Essendon to be investigated over possible use of performance-enhancing drugs

essendon drugs

Essendon have come forth in a press conference regarding a possible breach of Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority regulations.

The belief is that players were asked to sign waivers regarding the club’s fitness program and everything it entailed.

The former Essendon head of fitness, Stephen Dank, left the Bombers in late 2012 following controversy regarding the fitness program. Essendon players experienced a high number of soft-tissue injuries in the 2012 season, which was noted by senior officials including coach James Hird.

The implications are potentially horrifying for Essendon supporters. WADA guidelines are strict, and all performance-enhancing drugs are punished under these guidelines. Any individual player caught under PED regulations will almost certainly be subject to a 2-year ban, similar to the ban handed to former Tour de France winner Alberto Contador. Assuming the entire Essendon playing list from 2012 was involved, you’re looking at the Bombers having approximately a half-dozen players eligible for the 2013 season.

This goes further. Joe Daniher, the prized father-son pick in last year’s draft, could be implicated. If he was involved in an Essendon-run fitness scheme, which is not unheard of for father-son picks, then he could have been involved in a similar PED program as well, and would possibly fall under WADA guidelines as such.

There’s also Jobe Watson’s Brownlow Medal to consider. In the event that Watson is stripped based on events in the 2012 season, Trent Cotchin and Sam Mitchell would thus be awarded the Brownlow jointly. Nevertheless, it is very much a bittersweet affair; past Tour de France winners who were awarded the victory due to the “winner” being stripped due to drugs have said that it is simply not the same; the cheat received all the plaudits and the parades at the time.

The AFL would have to punish all involved. While the former fitness “guru” is no longer with Essendon, if it was found that the coaching staff had knowledge and gave approval to the fitness staff regarding this, you’re looking at a minimum of similar bans for the likes of James Hird and Mark Thompson, if not longer.

Finally, depending on what is found, there are implications that send shockwaves through the AFL. The likes of Angus Monfries and Sam Lonergan, no longer with the EFC but now with other AFL clubs, would also likely be banned if they had any involvement. Questions could be raised about Geelong’s 2007 and 2009 premierships if Mark Thompson is implicated. The legacy of one of the greatest to play the game in James Hird would be tarnished forever.

 

Discuss on BigFooty.com:

2012 Brownlow Preview

Brownlow Medal

The 2012 Brownlow Medal looks to be one of the most open in recent years, with up to nine players considered legitimate chances.

As always we expect it to primarily be a midfielder’s award. The shortest price you’ll find for a big man at Sportsbet is ruckman Dean Cox at 150-1, and you need to go down to Tom Hawkins at 250-1 before you’ll find anyone who plays predominantly forward or back.

Bigfooty News takes a look at the top chances:

Trent Cotchin (Richmond) – $4.25

The inspirational Tiger stamped himself as one of the AFL’s elite in 2012, and has been nominated as the equal favourite to take Charlie home. Brett Deledio may well take votes from him in the early rounds, however Cotchin should easily poll the most votes for Richmond in the second half of the year. Expect him to poll well in the final rounds in particular, starting with his 35 disposals and three goals against the Bulldogs in round 20, and a clear best on ground in their final round draw against Port Adelaide.

Gary Ablett (Gold Coast) – $4.25

The 2009 Brownlow winner has polled 20 or more votes in each of the last five seasons. He proved last year that he has no problem polling votes in a losing team with a tally of 23, and many would say he’s had a better year in 2012. The man voted by his peers as the AFL’s most valuable player this year has had 40 or more possessions seven times this year.

Jobe Watson (Essendon) – $5.25

A stunningly consistent year has seen Watson collect 25 or more disposals in 19 of his 22 games, with the Essendon captain spending much of his time right under the umpire’s nose winning the hard ball. Despite the near certainty that team mate Brent Stanton will take some votes from him early, Watson is almost sure to be leading the count up until round 13, and probably even round 16. His form continued throughout the year, but his biggest concern is that Essendon lost their last seven games of the year, often by big margins.

Scott Thompson (Adelaide) – $8.00

The Adelaide ball magnet was at it again in 2012, averaging 29.5 disposals in a side that collected 17 wins. Thompson traditionally polls well, and will be in the umpire’s sights again with the second most clearances in the AFL. With an impressive 30 or more disposals on 12 occasions this year, Thompson is every chance to be in the mix late in the count.

