WHAT HAPPENED IN ROUND 17 OF THE AFL:
* THEY SAID IT: "I understand that Essendon people think that Essendon should be better, but they have also got to understand that the competition challenges clubs now to work to the same rules, so the same rules at the draft and the salary cap. No one team has any more right to be successful quicker than any other team just because they're a big-name club." - Bombers coach John Worsfold challenged his club's supporters to stop their sense of entitlement.
* STATS THAT MATTER: Port Adelaide beat Essendon to move within one victory of becoming just the seventh team in VFL-AFL history to hold top spot for an entire home-and-away season. The last club to do so was Essendon in 2000. Before that, West Coast (1991), Geelong (1953), Essendon (1923), Collingwood (1915) and Fitzroy (1904) achieved the feat.
* MAN OF THE ROUND: Tim Kelly put West Coast's midfield on his back and carried the undermanned Eagles to a gutsy win over St Kilda. It looked as if the Saints would run over the top, but Kelly kicked a crucial final-quarter goal to wrest momentum for his side. The 26-year-old finished with 30 disposals and nine clearances in his best performance since making a high-profile switch from Geelong.
* KEY MOMENT: Melbourne led by five points with less than three minutes on the clock when first-year player Trent Rivers pounced on a loose ball inside 50 and threw it onto his left boot. It wobbled and floated through the big sticks to give the Demons breathing space, and eventually proved critical in a five-point win over Greater Western Sydney.
* TALKING POINT: It was an emotional day for Carlton fans as they kissed their finals hopes goodbye and bid farewell to two club champions in the process, though one of them was on the opposing side. Injured Blues ruckman Matthew Kreuzer bowed out from the sidelines and Bryce Gibbs, now with Adelaide, gathered 27 disposals on Sunday afternoon in his final match. Gibbs' Crows took the spoils, upsetting Carlton by 16 points.
* TRIBUNAL WATCH: GWS ruckman Shane Mumford was fined $1000 for striking Max Gawn but was cleared over an apparent headbutt on Bayley Fritsch in the loss to Melbourne, while Giants goal sneak Brett Daniels had his match-day report for rough conduct against Christian Petracca thrown out. Geelong's Mitch Duncan can accept a $1000 fine for rough conduct against Richmond captain Trent Cotchin.
* KEY INJURIES: Jeremy McGovern (WC, hamstring); Tom Lynch (Rich, hamstring), Ivan Soldo (Rich, knee); Toby McLean (WB, knee).
* WHAT'S NEXT: Collingwood can sew up a finals spot when they complete the round 17 schedule against Gold Coast on Monday night, then things get serious. West Coast can put the top four sides under the pump when they meet North Melbourne, while St Kilda and Greater Western Sydney are effectively facing off in an early elimination final on Friday night. Melbourne, Carlton and the Western Bulldogs are all hunting a finals berth and the Collingwood-Port Adelaide clash shapes as a beauty to end the home-and-away season.