After 17 rounds there is just a game and a half separating the fifth placed Essendon and the Tigers, currently in twelfth position.

Richmond started the round last Thursday night with an exciting 13-point victory, with the game clinching goals by Jack Graham and Dusty Martin at the 28 and 30-minute mark of the final term.

It was a 12.16 (88) to 11.9 (75) win over the Sydney Swans in what is expected to be Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin’s final game at the MCG.

Tigers’ Indigenous champion, Shai Bolton, was outstanding, as was recruit Tim Taranto and Martin.

Tylar Young and Jack Ross also had their moments for the victors.

Oliver Florent, Errol Gulden (31 possessions), Luke Parker and James Rowbottom were the Swans best, while Isaac Heeney kicked three goals.

Collingwood held on by two goals in an entertaining fixture against the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium on Friday evening. Five points down at half time, the Magpies kicked five goals in a row, before the Doggies came back late.

Nick Daicos is expected to get Brownlow votes for his efforts in this Collingwood win, while Jamie Elliott shotted through four goals. John Noble, Jack Crisp and Isaac Quaynor all gave their side plenty of run from defence.

For the Western Bulldogs, both marking target Aaron Naughton and Cody Weightman kicked four goal each. The diminutive Caleb Daniel, Tom Liberatore, and forward Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, all stood up as well. Scott Pendlebery wrote himself into the record books during the third quarter, becoming the highest possession winner in the history of AFL/VFL football.

In the early Saturday game, the Brisbane Lions defeated a modest West Coast Eagles side at the Gabba by 81 points, with the returning Jack Gunstan kicking six goals.

In the 16.20 116 to 5.5 (35) win, Brisbane’s best included Lachlan Neale, big defender Harris Andrews, rookie Will Ashcroft, Cameron Rayner and Jarryd Lyons.

West Coast’s better players was the game’s leading possession winner Liam Duggan, the ultra- consistent Tim Kelly, Brady Hough, and former Demon Jayden Hunt.

In an important win, the Giants edged past the Hawks in a tough contest by 13 points, getting home 12.13 (85) to 10.12 (72) at Giants Stadium.

Between Jesse Hogan (4), Jake Riccardi (3) and best on ground, Stephen Coniglio (3), this trio kicked 10 of the GWS Giants’ 12 goals in this win.

Sam Taylor, Kieren Briggs and Harry Perryman all played important roles in the victory.

For the improving and gallant Hawthorn, Jai Newcombe and Will Day were their best, along with Karl Amon and Blake Hardwick.

Melbourne has held on to beat an injury-hit St Kilda at Marvel Stadium by 21 points, 12.7 (79) to the Saints 8.10 (58) in an important result for the 2021 premiers.

Demons’ strong bodied midfielder Christian Petracca with a four goal haul was best on ground, followed by Ed Langdon, Alex Neal-Bullen, defender May, utility Tom Sparrow and hard nut Jack Viney.

The St Kilda trio of Jack Steele, Jack Sinclair and second-year talent Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera had 97 possessions between them, being the three leaders on the stats sheet.

Big man Rowan Marshall was a strong performer as well in the black, red and white, winning 30 touches and 15 hit outs.

With a nine-goal third-quarter setting up a 33-point victory, Port Adelaide has now extended its club-record winning streak to 13 games, getting home against a Gold Coast Suns outfit that showed ticker early.

The heritage scoreboard read Port 16.10 (106) to the Gold Coast 11.7 (73) at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night.

Connor Rozee was a standout with 26 disposals and two goals including a candidate for goal of the year.

Aliir Aliir was a strong option in defence, while Brownlow Medallist Ollie Wines, Dan Houston, Jeremy Finlayson (three goals) and Zak Butters were all major contributors in the win.

Big man Jarrod Witts, Matt Rowell, journeyman Nathan Casboult (with four goals) and Noah Anderson – for the Suns who led by a goal at half time – were their better performers.

Geelong were far too slick for the struggling Kangaroos at GMHBA Stadium (Kadinia Park) on Sunday afternoon, winning by over 10 goals in the end.

In the 19.11 (125) to 9.9 (63) victory a major milestone was Cats star Zach Tuohy breaking Jim Stynes’s record for the most games by an Irishman.

At the other end of the spectrum, son of AFL great Brent, Cooper Harvey made his debut, kicking a goal in his inaugural AFL match.

For the hosts Mitch Duncan, Tom Atkins, and Aboriginal small forward Tyson Stengle, who kicked five goals, led the way. Defender Tom Stewart and athletic big man Mark Blicavs were also key.

For North Melbourne, Luke Davies-Uniacke, defender Ben McKay, and former basketballer Hugh Greenwood were their best.

In a big game for both clubs, Essendon defeated the Adelaide Crows by three goals, in a game that has big finals consequences.

The Bombers held their nerve to win after Adelaide mounted a late comeback.

In the 17.13 (115) to 15.7 (97) victory Essendon received big performances from Darcy Parish and Zach Merrett (both 39 touches) along with Peter Wright with three goals.

Former No 1 draft pick Andrew McGrath, Brandon Zerk-Thatcher and former captain Dyson Heppell all played major roles.

For Adelaide, Rory’s Laird and O’Brien were noteworthy, as was captain Jordan Dawson, Mitchell Hinge and Brodie Smith.

At Optus Stadium in Perth, Carlton collected a third successive win, defeating favourites, the Fremantle Dockers, and giving themselves an outside chance on major round participation.

The Blues, a crucial away win over listless Fremantle, 14.14 (98) to 6.9 (45), had a comprehensive 53-point triumph.

Carlton received sterling service from Sam Walsh and Adam Cerra, while Harry McKay kicked three goals. WA export and 2022 Brownlow Medal, Patrick Cripps, and Sam Docherty, were important as well.

For Fremantle, Andrew Brayshaw and Michael ‘Son Son’ Walters were their best. Hayden Young, Sean Darcy with a massive 58 hit outs, and Luke Ryan, with a match high 35 disposals, were all serviceable for the hosts.

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