Patrick Dangerfield (Adelaide) – $9.00

The dynamic Adelaide midfielder had his breakout year in 2012, and what a year it was. First in the AFL for hard ball gets, Dangerfield also has the advantage of being explosive when in space. He was often the go to man who stood up in the big moments, and did not miss a game this season.

Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn) – $12.00

Another proven vote getter, Sam Mitchell only just missed out last year with 30 votes. Has had slightly less of the ball than last year, however his creativity by hand, particularly in the big moments, seems to have somehow improved. A clear best on ground with his 32 disposals in Hawthorn’s big win over Carlton in round 14, should be the start of a streak in which Mitchell storms home strongly.

Dane Swan (Collingwood) – $14.00

Last year’s winner after polling 34 votes has averaged 34.7 disposals a week, which is up by four on the 31.7 he averaged in his Brownlow year. He has however played three less games and had six less wins than 2011. Probably has been a little less effective with ball in hand compared to last year, but a previous winner with those sorts of numbers simply cannot be ruled out.

Josh Kennedy (Sydney) – $18.00

With a similar big-bodied style to Jobe Watson, Kennedy’s votes will likely come in bursts. He opened the season with a bang, and could legitimately claim three votes in each of the first five weeks. Is expected to poll less frequently in the middle rounds of the season, however will almost certainly poll votes in each of the last three games.

Dayne Beams (Collingwood) $21.00

Unlikely to poll votes until his 33 disposal game against the Western Bulldogs in round six, however expect to hear his name regularly from this point on.  A dynamic player who is hard to miss when he plays well, Beams averaged 31 disposals a week and often contributed goals.

 

 

Western Bulldogs still shaky off the field

Ted Whitten statue at the Whitten Oval. Photo – http://www.flickr.com/photos/zoonabar/

At the end of this month, one side will be celebrating the success of a premiership. Will it be Collingwood, West Coast, Hawthorn or Sydney? One thing for certain though, is obviously that it won’t be the Western Bulldogs.

They’ve only won one premiership in their history; 1954. Their best opportunity was arguably from 2008-2010. They made the preliminary final in each of these seasons, but fell short each time to Geeling in 2008 and St Kilda in 2009 & 2010. Everyone thought that the Dogs would fall down the ladder and start the re-build, and thats what has happened. But did anyone expect it to affect them that much?

Not many people hate the Bulldogs, in fact I’d say the majority have a soft spot for them. Why is this? Because they are harmless. Two grand finals in their history since joining the then VFL in 1925 is not a very good record. This season, we’ve seen clubs like Melbourne and Port Adelaide come under much more scrutiny than the team from Footscray. Why? Because they are/once were powerful clubs.

This season in particular has been a poor one for the Western Bulldogs. After appointing a new coach in Brendan McCartney, which was met by raves from football analysts; the Bulldogs went on to win just five matches for the season and finished with a dismal percentage of just 67.01, the worst in the competition excluding the Giants and Suns.

It wasn’t just on the field that the Bulldogs had their troubles. After an aggressive pre-season membership campaign, the Dogs attracted just 30,015 members with an average crowd of 23,317 for the season, which is the lowest of all the Victorian clubs.

Where did it all start for the Bulldogs? Can you blame their lack of fans for their late exit into the then-VFL, entering in 1925?

Hawthorn also entered the competition in 1925, and they have 60,000 members, so you really can’t. It begs the question though, why haven’t the Bulldogs attempted to adopt a second area, like Hawthorn have with Tasmania, to catch new fans? Even St Kilda are now attempting to move into New Zealand.

They’ve had brief flings with both Canberra and Darwin in the past 10 years but have not fully committed themselves to expanding, something Hawthorn have done particularly well. The pressure will continue to come until the Bulldogs win a second premiership flag and the club see a significant jump in membership numbers in one of Melbourne’s biggest growth areas; the Western Suburbs.

This season the club debuted Lin Jong, only the 19th player of Asian decent to play a game of AFL football. The Bulldogs will be hoping for two things: one the he first and foremost plays good footy, but secondly that he can appeal to the Asian community to come and watch Australia’s game.

They have fantastic facilities at the Whitten Oval, but the push for a team in Tasmania will continue. Is it impossible to rule out the club relocating to Tasmania in the future? Arguably the club would pick up at least an extra 20,000 members and the club would pick up sponsorship’s that only the big clubs would get in the crowded Melbourne market.

