The final week of the bye rounds proved to be one of the most entertaining rounds of football this year. It kicked off Friday night with Hawthorn managing to overcome the best performance West Coast has produced this season to win by 20 points and equal the club record of 11 straight victories. Buddy Franklin continued to bring other players into the game with nine score involvements, seeming as determined as ever to impact the game without kicking a bag of goals. Jarryd Roughead continued his brilliant form with five and Gunston also slotted five, while at the other end Josh Kennedy took the lead in the Coleman Medal with five himself.
At AAMI Stadium on Saturday at 1.40PM, we saw the first of two major upsets take place. Port Adelaide came out with fierce determination and out-tackled the 2012 premiers in Sydney as they managed to grind out an 18 point victory against all odds. In a very rare outcome, the Swans were physically exhausted in the final minutes of the match and Port sealed the game with goals to Wingard and Westhoff late. The much vaunted Tippett finally debuted for Sydney, kicking the very first goal of the game before having a relatively mediocre first encounter for 2013. It was an amazing result which lifted Port back into the eight, and sees them hold an impressive record of 7-5 heading into the back half of the fixture.
Melbourne fans would have been somewhat content to see a much improved performance under caretaker Neil Craig on Saturday at the MCG, though St. Kilda proved too strong, finishing 35 point victors in Nick Riewoldt and Nick Dal Santo’s 200th games. Montagna was impressive with a goal and 35 disposals, while Riewoldt continued his fantastic season thus far with three goals, 21 disposals and ten marks.
In the final Saturday game of the round, the Western Bulldogs hosted an in form Richmond at Etihad Stadium. The result never seemed in doubt, with Richmond consistently building on their lead throughout the course of the match to run out ten goal winners and solidify their position within the top eight. Ryan Griffen, who rarely receives the credit he deserves as a footballer, was again unbelievable in his side’s loss, racking up 38 disposals with eight inside 50s and five rebound 50s. Dustin Martin continued to have a strong influence around the contests for the victors, while Jack Riewoldt matched his cousin with three goals himself for the Tigers.
What seemed to be a predictable Sunday of football on paper began over at Patterson’s Stadium with Fremantle hosting North Melbourne. In an ugly game, there wasn’t a goal kicked until the 25th minute of the opening term, which was a precursor for the game ahead. North Melbourne produced possibly their worst performance for the season, managing a paltry 29 points. Freo’s ultra-defensive game plan won out again and the Dockers proved too good, winning by 38 points. Andrew Swallow tried hard as always for North Melbourne, but Michael Barlow, Nate Fyfe and Nic Suban were catalysts in a solid victory for Fremantle.
The most astounding comeback in a long time unfolded at the Gabba on Sunday afternoon, with Geelong looking like comfortable winners on top of Brisbane by 52 points midway through the third quarter. This lead was cut to 38 by three quarter time, and Brisbane fans would have been content to see their side perhaps reducing the margin to something a little more respectable. Little did they know, that Brisbane would dominate Geelong in the final quarter, kicking eight goals to one, eventually winning by five points thanks to a goal after the siren by 200-gamer Ashley McGrath. It could not have been more fitting that the milestone man for the day iced the game, with a set-shot from 52 metres out to complete the fairy-tale effort post-siren. Joel Selwood, Matthew Stokes, Steve Johnson and Jimmy Bartel were fantastic for Geelong, but it was to no avail as veteran star Simon Black, coupled with Daniel Rich and Brent Moloney pulled off an astonishing victory that may well save coach Michael Voss’ career for now. Some completely unforeseen results in round 13 of the AFL, and we return now to a standard nine game fixture from round 14 onwards.