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Finals on the line out west: AFL Sunday and Monday in Round 21

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Roar Guru
7th August, 2021
3

There are four games left after Saturday’s round, and except for the also-ran play-off between the two clubs that have ended their association with their long-term coaches in 2021, all involve a gonabee and a wannabee with plenty to prove about their desire to be there at finals time.

The first game between Hawthorn and Collingwood should be a display of future talent as both sides aim to run out the season on a positive note. Injury has robbed both sides of all their top-100 veteran drawcards except for the current greatest game player, Shaun Burgoyne.

Burgoyne now sits at No. 3 on the list of AFL top 100 game players after lengthy stints at Port Adelaide and Hawthorn. At both clubs he kicked over 100 goals, and if he had maintained his goal-kicking average per game after the move to Hawthorn, he would appear among the AFL top 100 goal scorers with two of his current teammates, Luke Breust and Jack Gunston.

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Neither Breust nor Gunston is playing in this battle of the birds. Breust has had a reasonable season so far, playing all 19 games and kicking 33 goals to move up the all-time AFL top 100 goal-kicking list to level with Bill Brownless (Geelong) and Mark LeCras (West Coast Eagles).

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Gunston, however, has had been almost non-existent this year, playing only one game and sitting in the hot seat in position 100. He’s lucky that, unlike last season, there’s no-one just on the cusp of scoring 400 goals with good form and an injury-free year. Tom Lynch would need 20 more goals to unseat him, and he has only three games (and no finals) to do it.

Collingwood champion Scott Pendlebury, who sits at No. 4 among the current game players on the list, is the No. 1 game player at Collingwood but will be missing for the remainder of the season.

To Game 2, and though form has already tipped the scales in favour of the Western Bulldogs, the inclusion of Adam Treloar and the omission of Bombers Dyson Heppell and Kyle Langford should tilt them even further and give the Bulldogs milestone players – Josh Bruce, 150 AFL games (14 with GWS and 99 with St Kilda), and Zane Cordy, 100 AFL and club games – more reason to celebrate in what will be the first encounter between these two coaches.

The omission in the Fremantle-Brisbane game is a significant one: current Lions Brownlow Medalist Lachie Neale. Alex Pearce isn’t an insignificant inclusion for the Dockers, but is it enough to give Fremantle a good chance at home? Maybe, especially with David Mundy moving to within one game of the great Matthew Pavlich, Fremantle’s greatest ever game player.

Finally to Monday’s clash between West Coast and Melbourne, the big loss is tough on-baller Jack Viney. Two games in two days for the West Australians, with both home sides just hanging in the eight, should cause some excitement in WA if Melbourne are on form. As a sign of their increasing maturity, the Demons would be celebrating milestones for three of their home-grown players if they were all to get a game: Alex Neal-Bullen (100 games) is picked in the team, but both Aaron vandenBerg (50 games) and Sam Weideman (50 games) have travelled over to Perth as emergencies and no doubt will be hoping to at least get the job of medical substitute.

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