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Fox Footy report card for Round 20, highlights, grades, every club coach press conference, stats, analysis

In yet another action-packed weekend of footy, some clubs enhanced their reputation, while others will be lamenting a costly performance.

It includes three sides who’ll be particularly bullish about their form moving forward, while two teams will have a long week of soul searching.

Every team’s performance analysed and graded in foxfooty.com.au’s Round 20 Report Card.

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ADELAIDE

The Crows may be out of the finals race, but they aren’t done with the finals. Their big upset win over Carlton has rocked the race for post-season, with Carlton now in danger of missing out altogether. The performance in front of their home fans was nothing short of impressive, with players showing plenty of grit and determination to firstly stay with the Blues and then push on when the match went on the line. Adelaide may have been down in hit-outs (-8) and clearances (-4), but they were able to lock the ball inside their front half with 15 tackles inside 50.

In the votes

Ben Keays was the game changer for the Crows. He had 21 disposals and three goals, but it was his ability to get to the back of contests and make the opposition pay that impressed. His determination to get forward and help out saw him rack up 11 score involvements. Taylor Walker was also crucial with three goals, also from 21 disposals. Darcy Fogarty stepped up to take big contested grabs and had two goals to his name. Josh Worrell and Brodie Smith had 25 intercepts between them, as the reliance on Jordan Dawson has now seemingly been solved by the Crows coaching staff.

Room for improvement

Inaccuracy is once again an issue for the Crows. Despite a dominant first quarter, it was the Blues who led as Adelaide couldn’t make it count on the scoreboard. The goal kicking issue is a theme for 2022, and something coach Matthew Nicks has already spoken about addressing. Reilley O’Brien was also heavily penalised against the Blues, coughing up three free kicks.

Grade

A+

Crows surprise Blues at Adelaide Oval | 01:31

BRISBANE LIONS

The Lions could hardly have been more impressive in the first half against Richmond … then the second half happened. What a hammer blow this loss is to the side’s hopes of a top-two finish, let alone the top four. There weren’t any horror performances, but the side just ran out of pace in the second half, which wasn’t helped by Zac Bailey’s injury bringing ruckman Darcy Fort into the game via sub. It’s going to take their best footy from here to get their premiership hopes back on track.

In the votes

Lachie Neale played well all day along with Hugh McCluggage, while Keidean Coleman continues to shine in 2022. Joe Daniher kicked three goals in the first quarter and Eric Hipwood had four for the day. Overall, there weren’t many players who had their colours lowered, but rather a whole-of-team collapse in the second half against the Richmond onslaught.

Room for improvement

Everything after they led by 42 points in the second quarter. The Lions just wilted under pressure after being so clean and switched on in the opening half. Chris Fagan admitted post-game the side made a mistake in going in with Darcy Fort as sub. Joe Daniher was barely sighted after a three-goal first quarter, while the defenders weren’t given much chance at times with the way the ball was coming in from further up the ground. It was a tale of two halves in so many ways, so it’s hard to know how to grade this one.

Grade

C+

‘Put a line through them’ | 03:05

CARLTON

The Blues blew any chance at top four with the shock loss to Adelaide, and are now fighting just to play finals in 2022 – despite sitting in the top eight all year long. In fact, Carlton have spent just five weeks outside of the top six, and could now be bundled out of the race altogether with matches to come against Brisbane, Melbourne and Collingwood. The Blues were simply beaten at their own game by the Crows, as they finished -14 in contested ball and -18 for inside 50s. But Carlton have themselves to blame as missed tackles and turnovers – a whopping 89 – cost them a shot at victory.

In the votes

Patrick Cripps did everything he could for the Blues other than kick the winning score. He finished with 41 disposals, 13 clearances, six tackle, almost 600m gained, six score involvements and six intercepts. Adam Saad did his best from half back with 23 touches – nine of those coming from intercepts. Jack Silvagni may have made headlines after being dropped to medi sub this week, but when given his chance, he showed why he is such an important part of the Blues line up. He had 13 disposals – at 92% efficiency, four tackles, three score involvements and a goal in just a half of footy.

