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AFL 2020 Round 15 Review, Round 16 Preview: Defining the eight and upsetting the favourites

The shorter mid-week Round 15 is done and dusted, leaving some sides now out of the finals race after a week of upsets. What will the weekend hold in store as we close in on the end of the season?


Hawthorn 7.6 (48) defeated by Adelaide 12.11 (83)

The Crows break through

It was a win badly needed for the sake of the languishing Adelaide Crows. As talk surrounded whether they’d go through the year without a win, Adelaide unleashed a stunning burst on Tuesday to smack the Hawks.

The renaissance of the Crouch brothers did plenty of damage in the guts, while Reilly O’Brien and Ben Keays were terrific in the clinches. Up forward, Tyson Stengle produced some livewire football to set up multiple goals for Darcy Fogarty and Taylor Walker, while young Harry Schoenberg continued his terrific start to his career with two majors.

For the Hawks, only Jack Scrimshaw provided any resistance down back as they leaked points in disappointing loss.

Verdict: It’s only getting worse for the Hawks, while Adelaide can finally have a week of celebration.

West Coast 9.6 (60) defeated Essendon 6.9 (45)

Essendon miss a golden chance

If the Dons were to surge into the finals, they had to snatch matches like these. West Coast were clearly off – only Liam Ryan’s four goals, Andrew Gaff’s presence in the middle and Brad Sheppard’s fine form down back kept them ahead of the game. When the opportunity arose, Essendon butchered their shot. Only Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (4 goals) stood up in attacking fifty, as Joe Daniher had an understandable quiet night.

Jack Darling may have snagged two, but the Eagles lacked precision without Josh Kennedy filling the full-forward role. The Bombers have a lot to like – Zach Merrett continued his great season, while Dylan Shiel, Kyle Langford and Jordan Ridley all tried valiantly in a losing cause.

Verdict: The Eagles are struggling away from home, but are doing enough to fall over the line against wasteful opponents.

Richmond 8.8 (56) defeated Fremantle 4.5 (29)

Much like the night before, Richmond didn’t set the world on fire up in the Gold Coast. Luckily, they have a system that can pull them over the line on bad nights. Tom Lynch didn’t touch the footy much, but when he did he scored. Jayden Short and Bachar Houli controlled half-back for the Tigers, and it restricted Fremantle to only four goals. Richmond fans will be delighted by the improvement of Marlion Pickett and Jack Graham.

The Eagles were all over the Bombers during the week (West Coast FC)

The Dockers were pulled along by youth. Caleb Serong had a great night against the reigning premiers, while Andrew Brayshaw, Adam Cerra and Blake Acres could all hold their heads eye after matching the hardened Richmond midfielders.

Verdict: The Dockers will have these nights with so many youngsters, but Richmond are ominously hovering along.

Sydney 10.7 (67) defeated Melbourne 6.10 (46)

Youth does the damage

If the previous nights were sloppy, this match had plenty of explosiveness from one side. Sydney will be disappointed by their 2020 campaign, but they will also finish the season full of optimism after blooding a number of performing youngsters. In previous games, Nick Blakey, James Rowbottom, Oliver Florent, Tom McCartin and Dylan Stephens have all had breakout games. On Thursday, it was Justin McInerney’s turn.

The wingman snagged his first two goals in a couple of minutes while delivering well inside forward 50. With Luke Parker and Josh Kennedy catching the Demons unaware, Melbourne had no room for poor form. Unfortunately they were woefully poor – even Ed Langdon’s hard-running was let down by some wasteful skills.

Verdict: Sydney have a wonderful base for the future – Melbourne have fallen away badly.

Melbourne were crushed by the Swans (Image by Ian Hitchcock/ Getty Images)

GWS 6.12 (48) defeated Carlton 5.9 (39)

One quarter changes everything

It wasn’t the first time GWS has turned around a dismal night to grab the lead late. In a topsy-turvy season, it was their most important effort.

Carlton were all over the Giants early courtesy of Sam Walsh’s blistering work and the consistent performances of Marc Murphy and Jack Martin. Despite Jacob Weitering locking down Jeremy Cameron to just seven touches, the Giants had other weapons.

Despite kicking only two goals to three-quarter-time, GWS snagged four in the last (two coming from the exciting boot of Jake Riccardi) to win by nine points. It wasn’t clean, but the intensity from Nick Haynes and Toby Greene willed last year’s Grand Finalists into the top eight.

Verdict: The Giants could finish eighth despite poor form. Carlton are a good team, but have missed the chance to play finals footy.

GWS weren’t great, but they were good enough (Image by Chris Hyde/ Getty Images)

Brisbane 6.6 (42) defeated Collingwood 5.4 (34)

A scrappy contest to the end

It wasn’t pretty, but it was enthralling in a strange way.

Brisbane seized control with a five-goal second term, as Jarryd Lyon and Jarrod Berry impressed all night through the midfield. Eric Hipwood managed to get off the chain to snag two goals, while Oscar McInerney had a night out against Brodie Grundy. But the Pies found momentum in the second half courtesy of some impressive efforts from John Noble, Jack Crisp and Jamie Elliott. With Brayden Maynard and Taylor Adams bringing the toughness to balance out Josh Daicos’ skills, Collingwood came home with a wet sail. Unfortunately only Mason Cox provided a target up forward, and the Pies couldn’t score when it counted.

