Last week in the AFL...

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AFL Round 17

Only five rounds left and you can still throw a bathmat over most of the field, although you need a telescope to see Essendon, Richmond and Melbourne. Forget top eight, it's the top four where teams need to finish in order to avoid the interstate final and slippery slope to an early exit.

Greg Williams Part IV. On Friday the Court of Appeal voted 2-1 to overturn Justice Hediganšs decision and reinstate Williams's 9-game suspension imposed by the tribunal for pushing an umpire in round 1. One of the judges explained thus: "you can see him do it on the videotape." So Williams served the first game this week, in round 17. The circumstances mean Williams won't play again this year, or possibly ever again. Not even Wiesel deserves such a desultory ending. In hindsight 9 weeks was a bit harsh but Carlton brought it on themselves. Had they copped it sweet it'd all be history by now. Costs, about $200K, were awarded against the Blues which the AFL said would come out of the their salary cap. The Blues' overall reaction? "Abhorrent...pathetic...disgraceful" were words used by president Elliott and general manager Gough to describe the AFL. Carlton have the option of taking the matter to the High Court, upon which they'll decide next Friday.

Footy and television was the other hot topic of the week. Kerry Packer's PBL threw in their lot with a Docklands Stadium tenderer, Grocon, on the understanding that TV rights would be coming their way circa 2001, when Channel Seven's current deal expires. Footy on Channel Nine. Telecasts delayed until after midnight. No games shown except certain ratings winners. Mal Brown. Mark Jackson. Overexposed Eddie MaCollingwood. Urgh!! Later in the week Channel Seven part owner Murdoch threw his lot in with another Docklands bidder, meaning that when the AFL decides the builder of its' new ground it will also, effectively, decide the future of TV coverage. Provided the two Rich Bastards don't just trample all over our game and wreck it, like they've done with rugby league. Mind you Seven didn't cover themselves with glory this week, shifting Sydney/Footscray to a 4:45 PM start on Saturday and not showing the first half of Adelaide/Richmond later that night in order to accomodate the Bledisloe Cup game live from the MCG. With the cricket thrown in, it meant a sporting extravaganza on TV but if I wanted to watch Maoris committing mayhem on people I could go to any local pub.

The tribunal dealt Carlton a further blow when it suspended Ron De Iulio 4 weeks for blatantly kicking Bewick last Saturday. The wrestlers from Sydney/West Coast were fined.

At the MCG:

Port Adelaide   5.3    8.6    14.9    18.14.122
Essendon        2.4    4.7     6.11   10.12.72

Professional Port comfortably defeated the miserable Bombers and took a major step towards making the finals in their first season. The Smears employed their usual hard-running, close-checking tactics against an undermanned and disinterested Essendon whose delivery to forwards and general disposal was terrible. Former Dons Scott Cummings and Gavin Wanganeen led the way for the visitors with 11 goals between them. The Dons made four changes from last week. We're told ruckman Somerville won't play again this season with stress fractures in his feet, the third Bomber to go that way in 97, but he was listed as dropped. Ukovic and Wallis missed with thigh strains. Fletcher, Daniher, Fraser and Harvey came in, the formless Cockatoo-Collins was dumped initially but played as a late replacement for Misiti ('flu). No initial change for Power, but Burgoyne came in to replace Lyle (cork thigh).

Some neat passing set up the first goal for Essendon's Caracella, but Port then kicked the next 4 as Primus won in the centre. Cummings had missed a sitter early on but he soccered his 50th goal for the season and Wanganeen drifted down to mark and convert. Essendon gave the next two away. First Olarenshaw set off on a long, aimless run from defence and was caught by Francou, the free ended with Cotton who goaled. Then Cransberg marked at CHB but his hospital pass was picked off by Heaver, who passed to Cummings. Goal. Essendon's Bewick got the ball to Fletcher, having a spell at full forward, for an answering major and the Bombers enjoyed a good spell but missed a few shots before James snapped another goal for Port. Mercuri was suffering an arm injury and started the second quarter in the forward pocket, he kicked accurately from a free for the Dons early, but then Port added another 3 in succession, Burgoyne got the first followed by two classy snaps from Wanganeen, one with each foot. Bombers Bewick and Symons missed easy shots in this period before Lloyd goaled from a free. Wanganeen arrived late as Doolan marked and planted his shoulder in the Don's back, for which the Port captain was reported. No 50m for Doolan though. Cotton had a long shot which bounced high on the line and was rushed through. "Oh, that's clearly a goal", chorused McAvaney, Roberts and Watson. They obviously had a much better view than the goal umpire.

