Just what did we learn from the weekend’s action?
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Greater Western Sydney will play finals football in 2016
Greater Western Sydney chief executive David Matthews said the club is targeting 8-10 wins next season, and the Giants’ performance against the Bulldogs showed it’s certainly achievable.
Even without Jonathan Patton and Jeremy Cameron, the Giants pulled off an unlikely win against a Dogs outfit playing for the retiring Daniel Giansiracusa. The Giants also only had five players over the age of 21 in the triumph.
Next year may be a step too far for the young side, but September football in 2016 looks very likely.
Nobody wants to face Richmond in September
They might have snagged the last finals spot in the dying stages of the season, but nobody will want to face the Tigers in the finals.
Port Adelaide will be the ones that have to do it, and even at their Adelaide Oval fortress they will be wary of a Richmond side who are a complete world away of the one that languished with a 3-10 record as little as two months ago.
Richmond go into the finals as the most in-form team in the competition after nine consecutive victories, and after knocking off the top-of-the-table Swans on the weekend, confidence is sky high at Punt Road.
Lenny Hayes will go down as a champion of the game
He may not have won a premiership or a Brownlow Medal, but he’ll go down as a great of the St Kilda football club.
Sunday marked the end of Hayes’ 297-game career, and he played with the same vigour that won him three best and fairests and a Norm Smith Medal.
He needed eight tackles to break Jude Bolton’s AFL record of 1490, and finished the game with 13 as the Saints succumbed to a polished Eagles outfit.
Hayes will be remembered as not only a brilliant footballer, but a great person.
Rivalries will be resumed
The weekend’s results mean AFL fans will be treated to yet another Geelong-Hawthorn match in a clash that has become one of the game’s great modern rivalries.
Hawthorn will go into Friday’s qualifying final as favourites, but the Cats are September specialists and will be chomping at the bit to knock off last year’s premiers.
The Hawks go into the clash after easily seeing off an injury-depleted Collingwood outfit, while the Cats were far too good for the Brisbane Lions.
If you’re only going to watch one game this weekend, make sure it’s this one.
Despite an inconsistent year, the Dockers will be tough to beat in September
Fremantle have kicked over 15 goals in its last three matches, while over the course of the season Ross Lyon’s side have only conceded an average of 70 points a game.
Michael Walters has added an extra element to the side since his return from injury, while young Matt Taberner has come in and provided plenty of support for skipper Matthew Pavlich.
If they can continue this rich vein of form, the so-called ‘Purple Haze’ just may descend on the MCG on Grand Final day yet again.