Round 18 photos

The photos that captured Round 18. Photos: GWS Giants - Twitter, West Coast Eagles - Twitter, Richmond - Twitter.

Round 18 was one of the most action-packed rounds yet. We’ve got you covered as we run through its defining moments from A-Z.

Round 18 was certainly a bumpy ride. Fixtures were thrown into disarray, some of the game’s biggest names celebrated milestones, while several moments across the weekend reminded people that football is more than a game.

The Inner Sanctum takes you through the defining highs, lows, and controversies surrounding Round 17 of the 2021 AFL Premiership season. Complete from A-Z.

A is for A Tomahawking and a half. Heading into this round, many were concerned about Geelong’s forward line, with both Gary Rohan and Jeremy Cameron sidelined. However, these concerns were eased as Tom Hawkins dominated in the air in round 18, kicking four goals after a goalless outing against Carlton last week. These four goals had more meaning that extended beyond the context of the match. They took him to 41 season goals and places him in fourth in the Coleman race. Additionally, this also marked Hawkins reaching the 40 goal mark for the 10th consecutive season.

B is for Big Ben breaks the goalless drought. A scoreless return last weekend, after being dropped for a goalless performance in Round 9, Melbourne recruit Ben Brown got back onto the scoreboard in Round 18. He kicked a brilliant goal in the first term, picking up the loose ball in a contested goalsquare, putting his arms above his head, turned goalside, and dropped to ball onto the side of his boot to send it sailing through. As well, he was an aerial threat, especially up the ground, helping the Demons launch forward all game.

C is for Covid Cull. The Sydney derby had already dealt with enough changes, moving from Giants Stadium to Ballarat and then the Gold Coast. It was then dealt one more bad hand when The Wallabies vs France Rugby exposure site reclassification at AAMI Park forced multiple late changes. The teams were given less than an hour to react with five switches across both teams. The most notable being the forced isolation of Giants superstar Toby Greene. The game itself ended with even more casualties with injuries to several players.

D is for Done and Dusty-ed. Jack Riewoldt starred with six goals in his 300th game, as Richmond got back on the winner’s list. While the Tigers are alive and back in the hunt for finals, the 20-point victory over the Lions came at a cost. Kamdyn McIntosh was subbed out at quarter-time with a tweaked hamstring and Dustin Martin did not return to the field after what appeared to be a rib injury in the third quarter. He went to the hospital for scans and it was confirmed he will miss the season with a significant kidney injury. 

E is for Eerie feeling after a draw. When Luke Breust tied the scores with 41 seconds to go, both Melbourne and Hawthorn needed to find a quick centre clearance and forward entry. It, unfortunately, wasn’t to be for either the Demons or Hawks as the siren sounded with the scores tied at 79-all. The second draw of the season and the feeling of an empty MCG as the background made this finish even more chilling. 

F is for For his Nonno. It’s been a sad week for everyone at Carlton as club and code legend Sergio Silvagni passed away. 

Wearing the long sleeve jumper, made famous by his grandfather, Jack Silvagni was instrumental in the Blues come from behind win against arch-rivals Collingwood. In the second quarter, he pulled down a contested mark, and duly converted the go-ahead goal from the top of the goal square. In a touching moment, he kissed his black armband pointed to the sky as all his teammates came in to celebrate a goal for his Nonno and a club great.

G is for Grundy, Gawn, Naitanui… and Darcy? Sean Darcy was a shining light for the Dockers in the 69 point defeat against the Cats. His recent eye-catching performances have put him in the same conversation as some of the league’s premier ruckmen. Despite leaving the ground prematurely with a knee complaint, he was Freo’s best performer with 18 touches, 37 hit outs, 14 contested possessions, eight clearances, and four tackles. With few positives to take away from this game, Fremantle supporters can have confidence in Darcy and this emerging career, which can only go upwards from here.

H is for Henry bobs up. Oliver Henry was busy in the first half on Sunday, kicking three goals in the first half. The first goals of his fledgling AFL career, providing a different target up forward for Collingwood. It was the most productive of Henry’s four games in his debut season, finishing with three goals from 12 disposals.

I is for Inaccurate Suns. The Suns only lost to the Bulldogs by 11 points but weren’t as accurate in front of goal as they would have liked, kicking 11.13 for the match. If the Suns were able to convert the late attempts at goal they missed the result may have been very different. 

J is for Jamarra silences doubters. After his goalless debut game against the Swans, there was talk this week questioning if number one draft pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan was ready for AFL. But in his second outing against the Gold Coast Suns, he silenced the doubters by kicking three goals for the game and looked more at home at the top level.

K is for Kennedy grabbing his chance. Matthew Kennedy’s career was at a crossroads at the end of last season. Retained on the rookie list and faced the prospect of limited senior opportunities in 2021. After some consistent VFL form, Kennedy got his chance against the Giants after the bye and hasn’t looked back since.

In the absence of Patrick Cripps, along with Sam Walsh, Kennedy turned in another fantastic performance against the Magpies, racking up 26 disposals, seven tackles, and an absolute bomb from the centre square which sailed through for a goal.

