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The Friday night match between Essendon and St Kilda finished as expected, with a significant win to Essendon that improved the club’s percentage and kept their faint hopes of a finals berth alive.
The quality of the game was surprisingly good, but the lowlight was the injury to Essendon’s Brendon Goddard. Goddard, the second-most experienced player in the league at present, equalled the games tallies of Leigh Matthews, Drew Petrie, Corey Enright and Justin Madden, but the extent of the injury and the uncertainty around him playing on in 2019 may mean that he finishes his career in equal 23rd position.
From a goal-kicking viewpoint Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti was the standout, kicking five goals. He is not yet a top-100 goal-kicker for the Bombers, but it would be a fair bet to suggest he will be, all things being equal.
The newest addition to the Dons’ top-100 goal-kickers list, Orazio Fantasia, was the only Essendon player on the top 100 list to goal. He scored two, and this saw him move substantially up the list. Cale Hooker kicked one and is now only a handful of goals away from becoming an Essendon top-100 player.
For the Saints, Jack Billings’s two goals saw him make St Kilda’s top-100 goal-scorers list at the expense of Legend Wels Eicke and Mick Dwyer, who were tied in the 100th spot.
The curtain-raiser Saturday game – one of the most important for the round – saw Hawthorn run out winners over Geelong despite the typical late charge by the Cats.
A no-goal first quarter by the Hawks was overcome by a great team effort that could not be matched by Geelong, who relied too much on the brilliance of Patrick Dangerfield and Gary Ablett. The little master scored three goals, which was the standout performance of the game given the withdrawal of Jarryd Roughead before the match and the return of only one goal to Tom Hawkins meant that the battle of the power forwards was a non-event.
Luke Breust, Jack Gunston and Isaac Smith each kicked two goals for the Hawks, and Daniel Menzel kicked one for the Cats.
The third game of the round was the Jack Riewoldt show as the Tigers price for the flag shortened further against the hapless Suns. By quarter-time Riewoldt had already bested Adelaide and Fremantle heartthrob Tony Modra on the AFL top-100 goal-kickers list with four goals, and by the end of the game he had added the scalps of Stewart Loewe (St Kilda), Jonathan Brown (Brisbane) and Kelvin Templeton (Footscray and Melbourne).
Riewoldt also elevated himself to near the top of this year’s goal-kicking list. The only other AFL top 100 goal-scorers to score more than one goal were Gary Ablett (3) and Lance Franklin (2), so it was an outstanding effort.
Ablett’s three goals took him past Tony Morwood, who started at South Melbourne and moved with the club to Sydney, finishing in 1989.
Potential top 100 enry Taylor Walker scored only one goal, and with Adelaide to miss the finals, he has only two games to score the six goals he needs to join the elite.