Inaccurate Saints sink reigning premiers’ season as Swans end Crows’ hopes in climactic finish

Geelong’s slim hopes of back-to-back flags are over after a sloppy performance against the Saints, while the Swans finish off Adelaide’s season with a thrilling one-point win.

Earlier on Saturday, GWS thrashed Essendon by 126 points, Carlton beat Gold Coast to book a finals berth, while Richmond farewelled Trent Cotchin and Jack Riewoldt with its triumph over North Melbourne.

Saints vs Cats

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Crows vs Swans

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Giants destroy Bombers’ finals hopes as Hogan kicks a bag

GWS have put one foot in the AFL finals with a club record score as Jesse Hogan booted nine goals in a stunning 126-point triumph over Essendon at Giants Stadium.

The ruthless Giants crushed a lacklustre Bombers outfit to give both their percentage and finals chances a huge boost with a 25.12 (162) to 5.6 (36) thumping on Saturday.

The Giants lifted their percentage from 98.6 to 105.6 and sent a warning shot across the competition, but might still need to win their round 24 clash with Carlton and hope other results go their way to finish in the top eight.

The Bombers are now all but out of the finals race as they were outplayed from the early exchanges and looked to be limping to the line while the Giants started strongly and powered away.

Hogan made the most of a superb all-round performance from the Giants to bag a career-high haul while being a key to the result with 17 marks and 24 disposals.

Gun onballer Tom Green (39 disposals, 18 contested, nine clearances) was also crucial for the Giants, as were veterans Stephen Coniglio (31 touches), Josh Kelly and Callan Ward (both 30).

The Giants (12-10) made an early statement in the virtual elimination final as they booted 13.5 to 2.1 in the opening half while controlling the ball with 208-158 disposals and territory with 40-20 inside 50s.

Brent Daniels lit up the contest late in the opening term after marking just inside the boundary and bending a banana kick through from 40m for his second of three goals for the match.

The Giants proved to be too polished from there and were able to manage Toby Greene by subbing out their captain in the third term.

Andrew McGrath (32 disposals), Zach Merrett (27) and Darcy Parish (25) found plenty of the ball for the Bombers but had little impact as the Giants cruised over the top of them.

The Bombers (11-11) swung a late change with Jake Stringer moved from the starting 22 into the sub role on his return from a foot injury and replaced by Jye Caldwell.

Stringer entered the match when the game was already well and truly out of reach and ended with 11 disposals.

Essendon face ladder leaders Collingwood on Friday night, while GWS will be out to lock in a finals spot in the last game of the round against Carlton on Sunday.


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Tigers farewell club champions with fitting MCG victory

Trent Cotchin and Jack Riewoldt run through the banner before their final match for Richmond.(Getty Images: Michael Willson/AFL Photos)

Richmond farewelled triple-premiership heroes Trent Cotchin and Jack Riewoldt in style, taking down North Melbourne by 29 points in the retiring duo’s final AFL match.

With finals out of the equation for both clubs, Saturday’s 14.17 (101) to 10.12 (72) win became an emotional celebration for the Tigers faithful, who cheered off the much-loved pair as winners at the MCG for the last time.

Some late possessions to Cotchin and a signature high-flying Riewoldt mark in the final term drew raucous applause from the Tiger army, who stayed long after the final siren as the departing greats completed a lap of honour.

“It was an incredibly emotional week,” Richmond interim coach Andrew McQualter said post-match.

“In the rooms now … to be honest, it feels like after a grand final.”

North challenged Richmond early and led by 14 points 10 minutes into the second term but the Tigers piled on seven goals to one for the remainder of the quarter, taking a 22-point lead into halftime and were never headed thereafter.

The class of Dustin Martin (31 disposals, three goals) and Shai Bolton (25, four) proved the difference, with Martin dominating and looking to get the ball to Riewoldt and Cotchin at every opportunity.

“(Martin) rises to the occasion, which he has shown over the years … and he was willing to do whatever it took today to make sure those boys got the win,” McQualter said.

Cotchin, who had battled a calf injury to get back for his farewell game, finished with 18 disposals, while Riewoldt managed just one goal from four shots in his final game.

