Swans thrash Bulldogs, Hawks up to second
Sydney star Adam Goodes found form with three goals as the Swans rebounded from a slow start to thrash the Western Bulldogs by 82 points on Sunday and move a game clear on top of the AFL ladder.
The Swans overcame a three-goal quarter-time deficit to win 26.11 (167) to 13.7 (85) at Etihad Stadium and hand the Dogs their ninth straight defeat.
Along with Goodes, Lewis Roberts-Thomson, Mike Pyke and Shane Mumford also kicked three goals each among 14 Sydney goal-kickers as they posted their highest score in more than six years.
The Bulldogs started well, kicking six goals to three in the first term, with Tory Dickson kicking two early goals and Ryan Griffen (47 disposals) enormously dominant in the midfield.
Griffen had 16 first-term disposals compared to three for opponent Jarrad McVeigh, while skipper Matthew Boyd and youngsters Clay Smith and Lin Jong were also prolific early.
But after the Dogs were still 17 points clear 13 minutes into the second term, things rapidly unravelled as Sydney kicked the last five goals of the first half.
Poor turnovers in midfield by Dogs Daniel Giansiracusa and Lukas Markovic led to the first two goals of the Swans' onslaught.
The umpires gave the Swans a helping hand for the next two, Mumford and Ryan O'Keefe fortunate to win free kicks at close range.
A nice snap from Roberts-Thomson after a clever Pyke knock-on capped the Swans' second-term resurgence, that pair finishing the first half with two goals each.
The Swans added five more majors in the first 15 minutes of the third quarter, with Pyke and Roberts-Thomson each adding another to their tally, to stretch the lead to 46 points and effectively end the contest.
Sydney's rise in intensity as the Dogs faded was stark, the Bulldogs struggling to move the ball under the Swans' fierce tackling pressure, while Sydney several times took the ball the length of the ground uncontested.
Goodes, who had worked hard but lacked his normal polish in the first half, kicked a goal early in the third term and another two in the first 10 minutes of the last, while Sam Reid kicked two majors on return from a knee injury.
Midfielder Josh Kennedy was typically hard-working in midfield for the Swans, with Kieren Jack and O'Keefe also very good.
Meanwhile Hawthorn improved to second on the AFL ladder, kicking clear of Gold Coast for a 64-point win at the MCG.
After struggling to hit top gear at times, the Hawks kicked seven goals to two in the last term for a convincing 19.15 (129) to 10.5 (65) win.
The Hawks were fourth before this round, but they went above Collingwood and Adelaide after those two teams had surprise losses on Saturday night.
Captain Luke Hodge and fellow midfielders Jordan Lewis and Brad Sewell starred for Hawthorn, while forward Jack Gunston kicked four goals.
The Hawks finish the season with big matches against top side Sydney and fifth-placed West Coast.
Key Gold Coast forward Steven May impressed, taking 12 marks and kicking three goals.
Suns captain Gary Ablett racked up a game-high 44 possessions.
There was big news a couple of hours before the first bounce, when the Hawks announced star forward Lance Franklin was a late withdrawal.
Franklin was supposed to return from five weeks out with a hamstring injury, but the club said in a statement that he fell ill on Saturday night.
Midfielder Sam Mitchell also pulled out on Saturday because of a leg injury.
In Franklin's absence, key defender Ryan Schoenmakers played in attack for the first half and he relished the change, kicking two goals.
But form meant Schoenmakers went into defence after the main break.
The Suns started well, leading midway through the opening term, but Hawthorn kicked the last three goals of the quarter to take control.
After Gold Coast kicked the first goal of the second term, the Hawks kicked the next three and had a comfortable 32-point lead at the main break.
They extended that to 44 points early in the second term, after Isaac Smith opened the quarter with an outstanding goal.
Smith had two Suns defenders putting heavy pressure on him, but he managed to snap accurately.
The Hawks were in total control, but Gold Coast rallied and controlled the rest of the term.
May kicked three goals in the quarter as they stayed in touch and only trailed by 30 points at the last change.
But key forward Jarryd Roughead killed off their faint hopes when he started the final term with two goals.
West Coast may not be playing their best football but coach John Worsfold says it's not far away after the Eagles beat Port Adelaide by 48 points.
Forward Jack Darling and ruckman Nic Naitanui kicked three goals each for the Eagles as they strolled to the 14.14 (98) to 6.14 (50) victory in front of just 13,683 fans at AAMI Stadium, a record low home crowd for the Power.
Jay Schulz was the best of Port's forwards but booted 2.5, missing some relatively easy opportunities, while Brad Ebert was also good in his first game against his old side since moving to the Power this season.
The win consolidates West Coast's spot in the top eight ahead of next week's crucial home game against Collingwood, which could decide if the Eagles can challenge for a top four finish.
Worsfold doesn't want to waste too much time looking at the ladder and the various possibilities and intends to concentrate instead on getting improvement from his team.
"You can get enticed by looking at all the different scenarios and each week that goes by it becomes more focal in what can happen," he said.
"But I wasn't too worried about that in round one and I'm not too worried about where it ends up.
"I just want to challenge our team enough to have a really strong performance and keep improving.
"We're not playing out best football right now but that's not to say it's miles away."
As well as their goalscorers, the Eagles had some good contributors around the ground including Scott Selwood, Matt Priddis and Josh Hill, while Shannon Hurn chipped in with two goals.
Kane Cornes was possibly Port's best on the day with 32 disposals while David Roden was also good in the midfield before being shifted to defence.
It was a better four-quarter effort by the Power this week, though it still took the side until mid-way through the second term to post their first major.
The Power also won the third term, posting three goals to just one for the Eagles, trimming a 43-point half-time deficit to just 30 points, but couldn't maintain the pressure in the final quarter as West Coast kicked away again.
Caretaker coach Garry Hocking said there was plenty to like from Port's effort but conceded skill errors still let them down.
"We've still got to be a lot more poised and take a lot more care through the middle part of the ground and also when we go inside our forward 50," he said.
With just a small crowd in, Hocking took a lead from former Port coach Mark Williams at three-quarter time taking his players over to the outer side of the ground.
"I just thought our supporters who continue to turn up week-in, week-out just deserved the boys to get over there," he said.
"I felt there was a bit of noise and a bit of excitement around and I just tried to use that."