Adelaide – 2004 vs. Port Adelaide, round 4
The Showdown always has a bit of extra spice, but this one looked as if it were a forgone conclusion given the recent Showdown streak and the form of both teams. Port had only lost 1 game in a strong start to the season – conversely, the Crows had lost all but 1. This contrasting form in addition to the fact that Port Adelaide had won the last 7 Showdowns meant that Adelaide started as $5 outsiders, which was the biggest odds ever recorded in a showdown at that point. The Crows surprised everyone by recording a 32-point upset, with Mark Ricciuto coming away with the medal.
Brisbane – 2013 vs. Geelong, round 13
Coming into the game, the Lions were 14th on the ladder having won just 3 games up until the second half of the season. On the other hand, a confident and consistent Geelong team were looking down from second spot, with a win appearing a mere formality for the Cats. Being Ash McGrath’s 200th game, it was looking like there wouldn’t be many celebrations for Brisbane as they found themselves down by 52 points towards the end of the third quarter. After a blistering final term comeback, only a measly point remained between the two sides – before Ash McGrath himself snared a mark on the siren, giving himself a chance to steal the win which he capitalised on easily.
Carlton – 2013 vs. Port Adelaide, round 23
After an up and down season, the Blues found themselves in 9th place and 2 wins outside the 8 at the end of the season before an unusual Essendon demotion left them in contention for a last-minute finals appearance. All that was required was a win in the last round, albeit against Port Adelaide in Adelaide – who’d already secured a spot in the finals and had a solid record at home for the season. Carlton were on the back foot for most of the game, with a likely defeat looming at three-quarter-time when they were down by nearly 5 goals. The Blues refused to back down though, rallying to take the lead before the game turned goal for goal in the last half of the final term. Inaccuracy in the last 30 seconds cost Port Adelaide, with the Blues scraping through with the unlikely triumph. Notably, they then went on to knock Richmond out of the finals in another classic boilover.
Collingwood – 2005 vs. West Coast, round 9
An early addition to the list of memorable Collingwood wins over West Coast, the Pies entered this game as huge outsiders, sitting at the bottom of the ladder at the time with 1 win. The Eagles however were undefeated (on their way to a grand final berth), and in sizzling form on the top of the ladder. Kicking the first 3 goals, the match was looking likely to end how everyone thought it would, but Malthouse’s men had other ideas by causing a shock defeat to the tune of 23 points. The game remains one of the last occurrences of the bottom placed team beating the top team.
Essendon – 2016 vs. Melbourne, round 2
Essendon had a massive dent in their list after the supplement saga unfolded, which had many people asserting that they wouldn’t be able to notch up even 1 win in the 2016 season. They were annihilated in the first round by Gold Coast, who’d finished 16th on the ladder the previous year, so they were underdogs to say the least before this clash. Shockingly, the Bombers won by 13 points after leading at every break, recording a huge upset that would be the first of only 3 wins in a dismal season.
Fremantle – 2001 vs. Hawthorn, round 18
Freo’s losing streak had hit 17 in a row preceding this clash with the Hawks, who in stark contrast were sitting pretty in third after an impressive season to date. Establishing a 5-goal lead early, no one saw The Dockers making the Hawks sweat, let alone storming back to win somewhat convincingly. Matthew Pavlich and Justin Longmuir bagged 9 goals between them in a prolific display that put the pressure right on Hawthorn, forcing them to have to win all their next few games to secure the double chance come finals.
Geelong – 2003 vs. Port Adelaide, round 14
The Cats entered this game sitting 15th on the ladder and having only 3 wins to their name, as opposed to their seemingly mammoth opponent in Port Adelaide, who were on top of the ladder on a 15-game winning streak that looked extremely likely to continue. It was a game of swinging momentum, with the underdogs holding the lead several times throughout the game. The finish was nothing short of thrilling, with Ben Graham breaking Port fans’ hearts everywhere by kicking a late goal from outside 50 to elevate the Cats to a famous 1-point victory.
Gold Coast – 2018 vs. Sydney, round 18
Sitting 17th and only just ahead of Carlton, no one gave the undermanned Suns even the faintest chance against the Swans at the SCG, who they’d never beaten and were 4th on the ladder. The bookies had Gold Coast as rough as $17, which was looking accurate at quarter time when the Swans were up by 29 points. The next three quarters were nothing short of miraculous, seeing 7 straight goals to the Suns across the second and third quarters and the favourites goalless during that time. Running out 24-point victors, the Suns threw a spanner in Sydney’s seemingly straightforward looming finals chances in an upset that was dubbed the best of the season by many.
