The following information is provided by Tim Murphy - [firstname.lastname@example.org], distributed via news groups and email and is updated here Monday evenings after the weekends games. All credit for this information goes to Tim and is being used with permission.
What a tragic accident. Poor old Vidovic. So ends the closest season for...a long while. St. Kilda finished on top for the first time since 1965, with the fewest wins since the 22-game season was introduced in 1970. None of the contenders for eighth managed to win, leaving Brisbane in the last September spot. Adelaide's Tony Modra won his second John Coleman medal with 81 goals, the lowest total for the leading goalkicker since Leigh Matthews' 68 in 1975.
During the week three players tested positive for banned substances. Richmond ruckman Justin Charles became the first AFL drug abuser (to be caught) when he tested positive for the anabolic steroid boldenone. Charles admitted to taking the drug throughout the early part of the season to overcome persistent groin and hamstring injuries. Charles said he did not get the drug through the club or normal medical channels. He faces the tribunal this week and a maximum possible suspension of 22 games. Richmond came under pressure from sponsors to dump him...I love the commercial world. Two days later it emerged West Coast ruckman Ilija Grgic had also tested positive to a banned substance in 'flu medicine. The third player is a mystery.
Fallout from last weeks' pre-bounce shennanigans at Whitten Oval. After Jason Ball was harshly suspended for 2 weeks on Monday night, the AFL said it was taking no further action over the incident. West Coast...raised some issues (avoiding the w-word) and the WA media whipped up a storm over what was nothing more than a bit of pushing and verbals. The matter was kept warm when Peter Matera gave a highly descriptive account of a (separate) incident in which Kolyniuk was reported for striking him. The Footscray man copped 2 weeks. The league invoked the incredibly vague and previously unused rule 10C to charge Bulldogs Kretiuk, Southern and Ellis with "behaving towards another player in a threatening and aggressive manner" Eh? They were found guilty and fined a hefty amount. It was Bulldog president David Smorgon's turn to whin...complain in an embittered manner.
A consortium called the Breakaway Group approached the AFL with an offer to buy Waverley for $33 million. They're happy to run the stadium as a sports complex with the Hawks as the sole AFL tenant...St. Kilda are likely to move to Docklands.
West Coast 2.2 6.6 12.10 18.12.120 Brisbane 2.6 6.11 7.13 11.15.81
The Lions were consigned to a long, nervous weekend when they were overpowered by the Weagles after half time. West Coast went in without the suspended Ball and injured McIntosh and Worsfold, Lovell was dropped and Grgic was a late withdrawal...we didn't know why at that stage. In came Donnelly, Lewis, Stone, Sumich and Evans. Brisbane made one change, discarding Barker for Shaun Hart.
Brisbane began well with Fletcher and Bamford busy in the centre and Champion was too mobile for Jakovich at CHF. The Lions should have had 4 goals if it weren't for a couple of posters, although the Eags hit the post a couple of times later on. Gardiner had started well in the ruck but went off injured late in the first quarter, the Eagles replaced him with Donnelly (why not Turnbull?). Lion Clarke dominated the ruck in the second term and Brisbane kicked 4 straight goals - a flukey soccer from Leppitsch, Dion Scott (twice) and Bamford to gain a 20-point lead. But the West Coast got a series of late goals, with Gehrig prominent at CHF, to close up at the long break. In the third term Kemp and Schofield lifted to take charge in the middle and, after a good early goal from Bradshaw, the home side piled on the majors. Heady and Phil Matera were busy in their forward half, Symmons kicked a lovely long goal and Sumich planted a superb bump on White and soccered through with his right foot from 40m. Sumich hadn't touched the ball in the first half and received a fair spray from Malthouse at quarter time. Gehrig smacked a superb kick from 50m for a goal. The Eagles cruised home in the last with more goals for Sumich.
