So far this seaason, no round has defined the 2012 season more than Round 19.
Geelong’s epic win over Hawthorn was important for so many reasons. Geelong showed they are still a legitimate threat in September, playing their best football all year against the Hawks.
Hawthorn dropped out of the top two, falling to fourth place. Hawthorn will be relying on Sydney and Adelaide to drop games in order to secure a home final.
The Hawks will be praying they do not face Geelong in this year’s finals series, as it is clear that Geelong have Hawthorn’s measure.
Collingwood’s win over St Kilda was crucial, for the Magpies have all but confirmed their spot in the top four and helped them push towards a home final as well. It effectively ended St Kilda’s finals chances, putting them two games out of the top eight.
Collingwood can be thankful to umpire Dean Margetts, who gave away a controversial free kick in the dying minutes against Stephen Milne. It cost the Saints a draw, with David Armitage running into an open goal with 20 seconds remaining in the game.
Other top four hopefuls in West Coast dropped their third game in four weeks to their arch rivals Fremantle in the derby. The Dockers can thank their superstar captain Matthew Pavlich for their five-match winning streak, who has been in superb form for nearly two months now.
West Coast appear very unlikely to secure a top four berth, sitting two games out with a lower percentage than their top four competitors with just four games remaining.
The win for Fremantle was huge for their finals aspirations. It is now tied on 11 wins with Essendon and North Melbourne.
North Melbourne played out a relatively easy win over the Dogs, while Essendon lost a nail biting game to Adelaide at AAMI Stadium. Essendon have been cruelled by injuries of late, losing six of their past nine games.
North and Fremantle are the big favourites to fill the final two spots in the eight, with Essendon’s poor run likely to cost them a spot in September.
Adelaide’s ability to hold off the resilient Bombers helped them towards a top two finish. The Crows, who will start as favourites in their final four games, will get a home final in week one if they win all their remaining games. The Crows are 8-1 at home this year, so a home qualifying final is crucial in their attempt for a Grand Final berth.
Sydney continued their remarkable season, quietly going about their business with a minimal amount of fuss. If the Swans can get the win over Hawthorn in Round 22, that should give them the minor premiership. Carlton is all but out of the finals race after the loss to the Swans, sitting two games and percentage behind Essendon.
Unfortunately, the round was also significant for Port Adelaide, who lost to newcomers GWS in Kevin Sheedy’s 1000th game as a player and coach. The loss looks to have cost Matthew Primus his job, with many reports saying he has walked out on the job after being told by the board that he was not required in 2013. Primus wasn’t the only one to face the chopping block, as half of everyone from the CEO down joined the unemployment line with assistant coach Garry Hocking taking over as head coach for the remainder of the season. In the post match press conference, Matthew Primus described the loss as “the lowest point in the clubs history”.
Entering Round 19, Hawthorn was supposedly unbeatable and overwhelming premiership favourites. At the end of the round, they are staring down the barrel of an away trip to Sydney in the first week of the finals.
This week’s results have proven you can never declare the premiership won in August. With four weeks of the home and away season to go, it’s still anyone’s competition to win.