AFL investigates potential coronavirus rules breach involving Melbourne’s Harley Bennell



The Melbourne Football Club says it is investigating a potential breach of the AFL’s COVID-19 protocols involving player Harley Bennell.

In a statement, the club said it had notified the AFL, which was investigating the matter.

“Whilst the club and the AFL are in the process of establishing the facts, Harley will remain in an off-site isolation location, to remove any possibility of contaminating the Twin Waters high performance hub,” the club’s statement said.

“As the matter is being investigated, the club is not in a position to comment further.”

The league’s Victorian teams are based in Queensland hubs to enable the competition to continue during the pandemic, but they must abide by a set of COVID-19 protocols to reduce the risk of virus transmission.

A number of players and clubs have been penalised for breaches of those protocols since the arrangement was struck, including four teams that received large fines at the end of July.



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Live AFL scores, Fremantle vs Western Bulldogs, Round 18 | Live scores, updates, video, stats, live stream, live blog, live ladder


It’s all very simple this evening, with the Western Bulldogs needing a win to qualify for the finals, while Fremantle is playing for Melbourne’s season.

The Dockers (7-9, 96.7%) have won their last two matches in an impressive end to the season under rookie coach Justin Longmuir. If they win tonight, Melbourne will play finals.

The Bulldogs (9-7, 103.9%) will play finals if they win by any margin. They’ll finish either seventh or eighth, depending on Collingwood’s result against Port Adelaide tomorrow.

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Round 18

LIVE LADDER: Top eight race and what each team needs, updated across Round 18





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Geelong clinches AFL top-four spot with win over Sydney Swans ahead of finals


Geelong has survived a massive scare to lock in an AFL top-four spot, as Gary Ablett showed flashes of brilliance on his return to action in a six-point win over lowly Sydney.

The injury-ravaged Swans stunned the Cats early with four of the first five goals and led until the four-minute mark of the final term.

But class eventually told as Patrick Dangerfield, Sam Menegola, Brandon Parfitt and Tom Stewart played key roles in the Cats’ crucial 10.9 (69) to 9.9 (63) victory in Carrara.

It took a desperate late smother from Mark Blicavs on James Rowbottom to secure the result on the final play of the match.

The win gave Geelong fourth place on the ladder and a double chance for the finals, starting with a qualifying showdown with either Brisbane or Port Adelaide.

Dangerfield was moved permanently forward after half-time and kicked three crucial late goals to help drag the Cats over the line.

Menegola, Parfitt and Stewart were busy throughout but Geelong’s midfield struggled to gain ascendancy against a Swans on-ball division led by experienced campaigners Josh Kennedy and Luke Parker.

Sydney got the early jump, registering their highest first-quarter score of the season (5.4), but lost James Bell to concussion after a head clash with Jordan Dawson.

Their nine-point lead at quarter-time would have been greater if not for Tom Papley’s miss from the top of the square running into an open goal.

Ablett’s first two touches were goal assists and he kicked one himself before quarter-time to help stem the tide, but he was one of few the Cats to have much of an impact to that point.

The free-flowing contest became a grind during a goalless second term.

Dangerfield’s move forward helped change the match and he put the Cats in front with the first goal of the final quarter.

He added another moments later and could have had a fourth from a free kick, but advantage was paid when Parfitt kicked a goal off the deck.

The Cats endured nervous moments in the dying stages.

Papley cut the margin back to 11 points and Justin McInerney trimmed it to six with 19 seconds remaining before Blicavs’s late heroics.

Chief goal sneak Papley was an ever-present threat in attack but was wasteful in kicking 2.5.

Parfitt and Coleman Medal leader Tom Hawkins finished with two goals each for Geelong.

Hawks finish on winning note

Retiring Hawthorn stalwart Paul Puopolo has made a stylish three-goal farewell in a 51-point demolition of Gold Coast at Adelaide Oval.

Puopolo booted two of Hawthorn’s seven first-term goals in the 17.6 (108) to 8.9 (57) victory, which meant the Hawks finished with a 5-12 win-loss record for the season.

The Hawks are likely to finish 15th on the ladder, with the Suns expected to be in 14th place. If the Sydney Swans upset Geelong on Sunday afternoon they will leapfrog both the Suns and Hawks.

In what was a dead rubber between two non-finalists, the Hawks exploded from the blocks in the opening quarter to lead 7.1 (43) to 1.1 (7) at the first change.

Hawks retiree Paul Puopolo made sure he went out on a winning note against the Suns.(AAP: David Mariuz)

Aside from Puopolo, fellow veteran Jack Gunston kicked two goals in the opening term before finishing with four for the match.

Another departing Hawk, three-time premiership player Ben Stratton, collected 13 disposals and kicked a last-quarter goal, which was just the second in his 202-match career.

