Lions, Cats looking for a way to rediscover their mojo

Steve Larkin |

Brisbane coach Chris Fagan (left) has his work cut out for him if his side is to make the finals.
Brisbane coach Chris Fagan (left) has his work cut out for him if his side is to make the finals.

The Sydney Swans are still well clear at the top of the AFL standings, but round 11 provided plenty of shake-ups, including surprise losses to regular finalists Geelong and Brisbane.

THEY SAID IT: “We haven’t been in it (this predicament) for five years but here we are, our season’s hanging well and truly in the balance. Whatever happens in the long run, it will be good for us as a footy club, as a team, to try and fight through it.” Coach Chris Fagan admits Brisbane have little room for error if they are to play finals for a sixth straight season following a 25-point defeat to Hawthorn.

Sydney's Chad Warner (left).
Sydney’s Chad Warner (left) produced a stunning game as the Swans beat the Western Bulldogs. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

PLAYER OF THE ROUND: Chad Warner. The Sydney dynamo produces yet another game-busting display in a 14-point road win against the Western Bulldogs. Warner was electric, particularly after halftime, finishing with  four goals, 25 disposals, 10 score involvements, six inside-50s, four clearances and a contender for mark of the year.

THE MOMENT: GWS defender Leek Aleer gave off Leo Barry vibes when he flew high above a pack deep in defence to protect his side’s slender lead in the dying stages of a four-point win over Geelong. With one minute left on the clock, Aleer cut off a long kick into the Cats’ attack with an athletic leap to stamp himself as the hero in just his seventh AFL game.

TALKING POINT: Umpires are feeling collective heat. There was a dodgy 50-metre penalty to the Swans’ Hayden McLean that helped Sydney get over the line against the Dogs, and a controversial – but according to the AFL, correct – free to Fremantle’s Sean Darcy, from which he goaled, against Collingwood’s Lachie Sullivan for not giving the ball directly back to an umpire. And both Carlton coach Michael Voss and Gold Coast’s Damien Hardwick took the rare step of publicly expressing bemusement with officiating after their clash.

STAT THAT MATTERS: 259. The number of games Ken Hinkley has coached Port Adelaide – he now holds the unwanted record of most VFL/AFL matches coached without reaching a grand final – one more game than former Fitzroy and Essendon mentor Bill Stephens.

TRIBUNAL WATCH: Geelong pair Mark Blicavs and Jhye Clark have been given one-game bans for separate high hits on GWS playmaker Lachie Whitfield. Richmond’s Nick Vlastuin, Gold Coast’s Jack Lukosius, Carlton’s Nick Newman and the Giants’ James Peating were all cited and fined. Meanwhile, Sydney veteran Luke Parker will appeal the severity of his six-game VFL suspension on Monday.

INJURIES: Aaron Naughton (WB, knee), Anthony Scott (WB, head clash), Ed Richards (WB, head knock), Mason Cox (Coll, knee/concussion), Brody Mihocek (Coll, hamstring), Willie Riolio (PA, calf), Stephen Coniglio (GWS, shoulder), Harry Perryman (GWS, hamstring), Shai Bolton (Rich, concussion), Nik Cox (Ess, hamstring), Lloyd Meek (Haw, ankle).

 WHAT’S NEXT: Port Adelaide host Carlton in a Thursday night blockbuster and Collingwood meet the Western Bulldogs the following night. On Saturday, a resurgent Hawthorn host Adelaide at the MCG, West Coast host St Kilda, and Richmond travel to Geelong. Sunday’s fixtures pit Melbourne against Fremantle, and Gold Coast against Essendon. Four clubs – Brisbane, North Melbourne, Sydney and GWS – have a bye.