Centremen Schofield (33 disposals) and Kemp (25) were very good for West Coast and McKenna had 27 disposals and took 13 marks across half back, he also bagged a rare goal. Waterman stifled Champion after half time and Peter Matera had his usual 20-odd kicks. Gehrig was excellent at CHF...he's really blossomed this year, playing well at full forward, full back and now CHF. The Wodonga boy took 12 marks and kicked 3 goals. Heady (19 kicks, 12 marks, 3 goals) and Phil Matera (2 goals) were good. For the battling Lions (whom Sevens' Adrian Barich continually referred to as "the Bears") Ashcroft, Hart and Bamford worked hard in the centre. Al Lynch did well on Sumich in the first half before being shifted to attack, where he kicked a goal. Akermanis and McRae bobbed up occasionally and Leppitsch kicked 2.3 from 13 kicks and 7 marks. Commenting on the upcoming final on Sunday evening, Northey said "all this is very unexpected. We've had bad luck with injuries but we've won enough games to get in. St. Kilda...barrack for them one week, enemies the next." In reference to West Coast's away final in Adelaide, Malthouse said "Statistically we're the best travelled side in the competition, that's a fact...we are certainly better off this year than the last two because we've got more players available."
Melbourne 1.4 5.8 12.9 18.11.119 Fremantle 3.4 4.5 6.9 11.13.79
Desultory end to the season for the Dockers who lost any chance they had of finals footy, but a rare, good day for the Demons. They thoroughly outplayed the injury-decimated Dockers after half time. The AFL allowed the suspended and retiring Andrew Obst (149 games) to run on with the Demons and do a lap of honour, no such joy for Fremantle captain Ben Allan, quitting after 2 years of chronic knee trouble. He was the last player to leave the ground. Melbourne replaced the injured Glen Lovett and Lamprill with Clarkson and Seecamp. Fremantle lost O'Reilly and McGovern with injury and Sinclair was a late withdrawal, Brown and Whitelaw were dumped. In came Allan, Burton, White, Koops and Chisholm.
Poor first half with both sides struggling up forward. Shaun Smith, at full forward, took a big grab and kicked an early goal for the Dees while Docker Mann had three shots at goal before getting one on target. Jeff White, "auditioning" for Melbourne, was all over Stynes in the ruck and pulled down 5 nice marks in the first term, Callaghan was busy as usual while Hopgood (on Wills) and Yze were about for Melbourne. Viney and Steven Febey lifted in the second term and the Dees had a half-time lead after goals from Farmer and Smith. Melbourne won it in the third quarter as Stynes lifted to control the rucks and Jeff Farmer booted 4 goals. His first came when Chisholm fumbled a bounce on half back (my Dad always told me you never bounce in the back line) and the ball went to Viney who passed to Farmer, then Farmer roved a spilled Neitz mark for another. Two freakish soccer kicks from the Tallengup lad raised the twin calicoes and the Dees had romped clear. Waterhouse battled to keep Freo in touch, but to no avail. Farmer went off for a self-enforced rest but the Dees cruised home in an entertaining last quarter.
Farmer finished with 6 goals (he got another in the final minutes) from 14 kicks and embarrassed Chisholm. Todd Viney completed a good year after a slow start with 28 possessions and Hopgood (27 touches) did an excellent job on Wills, although the Docker struggled through with a leg injury. Yze had 19 kicks and snaggled 2 goals from the wing and Anthony McDonald did well. Defenders Kowal, Seecamp and Ingerson were good. Smith kicked 3 goals. Callaghan (23 disposals, 10 marks) and Leach boxed on for Fremantle. Koops, playing his first game since round 3, kicked 4 goals. He's grown 5 centimetres this year, apparently. "Spider" Burton did reasonably and Waterhouse tried hard in attack. "We just had too many people who played really poorly today, some through injury, some through a lack of focus and belief," said Docker coach Neesham. Summing up the year, he blamed injuries: "We've used 39 players and won 10 games. The likes of Essendon and Melbourne have had injuries too and won four to seven (nine actually)." Injuries have been a part but the Dockers' skill level has often been terrible and they seem to lack "big occasion" players. Neesham hinted that Watters and Hynes wouldn't be around next year. The ever-blunt Hutchison said "They (his team) could easily have gone out and said 'let's get on the drink a bit earlier' but, to their credit, they worked extremely hard." Not much was expected of the Dees in 1997 and they duly delivered, but there were bonuses in the return of Schwarz and emergence of Woewodin, Robertson and Brent Grgic. A new coach should be announced soon.
