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Richmond has once again shown they’re over the struggles of the middle of the season, proving they’re a tier above Port Adelaide.

They were too strong all afternoon, using the handball game to rip the Power apart. The Tigers led all day and pushed the lead out in the fourth quarter to win by 38 points.

Here’s everything you need to know!

The Talking Point: Lynch and Riewoldt looming large

Jack Riewoldt is back after a season interrupted with knee issues and Tom Lynch is finding form after being plagued by his own injury problems last season.

This should scare every other team in the top eight.

Lynch and Riewoldt combined for 6.5, 14 marks and already look like they have developed plenty of chemistry.

Spud: "Richmond can be a force because they always have a go-to player up forward with Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt present."

RICH 59 PA 37#AFLTigersPower

— AFL Nation (@AFLNation) July 20, 2019

The Difference: Richmond’s handball game

The Tigers finished the game with roughly 50 more handballs than the Power and made an effort all afternoon to link up by hand through the middle of the ground.

Bachar Houli, Shai Bolton, Brandon Ellis, Sydney Stack, Dustin Martin, Liam Baker and Shane Edwards were among those with 10 or more handballs for the day, all of Richmond’s main movers.

The Tigers kept the game at their pace all afternoon, forcing the Power to play fast, especially in the first half, leading to Richmond causing plenty of turnovers, resulting in the majority of their goals.

Sydney Stack with the intercept and the unselfish assist!

Great effort from the young man.#AFLTigersPower pic.twitter.com/pitZG31KGu

— AFL (@AFL) July 20, 2019

What’s next?

Richmond returns to the Friday night stage next round to take on Collingwood in what is looming as a huge game of football between two genuine contenders.

Port Adelaide meanwhile hosts GWS at the Adelaide Oval in a must-win game to keep their finals hopes alive.

Full Score

Richmond: 5.4, 8.5, 12.7, 15.11. (101)
Port Adelaide: 2.4, 4.6, 7.7, 9.9. (63)

BEST

Richmond: Martin, Lynch, Prestia, Grimes, Ellis, Baker
Port Adelaide: Amon, Boak, Byrne-Jones, Duursma, Broadbent

Reports: Nil

Injuries: Nil

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Geelong’s Zach Guthrie and Nathan Kreuger have suffered lower leg injuries in the VFL.

Both were carried from the ground by training staff in the first half of the clash with Casey.

Multiple reporters have mentioned the muddy conditions of the ground, with suggestions the Cats are unhappy with the turf at Casey Fields.

Guthrie has played the one game so far in 2019, while Kreuger is yet to debut.

Update: @GeelongCats saying Kreuger left knee, Guthrie right ankle. Both looked to be pretty serious when carried off. #VFL #WeAreGeelong @KrockFootball https://t.co/D2UjrQwuEb

— Shayne Hope 📰 (@shayne_hope) July 20, 2019

Zach Guthrie unable to put any weight on his right leg when he came from the ground. Looked bad. This ground is very heavy - don’t think Geelong officials were too pleased with the conditions before the game. Interesting to see what happens now #VFL

— Lachie Young (@lachie_young) July 20, 2019

First Nathan Kreuger, now Zach Guthrie down for @GeelongCats with a suspected knee injury in #VFL game at Casey. Both carried off before half-time. Ground is very waterlogged - potentially an issue with injuries. @KrockFootball #WeAreGeelong

— Shayne Hope 📰 (@shayne_hope) July 20, 2019
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Kane Cornes has expressed his concerns with the Western Bulldogs’ decision to extend the contract of coach Luke Beveridge so early.

Beveridge was contracted through until the end of 2020, but the Dogs have added an additional three years to the deal.

Cornes feels the club should have waited until next year before deciding whether to recommit.

“If you look at it plainly and simply since the (2016) Grand Final, they’re 27 (wins) and 33 (losses),” Cornes told SEN’s Crunch Time.

“They’ve missed the finals for the last two years and are probably going to miss again this year – probably.

“If next year they miss finals for a fourth year in a row, would you then extend him for three years? I’m saying there is no way you would extend him for three years.

“So why would you jump now. You’ve got this guy for 18 months, he might be your guy, but what’s the benefit of the club doing it now? Let’s wait until Round 5 or 10 next year and then go about re-signing him.

“I just think it has disaster written all over it in the last 18 months of that deal that sees him there until 2023. I’m happy to debate it, but that’s my opinion and I wouldn’t have go so early on that one.”

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Gold Coast CEO Mark Evans has admitted his club has had to overpay for players at all levels to keep them around.

Evans said the club has tried to create greater salary cap flexibility in recent years after mistakes made in the past.

“One of the parts that people don’t understand of the strategy is that we’ve had to clean up our player payments. For a whole lot of reasons, some at the Gold Coast’s hand and some not really from the Gold Coast’s decisions,” he told SEN’s Crunch Time.

