AFL finals week one: The moments that mattered

After a week off to process a thrilling end to the home and away season, AFL footy roared back into the frame with a series of finals that left us closer to knowing who would be the 2017 premiers. 

Top-four finishers the Giants and the Cats were pummelled by Adelaide and Richmond respectively, with the Tigers' win setting off a euphoria not seen in Melbourne since last year's grand final. 

We also said farewell to Essendon and Port Adelaide. Their defeats to Sydney and West Coast came in contrasting fashion - Essendon's loss a drubbing while the Power's defeat was a last-gasp extra-time loss thanks to Luke Shuey. Here are some of the moments that mattered from finals week one: 

Eric Mackenzie's heroic scoring save

With 40 seconds remaining and scores level in regulation time of West Coast's two-point extra-time elimination final win over Port Adelaide on Saturday, Eagles defender Eric Mackenzie produced a stunning moment of football.  

The Power's Darcy Byrne-Jones, from just inside the centre square, launched a long kick into his side's forward line, which Mackenzie, 15 metres from goal, just missed out on marking. 

Instead the ball sailed over Mackenzie's head and was destined to roll through for a point, or into the hands of the Power's Charlie Dixon, who was in pursuit of the Eagles' defender. If Mackenzie allowed either of those options to play out it would have almost certainly meant an Eagles defeat. 

But to avoid elimination in 2017 (and being penalised for a deliberate rushed behind), Mackenzie took possession about one metre from goal and slammed his body into the behind post. He didn't flinch. Most of his body fell over the goal line but the ball ended up on the boundary line side of the goal post. 

n the action of slamming into the behind post the ball also hit it, meaning it was out of play already. But just to make sure Mackenzie pulled the ball the final few inches over the boundary line. 

That moment of brilliance preceded Luke Shuey's after-the-siren goal, which saw the Eagles defeat the Power after extra time and set up a semi-final with GWS next week. 

Shuey's goal prompted wild celebrations, not least by injured Eagles ruckman Nic Naitanui:

And this from the Perth Wildcats team:

Lance Franklin corked, then opens up game

Essendon made a decent start to their elimination final against Sydney on Saturday and it looked as if the game would become a little easier when Lance Franklin limped from the the field with a corked thigh in the first quarter after a collision with Brendon Goddard. 

Buddy got a rub, had some padding strapped to his thigh and did run-throughs to try to keep the blood flowing through the injury. Still, he hobbled for the remainder of the first quarter, and at quarter-time he sat on an exercise bike to ensure his thigh didn't seize up. Things didn't look great for the man who has routinely tormented Essendon through his career. . 

But just 10 seconds into the second quarter, Buddy's thigh had its test. One of his long leads was honoured by a superb Josh Kennedy pass out of the centre, resulting in a mark and set shot from right on the 50m line. 

Buddy slotted the goal with ease, and all worries about his thigh subsided. In the next three minutes of playing time he kicked two more goals and by the end of the quarter he snared another, to take his tally to four. 

His flurry set the Swans on their way to the 65-point dismantling of the Bombers that will see them face Geelong in a semi-final on Friday. 

Dustin Martin sparks Tigers' roar

The first three-quarters of Richmond's qualifying final win over Geelong on Friday night were tense, but to be honest, a bit too much of a contested grind for many neutrals and probably for some of the Tigers fans watching. 

That was until Dustin Martin - newly committed to Richmond for seven years and millions of dollars - stiff-armed the game and Richmond into life. 

His fend off and spin away from Tom Stewart late in the third quarter, which he followed up with a 40m dash and long kick to Jack Riewoldt, set in motion the most fluent bit of play for the night to that point. 

Riewoldt beautifully took possession, turned and kicked long to the unmarked Dion Prestia, who scored from the goal square. The goal put Richmond up by 13 points at three quarter-time and they never looked back, blitzing the Cats in the final term to win their first final since 2001. 

Adelaide take 'power stance' for national anthem

It wasn't just the manner of the Crows' 36 point qualifying final win over GWS that grabbed people's attention after Thursday's match. Many also took notice of the unusual way the team lined up for the pre-game national anthem. 

Instead of linking arms or standing closely to listen to Advance Australia Fair, the Crows and their coach Don Pyke stood with hand out by their sides, chests out and space in between one another in a "power stance". 

Whether the tactic worked to intimidate the Giants is up for debate, but what is certain is that Adelaide looked much more robust in the contest and switched on compared to their opponents throughout the night. 

The Crows stand for the national anthem before the win over GWS. Photo: AAP

The Crows stand for the national anthem before the win over GWS. Photo: AAP

The Giants opted to link arms in the face of the Crows' unusual stance. Photo: AAP

The Giants opted to link arms in the face of the Crows' unusual stance. Photo: AAP