Crows d Cats by 11. Early on the Cats were precise going forward but Adelaide was winning their fair share of footy. Adelaide continued that form further into the game and the Cats seemed to drop away. In the end the Crows beat the Cats by being harder at the ball, running the ball better and denying Geelong the opportunity to play the way they wanted to. Others will learn from this one. Crows were simply magnificent, and shed, at least for the night, that mantle of Crowbots as they play past, furious and exciting footy.
Hawks d Lions by 75. Slaughter. Best word for it. Hawks dominated early and frankly just kept it going all game. Really it was an utter domination. 33 scoring shots to 8 tells the tale and the margin should have been bigger as the Lions kick 7 goals from those 8 and the Hawks 16 points. The Lions simply couldn't get the ball forward and recorded only 25 inside 50s for the match.
Pies d Saints by 48. The Pies started well jumping out to a 3 goal lead at the end of the first, and essentially were unchallenged, extending their lead at every change. Ferocious Magpie pressure pretty to which the Saints had no answer was the cause. But interestingly the scoreboard was a reverse of their earlier game this year where the Pies kicked themselves out of it with dreadful kicking on goal, this time around it was the Saints that stopped any chance of getting back into the game with only 6 goals and 16 behinds.
Weagles d Dons by 32. One outstanding performance and a bucketload of goals. Mark LeCras was simply amazing booting 12 goals of the 34 that West Coast and Essendon combined for. However it was the Weagles with the win, and pretty much off the boot of LeCras.
Dogs d Port by 36. A fast flowing uncontested game of footy, that was remarkably boring. Port were simply outclassed (unsurprisingly). They player with a bit of heart early but thaat was crushed in the 2nd. The Dogs looked solid for 3 quarters. but nothing more than that. They played a fast free flowing style but didn't really capitalise with poor delivery into the forward 50. They won't win any finals with that sort of uncontested stuff, thats for sure.
Swans d Blues by 39. 10 goals to 3 in the first half pretty much saw this game over. Paul Roos brought in some interesting strategies including playing Shaw as a one out full forward, he netted 3 goals to reward the coaches unusual plan. Carlton didn't show much as it made a multitude of errors and allowed Sydney to play the tough contested game they love.
North d Tigers by 50. A good win by North who finally burst the Tigers bubble. 15 goals to 7 was a tale of hard strong footy at both the man and the ball, and the young Tigers couldn't replicate their recent efforts to counter it. Impressively the Roos held Reiwoldt, the man who has been raining the goals down, to 3. It was a strong performance all over the ground with the Roos winning most positions.
Freo d Dees by 11. Freo jumped the Dees early and scooted out to a 45 point lead just before half time, but the Dees kicked the next 7 before a Freo goal to close the 3rd but the Dockers up by 8. In a remarkable 4th the Dees kicked the first goal of the term and then a point to be 1 point behind. And then the story become one of squandered opportunities. 4 behinds to Freo then a few swaped behinds, before Hayden Ballanytne goaled near the end to put the result beyond doubt. Thrilling game!
Ladies and gentlemen we have a ripping finals race coming up. The top 8 has another challenger in Adelaide, so 10 teams vying for 8 spots (OK realistically, 5 for 6th-8th). And a top 4 battle. Can Freo hold on? Finally there's the battle for top spot, any of three teams can grab, who will?
1. Crows - Simply stunning. Not only did they beat the Cats, but they did it with a wonderful attacking style of footy rarely seen. This is the sort of Crows side I love to watch. They are now one game out of the 8 and with 3 winnable games (Port, Tiges and Lions) to come they need to win won out of 3 game against the top four teams, Pies, Dogs and Saints. Can't wait to see how this pans out.
2. Pies - Brilliant effort to stun the second favourite for the flag. Stun isn't the right word for just getting the win, but its the nature of how the Pies went about it where stun applies. The win will see thousands of the black and white army dusting off the woodchips as they climb out of the woodwork because for the first time this year they are on top of the ladder, and clear at that. 6 more MCG games remain. They are in great form and only have 2 real tests to come, the Cats in round 19 and the Hawks in round 22.
