The Western Bulldogs face a stinging off-season review if they are not alive come the finals – a year after being grand finalists. The Bulldogs declared they had learned from 2017, when they failed to even reach September a year after enjoying a breakthrough premiership, but that will be proven wrong if the final two rounds of the home-and-away season do not deliver what they expect. The Dockers had endured a rugged month – two defeats and a draw – but the Bulldogs could not capitalise. They won the clearances and center clearances, with Tom Liberatore and Marcus Bontempelli busy, but the Dockers’ decision to use angles and stretch their opponents proved crucial. That the Dockers had 25 scores from 50 inside-50 entries highlighted their efficiency. The Dogs have been linked to Rory Lob this season – how they could have done with him on a night he booted four goals. Sam Darcy‘s debut was a highlight, and the third-generation Bulldog shapes as the marking defender the club has long craved. The Bulldogs must now edge Greater Western Sydney and Hawthorn over the final fortnight – and hope other results go their way – if they are to play finals. This was a must-win for the Dockers if they were to challenge for the top four, and midfielder Caleb Serong and defend Luke Ryan we were superb. why David Mundy you have opted to retire once the season is done is a head shaker, considering the way he played. The Dockers embraced a famous Muhammad Ali poem I. We. to strengthen their resolve, and that was on show. If they continue to play with this flair, they will enjoy a deep September run.
Port Adelaide v Richmond, Adelaide Oval
Shay Bolton took another step forward in his meteoric rise from crowd-pleasing spark plug to one of the competition’s genuinely elite handful of superstars after torching Port Adelaide. The dynamic Bolton did virtually as he pleased in Richmond’s 38-point win, pulling down a big pack mark, running rings around opponent Ryan Burton with his endless bag of tricks at ground level and matching his career-best haul of four goals. True to form, he also registered five behinds to give him a 39.39 goalkicking return for the year – it’s scary to imagine just how good he could be if he could improve his accuracy from him. Tom Lynch also slotted four goals, while Dion Prestia and Trent Cotchin feasted on the ruck dominance of Toby Nankervis to flourish in the clinches. Defend Nick Vlastuin‘s rib injury was the only downside to the Tigers’ commanding performance which, on the back of their powerful finish against Brisbane a week earlier, has their competitors taking notice. That dangerous floater that everybody talks about but nobody relishes coming up against in a final knockout – that’s Richmond. With winnable MCG clashes against Hawthorn and Essendon to close out the last two rounds – and the potential returns of Dustin Martin and Dylan Grimes in the coming weeks – the Tigers can really hit the finals firing on all cylinders. The Power’s faint finals dream ended a week ago and they now find themselves mired in a nightmare four-game losing skid, their shoddy display against Richmond easily the worst of the bunch.
Geelong v St Kilda, GMHBA Stadium
Chris Scott admitted post-game he is not looking forward to selection in the coming weeks as he has to somehow squeeze Joel Selwood, Patrick Dangerfield (assuming he is fit), Mark Blicavs and Gary Rohan into a team that has won 11 in a row. And it’s not as though at least 21 of those who took St Kilda apart on Saturday night don’t have a big enough body of work to justify inclusion in the Cats’ best team. The Cats have been the best team in the home-and-away season but until they perform in finals that status for 2022 won’t be confirmed.
The most exciting aspect for the club, however, is the emergence of Max Holmeswho was close to best on ground in just his 26th game and Sam DeKoning‘s continued form as a high-flying defender. Dangerfield’s calf will be watched more closely than a cow that’s just been born as we head into September. St Kilda are not good enough and will battle to make the eight. If they do, well done, but they should not be fooled into thinking they are in the shape to contend soon.
