Round eight of the 2021 AFL season has been run and won. The Demons continued their undefeated start to the season….barely. The Kangaroos remain without a win, but look better each and every week. The reigning premiers look wounded as an old foe show they still have some life left in them, and the Bulldogs showed their premiership muscle.

Here at Vendetta Sports Media, we’ll be covering the entire AFL season for you. In case you missed it, all our team previews, and this writer’s ladder predictions, are located here.

Match of the Week: Greater Western Sydney Giants vs Essendon Bombers

The Bombers travelled to Sydney to take on the Giants, looking to finally convert a close game into a victory, having twice gone down by under a goal already in season 2021. Instead, they endured more heartache as the Giants were able to withstand – just barely – a furious final quarter comeback by the Bombers.

Essendon got on the board early with big forward Peter Wright kicking the opener a mere 43 seconds into the match. For the rest of the quarter, though, the Giants dominated, seeing six different players each bag themselves a goal before Bomber Will Snelling was finally able to break the run with the final kick of the stanza. The Giants held a 24 point lead at the first break.

Essendon we’re able to lock GWS down in the second quarter, limiting the Giants’ possession and shading their opponent in territory. The Bombers kicked three unanswered goals over the first 18 minutes of the quarter, but will have been disappointed not to have hit the scoreboard harder, recording a further four behinds that they will believe could have been converted, before Zach Sproule bobbed up with the Giants only goal for the term, keeping his teams’ noses in front by nine points as the team made it to half time.

The 3rd quarter began as the 1st had, with a quick Bombers goal, this time through Kyle Langford. The Giants were – again, much like the first period – able to respond strongly. Jeremy Finlayson (reported for an earlier incident against Bomber Zach Merrett) kicked his 2nd and 3rd goals in the space of two minutes; Tanner Bruhn adding his 2nd goal less than 90 seconds later. When stand-in captain Toby Greene goaled a few minutes later, GWS had promptly pushed their lead back out to 30 points.

The Bombers were able to claw back the margin, kicking three of the next four goals, though they, unfortunately, lost the services of enigmatic forward Jake Stringer, who was substituted after an earlier hamstring injury. The 27 year old had started strongly before pulling up holding his thigh late in the first quarter. Rather than withdrawing him, coach Ben Rutten deployed him as a deep forward where, despite his lack of mobility, his strength and mere presence occupied a Giants defender.

The Giants, as they had all day to that point, steadied through late 3rd term goals to Tim Taranto and Bobby Hill to take a 25 point lead into the final change.

Essendon had begun each of the first three quarters in the ascendancy and the final term proved no different as Harrison Jones goaled 64 seconds into the period and Matt Guelfi – who had a terrific impact after replacing Stringer – kicked another from a lighting fast coast-to-coast Bombers move. The Bombers smelled blood and though Josh Kelly was able to kick a badly needed goal for the Giants, Essendon answered as Jones and Snelling each kicked their 2nd goals. Suddenly the margin was back to single figures and GWS looking punch drunk.

Bombers huffed and puffed but were unable to make any further headway until Kyle Langford kicked truly with two minutes remaining. The Bombers again pushed forward, this time looking for key forward Cale Hooker. The surprise Coleman Medal aspirant looked to receive an illegal nudge in the back from Giant Lachlan Keefe as he attempted to mark on the lead (the mark could also have been paid). Rubbing salt into Bombers wounds, the Giants marched up the other end and goaled through Jacob Hopper to effectively seal the game.

The Bombers were not done, though. Langford kicked his 3rd goal with four seconds remaining on the clock, handing his team the chance – albeit remote – to conjure a miracle. As if on script, Essendon were able to win the tap and get a quick kick into their forward line, but the siren sounded as the ball was in the air, sealing their fate. The Giants, by the skin of their teeth, holding on for a two point victory.