Goals were traded in the first part of the third quarter before Port killed off the Dons with 4 consecutive goals, three from Cummings who kicked four for the term, marking strongly and proving too good for Wellman. The ineffective Harvey was dragged by Sheedy and replaced by O'Donnell, who'd already had a lengthy benching. They'd had 5 touches between them. Cummings' fourth for the quarter came after he was clobbered by a frustrated Symons. Two minutes into the last quarter Olarenshaw took a screamer 70m out but kicked down Dickie's throat, the ball rebounded for another Cummings sausage. The Flower spearhead then missed a couple of shots as the game wound down, Essendon got some goals from Harvey, Hardwick, Daniher and Hardwick again goaled after roving a throw-in. Port's Heaver and Breuer kicked the last majors of the match.

Matthew Primus was omnipotent for Port, not only did he win hitouts and mark about the ground, he also gathered the ball like a rover and cleared the centre bounce himself. Admittedly Essendon's ruck pairing of O'Connor and Lucas aren't renowned champions. Wanganeen (4 goals), James and Dickie were good in midfield, running defenders Bond and Heuskes won regular possession. Cummings finished with 7.6 from his 10 marks and even Poole got the ball as the game progressed. Essendon had few decent players, Lucas (23 kicks, 11 marks) tried hard in the ruck and attack, Hardwick and Prior at least had a dip and Fletcher wasn't bad. But their chipping and short passing fell to pieces under Port's simple but effective man-to-man marking. Mercuri and Hardwick kicked 2 each. Sheedy responded to the suggestion that it was one of the lowest points in his 17 Essendon years with "There's no doubt about that...our poor disposal was just so disappointing and just took away a lot of the players' confidence." Cummings said "We want to play finals footy and finals footy is played in Melbourne. We look forward to coming (here)." Late in the game an overexcited Bruce (is there any other type?) yelled "they may even host a final." Steady.

At Waverley:

Fremantle    2.2    4.5    6.9    10.11.71
Hawthorn     6.3    9.4    9.7      9.8.62

A weird game of two halves which saw Fremantle's finals hopes firm after a grinding second half, while the Hawks are now in real trouble. At selection Hawthorn lost Langford, on 299 games, with a hamstring and dropped Dixon for Pritchard and new player Jonathon Hay, yet another Hawk from East Fremantle. Fremantle lost Jones with a thigh, Clement was a late withdrawal and Black was discarded for Callaghan, Brown and Bandy.

Hawthorn started with a strong breeze and took advantage. Salmon won the ruck and Harford, Platten and Lekkas were busy, young forward Jade Rawlings kicked the first 3 goals. His first was a bit lucky, marking Robran's miskick, but Rawlings outmarked O'Reilly for the next goal and then O'Reilly obliged by kicking the ball straight to him. The Dockers had barely ventured into their attacking half but from the following bounce Wills drove forward and Dhurrkay snapped a goal from a throw-in. Salmon marked and converted for Hawthorn and then O'Reilly again kicked too low into the wind, giving the ball to Lekkas who goaled. Toia got one for the visitors and gave the scoreboard a reasonable look but Salmon marked and goaled again late in the term. Freo's turn with the breeze in the second, but they persisted with their short-passing, running game and did it very badly. A series of brawls broke out after Fremantle's Chisholm was reported for charging. Fremantle did kick the first goal of the quarter, to Hunter, but sloppy disposal gave the Hawks possession and confidence and eventually they answered with a great goal from Chick. Harford set up Rawlings for another goal and when Rawlings bagged his fifth from in front of the inoperative main scoreboard the Hawks led by 35 points. Mann got a late goal for Freo and Waterhouse set up a Hunter goal early in the third stanza. Callaghan, Dhurrkay and Bandy lifted in the middle and the Docker defenders raised their game, led by Parker and Kickett. McGovern ran free from the back. They kept the Hawks goalless and Bandy snapped a goal to make the difference 16 points at the last change. Mann kicked 2 goals at the start of the final quarter, the second a wind-assisted roost from 60m as things started to look ominous for the Hawks. Bandy and Parker chopped off every Hawthorn thrust while Sinclair was very busy. Robran kicked a point for Hawthorn, their only score of the quarter (which we Victorians pronounce "korta"). Good work from Waterhouse and Kickett got the ball to Brown who put the Dockers ahead. "Waterhouse reminds me of Ablett", said Sam Newman on 3AW to much scoffing. Perhaps in his Hawthorn years. Mann's long shot was touched on the line by Salmon and Hunter hit the post before Sinclair sealed it for Freo with a deserved goal.

