Sport AFL Crows alone at top after Magpies end Cats’ unbeaten run
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Crows alone at top after Magpies end Cats’ unbeaten run

Eddie Betts
Eddie Betts boots the ball forward against the Tigers. Photo: Getty
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Round six of the AFL has exposed two title pretenders, and confined two long-reigning superpowers to the 2017 scrapheap.

Geelong and Richmond, previously undefeated, were dismantled, leaving premiership favourite Adelaide as the only undefeated team. And Sydney and Hawthorn again suffered shocking defeats which left them anchoring the ladder with only one win between them.

The Cats were outpaced all day at the MCG on Sunday afternoon, eventually succumbing to the Magpies by 29 points despite playing with two days more rest. Lowly Collingwood smothered Cats prime movers Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood, led at every change and only their trademark inaccuracy saved Geelong from a bigger embarrassment.

The Tigers travelled to the Adelaide Oval keen to test themselves against the league’s pacesetter. The resulting 76-point humbling was all too stark. Richmond were outscored by 16 goals to four after quarter-time, the Crows obliterating the Tigers with their elite rebounding and link play.

Hawthorn, coming off their first win of the season, succumbed to St Kilda by 76 points in Launceston on Saturday afternoon. Coach Alastair Clarkson confirmed that a third loss in four games by more than 70 points means “catastrophic changes” to his once-invincible team are likely. The Saints were wasteful in front of goal in the first half, but they crushed the Hawks with a powerhouse third term, slamming on 8.5 to 1.1.

Like the Hawks, the Sydney Swans have ‘hit the wall’. Last year’s narrowly beaten grand finalists remain winless after capitulating to the keen but inexperienced Blues at the MCG on Saturday. Carlton, thrashed a week earlier by Port Adelaide, took hold of the game in the third quarter and resisted the Swans thereafter to win by 19 points.

Sydney is now the first team to start a season 0-6 after playing in a grand final, and they’re on the bottom of the ladder.

Dogs-Giants
Hands up who enjoyed that. The Dogs and Giants put on a thriller on Friday night. Photo: Getty

Though the all-conquering, high-scoring Crows head the betting charts and the league ladder, the GWS Giants and Western Bulldogs showed on Friday night that they are serious contenders. Their Canberra classic – won by the Giants by two points in a frantic, thrilling finish – was worthy of a cut-throat final. It was a gritty, brutal contest throughout, featuring flashes of individual brilliance and superb teamwork.

Undermanned Melbourne moved into the top eight with a convincing 38-point defeat of a tired-looking Essendon on Sunday at Etihad Stadium. The Demons, minus key forward Jesse Hogan and a recognised ruckman, pulled away in the second half, taking advantage of Essendon’s wasteful efforts in front of goal. Anzac Day Medallist Joe Daniher turned villain for the Bombers, booting 1.6, including five behinds in the second term.

North Melbourne’s gritty 13-point win over Gold Coast at Etihad Stadium was their first of the season and moved the Kangaroos off the bottom of the ladder. Beanpole forward Ben Brown thrived in the absence of key Suns backmen to boot a match-winning six goals.

West Coast set up their Western Derby win over Fremantle with an early blitz which left them leading 10 goals to one in the second quarter. Key talls Jeremy McGovern (13 marks) and Josh Kennedy (six goals) spearheaded the comfortable 41-point triumph, which keeps the Eagles one game out of the top four and relegates the Dockers to 11th.

Port Adelaide continued their impressive season with an 83-point thrashing of the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba, moving to fifth on the ladder with the AFL’s second-best percentage. They have scored more than 20 goals and won by more than 80 points in three of their past five matches.

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