Josh Kelly was fantastic for the Giants, especially in the 2nd half. He had 30 possessions and seven clearances to go with his goal. Taranto also helped himself to 30 disposals. Finlayson was a strong presence up forward with three goals, but will likely face suspension for his on Merrett. Callan Ward became the Giants record game holder with his 172nd appearance for the young club.

Merrett was outstanding for the Bombers, despite being clearly targeted for some extra curricular attention from the Giants. He amassed 37 hard won possessions. Darcy Parish continued his hot form with 35 classy disposals of his own.

The win leaves the Giants at an even 4-4 on the season, sitting just outside the top eight with a trip south to face the wounded Tigers next week. With Richmond on the same record, it is a must win for both sides.

The Bombers sit at 2-8, though three of those losses have been by less than a kick. Turn two of those into wins and they themselves would sit just outside the eight, rather than in a lowly 15th position. They host the Dockers next Sunday.

GWS Giants: 16 goals, 11 behinds (107)

Essendon Bombers : 16 goals, 9 behinds (105)

Goals

Giants: Finlayson 3, Sproule 2, Greene 2, Bruhn 2, Kelly 2, Himmelberg, Hopper, Lloyd, Taranto, Hill

Essendon: Langford 3, Wright 2, McDonald-Tipungwuti 2, Jones 2, Snelling 2, Hooker, Cox, Perkins, Redman, Guelfi

Best

Giants: Greene, Tranato, Greene, Perryman, Ward, Kelly

Essendon: Merrett, Parish, Hind, Phillips, Heppell, Langford

Onto the other games of round eight of the AFL season.

Richmond Tigers 9 goals, 9 behinds (63) lost to Geelong Cats 19 goals, 12 behinds (126)

Goals

Richmond: Aarts 3, Bolton 3, Lynch, Rioli, Reiwoldt

Geelong: Cameron 6, Rohan 5, Hawkins 4, Smith 2, Higgins, Close

Best

Richmond: Bolton, Edwards, Martin, Graham

Geelong: Hawkins, Cameron, Rohan, C. Guthrie, Tuohy, Higgins, Duncan

The 2020 Grand Final rematch kicked off round eight and for a while, it looked like the Tigers, seemingly back in form after an impressive win last week, would have their way with the Cats once again. Shaun Higgins got the Cats on the board against the run of play with Richmond already having kicked three goals. The Cats started to get a foothold in the game, though three 2nd quarter goals to Richmond’s Jake Aarts kept the Tigers noses in front at the half. After the main break it was all Geelong. An eight goal to one quarter simply overwhelmed the Tigers, and a further five in the final term saw the Cats run out emphatic 63 point victors. Geelong’s forward line was devastating: Jeremy Cameron kicked six goals, Gary Rohan five and Tom Hawkins four. Joel Selwood we irrepressible in the middle. Shai Bolton was the Tigers best on the night, taking a Mark of the Year contender early on

Gold Coast Suns 7 goals, 12 behinds (54) lost to St Kilda Saints 8 goals, 15 behinds (63)

Goals

Gold Coast: King 3, Corbett, Holman, Rankine, Weller

St Kilda: Billings 2, Steele 2, King, Crouch, Higgins, Ryder

Best

Gold Coast: Miller, Swallow, Powell, Greenwood, Collins, Markov

St Kilda: Steele, Billings, Jones, Ryder, Clark, Wilkie, Marshall

Perfect conditions at Carrara, though the two teams made it look like they were playing in a deluge for the lack of polish on show. The home side shaded a perhaps shaded a first half in which the deadlock could not be broken. When the Suns strung together three goals in five minutes, seemingly out of nowhere, to open up a game high 16 point lead in a most low scoring contest, it looked likely that they could hold on. The Saints, though, had other ideas. St Kilda kicked all four final quarter goals to storm home and steal victory by nine points. Hunter Clark was superb for the Saints, especially in the final term where he gained 7 of his 22 possessions. Veteran ruck Paddy Ryder was outstanding – it’s surely not a coincidence that the Saints have started winning with the big man back in the lineup. Touk Miller and David Swallow were the Suns best.