Dale Kickett was excellent for Freo, shutting down Harford and launching many a forward thrust with his 24 disposals and Parker was a wall at CHB. Ruckman Bandy took full advantage of his reprieve, dominating after half time. Sinclair and Dhurrkay were very good midfield and Waterhouse was handy in attack, especially in the last quarter. Mann was important after half time. He kicked 3 goals and Hunter 2. Not a good day, again, for the Hawkers. Running defender Brad Scott battled with 25 touches and Platten worked hard, Lawrence was good in the first half and Robran was the only Hawk forward in danger of marking the ball. Rawlings kicked 5 goals in the first half but didn't trouble the stats man in the second. "I don't know. We've drifted away from what we do well", offered Judge. "Sometimes when you try and play outside your get yourself in trouble and I think we've done that..." Neesham said "we gave them a bit of confidence with unforced turnovers...I thought (we) showed enormous character to get back into the game." Fairly important derby next weekend.

At Princes Park:

North Melbourne   1.2    4.4    8.8    14.12.96
Carlton           2.4    4.8    7.12    7.16.58

The wind which assisted or repelled at Waverley blew straight across Princes Park, creating a (s)crappy first half before North overpowered the midtable Blues. Indiscipline and injury didn't help Carlton. Besides Williams and De Iulio, Manton missed with a hammy and Anstey was dropped, in came Clape, Hamill, Rice and Allan back from suspension. Porter stayed...on the bench for 3 quarters. For the Roos Rock missed with 'flu and Mellington a knee, replaced by Blakey and Daniel Stevens.

North surprised by starting Carey at CHB on Kernahan. Scott tagged Carlton's Bradley. History's Greatest Full Back played at full forward again with Dean at full back. Koutoufides began well and Pearce was busy in the first stanza, Kanga forwards Sholl and Allison were handy. HGFB kicked the Blues' first from a free and Allison replied for the Roos, Whitehead kicked another one for Carlton. Camporeale was reported for striking King, who was to have an eventful game. The wind made things difficult, the highlight of the second term being 3 more skillful goals for Allison. North ground to a 20-point lead in the third quarter with King and Scott driving the ball forward. Allison snaggled his and North's fifth early and 2 further majors seemed to give North control before the Blues rallied late in the quarter. Kernahan floated an ugly kick for a goal and Whitehead squeezed one through from a tight angle. HGFB appeared certain to add another goal for the Blues when he was deliberately tripped (at best) or kicked in the shin (at worst) by King, but the umpire waved play on blithely and North cleared. Bell kicked a goal for them and Carlton received a further blow when Pearce departed with a sprained ankle. Carlton missed a few before O'Sullivan blasted a typical goal in the shadow of the final change. North coach Denis Pagan mightn't know much about hairstyles but he does understand footy. Carey was moved to attack for the last quarter and, after some initial skirmishes, he precipitated the game-deciding assault. In the space of a minute Wayne marked and handballed to a surprised Crocker who eventually soccered it through, then lazily kicked a banana goal himself. Moments later Bell raced in for another and that was that. Roberts and Crocker added some percentage.

