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Dave Cardamone takes a look at what to expect around the league on the eve of Round 21.
Oh what a season
This season has officially had everything.
I wrote a few weeks back how we were missing a draw and a coach sacking. Fast forward five weeks and both of those nostalgic inevitables of any season have now been completed, yet it’s a quality group of players who will depart that is beginning to take centre stage. What an incredible list of retirements we currently have, with Luke Hodge, Nick Riewoldt, Sam Mitchell, Jobe Watson, Adelaide’s Scott Thompson, Matt Priddis, Matthew Boyd, Dennis Armfield, Steve Johnson and even Gary Ablett may not be out of the realms of possibility either. The 2017 class has two Brownlow Medals, 12 premierships and 21-All Australian jumpers between them. Simply incredible as a real passing of the batten commences.
Prayers all round
The Demons and Saints face off on Sunday and boy will fans of both sides be saying their prayers. After a dismal performance on the weekend, Christian Petracca informed fans to keep the faith, while the Saints faithful will be praying for a repeat result of the weekend after they downed fellow finals hopefuls West Coast. It’s a must win clash for both sides with the loser effectively out of the finals race, meaning one half of the MCG will leave extremely unhappy on Sunday afternoon.
Pies still relevant
Collingwood have a massive part to play in September and although Collingwood fans can’t get excited about finals footy this year, they surely would get a bittersweet feeling if the Pies can win their remaining three games. Port Adelaide this week away from home is a massive challenge but when it’s “us” against everyone else, who knows what could happen? A loss for the Power would bring them back to the pack. Then comes Geelong at the MCG next week. They’re currently the walking wounded with Selwood and Hawkins out but will still be fighting for a top four finish. Finally, the Demons to round out their year in a game that will be hotly contested with Melbourne currently in a real fight to play finals.
The age old argument
It’s brought up time and time again that defenders are not recognised well enough for their individual performances in the football community. In comes Tom Lonergan, who held Franklin to just the five kicks, three handballs and one goal. In a side that lost by 46 points; a side that was dominated from the outset; not even the coaches could find some votes for the #13. This mentality has simply got to change. It may take another 10-15 years or perhaps the push for an award to recognise them, but defenders deserve kudos where kudos is due and on Friday night Lonergan deserved just that.
Tricky few weeks
The Crows internally may not be Crowing about their premiership chances just yet but externally, everyone has got them right up there to win the premiership and understandably so. Their last three games, however present intriguing propositions and top spot on the ladder is by no means set. Essendon are going to be fighting for finals survival; Sydney will have belief about their top four chances; and West Coast away will be the penultimate game of the premiership season that shapes the final 8. They’ve got a chance to send a sounding warning to the rest of the competition and mentally (as a group) finish of the year with serious momentum.