Room for improvement

The big duo Harry McKay and Charlie Curnow just couldn’t find their groove at Adelaide Oval. While Curnow had two goals to his name – both came in the first half and when the Crows pressed in the final term, he couldn’t get near it. McKay fared worse with just seven touches and a goal. Jacob Weitering may have had 10 intercepts, but he finished with just 11 touches and couldn’t stop the run of goals that came from the Crows’ smalls.

Grade

D

COLLINGWOOD

This side is something else. It’s not great for the heartrate of Collingwood fans, but these close wins are great for Collingwood in the short-term given how high on the ladder the Pies sit despite being written off by so many at the start of the season. The ability of the side to either chase down a lead or hold onto one continues to astound, even though we should be used to it by now. It feels like whatever we’ve written in recent weeks can just be copied and pasted into this section at this point. The Pies keep on keeping on.

In the votes

Darcy Cameron played yet another great game in the ruck, making it very hard for Mason Cox to stay in the side whenever Brodie Grundy is fit and firing. Jack Ginnivan kicked three first-half goals, while Jordan De Goey was another who thrived in the opening half. Josh Daicos played another great game in a season full of them. Darcy Moore was fantastic for much of the day against the Power talls.

Room for improvement

Ideally the Pies don’t put themselves in these tight games, but they keep winning them so we can’t be too critical. There were periods where Port Adelaide scored rapidly, which led to that frantic finish. The Pies were the better side for most of the day though.

Grade

A

‘It’s taken a toll on my mental health’ | 02:05

ESSENDON

The Bombers may have been playing for pride against the bottom-placed team on Sunday, but that shouldn’t take away from the fact the team put in one of the most well-rounded efforts we’ve seen in 2022. Essendon has been criticised for their inability to defend early this season; but against the Roos, they showed plenty both as a zone and in one-on-one battles. The forward line fired and despite missing Dylan Shiel in the midfield as a late withdrawal, the Bombers won enough ball to get the four points with a 48-point win.

In the votes

Mason Redman was simply outstanding against the Roos, with his first 21 kicks going at 100% efficiency. It wasn’t until late in the final term when his first kick missed the mark. Together with fellow defender Nick Hind, the duo rebounded the ball from defence into attack with ease, showing plenty of promise of what’s to come in 2023. Jake Stringer was the difference in the match, with five goals from his 14 disposals. But it was his intent around the footy that impressed most, as he loomed dangerous all match and finished with seven tackles. Zach Merrett also impressed with 38 disposals, 10 tackles, eight clearances and a goal.

Room for improvement

The Bombers were well beaten at the stoppage and that’s something the side will need to address in the final few rounds. The Roos were just hungrier out of the middle, although Essendon were missing their clearance king in Dylan Shiel. Archie Perkins was also quiet with just nine touches.

Grade

A

Bombers inflict more misery on Kangaroos | 01:11

FREMANTLE

Are the Dockers still a premiership contender? More than a few are writing them off after Friday night’s performance solidified a view they simply cannot score and have been figured out by rival clubs. The Dockers’ slow ball movement was picked apart by Melbourne on turnover and Fremantle just never looked even remotely close to a win from the opening bounce onwards. It seems like the rain might be Fremantle’s Achilles heel, but the problems could well run deeper than that.

In the votes

Andrew Brayshaw was great yet again and continues to play at a high level that has him in Brownlow Medal contention. James Aish did a great job on Clayton Oliver. Will Brodie finished with 35 disposals and Luke Ryan had some good moments with the ball in hand, as did Hayden Young.

Room for improvement

Fremantle just don’t know how to score at the moment. Their forward line is listless, with Matt Taberner well and truly out of form. Nat Fyfe’s absence just took away any real dare or threat up forward. Rory Lobb was barely sighted for much of the night as well. They were deliberate with the ball and played a high-possession game, but still lost the inside 50 count by 20.