Footscray 3.4 8.8 12.12 15.15.105 Hawthorn 4.2 6.5 8.7 13.9.87
More physicality involving the Doggies, provoked by the fired-up Hawks and the tribunal could affect Footscray's September campaign. But the Dogs showed they're more than schoolyard Bullies by recording a decent win. Hawthorn were fifth when they thumped Port Adelaide in round 14. They've not won since. The Hawks recalled Darrin Pritchard for the last of his 209 games, Tallis and Fraser also came in for Treleven (hammy), Dixon and Bone. Chick was a late withdrawal, replaced by Rawlings. Footscray had Hudson and Curley play in place of Kolyniuk and Brown.
The final appearances for Hawks Pritchard and Langford (302 games) had their teammates pumped up. Romero was jostled as the teams warmed up. At the first bounce Salmon ignored the ball and crashed into Wynd, at the same time Woods thundered into Romero. An all-in brawl broke out, Doggies Dimattina, Southern and Scott West were reported (West 3 times) and Hawks Tallis and Taylor also went into the book. When the dust settled Wynd had a free and a 50m penalty, another 50m penalty was awarded after further scuffles and the Footscray captain goaled from point blank. The Dogs weren't ruffled and grabbed the lead with goals from full forward Cook. The Hawks had Lekkas and Robran going well, late goals from Robran and Lawrence gave Hawthorn a quarter-time lead. A second-quarter burst from Chris Grant gave the visitors a break, he goaled from an angle and set up another for Cook. An inspired effort from Platten saw Hawthorn get within 2 goals in the third quarter but they were struggling in attack, again. Footscray cleared out with more goals for Cook. Hawthorn boxed on in the last with Lord kicking 4 goals and they again drew close but the excellent Romero sealed the win by kicking a running goal and then handpassing to Curley for the decisive sausage. After the siren Langford removed his guernsey and waved it to the crowd in a repeat of last year's defiant round 22 gesture. He and Pritchard were congratulated by former teammate Wallace.
Tough on-ballers Romero (25 touches) and Liberatore (24) dispensed with the so-called "gutter" tactics for the day and were exemplary, Grant contributed spasmodically but was still a key with 18 disposals and 7 marks. James Cook kicked 7 goals on Langford, making the veteran Hawks' last game a not very memorable one. Cox did very well off half back and Ellis held Holland, Scott West was good in the middle. Lanky Jonathon Robran battled for the Hawks with 6 marks and 2 goals, Lekkas had 19 kicks and Salmon worked hard in the ruck against Wynd. Mark Graham started well up forward with 3 first-half goals but faded. Woods and Platten won the ball and Lord finished with 4 goals. Some suggestion that Platten mightn't be invited to sign a new Hawthorn contract although he wants to play one more year, speculation that Jenke and Condon are also finished...the last remnants of the Hawks' golden era. Dunstall is still undecided about playing on. Judge said "Our commitment was very good today, our skill level was ordinary. I think that's the problem." Yep. Wallace said "Hawthorn were going to come out steamed up...Our focus early in the game was ball, ball, ball. We got a few early free kicks because our guys were prepared to go after the footy..." The Bulldogs comfortably enjoy the largest positive free-kick differential in the AFL. We're looking forward to 'em in the finals.
Richmond 2.3 6.7 10.10 13.13.91 Carlton 7.1 10.5 13.6 13.11.89
It's good to beat Carlton. It's even better to do it at Princes Park. And to come back from 7 goals down. And keep 'em out of the finals. The Blues finished this splendid game with 16 fit players, a bit of a factor. Unfortunately I, along with thousands of other (mainly Tiger) supporters, was locked out at 12:30 PM while Melbourne and Fremantle played in front of a dozen people at the MCG. But that's fair enough, home grounds are important. In retrospect, I'd shown the intelligence of Justin Charles in not purchasing a pre-booked ticket. In selection the Blues picked Kernahan, Anstey and initially Sexton although he didn't play, replaced by Hanna. Murphy was out with a back injury and Franchina and Smart were dropped...no new boys with finals at stake. Richmond regained Michael Gale from injury, Baldwin made way.