Tom Mitchell (33 disposals), James Cousins (24), Liam Shiels (25) and ex-Sun Jaeger O’Meara (25) were influential for the Hawks throughout the contest.

Gold Coast’s co-captain David Swallow (27 disposals) and Noah Anderson (25) were the team’s leading ball winners.

Suns forward Alex Sexton booted three majors, while debutant Jy Farrar scored a goal with his first kick in the AFL ranks.

AAP



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Hawthorn ends disappointing AFL season with 51-point defeat of Gold Coast in Adelaide



Retiring Hawthorn stalwart Paul Puopolo has made a stylish three-goal farewell in a 51-point demolition of Gold Coast at Adelaide Oval.

Puopolo booted two of Hawthorn’s seven first-term goals in the 17.6 (108) to 8.9 (57) victory, which meant the Hawks finished with a 5-12 win-loss record for the season.

The Hawks are likely to finish 15th on the ladder, with the Suns expected to be in 14th place. If the Sydney Swans upset Geelong on Sunday afternoon they will leapfrog both the Suns and Hawks.

In what was a dead rubber between two non-finalists, the Hawks exploded from the blocks in the opening quarter to lead 7.1 (43) to 1.1 (7) at the first change.

Aside from Puopolo, fellow veteran Jack Gunston kicked two goals in the opening term before finishing with four for the match.

Another departing Hawk, three-time premiership player Ben Stratton, collected 13 disposals and kicked a last-quarter goal, which was just the second in his 202-match career.

Tom Mitchell (33 disposals), James Cousins (24), Liam Shiels (25) and ex-Sun Jaeger O’Meara (25) were influential for the Hawks throughout the contest.

Gold Coast’s co-captain David Swallow (27 disposals) and Noah Anderson (25) were the team’s leading ball winners.

Suns forward Alex Sexton booted three majors, while debutant Jy Farrar scored a goal with his first kick in the AFL ranks.

AAP



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Hawthorn thrash Gold Coast in AFL


Retiring Hawthorn stalwart Paul Puopolo has made a stylish three-goal AFL farewell in a 51-point demolition of Gold Coast.

Puopolo booted two of Hawthorn’s seven first-term goals in their 17.6 (108) to 8.9 (57) Sunday feast at Adelaide Oval.

Puopolo’s strikes included a curling shot from near a boundary line which dribbled through as the Hawks slotted five goals to nothing in the initial dozen minutes.

By quarter-time, the dead rubber between the non-finalists was decided: the Hawks led 7.1 to 1.1.

The nearest the lacklustre Suns got thereafter was late in the second term.

Hawthorn banked a fifth win of the season and Alastair Clarkson’s side will likely finish 15th.

The Suns are headed for 14th spot in a season which began brightly with three victories from four games but then fell in a hole, with just two more wins.

Gold Coast, still yet to reach the finals in 10 seasons, were steamrolled from the start on Sunday as Hawthorn booted six goals from their initial 10 inside 50s of the game.

Puopolo and fellow veteran Jack Gunston (four goals) helped themselves to two goals each during the spree.

Puopolo’s fellow retiree and triple premiership player Ben Stratton collected 13 disposals and kicked a last-quarter goal – just the second in his 202-game career, coming a decade after his first in his 2010 debut season.

The early Hawthorn charge was led by 10-gamer Dylan Moore, whose nine opening-term disposals included a goal – he tallied 25 possessions for the game.

Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell (33 touches), James Cousins (24), Liam Shiels (25) and ex-Sun Jaeger O’Meara (25) were influential.

Gold Coast’s co-captain David Swallow (27 disposals) and Noah Anderson (25 possessions) and were the team’s leading ball-winners.

Forward Alex Sexton booted three majors while the Suns’ debutant Jy Farrar scored a goal with his first kick in AFL ranks.





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Live AFL scores, Hawthorn vs Gold Coast Suns, Round 18 | Live scores, updates, video, stats, live stream, live blog, live ladder


Two sides on different trajectories will try and end the 2020 season on a high note as Hawthorn faces Gold Coast at the Adelaide Oval.

The Hawks (4-12, 78.8%) are wrapping up a very disappointing year, having lost 11 of their last 12 matches, and would dearly love to head into the off-season with some optimism.

The Suns (5-10-1, 94.8%) started the season well and their win-loss record belies how competitive they’ve been – but they’ve still won just one of their last nine matches.

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Round 18

LIVE LADDER: Top eight race and what each team needs, updated across Round 18



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Lions ready to roar in AFL finals


Brisbane coach Chris Fagan believes his side is better placed for a shot at the AFL premiership this season than it was before last year’s straight-sets finals exit.

The platform has been set with the Lions locking in a second successive top-two position with Saturday night’s 17-point win over Carlton.

Their seventh consecutive win guaranteed them two home finals at the Gabba again, and the grand final will also be played at their home ground.