Grade

F

GEELONG CATS

The Cats used an eight-goal blitz in the third term against the Dogs in Saturday night’s win to send a scary message to the competition of how scintillating their football is full flight, although it was far from a four-quarter performance. It saw Geelong stay a game clear in first place on a special night for the club where it celebrated Joel Selwood’s 350th match in style, with the skipper embracing with fans post match in specials scenes down at the Cattery. Selwood could well have his best chance yet to become a premiership captain in 2022 ahead of Geelong’s friendly run home against St Kilda, Gold Coast and West Coast as a top-two finish looms.

In the votes

Patrick Dangerfield led Geelong’s charge in the third quarter with his burst play through the midfield, finishing with 26 touches and one goal. Isaac Smith was brilliant as usual on the wing, racking up 26 disposals with one goal and eight marks, while Cam Guthrie had 25 possessions and two goals. Tyson Stengle, Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron (two goals each) were all lively and provided a spark up forward.

Room for improvement

As impressive as Geelong’s third quarter was, the Dogs actually outscored them in the other three quarters combined. The Cats looked somewhat daunted by the momentous occasion of Selwood’s 350th early, and they’d hope to not to play with the same jitters when they’re next on the big stage in September.

Grade

B

Cats down Dogs in Selwood’s 350th | 02:21

GOLD COAST SUNS

The Suns equation was simple – win and the very slim mathematical chance at finals would remain alive. And despite coughing up seven goals in the final quarter, the Suns got the job done. Gold Coast may have had 66 less disposals, but they finished +17 in inside 50s as their ball use was much more efficient than the Eagles. The Suns’ midfield was brutal when it mattered, and finished +14 in clearances and +15 in contested possessions. Gold Coast’s ability to stream forward and get in behind their opponents paid off against West Coast.

In the votes

Mabior Chol continues to shine as a Sun with an equal career-high five goals. Izak Rankine made a welcome return to form with three goals from his 12 disposals – and could have had a fourth if not for a very minuscule graze of the post. Touk Miller racked up 31 disposals, despite appearing hampering at times by a shoulder complaint. Sam Collins put his body on the line repeatedly in defence and was rewarded with nine intercepts. Nick Holman’s figures may only show seven disposals, but he laid four tackles inside 50 and was a key part of the Suns being able to lock the ball in their front half and score early in the contest.

Room for improvement

Levi Casboult drew the unlucky short straw of getting Tom Barrass. And while his fellow big forward Mabior Chol carved up, Casbult was left to content with West Coast’s number one defender. He finished with just the one goal from six touches. The Suns are yet to find the best spot to play Jack Lukosius as he finished with 13 touches and two behinds. Matt Rowell had a quiet day with just 19 disposals.

Grade

B

Suns keep finals hope alive | 01:25

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

As good as the Swans were on Saturday, the Giants were hapless and woeful, going down by 73 points — their biggest Sydney derby loss since 2015. This Giants outfit has now won just five games for the season to sit 16th. It’s a horrible predicament for a list still laden with so much talent, prompting interim coach Mark McVeigh to lash out post-game. McVeigh said the team “embarrassed our club” and questioned whether some of his players had “checked out”.

In the votes

McVeigh said post-game only eight players “went to the wall” and fought through until the end of the game. One of them was Sam Taylor, who was enormous on Lance Franklin. While Franklin still managed three goals, Taylor was enormous, finishing with 21 disposals, 10 marks, 13 intercepts and seven rebound 50s to strengthen his All-Australian case. Harry Perryman, Josh Kelly, Callan Ward and Lachie Whitfield all found enough of the ball, while Jesse Hogan and Toby Greene kept presenting all game.

