The Following is a guest post by Luke who offered his views on each game from the round. If you are interested in having your thoughts published on the AFLSpace site, contact me. Many thanks to Luke for providing this great review.
AFL Round Review – Round 18
This round seems to have separated a few of the contenders from the pretenders; but it has also thrown up some more questions as we approach finals in 4 weeks time.
Essendon 108 defeated St Kilda 75 – You’d be forgiven last round for thinking Essendon had achieved something greater than a 3-point win against a heavily undermanned (and bottom 8) North Melbourne side; with Matthew Knights taking pot shots at past players and media identities alike post game. He could save those comments for, I don’t know, a finals victory perhaps?
Few thought an upset was on the cards Friday night, even though the Saints have not exactly been world-beaters of late (funnily enough, since Riewoldt’s return actually). Working in the Dons favour was that they have been the bogey side of the Saints, winning the past 2 matches – and this pattern continued on Friday night after a blistering first half by Essendon put St Kilda on the back foot and from there, there would be no recovery. Essendon kept their now slim finals hopes alive with a 33-point win.
Collingwood 105 defeated Carlton 57 – Collingwood were flying coming into round 18, sitting on top of the ladder with the second best percentage in the competition and riding a 5-game winning streak. The pessimists out there (or non-Pies supporters in other words) would argue they’re peaking too early – but try telling that to their army of supporters starved of premiership success.
Historically, Carlton has troubled the Pies – but that trend looks to be dead and buried as the Pies cleaned up the Blues in emphatic fashion at the ‘G on Saturday. The final margin was a rather flattering (for Carlton) 48-points, but it felt more like 100 points if you’re a Carlton follower. The Blues haven’t fired a shot since defeating the Demons in round 11, with only very ordinary wins against the Lions and Eagles to come from rounds 12-18 in what as been a disturbing form drop-off. The next two rounds, against the Dons and Tigers, will tell us plenty about Carlton.
Port Adelaide 92 defeated Hawthorn 84 – The Power has been “plugged in” down at Port Adelaide since the departure of Mark Williams and arrival of Mathew Primus as caretaker coach. The players appear revitalised, too – though despite all of this, the Hawks were heavily favoured to continue their push to September and a possible top 4 spot with a win. And as if playing to script, Hawthorn appeared in control for most of this match – before a final quarter Power surge took them into the lead, which is where they stayed, securing a second consecutive home win. There will be much focus during the week on the three-quarter-time melee, with Cyril Rioli and possibly others expected to receive a spell on the sidelines for their involvement.
Sydney 72 lost to Geelong 125 – There were no surprises at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night, with the class of Geelong proving far too good for a struggling Sydney team. After a tight opening term, the Cats booted 13 of the next 15 goals to blow the game apart. The Swans have won just 4 of their last 12 games, after starting the season so promisingly with 5 wins from their first 6 games. Steve Johnson was superb for the Cats with 6 goals.
Brisbane 64 lost to Melbourne 74 – The Demons still have a slim hope of seeing finals action this year, especially considering the form of Sydney and Carlton at the minute. Meanwhile, the Lions could well be looking at a wooden spoon if results don’t go their way over the last 4 rounds. Melbourne was in control for most of this match, before a late Lions rally tightened the contest. The difference in the end was conversion in front of goal, with the Demons making more of their chances to secure a 10-point win. Colin Sylvia was a standout with 31 disposals, 9 marks, 8 tackles and 2 goals.
Richmond 100 defeated Adelaide 80 – With the fist five games of the round giving us little to get excited about, Sunday’s fixture of matches didn’t exactly indicate a change was on the cards. At the MCG, Richmond overcame a 19-point half time deficit to effectively end any chance the Crows had at making finals this season. Adelaide had its chances early but couldn’t put the Tigers away, with Richmond recording their 6th win of 2010. Amongst a wealth of ball-getters on the day, Ben Cousins notched up another top game with 25 disposals and a crucial late goal, further strengthening his case for another year at Tigerland.
Western Bulldogs 143 defeated North Melbourne 72 – Similarly to several games this round, the underdog (in this case, North Melbourne) was considered an outside chance of a victory but in reality, the favourites were far too strong on the day (the Bulldogs). North battled away before a 9-goal final term by the Bulldogs blew out the final margin to 71 points, solidifying 4th position, with St Kilda now looking the shaky side in the top 4. Matthew Boyd was a star for the Dogs with 40 disposals, 11 marks and 3 tackles.
Fremantle 160 defeated West Coast 85 – Speaking of top 4, the Dockers meant business on Sunday against a very poor Eagles side in the final match of round 18. Any thoughts of a “Derby” classic were forgotten as Fremantle kicked away to a 45-point lead by the first change and it was all about percentage from that point on, with the eventual 75-point win a huge boost to the Dockers hopes of a top 4 position. West Coast is now clear in last spot on the Ladder – one game and percentage behind the Lions in 15th spot.