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After the siren: Come on Tigers, make us believe

The 10: round 20's best moments Some huge highlights, what will be number one?

DEAR Richmond,

Well done on beating the Hawks on Sunday. It wasn't pretty, but at this stage of the year, you bank the four points, pray nobody else gets hurt and move on to next week. On that basis, it was mission accomplished.

And what a week it will be. Geelong at Geelong. A true Saturday afternoon spectacular. Forget about moving the game, even though you'd get double the crowd at the MCG. The Cats have earned some big games at home. They (and we!) have poured enough money into the Palace on Moorabool Street to make it so.

All you need do now is overcome some history. And some history it is. You haven't beaten Geelong in your last 12 attempts. It all started with that 157-point annihilation in 2007 and continued on from there. But you've turned over your entire list since then and indeed the only Richmond player to have been on a winning team at Simonds Stadium is your very own Josh Caddy.

WATCH: Caddy cashes in against the Hawks

You blunted the Hawks on Sunday with your pressure around the ball and then your outside run. And you had 28 scoring shots on day when Jack Riewoldt was again watching from the stands.

Jack will be back next week and the Catters will be vulnerable. They're venturing into uncharted waters here with Joel Selwood out of the side until at least the finals because of a leg injury. When was the last time they played such a big game without him? They're also coming off their worst defeat at home in 10 years. Ten years! 

Surely this is the week for Dustin Martin to run amok and seal the Brownlow once and for all in front of the ineligible Paddy Dangerfield and all his minions. You bat deeper in the midfield and you have the small forwards to put the frighteners into the Cats.

All roads will lead to Geelong this Saturday.

So, here's the deal Tigers. Speaking on behalf of the neutrals, looking for a team to follow this September, we would like it to be you. We would love it to be you. But we're not sure if we're ready to lend you our hearts just yet. Beat Geelong this Saturday, however, and perhaps we will be.

Yours in footy,

The After the Siren Nation

Finals come early for Saints, Demons

Sunday afternoon at Etihad Stadium didn't lack for entertainment as the Saints kept their finals hopes alive with a clutch comeback win over West Coast.

No criticism here of the Eagles turning the ball over late, which allowed the Saints to get the ball to Jack Billings who (for once) kicked straight and sealed the deal. West Coast trailed by two points with a minute to play and to quote Peter Ewin from the classic TV commentary of the 1977 Grand Final, "had to get a hurry on". 

WATCH: The thrilling final minutes of StK v WC

The Eagles have been poor in final quarters all season and on Sunday blew a 14-point lead. Adam Simpson defended his men afterwards, but St Kilda's work rate in the final 20 minutes was really impressive.

We've been measuring St Kilda against Melbourne pretty much all season and they clash again at the MCG on Sunday in what will be a virtual elimination final. It should be some game. 

Forecast the road to the flag with the AFL Ladder and Finals Predictor

Showdown calamity puts query on Ken

The 84-point winning margin to Adelaide in Sunday's Showdown – the biggest winning margin in any game between the two clubs – told us a bit about both the Crows and Port Adelaide.

The margin could have been far greater. Turn 18.22 into 22.18 and we're looking at a 100-point win, ridiculous for a game between first and fifth a month out from the finals.

The stats from this one verge on the ridiculous – 81 to 31 inside 50s – and the Crows are finding form at the right time of the season. They'll need to because their last three games against Essendon, Sydney and West Coast won't be easy. 

The run home: Tigers looms large, Eagles fall

Expect there to be clamour for Sam Jacobs to named the All Australian ruckman. He was superb on Sunday, winning the medal for best afield and having the better of Paddy Ryder, the All Australian ruck selection of many until now.

As for Port, you can only beat who they fixture you to play and say this much for the Power, they are consistent. They're consistently good against the weaker teams, consistently bad against the better clubs. And it's not a loss that will sit well with the Port powerbrokers, who for all their public utterances on the matter, have yet to offer that ironclad guarantee that Ken Hinkley will remain coach in the long term.

If Port can't bring the necessary hardness to the contest, especially a Showdown, that will be perceived in some quarters as a strike against the coach.

That one is now on our watch list.


What were they thinking?

We are taking nominations here at After the Siren for the 'brain fade of the week' and the nominations are flying in thick and fast.

From Friday night at Simonds Stadium we present both Tom Hawkins and Mitch Duncan. The Geelong pair – who really should both know better – are both facing Match Review Panel scrutiny. Hawkins for a jumper punch on Dane Rampe, and Duncan for the tummy tap on Tom Papley.

Duncan might get away with a fine, but Hawkins, who has already missed games this year due to suspension will likely be watching Saturday afternoon's huge game against Richmond from the grandstand. With Joel Selwood out for at least the next month, the Cats will needlessly be missing another weapon as the finals approach and what will irritate them about Hawkins is that he was really starting to find some form at the right end of the season.