Verdict: Brisbane may have won, but they need improvement from their stars if they are to go anywhere in September. Collingwood squandered a good chance at cementing a finals spot, but with stars coming back soon they could be a force in the finals.


Saturday 7.40PM

Metricon Stadium

North Melbourne v Port Adelaide

A must-win for the Power

The Roos have had a stinker. If they can interrupt the ladder-leader’s charge into the finals, they can take some solace into next season.

Port Adelaide haven’t been setting the house on fire, but they should win. Charlie Dixon is coming along – can the trio of Zak Butters, Xavier Duursma and Connor Rozee all lead the Power towards a potential push at a flag?

Tip: The Roos may surprise some with their effort, but I expect it to fall just short. Power by 18.

Sunday 1.05PM

Metricon Stadium

St Kilda v Hawthorn

What are the Hawks made of?

It’s a great question. Hawthorn have fallen away horrifically after a decent start to 2020. With an ageing list, many players are playing for their careers in 2021 and beyond.

The Saints need to win this if they are to lock away a top eight spot. There’s a lot on the line – will finals or general pride mean more in this contest? It’ll be an intriguing battle between Hawthorn’s midfield in Tom Mitchell, James Worpel and Jaeger O’Meara against Seb Ross, the in-form Jack Steele and Zak Jones.

Hawthorn must bounce back after a horror year (Image by Will Russell/ AFL Photos/ Getty Images)

Tip: Hawthorn should perform better than last week. Unfortunately, the Saints simply must put this one away. St Kilda by 25.

Sunday 3.35PM

The Gabba

Geelong v Essendon

Last chance for the Bombers

If the Bombers are serious about squeezing into eighth, they need an upset. They have done well against the Cats in recent years, snaring some upsets when it has counted. With skipper Dyson Heppell working his way back alongside Joe Daniher, they must produce a blinder if they are to dismiss the Cats.

Geelong are doing enough to win – can anyone from Essendon stop Patrick Dangerfield, or will the Bombers allow Zach Merrett to battle it out against him?

Tip: Essendon will be spirited, but the Cats are too classy. Geelong by 23.

Sunday 6.10PM

Metricon Stadium

Western Bulldogs v West Coast

An interesting encounter

West Coast aren’t travelling particularly well interstate, so this could be close. The Eagles will need to play much better to beat the Dogs, who are finding some decent form as the season nears its end.

Watch the midfield – can Tim Kelly, Andrew Gaff and Dom Sheed perform better to match Marcus Bontempelli, Lachie Hunter, Jack Macrae and Josh Dunkley? Also, how well can Tim English manage to nullify Nic Naitanui?

The Bulldogs have a great chance to snatch eighth spot (Image by Scott Barbour/ AAP)

Tip: The Dogs should take this right down to the wire – I can see them snatching this. But my head tells me to trust West Coast. Eagles by 5.

Monday 7.10PM

Cazaly’s Stadium

Melbourne v Fremantle

Can the Dockers ruin the Dees?

The Dockers are coming off a rusty few weeks. They are tired, but are capable of upsetting Melbourne. I expect Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver to lift under the pressure of Serong and Nat Fyfe. They have to if they want to play finals – will Sam Weideman or Matt Taberner be the most dominant forward?

Tip: It’s a tough one. Melbourne must win, even if the Dockers are capable of upsetting them. Melbourne by 16.

Tuesday 5.40PM

Adelaide Oval

Adelaide v GWS

Are the Giants a finals side?

Can the Crows do it again?

Adelaide will be buoyed on by their maiden win (Image by James Elsby/ AFL Photos/ Getty Images)

This one will be much tougher. They may be inspired after such a great win, but now Stephen Coniglio, Lachie Whitfield, Nick Haynes, Toby Greene and Jake Riccardi should all be too good for the Crouch brothers and Rory Sloane.

Tip: Sorry Adelaide, but the honeymoon may be over. GWS by 33.

Tuesday 8.10PM

Metricon Stadium

Carlton v Sydney

Are the Swans consistently improving?

Here is Sydney’s chance to set up their 2021 campaign. With many experienced players raring to come into the side next year, they will have a selection headache if their youngsters continue to play so well. Carlton need to break through – they’ve played well in patches recently, but must put together a four-quarter effort. It’s a big day for Patrick Cripps – he should lead from the front.

Tip: Sydney could snatch this, but Carlton deserve to finally put it all together. Blues by 12.

Wednesday 7.10PM

The Gabba

Brisbane v Gold Coast

An interesting Q-clash

The Suns will go into this one confident. Fresh off a break and with some exciting talent, they could challenge the tired Lions, who aren’t used to a short interval between matches. Hugh Greenwood and Jarryd Lyons going head-to-head will be a spectacle for lovers of contested work – which bull can win more footy? Eric Hipwood and Charlie Cameron need to build if they are to propel Brisbane forward in the finals.

Tip: Let’s go for a wild one. Brisbane should win, but something about the shorter break screams Gold Coast. Suns by 2.

Byes: Collingwood, Richmond

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