Carlton kicked the first 6 goals. Rice, Hickmott and Dean were superb at the back, Ratten got leather poisoning in the middle and De Iulio was about on a wing. Richmond began with Mick Gale as an extra, loose defender but it backfired as the loose Blue, Camporeale, won a mountain of kicks. Koutoufides kicked the first goal after a poor Mick Gale clearance then Hogg slotted from the pocket, Allan, Dean and Porter goaled and Kouta got another before Rogers opened Richmonds' account. Rogers snapped an early goal for the Tiges in the second but Koutoufides got his 4th after a juggled mark. Richmond brought Holland on and moved Bulluss onto Kouta and Knights into the centre, Mick Gale started picking up Camporeale. However Pearce kicked a sausage and then shepherded through Hanna's first kick. Carlton led by 41 points. Kernahan, pretty much statless, went off with an ankle strain and didn't return and Hamill damaged a shoulder in a bump from B. Gale. Things started happening for Richmond as Knights and Powell got involved, Holland and B. Gale goaled from marks and Richardson did well to set up a goal for Powell.
Third quarter. Pearce went off early with recurrent knee trouble, but the Blues went on their way with goals from Camporeale, created by a rare Bradley kick, and Porter. Richmond clawed back. Harrison goaled from a technical free, then B. Gale engineered consecutive centre clearances for goals to Daffy and Rogers. In this period Richmond's Funcke was stretchered off after a clash of heads with Hogg - Funcke was reported for "failing to leave the ground directly while on a stretcher" despite the fact he was unconscious - and Blue De Iulio was concussed after he and Harrison collided mid-air with eyes on the ball. A speared pass from Broderick saw Powell convert and Richmond trailed by 8 points. With Kernahan, De Iulio and Hanna (no ability) off, Hamill and Pearce were forced back on. Whitnall kicked a good late goal for Carlton. But the Blues were tiring and Richmond had their dander up. Kouta and Porter missed shots early in the final term before a long run from Knights led to a goal for Gale B. Bowden cut the margin to 2 points after an excellent mark, then a great kick from Harrison put Richmond in front. A long Koutoufides shot was going through before Prescott got a hand to it. Funcke missed a set shot but the Tiges clung on 'til the siren.
Another great game from Matthew Knights the champion, he finished with 27 superbly used disposals. Brendon Gale finished a fine season with a great game in the ruck and drifted forward for 2 goals. Carlton discard Chris Bond held Bradley to 11 kicks. Rogers was good with 20 kicks and 3 goals, Broderick was handy in the middle and Kellaway did well in defence. Harrison, Powell and Bowden kicked 2 goals each. Brett Ratten fought tremendously hard for Carlton with 29 touches and defensive flanker Hickmott was great. Camporeale and Hogg worked hard in the middle. Koutoufides started well with 4 goals but faded. Porter kicked 2 goals. HGFB did well on Richardson, feisty rover Hulme showed promise. Parkin said "We just couldn't run as strong as hard as them at the finish...we just didn't have the legs or the personnel to win a contest we had controlled previously." Gieschen, who must surely have the Tiger job sewn up, said "We would not concede and kept going at it and going at it and eventually we got over the line." End of frustrating year for both teams, with injuries, erratic form and off-field distractions (in Carltons' case) all contributing.
Geelong 4.3 6.5 10.8 15.10.100 Sydney 2.5 5.7 9.9 13.12.90
After a decade of Grand Final failure, Cat supporters haven't dared mention the P-word despite their heading the ladder for most of the year. But after this well-crafted win in front of a record Swan home crowd of 46,168 secured a top-2 berth, they must be ready to expose their emotions again. The Swans have limped into the finals losing 3 of their last 4, and given their poor away form this year they face an uphill battle. Lockett might be missing after smacking Graham in the moosh. The Cats regained Paul Lynch and dropped Lowther, Sydney lost Seymour, Lewis and Warfe with injuries and axed Myles for Roos, Bayes and 1997 reserves players O'Brien and Luff.