McCartney had a rough season but he looks to be taking the club in a good direction on the field. Off the field the club is a different story and the figures this season don’t look good for the future. Hopefully for fans of Victorian football and the code in general they can turn it around.

Scintillating Eagles Rout Roos

WEST COAST                     7.4      11.8    15.11  24.18   (162)
NORTH MELBOURNE        0.3      2.8      8.10    9.12     (66) 

In one of the most complete performances of the season West Coast dismantled a very dissapointing North Melbourne side by in the second elimination final.

In scenes reminiscent of Fremantle’s win of the night before the Eagles put on a clinic. They blitzed the Kangaroos, building a 43 point lead at quarter time effectively ending the game early.

West Coast were unstoppable all day, they ran on top of the ground and sliced through any North resistance with ease. The reoccurring image of the day was that of a Eagles player bounding down the wing in endless space and delivering a perfect pass into the forward line.

They beat North Melbourne in every facet of the game, the most significant of which was the midfield. Naitanui and Cox in his 250th game were dominant in the ruck while the foot soldiers including Kerr and Selwood were so good the Roos just couldn’t get their hands on the ball.

North Melbourne will be left wondering how? After such a good second half of the season they were a chance of causing an upset but to serve up a performance such as that is embarrassing.

With so many great performances it is hard to single out a single best player but West Coast had many nominees. Andrew Embley was back at his Norm Smith winning best with 4 goals, 22 disposals and 11 inside 50’s and plenty of run.

Both ruckman monstered Goldstein both in the air and around the ground while Jack Darling and Josh Kennedy had field days king four goals each.

As for North few could put their hand up and say they broke even.  Andrew Swallow was excellent in the midfield, he battled hard all day gathering 31 disposals. Ziebell was also in the same boat , putting his body on the line for 30 possessions 18 contested. Matt Campbell was the most productive forward with 3 goals.

The destructive opening quarter contained 7 Eagles goals to none. Their run and spread combined with accurate disposal left North with no answer.

In the second it was only after West Coast kinked the first two goals before North Started showing any form of resistance. Campbell kicked their first halfway through 15 minutes into the quarter. The story of the quarter was an injury to Beau Waters who hurt his foot and looks like missing next week.

After half time the Kangaroos began to make an indent on the scoreboard kicking 6 goals.  West Coast also managed 4 goals and it was clear that North struggled to get those goals while every one of West Coast’s came with ease.

In the last quarter the Eagles went into party mode evient by the resulting mexican waves in the crowd. Kennedy. Lynch and Kerr all kicked straight in the 9 goal last quarter even Naitanui and Cox kicked goals as they rested forward.

West Coast will now go on to face Collingwood at the MCG on Friday Night.

GOALS
West Coast: 
Darling 4, Embley 4, Kennedy 4, Lynch 3, Hill, Mackenzie, Shuey, McGinnity, Masten, Cox, Naitanui, Hurn, Kerr
North Melbourne: Campbell 3, Harvey 3, Hansen, Cunnington, Petrie

BEST
West Coast:
 Darling, Embley, Naitanui, Kerr, Cox, S. Selwood, Butler, Hurn
North Melbourne: Swallow, Ziebell, Campbell, Cunnington, Thompson

INJURIES
West Coast:
 Beau Waters (right foot)
North Melbourne: Nil

SUBSTITUTES
West Coast: 
Beau Waters replaced by Jacob Brennan in the second quarter
North Melbourne: Robbie Tarrant replaced by Kieran Harper in the third quarter

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Donlon, McBurney, Jeffery

Official crowd: 41,790 at Patersons Stadium

Riewoldt Only Winner in Ultimate Anti-climax

RICHMOND            5.1    6.6    11.8    16.10 (106)
PORT ADELAIDE  2.5    6.7    12.8    16.10 (106)

Richmond and Port Adelaide have fought out an agonizing draw in their final game for the season. The only positive from the game came from Jack Riewoldt who secured the Coleman medal.

Both teams were out of finals contention so had only pride to play for, but neither were able to even achieve that in the first draw of the 2012 season.

The Tigers let yet another close game slip from their hands. This result brought even more pain as they could not honour Chris Newman who announced before the game that it would be his last game as captain.

Port Adelaide will fell a bit better as they were able to win interim coach Gary Hocking his first premiership pints. However they were also in a position to take the full points and they will be disappointed that they could not finish with a win.

