THE last of the three bye weeks is finally behind us, with AFL fans now looking forward to a full round of football this weekend.
While there were limited games played in Round 13, we still have plenty of action to report on.
The dominant Docker Fyfe fired himself into unprecedented levels of Brownlow medal favouritism, the Hawks premiership credentials became stronger and the Dogs stamped themselves one of the teams to watch out for in September for the first time in five years.
Round 13 review – Fyfe’s familiar story – Hawthorn on the path to glory
The round started on Thursday night with Fremantle and Collingwood playing out a nail biting clash over in the west, with the Dockers prevailing by seven points.
The lead changed hands several times throughout the night, with a gripping last quarter not decided until the siren sounded.
Collingwood forward Jesse White had a chance to narrow the margin to two points late in the game, but failed to kick the goal, granting Fremantle their 11th win of the season.
Nat Fyfe was again phenomenal, accumulating 32 disposals and booting two goals.
The match solidified why the Fremantle gun is favourite for the Brownlow, with Sportsbet opening a market for the best and fairest player in the AFL without the superstar Docker.
Matt Priddis is currently $5 favourite to amass the most votes without Fyfe.
Saturday saw the Hawthorn juggernaut roll on, this time defeating Essendon by 38 points at the MCG.
The Bombers looked up for the fight, leading at quarter time and trailing by just one point heading into half time, but an 11 goal second half blew the Dons away, with the Hawks moving further into premiership favouritism with the bookmakers.
Sportsbet has the Hawks as $3.30 favourites to take out the 2015 premiership.
The only disappointing moment for the Hawks came early in the contest when off-season recruit James Frawley injured his shoulder in a marking contest with Bomber Jake Carlisle.
The All-Australian full back will require surgery and leaves the sometimes fragile Hawthorn backline a man short heading into the back half of the season.
Despite losing Frawley, the Hawks are playing magnificently at the moment, and have swept aside two finals aspirants in consecutive weeks.
It is not inconceivable that the reigning premiers could make a late charge for the minor premiership with a favourable run home.
Crownbet has the Hawks as $7 outsiders to finish the 2015 season on top of the ladder.
Saturday night saw the Bulldogs and the Saints clash, with another epic encounter at Etihad Stadium.
The teams were separated by just six points at the final siren, with the Dogs getting the redemption they craved after succumbing to a St Kilda surge in their last meeting.
The Dogs were led brilliantly by captain Robert Murphy, who has seemingly gone to another level, and rebounding defender Easton Wood, who looks set to become the All-Australian half back flank.
The Bulldogs look poised to make the eight after an opening half to the season which saw them come away with some spirited wins.
Grinding out a win against opposition you are supposed to beat is the next step for the young pups, and they passed it with flying colours.
Crownbet is offering $2.50 for the Dogs to play in the finals this season.
The round ended on Sunday with the Blues winning back-to-back matches for the first time in 2015, easily accounting for the Gold Coast Suns to the tune of 34 points.
The Suns skipped away to an early lead after some ill-disciplined play by the Blues, but Carlton were able to wrestle back momentum and eventually outclass their opponents with relentless attack on the ball.
The Blues were led wonderfully by skipper Marc Murphy, who collected a game-high 32 disposals, while Levi Casboult and Andrejs Everitt combined for six goals.
The Blues players were keen to praise interim coach John Barker, who has his players in the right frame of mind to win match of football.
The Sportsbet market on the next Carlton coach has seen Barker firm right in over the past fortnight, with the former Hawk now second favourite at $4.50.
Sydney assistant coach Stewart Dew is the $3.50 favourite to land the Carlton head coaching role.
The news gets worse for the Suns, with the loss placing them one game behind the 17th placed Brisbane Lions with the worse percentage in the league.
This leaves the Gold Coast in the unenviable position at the bottom of the ladder, with Sportsbet offering as low as $1.45 for the Suns to finish 2015 with the least amount of wins.
Two big injuries came out of the clash between Hawthorn and Essendon, with two bookends from either side set to have extended periods on the sidelines.
Hawks’ defender James Frawley will miss a minimum of six weeks with a shoulder injury, with the former All-Australian defender weighing up whether to have season-ending surgery to correct the problem now or at the conclusion of the season.
Essendon forward Jake Carlisle will miss at least a month of football after rolling his ankle badly on the final siren.
The versatile big man found himself entangled with Hawks’ forward Jarryd Roughead late in the game and writhed in pain as he found his foot trapped under the 100kg Hawks’ body weight.
Adelaide are set to be without midfielder Rory Sloane, who reinjured his fractured cheekbone in Saturday’s big win over the Lions at the GABBA.
The hard running on-baller will require surgery to repair his cheekbone, and will miss at least 4-6 weeks with the injury.
The Menzel knee curse did not reoccur on Sunday, with Carlton’s Troy Menzel cleared of any structural damage to the knee he has had previously reconstructed.
The mercurial Blue limped off the field early in the second half, favouring his troublesome knee, but scans on Monday revealed he will not require any additional surgery.
Menzel is still expected to miss at least a week.