The Cats were hard and professional in defence and used the ball superbly...there's a lot of West Coast about them in those respects, their conquerors in 1992 and 1994. Sydney started well when Kelly squeezed a shot through from the boundary line. Lockett missed two shots from very close range and Bayes missed a sitter too. Geelong got on the board after Barnes marked strongly. Sean Simpson was stopping Kelly and Hocking and Riccardi were getting the ball. Some great play from Hocking set up a goal for Hall and two more Cat goals followed quickly. McAvaney said "It's (the scoreboard) a real worry." For whom Bruce? Lockett marked just on the first siren and kicked accurately, but Bayes and Carey missed early in the second term. Lynch came off the bench to goal for the Cats. The Swans knuckled down, Kelly lifted and Cook and Maxfield won the ball. Eventually Lockett got another and O'Loughlin snapped truly after a superb individual effort. Steinfort replied for Geelong after a brilliant string of handpasses but Bayes narrowed the gap to 4 points at half time after Lockett tackled McGrath by the head.
Lockett marked early in the third but kicked into Graham on the mark. Ayres introduced Snell at full forward and he goaled after marking McKinnon's long kick. Lockett majored with a nice punt after accepting O'Loughlin's pass and a snap from Kelly levelled the scores. Geelong responded with goals from Snell and Mansfield after a strong mark, but the sublime O'Loughlin got another and straight from the following bounce Kelly cleared the centre and Barry roved to put Sydney ahead by a point. The crowd found voice. With 8 seconds remaining in the quarter the Cats recovered the lead when Burns got the ball to Hocking. Sydney grabbed the lead again early in the last when O'Loughlin goaled from close range and the crowd were roaring. But the Cats ended the match with five consecutive goals. The first two came from Hall, Snell bagged his third, Mansfield led strongly and converted and Hargreaves got another. That was it although Plugger bagged a late pair and knocked Graham rotten with a swinging forearm, enough to cost the Cats top spot on percentage.
Buddha Hocking was superb for the Cats with 28 disposals in the middle, always creating space. Ben Graham did well on Lockett, often outmarking Plugger and refusing to be intimidated. The little SCG made his huge kick-ins seem even bigger. Steven King had 20 possessions, not bad for a ruckman, Sholl (28 touches) was good again. Mansfield was useful when shifted to the forward line in the second half with 2 goals, Pickering played well in the centre. Hall and Snell kicked 3 goals each. The outrageously skilled O'Loughlin was great for Sydney with 19 kicks and 3 goals from his forward flank, Maxfield ran hard on the wing with 17 kicks and Cresswell, as usual, won plenty of the ball in the centre. Lockett finished with 5 goals although 2 of them came when the game was over. Defenders Roos and Dyson were good and Stafford did some nice things in a good duel with King. Eade indicated Geelong's better ball use made the difference. "They beat us through our inability to make the most of our chances...(our disposal) was terrible, the worst I've seen." Ayres said "To finish off with two interstate games and get the points is reasonably pleasing." Don't get over-excited Gazza.
Collingwood 6.2 11.4 14.7 18.14.122 North Melbourne 6.2 9.8 13.14 15.21.111
North kicked away their chance and consigned themselves to a sudden-death final next weekend. Although if they'd won they'd be going to Adelaide. Collingwood, as in 1996, had a good but meaningless win over a finals contender in the last round. They've not lost to North since Shaw took over. For their last game Collingwood lost McDonald suspended for elbowing Rehn on Monday and Tony Francis was a late withdrawal with a hammy, former Roo Barnett was recalled and Dwayne Griffin, a 20-year-old forward flanker from Swan Districts with a terrible haircut, was given his debut. North surprised by selecting the supposedly crippled McKernan and Roberts returned, Anderson and Groom were axed.
