Bye bye Lionel Rose

Well it’s been quite a week, former Australian World Bantamweight boxing champion, Lionel Rose has joined Sir Henry Cooper and Seve Ballesteros in that great ring in the sky. Rose passed away aged 62, at his home in Victoria after being ill for several months.

Lionel Rose made his way from very humble beginnings, He was the eldest of 9 children, born on an aboriginal settlement near Warragul in Victoria. He followed his father into boxing, who had been a success on the tent circuit. Lionel learned to box in a bush ring, marked out by fencing wire, strung between trees. He eventually moved to Melbourne where he lived and trained with legendary Australian Trainer Jack RennieRose won the Australian Bantamweight title in 1966 and the World Title in Tokyo two years later. This was at a time when aboriginal Australians were still not allowed to vote in some States.

On his return to Melbourne, after winning the title in Tokyo, a quarter of a million people lined the streets to welcome him back. He was a inspiration to both aboriginal and white Australians. He won 42 of his 53 professional bouts 12 of them by knockout.

Although desperately short of money, Rose was one of the first sportsmen in the world to speak out against the apartheid regime in South Africa, refusing a lucrative offer to fight in South Africa in 1970. He turned down the fight there as he would only have been allowed entry as an “honourary white”

During and after his boxing career Rose also found fame as a Country Singer. His song “I Thank You” was a nationwide hit.

Tributes have flowed for Lionel Rose from the boxing fraternity and beyond and there are calls for a State Funeral for him. RIP.

Goodbye Henry the great

Farewell to a Great British Boxing Champion

It was sad to read the passing of one of Great Britain‘s all time favourite sportsmen, Sir Henry Cooper, today. Henry was British, European and Commonwealth heavyweight boxing championform the late 1950′s to the early 70′s. He was famously the first fighter to knock down Muhammad Ali, who was still called Cassius Clay at the time.

Cooper and Clay fought in 1963 when, the now Ali, was 21 years old. Cooper knocked him down in the fourth round and Clay was saved from being counted out by the bell. He was so groggy in the corner that his coach, Angelo Dundee, cut his glove and gave him extra recuperation time while the glove was replaced. Clay came back to win the non-title fight, when Cooper had to retire because of face cuts. It was face cuts that sort of plagued his career. He also lost the rematch with Muhammad Ali when they fought again three years later. Cooper won 40 of his 55 professional fights, 27 of them by knock out, his left hook was a much feared weapon.

Sir Henry Cooper’s boxing career ended in 1971. His last fight was against a young up and coming Joe Bugner, a former Hungarian refugee. They fought a fairly even contest for 15 rounds and Cooper was expected to get the decision, but it was awarded to Bugner and the British public never really forgave him for spoiling the end of “Our ‘Enry“‘s career. Although Bugner went on to hold the British, European and Commonwealth titles himself and fought all of the major heavyweights of the 1970′s, including Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, he never achieved Cooper‘s level of popularity with the British public. Bugner emigrated to Australia in 1986 to become “Aussie Joe“.

Henry Cooper went on to become an extremely popular TV personality, after his boxing career ended. He commentated on boxing, appeared on numerous chat and panel shows and regularly appeared as a guest on comedy and variety shows. Impressionists had a field day imitating his “He’s a nice boy, yeah, yeah. He’s got a good right ‘and” from his boxing commentary and “Splash it all over” from his Brut 33 commercial campaign.

Muhammad Ali was said to be “at a loss for words” over the death of his friend and tributes have flowed in from numerous boxing and television personalities. Rest in peace Henry, you will never be replaced in the hearts of the British public.

Huge weekend in Sport

AFL and NRL Grand Finals.

Delhi 2010

What a weekend to launch Australian Sports Reviews. It will be a huge one, with both the AFL and NRL Grand Finals on the same weekend, thanks to the drawn AFL Grand Final last week.

Collingwood decisevly won the AFL Premiership, thanks to some inspired play of their own and a pretty much off day all around for St Kilda. Goalkicking was their main problem early on, kicking a mass of one pointers before eventually converting a goal in the second quarter. By that time theMagpies had a very healthy lead, which they maintained throughout. Finally finishing in front by 56 points at the siren.

On Sunday the Dragons take on the Roosters in the NRLGrand Final. The Dragons are firm favourites, but the Roosters have had a great run into the final playing some fine and very fast Rugby League. It’s been their games that I have enjoyed the most in this final series, so I have a foot in that camp. But it could go either way on the day.

The opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games takes place in Delhi on Sunday too. Australia have sent their biggest overseas team. We will be commenting on many of the sports and results, not just the Australian ones. Let us hope the whole event goes off peacefully with no problems.

Of course we can not forget the English Premier League marches on. Most fans, I am guessing, will have an eye on the top of the table clash between Chelsea and Arsenal on Sunday night in London. We will undoubtedly have a write up on that for you on Monday.