North Melbourne Kangaroos 11 goals, 10 behinds (76) lost to Collingwood Magpies 14 goals, 10 behinds (94)

Goals

North Melbourne: Stephenson 2, Thomas 2, Mahoney 2, Zurhaar 2, Campbell, Lazzaro, Turner

Collingwood Magpies: De Goey 6, Cameron 3, Pendlebury 2, Mihocek 2, Hoskin-Elliott

Best

North Melbourne: Zeibell, Hall, Stephenson, Menadue, Thomas

Collingwood: De Goey, Moore, Pendlebury, Maynard, Cameron

In a battle of the cellar dwellers this was a much needed win the Magpies, though it’s rather unconvincing nature probably does little to lift the mood around the club. Encouragingly, coach Nathan Buckley made the revolutionary move to play Darcy Moore – his best defender – in defence and Jordan De Goey – his best forward – out of the goal square. Amazingly enough, it worked! De Goey kicked six on the day, whilst Moore gathered28 possessions with 19 marks, both career highs. For the much improved, but ultimately still winless Kangaroos, this match continues the recent trend in games where they are – for periods – ferocious on the ball and employ quick movement. Unfortunately, they remain unable to maintain the rage for a full four quarters.

Melbourne Demons 10 goals, 7 behinds (67) defeated Sydney Swans 8 goals, 10 behinds (58)

Goals

Melbourne: McDonald 4, Brown 3, Melksham, Petracca, Spargo

Sydney: Hayward 2, McInerney, Hickey, Papley, Lloyd, Sinclair, Mills

Best

Melbourne: Oliver, McDonand, Petracca, Harmes, Salem, Jordan

Sydney: Parker, Rampe, Miils, Lloyd, Rowbottam, Hickey

Melbourne looked to continue their perfect start to the 2021 season, but if there is a team with the ability to junk up a game, it’s the Swans. Sydney jumped out of the gate with a Justin McInerney goal inside the first minute, though the Demons were able to steadied to lead late in the quarter before Tom Hickey capitalised from a Max Gawn error to give Sydney a lead. Melbourne started to turn the screws, kicking the only two goals of the 2nd term and when Tom McDonald kicked the Demons out to a 22 point lead midway through the 3rd period, it looked like Sydney’s resistance was finally about to break. The Swans, as they often do, found a way back. A pair of late 3rd quarter goals saw them back in the game. When Callum Sinclair goaled just 19 seconds in the final term, the Swans had their tales up. Traditionally, Melbourne would fold in a game like this, however the 2021 Demons are a mature outfit and were able to steady to take a narrow nine point win. Tom McDonald was expected to move into the back line to cover the injured Adam Tomlinson. Instead, he stayed forward and kicked four goals. Clayton Oliver had 35 disposals, whilst Steven May had Swans superstar Buddy Franklin in his pocket. For the Swans, veterans Luke Parker and Dane Rampe led the way.

Port Adelaide Power 12 goals, 15 behinds (87) defeated Adelaide Crows 5 goals, 8 behinds (38)

Goals

Port Adelaide: Marshall 3, Dixon 2, Georgiades 2, Rozee, Drew, Fantasia, Motlop, Farrell

Adelaide: Thilthorpe, Fogarty, Sloane, Rowe

Best

Port Adelaide: Dixon, Lycett, Boak, Amon, Rozee, Farrell

Adelaide: Seedsman, Laird, Keays, Sloane, Schoenberg

It was the 49th edition of The Showdown and the Crows were never in the hunt against their cross-town rivals. Whatever chances Adelaide may have had were severely reduced with injures to Ned McHenry and Lachlan Murphy inside 22 minutes leaving them shorthanded against the fancied Power. Despite being dominated in both possession and territory, the Crows dug in to keep the margin to a manageable 20 points at the half. After the long break, however, Port Adelaide began to ease away, a pair of Mitch Georgiades goals inside four minutes midway through the 3rd quarter seeing the end of Adelaide resistance. Port were able to effectively manage the outcome from there and though the eventual margin of 49 points was convincing, they perhaps should have won by more, with Orazio Fantasia kicking five behinds, most of them very presentable chances.