“Our salary cap had got way too tight and was over full and we had some back-ended contracts. Because of the position we were in last year, we decided to very progressively change that up so we can get the cap into a better position to then build something for the future.

“One of the reasons why the cap was under such stress is I think we’re probably forced to overpay for players at all levels. Young players, guys who are genuine stars that you’re trying to hold onto, and if you’re trying to attract a player from another club, it came with a bit of a premium.

“That comes down to our strategy and how hard do we go on those things, whether we try and come up with some internal protocols as to how we manage that.

“But it is real, I know other clubs have felt it in the past and we certainly feel like if you’re outside of Victoria and towards the bottom of the ladder, that’s one of the ways you’re solving contract discussions - by paying a premium.”

Evans believes when the club turns the corner, players will want to stay on less money in order to be part of a successful culture.

“When clubs are successful, people will take a haircut just to stay. Success is more important than the money to those players,” Evans said.

“But it ends up being an individual negotiation with each agent around each player, and sometimes I think we’ve probably had to fend off others.

“Eventually you do want the playing group saying ‘I’m staying here because I’m committed to this program, and I can see it’s going to deliver the things I need as a player. I’ve got good coaching, mateship and a good chance of success’.”

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Gold Coast CEO Mark Evans has outlined what his club’s long term strategy is, in the wake of some questioning whether the club should even continue to exist.

The Suns currently sit on the bottom of the ladder and have conceded over 300 points in two weeks.

Evans broke down how the club will attack the next few years with their list and what they’ll be saying when they present to the AFL for additional assistance at the end of the season.

“It’s not formalised, but I can tell you what it would be and what our strategy is,” Evans told SEN’s Crunch Time.

“That will be about acquiring young talent in the draft, acquiring mid-career players who we think can help us and even potentially finding a Luke Hodge type that can help establish the right culture and set up the right things for the club to develop.

“We’ve then off the field built a really strong department of support for players. We’re trying to fast track they’re development. We’re trying to create good leaders and get them to commit to our club.

“That strategy won’t change. We will again present that to the AFL and almost say, give us a report card on that and do you think we’re doing the right things, do you think we’ve got the right people. If you don’t think it’s the right strategy, then let’s debate that and we’ll change it.

“We genuinely believe in this strategy. Then we’ll say, is the AFL keen to look at ways they can assist that because we believe there are some inequalities in the system that might need to be addressed specifically for the challenge of the Gold Coast.”

The Suns take on the 17th placed Carlton today at Marvel Stadium in a chance to turn things around.

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Ross Lyon continues to be linked to the vacant Carlton coaching job and Kane Cornes believes the partnership could be a win for all parties.

The Dockers have struggled in the last month and look likely to miss finals once again.

Cornes feels a fresh start for Lyon and Fremantle as well as the Blues getting an experienced coach could work out for everyone involved. However, he wonders whether Blues fans would accept that outcome.

“I’d love to know how Carlton fans feel about that. What would the reaction be if Ross Lyon came to the club?” Cornes told SEN’s Crunch Time.

“I think that is probably a win-win-win. A win for Ross, a win for Carlton, I think he’d do a good job there with a young list, and I think Fremantle would be happy to give him their blessing to go to another club and move on, so it could work for all parties.

“I’m just not sure whether Carlton fans think he’s their man.”

Cornes believes it’s possible Fremantle could choose to part ways with Lyon at the end of the year if things continue go to south.

“If it turns ugly in the last six weeks, I don’t think it’s unrealistic that they might part ways with Ross and they’ll go in with a new coach, I don’t think that is out of the question,” he said.

“I think it’s a big six weeks for Fremantle to be honest. I’ve been so disappointed in their last four weeks, they’ve been the most disappointing side in the last month of anyone bar Gold Coast.

“I think he’ll remain coaching there if I had to put money on it.”

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Adelaide key forward Josh Jenkins admits his side was “powerless” to stop Essendon’s run and carry in the second half of last night’s 21-point loss.

The Crows surrendered a 30-point lead in the defeat and Jenkins believes they took their foot off the accelerator in the third term.

“Any team you play against, you should expect them to make runs, rarely are you going to kick 12 out of 15 and just roll along,” Jenkins told SEN’s Crunch Time.

“We shouldn’t have been foolish enough to think it would be exactly like last week.

“Even at three quarter time, it’s a bit of a shock to the system, but it’s your home deck, everyone in the stadium is cheering for you guys and you’ve only got to win the quarter by one point.

“You shouldn’t even at that point be too stressed, clearly we just had no ability to arrest the momentum.”

Jenkins said the Crows’ forwards struggled to keep the ball in their forward half.

“I mentioned it to the forward group at half time, saying we’ve got to work harder to get more numbers to the contest,” he said.

“We’d kick it long to a contest and the ball spills and they were able to run at us and four Essendon players running downhill towards goal, it became impossible for us to stop.

“The defenders have to charge back to goal and it’s a very difficult situation to find yourself in and we found ourselves in it way, way too many times and we were powerless to stop it.”