Too much football is barely enough

What a night for sport! I started with the Bledisloe Cup game from Sydney. A great competitive affair, with only one point separating the Wallabies and the All Blacks in the end. A really hard fought game from both sides. With New Zealand coming back from a 13 point deficit, on a night when Matt Giteau left his kicking boots in the sheds. If Australia had switched the kicking duties to Kurtley Beale earlier they probably could have had the result. But the All Blacks closed the match out to finish with a 100% record in a Tri-Nations season that they totally dominated. But there was a lot to like about this season’s Wallabies too. Kurtley Beale was a revelation at Full Back, despite my preference for James O’Connor in that position. They work well together and Robbie Deans deserves praise for putting them both in. That’s probably why he’s the coach and I’m the critic. There were many other great showings from key players like Pocock and the skipper Rocky Elsom and others too numerous to mention. If only they can keep up their starts and maintain that level throughout games, they will be a force to be reckoned with in 2011. There is one more Bledisloe Cupgame to come in Hong Kong, or Japan, or somewhere else where small Asian men play the game they play in heaven.

After that I tuned in to the live coverage of the Arsenal v Bolton game from the English Premier leagueArsenal took the lead after a lot of possession through a scrambled goal by Koscielny. The hero then turned villain after a strong comeback by Bolton. He miss-cleared into the path of a Bolton’s attacking Lee Chung-Yong and then 5 Arsenal defenders were unable to stop his cross getting to Elmander the only Bolton man in the box. But Arsenal dominated in the second half taking the lead again with a headed goal from Chamakh, who was later converted into the stands byCahill, he was sent off for his sins. Bolton saw out the remainder of the game with 10 men and conceded 2 more goals. An amazing finish by Alex Song from what looked like an impossible angle on the bye line. Carlos Vela rounded off the scoring with a nice finish after beating the offside trap, but Arsenal could have and probably should have had 2 or 3 more. With lots of Gunners going over in the box and some good saves from the Bolton keeper. So a 4-1 finish that leaves the Arsenal in second position in the Premier League 2 points and 4 goals ahead of Man Utd after 4 games.

My night was rounded off with an amazing game of Rugby League between the Tigers and the Roosters. It was played at a frantic pace with numerous disallowed tries. The Tigers led for almost all of the game, but the Roosters came back to within a point with only minutes remaining. Then amazingly Braith Anasta dropped a goal in the final minute and took us into 20 minutes of Golden Point time. Drop goals were pushed wide by both sides and the Roosters had two attempts charged down. Finally Shaun Kenny-Dowall scored a try in the left corner to give the Roosters the win, in a game no one deserved to lose.

The only code I missed tonight was the AFL where the finals game between the Sydney Swans and the Western Bulldogs was also a close fought affair, with the Bulldogs finishing in front by less than a single goal.

I was forced to resort to watching on the net for the Australia v New Zealand Rugby test and the Arsenal v Bolton match. As Channel 7 once again elected not to show the international in Perth until 1:30AM seven and half hours after it was played. And of course there is no coverage of theEnglish Premier League (widely acknowledged as the best Football league in the world) on free to air television in Australia.

On a more positive note Channel 9 are to be praised for their coverage of Rugby League, which was a joy to watch, despite the fact that it is aired in the wee small hours in Perth, where Rugby League, well both Rugby codes really, are considered a minority sports. One comical moment in the Channel 9 commentary deserves special mention. A Tigers try by Ellis was disallowed due to a fracas in the middle of the field. Peter Sterling complained that it didn’t interfere with the play; Paul Vautin said there was nothing in it. But as the replay rolled, Benji Marshall clearly belted Mitchell Pearcesquare on the jaw. It was a true case of the curse of the commentators.

Hawthorn Beat the Odds to Win Back to Back Premierships

Hawthorn pride produces another premiership

HAWTHORN 5.5 11.9 16.11 21.11 (137)
SYDNEY 2.3 5.3 8.5 11.8 (74)

Sydney Swans
 were favourites amongst the bookies and punters to take the 2014 AFL Grand Final, but someone forgot to tell Hawthorn.

Hawthorn dominated the final match of the 2014 season to make it back to back premierships for the second time in their history.

The Age reports all of the action at the MCG yesterday:-

Hawthorn is a club with enormous pride. Now it’s also a club with two lots of back-to-back flags among its dozen premierships. And those two points are inextricably woven. Last year’s first leg of the double saw the Hawks start favourites against Fremantle, a side which all week in the lead-up was feted for its relentless defensive pressure. Yet in the biggest game of the year, it was the Hawks who led the way in all the hard indicators.

