15/04/2024
The moments that mattered in round 15

The moments that mattered in round 15 Photo: @westcoasteagles @hawthornfc @stkildafc

The full fixture was back in round 15 and it was certainly full of drama. We’ve got you covered as we run through its defining moments from A-Z.

After three bye rounds, a full fixture finally returned in Round 15, this weekend featured upsets and stunning battles between finals contenders. Tim O’Brien put his hand up for mark of the year contention, the Kangaroos enjoyed what could be its second-last game in Tasmania and a wet afternoon in the west couldn’t stop the Bulldogs.

The Inner Sanctum takes you through the A-Z – the defining highs, lows, and controversies surrounding Round 15 of the 2021 AFL Premiership season.

A is Another name bites the dust: Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin continues to excel despite being in his twilight years, booting four goals in the loss to Port Adelaide. In the process, Franklin passed yet another name on the all-time goal-kicking record list, surpassing Jack Titus with Gary Ablett Senior now in his sights at 973. The best forward of the modern era.

B is for Boos for Tony: The football and politics squabblings reached the floor of Tasmanian parliament house ahead of Round 15 with Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutewein imploring the people of Hobart to jeer Gold Coast Suns president Tony Cochrane at the game on Saturday afternoon following his comments about the viability of football in the state.

C is for Crowdless Chaos: WA was thrown into chaos when it was revealed that they had a positive COVID-19 case mere hours before the first bounce between West Coast and the Western Bulldogs. The game still went ahead but was closed to all fans as the Dogs comprehensively beat the Eagles in an empty Optus Stadium. 

D is for Dunstan checks back in: For a player who doesn’t usually get a lot of attention, he absolutely deserved all the plaudits after Friday night’s outing. He worked hard around the ground to accumulate 32 possessions, 11 clearances and 9 inside 50s. To top these stats off, over half his possessions were contested, and he kicked a goal to seal his performance.  

E is for Even eight exceeds expectations: Carlton fans would have to have been wondering why it took until Round 15 to put it all together, as they watched the Blues put Adelaide to the sword with an eight-goal quarter in the second. In the side’s best individual quarter against the Crows, the Blues turned the game on its head with seven players registering a goal, setting up the lead the Crows were unable to overcome.

F is for Fighting Spirit: After weeks of lacklustre performances by the Blues, they showed up in a big way today. After being challenged early, Carlton kicked 10 of the last 12 goals in the first half to create a handy lead. Despite being challenged in the second half, the Blues continued to fight, including getting in a brief scuffle in the third, as they held off a valiant Adelaide run at the end of the game.

G is for The Great Stage: In true respect for a champion of the game, Shaun Burgoyne enjoyed the benefit of being the injury sub in Hawthorn’s clash with GWS in Round 15. It sets up his 400th game to be against the club he won a premiership at and left at the end of 2009, Port Adelaide.

H is for Hot Dogs: West Coast would have fancied themselves against the Western Bulldogs as they took the field in an empty Optus Stadium, given the Doggies hadn’t won in Perth since the 2016 elimination final. But it wasn’t to be for the Eagles, who were systematically dismantled and in the end, beaten by 55 points on a wet and wintery day in Perth.

I is for Intercepting Ryan: Fremantle defender Luke Ryan proved his importance to the Fremantle back six. Ryan finished the game with five intercepts, where most had been taken in the dying minutes of the game to help seal the win for his side. Not even a boot to the face from Collingwood forward Brody Mihocek could stop the Fremantle defender. 

J is for Justice served for recent hurt: Since 2015, Geelong has played Brisbane nine times and the Lions have only won once. The two most recent encounters will have been particularly harsh on Brisbane, a preliminary final last year at the Gabba ended a good season on a disappointing note and a winnable game in Geelong in Round two. 

K is for Kicking inaccuracy no concern: The Western Bulldogs stormed home to take the four points against a West Coast team who could barely save themselves at Optus Stadium, but it was their scoreline that makes the win even more interesting. The Dogs kicked 13.20 but still managed to leave the field victors in Round 15. 

L is for Late Inclusion seals the game: Fremantle swung the late change that meant Skipper Nat Fyfe would miss out and brought in Brett Bewley but not many people would know how crucial he would be. Bewley finished the game with two goals both in crucial moments of the game. The first to put Fremantle up with six minutes left and the second to put the game beyond doubt. 

M is for Magnificent Mayes: Port Adelaide midfielder Sam Mayes woke up on the Saturday morning of Round 15 expecting to be playing in the SANFL. He did exactly that for two quarters but was withdrawn as Hamish Hartlett was declared a late out, forcing Marty Frederick to start and Mayes as the medi-sub. When Trent McKenzie went down injured, Mayes was put in for the crucial final moments and dribbled through a goal to give the Power the lead.

N is for Nothing to cool Charlie’s jets: Charlie Cameron started the game with Geelong’s star defender Tom Stewart against him. In his 100th game and in imperious form, Geelong fans would have been comfortable with that matchup, until about five minutes into the game. When he is on, Cameron’s full array of skills make him impossible to play on. By the time Jed Bews was moved onto him the damage was done. Charlie Cameron already had two goals to his name before he leapt over the onrushing Brad Close to mark spectacularly. He kicked his third from the resulting set shot to put another nail in the Cats coffin.