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Essendon put themselves in the box seat to play finals last night, coming from 30 points down to beat the Crows at the Adelaide Oval.

Missing key personnel and with their backs against the wall, the Bombers proved their credentials and Dermott Brereton was full of praise for who he dubs the ‘dirty rottens’.

“How good are they going. This is not music to my ears, but for a team that has been out of it for so long, it’s a wonderful display of just how even the competition has become and how well Essendon has turned it around,” Brereton told SEN’s Crunch Time.

“They’ve got some weaponry at their disposal, are they as good as the big three up the top end of the ladder, their best footy is not far off them.

“I think they’re going to play in September, which is tough for me to say!”

Kane Cornes, who declared the Crows a certainty to win on SEN Mornings on Friday, believes it was one of the best wins of 2019.

“I know we can be prisoners of the moment a little bit, but in terms of any teams and wins, that’s right up there for the season,” Cornes said.

“When you factor in no ruck, not even a back-up ruck, they lost hit-outs by 18 and clearances by 22, the captain was on one leg, Michael Hurley and Orazio Fantasia aren’t there and it’s a mini-final being basically an eight-point game.

“It’s as good a win as any team has had this year.”

Essendon sits sixth on the ladder and travels north to take on Gold Coast next Sunday afternoon.

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Essendon has come from 30 points down to pull off a famous win over Adelaide in a proverbial eight-point game.

The Bombers’ stars fired when it mattered, while the Crows were found wanting in the fourth term.

Here’s everything you need to know!

The Moment: Bombers win the 50-50 battles late

Whether it was one of three Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti goal assists in the second half, Jake Stringer standing up or Mitch Brown kicking big set shots, it was Essendon who took advantage when it mattered.

Zach Merrett and Dyson Heppell were ghosts in the first half, but were dominant from then on, while the Crouch brothers went in the opposite direction.

It would be Mitch Brown who kicked the winner, bagging his fourth in a dominant day. With Joe Daniher gone for the season and Shaun McKernan playing in the ruck, it was his forward line and Brown delivered.

Bulldogs forward Billy Gowers was a big fan of his work.

The blokes a magician pic.twitter.com/bCdxs26AgF

— billy gowers (@billgowers) July 19, 2019

The Talking Point: Crows’ finals hopes take a hit

This game will be one of the few come September that we look back on and know that it shaped the final ladder.

Essendon now sits sixth and could jump up to fifth if the Tigers lose to Port Adelaide. Adelaide meanwhile slumps to eighth and could be out of the eight should things fall against them.

Given how tight the race to September is, the Crows losing winnable games at home could come back to hurt them big time.

Malcolm Blight was full of praise for Essendon.

"That win puts them in line to play finals. It was a famous win," Blight told AFL Nation.

What’s next?

Adelaide travels to the MCG to take on Carlton next Saturday afternoon. The two teams were involved in a heavily discussed pick swap trade on draft night and it will be their first meeting since then.

The Bombers meanwhile face the struggling Gold Coast up at Metricon Stadium. Wins and percentage are both vital for Essendon and they’ll be looking to do some damage.

MCKENNA 🤩

(watch #AFLCrowsDons on 7) pic.twitter.com/VoT1cm0Kqn

— 7AFL (@7AFL) July 19, 2019

Full Score

Adelaide: 2.5, 7.10, 8.11, 10.15. (75)
Essendon: 1.2, 5.3, 9.5, 15.6. (96)

BEST

Adelaide: Smith, O’Brien, Jenkins, M.Crouch, B.Crouch
Essendon: Merrett, Brown, Shiel, Stringer, Hooker, McDonald-Tipungwuti

Reports: Nil

Injuries: Nil

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Brownlow Medallist Nathan Fyfe has provided an update on the elbow injury that has seen him ruled out of this weekend’s clash with Sydney.

Fyfe spent two days in hospital and underwent surgery on a painful infection in his elbow.

The Dockers skipper said it flared up out of nowhere.

“It sort of evolved really quickly after the game. I had no pain in my elbow specifically and went to bed Tuesday night a little bit uncomfortable and woke up Wednesday morning and my elbow had really blown up,” Fyfe told Channel 7 News in Perth.

“They sent me to surgery that night and put me on an intense dose of antibiotics and got hold of the infection pretty quickly and two days in hospital and I’m all good.

“They went into the elbow and drained a little bit of fluid out of it and released the pressure and got rid of the infection, cleaned it out and stitched it back out now.”

Despite still having a drip in his arm, Fyfe aims to play next weekend.

“The plan is to play next week. I will progress slowly with my aerobic work over the course of this week with some bike and light running and progress to full training and try to make my self available for selection next week,” Fyfe said.

It was the same elbow Fyfe had surgery on in February to deal with a bursa.

Fremantle will also be without Jesse Hogan for the remainder of 2019 as the key forward battles a navicular bone injury in his foot.

Follow @NicNegrepontis

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