North booted the first two goals but Collingwood fought back with Buckley driving from defence and Schauble handy across half-forward. Straighter kicking by the Pies, led by Sav Rocca, saw them grab a half-time lead. McKernan, who'd started on the bench, was brought on to CHB and Carey switched from defence to attack. The moves worked as Carey got involved, goaling from a dubious free and sending Maggie ruckman Matt Francis off with concussion after a mid-air collision. But the Pies clung to a 1-point lead at the final break with goals from Crosisca, Liddell and Mahoney. In an exciting last quarter, both sides missed early shots before Buckley, moved to CHF, goaled on the run to put Collingwood 5 points up. Dan Stevens and Roberts missed easy set shots for North before Roberts got on target and the Roos led by 3 points. Both Anthony Rocca and Crosisca hit the post before a great snap from the younger Rocca put the Pies in front again. Barnett extended the lead to two goals and as the clock wound down, the Pies seemed home. North's Chandler snapped a goal with 30 seconds remaining to make the difference 5 points again but Williams roved the following bounce, charged out of the centre, had a bounce and lobbed it through from 45m with the clock showing 8 seconds to go.
Paul Williams provided more than that inspirational moment, with 27 disposals in all and 3 goals. Anthony Rocca finally showed a bit, taking 7 marks and kicking 1.3 as the key forward once Sav was forced into the ruck. Osborne, playing as a defender, did well and Michael was good at full back on Mellington. Crosisca had 21 kicks and Buckley was OK although struggled with Blakey's tag. Sav Rocca kicked 4 goals to finish the year with 76. For North Robert Scott was great with 18 kicks and 2 goals, Carey showed some of his best bullocking form in the second half to finish with 17 kicks, 9 marks and 1.3. McKernan improved as the game progressed. Blakey, who started on half forward against Buckley, had 20 touches and kicked 2 goals, Archer booted 3 goals and Simpson was good too. Roberts was about but kicked 2.3 and Dan Stevens got 1.3. Pagan wasn't happy. "We had a lot more of the ball and had it inside 50m 65 to 54 times...our field kicking and decision making were atrocious." Shaw rued Monday night's loss to Adelaide and again talked about "moral victories". But Collingwood have only won 4 games since round 8, they've been virtually injury-free and clearly haven't been good enough.
Essendon 4.0 4.2 11.4 16.6.102 Adelaide 6.4 8.9 10.11 14.14.98
The Camrys were playing for a potential top 2 slot but were overrun by the Dons, who made a late-season habit of these second-half surges. They were also fired up for the 206th and last appearance of Mark Harvey. "Harvs" was recalled for his swansong along with Wallis, Blumfield and Heffernan, not sure who went out. The Crows regained Ricciuto.
With Modra struggling in recent weeks Adelaide started with usual full back Rod Jameson at full forward and Modra on a flank. Jameson did well early, booting goals as Jarman and McLeod sent the ball forward. The Corollas cleared out to a 31-point lead midway through the second quarter and went in at half time in complete control. In the third quarter Somerville lifted in the ruck (Pittman went off with a groin strain), Daniher tagged Jarman and Cockatoo-Collins, shifted to full forward, booted a couple of goals. Jameson got another for the visitors but with Denham busy the Dons drew closer. Lloyd got a couple and then an attractive incident when Moorcroft charged into Vardy with a raised elbow and Barry Young verballed the Crow while he lay unconscious on the ground. Moorcroft kicked a good goal late in the term to close the margin to a point. Lloyd kicked an early goal in the last quarter to put Essendon in front and then Denham streamed down to convert. Jameson goaled again for Adelaide but Denham bagged another and Cockatoo-Collins marked on the goal-line to give the Bombers a 2-goal buffer, which they maintained until a Troy Bond goal right on the siren. Harvey, and Sheeds, were chaired off.