On Saturday, the double was achieved with Hawthorn this time not even with the benefit of favouritism, and again its opponent having been lauded all over the football world for its hardness at the contest and the ball.
In both cases, the Hawks didn’t betray even a hint of “what about us?” as their opponent was fawned over. Again against the Swans, as against the Dockers last year, they simply gritted their teeth, came out with the most competitive front, and let their tackling, their harassing and their pressure do the talking.
Yes, the Hawks’ forward line was potent, Jarryd Roughead and Luke Breust finishing with eight goals between them in this 63-point pasting, Sydney’s heaviest defeat in the 100-odd games it has been coached by John Longmire.
Yes, the defence stood up to the Swans’ tall timber brilliantly and created attack after attack once it had repelled imminent danger. Yes, the midfield was superb, this a win driven by the most senior hands, skipper Luke Hodge, Jordan Lewis and Sam Mitchell.
But this was mainly about a team which, having coped with setback after setback in 2014 through injury to just about all its key players, and even the serious illness of its coach, wasn’t going to let a trifling matter like popular perception get in its way.
And while it might only have stolen a scoreboard edge late in the first quarter, it set the tone right from the start.
It was the Hawks applying all the pressure from the opening minutes, the most significant quarter-time statistic their 22-7 edge in the tackle count, thwarting the Swans’ ability in close, and eventually capitalising with the last four goals of the quarter.
Their 20-point lead could have even been more, Jack Gunston going to the first change with 1.3 on the board, Liam Shiels and Luke Hodge also missing gettable goals. But that was nit-picking given the intensity with which they and every Hawk had attacked their early task.
Briefly, as Lance Franklin, imposing early, kicked the Swans’ second, you wondered whether profligacy was again going to cost Hawthorn in a grand final. But not for long.
With the Hawks by now having almost quadrupled Sydney’s not-so-grand tally of three tackles for the game, the goals came soon enough. Breust first, then Brad Hill, who capitalised on the game’s first clear “howler”, Swans key defender Heath Grundy opting to fist clear rather than mark when alone and unattended, that anxious effort landing in Hill’s lap.

Nothing said more loud and clear that the Hawks had not only hit the ground running, but had their opponents rattled. And that became a recurring theme, Hawthorn even by half-time having kicked four of its goals from Sydney kick-in errors. The turnovers in the defensive 50 at one stage read 11 to the Swans, one to the Hawks. Enough said.

Gunston made it four goals to two before young Hawk Will Langford, again helping lead the way much as in last week’s preliminary final, snapped another over his shoulder, the margin now creeping out to 20 points.

What appeared to be a more normal transmission resumed almost as soon as the siren sounded the start of the second quarter, Nick Malceski, to this point a lone hand for the Swans, beginning a transition from defence that broke Ben McGlynn out into the clear, the subdued Swan bouncing one through from outside the 50.

But this was no restoring of equilibrium. Merely the signal for Hawthorn to launch another assault, this one even more devastating than the four goals to end the first term. This time, it was five goals in under 10 minutes, the margin after the last of those blowing out to a scarcely believable 47 points.

Breust started the explosion. David Hale’s next goal was an indictment of Sydney’s defence, Mitchell finding him barely 35 metres out after he’d already marked in space inside 50. Sydney had plenty of time to cover all bases but somehow neglected to mark the obvious presence of Hale despite the presence of 14 players in red-and-white jumpers.

And the next three goals were like daggers through the Swans’ heart. Langford produced the loudest roar of the day when from the next centre bounce clearance, Lewis and Mitchell completely holding sway and winning another stoppage, he was put into the clear and let fly.

If that wasn’t demoralising enough, Hodge then pounced twice within three minutes, the first occasion marking in front in the goal square for a “gimme”, the second another Sydney blunder, Gary Rohan’s kick-in given too much air, Hodge intercepting and calmly slotting the spoils.

That’s the sort of “cover your eyes” moment that says there’s no coming back for the team on the wrong end, and for Sydney, there wasn’t.

The half-time gap of 42 points would have required a comeback of the proportions of Carlton’s famous 1970 effort against Collingwood, and even the Blues that day had a bit more bottle for the job at hand than the Swans appeared to.

Indeed, the margin stretched even further as the Hawks added another couple to start the third quarter.

Kieren Jack, one of several senior Swans who made some uncharacteristic mistakes when the game was still on the line, attempted to rally his team. So did Franklin, who battled to the end, consecutive goals to that pair bringing things back to their half-time state.

But that was returned with interest, and when Langford kicked his third, a miraculous effort from the boundary line that bounced through but never really looked like missing, mere defeat was starting to lean towards humiliation for the favourites.

And so for the Hawks it became one of those dream grand final wins, one where with victory assured, the entire final term becomes a celebratory party of sorts, Roughead and Shaun Burgoyne, another who’d driven the blistering start with a 10-possession first term, among many to cash in.