The Saints need to keep focusing on the draft and bring in young talent to build a team around Max King because the sugar hit many of their recruits from other clubs gave the club has dissolved. Brad Hill remains inconsistent, Zack Jones was the medical sub, paddy ryder was injured, Dan Hannebery could not finish the game and Dan Butler lacks the ferocity to apply pressure he once had. by contrast, Marcus Windhager and Mitch Owens have talent as does Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera. That trio, King, hunter clark, Nick Cofffield, Rowan Marshall, Josh Battle, jack sinclair, Jack Steele and callum wilkie the players they need to build a team from.
– peter ryan
North Melbourne v Sydney, Marvel Stadium
Sydney have held on to a top-four spot and are looking more likely to earn a double chance with a significant win over North Melbourne at Marvel on Sunday afternoon. However, things were looking a bit interesting early on as the clash was a game played across two very different halves. The first didn’t look much like a top-tier v bottom-of-the-ladder match-up as North challenged Sydney and kept the margin fairly close. Despite trailing, they applied pressure and even kept some of the Swans star players quiet, such as lance franklin, much to the credit of Aidan Corr. Then, as if John Longmire told his team to put their foot down during the main break, Sydney pulled away to the blowout lead that was expected of them going in. Sydney finished the day with a 38-point win and Franklin ended up banking four majors. Tom Papley and chad warner both bagged three, the first with flair and the second with class. However, none of them compared to 24-year-old Nick Larkey, who booted a mammoth seven goals for the Kangaroos, an equal career-high. With better supply of the ball, imagine how high that number could have been. Sydney are now equal on points with the reigning premiers, just below on percentage, and next face Collingwood and St Kilda in the last two rounds of the home and away season.
Brisbane Lions v Carlton, Gabba
All the focus will be on the match review panel officer, and how he assesses Carlton skipper patrick cripps′ collision with Callum Ah Chee. Losing Cripps would be a savage blow for the Blues, who need to win at least one of two difficult remaining games against Melbourne and Collingwood to ensure a final eight place. For three quarters, the Lions had played excellent football to hold the Blues to just four goals, and they put the contest to bed by three-quarter time. But giving up eight goals in the last quarter will not reassure supporters about their leaky defense.
– Andrew Stafford
West Coast v Adelaide, Optus Stadium
While the fairytale wasn’t quite to be for one of the favorite sons of the west, the man they simply call ‘JK’ out west delivered on one of the most memorable individual farewells.
With his 8.2, Josh Kennedy booted the most goals in a single game of any AFL player so far this season to nearly snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
The Eagles turned a narrow quarter-time deficit into a slender lead at the half before the Crows put another difficult week for their club behind them with a 16-point win, 16.6 (102) to 13.8 (86).
Since the opening of Optus Stadium, few have brought the fans to their feet more consistently than Kennedy, who showed off his party tricks one final time before heading off into the sunset of his football career.
After his 293rd and final game, the now 34-year-old big man dropped to his knees at the final siren, and the 50,117 fans broke into chants of ‘JK’ shortly after, despite the disappointment of defeat.
“I can’t thank you all enough. You’ve given me so much over my career,” he said.
But, in truth, West Coast’s seven-time leading goal-kicker, three-time All-Australian, two-time Coleman medalist, and 2018 premiership star has given so much more since ‘that’ trade from the Blues in exchange for Chris Judd .
Kennedy has now leapfrogged Saints great Nick Riewoldt and 1938 Carlton premiership star Harry Vallence into 21st spot in the all-time VFL/AFL goalkicking list.
– Russell Bennett
Match review news
There were no reports out of Friday night’s match. Hawthorn’s Jarman Impey was put on report in the third quarter against the Suns for contact on Darcy Mcpherson but the match review officer determined there was no case for Impey to answer. Similarly, Kamdyn McIntosh was not charged over the incident with Port’s Darcy Byrne-Jones because “it was the view of the MRO that McIntosh made a genuine attempt to spoil and that his actions were not unreasonable in the circumstances”. daniel lloyd and Mason Redman were fined for wrestling, Tim Membery was fined for striking, Jake Stringer was fined for rough conduct and Lloyd was handed a second fine for striking.
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