Dockers drop 2nd game of AFL season

Hawthorn have thrown the race for the AFL minor premiership wide open with a 72-point demolition job on Fremantle in Launceston.

The Dockers remain atop the table after just their second loss of the season.

But they are now only a game ahead of cross-town rivals West Coast and Sydney (both 11-3), both of whom have a better percentage.

The Hawks (10-4) are also looming ominously in fourth spot after extending their unbeaten streak to six matches with the 17.13 (115) to 6.7 (43) victory at their Aurora Stadium fortress on Sunday.

“In my view (Fremantle) have been the best side in the competition and their ladder position reflects that right at this point in time,” said Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson.

“To come down here and play as well as we did, we’re really pleased with that.

“But we expect to perform well on this ground because it’s our home away from home and we play particularly well at this oval.”

After starting the season with nine straight wins, Dockers coach Ross Lyon acknowledged his team had tailed off in recent weeks.

“We’ve done a lot right – we are 12-2 for a good reason – but we acknowledge the last six weeks has been a bit of a grind for us,” he said.

“We’ve used conditions and those sort of things probably more than we should have.

“Maybe the reality is we’re in a little bit of a rut where we need to score (more).”

The Dockers still remain favourites to claim the minor premiership for the first time as they only face three other teams currently in the top eight in the remaining eight rounds, headed by a derby against the Eagles in mid-August.

Sydney remain in third spot but they were made to work hard by last-placed Brisbane before grinding out a 10.10 (70) to 7.7 (49) victory at the Gabba.

Richmond and the Western Bulldogs both advanced a spot to fifth and sixth respectively on the weekend, despite harder battles than expected before registering victories over unfancied Carlton and Gold Coast.

The other big movers in round 15 were the GWS Giants who snapped a three-match losing streak by beating St Kilda by 35 points on the back of a five-goal haul from Jeremy Cameron to move back into the top eight.

Inconsistent North Melbourne (7-7) moved into 10th after an 18.12 (120) to 11.13 (79) victory over slumping Geelong who now look likely to miss the finals for the first time since 2006.

The most emotional scenes of the weekend came in the aftermath of the Eagles’ 22.15 (147) to 14.7 (91) win over Adelaide in Perth.

Many of the Crows players were in tears, having played for the first time since the death of coach Phil Walsh.

They were cheered from the ground by the Eagles’ fans.

Injury-ravaged Essendon bounced back courageously from last weekend’s humiliating loss to St St Kilda to beat Melbourne by nine points.

Joe Daniher’s five goals for the Bombers were the difference in a low-scoring affair.

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