HIGHLIGHTS FROM ROUND 20 IN THE AFL
THEY SAID IT: “It’s boys against men. Half our team shouldn’t be playing … we’ve got young kids just looking for the finish line,” Justin Leppitsch seems a coach looking for a finish line after a 138-point mauling by Adelaide. Two of Brisbane’s worst-ever losses have come in the past fortnight.
STATS THAT MATTER: Port Adelaide’s first scoreless opening quarter in their history led to a no-contest at the SCG. Sydney’s 10-goal win has John Longmire’s side second on the ladder and in a fine position heading into the finals.
MAN OF THE ROUND: A joint award to two long-serving AFL coaches – Paul Roos and Damien Hardwick. Roos shares the prize for Melbourne’s drought-breaking win over Hawthorn. Richmond’s win at the MCG was less of a boilover but could prove more significant. After two bruising losses, it was clear the Tigers did it for their embattled coach.
KEY MOMENT: Jed Anderson’s simple set shot could have put North Melbourne close to within a goal of Western Bulldogs in the third quarter of their Etihad Stadium clash. He missed, and less than a minute later Lachie Hunter had a major for the Dogs. In a low-scoring match, it was critical. The win could be the difference between a home final or a taxing away final.
TALKING POINT: Who wants to win the minor premiership? Hawthorn let slip their iron-clad grasp on top spot by losing to Melbourne. The chasing pack didn’t miss a beat – every other member of the top six won. With Sydney, Adelaide, Greater Western Sydney and Geelong a win away and above the Hawks’ percentage, Alastair Clarkson’s side need to keep winning.
TRIBUNAL WATCH: Anderson’s crude tackle on Lin Jong might not be severe enough for a suspension. Two Cyril Rioli pressure efforts will be looked at – a bump on Clayton Oliver and a dumping tackle on Neville Jetta. Blake Acres’ tummy tap on Matthew Kreuzer will be scrutinised.
KEY INJURIES: B Brown (North Melbourne, knee), S Thompson (North Melbourne, groin), S Pendlebury (Collingwood, ankle), G Rohan (Sydney, hip), B Stratton (Hawthorn, pectoral), A Sexton (Gold Coast, thigh), T Nicholls (Gold Coast, knee), C Smith (Western Bulldogs, concussion), B Goddard (Essendon, groin), L Dunstan (St Kilda, shoulder), D Menzel (Geelong, groin).
WHAT’S NEXT: Hawthorn must rebound against North Melbourne or they’ll cede top spot to Sydney or Adelaide, who have very winnable fixtures against St Kilda and Adelaide. GWS host West Coast in a key match for finals positions. The mathematical hopes of either Port Adelaide or Melbourne playing in the finals will end on Saturday night when they meet at Adelaide Oval.