After near two months looking down on the rest, Port Adelaide have surrendered their place on top of the ladder.
In addition to Hawthorn taking top spot off them Port Adelaide’s undefeated record at the new Adelaide Oval was also broken by their cross-town rivals Adelaide in the Showdown, thanks to the Crows kicking eight goals to Port’s three in the second half.
The Western Derby also delivered with Fremantle weathering a final quarter West Coast charge to win by seven points, making it six wins in a row for the Dockers with games against Melbourne, GWS, St Kilda and Carlton to come in the next month.
Friday night was a story of two halves: Geelong were comfortably getting the job done in the first in what looked to be a dour spectacle, before Essendon sprang to life in the second. The Bombers even took the lead before a couple of Steven Motlop moments of magic got the Cats over the line.
As far as moments of magic go, though, none this season are comparable to that of Bulldogs young gun Marcus Bontempelli on Sunday afternoon. I could try to do the 18-year-old’s game winner justice with words but I’d be selling it short so just watch it for yourself.
If saying farewell to a club legend like Jonathan Brown didn’t get the Lions to show something on Saturday night then nothing would. Credit where it’s due for Brisbane: their second quarter was comfortably the best they have played this year. For North, though, losing to the 17th placed side just isn’t good enough and Brad Scott has to work to resolve his side’s inconsistency.
Elsewhere, Richmond did what they had to do by beating last-placed St Kilda, Hawthorn gave the Suns a reality check in Tasmania, Sydney somewhat made amends for round one with a seven goal win over GWS and Collingwood topped Carlton in the last ever Sunday 7:10pm game.
Here’s the Team of the Week for Round 15.
B: Paul Duffied, Alex Rance, Andrew Mackie
HB: Nick Malceski, Eric Mackenzie, Pearce Hanley
C: Dyson Heppell, Trent Cotchin (C), Steele Sidebottom
HF: Luke Parker, Sam Jacobs, Isaac Smith
F: Eddie Betts, Lance Franklin, Hayden Ballantyne
Foll: Stefan Martin, Gary Ablett Jr, Nathan Fyfe
Int: Jordan Lewis, Stephen Hill, Jake Stringer
Sub: Ricky Petterd
Paul Duffield: Deployed as the loose man down back for Freo, Duffield was able to constantly foil West Coast’s forays into their forward 50. He finished with a season-high 30 disposals and nine marks.
Alex Rance: Rance played on Nick Riewoldt and comprehensively won the duel, restricting the St Kilda captain to 14 touches and one goal while having 19 disposals of his own.
Andrew Mackie: Mackie spoiled Paul Chapman’s first game against his former side by rendering him arguably the most ineffective player on the ground – especially after quarter time – and still managing to find plenty of the ball himself with 26 disposals.
Nick Malceski: His incredible run of form continued with a 27-disposal, four-inside 50 and five-rebound 50 performance on Saturday night. He has now locked down a spot in the All Australian team this year.
Eric Mackenzie: He manned up on Pavlich and dominated the Fremantle skipper but was also able to zone off and provide help and as such he finished with 22 disposals and 11 marks.
Pearce Hanley: He was Brisbane’s best player in Brisbane’s best game of the season and was especially great in the second quarter – where the Lions kicked seven goals and essentially won the game.
Dyson Heppell: Heppell’s disposal was all over the place in the first half; he had plenty of the ball (23 disposals, to be exact) but was butchering the footy. The second half, however, was a different story. He still had plenty of the ball but he was smarter with his use and almost single-handedly bought Essendon back into the game in the third quarter.
Trent Cotchin (C): The Richmond captain had easily his best game of what has been a disappointing 2014 for both Cotchin personally and Richmond as a club, kicking five goals and gathering 31 disposals in a comfortable win.
Steele Sidebottom: It’s not often that Sidebottom outshines his midfield colleagues in Pendlebury, Swan and Beams but with his 33 disposals at 91% efficiency and two goals (including the sealer) on Sunday night, there was no doubt that Steele was the best on ground.
Luke Parker: He played more of an inside midfield role than we have become accustomed to and as such recorded a season-high in contested possessions with 17 as well as six clearances.
Sam Jacobs: ‘Sauce’ won his second Sandover Medal for best on ground in a Showdown on Sunday when he won the ruck battle against Lobbe easily and was able to go forward and have an impact by kicking three goals.
Isaac Smith: Saturday’s game against Gold Coast makes it eight 20+ disposal games in a row now for Smith and five games in a row where he has kicked at least one goal. If he can maintain this consistency for the rest of the season, it will make a huge difference for the Hawks as they pursue back to back flags.
Eddie Betts: He was electric as the Crows registered their best win of 2014 with four goals – two of which came late in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Lance Franklin: In round one Buddy was rendered a bystander by Phil Davis as the Giants had their first win over their crosstown rivals. On Saturday night, he buried any demons that may have haunted him after round one with a five goal effort to continue his great late form.
Hayden Ballantyne: Once again Ballantyne made the most of the opportunities presented to him. He ended up kicking three goals from 12 touches, making it 14 goals in his last three games.
Stefan Martin: He has been nothing short of outstanding in his four games this season and Saturday night was without a doubt the best game of his career with 36 hitouts and 20 disposals.
Gary Ablett: The little master made it look all too easy in torrid conditions in Tasmania on his way to a season-high 45 disposals – 24 of which were contested.
Stephen Hill: Hill looked a cut above on the way to winning his first Ross Glendinning Medal with 32 disposals and three goals.
Jordan Lewis: The case could be made that 2014 has been the best season of Lewis’ career. The 28-year-old is averaging more disposals than any other season in his career and if Saturday is anything to go by, he could thrive with a slightly reduced midfield role, giving him more time to go forward and kick goals.
Nathan Fyfe: Fyfe celebrated signing a three-year contract extension in the week with 31 disposals, seven tackles and two goal assists.
Jake Stringer: Stringer provided a timely reminder as to why he was the fifth pick in the 2012 National Draft with four goals – the same number he had kicked in his previous nine games this year combined – against a notoriously stingy Melbourne defence.
Ricky Petterd (sub): Another lacklustre week for subs sees Petterd – who had 11 disposals in just 37% time on ground – make this week’s Team of the Week.