It’s been a topsy turvey weekend for AFL finals contenders, with Essendon and Geelong the big losers.
The Bombers slumped against Port Adelaide, putting their finals hopes at risk, while Geelong put in a shocker against Fremantle and now face the prospect of slipping from top spot.
The out-of-form Cats shock 34-point AFL loss to Fremantle in Perth came after they led by 10 points early in the third term of Saturday’s clash, only for Fremantle to kick the next seven goals.
In the end the home side won 14.11 (95) to 9.7 (61), putting the Cats in reach of West Coast and Brisbane Lions who could join them on the number of premeirship points won.
The Cats have now lost four of their past seven matches, with their inability to beat an injury-riddled Fremantle sure to raise questions about their premiership credentials.
Fremantle skipper Nat Fyfe starred with 27 disposals 11 clearances and two goals, while Aaron Sandilands (39 hitouts), Brad Hill, and Michael Walters were also influential.
Geelong star Patrick Dangerfield tallied just 16 disposals and one clearance, while Gary Rohan suffered a game-ending ankle injury in the third quarter.
Earlier, Essendon’s hopes of sealing an AFL finals berth were shot down by Port Adelaide, who led from start to finish for a thumping 59-point victory in their Marvel Stadium clash on Saturday.
The Bombers were flying high on the back of five successive wins and could have all but secured a top eight position, but 10th-placed Port had plenty of the line and played like their season depended on it in their 19.12 (126) to 9.13 (67) victory.
The visitors got off to the best possible start through veteran Robbie Gray, who booted two of his four goals for the day as they raced to a 16-point lead, as Essendon continued their trend of poor opening quarters.
Gray earned the wrath of a Bombers fans during the second quarter when he came from behind and bumped Orazio Fantasia while the Essendon star was on his knees.
Soon after Gray went down in a tussle with Mason Redman, with Port awarded a 50m penalty which allowed Travis Boak to kick from right in front just before the siren to maintain the 16-point lead at the main break.
The Power snuffed out any chance of an Essendon fightback with six goal to three third quarter to open up a 35-point advantage with young guns Connor Rozee and Xavier Duursma doing plenty of damage.
Duursma kicked the first goal of the term with a banana effort off the side of his boot and then fired off a bow-and-arrow, which drew a smile from coach Ken Hinkley.
For the third term alone, fellow 19-year-old Rozee contributed ten disposals, three marks, three inside 50s, and kicked 2.2.
GWS wins thriller against Swans
Greater Western Sydney has created a slice of Sydney AFL derby history with a thrilling two-point home win over the Swans on Saturday.
The 12.11 (83) to 12.9, (81) victory at Giants Stadium means for the first time in the eight-season rivalry, GWS have won both of the home-and-away derbies.
In front of the lowest-ever derby crowd of 16,116, the Swans led by 17 early on and then by two in the final quarter but paid a heavy price for some missed chances in the final term.
Isaac Heeney, who finished with a match-high four goals, logged behinds with successive set shots and James Rose kicked another shot into the player on the mark.
Jeremy Finlayson and Jacob Hopper made Sydney pay for their profligacy with successive goals.
Heeney kicked a major to cut the deficit to two, and Sam Reid came agonisingly close to taking a mark in the dying seconds, but GWS held on to notch a third straight win and move at least temporarily into fourth spot.
Hopper, who kicked a career-high three goals and tallied 26 touches, was named the Brett Kirk Medallist as best on ground.
Fellow midfielders Zac Williams and Toby Green both racked up more than 30 touches, they also each won ten clearances and pulled off six tackles.
Sydney kicked the first three goals, with Tom Papley booting the first two majors.