Sport AFL Thrilling derbies shake up AFL finals race

Thrilling derbies shake up AFL finals race

John Longmire
John Longmire's men have remarkably climbed to sixth spot after a horror start to the season. Photo: Getty
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Sydney young gun Isaac Heeney has declared the AFL powerhouse club back in business after taking another stride towards the top four.

The Swans were one of the most impressive winners of a round that produced more questions than answers in the closest finals race in years.

Their 13-point defeat of GWS Giants in the Sydney derby was their sixth straight win and makes them the form team of the competition.

Could John Longmire’s team – which started the season with six losses on the spin – be premiership favourites?

“We’re back and confident,” Heeney said after their club’s first derby win in four matches and his own 50th game.

“It was good to get one over those guys in general (and to) match it with the top teams.

“We just weren’t doing the basics right early on and we sort of went away from that Swans-style.

“If you look at it now, if we can hold this top eight, it could be something that’s extremely positive for our season.”

No team has ever played finals after dropping their first four games – let alone six.

The Swans end round 17 in sixth position and have just two meetings with top eight sides left.

Longmire’s men will fall short of last year’s finish – when they claimed the minor premiership – but they are shaping to be just as likely a flag threat if they can keep clear of the mid-table logjam.

Just two wins separates fourth place and the reigning premiers, Western Bulldogs, in 11th.

Heeney said “any little slip-up” during the back end of the season could carry a heavy cost.

“To have that belief now is so important, especially going into this run home,” the 21-year-old said.

Eagles win final Derby at Subiaco, Tigers sink Lions

Josh Kennedy
A fit-again Josh Kennedy has been a welcome return for the Eagles. Photo: AAP

West Coast claimed the points over Fremantle in the final Western derby to be played at Subiaco.

A Dockers win would have drawn Ross Lyon’s side level with the Eagles but inaccurate kicking – Fremantle kicked 5.14 – cost them dearly.

Instead, West Coast jumped back in the top eight with a 30-point win.

League leaders Adelaide and Port Adelaide, returning to the top four, did it easy against injury-hit pair Melbourne and North Melbourne.

Geelong held on against a regrouping Hawthorn, while Richmond consolidated their top eight spot over Richmond on Sunday.

Further down the table, Essendon and the Bulldogs maintained their own finals charge with much-needed wins.

Joe Daniher’s high-flying heroics inspired the Bombers to a 61-point win over St Kilda, while the premiers edged Carlton by 20 points on Sunday.

Richmond also stuck fat in the top eight with an unimpressive win over bottom side Brisbane Lions, kicking away in the third term thanks to Dustin Martin.

-AAP

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