For the bulk of the football world, meanwhile, which had decided en masse that with both teams at their best, Sydney would prevail, there was some comprehending of the scale of their misjudgment to do.

We never learn, do we? Never write off Hawthorn became something of a catch-cry during the 1980s when the Hawks would ritually be dismissed with each setback, and each time find a way to get back in the ball game.

Thirty years on, little has changed. More than ever in 2014, Hawthorn just had to find a way somehow. And on grand final day, just like week after week these past six months, the Hawks did that and then some.

So footy is over for 2014 and the MCG will be hosting Cricket again soon enough. But could Hawthorn make it a trifecta in 2015?

Footy Experts Predict the 2014 Brownlow winner

Who do the Footy Experts Tip to Win the 2014 Brownlow Medal?

The Brownlow medal count will be under way very shortly and everyone has their pick for who will walk away with the medal. So we decided to see who the experts were tipping and what the current market is for the winner.

WHO will take Charlie home in 2014? SuperFooty’s experts put their reputations on the line to predict the top three in the AFL’s top individual award.


1 Joel Selwood (Geel)

2 Lance Franklin (Syd)

3 Scott Pendlebury (Coll)

Selwood deserves his chance to win after coming so close in recent seasons.


1 Robbie Gray (Port)

2 Joel Selwood (Geel)

3 Gary Ablett (GC)

Robbie won the AFL Coaches Association award and the coaches see the game better than anyone.


1 Joel Selwood (Geel)

2 Gary Ablett (GC)

3 Josh Kennedy (Syd)

Selwood can’t be ignored. Great start, great finish and a few in between. In the play all the time.


1 Lance Franklin (Syd)

2 Jordan Lewis (Haw)

3 Gary Ablett (GC)

Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but Buddy is a rock star at the top of his game. Changed the course of enough Sydney matches.


1 Joel Selwood (Geel)

2 Gary Ablett (GC)

3 Lance Franklin (Syd)

Suspect Selwood may overhaul his former teammate late, perhaps in the final round. Almost won last year and get his chance this season.


1 Joel Selwood (Geel)

2 Gary Ablett (GC)

3 Matt Priddis (WC)

Keep the handkerchief near as Selwood overtakes Ablett in the final round and then pays tribute to the Gold Coast champ on an emotional night.


1= Gary Ablett (GC)

1= Joel Selwood (Geel)

3 Josh Kennedy (Syd)

Ablett does the impossible on the field, now he can do the same off it by sharing the medal with Selwood. Who better to share it with than his mate Gazza?


1 Robbie Gray (Port)

2 Joel Selwood (Geel)

3 Jordan Lewis (Haw)

Port is the story of the year, Gray was its best player. Lots of touches but importantly kicked goals, which umps love.


1 Gary Ablett (GC)

2 Joel Selwood (Geel)

3 Robbie Gray (Port)

Perhaps I’m a hopeless romantic, but wouldn’t it be magic to see Gaz win a third Brownlow? And make history? I reckon an even season, without a runaway favourite, gives him a chance.


1 Gary Ablett (GC)

2 Joel Selwood (Geel)

3 Lance Franklin (Syd)

I think Ablett will rack up 27 or 28 votes by the time he drops out of the voting in Round 16, and then it’s just a matter of whether Selwood can catch him.


1 Joel Selwood (Geel)

2 Gary Ablett (GC)

3 Dustin Martin (Rich)

Selwood was stiff last season not to share the spoils with Gazza. Iced his first Brownlow with a three-vote effort against Brisbane in Round 23.


1 Joel Selwood (Geel)

2. Gary Ablett (GC)

3 Jordan Lewis (Haw)

Pipped by one vote last year, the door has opened for Selwood to claim a deserved Brownlow after Ablett’s injury. Another great season for one of the best on-field leaders in the game.


1 Josh Kennedy (Syd)

2 Joel Selwood (Geel)

3 Dyson Heppell (Ess)

Consistent high-possession tallies and the Swans’ healthy win-loss record will deliver the onballer a narrow victory.


1= Joel Selwood (Geel)

1= Gary Ablett (GC)

1= Jordan Lewis (Haw)

It’s going to be tight at the top — a three-way tie. Ablett had it won before going down with a shoulder injury and his absence has allowed Selwood and Lewis to make up the shortfall.


1 Robbie Gray (Port)

2 Josh Kennedy (Syd)

3 Gary Ablett (GC)

The umpires love it when Gray boots goals. In the seven games in which he has polled Brownlow votes, he kicked at least three majors in six of them. Add the fact he led the AFL in score involvements and it stacks up as a Brownlow season — just ask the coaches.


1 Gary Ablett (GC)

2 Joel Selwood (Geel)

3 Dyson Heppell (Ess)

Gazza was an unbackable favourite when he went down in Round 16, and remember pundits were already saying he’d probably have enough votes to win. Don’t think anyone else has put in enough “three-voters” since to catch him.