Shane Mumford earns his nomination for electing to bump Max Gawn rather than tackle. The contact was with his shoulder to Gawn's head and he will also likely be missing for the crucial game against the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.

And Zach Merrett also faces an anxious Monday as the MRP assesses the emerging Bomber star's stomach punch on Carlton's Lachie Plowman. Depending on the grading, he might get away with the fine, but Essendon coach John Worsfold spoke for all on Saturday evening when he said. "You just wonder why it happens. What are they thinking?" 


Nine things we learned from round 20

Beware the Orange Tsunami

The 2017 AFL coaches survey appeared here and in the AFL Record this week, and when asked who will win the flag this year, more coaches (30 per cent) plumped for Greater Western Sydney than any other team.

Despite issues with injuries and ill-discipline, there remains strong belief that the Giants are the team to beat for the flag if they can get themselves right and Saturday's performance at Manuka Oval would have sent some chills through the other flag aspirants.

With Jonathon Patton and Jeremy Cameron watching on, GWS kicked 8.6, its best-ever first quarter score to lead Melbourne by 30 points at the first change. The game was effectively over.

Now, the Giants have won their last six at Manuka and eight out of their last nine games so they play the ground well, but their first quarter was scintillating, replete with brilliant ball movement from defence and midfielders Dylan Shiel, Stephen Coniglio (haven't they missed him?) Lachie Whitfield and Josh Kelly all hitting the scoreboard.


Without the big two playing, the Giants still held a 10-5 edge in marks inside 50 for the game and they smashed the Demons in clearances (60-43) and stoppages (44-34).

After quarter-time, the backline went to work and the Demons managed just 12 scoring shots from 55 inside-50 entries for the game.

It was a timely piece of muscle flexing from the Giants who are now second on the ladder and it dumped the Demons from the eight, with some work to do to get back in.

Fantasy form watch: First final brings more carnage

Other observations

1. You have to admire the ambition of the Brisbane Lions and their transparency, leaving a few players at home last week for the long trip to Perth and bringing them back for Saturday's Gabba clash with the Western Bulldogs, which they clearly thought they could win. And they nearly did, coming back from five goals down to lead in the third term before the Bulldogs came at them late for a 14-point win. The Lions played some good football in the middle two quarters and as the confidence and self-belief grows over the next couple of years, there is clearly the makings of a pretty good team.

2. Easton Wood's hamstring tear is a huge blow for the Dogs, who are in the eight for now and controlling their own finals destiny. But they'll need to chart that course without Wood, a fantastic leader in the backline and a player whose versatility is a weapon for Luke Beveridge. He probably won't play again in the home and away season, and like last year the Dogs will need every day of the extended break between round 23 and the finals to get another key player back for the finals, assuming they make it.

3. Those among the 58,562 fans at the MCG on Saturday who were most expecting a surprise Carlton win? That would be the Essendon fans, who shifted uneasily in their seats for large parts of the afternoon and who could only relax once Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti's running goal finally put the Blues to bed. Carlton's middle two quarters were pretty good and it was only fatigue in the end that cost them the game. It wasn't the greatest game ever between these two bitter rivals but it was proof once again that form counts for nought when they do meet.

WATCH: The final minutes of Ess v Carl

4. Credit to Brodie Grundy, Collingwood and Channel Seven for an honest interview after Saturday night's game during which Grundy's tackle on North forward Ben Brown ended up leaving the Kangas spearhead concussed and in hospital. "I'm a bit of a lover," Grundy declared and you believe him when he says there was no malice intended in the tackle. Not that that means anything when it comes to the MRP's deliberations on Monday.  


5. So that's Hawthorn done for the year. The loss to Richmond on Sunday probably wasn't all that surprising – the youthful Hawks have been up for a while and the absence of so much key talent was going to come back to bite them at some stage. But it would seem that they have already bottomed out and the recalibration, as the coach calls it, is proceeding at pace. They've found a few this year this year, with Ryan Burton, Blake Hardwick, Daniel Howe, Kaiden Brand, Tim O'Brien and now, Teia Miles all demonstrating they can play at the level. Add Cyril Rioli, Ben Stratton, James Frawley, Paul Puopolo, Grant Birchall and Jaeger O'Meara to that side and they'll be in the finals mix once more 2018. Meanwhile, all eyes will be on Windy Hill next Saturday as O'Meara resumes at VFL level. He needs a clean run at it for the next few weeks to eliminate a big question mark over the Hawks heading into the summer and into next season.

Around the state leagues: Who starred in your club's twos?

6. Nat Fyfe. Keep him safe for the 2018 Brownlow.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs