AFL Rd 20 Wrap & Brownlow Votes Predictions
Three teams now share top spot on the ladder as the race for the top four intensifies, while other clubs are battling to stay alive in the finals race.
North Melbourne hosted Hawthorn on Friday night to begin Round 20, which marked Rhyce Shaw’s first game as the official coach of the club. The weekend also marked the club’s 150th year celebration, but the night couldn’t have started much worse for the team from Arden Street as they conceded the opening four goals and didn’t kick their first major until the 26-minute mark thanks to Mason Wood.
From there the Kangaroos adjusted and worked their way into the contest, eventually hitting the lead in the third quarter before running out 22-point winners and keeping their very slim finals hopes alive and severely denting Hawthorn’s. The win, however just one week was also a glowing endorsement for Shaw who is now 5-4 during his nine games in charge.
The Hawks sit one place ahead of the Kangaroos in 12th, eight points behind the 8th placed Crows. Both clubs will need to win their remaining three matches to have any chance of sneaking into September.
Port Adelaide kept their finals hopes alive by snapping a three-game losing streak in emphatic style against a sluggish Bombers outfit on Saturday afternoon. The 59-point win was a reminder to the rest of the competition how dangerous the Power can be on their day and put an end to Essendon’s top four hopes.
The Bombers are still yet to reach that 12-win milestone, leaving them vulnerable in the final three weeks of the season against similarly matched opponents. Port Adelaide look well placed to leapfrog their fierce crosstown rivals into 8th spot with two home games and all three against teams below them on the ladder.
The other Saturday afternoon fixture went down to the wire with the Giants just holding off the Swans for their third consecutive win, which temporarily moved them back inside the top four. They were later dislodged by Richmond, but the two-point victory was crucial ahead of their Friday night fixture against Hawthorn in Canberra.
Sydney had a chance to pinch the game in the dying stages, but Sam Reid’s effort wasn’t paid a mark as the Swans were left to lament another close loss, a third by under two goals in their last four matches.
Geelong had spent the week in Perth ahead of their clash against Fremantle and it looked to be paying dividends early when they led by 15-points at quarter time. The Cats were able to hold that lead until midway into the second term before Fremantle responded with three unanswered goals to end the half.
The second half was a tight tussel before a run of seven straight goals blew the game open for the Dockers in the second half and were another team to keep their finals hopes alive. Geelong fell to another shock loss and now leaves them in a share of top spot along with West Coast and Brisbane who are nipping at their heels.
Geelong return to GMHBA Stadium next Saturday night for a clash against the Kangaroos, which now shapes as a monster game, while the Dockers will look to take their form to Melbourne when they face the Saints at Marvel Stadium on Sunday.
Melbourne got an early jump on Richmond at the MCG, kicking three of the first four goals, but true to form, the Demons faded away and the Tigers only got better as the game went on. The rain at the MCG also helped the Tigers who looked like they were playing with a dry football compared to their opponents.
It was Richmond’s sixth consecutive win, which moved them back inside the top four and now remarkably, just one game away from top spot. Melbourne remained rooted to the bottom of the ladder with only the Gold Coast Suns behind them. Richmond face arch rival Carlton this week before finishing with fellow top two contenders West Coast and Brisbane at the MCG in what will help decide who hosts a qualifying final.
If Adelaide we’re going to feature in September, Saturday night’s fixture at against St Kilda was a must-win. Having lost four of their last five (three of which they started favourites in) it was imperative the Crows got back on track with four points, especially after Port Adelaide’s upset result earlier in the day.
Despite never really putting the game to bed, the Crows led throughout and thanks to a four-goal haul from under fire co-captain Taylor Walker, ran out 22-point winners, ending Brett Rattan’s unbeaten run as interim coach and the Saints’ season in the process.
Adelaide next faces a trip to Perth to face West Coast, while the Saints host the other WA team, with Ross Lyon trying to keep his side's finals hopes alive against his former club.
Collingwood were in desperate need of a confidence-boosting win over the Suns and after conceding the first two goals of the match, responded in emphatic fashion to eventually triumph by 69-points. The win came at a cost for the Pies though with big man Mason Cox forced from the field with a poke in the eye, which has turned out to be a torn retina and will sideline him for the remainder of the season.
While it was a long shot for Dayne Beams to return for September, his season is officially over after going in for shoulder surgery on Monday. Collingwood have a winnable three weeks ahead, which could elevate them back into top four contention and Sunday’s result will undoubtedly build some confidence for Nathan Buckely’s depleted list. The Gold Coast Suns will look to snap their 15-game losing streak against the Lions at the Gabba next week.
Carlton started brightly against West Coast as they attempted to win a fourth consecutive match under David Teague. The reigning premiers took over in the second term botting seven goals to two, which was enough to sway their game in their favour and never look back.
Liam Ryan took another mark of the year contender and booted a game-high four goals, while Luke Shuey was at his dominant best in the midfield. Carlton fought the game out to the end, winning the final quarter in a competitive showing, which has only seen more praise for interim coach David Teague from his players. A clash against Richmond next week should be another great test to see where the Blues are at.
Brisbane had a chance to regain 2nd place from the Eagles if they beat the Bulldogs by at least six goals. But first, they needed to assure another four points as they searched for a 7th straight victory.
The home team led from start to finish despite being challenged on numerous occasions by the Doggies who were looking to keep their finals dreams alive. The loss means they now hang by a thread, with an all important clash with Essendon next Saturday night to determine a lot.
Brisbane meanwhile continued their brilliant form and will likely make it eight straight wins next week against the Suns at the Gabba before finishing with two huge final like games against Geelong and Richmond.
Round 20: Brownlow Votes Predictions
|North Melbourne v Hawthorn||Adelaide v St Kilda|
|3||S. Higgins||NM||3||M. Crouch||Adel|
|2||B. Brown||NM||2||T. Walker||Adel|
|1||J. Worpel||Haw||1||R. Marshall||St K|
|Essendon v Port Adelaide||Collingwood v Gold Coast|
|3||D. Houston||PA||3||A. Treloar||Coll|
|2||R. Gray||PA||2||S. Sidebottom||Coll|
|1||D. Byrne-Jones||PA||1||B. Grundy||Coll|
|GWS v Sydney||Carlton v West Coast|
|3||J. Hopper||GWS||3||L. Shuey||WC|
|2||Z. Williams||GWS||2||E. Yeo||WC|
|1||T. Greene||GWS||1||S. Walsh||Carl|
|Fremantle v Geelong||Brisbane v Western Bulldogs|
|3||N. Fyfe||Frem||3||M. Robinson||Bris|
|2||M. Walters||Frem||2||M. Bontempelli||WB|
|1||B. Hill||Frem||1||J. Macrare||WB|
|Melbourne v Richmond|
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