Fans wave goodbye to the lighter fixture as the third and final mid-year bye round shook up the lower half of the eight in round 14 of the AFL season.

Carlton, St Kilda and Sydney let things slip to throw question marks over their credentials, while Geelong snuck into the top four and the Dogs made it four wins from their past five to continue their push for a place in the eight.

Despite his team’s stumble, a gun Saint continued on with a career-best season and an all-time great left cards on the table in what could prove a costly loss.

To get the ball rolling two mammoth clubs met for Thursday night footy.

  • Thursday June 16

Richmond 81 – 66 Carlton – MCG, Melbourne

The Tiges took on the ‘visiting’ Blues in front of more than 50,000 to kick off the weekend.

Controlling the contest from the outset, Richmond headed into the first break three goals in front after a slow start from the opposition.

Marlion Pickett got to work early, adding the first major of the evening with a left foot snap from 40 metres out after two minutes before Shai Bolton kicked his first not long after.

Bolton would add a second to give his side a buffer in the final quarter before the Blues flirted with a comeback with three in quick succession.

Shane Edwards and Daniel Rioli had similar nights with disposals in the high-teens and a goal apiece while Maurice Rioli made a late cameo replacing an injured Noah Balta in the final term to get his hands on the footy.

Jack Martin added a goal for his Blues.

  • Friday June 17

St Kilda 72 – 107 Essendon – Marvel Stadium, Melbourne

Essendon lifted for an emotion-fueled ‘Spud’s Game’ honouring the late St Kilda legend Danny Frawley to knock off the top-eight contending Saints.

The unlikely result gave the embattled Bombers something to celebrate with their third win of the season.

Even with the contest going the other way Jade Gresham proved himself a rising star of the competition collecting 28 touches, four tackles and a team-high three majors.

The midfielder-small forward is putting together a stellar season in 2022.

Bradley Hill wasn’t shy with 26 disposals and 517 metres gained for the Saints.

Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera and Paddy Ryder did their best to contribute in the losing effort. 

  • Saturday June 18

Port Adelaide 82 – 59 Sydney – Adelaide Oval, Adelaide

Port put the foot down for a blistering third quarter, blowing past the Swans with six straight goals, cementing a home win in the process.

Lance Franklin’s return disappointed with inaccurate outing against Port Adelaide. image: Sydney Swans Facebook

Karl Amon led the way for the Power boasting 31 touches while teammate Sam Powell-Pepper gritted his teeth getting the footy 16 times between six tackles and a goal for his side.

Following a week on the sidelines for striking Trent Cotchin, Lance Franklin returned for Sydney in a game he’d likely rather forget.

The 329-gamer kicked 1-2 in a poor outing, confirming some fears his inclusion would take away from the variety of young targets in the Swan’s front half.

Buddy will look to bounce back against St Kilda on Saturday night.

West Coast 63 – 81 Geelong – Optus Stadium, Perth

Geelong survived a scare when they travelled west to face the hapless Eagles on Saturday afternoon.

West Coast took it to the visitors early before the match swung back in the Cat’s favour.

Had Tim Kelly taken the field it could have made the difference for an unlikely victory, though the red-hot midfielder was a late out with illness.

Former Cat Jermaine Jones had a decent outing for the home side.

The Barkindji man contributed with 17 touches, while Willie Rioli managed to hit the scoreboard with one goal. 

Tyson Stengel starred with three goals and a handful of missed opportunities for Geelong.

The journeyman was later heralded a potential recruit of the year by Fox Footy pundits.

  • Sunday June 19

Gold Coast 116 – 73 Adelaide, Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast

It was another day out for Suns speedster Izak Rankine, putting his mark on a solid win for the finals contenders at home.

The South Australian put three goals in his pocket against the Crows to wrap up the weekend.

Teammate Joel Jeffrey kicked a ripper of his own midway through the second quarter, putting a bump on to collect a loose ball and dashing towards goal before slotting from close range.

The Crows’ Wayne Milera and Shane McAdam had a quieter afternoon while doing their best to make an impact.

With the bye rounds done and dusted a full fixture greets fans for the coming weekend.

A tantalising mid-week contest kicks things off as the ladder-leading Lions head south to face the second placed Demons in Melbourne in what could prove a Grand Final preview.

Just 0.2 percent separate the two sides on the ladder.

Melbourne face Brisbane at 7:20pm Thursday night at the MCG.