Geelong wrapped up the minor premiership (McClelland Trophy), with a week to go, in convincing fashion as they thumped Gold Coast up at Metricon Stadium.
This result made it twelve straight for the Cats and guarantees them two home finals in Victoria. It is also their ninth top-four finish during Chris Scott’s eleven years at the helm and, not surprisingly, they will be going in as the bookies red-hot favourites.
Speaking in the presser, the coach (pictured above) said “I can sit here now saying our wider team has set up this year brilliantly well to give us a chance. It doesn’t guarantee us anything, but if it doesn’t work out for us, we won’t sit back and say we didn’t give ourselves the best chance.”
He added “For me it’s a privilege, it’s a privilege to feel that pressure. I’ve been in footy a long time and those years where you get to this stage of the year and you’re not in contention, I don’t want to be there. I’d rather risk the disappointment of not quite getting there every single year – and it’s a shocking feeling when we don’t quite get there – but I’d take 100 of them to try and pull it off once.”
Kysaiah Pickett was the hero by scoring the winner, with just eleven seconds remaining, as Melbourne came from behind to get over the line against Carlton.
The current reigning Premiers looked like they might be slipping out of those double chance places but somehow managed to find a way in a quite exhilarating finale.
Total heartbreak for the Blues – a win would have guaranteed them their first finals since 2011, but instead their third straight loss sees those hopes in real jeopardy.
Over in WA, Fremantle fans have the bragging rights, once more, after watching their team defeat arch-rivals West Coast before a crowd of 53,816 at Optus Stadium.
Played in wet conditions, it was a fiery and sometimes spiteful 55th Western Derby that saw the Dockers make life hard for themselves with their inaccuracy (17 behinds) but ultimately still had more than enough to get the chocolates.
Ruckman Sean Darcy (career-high 57 hitouts, 16 disposals, 15 kicks, 6 tackles and a goal) won the Glendinning-Allan Medal for his best on ground performance.
Sydney flexed their muscles, ending Collingwood’s eleven match unbeaten record, with a strong four quarter showing and a 27-point triumph in front of a sold-out SCG.
In previous weeks, the Magpies have had a knack of coming back to get up in close ones but there was no such luck on this occasion. They were kept to their lowest score of the year by a Swans outfit that increased their lead at every change.
During the half-time interval, home supporters had the chance to say farewell to midfielder, former captain, 3× All-Australian and premiership player Josh Kennedy (pictured below) as he did a lap of honour, with his family, after announcing his decision to retire.
Talking to Swans TV about ending his playing career, he said “It’s been an incredible journey. I have been talking to ‘Horse’ (coach John Longmire) over the last couple of weeks and whilst it’s probably been pretty clear to me that it was coming to the end, it is still that final step and saying it out loud that I will be hanging them up at the end of this year. I say that with a heart, full of gratitude.”
He continued “I’m eternally grateful to the football club, the players past and present, the support staff that make the club great from the board level down, and of course all the fans and supporters over the journey who have supported me and the team and made me feel very special to belong to such a great club.”
Tom Lynch booted a career-best haul as Richmond guaranteed their place in the all-important eight after roaring to a 61-point success over Hawthorn.
Flag winners in 2017, 2019, 2020, the Tigers have the experience and hit some form at the right time. With several key players recently returning to the line-up and 3×Norm Smith and Brownlow Medallist Dusty Martin set to make his comeback, in the near future, they will be seen as a side that could pose a real threat next month.
Another club hoping to join them, by clinching the final spot in the eight, are the Western Bulldogs, who kept their season alive by getting the job done against Greater Western Sydney in what proved to be a very scrappy, low-scoring affair.
Forward Jamarra Ugle-Hagan put the ball through the big sticks, the only major of the fourth quarter, which turned out to be the pivotal moment. The Doggies will now need to get up in their final match, next Sunday, and hope other results go their way.
Cameron Rayner kicked four snags as Brisbane maintain their top four aspirations on track and in their own hands after besting St.Kilda in a tight and tense contest.
For the Saints, this defeat mathematically ended their chances of a place in September. They will look back on this match as a missed opportunity with their last seven scoring shots ending in behinds, allowing the Lions to bag the four points.
It was an emotional afternoon, at the Adelaide Oval, for North Melbourne’s Ben Cunnington as he made his return to the line-up, after 385 days away from sport, having successfully overcome two bouts of cancer in a truly inspirational story.
He underwent surgery to remove a tumour in July last year and then completed a nine-week course of chemotherapy to treat a secondary diagnosis last November.
Although the Kangaroos came out on the wrong side of the ledger against the Crows, the fact the midfielder (pictured below) was back out on the oval was the real winner.
Speaking on ground to Fox Footy, he said “I suppose you get a bit complacent or you think you might be done with the game but until it gets taken away, you quickly realise how much you do love it and to get another opportunity at playing, I couldn’t be more appreciative or grateful, so even though we lost I still can’t stop smiling and just trying to appreciate the ride now.”
On some of his struggles, he added “During the treatment, I could barely get out of bed and go to the toilet without collapsing or feeling crook, you name it. First month was learning pretty much how to walk again, getting the strength and the k’s under the legs, so it’s started from rock bottom. There were a few hiccups, it definitely questioned me when I got back just because the time was ticking, I felt I really worked hard to get back this year.”
Port Adelaide chalked up their highest score and joint biggest victory margin of the season as they hammered a dreadful Essendon outfit by a huge 84-point scoreline.
Sam Powell-Pepper, Zak Butters and the re-called Mitch Georgiades were amongst the scorers for a rampant Power that enjoyed a real day out and led all afternoon.
Round 22 Results
St.Kilda 9.12 (66)
Brisbane 12.9 (81)
Western Bulldogs 9.8 (62)
GWS 8.9 (57)
Adelaide 15.13 (103)
North Melbourne 10.14 (74)
Gold Coast 9.5 (59)
Geelong 18.11 (119)
Melbourne 11.13 (79)
Carlton 10.14 (74)
Fremantle 9.17 (71)
West Coast 7.5 (47)
Richmond 20.8 (128)
Hawthorn 9.13 (67)
Sydney 11.11 (77)
Collingwood 7.8 (50)
Essendon 9.8 (62)
Port Adelaide 23.8 (146)
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