HIGHLIGHTS FROM ROUND 21 IN THE AFL
THEY SAID IT: “It looked full on, it looked pretty significant. He’s got LED dimples in the side of his head. It wasn’t a small knock but he bounced back from that OK.” – Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley after young Pies star Darcy Moore clattered into the electronic fence advertising at Etihad Stadium during his side’s heartbreaking three-point loss to the Western Bulldogs on Friday night.
STATS THAT MATTER: Geelong had beaten Richmond 18 of their past 19 games by an average of 45 points heading into Sunday’s clash at the MCG. The Tigers looked destined to put a rare win on the board against their bogey side when they were 35 points up at three-quarter time but Damien Hardwick’s side stopped dead in their tracks in the last quarter as the Cats kept their top-four hopes alive with a stunning four-point win.
MAN OF THE ROUND: Sydney superstar Lance Franklin was the catalyst for a stunning second-half onslaught by the Swans that snuffed out St Kilda’s slim finals hopes. Buddy had 15 touches and kicked three goals in an inspired third quarter effort that helped set up the 70-point win. He finished with an equal career-high 28 possessions and kicked six goals to draw to within three goals of Coleman Medal leader Josh Kennedy of West Coast.
KEY MOMENT: West Coast star Nic Naitanui stunned the Giants and might just have reignited the Eagles’ flagging premiership campaign with his last-second match winner at Spotless Stadium. With his side trailing by five points with just eight seconds left, Nic Nat tapped a boundary throw-in to his advantage, roved the ball and snapped a brilliant goal off his non-preferred boot. Breathtaking stuff even by his lofty standards.
TALKING POINT: Melbourne overtook St Kilda as the side in the best position to swoop on North Melbourne’s finals berth with their impressive win over Port Adelaide in Adelaide. The ninth-placed Demons must beat Carlton at the MCG and Geelong at Simonds Stadium, and the eighth-placed Roos must lose to Sydney and GWS if Paul Roos is to lead a team into the finals one last time.
TRIBUNAL WATCH: There were several skirmishes in the North Melbourne-Hawthorn clash that will be looked at – Brent Harvey’s swinging forearm to Sam Mitchell’s neck and head, in particular. Jack Ziebell might be lighter in the pocket after he cannoned into an unsuspecting umpire. West Coast’s Simon Tunbridge concussed young Giant Adam Kennedy in a sling tackle that will almost certainly cost him a week or two on the sidelines. St Kilda veteran Sam Fisher left the game after a savage shirtfront from Swans ruckman Toby Nankervis caught him in the jaw.
KEY INJURIES: T Adams (Coll, corked calf), D Moore (Coll, cut eye), L Hansen (NM, ankle), T Duryea (Haw, knee/ankle), B Hartung (Haw, leg), A Kennedy (GWS, concussion), T Hickey (St K, ankle-head knock), S Fisher (St K, jaw), J Geary (St K, back – late withdrawal), C Wingard (Port, hamstring), M Hartley (Ess, nose).
WHAT’S NEXT: West Coast’s return to form makes Friday night’s clash against Hawthorn at Subiaco a huge one for both sides. North host Sydney in Hobart in another clash that will have significant ramifications for the top eight. Port Adelaide are out of finals contention but have the chance to give cross-town rivals the Crows a bloody nose as they look to strengthen their grip on a top-four berth in what is sure to be a heated local derby.