Greater Western Sydney – 2014 vs. Sydney, round 1
The Giants were still new on the scene when they drew their crosstown rivals in the opening round of the season, who were red hot favourites going into the game. Having just beaten out GWS to secure a highly sought-after Buddy Franklin, many were already putting Sydney in premiership conversation. The outlook couldn’t have been more different for the Giants, who were coming off 2 consecutive wooden spoons and only 3 wins in as many seasons. The last time the teams met saw Sydney coming out 129-point winners, so a similar result wasn’t out of the question this time around. However, what transpired was very different. Not only did the Giants close a 24-point gap, they managed to kick 6 goals to none in the last quarter to get up by 32 points – their first ever win against the Swans.
Hawthorn – 2019 vs. West Coast, round 23
At the pointy end of the season, Hawthorn’s finals chances hung in the balance – their assignment being a triumph over a formidable Eagles outfit in Perth. Most didn’t give the Hawks as much as a look in, especially given West Coast’s record at home paired with the fact that West Coast had won their Melbourne encounter previously in the season. However, the outsiders managed to defy the odds and snag a 38-point win, which ultimately ended the Eagles’ hopes of a top 4 finish. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get across the line to make finals, but the win remains a great victory against the odds.
Melbourne – 2012 vs. Essendon, round 10
The Demons were struggling big time at this point, with 10 losses to start the season. Another loss loomed as the probable outcome against a powerful Essendon, who were 2nd on the ladder at the time. They narrowly avoided this fate though, managing to scrape a 6-point victory against a team that was at $1.04 odds in an enthralling match where the lead changed a number of times.
North Melbourne – 2016 vs. Adelaide, round 7
The Kangaroos’ season was in bad shape, and the team were in terrible overall form – only winning 3 out of their last 18 games. The Crows on the other hand were the exact reverse, boasting a 15-3 record and a 10-goal loss the last time the teams met. This game was surprising not only for its result, but also for its prolific nature. The Roos established a colossal 64-0 lead at quarter time, blowing everyone away on their way to a 59-point win in a season where Adelaide went on to finish top of the ladder and make the grand final.
Port Adelaide – 2015 vs. Hawthorn, round 21
Anyone who had to come up against the Hawks at this time knew they had an uphill battle ahead of them. Especially Port Adelaide, who were far from home and sitting 12th on the ladder amidst a frustrating season. With the Hawks arguably around their peak, winning 10 of their last 11 games, bookies had the Power at up to $10 outsiders, with many dubbing it an ‘unlosable’ game for Hawthorn (who as we know went on to win the flag). The visitors ended up winning by 22 points off the back of a 4-goal haul from Chad Wingard.
Richmond – 2016 vs. Sydney, round 8
Tigers fans look back on this one fondly. Having started the season 1-6, this match started as a matter of how much the Swans could boost their percentage given their 6-1 opening stint. However, that’s not quite how it happened – with Richmond coming up with a heroic final quarter effort that saw them come from 3 goals down to set up every kid’s dream after the final siren sounded. Sam Lloyd finished perfectly, giving the underdogs a thrilling 1-point victory that injected some heart into their season.
St Kilda – 2014 vs. Fremantle, round 18
An upset no one saw coming, St Kilda were at $16 odds and sitting at the bottom of the ladder coming into this game. Not only had they lost their preceding 11 games, they’d been getting comprehensively thrashed, including a 145-point thrashing and 59-point loss to North Melbourne just the previous week. On the other hand, the Dockers had won 8 consecutive games and were shaping up as premiership favourites. Freo only managed a handful of goals to three-quarter time, with the Saints defying all expectations to smash them by 58 points on their way to a wooden spoon.
Sydney – 2011 vs. Geelong, round 23
Coming up against a dominant Geelong side in 2011 proved a tough ask for any side that year. Sydney weren’t having a bad season, but they weren’t expected by many to win purely due to the fact they would have to overcome the Cats at their home fortress. If that wasn’t daunting enough, Geelong had won their previous 2 matches by a total margin of 336 points. The mission wasn’t too much for the Swans though, pulling out a famous 13-point win.
West Coast – 2009 vs. Western Bulldogs, round 19
An Eagles upset looked extremely unlikely, given that West Coast were sitting in the bottom 4 and had to beat a top 4 Bulldogs team after going years without beating a top 8 team away from home. In fact, 12 of the 22 Eagles players had never won a game in Melbourne. To add to the odds, it was the 7th game in a row in Melbourne for Dogs. The match turned out to be a thriller, with the outsiders getting up by just 5 points with the help of a massive effort from Shannon Hurn, a memorable day in Melbourne for the West.
Western Bulldogs – 2000 vs. Essendon, round 21
Throwing it all the way back to 2000, anyone that came up against Essendon during this time had a serious battle on their hands. The Bombers had won 20 games in a row with an average winning margin of 10 goals – enough to make any team nervous. Shockingly, the Dogs came out and shell shocked them with their only loss for the season. Terry Wallace’s tactics working a treat against an unstoppable Bombers line up in a flooding display that has become a distant memory.