With the Grand Final played and won, the long dark no football months of summer lie in wait for us. In an effort to bring some light to this miserable time, The Pinch Hitters intend to take a look back at the season that was and celebrate the great moments of season 2018. Today we take a look at the games that brought fans to the edge of their seats as we count down the Top Five Games of 2018.
Showdown XLIV and Motlop’s Goal.
What a game! What a finish!
For many judges Showdown XLIV was not just the best home and away game of the 2018 season but perhaps also the greatest of all showdowns and its hard to argue with them. At half time however, with the Power trailing by 23-points, there was no hint of the drama to follow.
An electrifying third quarter from Robbie Gray earned him a third Showdown Medal and turned the entire contest on it’s head. At his absolutely damaging best Gray collected seven disposals, four of which were contested, three clearances and his 100% disposal efficiency included five of his six goals for the game. The 30-year-old’s efforts were the back bone of the Power’s seven goal to two quarter which saw them turn for home with a 12-point lead.
The final term was an arm wrestle but when Sam Powell-Pepper’s eighth minute goal remained unanswered as the game entered time-on it appeared that Port’s 17-point lead would be enough for victory but the Crows had other ideas. Three quick goals to Eddie Betts, Taylor Walker and Mitch McGovern saw Adelaide take the lead late.
Then with 29 seconds left on the clock and the Crows clinging grimly to their lead – enter Steven Motlop. You all know what happens next but check it out again in the video below
5. The Giants tame the Tigers in a thriller.
It was a Saturday night classic at Spotless Stadium when GWS hosted Richmond in Round 17. With their season lurching on the edge after their previous round loss to West Coast saw them on the outside of the eight looking in, victory was vital for the Giants if they were to keep their finals hopes alive.
Playing like a team with their season on the line, they jumped the premiership favourites to kick four of the first five goals of the game. In a game Richmond coach Damien Hardwick described as ‘a pretty torrid affair,’ the Giants kept their noses in front through outstanding performances from a number of their star players.
As he was throughout much of 2018, Lachie Whitfield stood tall in the second half to finish the night with 35 touches and 12 marks. Zac Langdon bobbed up with three goals and the returning Toby Greene was dangerous with two goals including a settler in the final term when the contest was at its fiercest.
The Tigers refused to yield however and set up a barnstorming finish, despite Giants attempts to control the tempo, after goals to Daniel Rioli, Toby Nankervis and Jayden Short. Jason Castagna missed an opportunity to erode the lead further when he kicked his fifth point of the game before Jack Riewoldt kicked the Tigers within two points with a minute to play. Despite having wobbled during the final term, the Giants won the vital clearance at the next centre bounce and clung grimly to their two point advantage until the siren sounded to end one of the games of the year.
4. Deja Vu All Over Again in Adelaide.
Like it had the last time they met at the same venue, it took a goal after the siren to decide the winner of the West Coast and Port Adelaide when they met at the Adelaide Oval in Round 21. After a slow start, in which they conceded five of the first six goals of the game, West Coast came home hard in the final term but looked to be out of time when they trailed by 10 points with less than a minute to play. A Mark LeCras goal with 43 seconds on the clock set up a pulsating and memorable finish.
With Port Adelaide clinging on grimly, the ball was unable to be cleared from the centre bounce. The secondary contest appeared to be headed the same way until Scott Lycett managed to gain possession and hurriedly booted the ball forward. Reading the ball perfectly, having only been recently thrown forward, Jeremy McGovern marked the ball almost uncontested. In almost the exact same position as Luke Shuey’s match winner in the 2017 Elimination Final, the siren sounded as he prepared for his kick. Undeterred by the situation McGovern kicked truly to deliver another dagger to the heart of Port fans.
3. Another Easter Monday Classic.
They say there two certainties in life, death and taxes. it should in fact be three, because you can add Easter Monday between Hawthorn and Geelong being a classic to that list. Easter is a time for family and celebration. Well, that is until Easter Monday, when one of the biggest rivalries in footy gives us one more chapter. This fixture doesn’t usually disappoint, and Monday 2 April was no exception.
The Hawks set the tone early with pressure on the ball carrier and dogged tackling. Jarman Impey did his credentials no harm with his efforts, and slotted home the first goal for the Hawks. From there, it was almost goal for goal for a while, as both teams looked to attack. Hawthorn were impressive with their spread and run, and reaped the rewards with some slick entries into forward 50. If not for some poor goal kicking, they could have had a more significant lead at half time.
The second half had a similar tone to it, with the Hawks piling the pressure on in the third quarter, but failing to completely capitalise on the scoreboard. Geelong took advantage of turnovers and rebounds and helped themselves to four third quarter goals. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Hawks led by 18 points. True to form, Geelong came back at an alarming rate, and were propelled forward by Ablett, Dangerfield and Selwood. Despite the last gasp effort, Geelong fell short by a point, as Hawthorn claimed a momentous victory.
2. Jenkins hits the
For a Crows fan it doesn’t get any better.
After the heartbreaking loss at the hands of Stephen Motlop in Round Eight, the Round 20 showdown saw the ledger be drawn level once again. Not only was beating the old enemy by less than a kick one of the best feelings ever, it was made even sweeter by Josh Jenkins’ late goal to put the Crows up, which maybe, probably, did hit the post.
The vision is pretty inconclusive so in context the right decision was made, but the roar that went around the ground when that was a goal, to quote Brian Taylor, “Oh Boy, Wowee!”. As if winning showdowns didn’t matter enough, this one put the Crows back in front of the ledger and to do it by under a kick in such controversial circumstances, definitely the best moment of season 2018 from a Crows perspective.
1. A Premiership Winning Kick.
West Coast prevailed in one of the great Grand Finals of recent years, claiming their fourth Premiership as a result of their nail-biting five point victory over Collingwood. The Magpies began the match firing on all cylinders and had quickly built a 29-point lead during time-on in the first quarter in their best start to a Grand Final since 1970. Unfortunately for Collingwood the game would end very similarly to that decider too.
With scores level at three-quarter time, the scene was set for a grandstand finish and that is exactly what transpired after Collingwood kick-started the final term with two goals in a minute. Determined, rather than defeated, the Eagles renewed their efforts and spent much of the remainder of the game camped in their forward half locked in a bitter arm-wrestle with the Pie defence. Despite a spirited defensive effort, the result of the game was out of their control when Dom Sheed marked in the dying minutes of the game.
With the small matter of the Grand Final lead riding on his kick, Dom Sheed lined up for a goal deep in the Eagles pocket, 40 metres out with time running low. Rather than wilt under the weight of pressure and expectation, Sheed rose to the occasion and kicked a goal worthy of the place it will hold in football folklore.
Sheed’s match winning kick came about as a result of an attacking thrust that began with an intercept mark by Jeremy McGovern in defensive fifty. Threading the needle the defender found Vardy with a pinpoint kick amongst a nest of Magpies. Liam Ryan was next link in the chain before he drove it towards Sheed at half forward.
With ice water running through his veins, the veteran midfielder didn’t as much as flinch before putting a knife through Magpie fans hearts with a drop punt right through the middle of the big sticks. Collingwood had one last roll of the dice but came up short meaning West Coast were premiers for the fourth time. On every possible level, it was the best Eagles moment of 2018.