Jack Riewoldt was the other story of the day, he needed 4 goals to become the outright winner of the Coleman Medal. He was able to bag his fourth late in the 4rd quarter and finished with six as one of the most influential plaayers on the ground.

Richmond’s other best included Trent Cotchin who capped off his brilliant season with yet another 30+ disposl game which included 8 clearences and inside 50’s. Bachar Houli was also impressive of the half back line with 6 rebound 50’s.

As for Port Adelaide Brad Ebert was excellent through the midfield and all while sneaking forward to kick 3 goals. Matthew Broadbent also hit the scoreboard with 2 goals and despite some mistaken almost got the Power over the line. Finally Jay Shulz was good again against his old club, leading the forwards with 4 goals.

The Power started the game strong getting the ball forward often but they couldn’t convert managing only 1 goal before the Tigers turned the tables mid quarter.

The second half of the quarter was all Richmond as they began to hit forward targets, Riewoldt, Nahas and Edwards all benefited and duly converted. On a negative note they lost Helbig to an ankle injury and subbed him off only 15 minutes into the game.

In the second quarter Port Adelaide began to erode Richmond’s lead. A marked increase in kicking efficiency lead to better opportunities for the forwards. Shultz kicked two late in the quarter to put Power up by a point at the half.

The Power flew out of the blocks in the second half, after conceding the first goal, they kicked 3 in two minutes to open up the biggest margin of the game. a few more goals were exchanged between the teams before Riewoldt stepped up.

He cut the margin from 18 to 6 kicking his 3rd and 4th goals, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. A big last quarter was looming.

In the last Danyle Pearce opened the scoring  before Richmond answered 5 of the next 6 to take the lead and increase it 13 points.. Their elite players such as Martin an Riewoldt stood up and the crowd got behind them.

However Port did not give up, in one of the goals of the year, David Roden got the ball on half back, fan to 50 and goaled. This spark lead to one more goal form Aaron Young who got the Power within a point.

Then a Dominic Cassisi bombed a long ball from outside 50 bounced through for a point to end a Marvell game.

Votes

1) Trent Cotchin

2) Jack Riewoldt

3) Brad Ebert

GOALS
Richmond: 
Riewoldt 6, Edwards 3, McGuane 2, Astbury, Grigg, Nahas, Post, Tuck
Port Adelaide: Schulz 4 Brad Ebert 3, Brett Ebert 2, Broadbent 2, Pearce, Rodan, Thomas, Wingard, Young

BEST
Richmond: 
Cotchin, Riewoldt, Houli, Tuck, Jackson, Deledio, Jackson
Port Adelaide: Brad Ebert, Schulz, Broadbent, Pearce, Boak, Cassisi, Hartlett

INJURIES
Richmond: 
Helbig (ankle), Martin (hamstring)
Port Adelaide: McCarthy (groin)

SUBSTITUTES
Richmond: 
Brad Helbig (ankle) replaced by Brett O’Hanlon in the first quarter
Port Adelaide: John McCarthy replaced by David Rodan in the third quarter

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Kamolins, Pannell, Jacob Mollison

Official crowd: 27,893 at the MCG

Clash of the Titans


WHERE AND WHEN: SCG, Saturday August 25, 4.40pm

LAST TIME: Sydney Swans 16.10 (106) d Hawthorn 10.9 (69), round five, 2012 at Aurora Stadium

In what looms as an absolutely mouth-watering clash of incredible importance, the Swans and the Hawks will do battle at the SCG on Saturday evening. Although we’ve seen first take on second towards the end of season as recently as Round 24 last season, unlike that game, this will be far from a dead rubber.

Last year Collingwood had top spot sewn up and summarily laid down to Geelong by 96 points. This year the stakes couldn’t be a higher. A Swans victory here sees, with their percentage, a home final firmly in their grasp and a tough first week assignment in Sydney for either the Hawks, Pies, Crows or Eagles. A Hawks victory means they take top spot and leave Sydney facing an away final in their first week due to the Crows easy run home.

For the Swans it has been a season of utter cohesiveness as a team; big improvement from their young brigade, powerful performances by their core and consistently strong performances by their veterans. They haven’t made it this far by virtue of an overly soft draw or by coasting along.

For the Hawks it’s been an up and down season, a slow start and a blitzing finish, with shock thumpings by teams like Richmond and absolute trouncings of September teams like North Melbourne. They are a force to be reckoned with on their day, which seems to be most days in 2012.