1 Joel Selwood (Geel)

2 Gary Ablett (GC)

3 Jordan Lewis (Haw)

Following the recent trend of requiring at least two great years to win the medal, Selwood has served his apprenticeship and will get the one that narrowly escaped him last year.


Joel Selwood 9

Gary Ablett 5

Robbie Gray 3

Josh Kennedy 1

Lance Franklin 1

Jordan Lewis 1


$2.50 Joel Selwood

$3.50 Gary Ablett

$6 Robbie Gray

$9 Jordan Lewis

$10 Josh Kennedy (Syd)

$11 Dyson Heppell

$17 Scott Pendlebury, Matt Priddis

$21 Lance Franklin

$34 Trent Cotchin

$41 Travis Boak

$67 Dayne Beams

$81 Dustin Martin, Aaron Sandilands, Luke Parker

$101 Michael Barlow, Nick Dal Santo, Patrick Dangerfield, Brandon Ellis, Bryce Gibbs, Nathan Jones, Tom Liberatore, Ben McGlynn, Dion Prestia, Nick Riewoldt, Rory Sloane, Scott Thompson (Adel)

More at SuperFooty experts pick the 2014 Brownlow winner

So who do you think will pick up the medal?

See if the experts are right, check back here again after the result and see how many of them will have red faces.

Port Adelaide send Fremantle crashing in semi-final

Power surge past Dockers to reach prelim

Fremantle 11.17 (83)

Port Adelaide 15.15 (105)

Fremantle gave up a 31 point lead to lose to Port Adelaide in the semi-final in Perth last night.

Foxsports reported the sorry tale of the Dockers exit.

FREMANTLE’S season has ended with the bitter taste left by missed opportunities for the second year running, as the Dockers crumbled at the home that was meant to be their fortress last night.

Port Adelaide’s chief matchwinners in Robbie Gray, Ollie Wines and Chad Wingard were irresistible in this extraordinary semi-final and the match will go down as one of the most famous finals comebacks.
But having led by 31 points late in the second quarter before losing 15.15 (105) to 11.17 (83), this calamity go down as a sporting tragedy of immense proportions for the Dockers and their long-suffering supporters.
If bad kicking is bad football then Fremantle was horrible and brilliant at the same time in the first half.
Fremantle led by four goals at the major break after a first half that followed a remarkably similar script to that of last year’s preliminary final against Sydney at the same venue.
The Dockers were dominant without gaining commensurate reward on the scoreboard, spraying 6.11, including three consecutive behinds to Michael Walters in the space of a few minutes early in the second term.
But the extent Fremantle’s control was such that there were no genuine fears at half-time that the inaccuracy could cost the Dockers their season.
Enter Gray. The coaches’ player of the year sparked a stunning third-quarter rally from the Power, who trailed by 31 points 22 minutes into the second quarter.
Gray’s four-goal third term was one of the great individual quarters of finals football in recent memory, as he twice kicked clutch goals to take the lead for his side.

In a crucial sliding doors moment late in the third quarter, it was the players’ player of the year in Nat Fyfe who was responsible for a horror turnover that led to the coaches’ player of the year kicking his fourth.

With the Dockers having lost control of the midfield battle, Port Adelaide added six goals to two for the third term to turn a 24-point deficit into a two-point lead at the final change.

Fremantle defender Zac Dawson was reported for striking Gray in a clumsy spoiling attempt in the middle of the third-quarter mayhem.

Despite leading goalscorer Hayden Ballantyne watching the game at home with a broken jaw, the Dockers had a small forward of their own capable of matching tricks with Gray.

Walters kicked his team’s only two goals of the third term and put the Dockers back in front a minute into the last quarter with his third major.

Fremantle’s lead was back out to 10 points following Hayden Crozier’s second goal four minutes into the last quarter, before Wines got a crucial reply for Port with a clever snap.

It was the start of a run of three goals for the Power until Danyle Pearce gave the Dockers some hope with a goal at the 23-minute mark.

Wingard’s fourth was key and from there Port were home and seats were emptying.

The eerie post-match scene was inconceivable earlier in the game.

It might have taken Port just 18 minutes to kill off hapless Richmond last weekend, but coping with the structure and commitment of a desperate Fremantle on its home deck was another task entirely in the early going.

With Alex Silvagni a late withdrawal due to a hamstring problem, the Dockers were without three of their best four tall defenders and played with Dawson as their only recognised key defender.

Garrick Ibbotson conceded 13cm to his opponent Justin Westhoff, with Ross Lyon opting to leave forwards Matt Taberner and Chris Mayne in attack as Tendai Mzungu began as the loose man in defence.

Yet the relentless Dockers held key forwards Jay Schulz and Westhoff goalless in the first half.

