Round 17 provided football fans with an array of closely contested matches, including a couple of surprising results. The weekend kicked off on Friday night with North Melbourne hosting Carlton at Etihad Stadium. North began quickly in typical fashion, before Carlton took over and controlled the majority of the match, getting out to a 35-point lead in the third quarter. North stormed home but fell agonisingly short, going down by one point to effectively end North’s finals hopes. Drew Petrie and Lindsay Thomas were damaging up forward for North, while Jeff Garlett and Lachie Henderson had a similar impact up the other end. Matthew Kruezer and Ed Curnow were also important contributors for the victors.
Saturday football commenced down at Aurora Stadium in Launceston, where Hawthorn went in as favourites against the Bulldogs. The game didn’t pan out quite as expected, with the Bulldogs putting up a stern fight throughout the first half, before Hawthorn pulled away convincingly in the third term. A blow-out seemed the likely outcome, however the Dogs were impressive in battling the game out until the final siren, only going down by 19 points, in what most would have predicted to be a thumping. Ryan Griffen continued his unbelievable season for the competitive Bulldogs, while Jarryd Roughead temporarily took the lead of the Coleman and Isaac Smith, Luke Hodge and Jordan Lewis controlled the midfield for Hawthorn.
The Greater Western Sydney Giants mirrored the Bulldogs’ surprisingly competitive effort when they hosted the Bombers at the Sydney Showgrounds. Although the final margin was 39 points, most punters would have predicted a much larger win for the in-form Essendon side. Jake Melksham and Brent Stanton played standout games for the Bombers in a depleted midfield, while Jeremy Cameron once again proved how frightening a prospect he is for opposition sides, with another four-goal haul to his name.
The third Saturday afternoon match yielded a major upset, with the fancied Collingwood side going down to an up and coming Gold Coast side. The Suns took charge in the back-and-forth game after half time, never surrendering the lead after this point and running out seven point winners. Gary Ablett further galvanised his position as the greatest player currently in the game, with an astonishing 49 disposals and two goals, including the sealer. He racked up 52 touches in the same fixture last season, which has raised many questions of the Collingwood coaching staff for failing to negate his vast influence. Jaeger O’Meara continued his remarkable debut season, whilst Dayne Beams produced a fantastic performance in his comeback from injury in the Pies’ loss.
St Kilda and Port Adelaide faced off in a pivotal game for the Power, who are sitting just inside the top eight with several sides nipping at their heels. The first half almost put the game beyond doubt, with Port Adelaide controlling the contest and getting out to a 39-point lead at the halfway mark. The Saints showed some impressive resilience to fight their way back into the game, kicking five goals to Port’s one in the premiership quarter. The momentum shifted numerous times in the final term, Port fans eventually breathing a sigh of relief as their side managed to hang on and win by five points, keeping themselves a game clear of ninth placed Carlton. Jack Steven continued his fantastic form with three goals and 25 touches for the Saints, while Chad Wingard and Justin Westhoff were impressive for the Power.
A huge day of football concluded on Saturday night with a clash between the much-maligned Demons and the Brisbane Lions up at TIO Stadium in Darwin. Though Melbourne managed to show a reasonable degree of fight under caretaker Neil Craig, the Lions proved too strong and ran out 19 points to the better of Melbourne. The conditions were trying up North, though Brisbane seemed more acclimatised to the heat with Melbourne running out of legs throughout the last quarter. Jack Fitzpatrick again justified Craig’s selection of the young forward, kicking four goals to give Dees fans something to savour, however the Lions led by Tom Rockliff, Pearce Hanley, Jack Redden and Brent Staker were too good in the end.
Come Sunday, the MCG provided the setting for an intriguing battle between the injury ravaged Fremantle Dockers and the somewhat unproven Richmond side. Prior to this match, Richmond had not beaten a single side above them on the ladder, raising questions over their ability to compete with the class sides of the competition. In spite of this the Tigers were impressive on Sunday afternoon, controlling the entirety of the match against the higher ranked Dockers and winning by almost five goals. This win will silence some of Richmond’s critics, all but assuring Richmond a finals berth for the first time since 2001. Trent Cotchin led from the front, booting a goal and collecting 34 touches, with Dustin Martin continuing his adroit recent output alongside the Richmond captain in the middle.
AAMI Stadium in Adelaide was the scene of the second major upset of the round, with the Crows overrunning a slow and reactive second-half Geelong side. Trailing by five goals at the main break, Adelaide had some considerable work to do whilst lacking the significant impact of gun midfielder Patrick Dangerfield through injury. Tom Lynch and Matthew Wright were pivotal up forward in the inspiring come-from-behind two-point win, while Richard Douglas and Ricky Henderson had the ball on a string, denying Geelong on-ballers the Sherrin. The unlikely victory reopens the door to September for the Crows, placing them two games outside of finals contention with six rounds of 2013 remaining.
The final match of round 17 proved to be a relatively predictable encounter- well, as predictable as AFL can ever be- with the well favoured Swans comfortably defeating West Coast by 44 points. The first term promised a closely fought encounter with Sydney leading by just one goal at the change, before they blew the Eagles away in the second term with five unanswered goals. Josh Kennedy regained his lead of the Coleman Medal over Hawthorn’s Roughead with four majors, while Dan Hannebery was best afield with a staggering 40 possessions and two goals. Kieran Jack also deserves a mention with his cameo performance of 30 touches and two goals.
A brilliant, or heart-breaking round of football, only building on the considerable anticipation held for the final six weeks of the draw for 2013.
Here are the best five highlights of the round as chosen by you:
@stephenmarson: Matty Kreuzer’s last quarter!
@Dogga5: Dan Hannebury – jet, gun & will be a Superstar with his larrikin charm.
@MattWebberWrite: Tom Hickey’s mark that wasn’t. Had a good game, Hickey. Showed why St K were keen on him from the outset.
@Lucrious: Colyer playing arguably his best match for the club, Melksham standing up in a very depleted midfield.
@bomberschild90: Collingwood losing and Ablett’s 49 touches.
If you want your highlight of the round to appear in our article next week, be sure to tweet @Bound4GloryNews during the week using #BFGNHighlight. The top tweets will make our round 18 article.