GWS have replaced slumping Adelaide as premiership favourites, although the Giants needed a last-minute goal at home from Johnson on Saturday to see off a spirited challenge from a Collingwood side who have won only two games and sit in second-last spot.
The Crows suffered a second straight loss – this time by 41 points at home to rank outsiders Melbourne – but stay in top spot on the table with a 6-2 win-loss record, ahead of the Giants and West Coast on percentage.
The next six teams are all at 5-3, including ninth-placed Fremantle, who won for the fifth time in six matches yesterday.
Mundy kicked a winner after the siren against Richmond on Sunday for the second time in three years.
It enabled the Dockers to sneak home 10.12 (72) to 10.10 (70) after they had held what seemed like an unassailable 30-point lead at the final change.
“The competition is very even – I think we’re seeing that on a weekly basis and within games, quarter to quarter,” said Dockers coach Ross Lyon.
“If you’re not near your best or you drop off, you can get exposed pretty quickly.
“It’s a fortunate position for all clubs because if you prepare well and you’re committed, you can be competitive.”
That synopsis could just as easily have applied to Saturday night’s game at the MCG, when Essendon belied a recent poor run of just one win in their previous five matches by downing tackle-shy Geelong 17.8 (110) to 13.15 (93).
Like Richmond, the Cats have now dropped three games on the bounce after starting the year with five straight wins.
Geelong now face a season-defining run of three straight matches at the redeveloped Simonds Stadium against fellow top-four aspirants the Western Bulldogs, Port Adelaide and Adelaide.
“I hope we don’t try to pretend that playing at home we fix all of our problems,” said coach Chris Scott.
“We’d like to play 11 games there, we haven’t played there at all until round nine and I’m confident we play it pretty well.
“But once again I probably shouldn’t even say that because we need to concentrate on what we are now, not reflect on what we were four weeks ago and certainly not what we were years ago.”
Port Adelaide belted Gold Coast 16.14 (110) to 4.14 (38) in Shanghai to move up to fourth.
The free-scoring Power boast the best percentage in the competition (150.8).
Sydney ended the round with a comprehensive 18.12 (120) to 11.12 (78) win over North Melbourne.
Greater Western Sydney now boast the mantle of AFL premiership favourites but their depth is set to be tested against Richmond on Saturday.
While moving to outright favouritism for the flag, GWS will face a test of their depth in coming weeks. They were forced to dig deep in their last-gasp win over Collingwood, with Stephen Coniglio, Aidan Corr and Sam Reid all injured in the match at Spotless Stadium.
Coach Leon Cameron has already been forced to reshuffle his magnets this year because of long-term setbacks for Ryan Griffen, Brett Deledio, Nick Haynes, Matt Buntine, Adam Kennedy, Jacob Hopper and Tendai Mzungu.
And it’s likely Cameron will be forced to make three changes to the side that defeated Collingwood, with Coniglio waiting on scans after re-injuring the same ankle that kept him out of the opening six rounds of the season.
“Whether it’s the same injury or not, we’ll wait and see… fingers crossed, it’s not as bad,” Cameron said.
“But we’ll send out 22 fit men ready to go for next week’s game against the Tigers.”
Corr and Reid were both knocked out in the Giants’ win over Collingwood. Corr lay motionless for more than a minute after his head hit the turf at an awful angle.
Hawthorn are among the other AFL clubs sweating on injury updates to key personnel. Cyril Rioli and Ben Stratton both suffered knee injuries in the side’s comfortable win over Brisbane.
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.