Sean Denham had a top game with 25 touches in the centre and Lloyd and Cockatoo-Collins were the keys to the revival with 5 goals each. Lloyd finished the year with 63 goals. Caracella, another find, had 20 disposals on the wing and Daniher not only stopped Jarman but had 21 handlings himself. Moorcroft was good with 3 goals. For the Camrys Jameson kicked 6 goals from 8 marks and Caven was good at CHB. Runners Koster, McLeod and Bond boxed on. Jarman kicked 3 goals, all in the first half. Blight seemed unconcerned as the Crows retained the home final. "It'll be interesting to see how the younger blokes go against West Coast...it'll be a fair test for us." Sheedy spoke of "cutting the cord" in mid-season. "We went for the next group of players and they haven't let us down." The Bombers have had well-documented injury problems this year but there's been some ordinary football and off-field blood-letting as well. No doubt they'll be back next year.
St. Kilda 2.1 8.1 11.5 17.15.117 Port Adelaide 3.3 7.8 9.11 12.12.84
By the time the ball was bounced at the unusual time of 5 PM Sunday the Saints knew they'd finish in the top two whatever happened while a win for Port would see them play in the finals in their first season. Port gave their all in front of 38,589 but they weren't good enough to beat the on-top Saints. Port axed Squire, Steinberner, Downsborough and Francis from the team slaughtered by Richmond, Poole, James and Rombotis were recalled and ex-North forward Paul Geister (originally from Central Districts) got his debut. St. Kilda recalled Loewe, Winmar, Young and Hudghton for the injured Lappin and discarded Gray, Bardsley and Shane Wakelin.
Port ran hard from the opening bounce. After Saint Traianidis kicked an early goal Wilson got involved and Heuskes won plenty of kicks in his free role at the back. Lade and Cummings got goals and a good snap from Francou saw them to a quarter-time lead. Hard men Poole and Hall, opposed to one another, provided a side show. But the Saints started to wear the Smears down in the second, Harvey lifted a gear and Brown and Thompson were prominent, plus their phenomenally straight kicking kept the pressure on Port. Primus obliged by handballing straight to Thompson for a goal, but Cummings and Wilson snaggled good goals for the Pooer to keep them in it. St. Kilda started to control the midfield in the third stanza, Harvey and Burke had 16 possessions between them and the excellent Aussi Jones had 11 disposals for the quarter, including 2 very good goals. A goal from Primus put the tiring Flowers in front again but Heatley roved for another to give the Saints the lead at the final change and they ground away from Port in the last. Some great play from Jones and Harvey led to a goal for Thompson and Everitt smacked one through from 50m, not a bad effort. The only downside was a serious knee injury to Vidovic, which will keep him out of the finals.
Yet another BOG for Rob Harvey, the constantly running centreman had 40 disposals (24 kicks, 16 handpasses) and his on-ball partner Burke gathered the ball 31 times. Jones was great with 27 touches and 2 goals, Thompson and Brown were very good in the middle too. Peckett and Sziller were great at the back and Shanahan held Cummings to 2 goals. Heatley kicked 5 goals, mostly from opportunist gathers rather than marks. Thompson, Everitt and Loewe kicked 2 each. End of a great debut year for Port, better than anyone expected...although they, like most other sides, weren't too good away from home and tired at the end with only a draw in their last 5 games. In this clash Lyle worked very hard with 24 disposals and Mead did an excellent job on Loewe, whose 2 soft goals came in the dying stages. Big men Primus and Lade battled hard and Eagleton was good. Heuskes had 26 kicks but as a free man in defence with every other defender under instructions to give him the ball, he should be getting at least 20 every week. Cummings, Wilson, Eagleton and Lade each kicked 2 goals. Cummings finished with 70 goals, plus 8 in the State of Origin game. Cahill said "we were beaten by a better team, a classy team...we were really tired in the last 10 minutes...the club has learnt a lot, we'll be better next year." He said they were on the lookout for a centre half-forward and some more on-ballers. Alves felt sorry for Vidovic but he's got cover with Sierakowski and Cook. "(Brisbane) have had things go their way, so they might think it's their year", he said. Doubt it.
2nd qualifying final: Footscray v Sydney, MCG, Saturday. 1st qualifying final: Adelaide v West Coast, Football Park, Sat. night 3rd qualifying final: St. Kilda v Brisbane, Waverley, Sunday. 4th qualifying final: Geelong v North Melbourne, MCG, Sunday night.
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