North's David King is having a great year, he charged off his half-back flank for 27 possessions and a goal. The league are investigating the trip/kick incident and he may be in trouble. Scott's effort on Bradley was a key, the Blue had 19 kicks but didn't do much with them while Scott had 27 touches himself and kicked a goal. Allison finished with 5 goals and was brilliant in the first half, Sholl too was an important forward. Martyn held History's Best Full Back/Forward to 2 goals although it wasn't a day for big men. Simpson and Schwass were effective midfield. For Carlton defenders McKay (on Archer) and Sexton were very good, Pearce took 11 marks before leaving and Whitehead (2 oals), one of the few pacy Blues, wasn't bad. Kouta had 29 possessions including quite a few ineffective ones. His teams' coach was blunt. "We played pretty well, pretty competitively for 3 quarters...and got beaten by a side who I think is better." Pagan said "It was a real arm-wrestle (his favourite phrase) and when it really mattered most - five minutes into the last quarter - we kicked those 3 goals and ran away." North have a relatively easy run in, if there is such a thing this year. You'll get good odds about the Blues making it.

At the SCG:

Sydney       6.2    10.10    16.14    22.17.149
Footscray    1.2     2.4      6.6      7.10.52

The starter of our big sporting feast, a bit like a prawn cocktail. It looked quite good but wasn't. Sydney equalled the record for consecutive defeatless home games, 20 now. "The old South Melbourne" share it, some Seven bloke said. The Bulldogs mightn't have expected to win but they didn't need the hefty chunk of percentage sliced off by this belting. Sydney didn't alter their 21, Footscray had Dent suspended 2 weeks for elbowing Toia last week and Dimattina missed with a hamstring, leading goalkicker Minton-Connell was axed after a string of poor returns. They were replaced by Curley, Contessa and Quill. Quill kicked the Bulldogs' first goal after 2 minutes, but Sydney ran rampant thereafter. The much-awaited Liberatore/Kelly duel was delayed until the second half, Romero starting on the Swan captain. But by then it didn't matter. It was the magnificent O'Loughlin who was the early star, booting two first-quarter goals and setting one up for Plugger, Libba was on Cresswell but was useful as a pocket in a singlet as the Swan centreman also bagged 2 first-term goals, which could have been more. Lockett kicked 2 more early in the second term. Diminutive Troy Cook removed key Puppies Smith and Johnson, hitting the former with a bone-jarring shirtfront and (accidentally) poking the latter in the eye. Half time and faced with a percentage disaster, Wallace dropped his tags and went for all-out attack. Smith returned to kick a nice goal and Nathan Brown booted a couple, one after a classical ride over Orchard. But the new open-ness (glasnost?) suited the Swans and they piled on more goals. The only negative for them was the departure of ruckman Stafford with a jarred knee. Lockett contributed a personal cameo in the last, kicking 4 goals and imitating Liberatore by giving the opposition a tirade as they trudged off after the siren, much to the delight of the rabid 35,534.

The usual Swan supects. Cresswell (21 touches, 4 goals), Kelly, Lewis and Cook in the middle, Grant and Roos at the back. Roos had 29 disposals and no Bulldog went anywhere near him. Dunkley comfortably held Chris Grant, allegedly ravaged by 'flu. O'Loughlin was brilliant early. Lockett kicked 8 in his best effort so far this season. Stevens was handy and Maxfield effective after coming off the bench. Footscray...Leon Cameron had 24 touches in the centre and Wynd won the rucks, Brown gave some cheek with 2 goals and Curley was reasonable at half back. Wallace said Footscray would "churn from within or nip it in the bud". They've home games against Richmond and Melbourne coming, but also have to go to Adelaide and Geelong. Eade said he was confident Sydney would pull away from Footscray once the initial onslaught was took about 3 minutes. Many folks think Sydney will top the ladder and get the ideal run-in to the Grand Final. All those folks who went along with free tickets in the 80s and local celebs who wouldn't know a footy from a mango deserve a flag...

