GWS and Brisbane have scored stunning upset victories in a crazy day of AFL action, while Melbourne and Essendon also enjoyed wins.
Giants pip Tigers by two in Spotless Stadium thriller
GWS have showcased their premiership credentials while extending the reigning premiers’ miserable record outside Victoria.
The Giants stormed back into the top eight on Saturday night, resisting a final-quarter fightback to triumph 11.13 (79) to 10.17 (77).
Richmond youngster Shai Bolton put his set shot out on the full with two minutes left in a thrilling rematch of last year’s MCG preliminary final.
Veteran forward Jack Riewoldt then gave his side hope of snatching victory, snapping truly to trim the hosts’ lead to a point with 26 seconds remaining.
The Tigers couldn’t win the all-important final clearance, with Dylan Shiel showing great composure when it mattered most.
Toby Greene, playing his first game after spending almost three months on the sidelines because of a foot injury, kicked GWS’s only goal of the final quarter.
It was a clutch effort from deep in the pocket.
“We want to play finals and go deep in finals, so this is a good stepping stone,” Greene told Channel Seven.
The upset, inspired by superb games from GWS stars Stephen Coniglio, Heath Shaw, Callan Ward and Lachie Whitfield, could also have major ramifications in the race for the minor premiership.
The winner of Sunday’s contest between Collingwood and West Coast will equal the ladder-leading Tigers on 48 premiership points, as will Port Adelaide if they defeat Fremantle.
Based on Richmond’s away record this season, the flag favourites will be keen to secure a home qualifying final as they seek to go back to back.
All four of the Tigers’ losses this season have now come away from Melbourne, although they were far from disgraced at Spotless – booting four of the game’s final five goals.
Lions notch five-year first in huge Hawks upset
Brisbane have stunned Hawthorn in Tasmania to achieve a feat they haven’t achieved since 2013.
The young Lions gave the Hawks’ finals aspirations a serious hit with a 33-point win in Launceston on Saturday, the first time they’ve won three-consecutive games in five years.
Young guns Cameron Rayner and Eric Hipwood booted three goals each, including crucial majors at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
In match that ebbed and flowed, the Lions held a 72-64 lead heading into the final term, when they ran rampant.
The Hawks managed only one point in the last quarter, while the Lions booted the last six goals of the match.
The win was made even more impressive in the absence of star Luke Hodge, who was a late withdrawal with a sore calf.
Dayne Beams was one of the best on ground with 33 possessions, seven clearances and two goal assists.
Hawthorn were eighth going into the round but could drop as low as 10th after their second loss in three games.
Tom Mitchell finished with a game-high 43 touches but was kept quiet in the second half after racking up 29 of those by the main break.
Jaeger O’Meara was the top goalkicker for Hawthorn with four but none came in the final quarter when the Hawks needed it the most.
Demons down Dogs but concerns for Viney
A stunning third-quarter blitz has propelled Melbourne to an emphatic 50-point win over the Western Bulldogs at the MCG.
But the Demons’ delight at Saturday’s 18.11 (119) to 10.9 (69) win was tempered by the late withdrawal of co-captain Jack Viney, who’s suffered a recurrence of a toe injury.
Viney’s start to the season was delayed until round nine by a stress fracture and he’s reported soreness in the same area.
Scans haven’t discovered a new fracture but Melbourne are unable to say when he will return to the field.
The tough onballer was sorely missed in the first half at the MCG.
But after leading by just three points at halftime, the Demons set up their 10th win of the season with a blistering burst of seven unanswered goals.
Angus Brayshaw and Clayton Oliver picked up the slack in Viney’s absence with 39 and 34 possessions respectively.
Max Gawn was the dominant ruckman on the ground with 41 hitouts and Jesse Hogan led the way in attack with four goals.
For the Dogs, Jack Macrae had 33 touches in his first game back from a hamstring injury, with Mitch Wallis (29 disposals and three goals) and Lachie Hunter (35 possessions) also prominent for Luke Beveridge’s side.
The Bulldogs, out of the finals race in 14th spot on the ladder heading into the game, have been the worst third-quarter performer in the competition this season and they went missing after the restart once again.
Bombers run away from tiring Suns
Essendon have done enough after a sloppy start to avoid an upset loss on the Gold Coast and keep their AFL finals hopes alive.
Needing a win to stay within reach of the top eight, the Bombers misfired early to trail by five at the break on Saturday night.
But the tiring Suns couldn’t go with them and Essendon prevailed 13.17 (95) to 6.15 (51) as the Coast managed just 16 points after halftime.
Essendon were off the boil in the opening half and the Suns hungrier as they threatened to end a 10-game losing streak and sink the Bombers’ season.
But the visitors shot to the lead immediately after the main break through Darcy Parish before Mitch Brown’s left-foot snap edged them further ahead.
Mark Baguley (three goals) then marked strongly before kicking his second to shoot clear and allow the Bombers to cruise through the final quarter.
Michael Hurley was good early for Essendon, while Dyson Heppell and Zach Merrett finished with 36 touches each and former Sun Adam Saad wasn’t missed in his first visit back to the Gold Coast.
Suns workhorse Nick Holman hassled Saad to good effect in the first half and kicked three on his way to being one of the host’s best.
Gold Coast captain Steven May (hip) struggled through the second half in what could be more bad news for the 3-13 side.