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Rounds Of Our Lives: The greatest moments from Round 21

Western Bulldogs Steve Kolynuik (left) and Chris Grant celebrate Grant’s match-winner for the Dogs in Round 21, 2000. Photo: MICHAEL DODGE

Rounds Of Our Lives: The greatest moments from Round 21

Luke Michael    

If you need a break from the constant speculation and analysis accompanying the 2018 AFL season, take a step back and enjoy some of the greatest moments from round 21 in years gone by.

This round saw some impressive streaks ended, from Essendon’s 20-game winning run in 2000, to Geelong’s 15-match unbeaten run in 2007.

Because, like Peter Hudson descending on Waverley Park in a helicopter or an incredible Liam Jurrah hanger, so are the Rounds of our Lives.

WESTERN BULLDOGS 14.8 (92) d ESSENDON 12.9 (81) (Colonial Stadium, Round 21 2000)
Essendon’s 20-match winning streak came to an end in round 21, 2000, thanks in large part to a “super flood” masterminded by Bulldogs coach Terry Wallace.

In a game the Dogs dubbed “Mission Impossible”, Wallace knew he needed to do something special to unsettle the all-conquering Bombers.

But after ending Carlton’s 13-match winning streak a fortnight earlier playing a loose man in defence, the Dogs coach realised the same tactic could work against Essendon – just on a much grander scale.

The resultant “super flood” was unleashed against the Bombers on Friday night in round 21, in front of more than 45,000 fans.

Up to 14 Dogs flooded the defensive arc, stifling Essendon’s forward thrusts and restricting the high-scoring Bombers’ to just 12.9 from 68 inside 50s.

Despite Wallace’s coaching nous however, his side still found themselves 22 points down in the final quarter. Needing to turn their defensive efforts into attack, The Bulldogs did so with aplomb, booting three goals in a row.

It set the game up for a thrilling finale, with the Bombers holding a one-point lead in the final two minutes.

The Dogs needed a hero, and it would be favourite son Chris Grant who stepped up to the plate.

When Dustin Fletcher kicked the ball out on the full in the forward pocket, Grant was given the opportunity to be the match-winner. Lining up on a tight angle deep in the pocket, he curled the ball beautifully to score a clutch goal.

The Dogs held on to secure one of their most famous victories, while the Bombers brushed themselves off to cruise to their 16th premiership – finishing the season with a record of 24-1.

COLLINGWOOD 16.10 (106) d HAWTHORN 13.10 (88) (Waverley Park, Round 21 1973)
Hawthorn legend Peter Hudson memorably arrived at Waverley Park in a helicopter in 1973 to play his comeback game against Collingwood, after 17 months on the sidelines. It was thought Hudson’s career was finished after he suffered a serious knee injury in the first game of 1972, but he returned in round 21 the next year coming off only two weeks’ training. Arriving in Melbourne from Tasmania just hours before the game, Hudson was brought back to try to take down the top-of-the-table Magpies, with the Hawks fighting to make finals. Hudson was immediately back to his prolific best, scoring 8.3 from 15 kicks. Unfortunately for Hawthorn, his brilliance alone wasn’t enough to defeat the Pies, who prevailed by 18 points. The Hawks finals chances were dashed, and Hudson returned home to Tasmania, returning again for a final fling in 1977, when he’d kick 110 goals.

FREMANTLE 15.11 (101) d WEST COAST 15.10 (100) (Subiaco, Round 21 2000)
In perhaps the most memorable clash between the fierce West Australian rivals, Fremantle decided it would no longer be pushed around by the Eagles in the infamous “Demolition Derby”. After suffering a 117-point thrashing at the hands of the Eagles earlier that year, the Dockers were keen for retribution. A fiery first half saw punches flying everywhere, leading four players to be suspended for a total of 15 matches, while 11 players copped fines. The match itself was dominated by the Eagles in the first half, but despite the Dockers falling seven goals behind early in the third quarter, they were able to slowly claw their way back. Fremantle eventually won a thriller by one point as Clive Waterhouse starred with seven goals.

PORT ADELAIDE 16.10 (106) d GEELONG 15.11 (101) (Skilled Stadium, Round 21 2007)
The dominant Cats were upset by a determined Port Adelaide outfit at Skilled Stadium in 2007, after some magic from Domenic Cassisi in the dying seconds. This may have been a clash between the top two teams on the ladder, but Geelong – playing at home and riding a 15-game winning streak – was clearly the favourite. Despite this, Port led for most of the day before a late surge from the Cats saw them hit the front with just over two minutes remaining. But with the game seemingly lost, an inspired Cassisi was able to pounce on a spilled ball inside 50 and slot a classy running goal with three seconds left on the clock. Port Adelaide secured a memorable victory, in a classic game sometimes forgotten in the aftermath of Geelong’s record 119-point thumping of Port a month later in the grand final.

PORT ADELAIDE 17.10 (112) d MELBOURNE 11.17 (83) (AAMI Stadium, Round 21 2010)
Footy fans never got a chance to see Liam Jurrah reach his full potential as an AFL player – which is a shame when you consider the sparks of brilliance he was able to conjure during his brief career.One of the brightest sparks occurred in round 21, 2010, when Jurrah flew on to the shoulders of teammate Jack Watts and Port Adelaide’s Nick Salter to take an incredible “hanger”. Jurrah took the mark as he fell forward on to the turf, but was still able to keep possession of the ball. Melbourne in the end was defeated by 29 points, but Jurrah was later rewarded for his efforts with the 2010 Mark of the Year Award.

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