There was some pretty good footy played in round 21...
Western Bulldogs overcame a stubborn yet inconsistent Collingwood side. The Dogs are hoping for a top six finish, which would involve a home game to start the playoffs. The top four sides play for the chance to get a bye week, the next two play for home ground to open the finals, and the seventh and eighth place have to battle all the way through. So Western helped themselves on that count.
A goal from ruckman Nic Natanui with :08 left helped West Coast beat GWS by one point. It's amazing how those single-point behinds can make such a big difference.
And in one of the two games I saw, Geelong looked dead in the water against an inspired Richmond, trailing the Tigers by 35 at three-quarter time. But then the Cats found their inspiration, kicking six goals and scoring 45 consecutive points in the fourth term to beat Richmond.
In looking last week at home grounds and how the sides in and around Melbourne play the majority of their games close to home, Geelong also has it pretty good, as they're only an hour away from the Melbourne Cricket Ground or Etihad Stadium, where many AFL games are played. It does seem to be a bit of an advantage to the Victorian clubs since travel is reduced during the home-and-away season. Outliers such as Fremantle and West Coast have a nearly three-hour plane ride to Adelaide and 3:30 to Melbourne. Multiply that by two or three and it can add up, especially if you add in a trip to Sydney or Brisbane.
It's not as bad for the Brisbane Lions on the other coast, as it's 2:30 by plane to Melbourne, and Sydney/GWS only fly an hour and a half into town.
It's why those home games in the postseason are so critical.
Elsewhere, Hawthorn also beat North Melbourne to stay at the top of the ladder.
On tap for round 22, I'll look at Sydney at North, and Adelaide is at Port Adelaide. This is a technicality, since the Crows and Power both call the Adelaide Oval their home grounds. Sydney and Adelaide both have a chance at a home game in week 1 of the finals, so there's still a lot that's up in the air.