Room for improvement

Where do you start? McVeigh was particularly disappointed with the Giants’ midfield as a whole and the lack of workrate and defensive effort. That led to thumpings in the disposal (-117), mark (-42), inside 50 (-33) and contested possession (-19) counts. But the fact the Giants were -24 tackles when the Swans had so much more of the footy was incredibly damning. Tim Taranto, Jacob Hopper and Tom Green were all so far below their usually high standards, while Braydon Preuss was ill-disciplined throughout the game. They’ve produced some horror shows this year, the Giants, but that one topped the list.

Grade

F

GWS Giants press conference | 10:43

HAWTHORN

The Hawks manage a pass mark – but only when taking into account their final quarter fightback despite being essentially two men down on the bench. The Hawks were forced to activate their sub before half time and then lost Mitch Lewis to injury after that. Jacob Koschitzke then bravely battled on despite being unable to run, given his side was already down to three rotations on the bench. Despite being beaten in every stat that counts, except inside 50s, the Hawks kicked just one less goal than St Kilda in the loss.

In the votes

Jai Newcombe may have had just 21 disposals, but he fought through a tough tag and finished with two goals for his efforts. Ben McEvoy is starting to find some form, after his lengthy spell with a neck injury, giving Hawks midfield first use with 26 disposals and 14 possessions. Emerson Jeka showed promise coming on as the medi sub, taking three big grabs. Jack Scrimshaw was efficient with his 15 touches, finishing with two goals.

Room for improvement

The efficiency inside 50 is what cruelled the Hawks’ hopes for victory, going at just 35% – well down on their 46% average for season 2022. After his heroics in Tasmania, Jack Gunston struggled for an impact to finish with eight touches and the one goal.

Grade

C

MELBOURNE

We saw the Dees get on a run at the end of last year and Friday’s win over Fremantle could be a similar turning point for the side in 2022. Melbourne was fantastic and from the opening bounce and steamrolled a side that did the same to them on their home deck the last time these two sides met. It was a commanding performance in virtually all areas and sets them up for a frenetic finish to the season.

In the votes

Jack Viney is playing the best footy of his career and yet again cracked in and set the tone for the side. Clayton Oliver was blanketed by James Aish, but Christian Petracca stepped up to fill the void, playing some great forward-half footy. Angus Brayshaw was sent into his first centre-bounce for the year and thrived in a more midfield-heavy role. Bayley Fritsch kicked three goals in the opening half while Kysaiah Pickett had moments of brilliance yet again. Harrison Petty locked down his direct opponent all night.

Room for improvement

Honestly? Not much. It was a complete performance by Melbourne. Luke Jackson is struggling to have the impact on games he showed us he could at the start of the season, but he was more than covered for by Max Gawn and company. Sam Weideman is really struggling to sink his teeth into a game.

Grade

A+

Demons demolish Dockers in Perth | 02:09

NORTH MELBOURNE

The Roos may be anchored at the bottom of the ladder, but they’ve been able to show patches of fight under caretaker coach Leigh Adams. Unfortunately against the Bombers on Sunday, North Melbourne just couldn’t get their structure right and allowed Essendon to rebound far too easily from defence. The Roos finished a massive +20 in clearances and +15 in contested possessions against the Bombers, but kicked just nine goals for all their dominance. The total 78 turnovers didn’t help their cause as skill errors let the side down too often.

In the votes

Jy Simpkin was a beast through the middle of the ground with 41 disposals. He had six clearances and seven score involvements for the day. Fellow young gun Luke Davies-Uniacke was also impressive with his 23 touches coming with an almost 93% efficiency. Cam Zurhaar kept the Roos in the contest in the first half with three goals. He added his fourth late in the match. Jaidyn Stephenson had one of his best days for the club, after copping some hefty criticism in recent weeks. He had 34 touches, eight intercepts, five marks and three tackles as he put his body on the line on multiple occasions; although his disposal efficiency wasn’t the best at 76%.