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O is for Oh, oh, oh, O’Brien!: Midway through the second quarter, the Hawks were coming and Tim O’Brien soared in the goal square for a Mark of the Year contender. He went back to kick the goal and Hawthorn took the lead against the Giants.

P is for Penultimate Hobart dance for the Roos?: It’s been a tough 18 month period for North Melbourne, a team who yesterday notched only their third win from its previous 28 games. The Apple Isle has been a happy hunting ground for the Roos this season where all of their wins and draw vs GWS along with a string of other commendable performances have come, but is it all about to come to an end? North Melbourne have 1 remaining game in Hobart this season (Round 20 vs Geelong) and it spells the end of the club’s current deal to play games at Blundstone Arena. Will the Roos return to their home away from home next season?

Q is for Quick-thinking Harrison Jones goal: First-year Bomber Harrison Jones got his team off to a perfect start in the second term against Melbourne, increasing their quarter-time lead with a sensational goal. Jake Stringer launched a long kick deep into Essendon’s forward 50 to an eventual two-on-two and while Demon Jayden Hunt and Bomber Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti were engaged in a tussle, the ball spilled right into the hands of Jones who’s momentum kept him running into goal, stretching upwards and softly gliding the ball down with his palm, getting boot to ball just in time before crossing the goal line, the score review confirming the Jones major.

R is for Richmond’s Richie Benaud special: Two goals, two injured players, final score 22. 2222. It was a homage to the great Richie Benaud for the Tigers as 2 was the magic number on Friday night. The Tigers’ accuracy inside 50 was way below their standards at 32.6 per cent, and this was reflected in their goal scoring. Dustin Martin and Shane Edwards were the only two to score Richmond’s goals, as 10 behinds piled on totalled their meagre 22 points – their lowest score in the last sixty years. Rising defender Noah Balta and Nathan Broad both struggled with injuries at various points throughout the game. Balta is in doubt for the rest of the season, with a suspected knee injury, while Broad has a syndesmosis ankle injury.

S is for Six-six-six infringement leads to a direct goal: Essendon was given a free kick in the centre square for a 6-6-6 infringement against Melbourne that appeared to happen in its forward half. Sam Draper got the ball as the Demons were told to stay in their positions, with the Bombers going forward through Zach Merrett. After a tight scramble on the ground, the ball fell to Peter Wright who scored. It was a bit of a momentum-changer as Melbourne had kicked the last two majors to bring the margin back to 10 points but with Wright’s goal, the lead grew back out to 16 points. 

T is for Tall Todd is tight in his twilight: The veteran Ruckman may not have all the accolades as Carey, Blight, Harvey, Densch and all the great Roos before him but Todd Goldstein continues to be a towering figure at Arden Street, leading the way with another big performance on Saturday. Goldstein had 21 disposals, 44 hitouts, 6 clearances and three tackles as he willed his young joey teammates over the line to another great win.

U is for Unbelievably Clutch: Dylan Moore came up trumps as Hawthorn defeated GWS in a shock result at the MCG. With the game in the balance, Moore slotted two goals to give the Hawks a three-goal lead and their fourth win of the season.

V is for Viney’s Demonic return: Jack Viney returned to the Demons lineup in round 15 after nine weeks away dealing with a toe injury. The Melbourne vice-captain racked up 17 disposals in his first game since Round 6 but it was an ever-present pressure around the ball that elevated his game in Round 17 with four tackles and a game-high 32 pressure acts. Viney also accumulated four clearances – the equal-second-best Demon tally for the contest as he helped Melbourne in the forward and defensive areas of the ground.

W is for Waltzing St Kilda: St Kilda waltzed past the reigning premiers to secure a 40 point victory in Round 15’s Friday night fixture. It was the lowest-scoring game of the Round, with both sides combining for 84 points – 22 of which belonged to Richmond. The Saints simply dominated all around the ground, with Jack Steele, Brad Crouch, and Luke Dunstan benefitting from a dominant display of ruck work from Paddy Ryder and Rowan Marshall. Meanwhile, Dougal Howard and Jack Sinclair limited scoring opportunities. Moving forward, St Kilda can take confidence from this performance after a subpar season so far.

X is for is Xavier the saviour?: Port Adelaide youngster Xavier Duursma is expected to make his return to football in the coming fortnight, either in the AFL or SANFL. Duursma hasn’t been seen since Port’s remarkable win over Richmond and his pace will be a much-needed addition as the club’s injury list continues to grow.

Y is for Young Magpie stands up: Collingwood youngster Trent Bianco had one of the best games of his short career in the AFL. Bianco finished the game on 12 disposals. Bianco kicked two goals for the game with one coming at a crucial point in the final term as Collingwood was trying to mount a comeback. 

Z is for Zip, zero, zilch: That’s how many goals Geelong’s all-star forward line kicked for the opening quarter. The Lions pressure meant the Cats were unable to connect with any of Jeremy Cameron, Tom Hawkins, or Gary Rohan. Up the other end, only erratic kicking from Brisbane had prevented a blowout by quarter time. The Cats went into the rooms with just one behind to their name and they were lucky to have that.

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