“We’re better for the experience that we had last year but you’ve got to get the results on the board,” Fagan said

“A new season is about to begin – finals – and we’re desperate to do well.”

In 2019, consecutive home defeats to eventual premiers Richmond and grand finalists Greater Western Sydney brought about Brisbane’s demise.

Fagan rejected suggestions the straight-sets nature of that finals exit led to added pressure this time around.

“I don’t see it that way,” Fagan said.

“Last year was a brilliant learning experience for us and we actually played really well in the finals last year, so we’ve got nothing to fear.

“We look forward to the challenge.”

Brisbane will win the minor premiership if Port Adelaide fail to beat Collingwood on Monday night.

It would be the first time a Queensland-based club has claimed the McClelland Trophy.

Fitzroy won their last minor premiership in 1913, long before the Brisbane Lions merged entity played its first season in 1997.

“It’s always good to do something historic (but) it’s not really in our hands,” Fagan said.

“It’s in Port Adelaide’s hands and what happens in that game on Monday.

“The pressure’s on them now, so I’m glad it’s not on us.

“You never know, we might get a chance to do something that no other Brisbane team has done, which would be great for the group.

“They’ve been a fantastic group to coach and they deserve every bit of success that they get.”

Brisbane will welcome back Jarrod Berry (shoulder) for their first final but star defender Harris Andrews (hamstring) is unlikely to win his race against time to prove his fitness.





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AFL finals 2020: AFL live ladder, Run Home, ladder predictor, Round 18, top eight, scenarios, who will play finals, possibilities


The race for the finals is going down to the wire.

Ten teams came into the weekend with a shot at the flag, with all of them playing for position in their last game of the home and away season.

Here’s where the top eight race sits right now. (We’ll be keeping this story updated throughout Round 18).

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Round 18

AFL LIVE LADDER (after Saturday night)



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AFL 2020: Inappropriate touching, Melbourne vs Essendon, Jayden Hunt, Christian Petracca, video, footage, latest news


GOLD COAST — Melbourne has spoken to Christian Petracca and Jayden Hunt regarding an incident of inappropriate touching that occurred during three-quarter-time of Saturday’s win over Essendon.

Fox Footy’s cameras caught the two players touching each other as they listened to Simon Goodwin’s address.

It’s understood the players acknowledged it was not a good look for the club and said it won’t happen again. The duo agreed it was inappropriate.

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Round 18

Dees under fire for touching

1:50



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This AFL season is as legitimate as any other


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For some the compromise has been too much. Back in June former AFL coach Mick Malthouse wrote: “I hate to say it, but it is virtually a non-season,” adding, “There are too many restrictions and too much compromise for it to be fair and even for all.”

His premiership midfield star Dane Swan has been singing from the same hymn book, tweeting, “No player, coach, AFL official or commentator will ever say it, which is understandable, but no doubt this year has an asterisk.”

No, it hasn’t.

This season is as legitimate as any others. For the evidence, just look around.

The fans are invested. The TV ratings for this season are through the roof. In August, Foxtel reported its ratings had increased by an average of 34 per cent compared to the same time last year. For Channel Seven it’s a similar story. Its ratings bump was 24.2 per cent.

Of course, the naysayers will point to the fact the ratings are simply up because there’s nothing else to watch.

But the investment from the fans has been emotional, too. In a year where we’ve all been crying out for a mere glimmer of hope and speck of good news, so often it’s been the footy that’s delivered.

Ask Carlton fans. Their anguish following an after-the-siren winning goal by Port Adelaide’s Robbie Gray in round 7 was then superseded by scenes of ecstasy when Jack Newnes kicked a last-gasp goal from the boundary to claim a famous victory against Fremantle in round 12. Fans across the country posted videos on social media of their wild celebrations reminding us all just how much this season matters.

The coaches and players are also invested. Ask West Coast Eagles premiership coach Adam Simpson, who claimed the injury-depleted Eagles’ win over St Kilda in round 17 was “one of my best wins for the club in my time”. The season clearly matters to him.

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And don’t worry about the idea that this season is too compromised to be legitimate. Most people are smart enough to realise every single season is compromised.

Malthouse’s Magpies, for example, played a remarkable 11 games in a row at the MCG on their way to the premiership in 2010 while some interstate teams travelled from one side of the country to the other. Last year, Richmond finished the regular season with a run of seven MCG games.

We all know that each year, except this one, teams play every other team once, but only five other teams twice. Some play indoors at Marvel Stadium at the same time others play outside in teeming rain. Then there’s the small matter of higher-ranked non-Victorian teams playing Victorian clubs in the grand final in Melbourne.

Sound compromised? Of course it is.

Undoubtedly this year’s been odd. But illegitimate? No way. It matters. In fact, it matters a lot.

Sam Duncan is a lecturer in sports media and marketing.

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