AFL Round 16 wrap
A look at round 16 of the AFL season where Geelong trounced North Melbourne, and Essendon sprung an upset with victory over Sydney, top of the table Melbourne overcame the plucky Crows and Port desperately fought for their fading finals hopes, falling short in Perth on Sunday.
THEY SAID IT:
"He was really good, electrifying ... he had his agility back and the ability to move the ball and see the ground, and his kicking was A1."
- Richmond coach Damien Hardwick was full of praise for superstar Dustin Martin, who was outstanding in the first half of Sunday's win over West Coast before being substituted out with a tight hamstring.
PLAYER OF THE ROUND: Melbourne gun Christian Petracca was outstanding against Adelaide with 33 disposals, five tackles, six clearances, 11 score involvements and 20 contested possessions - plus a game-high three goals. The brilliant midfielder just shaded teammate Clayton Oliver (36 disposals) as the Demons' best in a tough win.
THE MOMENT: Cometh the moment, cometh 'The Package'. With Essendon on the ropes early in the fourth quarter against Sydney, Jake Stringer pulled off an extraordinary check side goal to spark the Bombers. He then kicked another in the run before teeing up Mason Redman, who put Essendon in front. Stringer almost gave it all away with a 50-metre penalty that handed Chad Warner a goal to keep Sydney in sight. But Nick Hind spared Stringer's blushes by icing a brilliant win in the final minute.
TALKING POINT: Will David Noble survive as coach after North Melbourne's latest on-field disaster? The Kangaroos have brought in Geoff Walsh to review their football operations and the veteran administrator was on hand to witness the 112-point thrashing from Geelong. It was the Kangaroos' 13th consecutive defeat - all of them by 47 points or more - leaving Noble with a 5-1-31 record across his two seasons in charge.
STATS THAT MATTER: Collingwood's sixth consecutive win was also their fifth this season by a margin of less than two goals. First-year coach Craig McRae says his team is showing the belief and resilience that they know how to win tight contests - a crucial ability at the business end of the season.
TRIBUNAL WATCH: Brisbane's Eric Hipwood was sent straight to the tribunal over a bizarre incident where he appeared to push Ryan Gardner, sending the Bulldogs defender crashing into umpire Jacob Mollison. Essendon's Peter Wright, Melbourne's Kysaiah Pickett and Adelaide's Darcy Fogarty were each fined $2000 for striking, and Sydney's Isaac Heeney copped the same penalty for a dangerous tackle on Jye Caldwell. Hawthorn's Will Day was reported for rough conduct over a high bump on GWS co-captain Josh Kelly and Port's Tom Jonas could face scrutiny for his high bump on Fremantle's James Aish.
INJURIES: D Zorko (Bris, hamstring), D Rich (Bris, hamstring), H Clark (StK, nasal fracture), D Butler (StK, cut head), D Howard (StK, knee), C Budarick (GC, knee), B Ainsworth (GC, lower leg), D Moore (Coll, knee), J Kolodjnashij (Geel, head knock), A Hall (NM, quad), K Turner (NM, head knock, leg), D Martin (Rich, hamstring), E Yeo (WC, hamstring), J Worpel (Haw, shoulder), M Taberner (Freo, hamstring), L Jones (Port, hamstring).
WHAT'S NEXT: Thursday night can't come quick enough as anticipation builds around the second-versus-first showdown at the Cattery, where Geelong host a Melbourne side set to be bolstered skipper Max Gawn's return from injury. The Swans-Bulldogs, Suns-Tigers and Saints-Dockers clashes all have top-eight implications as the finals race heats up.