Fremantle’s Michael Walters has again had the last score of the day to snap Collingwood’s winning streak at the MCG.
Saturday’s 11.13 (79) to 11.9 (75) win will be much-debated after a Walters’ goal in the third quarter wasn’t overturned by the score reviewer despite it appearing to be touched off the boot by Chris Mayne.
Steele Sidebottom’s desperate lunge was clearly over the goal line but in a game decided by less than a kick, the Magpies appear hard done by.
Collingwood was aiming to make it eight wins in a row, but as the clock ticked down Nat Fyfe mistimed a torpedo punt fell fortuitously into Walters lap inside attacking 50.
It was the second week in a row Walters had the last say on the scoreboard after his point last week won the Dockers a match against Brisbane Lions.
In a scrappy contest where errors came thick and fast, the few players who were able to maintain their composure and execute skills under pressure stood out more than they usually would.
Brad Hill (29 possessions) and Fyfe (32) were those players for Fremantle, while Scott Pendlebury’s class shone out for the Pies, the skipper finishing with 29 touches and two goals.
Meanwhile, illness has hit St Kilda on the eve of their AFL match in Shanghai against Port Adelaide, with two players flying in as last-minute reinforcements.
Alan Richardson also sat out Saturday’s light run at Jiangwan Stadium, but was expected to coach the Saints in Sunday’s big clash.
Jack Billings, Shane Savage and Daniel McKenzie are ill and have not trained.
Ben Paton and Nick Hind will arrive on Sunday morning in Shanghai after an overnight flight, only hours before the opening bounce at 12.20pm.
The club says Richardson is feeling slightly off and the three squad members are ill but, as of Saturday afternoon, are expected to play.
“Richo’s just feeling a little bit off, so he stayed at the hotel and will get a bit of rest and, hopefully, he’ll be right tomorrow,” said assistant coach Brendon Lade.
The Saints strongly denied initial reports that six players were ill.
They also refuted speculation the players fell ill after having dinner on Friday night at a dumpling restaurant near the team hotel.
St Kilda added that these latest problems were unrelated to the virus that ruled out Blake Acres.
Acres was ill when he arrived in China and he was left out of the final team on Friday, with captain Jarryn Geary taking his place.
But regardless of the circumstances, the last-minute dramas are a blow to the AFL’s China campaign.
This is the first time St Kilda will play Port Adelaide in Shanghai, after the Power had easily beaten Gold Coast over the past two years.
It is also a pivotal mid-season for the two teams, who are sitting mid-table with 5-5 records and struggling for consistency.
Lade was asked if the health problems had St Kilda second guessing their three-year commitment to the China match.
“Definitely not – it’s great coming here to Shanghai,” said Lade, who was on the previous two trips as a Port assistant coach.
For a group to come over and spend four or five days here, that’s really good for the group and we just need to get the result now.
“It’s been a good trip. We’ve come a day later than Port did, so not as much down time for us.
“We trained well yesterday and the boys have trained really well as a group and, hopefully, we can get the result we’re after.”
In other AFL action, the Brisbane Lions have shown their finals credentials by withstanding a barnstorming start by Hawthorn to seal a 19-point AFL win at the Gabba on Saturday night.
The Lions were blown away when the Hawks kicked five unanswered first-term goals.
And the hosts didn’t grab the lead for the first time until after the siren in the third term.
Yet the Lions (7-4 record) surged to a 12.13 (85) to 10.6 (66) victory in front of 25,051 fans, momentarily moving into the top four with their third straight win over Hawthorn.
Brisbane looked set to again give coach Chris Fagan heart palpitations after enduring one point results in the past fortnight – a win over Adelaide and a heartbreaking last-round loss to Fremantle.
They reeled in a 25-point first quarter deficit to level the scores by the second term 39-39 before threatening a close finish by leading at the final interval by seven points.
However, Fagan’s nerves were finally settled when Cameron Rayner audaciously volleyed a goal before Dayne Zorko booted truly moments later in the final five minutes.
“It felt forever to catch Hawthorn but we handled the last five minutes of the game – so much better than we have handled the last five of the last couple of weeks,” Fagan said.
“Thank heavens our fellas are good learners. I am proud of them.”
As far as learning is concerned, Melbourne could use some remedial education after holding a solid lead over Adelaide for three quarters only to blow it in the final term – an all too familiar pattern from a team that can’t quite keep up the pressure until the final siren.
Adelaide won by two points 14.6 (90) to 12.16 (88) after the kicking 5.2 (32) to Melbourne’s wasteful 1.8 (14) in the final quarter.
Crowd favourite Eddie Betts produced some brilliance kicking the ball from the boundary line to Brad Crouch who put the seventh-placed Crows (6-5) in front.
As well as setting up the winning goal Betts also kicked a major in the final quarter, his second for the match.
— Melbourne FC (@melbournefc) June 1, 2019
Sam Weideman had a chance to win the contest for Melbourne inside the final minute but his woeful set shot veered hopelessly to the left and produced only a behind from a range of 50-metres.
Meanwhile, Geelong’s star forward Tom Hawkins kicked a match-winning four goals against the Swans but won’t be celebrating as he waits to see what comes of his forearm to the head of young Swan Jordan Dawson.
In the big Cat’s favour is that Dawson was back on his feet quickly and played on, making a fine the most likely outcome.
Geelong coach Chris Scott said it was significant the umpire chose not to report Hawkins.
“There wouldn’t be anyone who would think the action was intentional,” he said.
“It was careless, that is the worst it is, it was high and no impact and it’s a fine.
“Again, I think the umpire was in a good position to make that decision.”
The Cats overcame a slow start to win 13.7 (85) to 8.15 (63),