The main achievement of the truncated Round 12 of six games was the effort of umpire Simon Meredith.
Meredith – who umpired the Fremantle versus Western Bulldogs game at Optus Oval in Perth with ‘Razor’ Ray Chamberlain and Nathan Williamson, who broke into the top 100 umpires of all time earlier in this season – umpired his 400th game, becoming the seventh umpire to achieve this target.
Meredith’s total already includes 36 finals and six grand finals and next week – all things being equal – he will match the tally of Stephen McBurney, who retired in 2013.
On Friday night the Demons showed they are serious about this year’s final with a come-from-behind win against the Lions. Despite missing the well performed Ed Langdon, the Demons proved they have the goal-scoring ability to match it with all attacking teams.
Among their team they now have five of the Demons’ all-time top 100 goal scorers and three of these were multiple goal scorers in the game.
The born-again Tom McDonald kicked three goals and as a result moved rapidly up the Demons’ goal-scoring list, leaving Brownlow Medalist and club hero Jim Stynes, Richmond reject for being too small Ricky Jackson and full back and occasional full forward Ray Biffen in his wake and drawing level with 1964 premiership player Barrie Vagg and Stan ‘Bunny’ Wittman, a member of the 1926 flag side.
The irresistible Christian Petracca kicked two and eased past ex-Collingwood rover Henry Coles and ex-Saint Harry Moyes, another member of the 1926 grand final side.
Bayley Fritsch moved ahead of Ron Barassi Senior, who was killed at Tobruk in World War Two, and Stephen ‘Stinga’ Tingay. Alex Neal-Bullen moved to within two goals of joining the goal-kicking elite at the Demons.
In the Sydney-St Kilda game, one player from each side achieved a goal-scoring milestone. Sydney’s current co-captain Josh Kennedy scored his 150th goal in a star-studded career including a premiership with the Swans.
Despite not being considered a good shot for goal, St Kilda’s Jack Billings brought up his 100th goal, leaving his two-year younger teammate Jade Gresham – who played his first game at exactly the same age as Billings – sitting on 99 goals.
Meanwhile, in the same game, Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin closed in on the sixth greatest goal scorer of all time Jack Titus and in the Dreamtime classic in Perth, Jack Riewoldt closed in on the 700-goal target and Fremantle’s Matthew Pavlich.
Collingwood’s Jordan de Goey also achieved the 150-goal milestone with his one goal, but there is no doubt the star of the show in the Magpies’ win over Adelaide was Jamie Elliott.
Returning from a long injury spell, Elliott kicked six goals to make him the leading current goal scorer at Collingwood, overtaking his captain Scott Pendlebury.
Adelaide’s Taylor ‘Tex’ Walker scored only two goals and as a result didn’t move any higher up the AFL top 100 goal scorers this week, in sharp contrast to all the other weeks when he climbed an impressive 17 places up the AFL top 100 goal kickers list.
Collingwood’s impressive Trent Bianco kicked his maiden goal in his second game, and Eagle Luke Foley scored his first goal in a match where Luke Ryan equaled his personal best of four goals.
Richmond’s decisive win settled the final eight and any dreams the other seven clubs had of not needing to beat the Tigers to win the flag were shattered. Meanwhile, Nathan Buckley’s chance may be a bit more than Buckley’s chance of coaching the Magpies next year.