Defending premiers Richmond (pic) and West Coast are in freefall in the shortened 2020 AFL season. Image by Scott Barbour/AAP PHOTOS

Australian rules football

Eagles, Tigers in AFL struggle town

2020-06-28 22:16:00

Starting the year as premiership fancies, West Coast and Richmond find themselves in a scrap for survival ahead of their Thursday night showdown at Metricon Stadium.

The Eagles’ quarantine hub struggles continued on Saturday when a poor third-quarter display cost them dearly on the way to a 48-point loss to Port Adelaide.

It left West Coast with a 1-3 record and the second-worst percentage in the competition (68.8).

Richmond, with a win and a draw to their name, are faring only marginally better.

The defending premiers are languishing in 14th spot on the table with a percentage of 87.9.

Richmond’s 32-point loss to Hawthorn in round three was followed by a shock 26-point defeat on Saturday to St Kilda, despite the return of Dusty Martin.

With the regular season shortened to 17 rounds, West Coast and Richmond have little room for error from this point, making Thursday night’s clash a high-stakes affair.

Hawthorn improved to a 3-1 record and moved into fourth spot with a four-point win over North Melbourne on Sunday.

The Kangaroos didn’t score in the third quarter and trailed by 31 points in the final term before storming home to fall agonisingly short – 8.10 (58) to 8.6 (54).

Geelong (2-2) shot up to fifth spot on the ladder after overcoming a late scare to beat Melbourne by three points.

The Demons booted the last two goals of the match to give themselves a chance of snatching victory, but Adam Tomlinson’s late set shot from 50m out narrowly missed.

Geelong’s 7.5 (47) to 6.8 (44) win came at a big cost after star defender Tom Stewart suffered a suspected broken collarbone in the first quarter.

Gold Coast are shaping up as this year’s fairytale story, and first-year midfielder Matt Rowell is looming as a shock contender for the Brownlow medal.

The Suns posted their third win on the trot with a 13-point triumph over Fremantle.

Gold Coast had lost 19 straight games before this successful run, and they have won over the hearts of fans this year with their hot form and dazzling displays.

Rowell might already have nine Brownlow votes in his pocket after tallying 20 disposals, seven clearances, and two goals against the Dockers.

One of his Brownlow rivals – two-time winner Nat Fyfe – injured his hamstring and the Fremantle skipper is awaiting the results of scans.

Port Adelaide are the early pacesetters after posting four-straight wins, while Brisbane have moved up to third spot with Sunday’s 37-point win over Adelaide.

Brisbane host Port at the Gabba on Saturday night in a top-four blockbuster.

But they might be without skipper Dayne Zorko, who injured his calf in the 10.23 (83) to 7.4 (46) win over the Crows.

Adelaide and Fremantle are both winless after four rounds, but the Dockers’ form has been far more encouraging than that of the Crows.

Essendon’s tumultuous week of COVID-19 drama ended in a heartbreaking one-point loss to Carlton.