Round fourteen of the AFL season saw the year’s shortest fixture of matches with only 10 teams taking part as the mid-year bye rounds finish up. To be frank, it was a mixed bag as far as quality was concerned. The round was book-ended by a pair of storming games involving teams from each end of the ladder with the other three matches somewhat less of a spectacle.

Here at Vendetta Sports Media we’ll be covering the entire AFL season for you. In case you missed it, all our team previews, and this writers ladder predictions, are located here.

Match of the Week: Geelong Cats vs Western Bulldogs

There’s nothing quite like kicking the winning goal after the siren. Cats forward Gary Rohan knows that feeling all too well. He steered through the decisive goal after marking under pressure moments before the siren sounded to give his Cats a memorable victory.

It was, in fact, the 2nd time Rohan has won a game after the siren – he also did it when playing for the Swans back in 2017, joining Barry Hall as the only members of that exclusive club.

With the Bulldogs sitting 2nd and the Cats 3rd in the ladder coming into this match, it was rightly seen as a precursor to the finals, and as such, it was expected to be a tough, tense, finals like atmosphere, despite the limited crowd numbers thanks to COVID restrictions. It didn’t disappoint.

The opening term was tightly contested, with neither side able to impose any real influence on the match. Tom Liberatore kicked the opening goal for the Dogs after a brilliant interception, though it was quickly answered by Jeremy Cameron as scoring proved hard to come by in the slippery conditions. The scores were tied at 10 apiece at the break.

Concerningly for the Cats, star midfielder Mitch Duncan had to be removed after injuring his knee, which was later confirmed to be a PCL strain that will keep him out indefinitely.

In what was becoming a ‘walking wounded’ situation for the Cats, Rohan started the 2nd term in the change rooms, being assessed for a concussion though he was – thankfully, as it turned out – able to return.

Both teams traded goals before Jason Johannisen kicked truly to extend the margin to what would be a game-high 11 points. After a fantastic Josh Bruce snap, the Cats sprung to life with Tom Hawkins, former Bulldog Luke Dahlhaus, and Rohan all scoring within a 150 second span to swing the pendulum back in the home team’s favour at halftime.

With star Bulldogs forward Aaron Naughton suffering a rib injury late in the quarter and Hayden Crozier hurting his ankle, suddenly both teams were suffering physically.

Josh Bruce opened the 3rd quarter with a gem of a goal on the run from the boundary line as the Bulldogs piled on the pressure, eventually taking the lead through an Anthony Scott goal. To their credit, Geelong was able to take the wind out of Bulldog sails with a Brandon Parfitt goal just 32 seconds later.

Those goals started a run of tit-for-tat scoring – including goals to respective captains Joel Selwood and Marcus Bontompelli – that finished with Esava Ratugolea’s strolling into an open goal to give the Cats a narrow two-point advantage as the teams went into the final period.

With 16 minutes remaining in the final term, scores were tied and a grandstand finish was indeed on the cards.

Geelong took the lead when Tom Stewart, already playing a wonderful game in the backline, launched a counterattack that saw Jeremy Cameron run into an open goal.

The sides again exchanged majors via Caleb Daniel and Sam Menegola’s efforts before Toby McLean, playing his 1st game in nine months after a knee injury, rolled through a scrappy goal. That only set up the contest for Rohan’s moment of glory.

With the ball in dispute in the middle of the ground, Cam Guthrie set Isaac Smith off into space. The veteran winger delivered a searing pass from his wand of a left boot to Rohan, who held the mark under pressure from Taylor Duryea.

As the 30-year-old lined up for goal from a tight angle, the siren sounded. Rohan’s kick looked to be heading to the right of the big sticks before straightening to sail through comfortably, securing the win in an epic contest that saw the lead change on 13 occasions.

Smith was magnificent for Geelong, accruing 30 possessions as he owned his wing. Selwood put in a typically industrious performance in a game that was tailor-made for him. But it was Stewart that led the way for the Cats. With their defense severely undermanned and facing the best attack in the competition, Stewart was a one-man wall in the Geelong defense with 15 intercept disposals.

As per usual, plenty of Bulldogs racked up stats: Jack Macrae had 35, with Liberatore and Bontompelli each getting 30 touches.

The result didn’t change the ladder – the teams remain in 2nd and 3rd place – but it does leave them tied on points, a game behind the ladder leading Demons.

Both clubs face stern tests next week. The Bulldogs travel west to face the Eagles, the Cats head north to play the Lions.