Hawthorn Hawks 8 goals, 12 behinds (60) lost to West Coast Eagles 14 goals, 14 behinds (98)

Goals

Hawthorn: Worpel 2, Hanrahan 2, Lewis, Impey, Howe

West Coast: Ah Chee 4, Darling 2, Petrucelle 2, Kelly, Jones, Kennedy, Langdon, Waterman, Williams

Best

Hawthorn: Mitchell, Worpel, Impey, Scrimshaw, Hardwick

West Coast: Gaff, Kelly, Naitanui, Ah Chee, Sheed, Redden

It appeared that neither team turned up on time for this game, with the MCG seeing it’s first goalless opening term since 1971. Then, as if switching on a light, Eagle Brendon Ah Chee kicked two in 80 seconds early in the 2nd term, in quarter which the Hawks and Eagles combines to kick 10 goals between them, with the Eagles on top by 27 points. West Coast, clearly the more talented of the two outfits, were able to manage the game in the 2nd half to the point where they could withdraw veteran full forward Josh Kennedy to nurse his troublesome calf. After such an unusual start, this one was a bit of a snoozer; the Eagles eventually winning by a comfortable 38 points. Ah Chee kicked a career high four goals. Andrew Gaff racked up an impressive 38 disposals. The Nic Naitanui/Tim Kelly combination in the centre was delightful. James Worpel deserved his two late goals alongside 27 possessions. Tom Mitchell’s quietly elite season continued with a game high 41 disposals.

Western Bulldogs 16 goals, 11 behinds (107) defeated Carlton Blues 13 goals 13 behinds (91)

Goals

Bulldogs: Bruce 5, Naughton 2, Hunter 2, Scott 2, Bontompelli, Johannisen, Sweet, Treloar, Lipinski

Carlton: Betts 5, McKay 4, Owies 2, Cuningham Cripps

Best

Bulldogs: Bontompelli, Bruce, Liberatore, Macrae, Dale, Treloar

Carlton: Walsh, Weitering, Cripps, Docherty, Betts, McKay, Pittonet

The Blues tripped over their own feet in this contest, inexplicably handing the Bulldogs a barely deserved victory. Though the Dogs shaded proceedings early, a run of four goals in 10 2nd quarter minutes set the Blues on their way. By the time veteran magician Eddie Betts kicked his 5th goal midway through the 3rd term, Carlton had full control of the contest. Unfortunately for them, they put the cue in the rack. The Bulldogs gave themselves a sniff at the final break after forwards Josh Bruce and Aaron Naughton kicked truly. Those goals proved to be the beginning of an eight goal run that totally overwhelmed a shell shocked Blues outfit. We got the good version of Bruce, the forward kicking five goals. Dogs skipper Marcus Bontompelli was immense in the 2nd half, willing his team back into the match. He and Jack Macrae both had 32 possessions. Betts turned back the clock with five goals of his own.