Ryan Crowley half Power skipper Travis Boak (who finished with a season-low 16 touches) to just four handballs and no kicks to half-time in a superb tagging performance, while Dockers livewire Stephen Hill shook off Kane Cornes with 11 second-quarter possessions to provide some much needed run and carry.

He mightn’t have the tricks or the reputation of Freo’s ‘big three’ midfielders, but pint-sized South Australian Lachie Neale (32 possessions) set the tone for the Dockers’ early control with a stunning first term that included 15 disposals and four clearances.

Wingard kicked goals in the final minute of both the first and second quarters in crucial lifelines for the visitors.

So now the prelininary finals are decided with the Swans hosting North Melbourne on Friday and Port Adelaide travelling the MCG on Saturday to face Hawthorn.

North Melbourne Beats Geelong to Reach Preliminary Final

Top Four Geelong Fall to North Melbourne in Semi-Final

Geelong 13.14 (92)

North Melbourne 14.14 (98)

In a real nail biter that went down to the wire sixth placed North Melbourne took out, top four finisher, Geelong in Friday night’s semi-final.

The ABC reported the action

A massive mark in defence from ruckman Todd Goldstein helped North Melbourne advance to its first preliminary final since 2007 after upsetting Geelong by six points their semi-final.

The Kangaroos led by 32 points at the 14-minute mark of the final term of Friday night’s clash before the Cats booted the last four goals of the match to almost force a draw.

North won 14.14 (98) to 13.14 (92) and were led in midfield by Nick Dal Santo and Sam Gibson while Drew Petrie had a big game up forward with four goals.

Key forward Tom Hawkins was almost the match-winner for the Cats with five goals, including three in the final term, while Josh Walker booted three majors.

Josh Caddy, Mitch Duncan and Joel Selwood were busy for the Cats in midfield in a tense finish in front of 65,963 fans at the MCG.

Lindsay Thomas kicked all three of his goals for North in the first term as the Kangaroos booted seven majors.

A sloppy kick-out from full-back by Geelong’s Andrew Mackie gifted Todd Goldstein a goal as the Kangaroos hopped to a 30-point lead at the 28-minute mark of the first quarter.

The Cats stopped North’s momentum however with three late goals including one after the siren to Tom Hawkins to reduce the margin to 12 points at the first break, 7.1 (43) to 5.1 (31).

The Kangaroos added only two goals in the second term but they still doubled their lead as the Cats were held goal-less.

North were ahead 9.6 (60) to 5.6 (36) at half-time and the Kangaroos booted three goals to Geelong’s three in the third term to hold their 24-point advantage at three-quarter time.

Jack Ziebell kicked two goals in three minutes to seemingly make a hero of himself for the Kangaroos. But Hawkins responded with three consecutive goals to make the margin 12 points.

Geelong’s September specialist Jimmy Bartel kicked a goal with two minutes and 26 seconds left and it was just a goal the difference.

The Cats were surging late before Goldstein took a huge pack mark in defence with less than 30 seconds on the clock to hold back the home side from one final attack.

Brent Harvey, returning from a three-game suspension, had 25 touches and was also a key player for North who will play the Swans at Sydney’s Olympic stadium in next Friday night’s preliminary final.

Fremantle and Port Adelaide battle it out in Perth on Saturday evening for the chance to meet Hawthorn in the other Preliminary Final.

Port Demolish Richmond in Sunday’s Elimination Final

The semi-finals have been decided with Port Adelaide‘s demolition of Richmond at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday.

The AFL official website described the action:-

AFTER setting the tone for the afternoon with a jaw-dropping first term, Port Adelaide annihilated Richmond by 57 points in Sunday’s elimination final at Adelaide Oval.

Tigers skipper Trent Cotchin won the toss but elected to kick into a stiff breeze; a baffling decision he would immediately regret as the Power kicked the first seven goals of the game on their way to the big 20.12 (132) to 11.9 (75) win.
Just as Port coach Ken Hinkley predicted during the week, Richmond’s nine-game winning streak counted for nothing and it struggled badly to settle into the game.
Hinkley was very impressed by his side’s ferociousness at the contest, particularly early, and claimed the opening 17 minutes of the game was the best football the club had played under his reign.
“The boys were just up and about right from the very start … it all came from our intensity, we just hunted the ball really hard,” Hinkley said.

