THE HANGOVER: DRAFTSTARS WEEKLY WRAP
The smell of finals football is in the air. As synonymous with this time of year as liniment is with a sports change room, you can feel it in your soul.
The AFL has finally reached the finals series, despite an irrelevant bye week between now and week one of finals, and everything feels right. The eight is legitimate. The teams playing each other make sense (except maybe with the exception of the Eagles slipping out of the four) and it promises to be one of the most exciting finals series, perhaps since 2016.
The final round played out essentially as expected. The Lions were gallant in defeat against the Tigers at the ‘G and the Dogs consolidated their spot in the eight with an easy victory over the dispirited Crows. But the Eagles truly shot themselves in the foot with an awful loss at home to the Hawks.
And, the All-Australian squad was announced on Monday with some notable absentees (cough, Brad Hill). Unsurprisingly, a number of the squad were the premier Draftstars selections this year.
Similarly, the NRL season is reaching its crescendo with two games left and six sides fighting it out for only two spots which remain on the line.
The Raiders will be disappointed with their loss to Manly, just one week after toppling the Storm. South Sydney were lucky to keep the Broncos at bay with a last gasp Damien Cook tackle preventing Corey Oates from running in a match winning try. And the Panthers will be ruining a disappointing loss to the Cowboys which prevented them from making a leap into the eight.
Moving on to round balls, how about the Ashes? As much as Australian’s hate the English (specifically during the Ashes), Ben Stokes’ innings to level the series with an improbable victory was stunning. It left all watching, and participating, speechless. After finishing day three having made two runs from 50+ balls, Stokes nailed a “see it to believe it” 135 from 219 to drag England over the line by a solitary wicket. His innings accrued him a contest topping 259 DS points.
A dodgy umpire decision in the second last over ruined the match for the Aussies but a missed run-out opportunity the ball before meant Australia had nobody to blame but themselves. Josh Hazlewood is exonerated from the blame as he returned match figures of 9/115. His first innings figures of 5/30 were peerless.
Rory McIlroy won the FedExCup on Sunday, his second such victory, and took home to chocolates in the final round of the Tour Championship. McIlroy took the lead on the seventh hole and never relinquished it as he played a clinical round to finish with a 4-under 66 final round.
The EPL entered its third week. Liverpool remain undefeated after a 3-1 victory over Arsenal as they look to go one better than last year and take home the League title. But their greatest rival, Man City, sit just one spot behind them. At the other end of the table, Watford have started poorly with no wins to date and just one goal to their name. Tottenham suffered the most disappointing loss of the week, going down to Newcastle.
Liverpool’s Mo Salah, Man City’s Sergio Agüero and West Ham’s Sébastien Haller all snared braces in their sides wins.
Finally, you might have noticed a new Draftstars feature popped up over the past week. Draftstars now offers the ability to create your own contests. You can set your own buy in and challenge your mates, or take on the public by setting up a contest for all to participate in.
AFL ROUND 23
Collingwood got the job done on Friday night over a wavering Bombers side. Both sides will be thankful for the pre-finals bye as Michael Hurley and Darcy Moore both sustained injuries. The match played out like a round of poker with neither side wanting to reveal their hand. Jamie Elliott was not so concerned with sleight-of-hand as he rolls into the finals in scintillating form. He booted another three goals, snared 113 DS points and looks like he could be the difference in the finals.
The Swans provided Kieran Jack, Jarrad McVeigh, Nick Smith and Heath Grundy with a poignant finale victory. Outclassing the Saints by 45-points, the victory also marked a celebration for Buddy’s 300th. He snared four goals in his milestone match. Josh Kennedy ensured his long-time teammates went out in style with a dominant 32 touch, nine tackle, two goal and 150 DS point showing.
Tensions were high in the tightest match of the round between North Melbourne and Melbourne. Shaun Higgins showed he is still all class with a match winning 34 touches and two goals, one of which sealed the victory late in the final quarter. His efforts earned him 110 DS points but it was Max Gawn’s 154 DS point, 26 touch and three goal domination that had the Dees even remotely in the contest at any stage.
The Cats had to beat the Blues to be a chance for the McLelland trophy, and they did so clinically. Kicking their first goal nine seconds into the match, the Cats were never truly troubled. Young blue star, Sam Walsh had 24 disposals which earned him the record for most ever disposals in a debut season. Hopefully he can take some tips from Patrick Dangerfield’s game. Danger had 34 touches and booted four goals on his way to 150 DS points and a probable three Brownlow votes (which might’ve won it for him).
GWS made light work of Gold Coast and geared themselves up for finals with some standout performances from their stars. None stood out more, though, than Jeremy Cameron. After ceding first spot in the Coleman Medal last week, Cameron went ballistic on Saturday and booted nine goals (and five behinds) to jump past Ben Brown. His haul also garnered him 154 DS points.
As mentioned already, the Eagles messed up. They practically had a double chance sewn up, now? They play the Bombers in an elimination final. Will they still win? Yes, and probably soundly. But the victory means so much less. As is typical, the match was a tactical masterclass from Al Clarkson and, as such, the DS points did not reflect the match winners. AA squad member Andrew Gaff was the top scoring player with 129 DS points and 37 touches but his influence did not match that of Hawks forward, Tim O’Brien who booted four goals and managed 78 DS points.
Nobody will want to play the Doggies in the finals, least the Giants. After being thrashed by the Dogs by 10 goals two weeks ago, and losing a heart breaking prelim to them in 2016, Footscray certainly have GWS’ number. And the Dogs showed their credentials with a confident victory over Adelaide. The Bont was the most influential player on the ground with 31 touches, a goal and 125 DS points. Matt Crouch topped the DS rankings, though, with 150 points from 47 touches and a snag.
Despite the 27-point final margin, the match-up between the Tigers and Lions was hotly contested. And the Lions showed more than enough to say they may very well beat the Tigers in week one of finals at the Gabba. If the Tiges want to stop that from happening they will need to find a way to contain Lachie Neale who accumulated 51 touches on the vast expanses of the ‘G and top scored for the round with 162 DS points.
And in the most extraneous game in the history of the AFL, Port made easy work of a Freo side that just wanted the season to be over. Such a nothing match was reflected in DS scores with only five players topping the triple-figure mark. At the top of the pile was Ollie Wines with 123 DS points from 33 touches and eight tackles.
This shot from Robbie Gray told the story of the day.
Written by Brin DugganAFL, AFLW, BBL, Latest, NRL