Australian football – Six in the Mix
It is rapidly approaching the business end of the season in the Australian Football League. The wrestle for finals spots is far from over with just three weekends of footy remaining before the four-week finals series.
For the second week in a row (apart from last Friday night’s game), all matches were won by the hosting team. It’s not likely to happen again this round.
The battle for fourth rages. The Round 6 drawn match between the Sydney Swans and the North Melbourne Kangaroos haunts the season. With minutes remaining before the fourth quarter final siren, the Swans cheated (albeit accidently) by having 19 players on the field instead of the regulation 18 – in that time they scored and drew level. The archaic Australian football rule at that time required the captain to call a player count and if the 18-man rule was breached, the score would be wiped to zero. The AFL allowed the draw to stand, but responded the following week with an interchange rule change that gave a boundary official the ability to award a free kick and a 50m penalty for infringements.
The Swans have not had good form of late, but their saving grace last weekend was their home-ground advantage against lowly Fremantle whose inaccuracy cost them the match. This week it’s the Geelong Cats and probably the Swans’ biggest test of the season.
The ‘Roos, on the other hand, are in fine form on a five-match winning streak. They’ll face the Carlton Blues who enter this match lunging to reach the finals.
The Collingwood Magpies (seventh) and the St Kilda Saints (eighth) have what could be tough interstate matches against lowly Port Adelaide and Fremantle, respectively. Last weekend, the ‘Pies won in a dour contest against the Saints (who are fellow finals contenders) by 14 points. The ‘Pies’ percentage may keep them in good staid by the end of Round 22.
The Brisbane Lions (hosting the Western Bulldogs this weekend who are in a slump) are not without a chance of re-entering the top eight and will need to bounce back after going down to the Hawks by 69 points.
At the top of the table, the Geelong Cats have the Minor Premiership sewn up. They would need to lose all three matches, by huge margins, and the Hawthorn Hawks win all three, with equally huge margins, to overtake the 30-plus percentage points deficit.
It matters little which of the Hawks or the ‘Dogs finish second or third, as they will meet each other in the first week of the finals. These two teams may be tuning up for that match, but the Hawks would have the edge on form at the moment. The ‘Dogs have lost their consistency, while the Hawks continue to improve as previously injured players run into match fitness and form.
Meanwhile, Lance “Buddy” Franklin is on target to kick 100 goals for the season after kicking 6 goals 1 point last weekend – bringing his season total to 91.68. The Hawthorn centre half-forward, with a wayward hooking style, has an average of around 10 shots at goal per match with several either dropping short or going out of bounds on the full. But with so many attempts, bags of goals are inevitable and nine more in three games is easily achievable.
Finally, congratulations to Hawthorn’s Shane Crawford in playing your 300th game for the same club – the honour in loyalty can never be measured!
AFL Round 19 Results
MEL 5.11 (41) vs GEE 24.13 (157)
CAR 18.24 (132) vs PA 9.12 (66)
HAW 16.14 (110) vs BL 5.11 (41)
COL 14.13 (97) vs STK 12.11 (83)
SYD 17.10 (112) vs FRE 15.18 (108)
NM 21.10 (136) vs WB 18.8 (116)
ADE 16.12 (108) vs RIC 6.9 (45)
WCE 17.11 (113) vs ESS 16.7 (103)
AFL Ladder Round 19/22
Teams % pts
Geelong 160.3 72
Hawthorn 129.3 60
W. Bulldogs 120.0 58
Sydney 116.4 46
N. Melbourne 99.6 46
Adelaide 110.1 44
Collingwood 109.8 40
St Kilda 100.2 40
Brisbane 100.6 36
Carlton 99.3 36
Richmond 91.5 34
Essendon 87.7 32
Fremantle 94.2 20
Port Adelaide 89.2 20
West Coast 69.4 16
Melbourne 63.2 8
4 points awarded for a win
2 points awarded for a draw
per cent is points for divided by points against
Leading Goal scorers
Lance Franklin (HAW) 91
Brendan Fevola (CAR) 84
Daniel Bradshaw (BL) 65
Matthew Pavlich (FRE) 64
Jonathan Brown (BL) 63
Friday, August 15
Port Adelaide vs Collingwood
(AAMI Stadium) 7.40pm AEST
Saturday, August 16
Essendon vs Adelaide
(Telstra Dome) 2.10pm
Melbourne vs West Coast
Brisbane Lions vs Western Bulldogs
Sydney vs Geelong
(ANZ) (N) 7.10pm
Sunday, August 17
Richmond vs Hawthorn
Carlton vs North Melbourne
(Telstra Dome) 2.10pm
Fremantle vs St Kilda
(Subiaco Oval) 2.40pm