Geelong Cats: 12 goals, 11 behinds (83)

Western Bulldogs: 11 goals, 12 behinds (78)

Goals

Geelong: Cameron 2, Menegola 2, Rohan 2, Close, Hawkins, Dahlhaus, Selwood, Parfitt, Ratugolea

Western Bulldogs: Bruce 3, Scott 2,Liberatore, Weightman, Johannisen, Bontompelli, Daniel, McLean

Best

Geelong: Stewart, Selwood, Smith, Dangerfield, Menegola, Parfitt

Western Bulldogs: Liberatore, Bontompelli, Bruce, Macrae, Williams, Daniel

Onto the other games of round Fourteen of the AFL season.

Gold Coast Suns 4 goals, 7 behinds (31) lost to Port Adelaide Power 12 goals, 9 behinds (81)

Goals

Gold Coast: King 2, Bowes, Sexton

Port Adelaide: Rozee 3, Dixon 2, Georgiades 2, Motlop 2, Lienert, Amon, Lycett

Best

Gold Coast: Miller, Anderson, Lukosius, Powell

Port Adelaide: Wines, Motlop, Aliir, Amon, Drew, Houston

Last week, Suns coach Stuart Dew questioned the effort and intensity of his team. If he was hoping for a response this week, he didn’t get it. After Ben King kicked the game’s opening goal for the Suns, it was all Port Adelaide. The Power wrested control, punishing turnovers with easy goals all afternoon, Steven Motlop, in particular, seeming to have all the time and space he wanted. Ollie Wines picked up 43 disposals, missing the Power’s 13-year-old record by a solitary possession. Connor Rozee followed up his five-goal effort last round with another three here. Veteran half-back flanker Touk Miller aside, the Suns didn’t really have a winner anywhere on the ground. A professional performance from Port Adelaide. A woeful effort from the Suns.

North Melbourne Kangaroos 6 goals, 9 behinds (45) lost to Brisbane Lions 9 goals, 14 behinds (68)

Goals

North Melbourne: Larkey 3, Zurhaar 2, Stephenson

Brisbane: Cameron 2, McCarthy 2, Daniher, Bailey, Hipwood, Neale, Robertson

Best

North Melbourne: Cunnington, Goldstein, Simpkin, Ziebell, Thomas, Davies-Unaicke

Brisbane: Lyons, Neale, McCarthy, McCluggage, Bailey, McInerney

Brisbane is known for their free-flowing attacking football. On this day, though, they had to find another way to get it done. In what started as windy conditions and finished as wet and slippery, the Lions had to get their hands dirty to take care of the bottom of the table Roos. After a tight opening term, the Kangaroos kicked four straight goals to take a solid lead in the context of the match before Lion Lincoln McCarthy broke the run. Brisbane’s class started to show in the 3rd quarter, and though the Roos battled bravely, the damn walls burst in the final term as Brisbane kicked away to a 23 point win. Lachie Neale was back to his best for Brisbane, ably assisted by Zac Bailey and Jarryd Lyons. North Melbourne’s old guard of Jack Ziebell, Ben Cunnington, and Todd Goldstein were their standouts.

GWS Giants 16 goals, 6 behinds (102) defeated Carlton Blues 9 goals, 12 behinds (66)

Goals

GWS: Finlayson 5, Greene 4,Himmelberg 2, Lloyd, Cumming, Briggs, Kelly, Hopper

Carlton: McKay 3, Owies 2, Fogarty, De Koning, Fisher, Pittonet

Best

GWS: Finlayson, Hopper, Kelly, Greene, Whitfield, Taranto, De Boer

Carlton: Cripps, Kennedy, Docherty, Weitering, McKay

Carlton, in the midst of a club wide review of the football department, slumped to a listless 3rd straight loss. The Giants jumped the Blues, slamming on four goals in the opening eight minutes to leave the Blues shell shocked. Carlton began to find their footing late in the term before Giant Toby Greene launched a 65 metre bomb after the siren that lifted his side. A run of five goals either side of halftime pushed the game out of reach, and though Carlton played with much more vigour in the later stages of the match – including a run of four goals in the 3rd quarter – it was no longer a true contest, as the Giants simply kept their opponent at arm’s length. A telling stat was Carlton’s 41 tackles to the Giant’s 78. Greene, as is his wont, was at the centre of everything: 20 disposals, four goals, eight marks and reported for striking.

