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Western Bulldogs back in top eight after beating Hawthorn

An Adelaide Crows and Carlton opponent push against each other as they get ready to contest for the ball.

The Western Bulldogs have firmed as AFL finalists after demolishing Hawthorn by 36 points to climb into the top eight.

Key points:

  • The Bulldogs move up to seventh place on the ladder and will clinch a finals spot if they beat the Dockers next Sunday
  • The Hawks recorded their 12th defeat in a dismal season for the club
  • The Crows beat the Blues by 16 points for their third consecutive win

The Bulldogs jumped from 10th to seventh spot on the ladder with an 11.10 (76) to 6.4 (40) victory over the Hawks at Adelaide Oval on Sunday.

The victory came after Carlton’s finals dreams ended earlier in the day, with a 16-point loss to Adelaide on the Gold Coast.

The Bulldogs will be assured of a finals berth if they beat Fremantle in Cairns next Sunday but they will likely be without utility Toby McLean, who suffered a suspected knee injury.

McLean kicked a goal just 17 seconds into the match but three minutes later he was stretchered off the ground in agony after his right knee buckled in a tackle from Hawthorn ruckman Jonathon Ceglar.

The injury took some gloss from a polished performance against the Hawks, whose season continues its dreadful spiral.

The Hawks won three of their first four matches but lost 11 of the next 12.

The Bulldogs held an 18-point break at quarter-time, then booted three goals to none in the second term for a 40-point half-time lead, 7.6 (48) to 1.2 (8).

The Hawks showed some pluck in the third quarter, kicking four goals to two, before being outscored by a goal in a tame last term.

Bulldogs Jason Johannisen, Aaron Naughton and Tim English kicked two goals each, while defender Caleb Daniel was superb with 28 disposals and a major.

Hawks stalwart Jack Gunston picked up three goals, and his teammates Liam Shiels (20 disposals) and James Cousins (19 disposals) did their best in a losing battle.

Carlton out of finals race

Carlton’s faint hopes of making the AFL finals have vanished, with Adelaide recording a third straight victory to boost its chances of avoiding the wooden spoon.

The Crows, winless for more than a year before this month, have now won three matches in 13 days after a brilliant first half set up their 10.12 (72) to 8.8 (56) win over the Blues at Carrara.

Lachlan Sholl (two goals, five inside 50s, 24 touches) dominated the opening quarter to set the tone, while Elliot Himmelberg (two goals) and Shane McAdam (one) were threats up front.

The Crows are still bottom of the ladder with one round remaining in the home-and-away season, but are now level with North Melbourne on 12 points.

An Adelaide Crows and Carlton opponent push against each other as they get ready to contest for the ball.
Adelaide’s Reilly O’Brien (left) competes with Carlton’s Levi Casboult during the Crows’ win.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

The victory sent the retiring Bryce Gibbs out a winner against his former club, which needed a win to have any chance of qualifying for the finals.

The Blues kicked just one goal in the first half to trail by 44 points at the main break.

There were finally signs of life late in the third term when captain Patrick Cripps kicked a stunning goal, having surged through traffic before turning his defender inside out to spark their comeback.

But the Blues ran out of time as the Crows helped celebrate Gibbs’s AFL career in winning style.


Gibbs had 27 disposals in the victory, Rory Sloane selflessly offloading to him in the final moments for the fairytale finish, only for his shot at goal to sail just wide.

The veteran midfielder, who played 231 matches for the Blues, announced this week Sunday’s match would be his last in the AFL.

Traded to the Crows in 2017, the All-Australian had played just three matches for the club this year but was “happy to go out on his own terms”.

“It was a really special day and to get the win even better,” Gibbs said before being chaired off the ground.

“They’re my best mates, some of them were in my wedding party, so to share the last game together was pretty special.

“Hopefully fans at home can see that [young talent] coming to the fore the last couple of weeks … three on the trot now. It’s exciting times ahead for the Crows.

“You grind away all year … it’s great to see some reward for the boys.”

The Crows finish their season at home to Richmond next Saturday, while the Blues face Brisbane at the Gabba.