3. Swans - Great win against a rival, but most impressive because it was in Melbourne and not their SCG fortress and because it was a pretty conclusive victory and enough to ensure they stay ahead, on % of the Hawks. And they needed this win because the rest of the year is damned tough. Melbourne they should account for but it is a the G but after that its the Cats, Hawks, Freo and Dogs.
4. North - Its a win they needed. Not only to stay intouch but to gain a little on their terrible %. It means they are equal 8th with the Blues and a game up from Adelaide. They still have some winnable games, and if they make the most of those and sneak a win against a top 4 side, they may just leap frog the Blues.
5. Hawks - Super impressive display and a super important win gaining all important % as well as doing all they can to stay in touch with the 4 (which is a pipe dream really). Huge game next week against the Saints, but regardless of that Port at AAMI and Sydney at the SCG wait after that. The tough games just don't stop.
6. West Coast - excellent win inspired by individual brilliance, but a much needed win nevertheless. They remain on the bottom, but have closed the gap between themselves and 15th. What was impressive was that it was in Melbourne. More like this and they might catch someone. Port or Essendon anyone?
7. Dogs - They won. But lets erase memory of the game. They did the job that was expected and not much more. Huge game against, and whilst its in Melbourne they will be very tired coming off the humidity in Darwin. Must keep winning though becuase the Hawks are looming.
8. Freo - Very important win, but they got the scare of their life. They would be angry at throwing away a big lead, but relieved to get the win and maintain their top 4 spot. It doesn't get any easier than this with games against 5 of the top 8 contenders. Frankly they have looked very shakey since Barlow went down, and my gut feel is they'll miss top 4.
9. Dees - What a marvelous performance from a young Dees side who doesn't know how to travel. They had their chances to win a big game but perhaps the nerves got to them, However the result didn't really matter for them, the endeavour that they showed will lift the spirits of Melbourne supporters. This is going to be a good team in years to come.
10. Tigers - It was bound to happen. They've played well for so long and really well above expectation. They encountered a North side desperate to stay in the finals race. Its really a loss of little consequence however. Whilst it would have been nice to get a game on the Eagles Richmond is focused on development, and they learn plenty from this game.
11. Port - Really tried hard early and looked good. Frankly it looked like an exciting game early, but then they lost their way. This is a team without much depth and no confidence. They have no forward line structure and a pedestrian midfield (although they would love more of what Pearce showed, more often). Their defence looks OK but too much ball gets there courtesy of the dodgy midfield. It will be a long recovery.
12. Saints - Shocking result. Firstly the manner of their defeat, but secondly because they missed a golden opportunity to shore up top two due to Geelongs loss. However, in the scheme of things, it means little. They will still finish top 4 and will not have to travel in the finals. Huge match looming against the Hawks on Friday night. In the Hawks form and with Buddy due back the Saints may actually have another massive test on their hands.
13. Cats - Would be disappointed with the result, especially as they were only Steve Johnson away from their best team (maybe Hawkins too). More so because they dropped the game and were quite simply outplayed, than any impact to their finals hopes. Will teams learn from this? Was it just a hiccup after a tough game against the Hawks? They've got a nice soft game back at home next week, and I suspect that will be just the tonic to reverse this result.
14. Essendon - to lose to West Coast is dreadful in the current climate, but to do so at Etihad is unforgivable. If the knives were out before this, they'll be sharpened and ready to use now. They are in complete disarray and this season looks completely shot. As some suspected their list is poor and reliant on too few. Like a couple of other teams, a long rebuild awaits.
15. Brisbane - Woeful display but the result, a loss, was expected. Vossy coached poorly and his players matched him with their effort. Back to the drawing board for this team, but sadly there is no where to go with compromised drafts hitting everyone over the next two years. It'll be a sad end for legends like Black and Brown but its difficult seeing Brisbane challenge for much in the coming 3-4 years.
16. Carlton - Unforgivable really. A game they had to at the very least show something in, however the loss was a bad one and they didn't show anything. The Blues are in shocking form at the moment and with a resurgent Adelaide and a North side that refuses to roll over they are currently in a battle for 8th. Thankfully they have a handy percentage on their rivals and a game on Adelaide. But with West Coasts win, next week at Subi (the first time they have travelled since round 8) is no longer a gimmie and they still face 3 top 4 sides, as well as familiar foes in Essendon (right now looking like the easiest win they'll get) and Richmond.