Hawthorn v West Coast: The first “sort out” of spots in the top eight at the weekend was pretty much sorted out by quarter time, with the hawks holding a five goal lead, Buddy Franklin holding four goals in the bank and the Eagles in damage control. They did control the damage, keeping the margin to 25 points at the finish but Josh Kennedy’s rolled ankle in the closing minutes is a worry. The Hawks are top of the ladder and flag favourites but have lost Brent Guerra to a hamstring.
Geelong v Sydney: The Cats got the chocolates down at Sleepy Hollow but they have Paul Chapman on report for a little sly tap to the face of Ben McGlynn. There was nothing sly about Heath Grundy’s elbow to the face of James Podsiadly. That was just silly. The Swans may have to head to Adelaide to face Taylor Walker and Kurt Tippett without their best lock down defender. Geelong were impressive, easing clear after a tight first half and they will start favourites against the Dockers next weekend.
Adelaide v Gold Coast: The Suns showed a bit of spirit early on in this one but finished up getting buried in a deluge of goals after quarter time. There was no harm done to Patrick Dangerfield’s Browlow prospects with 36 possessions but the cream rose to the top all over the field as they piled on 19 goals to eight in the last three terms despite leaving Taylor walker out of their team. Campbell Brown should be in trouble for a clumsy front on challenge on Aiden Riley but other than that this was an uneventful slaughter. Adelaide will have home ground advantage and favouritism against the swans.
North Melbourne v GWS: The charitable would call it a labour of love but it just looked like hard labour. The Roos got jumped early, were lucky not to be further behind at quarter time and had injury scares to Lachie Hansen, Andrew Swallow and Drew Petrie before the game was over. They got the win but it was a 28-point slog that was in doubt well into the second half. Hansen copped a head knock and may have a concussion issue, Swallow got a cork on an old cork and was sore while Petrie played on despite suffering hip soreness at one point. They head to Perth to face the Eagles and probably be the outsider of this weekend’s finals.
Collingwood v Essendon: We knew the Magpies weren’t in great form. We knew the Bombers had forgotten how to spell form, so it was a mild surprise that Essendon got the jump early and were well in the match at half time. No surprise though that the Magpies got hold of them eventually and eased their way to a 32 point win. The most significant thing to come out of this game was the five goal haul to Travis Cloke which may rekindle some confidence. There was also a successful return by Andrew Krakouer with 11 touches and a goal just six months after a knee reconstruction. But they face Hawthorn on Friday and will need to be better again to compete there.
Fremantle v Melbourne: With North Melbourne struggling, the Dockers had about a two goal margin to play with if they wanted to win and still play their first final in Perth against cross town rival West Coast. Thankfully they decided just to win because trying to get the Demons close would have been a little like a prize fighter holding up his unconscious opponent for about five rounds. The Dockers established control of the game early and then just kicked the ball around late to preserve their bodies. One they couldn’t preserve though was Luke McPharlin who ripped a hamstring. Matthew Pavlich kicked two goals – not enough to win him a Coleman medal and not enough to convince too many he is fully fit. The Dockers head to Melbourne to face the Cats without McPharlin. They are underdogs but, after eight wins in nine games, they are confident in their method.
Carlton v St Kilda: The prize on offer here was ninth. But you would have thought it was the premiership after the Blues and Saints went at it from the first bounce when Stephen Milne and Andrew Walker exchanged blows. The Saints got there in the end and Brett Ratten left without a win in his last game, though he did get a standing ovation from the crowd at three quarter time. He wasn’t helped by a torn hamstring to skipper Chris Judd which left his midfield light on for run and experience.
Richmond v Port Adelaide: The first draw of the 2012 home and away season came in the second last completed match. Dom Cassisi dribbled a point through with 20 seconds on the clock to tie the scores. This was a high tempo, high error count match which showcased the skills of Trent Cotchin and the inadequacies of many others out there. But Jack Riewoldt did kick the goals he needed to snatch the Coleman Medal, finishing three clear of Matthew Pavlich and Tom Hawkins after kicking six.
Brisbane v Western Bulldogs: After their inglorious fade from anywhere good in 2012 it was probably fitting that Brendan McCartney’s Bulldogs went with barely a whimper at the Gabba and so it proved. The Lions handed out a 67-point flogging with Daniel Rich finishing his season on a high with 25 possessions and four goals. Jonathan Brown added five. The Bulldogs offered little before a five goal final quarter but they will take some heart from Adam Cooney’s 29 possessions.