L is for Lacklustre Lions. One quarter of football from Brisbane was not enough to get the job done against the prowling Tigers on Friday night. The Lions’ second quarter was an improvement on the first, as they dominated the centre clearance and stoppages, and kicked five goals to the Tigers’ three. However, they fell away for an underwhelming second half. With two losses on the trot, the Lions will want to snap this losing streak and find their form again to keep a top-four finish alive. 

M is for More than football. In round 18, Fremantle met Geelong in its 19th annual Starlight Purple Haze game, which featured a touching, special tribute to Milli Lucas, a 14-year old Dockers super fan who devastatingly passed away this year after a long-term battle with cancer. In the 14th minute of the first quarter, the Purple Army showed their love through a chorus of applause, while Fremantle proudly donned the Milli Tribute Jumper to pay their respect. 

Throughout the evening, $253,756 was raised for the Starlight Foundation and will go towards helping sick children around Australia. 

N is for No more medical-sub debutants, please. Another week and we’ve seen another player receive their official AFL debut as the medical sub. In round 18, it was Port Adelaide’s Jed McEntee who was picked up in the mid-season draft, dubbing the number 41. The recruit from Sturt was a ball of energy when he got onto the field for the last term, subbed on for Boyd Woodcock. No more, coaches. 

O is for Opportune goals for Breust. Hawthorn veteran Luke Breust kicked three goals against Melbourne in Round 18, after failing to find a major last week. Aside from his game-tying goal inside the last minute, Breust kept the Hawks in the game with timely goals. On the verge of halftime, Bruest brought the Hawks within nine points, and later in the second, his second goal brought the margin to within a kick. A threat inside 50 also, Breust produced eight score involvements, two goal assists, and two tackles inside 50.

P is for Package delivers. After a quiet start in the clash against North Melbourne, Essendon’s Jake Stringer came to life at his dangerous best with the game on the line. Kicking his first goal late in the third term, he kicked three more across 25 minutes of game time to take back the swinging lead and hold it.

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Q is for Quintessential Keays. Despite his Crows going down by 42 points at Adelaide Oval to West Coast, Ben Keays continued his white-hot 2021 form with an arguably best-on-ground performance for the home side. Finishing the game with 30 disposals, Keays also added two majors and undoubtedly kept Adelaide in it until the Eagles sealed the deal in the fourth quarter.

R is for Right on target. A six-goal haul from the Giants in the first quarter set the stage for a big round 18 finish at Metricon, they led by 29 points at quarter time. The Swans responded, finding their own form between the big sticks with nine unanswered goals. Superstar Buddy Franklin looks to be on track to reach the thousand-goal milestone this season with some huge bombs in the ‘Sydney’ derby. He kicked 4.2 for the match and now has 400 goals in red and white. 

S is for Stuck in traffic. A last-minute change of venue on Thursday saw Richmond make a mad dash to Queensland for its clash with Brisbane. The match was originally scheduled for the MCG but moved to Metricon Stadium due to Victoria’s COVID-19 outbreak. Not only was the game relocated at a day’s notice, but it was also pushed back by 15 minutes as the teams faced traffic delays due to incidents on the Pacific Motorway. It was a wild ride for Richmond to get the win at Metricon.

T is for Trumpets playing early. The Trumpets were playing early at Metricon Stadium on Saturday afternoon when the Gold Coast Suns put scoreboard pressure on early, kicking three straight goals before the Bulldogs could register a score. 

U is for Unphased and unbothered. When a game is hit with a date or venue change due to Covid, teams, and players must work hard to still put out their best on-field performance. Both the Swans and Giants had to remain fully focused on the task at hand when over a dozen players and coaches from both teams were pulled out just an hour before the first bounce. Quick preparation was key as all involve attempted to sustain a focused mentality at Metricon. 

V is for Vital in Victory. Nic Naitanui’s influence around the ground can quite often be understated, and his 200th game played against Adelaide at Adelaide Oval, only served to further this statement. Despite only finishing the game with 11 disposals, Naitanui’s follow-up pressure, on the off-chance his taps don’t give his midfielders first look at the ball, is second to none. His cheeky rivalry with the Crows’ Reilly O’Brien also continued, with the milestone-gamer taking the chocolates (winning the hitout count 31-28) as his team took the four points. 

W is for Where’s Walla? Essendon livewire forward Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti failed to register a single goal in Sunday’s win over North Melbourne. In what was an astute coaching move by David Noble, Kayne Turner was given the lockdown job on McDonald-Tipungwuti and kept him to just five disposals.

X is for X for the Saints. Another X next to St Kilda’s name for a missed opportunity against an understrength Port Adelaide. The Saints had all the run early in the final term and when the game was in the balance, made crucial mistakes out of defensive 50, allowing Port to pick up the scraps and sail home with a 13-point win. 2021 has been a massive missed opportunity for the Saints.

Y is for You little Crippa. It might have been teammate Nic Naitanui’s 200th milestone game, but it was Jamie Cripps’ day as his five-goal haul helped his West Coast Eagles take the four points against Adelaide. Adding to his majors, Cripps also had 25 disposals at 76% disposal efficiency. 

Z is for Zurhaar Zips skyward… again. North Melbourne’s Cam Zurhaar is making a habit out of taking high-flying marks and did it again against Essendon in Sunday’s loss. It was deja-vu for the Bombers, Zurhaar also taking a huge grab over Jayden Laverde in their first meeting of 2021.

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