The Swans won easily by 37 points in Tasmania earlier this year, with their midfield brigade getting all over the Hawks. Josh Kennedy was sublime against his old club and his recent form doesn’t bode well for Hawthorn.

Hawthorn were sloppy against the Gold Coast Suns last weekend but did what needed to be done. Apart from that their ability to kick gigantic scores seemingly at will with their army of forwards and goal-kicking mids (and hell, back-line players like Suckling and Schoenmakers) will test any backline, even the stoic and strong one the Swans possess.

The SCG is sold out and the teams are ready. All that remains is four quarters of footy.

 Key Players:

Adam Goodes (SYD) – The Swans superstar hasn’t had his best season, but was fantastic against the Bulldogs last weekend with 22 touches and three goals. With Sam Reid available for selection the club’s new games played record holder should be able to play his roaming goal-kicking role to good effect if Hawthorn let him.

Lewis Jetta (SYD) – His status as an almost certain All-Australian is in jeporady and this is the perfect game for him to show he belongs there. After a quiet month he needs a big game and if the Hawks become pre-occupied and let him run free he will do serious damage.

Lance Franklin (HAW) – Will he or won’t he? With all the Buddy speculation aside, he needs to play this weekend. The Hawks have got it done using Schoenmakers as a target supported by Gunston, but Sydney aren’t the Port Adelaide’s or Gold Coast’s of the world.

Luke Bruest (HAW) – The Sydney rugby league product has become an incredibly consistent small forward. You can almost always rely on him to kick 2+ goals with ease and he’s capable of bigger bags along with good pressure. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Cyril Rioli is out, so one of the best small defenders in the competition, Nick Smith, will make it a very tough night for Bruest.

Prediction: Sydney by 10

 

 

Sloppy Hawks close gap

HAWTHORN       6.3    9.7   12.11  19.15   (129)
GOLD COAST     3.3    4.5    8.5     10.5     (65)        

Despite losing superstar forward Lance Franklin to a stomach complaint before the first bounce, Hawthorn were never short of capable attacking options as they beat the Suns by 64 points at the MCG.

Franklin was replaced by 2008 premiership player Chance Bateman, who was using the opportunity to put forward his case for a spot in a side that will challenge for the flag in 2012.

The victory sets up a mouthwatering clash next week against the Swans, with the winner set to occupy top spot on the ladder with only a week remaining.

Coach Alistair Clarkson will have some issues to iron out during the week however, with the Hawks looking particularly sloppy during the third quarter in which they were outscored by the Suns. Clarkson looked incredibly frustrated as the Hawks appeared to be playing with a certain aura of under-appreciation for the contest and their opponents.

Silly free kicks were given away, avoidable 50 metre penalties were given and the Hawks defence seemed to lack the urgency and organisation that usually comes as second nature.

Clarkson obviously got his message across at the final change, with the Hawks side that returned from the break appearing much more focus as they kicked seven goals to two in the last term.

Gary Ablett, unsurprisingly, had the most disposals on the ground, with 43 and two goals creating the potential for him to steal three votes in a losing side come Brownlow night.

Votes

Ablett

Hodge

Roughead

GOALS
Hawthorn:
 Gunston 4, Roughead 2, Savage 2, Schoenmakers 2, Smith 2, Ellis 2, Breust, Hale, Lewis, Puopolo, Shiels

Gold Coast: May 3, Ablett 2, Brown 2, Magin 2, Taylor

BEST
Hawthorn:
 Hale, Roughead, Sewell, Gunston, Savage, Hodge, Birchall
Gold Coast: May, Ablett, Bennell, Magin, Stanley

INJURIES
Hawthorn:
 Lance Franklin (illness) replaced in selected side by Chance Bateman
Gold Coast: Charlie Dixon replaced in selected side by Michael Coad

SUBSTITUTES
Hawthorn:
 Chance Bateman replaced Stephen Gilham at three-quarter-time
Gold Coast: Josh Toy replaced Matt Shaw at three-quarter-time

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Dalgleish, Stewart, Hosking

Official crowd: 23,098 at the MCG

Blue blitz spells Dons disaster

ESSENDON       2.5    6.6    7.8    8.12   (60)
CARLTON         5.3   15.4   20.9  24.12  (156)          

A stunning second quarter, dominant displays across the board and another couple of Essendon injuries were the major stories from Carlton’s demolition of a 96-point victory over Essendon.