At Football Park:

Adelaide    8.3    16.4    23.7    29.11.185
Richmond    0.2     2.4     5.6      7.6.48

Hurrah!! Tiges secure second draft pick! We had a go, the losses to North and Essendon were worse. Richardson got hurt again, an ankle this time. Sensibly he did it early and avoided the carnage. Bloody Adelaide. The Crows lost Smart, Johnson and Cook injured and Standfield was dumped, in came James, Rintoul, Ormond-Allen and his former Melbourne teammate Clay Sampson for his Corolla debut - he's from South Adelaide originally. Richmond lost Gaspar, their best player this year, with a hammy and regained Tape, Naish was a late replacement for Powell.

Thanks to Oberfuhrer Kennett and the Channel Seven Brownshirts we saw rugby union while the first half was on, although unimaginative media smartarses said later that wasn't a bad thing. I was thinking Richmond should draft John Eales when we got our first Football Park score flash...Adelaide 4.2 Richmond 0.2 with 3 minutes to quarter-time. "Ah, perhaps the Camrys've got a strong wind", we opined. Then the quarter-time score came up. "Perhaps not", we mused. Next flash, Celicas 11.4 Richmond 0.3. "What the @#$% is going on!!!", we conjectured. The Crowns were killing us, that's what. Jarman, Ricciuto (his 100th game) and Bickley strolled about, Jars, Modra, Robran and Vardy finished it off in attack. In the second term Modra flew high above a pack for a rather sensational grab. Unlike the rugger buggers he a) jumped rather than got lifted up and b) caught the ball. Richmond did OK in the early part of the third quarter as Gale and Daffy battled and Merenda and Rogers kicked some nice goals, but the Paseos terminated that with another goal avalanche from Robran, Jarman, James and Goodwin. Jarman had decided only to kick for goal when on the boundary line in the right forward pocket. He started with simple drop punts but as the game progressed developed to include checksides and over-the-head left-foot backheels. Split the centre every time. Main interest of the last quarter was to see if the Cows could record their biggest winning margin and/or kick 30 goals. Not quite on either count, but it was their highest AFL score.

Jarman had 18 kicks and 7 goals. And no behinds. Bickley 32 disposals and James 31. Robran at CHF gave Tape a frightful hiding with 20 touches, 9 marks and 4 goals and Modra also kicked 4. Pittman dominated rucks after being labelled "pathetic" by Blight in the corresponding round 2 fixture. Again, I liked the game of McLeod in defence. Vardy pocketed 3 goals...every Camry had 20 possessions and kicked at least one goal, from what I can glean. Campbell was Richmond's leading ball winner. He had 21 symmetrical kicks...each travelled the same distance in vertical and horizontal planes. Daffy tried very hard, Kellaway shut Modra down in the second half, Bulluss and Rogers boxed on...all South Australians (Kellaway apart). Merenda, at full forward after quarter time, and Naish kicked 2 goals each. Walls said "We played badly." I have no response to that. He expanded. "What stood out was in close at centre bounces and throw-ins where we didn't put up enough resistance..." Asked how he felt about Richmond's expanding collection of shockers, Rob replied "I feel OK." Mal Blight felt OK too. At the end he jogged up the race with a huge smile on his boat. "You have these sorts of nights and you're thankful for them", he said. You're welcome Mal.

At Waverley:

St. Kilda    2.6    7.12   9.16   12.20.92
Brisbane     1.3    3.6    5.12    5.14.44

With the Tigers drawn away for the next month or so, I took advantage to go and watch the Saints with some St. Kilda-supporting pals. This wasn't much of a game to be honest, but St. Kilda never looked like losing, especially after the Lions lost Voss and Lambert early on with an twisted knee and calf strain respectively. Voss's injury is serious and he may miss the rest of the year. Bews was stretchered off later with an ankle, but the Saints were well in control by then. At initial selection St. Kilda lost Hudghton with a hamstring strain and Beveridge was dropped, later Healy went out with a hand injury. In came Sierakowski, Bardsley and Shane Wakelin. Brisbane brought in Barker. Saint Nicky Winmar played his 200th VFL/AFL game, the first Aborigine to achieve the milestone, about which he was tremendously proud. He ran on with his kids through an impressive banner.