“The emotions … we didn’t hide from it, the emotion of it at all,” McQualter said.

“We embraced it and we just used a bit of their spirit to play the way we wanted to.

“We might have a few hungover blokes tomorrow. That’s OK — we should celebrate tonight.”

For the Kangaroos, former skipper Jack Ziebell was prolific in his 280th and final AFL game, winning 23 disposals and taking a huge hanger over Liam Baker to add a final clip to his career highlights package.

“He’s been such a tough warrior for the football club,” North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson said.

“Always team first, always sacrificing his own game for the betterment of the team.

“It’s a pretty special day really — three stalwarts that have played 14-15 years of footy all retire in the one day.”

Midfielder Tarryn Thomas (25 disposals, two goals) stepped up for the Kangaroos in the absence of gun midfielder Luke Davies-Uniacke, who was a late withdrawal due to a foot injury, while spearhead Nick Larkey did his All-Australian chances no harm, finishing with six goals to take his season tally to 62.

But the occasion belonged to Riewoldt — who finished his career in 13th place on the VFL/AFL goalkicking leaderboard — and to triple-premiership captain Cotchin, who shared a final message to the Tiger army from the ground.

“To each and every one of you, be yourself, you’re worthy, I love you and thank you for everything,” he said.


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Blues guaranteed finals after Curnow leads stunning comeback


Charlie Curnow celebrates one of his four goals in the second quarter, as the Blues came back from 40 down to claim victory.

Carlton’s decade-long wait for an AFL finals berth is over and Blues coach Michael Voss is challenging his team to make the most of their September appearance.

Inspired by spearhead Charlie Curnow, the Blues locked in a top-eight position on Saturday with a come-from-behind 13.13 (91) to 13.9 (87) victory over Gold Coast at Carrara.

Curnow kicked four second-quarter goals on his way to a bag of five for the match as the Blues overcame a shocking start which had them down by 40 points early in the second term to seal a four-point win and a first finals appearance since 2013.

Knowing the long wait for the finals had come to an end was clearly a relief for Voss.

“Since I started, that goal has been clear about what our direction needed to look like,” he said.

“That was just a great moment for the club, to be able to have that sort of confirmation that we’re playing finals footy.

“It hasn’t been said for a while at this club and I’m pleased that I’m saying it.”

Having sparked the Blues back to within just two points at halftime, Curnow again stood up tallest in the final term just as it looked like the Suns might hold on for a 10th win of their season.

The Coleman Medallist’s thunderous goal from the boundary outside 50 off just a couple of steps and then a long pass to find fellow key forward Harry McKay put the Blues into a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Fittingly it was Curnow who claimed a defensive mark in the goal square to have the ball in his hands when the final siren sounded.

Carlton’s winning run now stands at nine games but having made finals, Voss is urging his team to seize the opportunity in front of them.

“This wasn’t about making finals, it was about impacting them and I feel like the job isn’t done,” Voss said.

“We’ve got more in us … we feel like we’ve sort of got that momentum.

“We’ve had lots of questions asked about us, as you would expect playing against some really high level competition, and we’ve been able to work our way through some of those.”

Apart from Curnow’s five, Matthew Owies, Jesse Motlop and former Sun Jack Martin all kicked two goals for the Blues.

Veteran Sun David Swallow kicked a career-best four goals for the hosts with Alex Sexton and Ben Ainsworth chipping in with two apiece.

Ahead of a potentially momentous week in the club’s history and the likely confirmation triple-premiership winner Damien Hardwick will be unveiled as the Suns’ new head coach, interim head coach Steven King was proud of his team’s ability to stick with the in-form Blues despite the disappointment of letting their good start slip away.

“They’ve got something to play for for the rest of the year and I think they showed that today,” King said.

“We wanted to finish strongly and win as many games as possible.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t get that done today but that’ll be a focus again in seven days’ time.”

Voss confirmed Sam Walsh and Adam Cerra would be pushing for a return for next week’s final regular season fixture against GWS at Docklands.


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Author: Russell White