Round 11 was kicked off by Sydney and Richmond at the SCG on Friday night.
In a couple of close encounters, the Swans prevailed by six points against the Tigers, while the Pies defeated the Blues by four points in a Sunday afternoon classic.
The Lions and Cats took care of business, while Fremantle staked their claims as genuine premiership contenders after beating Melbourne.
St Kilda established themselves as top four fancies, while Port Adelaide and Gold Coast kept their finals dreams alive.
After-the-siren controversy in Swans-Tigers
The Swans escaped with victory on Friday night against the Tigers in a thriller by six points.
However, it was filled with plenty of controversy, as the Tigers were almost in with a shot of stealing two premiership points.
Richmond Dion Prestia was awarded a free-kick 70 metres from goal with seconds remaining and once the siren sounded, Swan Chad Warner booted the ball into the crowd, potentially being penalised for a 50 metre penalty.
Tigers players pleaded with officials and were unsuccessful in their attempts, as Prestia was forced to take his kick from well outside his range.
Sparking immediate debate over social media and in the commentary box, the Swans did manage to take the four points and look toward a top four finish as they sit 7-4 after round 11.
Collingwood win in a thriller
In typical rivalry fashion, Collingwood and Carlton was an epic thriller, with the Pies winning by only four points.
Craig McRae’s men were valiant in their performance, proving to be the better side most of the day and getting out to a 23-point lead before the Blues stormed back and narrowly losing.
The Pies put up their sixth win of the season and sit just outside the top eight only by percentage.
Collingwood face the Demons twice on the run home as well as Sydney and Carlton.
However, the other seven matches are against sides sitting below the Pies and who could be expected to win.
13 wins guarantees a finals spot in most seasons and the surprise-packet of the year could see themselves in September.
Demons, Blues vulnerable without key defenders
Demon defender and All-Australian Steven May has proven his worth in the Melbourne side, after he went down with an injury early against Fremantle.
Playing a total of 15 per cent game time, May went down with a concussion and the Demons found themselves scrambling to fill the void.
With Tom McDonald not getting up for the match and a lack of intercept defenders, Melbourne were unable to get their game going, and ultimately saw the Dockers run away with the win.
May will be forced to miss their next clash against Sydney, following concussion protocols.
Similarly to Melbourne, Carlton also had one of their most important players go down in Jacob Weitering, who hurt his shoulder and could see some time on the sidelines.
Weitering was subbed out of the game in the second quarter and the Blues found themselves in a vulnerable position on the defensive end.
Carlton went down by four points to their rivals, but will look to the mid-season draft to potentially pick up a key defender, given their stocks are low.
Fremantle are back on track
Following back-to-back losses against Gold Coast and Collingwood, the Dockers’ season looked to be in strife, especially since they were facing an undefeated Demons side at the MCG.
However, the system and game style implemented by coach Justin Longmuir stood up against the competition’s best and saw Fremantle back on the winner’s list.
This is the third scalp the Dockers have taken in the quest for premiership glory and were ultra impressive in the second half against the reigning premiers.
Fremantle kicked 12 goals to 1.6 in the last two quarters including an eight-goal third term against one of the best defensive sides.
All the key stats were dominated by the purple haze and they were back to their best in a finals-like showing.
Are the Suns finals bound?
Gold Coast have now won three of their last four, including a Fremantle smashing at Metricon Stadium, and picking up some form for the back half of the year.
The Suns took care of the Hawks up in Darwin by 67-points and impressed most by the overall team performance, with all players taking on their role effectively.
However, conversation has sparked as to whether or not Gold Coast can make the finals in 2022.
Hitting the middle of the season, the Suns sit with a 5-6 win/loss record and look poised to potentially make history and see some action in September given their run home.
Of their last 11 games, they only play two teams in the top eight (at the moment), whilst also playing North Melbourne twice and West Coast another time.
History does say that 13 wins will guarantee you a finals berth, meaning the Suns will have to win the majority of their games in order to play finals footy.
West Coast have given in
Following another 101-point smashing at the hands of the Dogs, West Coast fans have their heads in their hands, questioning the next step of the club into the future.
The Dogs started off the game relatively slowly, until piling up six goals in the first term.
The margin got out to 32 points at half-time, with the Eagles putting up a solid effort against a much better side.
However, West Coast kicked four goals in the second half to 15 and for the second time this year, lost by 100 points or more.
Sitting clearly on the bottom of the ladder with a percentage of 49.7 per cent, the Eagles players have seemed to have given up, with yet another smashing, leaving more questions than answers.
The way forward for this club seems very blurry and the next step isn’t clear, with the direction for West Coast uncertain at this minute.
St Kilda can make top four
The Saints have won their last three and sit fourth with eight wins for the season and look like genuine contenders in 2022.
Taking care of North Melbourne by 53 points, Brett Ratten’s men have been impressive with their stingy defensive system, being behind only Melbourne and Fremantle in the competition.
The Saints are near full strength, with only their skipper Jack Steele and small forward Jack Higgins out of the side as the club enters the bye.
However, St Kilda’s run home is a difficult one, facing bottom eight sides in only three of their remaining matches.
The Saints come up against the Lions and Swans twice, as well as Carlton and Geelong.