Arrived early enough to see Richmond's twos defeat the Saints and go a game clear at the top of the ladder. Go Young Tigers! Ahem. The breeze from the previous day was still there but more across the ground, Brisbane started with it but St. Kilda dominated the midfield through the speedy Jones and, of course, Harvey. Lappin and Loewe (Little and Large) were prominent for the Saints early but their kicking for goal was bad, Heatley and Winmar the only Saints on target early. Lambert wobbled a kick through for the Lions' first. As Everitt mopped up a failed Brisbane thrust Shanahan came across to shepherd Molloy but raised his elbow and was reported. Molloy missed badly from the free. Voss and Lambert were off by quarter time. Brisbane's Bradshaw led well and marked and kicked strongly for the first goal of the second term, but the Saints had a dominant spell where Shane Wakelin floated a kick through and Jones and Bardsley snapped goals. Heatley goaled after being dragged down by Lynch (A). But Burke and Everitt missed simple shots. Shanahan and Daryl Wakelin had Molloy and Leppitsch under wraps, but Barker came on and gave the Lion forward line some bite and Bradshaw got another goal. Brisbane made a concerted push in the third quarter. Bradshaw added another major and Lawrence snapped cleverly but there were some bad misses from Molloy and Barker, both kicking out on the full right in front of us. Winmar used his pace and skill to kick a steadier and Thompson scored with an excellent kick. Dreadful last term before the Saints kicked 3 goals in time-on, Everitt took a nice mark and Winmar roved brilliantly for a fitting goal, Heatley got another. Winmar was chaired off.

Aussi Jones (26 disposals and a goal) and his similarly-sized mate Lappin were very good, their pace worrying the Lions. Loewe roamed across half-forward to grab 14 marks in an excellent display, stats tell us he comfortably leads the AFL in "contested" marks. Sziller had 27 disposals as he tidied up in defence and Peckett was good too. Everitt beat Clarke in the ruck and kicked 2 goals. Harvey had a relatively modest 18 touches but was still effective. Heatley and Winmar kicked 3 goals each. Few good players for Brisbane, Bradshaw did well with 3 goals and Barker, Hart and Lappin (cousin of St. Kilda's Matthew) were goers. A very, very angry Northey refused to blame injuries and locked his mob up for 30 minutes afterwards. "They (St. Kilda) set their win up very, very early by our players being extremely loose, not doing the things we work very, very hard at...there may be repercussions at selection...". Alves was happy with a win "when we didn't play well." He aimed for a top-four spot. The Saints have a reasonable run-in, trips to Sydney and Port Adelaide their biggest remaining hurdles. Brisbane play all their last five at night.

At the MCG:

Collingwood    3.3    4.6    13.10    20.14.134
Melbourne      5.3    9.6    10.8     12.10.82

Melbourne's Jim Stynes celebrated his 10th consecutive year without missing a game, a remarkable achievement given the modern plethora of injuries. He'll remember it for another reason too, being punched in the testicles in the second quarter by Matt Francis, although Jim later dismissed it as "just a little nudge." Three players were reported and a few others may be later in a fiery clash (nice cliche) which kept the Maggies' finals flame flickering. At selection Collingwood picked Taylor, Liddell and Patterson and dumped McDonald, Mahoney and Ahmat. At Melbourne Paul Prymke, suffering a chronic back injury, dropped off the list to allow the selection of James McDonald, younger brother of Collingwood's Alex and Demon teammate Anthony. David Cockatoo-Collins also came in, for O'Brien and Pyman.

