The Crows toppled the Portress last week and Essendon were the first to swoop in to pick at the remains. They were fantastic, the Bombers, and thoroughly deserved the win for showing some of the best pressure of 2014. Port now find themselves back in the pack after sitting atop the ladder by a game for most of the season, and now face an uphill battle to grab a home qualifying final.
We also have a new gutsiest win of the year thanks to Gold Coast. For the whole fourth quarter the Suns had just no one left on the bench – including no Gary Ablett who succumbed to a shoulder injury – yet somehow they were able to hold Collingwood off and keep their spot in the eight secure.
It was also another week of what we have become accustomed to North Melbourne producing: the Roos went down to 17th-placed Brisbane last Saturday night and toppled reigning premiers and top of the ladder Hawthorn six days later. Looming games against St Kilda and Carlton will tell us even more about North than Friday night’s win did.
With Hawthorn and Port going down in upset losses, Sydney couldn’t have asked for a better weekend of results. After condemning West Coast to another loss against a top eight side, the Swans now sit a game clear on top of the ladder and – along with Fremantle – are in the best form of anyone in the competition.
Richmond, Adelaide, Fremantle, Carlton and Geelong all did what was expected by having routine wins.
Here’s the Team of the Week for round 16.
B: Nick Smith, Alex Rance, Matt Jaensch
HB: Jimmy Bartel, Lachie Hansen, David Myers
C: Luke Parker, David Swallow (C), Shane Edwards
HF: David Zaharakis, Sam Day, Brent Harvey
F: Travis Colyer, Drew Petrie, Eddie Betts
Foll: Ivan Maric, Levi Greenwood, Tom Rockliff
Int: Rory Sloane, Jack Gunston, Lachie Neale
Sub: Jack Macrae
Nick Smith: Sunday was just the second time since 2011 that Mark LeCras hasn’t had any scoring impact on a game (the other being round three this year against St Kilda where he was injured early and took no further part), thanks to the smothering defence of Nick Smith. Smith beat LeCras from beginning to end, furthering his claim to the title of the league’s best small defender,
Alex Rance: It’s a considerably less daunting Brisbane forward line now that Jonathan Brown has hung up the boots, but even so, Daniel Merrett can be damaging on his day. Rance was all over the Brisbane utility, barely losing a contest all day and keeping Merrett to just the six possessions.
Matt Jaensch: Jaensch played mostly on Will Hoskin-Elliott and did okay in keeping him to 16 touches, but he also had 19 disposals of his own – 13 of which were by foot – at 100% disposal efficiency.
Jimmy Bartel: He has played dozens of better games over his career but only six times since the stat was first recorded has a player laid more tackles than Jimmy’s 15 on Sunday evening, so for that he earns a spot.
Lachie Hansen: The General was back to his old antics on Friday night, dictating the game from North’s backline. Of his 14 marks six were intercept marks – a competition-high for round 16 – and his 28 disposals fell two short of equalling his career high.
David Myers: Continuing his career-best season, Myers played his best game of the year on Saturday night at Adelaide Oval. He knew he would have to stand up when Jobe Watson went down and he did just that on Saturday with 24 disposals at 83% efficiency, along with eight tackles and eight clearances.
Luke Parker: Apparently somebody told Luke Parker football is harder to play in the wet. He defied the torrid conditions out west on Sunday afternoon to gather 33 disposals – 22 of which were contested – and kicked two goals and had two score assists.
David Swallow (C): The Suns’ backs were against the wall: Ablett, McKenzie, Lemmens, Dixon were all out of action on the bench. Swallow rose to the occasion to earn the Suns the best win in the franchise’s history. He had 31 touches and was dead on his feet by the time the siren rang.
Shane Edwards: It was a career-best game for ‘Titch’ with 27 disposals, nine clearances, sin inside 50s and two goals.
David Zaharakis: Another who knew he would have to stand up when Jobe Watson went down, Zaharakis has also answered the call with back to back great games against Geelong and Port Adelaide.
Sam Day: Day kicked four goals in a tight contest including what proved to be the sealer from outside 50 with a few minutes left to run in the game. It was a welcome return to form, having not kicked a goal in his last six games before Saturday’s win.
Brent Harvey: What better way for ‘Boomer’ to answer criticism that came his way last week than with 30 disposals and three score assists?
Travis Colyer: Colyer has been a revelation over the last month. After spending his career to date as a fringe player who is too good for the VFL and inconsistent at AFL level, Colyer has been sublime in the last three weeks, providing some much needed pace and leading the club in score involvements.
Drew Petrie: With all the talk surrounding the incident with Brian Lake, you would hardly know that Petrie had his best game of the season on Friday night with a bag of five goals. He dominated Brian Lake all night: he might be lucky to only get a reprimand for gouging Lake’s eyes, but he now needs to make the most of it and keep his form up.
Eddie Betts: Another five goals against GWS on Saturday takes Betts to 33 goals for the season and 15 in the last four weeks alone. If he can take this form into the last seven weeks of the season, he will be one of the biggest players in the Crows’ pursuit of finals action.
Ivan Maric: It’s taken far too long for Ivan to get a spot in this team this year but here we are. Saturday’s 21-disposal, 34-hitout effort was easily his best outing of the year. For now, it’s all about staying healthy to be raring to go for what Maric and Richmond are hoping will be a big 2015.
Levi Greenwood: He may well be the most improved player in the competition. Greenwood has seen rises in disposals, marks, goals, inside 50s, rebound 50s and clearances on his 2013 numbers while still remaining North Melbourne’s best defensive midfielder this year.
Tom Rockliff: Once again he was something of a one-man army in the Brisbane midfield: he was great with 36 touches, 10 tackles and seven clearances. It will be interesting to see how the Brisbane midfield copes without him next week.
Rory Sloane: It’s tough to hope for more from a gun midfielder than what Sloane did on Saturday with 32 touches, nine marks, five tackles, six clearances, two goals and two score assists.
Jack Gunston: It’s not often you’ll see two direct opponents both make it here but while Hansen was marking everything, Gunston had an opportunity to return to form and did with aplomb, scoring a season-high six goals.
Lachie Neale: Neale led all players in Darwin with 30 disposals and laid eight tackles.
Jack Macrae (sub): Most were left scratching their head when Macrae was named the Bulldogs sub, having been one of their best players all season in 2014. When he was finally released he guaranteed he won’t be wearing the green vest again any time soon, with 15 disposals and six tackles in a touch under 40% game time.