Cats only unbeaten AFL side as Giants fall in round six

Shayne Hope |

Harley Reid’s emergence as one of the faces of 2024 continued as West Coast beat Fremantle.
Harley Reid’s emergence as one of the faces of 2024 continued as West Coast beat Fremantle.

THEY SAID IT: “We couldn’t have wished for a better start. As much as we were ‘on’ in the first quarter, we were switched off by Collingwood at their best.” – Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley was left lamenting a horror fade-out as his side blew an early 31-point lead in their 17.21 (123) to 12.9 (81) loss to the reigning premiers.

PLAYER OF THE ROUND: Harley Reid’s star continues to rise, with the No.1 draft pick a standout as he amassed three goals and seven clearances from 19 disposals in West Coast’s stunning western derby upset of Fremantle. Reid’s two huge grabs in attack sent Eagles fans in the 54,473-strong crowd wild.

THE MOMENT: Essendon players held their collective breath when Sam Draper dived on the ball deep in Adelaide’s forward line in the dying seconds of Friday’s tense contest at Adelaide Oval. Crows players pounced on Draper, but he was not penalised for holding the ball in a decision the AFL later confirmed was “technically” incorrect. Essendon hung on for a three-point win that consigned Adelaide to a 1-5 start. It meant the Crows have officially been cruelled by umpiring twice in their past four games on home turf, after Ben Keays was incorrectly denied a match-winning goal against Sydney in round 23 last season.

TALKING POINT: Geelong are the competition’s last remaining unbeaten team this season after extending their winning streak to six with victory over the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba. Premiers in 2022 before missing the finals last year, Chris Scott’s Cats have steadily built form in their best start to a season since 2013 and loom as one of the early flag favourites. At the other end of the ladder, North Melbourne are winless after their loss to fellow battlers Hawthorn.

STAT THAT MATTERS: West Coast’s total of 16.9 (105) in the derby trouncing of Fremantle marked the first the first time since rounds 17 and 18 in 2018 that the Eagles had scored more than 100 points two weeks in a row. Brisbane’s total of 4.13 (37) against Geelong was their lowest at the Gabba in club history, while the loss made it 0-3 this season for the Lions at the venue where they were 13-0 last year.

TRIBUNAL WATCH: GWS captain Toby Greene received a one-match ban for his mid-air bump on Jordan Boyd, while teammate Jesse Hogan was given the same penalty for striking Lewis Young in the last quarter of the Giants’ loss to Carlton. West Coast defender Tom Barrass was also handed a one-match ban, charged with rough conduct for a dangerous tackle on Fremantle’s Michael Walters.

INJURIES: D Butler (St K, hamstring), S Berry (Adel, foot), J Horne-Francis (PA, hamstring), Z Williams (Carl, corked calf), T Stewart (Geel, concussion), O McInerney (Bris, concussion), H Young (Frem, hamstring), J Amiss (Frem, concussion).

WHAT’S NEXT: Richmond and Melbourne open the round on Wednesday night before a genuine blockbuster in the traditional Anzac Day contest between Essendon and Collingwood. That evening, GWS will look to bounce back when they host Brisbane in Canberra. High-flying premiership contenders Geelong and Carlton face off in another huge MCG clash. North Melbourne will continue chasing their first win of the season when they take on Adelaide in Hobart and Hawthorn, having opened their 2024 account against the Kangaroos, hope to trouble Sydney.