The Dees roared out with Stynes controlling the ruck and Obst and Glen Lovett busy, Brett Lovett did well off half back and Woewodin smothered Buckley. Shaun Smith was back to his injury-taunting leaping with 3 first-quarter goals. Just before quarter time Hopgood and Williams indulged in a wrestle behind play which left the Melbourne man groggy. The pattern continued in the second stanza as Melbourne's Charles booted a couple of goals. The Pies responded to these unexpected events in traditional style. Matt Francis jabbed Stynes in the orchestras and then appeared to kick the Demon while he was down, Francis was reported for the former action and the latter is under close scrutiny. Demon Yze came in to remonstrate and was reported, later Yze threw Crow onto the ground so hard he dislocated the Magpie's shoulder. Another report for Yze. Melbourne later suggested a few things had been "said" to Yze...of a racial nature, perhaps? Collingwood settled in the second half. Buckley (2 kicks in the first half) was moved to the forward line and Russell and Crosisca lifted across the middle, Tony Francis got involved and both Roccas started taking marks. Melbourne kept pressing but Brown and his defensive cohorts absorbed the pressure. Collingwood blasted 7 goals in the first 18 minutes of the final term before Melbourne got a few late consolations.

It's not often we do this but plaudits to Sav Rocca. He kicked 6 goals and together with brother Anthony (4 goals) and Tony Francis (also 4 goals) turned the match. Russell (28 disposals) and Crosisca were important midfielders and Wright was handy running from defence. The Dees were well served by Woewodin who held Buckley to 12 touches, although 5 of those came in the third term and Bucks also kicked 2 goals, so he contributed. Both Lovetts were very good and Stynes underlined his worth when not opposed by a giant. Charles and Smith each kicked 3 goals although Smith, of course, got injured (facial cut). Dee coach Hutchison was shattered. "I can't believe it...I feel sick about it...we went from the first half, where we really did control the contest and were good close in and in hard. We didn't do that in the second half..." He weren't too happy about the Stynes incident either. Shaw brushed it all off..."was it bad? I didn't see it", he said of the rough stuff. "Luckily we did turn it around", he said. "We were pretty hard after half time....Melbourne were a bit harder in the first half. I haven't said that often this year, but it's true." Still an uphill battle for the Maggies to make September.

At Subiaco:

West Coast    2.4    7.7    15.7    20.9.129
Geelong       4.1    7.6    12.8    12.10.82

The Eagles regained some icons and shrugged off recent poor form and a slow start to beat the ladder leaders. Chris Lewis returned from his enforced 8-week holiday (including State-of-Origin) to rack up a BOG and Peter Matera, McIntosh and Worsfold also returned. Geelong were without Tanner with a groin strain, in came Sean Simpson.

Tough game with plenty of hard tackles, shepherds and smothers. Geelong overdid it a bit and gave away four 50m penalties. But they started well enough, with Sholl running from the back and Hocking and Pickering busy in the middle, young Snell had 12 touches in the first quarter and Burns was an elusive forward. Lewis had 10 disposals in the first term and after the Cats established a decent lead in the second, it was he who precipitated the Eagle comeback with a good goal, then set one up for Sumich as the Eagles kicked 5 straight to grab a half-time lead. Key moment in the third when the unlikely Heady, target of many bump, thundered into Colbert as Sumich marked, sending the Cat off with an injured shoulder. This raised the ire of Bhudda who arrived to remonstrate, then poured his energies into lifting his team with 3 goals for the term. But the Weegles stayed ahead, Geelong's Sholl was dragged after a late tackle on Lewis conceded a 50m penalty. For once the Eagles had a fit bench and in the last quarter Wooden, Grgic and Evans came on for the first time to help the Weegles romp to a good victory.

Chris Lewis finished with 25 disposals and 3 goals, he was also credited with 3 tackles and 3 shepherds which earned the praise of Malthouse. Heady played in attack and kicked 2 goals, Morrison (30 touches), Banfield and Waterman were all good in midfield. McIntosh returned to full back and allowed to Gehrig to return to the forward line, he slotted 3 goals and Sumich kicked 4. Gardiner did well in the ruck, no mean feat against King and Barnes. Hocking battled manfully for Geelong with 30 possessions and 3 goals, King was good again and running defenders Mansfield, Sholl and Sanderson were handy, Pickering was reasonable too. Burns kicked 4 goals and Hall kicked 4 behinds. Malthouse was happy that the worst of the injury run appears over. The Eagles face the small matter of a derby next week and go to Brisbane in round 22, but apart from that their run-in isn't too bad. No quote from Ayresey.

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Last Updated: 28 July 1997

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