It had the atmosphere of a final, and just like the last one these two teams battled in, the scoreboard followed a similar trend.

Chris Judd returned to lead his Blues to a massive victory – http://www.flickr.com/photos/launceston_lad/

But a final currently looks unlikely for Essendon as a result of Carlton’s supreme performance.

It was tight early on, with both sides kicking early goals, giving the impression that with a spot in the eight on the line, this was going to be a hard-fought contest.

However, to define it as a contest after the 15-minute mark of the first quarter, which was approximately when Dustin Fletcher re-injured his adductor spoiling a ball in the backline, was difficult to say the least, as the Blues slammed home four goals in eight minutes to lead at quarter time.

And from there, the navy blue wave completely swamped the Bombers. Despite them kicking four goals for the quarter, Carlton bettered it with ten – their best second quarter for the year.

Jarrad Waite had kicked two, Levi Casboult had kicked two, Kade Simpson, Marc Murphy and Brock McLean chipped in from the midfield and the Blues were ruthless in their attack.

The Dons’ prime movers in Jobe Watson, Brent Stanton and David Zaharakis were being well and truly restricted – although Watson finished with 29 possessions – which allowed just about all of the attack to go Carlton’s way.

Although captain Chris Judd wasn’t as influential as normal, Murphy, Simpson, McLean and Bryce Gibbs were all dominant through the midfield, and with Jake Carlisle joining Fletcher on the injury list, Essendon’s backline simply couldn’t stand up to the constant flux and pressure.

It allowed Jarrad Waite to kick five goals, something not seen by Carlton fans for a while, in what becomes a real boost for their still-genuine finals aspirations.

With the discovery of another target in Levi Casboult’s three goals, Jeff Garlett and Andrew Walker’s form with three each, and three goals also from both Simpson and McLean, Carlton ran riot.

It was easily enough and more to inflict Essendon’s fifth loss in a row and now sees Carlton leapfrog them on the ladder, and in a much better position to push for a spot in the top eight, all but ending Essendon’s once-guaranteed finals hopes.

Votes

3 Murphy

Waite

Gibbs

GOALS

Essendon: Crameri 2, Ryder 2, Watson, Lonergan, Stanton, Hurley
Carlton: Waite 5, McLean 3, Simpson 3, Walker 3, Garlett 3, Casboult 3, Betts 2, Murphy 2

BEST
Essendon: 
Watson, Hocking, Heppell, Stanton, Lee, Hibberd
Carlton: Murphy, Waite, McLean, Simpson, Gibbs, Yarran

INJURIES
Essendon: 
Fletcher (adductor), Carlisle (ankle)
Carlton: Nil

SUBSTITUTES
Essendo
n: Leroy Jetta replaced Dustin Fletcher in the first quarter
Carlton: Tom Bell replaced Andrew Carrazzo in the final quarter

Reports: 
Nil

Umpires: McBurney, Farmer, Schmitt

Official crowd: 59,381 at the MCG

North earn stripes

COLLINGWOOD                4.2   5.8   7.12    8.13    (61)
NORTH MELBOURNE       4.3   9.6   12.9  13.13   (91)          

North Melbourne have overcome their Collingwood hoodoo, winning by 30 points and cementing their spot in the top eight.

After a slow start the Kangaroos controlled the game in a telling performance that showed that they are now capable of beating top four sides and will be a force to be reckoned with come September.

North’s win evolved from the midfield which was not only able to match that of the Pies but thoroughly beat it. Their three tall forwards also had a day out, thriving on mismatches. Finally their ability to hold onto the ball and deprive Collingwood ensured they were always in control.

Collingwood will be extremely disappointed with their efforts. They applied little pressure, constantly lost one one ones around the ground and butchered the ball especially going forward. Most of this could be put down to the Roo’s pressure and desire.

Brent Harvey was the stand out player of the night with 33 possessions. His run and carry tore open the Pies while his work rate to provide an option to his team mates was first class.

He was joined in the midfield by Ben Cunnington whose 11 contested possessions and 11 tackles were decisive in the clinches . While Todd Goldstein gave North first hands as he dominated Darren Jolly. Scott Thompson’s efforts cannot be ignored either, he was brilliant in shutting out Travis Cloke.

The only consolation for Collingwood was Dayne Beams’ performance. After signing a contract mid week he continued his outstanding form with 38 disposals and two goals.