Room for improvement

The Roos need to find a way to get Nick Larkey involved in the game. The big forward had just three disposals to the third term as the ball was regularly sat on his head, allowing the Bombers defence to get back in numbers. Larkey had a wayward day with the radar, kicking three behind from his chances. Callum Coleman-Jones didn’t really impact as a ruck or forward. Jack Ziebell didn’t hit the scoreboard despite racking up 16 disposals playing as a forward. The team defence was non existent as the Bombers were able to repeatedly walk the ball out of defence.

Grade

D

PORT ADELAIDE

There won’t be many better teams that finish outside of the top eight than Port Adelaide by the end of the year. They were desperately close yet again but just can’t win the close games like they did last year. Credit should go to them for turning their season around to a point where they were in finals contention, but at the end of the day this was a side coming off a preliminary final run and far, far more was expected of them in 2022.

In the votes

Connor Rozee has been a great story in the back stretch of the season since moving into the midfield more predominantly, while Zak Butters has also shown a lot of promise. Travis Boak started like a house on fire before dying down in the second half, while Ollie Wines had good moments too. Jase Burgoyne played his best AFL game yet.

Room for improvement

Collingwood got itself out to some significant leads at stages before Port Adelaide fought its way back. It’s been patches of footy that have hurt the Power this year. Charlie Dixon had very little influence on the game after such a great display last week.

Grade

B-

Round 20 MRO news | 00:43

RICHMOND

Their season looked done 42 points down against the Lions, but the Tigers finally woke up and cranked up the pressure dial, putting in a second half that was as overwhelming as the first half was underwhelming. This keeps the Tigers well and truly alive in the finals race, but more importantly could be the kick-starter for their belief they can compete with and beat the best sides in the competition.

In the votes

Shai Bolton kicked two goals but had chances at so many more and could’ve finished with at least a handful. Trent Cotchin willed himself into the game, while Tom Lynch kicked four goals and was a force to be reckoned with in the air. Perhaps most impressive was Noah Cumberland, who booted five goals after such a difficult finish last week. Toby Nankervis dominated from a clearance standpoint compared to his direct opponent.

Room for improvement

Going 42 points down against any opponent isn’t ideal and the Lions were scoring at will. Admittedly their accuracy helped make things seem worse than they perhaps were, but it still wasn’t a four-quarter performance from the Tigers. Losing Dylan Grimes to a hamstring injury will sting, so the side will have to lift to fill the void. They fell short in the contested possession count even though they made inroads after half-time.

Grade

A

Tigers claw back to claim stunning win | 03:02

ST KILDA

The Saints needed a win over Hawthorn to keep their finals hopes alive, and they got the job done – but not without an almighty scare in the final term. St Kilda finished -7 in the inside 50 count but went at 64% efficiency – well above their average of 48%. The Saints simply got their hands to the footy first, winning +15 clearances and +13 contested possessions. Only inaccuracy kept the Hawks in the match as St Kilda finished with 10.15 for their efforts.

In the votes

Dan Hannebery quickly became this season’s feel good story when he made his return from injury. The midfielder has managed just 15 games in four years at the Saints due to ongoing soft tissue injuries. But in his first appearance for 2022, Hannebery showed he’s still got the poise and precision that made him one of the best when at Sydney. He finished with 27 disposals and five clearances. Callum Wilkie put his name forward for All Australian honours as he was involved in everything down back. Wilkie may have had a quiet day stats-wise, but he was easily the Saints’ most important player on the part. Rowan Marshall stepped up in the absence of injured veteran Paddy Ryder with a whopping 30 disposals, 10 intercepts, 35 hit-outs and seven clearances.

Room for improvement

It’s not often rising stars like Max King have a bad day. King may have gathered 18 touches, but he just couldn’t put his efforts on the scoreboard, finishing with 2.5. Cooper Sharman was quiet as a small forward with just eight possessions, while Jarrod Lienert was sloppy with his discipline, coughing up three free kicks. Coach Brett Ratten will not be pleased with the final quarter effort where the Saints kicked just one goal to five.

