AFL 2023 Round 22: Magpies answer critics, Blues-Dees controversial finish, Cunnington farewell, Western Derby

AFL 2023 Round 24

Collingwood gave the perfect response to all the media hype that they are going through a ‘wobble’ by getting up over the reigning premiers Geelong at the ‘G’.

Without starman Nick Daicos, the evening didn’t get off to the best start for the Magpies that made a sluggish opening, fell behind on the scoreboard, and then lost their captain Darcy Moore who had to be substituted with hamstring tightness.

However, the current ladder leaders were able to recover and spearheaded by forward Brody Mihocek (pictured below), kicking an equal career-high five goals, were able to get back on track to secure a win that leaves them on the verge of being minor premiers.

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Speaking in the rooms to the club’s website, ‘Checkers’ said “We knew that they were pretty cooked after the first quarter. We knew that if we kept that pressure up and kicked goals in the second quarter then that put us in good stead for the second half and we capitalised on that.”

On his own performance, he replied “The last few weeks I haven’t done what I wanted to out there. I just went back to what makes me a good player and good team mate and that is helping others out. I felt like I did that today and the footy gods got me a few cheap ones out the back which was nice. Thanks to Bo and Ginny as well for those easy ones. It was just a good all round team effort.”

Brisbane boosted their chances of a top two finish whilst maintaining their perfect home record (10-0) but were pushed all the way by a very resilient Adelaide outfit.

With their finals hopes on the line, the Crows put in a really spirited display, finished strongly and put the hosts under siege, in the latter stages, but just fell short.

Port Adelaide snapped a four-game losing streak to secure a top four, double chance in September after getting the chocolates against Greater Western Sydney.

Ken Hinckley’s men got off to a flyer and never looked back as they led for the whole afternoon, increasing their lead at every change, in a morale boosting triumph.

Carlton look set to end a decade of heartache by making finals after making it eight in a row and getting over the line against Melbourne in a highly controversial ending.

In a low scoring affair, played in front of nearly 70,000, the big talking point came, with less than a minute remaining, when Christian Petracca went for goal with an effort that was initially ruled touched on the goal line by Caleb Marchbank.

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The umpires called for an ARC Review, which seemed to take an eternity, with officials finding insufficient evidence to overturn the original call – the decision provoking some contrasting, highly-charged and emotional reactions from fans.

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Speaking in the presser on the key moment, Blues coach Michael Voss said “I was sitting there going ‘please don’t overrule this, you can’t lose this way’.”

“I’ve spoken to him and he says he did, so at this point in time it doesn’t really matter to me. We’ll just call that it was touched, take the four points and walk away.”

Opposite number Simon Goodwin commented “The guy closest to where it all took place thought he touched it, so it’s umpire’s call. That’s the rules.”

Down in Launceston, the fast-improving Hawthorn pulled off another upset by coming from behind and then managing to hold on against the Western Bulldogs.

It takes the Hawks to seven wins for the year, in Sam Mitchell’s first full season in charge, and there is plenty to be excited about with this new squad looking forward.

Fremantle recorded their biggest ever Western Derby victory margin over arch-rivals and bottom of the ladder West Coast in a 101-point mauling at Optus Stadium.

Forward Lachie Schultz (pictured below) (24 disposals, 14 kicks, ten handballs and five goals) picked up the second Glendinning–Allan Medal of his career with a man of the match effort.

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For the Eagles, a dirty day to forget as they registered their lowest ever score against the Dockers and it was their fifth 100+ loss in what has been a terrible year.

There were emotional scenes at Marvel Stadium as North Melbourne midfielder Ben Cunnington, considered one of the toughest players in the game, bowed out, after deciding to hang up the boots, earlier in the week, in the defeat to Essendon.

The 32-year-old, a two-time Syd Barker Medallist and a real fan favourite, has had to overcome two battles with testicular cancer during his 13-year, 238 game career.

He certainly left it all out there by putting in a best on ground that included 24 disposals, ten clearances and two goals. He was chaired off by long-time team mates Todd Goldstein and Jack Ziebell through a guard of honour from both sides.

Speaking to Fox Footy, ‘Cunners’ said “I tried to soak it in all this week, especially as I have been in the twos for a couple of weeks, I never could have dreamt finishing on a high like this and to the club I will be forever grateful. To finish on a high and get so much love, I will be forever in debt.”

“I just tried to enjoy every minute. We were in the game for a bit so that made it more exciting. Just tried to soak it up, because that is it. It was good.”

He added “The club has been unreal for me so we will definitely be keeping in touch but we will be going back to the farm and living our best life.”

Will Hayward booted a career-high four majors as in-form Sydney produced a strong second half showing to eventually see off the challenge from a plucky Gold Coast.

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Chad Warner continued his amazing form (28 disposals, 15 contested possessions and two goals) while Tom Papley and Errol Gulden also played crucial roles.

For the Suns, this defeat means they will miss out on a first finals appearance in their club history. The focus now will be who takes over from Stuart Dew, in the summer, with three-time premiership-winning coach Damien Hardwick the firm favourite.

Max King had a day out, bagging a career-equal six snags, as St.Kilda put in a solid four quarter performance to get the job done over a disappointing Richmond.

The loss continues the Tigers miserable run at Marvel Stadium and also means that the 2017, 2019, 2020 flag winners won’t be part of the action come next month.

Round 22 Results

Collingwood 16.13 (109)
Geelong 15.11 (101)

North Melbourne 12.5 (77)
Essendon 13.8 (86)

Sydney 18.6 (114)
Gold Coast 13.12 (90)

Brisbane 15.9 (99)
Adelaide 13.15 (93)

Carlton 9.6 (60)
Melbourne 8.8 (56)

West Coast 4.9 (33)
Fremantle 20.14 (134)

Hawthorn 9.13 (67)
Western Bulldogs 9.10 (64)

St.Kilda 14.9 (93)
Richmond 8.9 (57)

Port Adelaide 21.10 (136)
GWS 13.7 (85)

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