Collingwood started the game like  house on fire kicking the first four goals. They were all over the Roos and a repeat of previous performances looked on the cards.

However North slowed the game down and held possession. This not only killed the Pies momentum but started their own. They went on to kicked the next four and their talls Hanson, Petrie and Tarrant all chipped in with one each.

In the second quarter Collingwood started well again, but this time they couldn’t hit the scoreboard, Jarryd Blair’s solitary goal all they had to show for it.

Just as they did before the Kangaroos steadied then surged ahead. This time they managed five unaswered goals with Tarrant slotting two.

After the half the Pies continued the pattern kicking the first through Sinclair. As a testament to their determination North Melbourne kicked the next two capitalising on Collingwood mistakes.

Despite the all pressure they were applying and clearances were wining North just couldn’t finish the  job in the third. Beams brought the Pies closer but Ziebell’s goal before the siren steadied the ship.

The last quarter was irrelevant with only two goals kicked. Petrie kicked his third for North and Pendlebury kicked the first for the Pies. Collingwood tired to make a final push but as they had bee all night North Melbourne were just too good.

Votes

3) Brent Harvey

2) Ben Cunnington

1) Scott Thompson

GOALS
Collingwood:
 Beams 2, Tarrant, Fasolo, Didak, Blair, Sinclair, Pendlebury,
North Melbourne: Tarrant 3, Thomas 3, Petrie 3, Hansen 2, Garlett, Ziebell

BEST
Collingwood:
 Beams, Blair, Pendlebury, Thomas, Sidebottom
North Melbourne: Harvey, Cunnington,Thompson, Goldstein, Petrie,

INJURIES
Collingwood: 
Toovey (corked thigh), replaced in selected side by Mooney, Mooney (ankle), Maxwell (hip flexor)
North Melbourne: Nil

SUBSTITUTES
Collingwood: 
Nick Maxwell replaced by Caolan Mooney at three-quarter time
North Melbourne: Cruize Garlett replaced by Matthew Campbell in the third quarter

Official crowd: 44,956 at Etihad Stadium

Dockers book finals spot

FREMANTLE    3.4    7.8   10.12   13.16  (94)
RICHMOND       2.3   5.4     8.4      11.6    (72)

Fremantle have all but secured a place in the finals with a 22 point over Richmond at Patersons Stadium yesterday.

The win was soured by several injury scares to captain Matthew Pavlich, but they appeared to be nothing more than protective measures as the Dockers held a comfortable margin throughout the match.

Big man Aaron Sandilands made a surprising and successful return to the lineup after being named an emergency on Thursday night. Sandilands finished with 33 tap outs and 15 contested possessions.

The Tigers may not have been pleased with the appearance of Sandilands on the field, but Fremantle coach Ross Lyon claimed the late change was genuine, with Jonathan Griffin complaining of an injured groin in the warm up.

Sandilands had been missing from the Dockers’ side since round 11, so his return is a massive positive for a side now a game clear in eighth position.

Hayden Ballantyne and Pavlich kicked three goals each for the Dockers whilst David Mundy impressed in the midfield, with 32 touches, 13 of which were contested and five clearances.

The loss officially ends the Tigers chances of making the finals, leaving supporters to rue the costly losses that the Tigers had every chance to win. They will look forward to next season with optimism however, with stars like Trent Cotchin (32 disposals) continuing to show their value on a weekly basis.

Votes

Duffield

Mundy

Ballantyne

GOALS
Fremantle:
 Pavlich 3, Ballantyne 3, De Boer 2, Hill, Mayne, Mzungu, Walters, Bradley
Richmond: King 3, Riewoldt 2, Deledio 2, Nahas, White,Edwards, O’Hanlon

BEST
Fremantle: 
Duffield, Ballantyne, Mundy, Barlow, Sandilands, McPharlin
Richmond: 
Cotchin, King, Tuck, Grigg, Martin, White

INJURIES
Fremantle: 
Jon Griffin (groin) replaced in selected side by Aaron Sandilands, Mzungu (shoulder), Pavlich (corked leg)
Richmond: Griffiths (concussion)

SUBSTITUTES
Fremantle: 
Zac Dawson replaced by Nick Suban at three-quarter time
Richmond: Ben Griffiths (concussion) replaced by Brett O’Hanlon during the second quarter

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Margetts, Findlay, McInerney

Official crowd: 32,721 at Patersons Stadium