Round 20: Close calls heat up a fiery round

 

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Gary Ablett misses the final goal that would have put Geelong in front of the Tigers.

By ADAM FOSTER, SAM McLARTY, NICKOLAS ZAKHARIA,EZRA HOLT AND KAVISHA DI PIETRO

Round 20 was jam packed with talking points, with five games decided by under a goal, a controversial punch as well as more injuries for finals contenders,

Tigers fight their way past Cats to continue charge to September

Richmond confirmed they are the team to beat this season after a three-point victory over Geelong. Despite the strong effort of Geelong’s core of superstars, the more well-rounded game from the entire Richmond line up got them over the line. Richmond have now won 19 consecutive games at the MCG as they continue to build towards what promises to be another big September campaign. It is proving more difficult each week to find standouts from the Tigers, as each player fully commits to their role in the team. Geelong has struggled to get a consistent performance from all 22 players this season and it showed against a Richmond side that plays as a team rather than relying on individuals to win. The Cats got closer than any team has to beating the Tigers, but after Gary Ablett’s last-minute shot sailed wide, Geelong had to accept a loss. The Tigers held on in a thriller as they continue to prove that they are capable of anything. – Adam Foster

Crows prevail in classic showdown amid controversy

Adelaide have kept a last-minute chance at finals alive after defeating Port Adelaide by three points following Saturday night’s 45th Showdown. The two South Australian clubs’ scores were in arm’s length of one another for most of the game. A controversial goal from Crows forward Josh Jenkins sealed the odds for an Adelaide victory during the last three minutes of play. While Power fans might be frustrated with the outcome of the game, an elite display of football from Port Adelaide’s Robbie Gray earned him his fourth Showdown medal. The Crows have reclaimed their leading position for showdown victories of 23 compared to the Power’s 22, however they remain outside of the top eight ahead of the season’s last three rounds. – Nickolas Zakharia

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Buddy brilliance inspires Swans in SCG Classic

Sydney Swans superstar Lance Franklin was in top form kicking 6.4 to lead the Sydney Swans to a two-point victory over Collingwood. After a disappointing match against the Bombers in Round 19, in which Franklin was outplayed by Bomber Michael Hurley, his six goal performance was a match-winner. With two minutes on the clock, first-year Swan Tom McCartin scored a freakish goal lying down and out of a pack, which proved to be the sealer. Swans defender Alex Johnson completed an inspiring comeback with 15 disposals after 2136 days on the sidelines after a horrific run with five ACL tears and other injuries. Remarkably, 15 of Johnson’s teammates on Saturday night had not been drafted when Johnson last played in the 2012 premiership game against Hawthorn. Pie Travis Varcoe kicked four goals but was unable to keep Collingwood from dropping to sixth place while the Swans kept their finals hopes well and truly alive moving to eighth place. – Sam McLarty

Giants destroy Blues in costly win

Greater Western Sydney jumped to third place on the ladder after demolishing Carlton by 105 points at Docklands. The confident Giants have won 4 games in a row as they look to build momentum towards September. Their confidence, however, was marred by the casualties from the game. Brett Deledio, Toby Greene, Dawson Simpson and Sam Taylor each suffered injuries which may disrupt the Giants build-up to the finals. GWS played most of the last quarter with only 16 players afield but were still able to kick seven goals to Carlton’s one. Josh Kelly dominated on his return to AFL with 41 disposals and 925m gained. Patrick Cripps starred for the Blues with 29 disposals and nine tackles. Carlton controlled the game early in the second term but were unable to maintain the effort. They switched off and suffered yet another loss of over 100-points this season. – Ezra Holt

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Andrew Bradshaw leaves the ground with a broken jaw after being his by Andrew Gaff. 

Andrew Gaff king hit talk of the Derby

West Coast Eagles’ midfielder Andrew Gaff was in firm contention to take out this year’s Brownlow Medal before king hitting Fremantle’s Andrew Brayshaw in the Western Derby on Sunday. The hit resulted in Brayshaw being rushed to hospital with a broken jaw and displaced teeth and unable to eat solid food for four weeks. This caused an uproar from fans and footballers alike on Twitter calling for the AFL to introduce a red card system. If the incident occurred on Melbourne’s King St, Gaff would expect to find himself facing court, but the AFL’s lenient policy allowed him to play out the game.  – Kavisha Di Pietro