SA shines again as AFL’s Gather Round goes bigger

Shayne Hope |

Connor Rozee made an ‘outrageous’ contribution to Port’s win over Essendon, coach Ken Hinkley said.
Connor Rozee made an ‘outrageous’ contribution to Port’s win over Essendon, coach Ken Hinkley said.

THEY SAID IT: “The word I used is very unacceptable in the game of football. We need to stamp it out and I’m very remorseful.” – Port Adelaide forward Jeremy Finlayson apologised for making a homophobic slur during his side’s win over Essendon.

PLAYER OF THE ROUND: Power captain Connor Rozee produced what coach Ken Hinkley thought was an “outrageous” first half against the Bombers with 20 disposals and three goals. Rozee finished with a career-high 36 touches and five clearances in his side’s 69-point victory.

THE MOMENT: Midway through the pulsating last quarter of Geelong’s win, the Western Bulldogs broke out of defence and a goal looked certain. But Cats defender Tom Stewart came from nowhere to execute an outstanding spoil on the wing, stopping the danger in its tracks. Geelong won by four points.

TALKING POINT: The Gather Round sequel outperformed the original as fans from around the country flocked in their tens of thousands to South Australia for the festival of football. AFL boss Andrew Dillon hinted the feature round would stay in Adelaide and surrounds beyond the current contract with the SA government, which lasts until 2026, with a game slated to be played in the Barossa wine region next year. The local sides experienced contrasting fortunes this year, with Adelaide losing to Melbourne and Port Adelaide thumping Essendon.

STAT THAT MATTERS: Carlton’s win over Fremantle was their first at Adelaide Oval, following seven defeats. The Blues had lost three games to the Crows and four against the Power at the same venue before breaking their duck in a hard-fought victory over the Dockers.

TRIBUNAL WATCH: Melbourne livewire Kysaiah Pickett was handed a one-match ban for his high contact on Adelaide’s Jake Soligo. Carlton’s Lachie Fogarty will serve a one-game suspension for his high contact on Fremantle star Nat Fyfe.

INJURIES: A Perkins (Ess, hamstring), R Maric (WCE, fractured ribs and punctured lung), L Edwards (WCE, hamstring), S Pendlebury (Coll, ribs).

WHAT’S NEXT: Red-hot Melbourne face the Brisbane Lions in an MCG blockbuster on Thursday night, 24 hours before the Western Bulldogs take on Essendon. GWS host St Kilda in Canberra and unbeaten Carlton present a huge test for winless Adelaide. Fremantle stay in South Australia to take on Port Adelaide, while Collingwood and Sydney have the bye.