that they were coming which was a good learning from the Richmond game. It went a long way for us getting the result.”

On the attendance of 62,134, he added “The crowd gave us so much energy. Even I went on a few long runs and I usually don’t do that; think it was just because of the noise, the atmosphere and the buzz out there. Rapt at the Hawkers for coming and supporting us.”

Melbourne have now taken over second spot but were made to work for it and also overcome a sluggish opening before going on to defeat a plucky North Melbourne.

This fixture marked the return of Alistair Clarkson back to the hot seat, with the Kangas coach taking charge of his 400th AFL game following a four-month absence.

Whilst he was particularly heartened by their early showing, they ultimate fell away to their 18th defeat in a row which is the club’s worst losing streak since 1935.

Right behind the Dees, in third on percentage, are Brisbane that travelled interstate and managed to get over the line, in a real see-saw affair, against Fremantle.

It went right down to the wire, the lead changing on nine different occasions, with the Lions able to hang on in a tense finale. The duo of Hugh McCluggage and Cam Rayner were particular stand-out performers, in the midfield, playing key roles.

Port Adelaide have hit a rough patch, at just the wrong time, as they came out on the wrong side of the ledger and slumped to a fourth straight defeat at Geelong.

Ollie Henry starred by kicking a career-high four goals for the reigning premiers and keeps the Cats in with a chance of being able to defend their flag come September.

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Speaking, post-match, to the club’s website, midfielder Isaac Smith (pictured above) said “I thought it was pretty impressive the way we won and playing some footy that we probably played at the back end of last year. I thought our system covered for a lot of today. We had the right people in the right spots. We were able to challenge them exiting our ‘D50’. I thought it was an impressive game.”

He added “It is always good to play in front of your home fans. We probably just needed ‘Jezza’ kicking a couple goals for the decibels to go up. It was awesome out there, especially when Mitch Duncan and ‘Grind’ knocked over their goals.”

Forward Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (pictured below) bagged an equal career-high five snags as a fast starting Western Bulldogs proved too strong in the belting of a below-par Richmond.

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It was a big night for Brett Rosebury as he surpassed the record held by Shane McInerney for the most VFL/AFL matches (503) officiated by a field umpire.

The AFL have announced that they will be further investigating an incident that took place, in the third quarter, when a fan, sitting in the front row, lent over the fence and struck Tigers’ Marlon Pickett three times on the shoulder. He also appeared to say something to the midfielder to which he reacted by knocking a drink out of his hand.

Five-goal Kyle Langford was the hero, scoring the winner with just over a minute remaining, as Essendon fell over the line against West Coast by a single point.

A real shock looked to be on the cards as the Eagles, bottom of the ladder and without a win on the road all year, hit the front through Ryan Maric late-on – however, there was to be a final twist and they suffered the ultimate heartache.

A strong final term saw Carlton come from behind, making it seven-in-a-row for the first time since 2000, to run right over the top of St.Kilda at Marvel Stadium.

The Blues have hit their straps and are bang in-form, at just the right time, which will have everyone getting excited about a first finals appearance in a decade.

Sydney supporters have the bragging rights around New South Wales, this week, after watching their team come out on top over arch-rivals Greater Western Sydney.

Playing their first match in the post-Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin era, the 1,066-goal superstar forward decided to hang up the boots, the Swans produced a gritty display.

Errol Gulden (32 disposals, 25 kicks, seven tackles and two goals) continued his fine streak to claim the first Brett Kirk Medal of his career with a best on ground effort.

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Speaking in the presser, coach John Longmire lauded the 21-year-old as he said “He’s not a bad young fella, Errol, he goes alright. He’s just got a great mix, always has. He works really hard at his game.”

He went on “He watches opposition vision, he’s all over stuff, he contributes in meetings, always has, he trains as hard as any player and he runs hard and works hard on game day. They’re the things he does, and he’s got a bit of talent as well, but he doesn’t rely upon that. He works super hard.”

Two teams vying for a place in the all-important eight clashed down in South Australia where Adelaide got the chocolates, in a fiery encounter, over Gold Coast.

Crows coach Matthew Nicks handed a debut to defender James Borlase, a Category B rookie draftee; he amassed 18 touches, nine marks, eight intercept possessions and four tackles, playing a starring part down back in an afternoon to remember.

For the Suns, this result continues their woeful record at the Oval and to complete a bad day they lost defender Wil Powell, in the final term, with what looked a nasty leg injury which will almost certainly rule him out for the remainder of the season.

Round 21 Results

Western Bulldogs 19.12 (126)
Richmond 10.11 (71)

Essendon 10.13 (73)
West Coast 11.6 (72)

Adelaide 13.11 (89)
Gold Coast 9.7 (61)

Hawthorn 16.9 (105)
Collingwood 11.7 (73)

Geelong 14.13 (97)
Port Adelaide 12.13 (85)

GWS 12.13 (85)
Sydney 15.6 (96)

North Melbourne 10.11 (71)
Melbourne 15.13 (103)

St.Kilda 8.6 (54)
Carlton 10.13 (73)

Fremantle 11.8 (74)
Brisbane 11.11 (77)

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