Sydney joined the party at the top of the AFL ladder with their emphatic win over Melbourne at a rain-soaked SCG on Sunday.
After an eventful round 13, Geelong, the Swans, North Melbourne and Hawthorn – in that order – occupy the top four spots on the ladder, each club with 10 wins with 24.9 percentage points separating first from fourth.
The state of the upper reaches of the ladder is a reflection of one of the most exciting and even premiership races in recent times, but Sydney coach John Longmire was typically circumspect after his side moved into second spot.
“We lost last week, (so) it’s good to bounce back after any loss,” Longmire said referring to their defeat at the hands of cross-town rivals Greater Western Sydney.
“But I was just happy with the players to be able to bounce back after that and play the sort of football we wanted to play back here at the SCG.
“We played a really strong brand.”
The Hawks erased North’s one-game buffer on top of the ladder when they came out on top in a fiery encounter at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.
Players from both sides will be hit in the hip pocket by the match review panel, but Roos coach Brad Scott is in the deepest trouble.
He’ll have to explain his extraordinary outburst early this week and looks set to receive a fine after he wrongly accused the umpires of labelling Lindsay Thomas a ducker.
The Cats sent a message to the rest of the competition with their impressive win over fellow top-four hopefuls the Western Bulldogs, while West Coast and Greater Western Sydney solidified their spots in the top eight with wins over Brisbane and Essendon respectively.
The top eight has a settled look about it 13 rounds in after Port Adelaide stumbled to an upset loss at the hands of lowly Fremantle, with the ninth-placed Power now two games adrift of Adelaide in eighth spot.
“There is a part of us that’s not courageous enough at the right times. … we have to be more courageous,” Port coach Ken Hinkley said.
“We just couldn’t perform when we needed to. That’s why we’re a 50-50 side.
“Early in the game we felt we didn’t want to win almost. The mindset of the players seemed that they were spooked by it all.
“It was like Fremantle were 6-6 and the roles were reversed.”