Brisbane Lions 14 goals, 11 points (95) defeated Fremantle Dockers 10 goals, 11 behinds (71)

Goals

Brisbane: Cameron 3, Daniher 2, Hipwood, Ah Chee, Lyons, Mathieson, McCarthy, McCluggage, McStay, McInerney, Prior

Fremantle: Taberner 2, Serong 2, Darcy, Fyfe, Lobb, Henry, Mundy, Walters

Best

Brisbane: Cameron, McCluggage, Rich, Zorko, Lyons, Starcevich

Fremantle: Brayshaw, Fyfe, Mundy, Colyer, Serong, Wilson

Thanks to the recent COVID outbreak in Perth, this game was moved to Brisbane through the week. The now visiting Dockers struck first through Caleb Serong, though the Lions superior firepower was evident as they eased the margin out to 34 points by halftime. Daniel McStay’s goal midway through the 3rd term pushed the margin out to a game high 47 points and though the Dockers worked hard to reduce the margin they ultimately fell 24 points short. Charlie Cameron continued his good form, kicking three goals to push his poor start to the season further into the rear view mirror. Hugh McCluggage worked hard for his 27 disposals and Daniel Rich had 31 possessions from half back. Brandon Starcevich made Dockers live-wire miserable with a smothering defensive display. The usual suspects stepped up for Fremantle with young Andrew Brayshaw a leading light alongside veteran David Mundy and dual Brownlow Medallist Nat Fyfe.

Coleman Medal leader board

Harry McKay (Carlton) – 30 (4 goals this week)

Taylor Walker (Adelaide) – 27 goals (0)

Josh Bruce (Bulldogs) – 25 (5)

Ben King (Suns) – 23 (3)

Matt Taberner (Dockers) – 22 (2)

Cale Hooker (Bombers) – 22 (1)

Jack Reiwoldt (Richmond) – 21 (1)

Jack Darling (Eagles) – 21 (2)

Toby Greene (Giants) – 21 (2)

#ClubMPts%ForAgtThis WeekProjectedNext
1Melbourne832145.1 %714492Won vs Syd
67 – 58
2nd: 64 pts, 123 %Sunday
vs Carl
2W Bulldogs828150.2 %793528Won vs Carl
107 – 91
1st: 64 pts, 132 %Saturday
@ P.A.
3Port Adel824127.7 %706553Won vs Adel
87 – 38
5th: 56 pts, 117 %Saturday
vs W.B.
4Geelong820127.5 %728571Won @ Rich
126 – 63
4th: 56 pts, 122 %Friday
@ St.K
5Brisbane820116.4 %694596Won vs Freo
95 – 71
3rd: 60 pts, 120 %Saturday
@ G.C.
6Sydney820109.5 %723660Lost @ Melb
58 – 67
8th: 48 pts, 103 %Saturday
vs Coll
7WC Eagles820109.2 %738676Won @ Haw
98 – 60
7th: 48 pts, 105 %Sunday
vs Adel
8Richmond816102.8 %654636Lost vs Geel
63 – 126
6th: 52 pts, 114 %Saturday
vs GWS
9GWS Giants81698.3 %641652Won vs Ess
107 – 105
10th: 44 pts, 98 %Saturday
@ Rich
10Fremantle81693.9 %632673Lost @ B.L.
71 – 95
11th: 40 pts, 93 %Sunday
@ Ess
11St Kilda81682.7 %607734Won @ G.C.
63 – 54
12th: 40 pts, 90 %Friday
vs Geel
12Gold Coast812101.0 %589583Lost vs St.K
54 – 63
14th: 36 pts, 93 %Saturday
vs B.L.
13Carlton81295.2 %711747Lost @ W.B.
91 – 107
9th: 44 pts, 103 %Sunday
@ Melb
14Adelaide81286.4 %643744Lost @ P.A.
38 – 87
16th: 32 pts, 85 %Sunday
@ WCE
15Essendon8895.6 %745779Lost @ GWS
105 – 107
13th: 36 pts, 98 %Sunday
vs Freo
16Collingwood8887.9 %601684Won @ N.M.
94 – 76
15th: 32 pts, 88 %Saturday
@ Syd
17Hawthorn8873.5 %561763Lost vs WCE
60 – 98
17th: 28 pts, 80 %Saturday
vs N.M.
18North Melb8052.7 %455864Lost vs Coll
76 – 94
18th: 12 pts, 65 %Saturday
@ Haw