By Liam Melrose and Ollie Nash
Jack Riewoldt is chaired off after his 300th game against the Brisbane Lions at Metricon Stadium. Photo: AFL Photos
14 disposals, seven marks (all inside 50) and six goals is a quality game at any stage of a career, but it’s even more special in a 300th game. It was a superb performance by Jack Riewoldt, reminiscent of the Jack of old, taking a hanger, kicking snags and putting Richmond on his back in a must-win clash. With Geelong up next for the reigning premier, it was evident the Tigers had to win one of these two games between Brisbane and the Cats. They’ve got one, mostly due to Riewoldt’s performance, and now need to win at least four of the next five to make the top eight.
A Disastrous Docker Shocker
Fremantle found themselves in the top-eight going into round 18 as they took on Geelong at home. With the Cats being entrenched in the top-four race it looked to be a huge test for the Dockers. However, as the game was at Optus Stadium, Fremantle were always going to be in with a strong chance, but from the opening bounce it turned out to be the complete opposite … in fact it was a ‘Docker Shocker’. It was a disaster for Fremantle, a club looking to play finals for the first time since 2015. The Dockers have improved in 2021, however these are the games they need to be a lot more competitive in if they want to be a legitimate finals threat. They’re a big chance to make the eight as they’re currently in the pack of teams between 7-13th that has formed looking to fill those final two spots inside the top-eight, however their percentage took a big hit as they managed just three goals. They must turn things around this week against an in-form Sydney Swans if they’re going to be any kind of threat when September rolls around.
Marcus Bontempelli is the frontrunner for the 2021 Brownlow Medal in what is an incredibly wide open race. Photo: AFL Photos
The Brownlow race is heating up
Usually by this point in the season there are at least one or two clear Brownlow Medal favourites. However, after 18 rounds it’s anyone’s guess who will take home Charlie in 2021. Looking at the ‘On The Pine Player Of The Year’ leaderboard it’s probably down to our current top six which includes Sam Walsh, Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Steele, Darcy Parish, Touk Miller and Tom Mitchell. However, our leaderboard aside I would say Marcus Bontempelli would have to be the current favourite with Clayton Oliver, Darcy Parish and Jack Steele not far behind. Sam Walsh, Ollie Wines and Touk Miller are also three wildcards. As we head into the final few rounds of the season the Brownlow race is well and truly on, and it looks as though it may be one of the closest counts ever.
Hold off on Melbourne slander
A lot has been made of Melbourne’s draw with Hawthorn and to some extent it’s probably fair enough. The Hawks sit 17th on the ladder with just four wins to their name and they trailed Melbourne by 20 points at quarter-time on a wet night. It was a game the Demons never should have lost, however, it’s not panic stations yet and here’s why. The Dees have proven their system holds up and beats the top sides. They have beaten Geelong, Richmond, Sydney, Western Bulldogs, Brisbane and Port Adelaide. Their losses have been to Adelaide, Collingwood and Greater Western Sydney by an average of nine points. So, it’s clear, they take the foot off the pedal slightly against the lower sides and on four occasions they’ve been caught out. The week after these three losses, however, they have come out and beaten the Western Bulldogs, Essendon and Port Adelaide. That’s pretty substantial proof over a long period that Melbourne are going to be just fine.
Are the Blues still in the finals hunt? Photo: Carlton FC
Credit to Carlton
During the first-half of Carlton’s clash with Collingwood, it felt like it was going to be the same old result. Carlton couldn’t get any form of connection going between its midfielders and forwards, it allowed Collingwood easy marks inside 50 and the Blues turned the ball over at an alarming rate. However, we have to give credit where credit is due. That fourth quarter was scintillating, Harry McKay taking contested marks, Sam Walsh putting the side on his back, Eddie Betts kicking crumming goals and the Blues hunting Collingwood as a team and forcing a complete flip of momentum. Six goals to zero is a quality finish to the game and it helps Carlton sit just one game outside the top eight.
There is a glimmer of sunshine on the Gold Coast
It’s been another year to forget for the Gold Coast Suns, however since their loss to North Melbourne in round 15 it looks as though they may have turned a corner. Since the loss to the Kangaroos they’re 2-1 across the past three weeks. The three results include an impressive win over Richmond in Melbourne, a nail-biting one point win over the Giants and most recently an 11-point loss to the Western Bulldogs. With finals out of reach, if the Suns can continue to perform at the level they have over the past three weeks it installs belief into their young group going into 2022. The Suns at stages looked like they may challenge for the top-eight in 2020, however fell away late in the season with many expecting them to make the jump in 2021 or at least challenge for the eight again. However it wasn’t to be, but for a club with an abundance of young talent and quality seasoned players there is no reason why they can’t be back in the conversation for 2022.
Cover Photo: Sydney Swans