AFL round 6: True contenders emerge from the pack

 

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Nat Fyfe of the Dockers sets for a mark against Elliot Yeo of the Eagles at the weekend. 

By NATHAN JOHN, KAVISHA DI PIETRO AND NICK ZAKHARIA

After six rounds of AFL action the contenders are consolidating their positions, while Essendon, Carlton and St Kilda continue to spiral out after a preseason of promise. 

Eagles extend derby dominance in a classic

The first Western Derby at Optus Stadium has lived up to its billing with the Eagles taking an eight point win from an absorbing contest after Fremantle booted four straight first quarter goals. Eagles utility Elliot Yeo curbed the influence of Dockers captain Nat Fyfe after quarter time, and it set the scene for a close contest on the inside of midfield. Adam Simpson’s side were cleaner in extraction and established a lead through sheer weight of clearances (+13) and entries (+10), while a resilient Fremantle’s forward structure collapsed after livewire forward Michael Walters suffered a knee injury in the opening term. While both teams will limp away, it was footy by the book – fiery contests at the stoppages, bursting overlap runs, crisp disposal in transition and high scoring. – Nathan John

Tex’s ‘string sours Crows win

Adelaide’s hamstring hoodoo has put a blemish on their 48-point win against Gold Coast on Saturday. Crows captain Taylor Walker was ruled out of the game after being benched during the half-time break for “hamstring awareness”. It is a blow for Don Pyke’s side after their captain kicked two goals in the first half against the Suns, continuing a pattern of good form that emerged against Sydney last week. Walker may be sidelined in next week’s match against Carlton, one of five Crows currently managing hamstring soreness and the seventh across the 2018 season. The likely return of Rory Sloane after missing three matches with a foot injury will help to fill the leadership void. – Nick Zakharia

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Roo Todd Goldstein and Charlie Dixon of the Power compete in the ruck.

Port bring Roos revival to a halt

Port Adelaide walked onto Etihad Stadium on Saturday night with a point to prove, breaking a resurgent North Melbourne in the opening term with a ferocious early tackling effort. Ken Hinkley’s side were timid in consecutive losses to Essendon and Geelong, their strong midfield rotation outmuscled by opponents lacking their spread and fitness. On this occasion, the Power midfield established a platform for the team to defend in the second half, overcoming versatile North tagger Ben Jacobs as he bounced between opponents and closed down outlets. Defender Tom Jonas quelled Coleman Medal leader Ben Brown while the match was on the line, and forward Charlie Dixon rucked in the absence of Paddy Ryder and blunted Todd Goldstein. Hinkley will welcome the renewed vigour from his side ahead of meetings with West Coast and Adelaide. – Nathan John

Dons disappearing in premiership quarter

Touted as early finals favourites but sitting on two wins after six rounds, the Bombers have a monumental problem on their hands. Essendon have failed to win a third quarter in 2018, recording a season-worst 37-point deficit for the term against Melbourne on Sunday. John Worsfold’s men can’t close out games when it matters, their lacklustre defence allowing opposition teams to pile on goals in quick succession while they struggle to generate scoring of their own – against the Dees, Essendon conceded 12 second-half goals and scored only five. They now sit a game and 33 per cent outside the top eight, and with Hawthorn, Carlton, Geelong and GWS to come in the next month, the Bombers need to secure a win before their September hopes disappear. – Kavisha Di Pietro

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Josh Kennedy was instrumental in the Swans’ win over the Cats. 

Small ball Swans run Cats ragged

Small ball was the order of the day for the Sydney Swans, running rings around the Cats for their third consecutive win in Geelong after trailing by four goals at the last change. With their key posts gutted by injurie, it was critical that John Longmire’s side won the battle on the ground, but a blowout loomed as the Cats’ midfield seized control of the match in the third quarter. As the game wore on however, Josh Kennedy dragged the visitors back into the contest with 13 disposals and six clearances in the final quarter, and a host of inexperienced Swans piled on seven goals to one in the final term. After lowering their colours in recent weeks it was a timely return to form for the Swans engine room, and along with the result will leave Longmire with much to ponder as to the structure of his forward line in a competition trending towards smaller line-ups. – Nathan John