AFL Rd 18 Wrap & Brownlow Votes Predictions

The business end of the season again threw up some surprising results as some top eight teams faltered and others continued their charge.

Ryan Lepore
Mon, 22 Jul, 12:00 AM

A Friday night blockbuster began Round 18 as 7th hosted 8th in a genuine ‘eight-point’ game between two finals aspirants. Despite a long injury list and the travel factor, the Bombers came away triumphant with a gutsy 21-point victory, which included the final four goals of the match. The Crows opened up a game-high 20-point lead just before half time but two late goals to the Bombers kept them in touching distance.

By three-quarter-time, the game was tied and set up a grandstand where the Bombers flourished and the Crows faltered. It was Essendon's 7th win in its last eight matches and now has them up to 7th, two games clear of the 9th placed Power meaning it would take something catastrophic for the in-form Bombers to now miss September.

The Crows who were sitting 4th before their bye have now dropped three of their past four to be 8th and just one game clear of four teams on eight wins. They next face a tricky test against the Blues at the MCG, while the Bombers face the hapless Suns on the Gold Coast.

Richmond continued its September charge with their 4th consecutive win, comfortably accounting for Port Adelaide by 38-points at the MCG. The win moves the Tigers to equal 4th with a monster clash against Collingwood, the team that sits above them on percentage, on Friday night. The Tigers are firing on all cylinders at the right time of the year and will welcome back number one ruckman Toby Nankervis into the fold in the coming week or two.

Tom Lynch has rocketed up the Coleman Medal standings to be 5th on 40 goals for the season and along with Jack Riewoldt will look to stretch Collingwood's undersized defence on Friday night after it was exposed badly against the Giants.

The Power broke their run of alternating results to plummet to a second straight defeat that has them one win and percentage outside the top eight.

Despite recent form, ladder positions indicated that it was a battle of the cellar dwellers when Carlton hosted the Gold Coast on Saturday afternoon and it was the Blues who recorded consecutive victories for the first time in over two years when they defeated the Suns by 24-points, a 13th straight defeat for the fledgling club.

Carlton have a golden opportunity to build their win column even further when they host the Adelaide Crows next week.

GWS were dealt a further blow before their clash with Collingwood, with skipper Phil Davis ruled out of the clash on Friday afternoon. His absence meant the Giants were missing their entire leadership group of Davis, Callan Ward, Josh Kelly, Stephen Coniglio and Matt De Boer for the crucial match where they were looking to avoid a 5th straight defeat.

Collingwood who had been dealing with an injury crisis of their own regained Taylor Adams and Jeremy Howe, but it didn’t help the Pies in a terrible opening quarter, in which they trailed 50-7 at the first break. That margin never dipped back under five goals as the Giants cruised to a 47-point victory.

Jeremy Cameron was the star for the Giants, booting six goals in a best on ground display, while their other two key forwards Harry Himmelberg and Jeremey Finlayson combined for another seven goals. Brodie Grundy was tireless in the ruck for the Pies, but it counted for little as they crashed the 3rd defeat in the past month before a monster clash with Richmond, which could decide who sneaks into the top four.

After Collingwood’s loss, Brisbane had a chance to jump into 2nd with a 5th straight win. The club hadn’t achieved such a feat since 2007, but that drought, along with their decade long finals drought is now over after snatching a come from behind 12-point win over the Kangaroos at the Gabba on Saturday night.

The Lions didn’t lead until the final term after they trailed North Melbourne by 20-points at quarter time. They slowly arrested back control of the game in the middle stages of the match but were unable to capitalise on the scoreboard until the final quarter. The game was still tied as it entered the final two minutes before a controversial free-kick was awarded to Brisbane’s Oscar McInerney at the top of the goal square.

The decision ultimately cost North Melbourne a chance of winning the game, as the Lions jumped to 2nd on the ladder, all but assuring their place in September and look hard to toss out of a top-four spot. North Melbourne’s second straight narrow defeat means the club will almost certainly miss finals despite their form resurgence under Rhyce Shaw.

The other Saturday night fixture was a dour affair with the Dockers earning a valuable four points that kept their season alive. Fremantle booted five unanswered goals, three by Rory Lobb either side of half time to swing the contest in their favour. The low scoring arm wrestle continued before two late behinds in the final two minutes of the game handed the Dockers a 52-51 win, which snapped a four-game losing streak, moving them up to 10th on the ladder. Three straight defeats now has Sydney in the bottom four.

Geelong hosted a home game at the MCG and entered the clash in indifferent form having lost two of their past four, but knowing a win would retain their two-game buffer atop of the AFL ladder. On the hand, the Hawks were looking for a 3rd straight win as they looked to keep their finals dreams alive after looking dead and buried only a month ago.

In Liam Shiels’ 200th game, the vice-captain led from the front as the Hawks led for almost the entire match and ran away comfortable 24-point victors. The win means Hawthorn are now just four points outside the top eight before a huge clash against Brisbane in Launceston next week. The Cats face a trip to Sydney to take on the Swans with their lead atop the ladder cut to four points with their third loss in their last five outings.

Melbourne hosted their second home game for the season in the Northern Territory, this one being in Alice Springs against West Coast. The Demons entered the contest in 17th on the ladder after Carlton’s win a day prior. After a poor opening quarter where they trailed by 20-points, Melbourne worked their way into the match with a six-goal second quarter before hitting the lead in the third quarter.

Jack Darling quickly gave the Eagles back the advantage with two straight goals in the final term before they closed off a scare by the Demons with a Dom Sheed goal, which gave them a 13-point victory and kept them on track for a top-two finish. The reigning premiers sit 3rd on percentage behind the Lions, while Melbourne’s miserable season continued and are 17th with five matches remaining.

Brett Ratten took the St Kilda coaching reins for the first time on Sunday afternoon as has been the case as the previous two interim coaches this season, he got an immediate response from his team as the Saints opened up a 35-point lead at quarter time against a Bulldogs side riding a three-game winning streak.

The Saints were led beautifully by former top 10 draft picks Hunter Clark and Nick Coffield, while Jack Billings continued his superb season and went onto to record their highest score of the season (116). The 27-point win ensured all three interim coaches have won their first game in charge with a further five weeks for Ratten to audition for the top job. They face Melbourne at Marvel Stadium next Saturday night with an excellent chance to make it two from two.


Round 17: Brownlow Votes Predictions

Adelaide v Essendon     Fremantle v Sydney
3 Z. Merrett Ess   3 R. Lobb
2 M. Brown Ess   2 J. Lloyd
1 R. O'Brien Adel   1 J. Hamling
Richmond v Port Adelaide     Geelong v Hawthorn
3 D. Martin Rich   3 L. Shiels
2 T. Lynch Rich   2 J. O'Meara
1 B. Houli Rich   1 M. Duncan
Carlton v Gold Coast     Melbourne v West Coast
3 E. Curnow Carl   3 J. Darling
2 S. Petrevski-Seton Carl   2 C. Oliver
1 L. Jones Carl   1 D. Sheed
GWS v Collingwood     St Kilda v Western Bulldogs
3 J. Cameron GWS   3 J. Billings
2 T. Taranto GWS   2 H. Clark
1 B. Grundy Coll   1 J. Dunkley
Brisbane v North Melbourne        
3 J. Lyons Bris      
2 D. Zorko Bris      
1 S. Higgins NM      


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