Hawthorn Hawks 10 goals, 13 behinds (73) lost to Essendon Bombers 13 goals, 8 behinds (86)

Goals

Hawthorn: Koschitzke 3, Breust 3, Mitchell, Shiels, Wingard, Moore

Essendon: Stringer 4, McDonald-Tipungwuti 2, Jones 2, Langford, Cahill, Hind, Guelfi, Parish

Best

Hawthorn: Mitchell, Impey, O’Meara, Wingard, Breust, Hardwick

Essendon: Stringer, Hind, Merrett, Parish, Jones, Draper, Ridley

Two traditionally heated rivals at the wrong end of the table fought out a beauty to close round 14. Both clubs possess a core of talented youngsters, though it was a veteran that proved the difference. Enigmatic and inconsistent, but electric the mood strikes, Jake Stringer produced one of those games that he’s entirely capable of, but only plays once every 12 weeks: four goals, 12 score involvements, 29 possessions, seven tackles, six clearances. Stats only tell half the story. When he’s on, Stringer is a force of nature who seems to will his team forward and find himself at the centre of all the big moments. It wasn’t a one-man show, though. Sam Draper and Zach Merrett were excellent for the Bombers. As per usual, Sam Mitchell paced the Hawks with 35 disposals and eight tackles, whilst Jacob Koschitzke kicked three goals for Hawthorn.

Bye: Melbourne, Adelaide, Collingwood, Fremantle, Sydney, St Kilda, West Coast, Richmond

Coleman Medal leader board

Harry McKay (Carlton) – 41 (3 goals this week)

Taylor Walker (Adelaide) – 37 goals (-)

Josh Bruce (Bulldogs) – 37 (3)

Jack Riewoldt (Richmond) – 34 (-)

Ben King (Suns) – 34 (2)

Tom Hawkins (Geelong) – 30 (1)

Jack Darling (Eagles) – 29 (-)

Aaron Naughton (Bulldogs) – 29 (0)

Cale Hooker (Bombers) – 29 (0)

McDonald-Tipungwuti (Bombers) – 29 (2)

#ClubMPts%ForAgtThis WeekProjectedNext
1Melbourne1344132.2 %1150870BYE2nd: 68 pts, 126 %Saturday
@ Ess
2W Bulldogs1340144.7 %1263873Lost @ Geel
78 β€“ 83
1st: 68 pts, 142 %Sunday
@ WCE
3Geelong1340127.7 %1143895Won vs W.B.
83 β€“ 78
3rd: 64 pts, 124 %Thursday
@ B.L.
4Brisbane1336128.4 %1192928Won @ N.M.
68 β€“ 45
4th: 60 pts, 128 %Thursday
vs Geel
5Port Adel1336122.9 %1129919Won @ G.C.
81 β€“ 31
5th: 56+ pts, 119 %Saturday
vs Syd
6Sydney1332108.1 %11221038BYE7th: 48 pts, 102 %Saturday
@ P.A.
7WC Eagles1332107.9 %11721086BYE8th: 48 pts, 101 %Sunday
vs W.B.
8Richmond1328105.3 %11301073BYE6th: 52 pts, 112 %Friday
vs St.K
9GWS Giants132697.6 %10781105Won vs Carl
102 β€“ 66
10th: 42 pts, 96 %Sunday
vs Haw
10Essendon1324103.0 %12111176Won @ Haw
86 β€“ 73
9th: 44 pts, 103 %Saturday
vs Melb
11Fremantle132491.4 %9891082BYE11th: 40 pts, 91 %Saturday
@ Coll
12Adelaide132086.9 %10371194BYE15th: 32+ pts, 87 %Sunday
@ Carl
13St Kilda132078.3 %9181172BYE13th: 36 pts, 83 %Friday
@ Rich
14Carlton131690.1 %10821201Lost @ GWS
66 β€“ 102
12th: 36 pts, 98 %Sunday
vs Adel
15Collingwood131689.9 %9101012BYE14th: 32 pts, 90 %Saturday
vs Freo
16Gold Coast131686.3 %8901031Lost vs P.A.
31 β€“ 81
16th: 28+ pts, 87 %Saturday
@ N.M.
17Hawthorn131279.4 %9421186Lost vs Ess
73 β€“ 86
17th: 24 pts, 81 %Sunday
@ GWS
18North Melb13661.3 %8181335Lost vs B.L.
45 β€“ 68
18th: 14 pts, 64 %Saturday
vs G.C.