Grade

B

SYDNEY SWANS

They’re in the top four after arguably their best four-quarter performance of the season, increasing their lead over the Giants at every change to run out 73-point winners. The Swans played with a ruthless edge without the ball, leading to breathtaking dominance with it as they moved from coast to coast at breakneck speed. Underestimate the Swans at your own peril, because they are the real deal.

In the votes

Luke Parker told Fox Footy post-game he’s just “trucking along”. He sold himself very short. The 254-game veteran starred again on Saturday to claim his third consecutive Brett Kirk medal – and fifth in his career – finishing with game-high disposals (34), contested possessions (16), clearances (6) and score involvements (8). Errol Gulden played arguably his best game for the Swans, booting two goals from 33 disposals, 12 marks and six score involvements, while James Rowbottom laid a whopping 13 tackles to go with 23 touches and a goal. Nick Blakey also starred with 21 disposals, 11 intercepts and a late goal. Isaac Heeney, Sam Reid and Lance Franklin all kicked three goals each.

Room for improvement

You’re a harsh judge to pick holes in that Swans performance.

Grade

A+

Super Swans clobber sub-par Giants | 01:02

WEST COAST EAGLES

While the Eagles started slowly against the Suns, they certainly turned it on in the second half for Andrew Gaff’s 250th milestone match. West Coast pushed Gold Coast all the way to the final siren before falling just three points shy of a side that remains in mathematical contention for finals. Despite finishing +66 in disposals, the Eagles were -17 in inside 50s as the side was guilty early of overpossessing the footy. But the big improvement was their efficiency inside 50 – at 65% which is well above their season average of 45%, even without star veteran Josh Kennedy down in attack leading the way.

In the votes

Jack Darling was left to fly the flag solo as the key forward, with Oscar Allen not playing in 2023 and Josh Kennedy rested for the trip east. And he was brilliant from the opening bounce. Darling kicked an equal career-high six goals to drag the Eagles back into the contest. He finished with 14 disposals and eight marks. Tim Kelly bounced back from last week’s disappointing four-disposal effort with a team-high 28 touches, more than 600m gained and seven clearances. Tom Barrass was a rock down back with 19 disposals and 11 marks against Levi Casboult.

Room for improvement

Young Brady Hough had one of his quietest days as an Eagle with just 11 disposals. But with Luke Shuey playing more across half back, the reliance on Hough to bring the ball out of defence wasn’t as high. Bailey Williams didn’t have an impact with just six disposals and 11 hit-outs. He had the chance to put the Eagles in front in the final term and couldn’t convert. He finished with two behinds for the day. Jai Culley’s dirty day ended early with a hamstring issue. But he can expect some Match Review scrutiny for his stray elbow on Sun Noah Anderson.

Grade

C

West Coast Press Conference | 04:42

WESTERN BULLDOGS

The Bulldogs’ season is fast slipping away from them after going down to Geelong at GMHBA Stadium despite a promising start to the game including a four goal to one opening quarter. But the Dogs were overwhelmed by the Cats’ eight-goal blitz in the third quarter that ultimately decided the game as they now sit outside the top eight ahead of clashes against the Dockers (Marvel Stadium), GWS (Marvel Stadium) and Hawthorn (UTAS Stadium) on the run home. Anything less than a top-eight finish would be a huge fail for the Dogs in a season they went into with lofty expectations.

In the votes

Josh Dunkley never stopped trying in the midfield, finishing the game with 25 disposals, two goals, six marks and six tackles. Ed Richards played one of his better games across half back with 28 touches and 11 marks, while Cody Weightman booted a game-high three goals.

Room for improvement

When the tide started turning in the third quarter, the Bulldogs had no answers for Geelong’s surge as their back six was constantly under siege and showed again how much it struggles to defend one-on-one. The Dogs also had some uncharacteristically quiet performances across the board including Aaron Naughton getting held goalless for just the second time this season.

Grade

C

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