Collingwood made it eleven wins in a row as they beat the reigning premiers Melbourne, for a second time this season, in an exhilarating and captivating contest.
The crowd of 70,956 at the MCG were treated to arguably one of the matches of the year so far, a superb advert for AFL footy, that went right down to the wire.
Jamie Elliott, in his 150th, and Ash Johnson (pictured above) (career-high) scored four goals apiece as this Magpies side, which continues to amaze and never knows when it is beaten, came from behind to make it their sixth-straight by just a single figure margin.
Speaking in the rooms to Magpies TV, midfielder Pat Lipinski said “It’s crazy, something special is definitely brewing; just an amazing win again. The resilience of our team; you know, at three quarter time we were down by seven points but we were happy because we know we are always going to come in the last quarter.”
He continued “Our pressure is just amazing. We just keep coming and it is infectious as well. The last quarter you could just see them coughing up the ball and that was optimised by ‘Bruzzy’s’ (Brayden Maynard) tackle which is one of the best I have ever seen. To beat Melbourne twice this year is really pleasing for us and we will gain a lot of confidence from that win which is awesome.”
Ladder leaders Geelong continue to set the pace and took another step towards lifting the McClelland Trophy (minor premiers) after belting St.Kilda by 45 points.
Despite missing a few key players, the Cats simply had far too much for the Saints with Sam Menegola, Brandan Parfitt and Max Holmes dominant in the midfield while defender Sam De Koning looked impressive and did a fine job on Max King.
Richmond were the big winners of the weekend, with the outcome of some matches going their way, moving back into the all-important eight by defeating Port Adelaide.
It proved to be a tight encounter during the first half but, after the main break, the Tigers put together a blistering third quarter that set them up to get the job done.
Speaking in the presser, a philosophical Damien Hardwick (coach) said “Sometimes you choose the mountain, and sometimes the mountain chooses you. We’ve got to go about it a different way. It’s exciting for us, the challenge is firmly set, we’ve got a great understanding of what that is.”
He added “Every game is an elimination final, we understand that, but I’m really pleased with the way the guys are playing. We can’t think too far ahead, all we have to do is just worry about one foot in front of another. The great thing about us is we’re sort of regenerating at the same time.”
Hawthorn captain Ben McEvoy led his troops to success, in his 250th appearance, as they managed to hang on and get over the line against Gold Coast down in Tassie.
The result continues the Hawks’ recent fine form whilst also ending any faint hopes the Suns had of being part of the finals picture for the first time in their club history.
What a difference a week makes – Greater Western Sydney coach Mark McVeigh had accused his players of having “checked out” after their humiliating derby loss.
However, it clearly hit home and they got the message by producing a much improved display, finishing the encounter strongly, to get up over Essendon.
Fremantle answered the critics questioning their September credentials, in the perfect way, by chalking up a superb interstate triumph over the Western Bulldogs.
Rory Lobb showed just why the Doggies are interested in bringing him east with a four-goal haul as the Dockers set a new club record for victories outside WA, in a single campaign, as well as putting themselves firmly back in top four contention.
At Optus Stadium it was an emotional afternoon as West Coast supporters said farewell to one of the greatest forwards of the modern era – Josh Kennedy.
Although the Eagles ultimately didn’t get the result against Adelaide, the 34-year-old couldn’t have signed off any better as he enjoyed a real afternoon out, kicking a bag of eight (best for the year), and was given a guard of honour by everyone at the end.
Talking to the media about his big day, he said “I feel numb; it is interesting finishing your last game. It was hard to kind of savour it and soak it up a lot of the time because you get pretty switched on to your normal routine and habits on gameday.”
“Even during the week, rolling through my last training session yesterday I was trying to soak it up as much as I could but before I knew it I was in my car and like ‘I should have sat in the locker room for a bit longer, I should have done this and that’ but you just get into game mode and it was pretty much like that out there today.”
He added “There were a few times, pre-game, half-time and a bit at the end where you know that it is all finishing. But I am so grateful that I was able to finish on my terms thanks to Simmo and the club.”
Up in Queensland, Daniel McStay and Zac Bailey were amongst the goals as Brisbane held off the challenge and were then able to kick away in beating Carlton.
The defeat a big blow for the Blues, who once looked absolutely nailed on for a first finals opportunity since 2013, now seeing that spot not so certain and in jeopardy.
They will also be sweating on the decision of the Match Review Officer (MRO) which could see a possible suspension handed to captain Patrick Cripps for a high bump on Lions midfielder Cal Ah Chee that left the player concussed and out of the game.
Sydney did what they needed to do, with a solid showing, in getting past bottom side North Melbourne, by 38 points, to keep their shot at a double chance on track.
Lance Franklin hit the scoreboard with four snags as speculation continues about his future. The 35-year-old key forward is coming to the end of his nine-year contract with the Swans and, despite some negotiations, has now decided to wait until the end of the season before settling on his future which could possibly be elsewhere.
Round 21 Results
Melbourne 13.11 (89)
Collingwood 15.6 (96)
Hawthorn 10.10 (70)
Gold Coast 8.15 (63)
GWS 14.12 (96)
Essendon 10.9 (69)
Western Bulldogs 11.12 (78)
Fremantle 14.11 (95)
Geelong 17.8 (110)
St.Kilda 10.5 (65)
Port Adelaide 10.11 (71)
Richmond 16.13 (109)
North Melbourne 13.10 (88)
Sydney 18.18 (126)
Brisbane 17.12 (114)
Carlton 12.9 (81)
West Coast 13.8 (86)
Adelaide 16.6 (102)
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