Upset losses have plunged Port Adelaide and Collingwood deeper into crisis, only five weeks after their AFL seasons seemed so full of promise.
After round 12, Port were two games clear on top of the ladder and Collingwood were fourth.
But since then they have lost four out of their five games.
The Magpies were a rabble on Sunday at the MCG as Essendon took them apart and scored a 64-point win.
The 16.7 (103) to 5.9 (39) win put the Bombers in the top eight for the first time since round four.
They are seventh, one spot above Collingwood.
Earlier in the day at Etihad Stadium, Richmond took their first big scalp in a disappointing season when they held off the Power to win by 20 points.
The 19.12 (126) to 16.10 (106) result meant Port dropped out of the top four, with Geelong taking their place.
Also on Sunday, Fremantle took second place from Hawthorn on percentage with a 21.10 (136) to 9.6 (60) pummelling of Greater Western Sydney in Perth.
Asked where Collingwood lost the game, angry coach Nathan Buckley said “everywhere”.
It rivalled the 70-point loss to Fremantle in round one as the Magpies’ worst performance of the season.
The most damning feature of the game is that Essendon, who started underdogs, simply outworked them.
Maligned Bombers key position player Jake Carlisle had his best game of the season, taking 19 marks and kicking four goals.
“We couldn’t get enough blokes behind the ball to defend when they went forward – we couldn’t get enough blokes in front of the ball when we had it,” Buckley said.
“So we were outworked, out-hustled through the contest.
“We were particularly disappointed with our inability to match contested ball.”
And when Collingwood managed to win possession, they often butchered the ball.
Buckley said that had been a problem over the last few weeks.
“That’s like water dripping on a stone – it gets you,” Buckley said.
By contrast, the sky is the limit for the Bombers.
Asked what his team might be capable of this season, coach Mark Thompson said “who knows?”.
Gold Coast were the other big losers this weekend, dropping out of the top eight for the first time since round five.
Their surprise 28-point loss to the Western Bulldogs in Cairns raises the obvious speculation of “no Gaz, no Gold Coast”.
Captain Gary Ablett had a shoulder reconstruction last week, ending his season.
Hawthorn started the round on Friday night with an outstanding two-goal win in Adelaide against the Crows.
Next up for the Hawks is an enthralling clash on July 26 in the split round against top side Sydney.
The Swans equalled the club’s winning streak record of 12 on Saturday night when they belted Carlton at the SCG by 71 points.
North Melbourne improved by one place to sixth thanks to a 59-point win in Hobart over St Kilda, while West Coast beat Brisbane by 12 points at the Gabba and Geelong belted Melbourne by 66 points at the MCG.
Snapshot of the round
THEY SAID IT: “We apologise, he apologises, and it was a very bad moment last night on TV.” – Channel Seven’s AFL Game Day host Hamish McLachlan comments on Sunday following co-commentator Brian Taylor’s outburst on Saturday night, when Taylor labelled Geelong defender Harry Taylor a “poofter”.
STATS THAT MATTER: 29. Sydney’s Josh Kennedy broke the AFL record for most contested possessions in a match with 29 in Saturday night’s win over Carlton at the SCG. Hawthorn’s Luke Breust equalled Tony Lockett’s AFL record of most consecutive goals – also 29 – before missing a shot at goal in Friday’s win over Adelaide.
KEY MOMENT: Seven points ahead at halftime, Sydney snapped into top gear with a 10-goal third term at the SCG against Carlton. It was a devastating display, as the Swans racked up their 12th consecutive win, equalling a club record.
TALKING POINT: When umpire Ray Chamberlain blew time for the end of the third quarter in Friday night’s Adelaide-Hawthorn game at Adelaide Oval, he was immediately informed three seconds still remained on the clock. Chamberlain exclaimed “Holy geez!” then called for a ball up. The umpire told Hawthorn player Sam Mitchell he’d heard a chime in his earpiece which usually is linked to the siren. Hawthorn players felt the call might have cost them a goal, but the Hawks won anyway by 12 points.
TRIBUNAL WATCH: S Dunnell (StK) reported for striking S Wright (NM). H Ballantyne (Fre) reported for a behind-the-play hit to the stomach of tagger Tomas Bugg.
KEY INJURIES: J Jenkins (Adel, ankle), S Thompson (Adel, hamstring), L McDonald (NM, illness), L Hansen (NM, concussion), R Griffen (WB, illness), K Kolodjashnij (GC, hamstring), R Conca (Rich, concussion), R Gray (Port, concussion), B Sheppard (WC, leg), C Beams (Bris, knee), N Maxwell (Col, ankle).
UNDER PRESSURE: Former ladder leaders Port Adelaide, with four losses in their past five matches, have slipped outside the top four. That’s after winning 10 of their first 11 games.
|1||Sydney Swans||No Change||16||13||3||0||1547||1078||143.5||WWWWW||HAW||52|
|Gold Coast Suns||Down||16||9||7||0||1451||1459||99.5||LWLWL||BL||36|
|West Coast Eagles||No Change||16||7||9||0||1397||1291||108.2||WWLLW||RICH||28|
|GWS Giants||No Change||16||4||12||0||1300||1793||72.5||WWLLL||GEEL||16|
|BL Brisbane Lions||No Change||16||4||12||0||1033||1632||63.3||LLWLL||GCFC||16|
|St Kilda||No Change||16||3||13||0||1009||1771||57||LLLLL||FRE||12|
We value local independent journalism. We hope you do too.
InDaily provides valuable, local independent journalism in South Australia. As a news organisation it offers an alternative to The Advertiser, a different voice and a closer look at what is happening in our city and state for free. Any contribution to help fund our work is appreciated. Please click below to become an InDaily supporter.