“We knew we had been challenged in that area against the Tiges last time we played them and it was one area we needed to get right and we did.
“It was an awesome display by a group of young me who were determined to stick together and play tough footy.”
Power captain Travis Boak was inspirational from the opening bounce, collecting 10 first-term possessions and a goal on his way to 33 disposals.
Justin Westhoff was brilliant with 20 disposals and two goals, while Jake Neade oozed X-factor and bravery to boot a game-high three majors.
The usual suspects in Robbie Gray (25 disposals, one goal), Ollie Wines (23 touches, two goals) and Chad Wingard (21, two) were all also influential and Tom Jonas (22 possessions, 12 marks) offered great rebound out of defence.
Few Richmond players had any meaningful impact on the contest, but Anthony Miles (24 disposals), Cotchin (six clearances), Brett Deledio (29 disposals, one goal) and Brandon Ellis could at least fly home to Melbourne with reputations in tact.
Tigers coach Damien Hardwick criticised his playing group’s hardness early, insisting Cotchin’s decision to kick into the wind was irrelevant.
“At the end of the day the wind has got nothing to do with putting your head over the ball and not winning hard contests,” Hardwick said.
“It’s a tale of two; you give yourself a chance to play finals but then the reality is you get measured by your finals success and we have made the last two and haven’t performed in both so we have got some work to do.”
While the home side’s scoreboard pressure was outstanding, it was set up by a superior work rate and a stirring attack on the football – as typified by Hamish Hartlett’s courageous gather to set up a goal in the second quarter.
Richmond steadied itself for a period late in the first term, but another six goals to two in favour of the Power extended the margin to 69 points by the main break.
The half was soured though when Power speedster Matt White was subbed out of the game with a suspected fractured jaw.
White was taken to hospital and although scans hadn’t yet revealed the extent of the damage, the club was hopeful he avoided a break.
A bake from Cotchin as the Tigers left the field at half-time failed to rouse his teammates as Port continued to control play through the third quarter.
With the result long settled, Port took its foot off the pedal in the final stanza but the Tigers’ late goals through Jack Riewoldt, Shane Edwards, Nathan Gordon and Ben Griffiths counted for nothing; their season and winning streak finally coming to an end.

So next weekend sees the semifinals with Port Adelaide travelling to Patersons Stadium to take on Fremantle, in the battle of the port cities and Geelong will host North Melbourne on Friday night.

North Melbourne defeats Essendon by 12 points

Comeback Roos Prevail in Epic Win Over Dons

NORTH MELBOURNE 2.3 2.4 9.5 14.9 (93)
ESSENDON 2.4 6.7 10.8 12.9 (81)

Essendon are the first side eliminated from the 2014 finals, going out after a mighty comeback from the Kangaroos

This is how the Herald Sun saw the all Melbourne contest

In one of the most dramatic and unpredictable finals of recent seasons, the Kangaroos defied the critics — who would paint them as flighty and prone to going missing — and scrapped their way to a remarkable 12-point win over Essendon.

Twice, key North Melbourne forwards sprang up from nowhere to produce inspired cameos that turned the course of the game.

Late in the frantic final quarter, Drew Petrie, largely unsighted throughout the evening, produced two brilliant snapped goals within a minute to put this remarkable elimination final out of Essendon’s reach.
With the Roos trailing by a point, Petrie was first to react when a Jack Ziebell pass cleared the pack, and after gathering ahead of Cale Hooker he snapped a 35-metre shot over his shoulder.
Then, after North won the ensuing centre clearance, Petrie accepted a Daniel Wells handball and wobbled through an off-balance goal under pressure to make the margin 11 points.
But the spark for the Roos’ win caught fire through his forward-line partner, Ben Brown, at the beginning of the second half.
Both Brown and Petrie had been relatively subdued, well beaten by Hooker and Ariel Steinberg respectively, until Brown began playing more like Jonathan than Ben and grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck in the third quarter.
Brown kicked three goals within seven minutes to spark a desperately needed Kangaroos revival.

After conceding the opening goal of the second half, the Roos had fallen 33 points behind. They had no option but to throw everything at Essendon in the exhilarating third quarter.
So, the Roos redoubled their attack on the ball and also landed twice as many tackles as the Bombers for the term.
Having looked cautious, they found some risk-taking run, particularly through Daniel Wells and Shaun Atley, and in the way they launched attacks off half-back, where Sam Wright took the game on.
The result was that they kicked seven of the 11 goals kicked in a third quarter where the ball flowed from one end of the field to the other.
But even then, Essendon fought on grimly, with Paul Chapman and Dyson Heppell two who continued to drive them on from the midfield.
At one stage Chapman grabbed the footy from a centre bounce, streamed out from the centre taking two bounces, and drove the ball long to Joe Daniher to take a contested mark one the goal line and convert.
The margin at the final change remained a nine-point lead to Essendon and the game was in the balance.
North only hit the lead for the first time 11 minutes into the final quarter, when Lindsay Thomas goaled from a free kick that resulted from a high Jason Winderlich tackle.
But in keeping with the drama of the night, Essendon snatched the lead back at the 18-minute mark of the final quarter when Paddy Ryder — subject to pre-game stories about his disenchantment with the club — took a one-hand contested mark and played on to snap from 45 metres.
In the build-up to this final, all of the talk was about how these teams were more flaky than a Good Friday pub menu.
But the defining moments were anything but flaky.

Essendon was superb early, opening up a 27-point lead at half-time by scrambling four unanswered goals in the second quarter, and three of them were the direct result of unspectacular little pieces of play that probably won’t make the highlight tapes: a half-volley gather, a spoil and a knock-on.

The first came after four solid minutes of pure arm wrestle, with both teams tackling ferociously but unable to break clear.

That changed in an instant when Brendon Goddard brilliantly gathered on the half volley a scrubby pass, resulting in the Bombers working the ball into an open forward line and eventually an easy goal to Travis Colyer.

Midway through the second term, with North breaking on the counter-attack, Zaharakis lunged to spoil a Daniel Wells pass to Michael Firrito, paving the way for Goddard to launch a 60-metre shot that rolled through for a goal.

Even better was to follow five minutes later, when Joe Daniher — prone on the turf after being mauled while attempting to take an overhead mark 25 metres out from goal — dove to smother a Sam Gibson to poke and then managed to knock it on into the path of Chapman for a goal.

Daniher produced probably his best game for the Bombers, kicking vital goals and working hard to bring others into the game, while Chapman’s experience was telling in the composure he showed under the frantic intensity of a cutthroat final.

But it was the North players who stood up.

Not just the ones who bobbed up with cameos, but the ones who worked hard to keep them in the contest throughout.

Wells was classy throughout and used the ball beautifully, while Levi Greenwood was typically committed to winning contested possessions, and had a remarkable 15 disposals in the final quarter.

Scott Thompson was exceptional in marshalling the backline and frequently repelled attacks, while skipper Andrew Swallow shaded Jobe Watson. Atley’s pace was critical in breaking the lines.

In the end, they all stood up. The Kangaroos looked like their season might be done five minutes into the second half, but they showed their resolve and kicked 12 of the next 17 goals.

Read More at North Melbourne defeats Essendon by 12 points in elimination final at the MCG

The prize for the Kanga’s efforts is a battle with the Cats next Friday which will be every bit as tough.

Sydney Swans beat Fremantle Dockers by 24 points

Fremantle will have to do it tough if they want to go one better than last year, after losing their qualifying final in Sydney.

Sydney has beaten Fremantle by 24 points at the Olympic stadium to secure a home preliminary final.

Sydney was on top for most of the day, but the Swans had to withstand a late charge from the Dockers in the final quarter before prevailing by 12.11 (83) to 10.9 (69) at the Olympic stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Swans midfielder Daniel Hannebery, who returned in round 23 after six weeks out from an ankle syndesmosis injury, had 27 disposals and six tackles in a strong display.

He told Grandstand the home side was relieved to have got the win against the side that smashed the Swans in last year’s preliminary final in Perth.

“It was a really tough game and it was great to have a really strong four quarter effort against what we think is one of the best sides in the comp,” Hannebery said.

“Finals footy goes up another notch in contested footy … we knew we had to match it with (the Dockers) there and to get on top would go a long way to us winning the game.”

Fremantle went into the game understrength in defence, and the visitors pushed an extra man back to try to negate Sydney’s tall forward line. Hannebery said the Swans were frustrated they did not take their chances in the first half, even against the extra man.

“We were probably a bit stiff in the first half not to be a few more goals in front,” he said.

“In the end I think we had enough inside 50s, enough ball in there for the forwards to get on top.”

The Swans missed some early chances before settling down and holding a three-point lead at quarter-time.

A goal to Matthew Pavlich put the visitors in front early in the second term, but Sydney kicked two goals to one in the remainder of a tight quarter to lead by five points at the main change.

The Swans made their move in the third quarter, booting four goals to one to take a seemingly-unassailable 22-point lead at three-quarter time.
Swans answer Dockers’ challenge in final term

But a goal to Cameron Sutcliffe got Ross Lyon’s men off to a good start in the final term, and when Michael Walters paddled the ball on to Matthew Pavlich in the forward pocket and he snapped truly a minute later, the gap was down to two goals.

Lance Franklin then brought the crowd to its feet, drilling the ball home from more than 60 metres out to restore an 18-point buffer for the home side, then kicking another one from 50 to leave the Swans on the verge of victory.

A goal to David Mundy was answered by a major for Mike Pyke, but the Dockers kept coming with a goal to Mike Pyke near time on.

It proved to be the Dockers’ final goal of the match, however, and the Swans sealed the win with a late score to Hannebery.

Pavlich kicked four goals for the Dockers, while Franklin and on-baller Ben McGlynn booted three for the Swans.

However the win was soured by a hamstring injury to defender Nick Malceski, which could end his finals campaign.

Sydney now has the week off, followed by a home preliminary final on Friday week at the same venue against either Geelong or the winner of the elimination final between North Melbourne and Essendon.