round fifteen
Carlton midfield star Patrick Cripps. Photo: Julian Smith/AAP

2021 AFL Roundup: Round fifteen matchups and insights

With the bye rounds out of the way, round fifteen of the 2021 AFL season saw a return to a full fixture list. In an interesting round, six games were closely contested. The other three – all blowouts – involved finals contenders and as such, dictated the narrative of the round.

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: Carlton Blues vs Adelaide Crows

Carlton, under pressure externally from the media and internally from a football department review, hosted the Adelaide Crows in round fifteen’s final match. After a hot start to 2021, the Crows have reverted to form, dropping down the AFL ladder like a stone in recent weeks. As such, this wasn’t expected to be a match of great quality.

Sometimes, it’s nice to be wrong!

The Blues played perhaps their best football of the season in the 2nd term, kicking eight of nine goals to wrest control of the game, though they were wobbling at the final siren as they hung on.

Adelaide controlled the early stages of the game, with only inaccurate shooting for goal stopping them from running away with the match. Darcy Fogarty finally broke through for the Crows with a pair of goals, following six straight Adelaide behinds. At that stage, Carlton had yet to score, though they did finally hit the scoreboard through an exhilarating running goal from half back Adam Saad and a snap from Coleman Medal leader Harry McKay to trail by only six points in a somewhat flattering turn of events for the Blues.

There was heartbreak for the Blues as veteran Marc Murphy limped off the ground with a soft tissue injury in game 296, potentially thwarting his efforts to reach game 300 in what is likely his final season. He was replaced by Nic Newman at quarter time.

When Paul Seedsman kicked truly for Adelaide only 19 seconds into the 2nd quarter it looked like Adelaide were set to restore order and put their foot on Carlton throats. Instead, the Blues finally found their devastating attacking form.

McKay snapped a 2nd goal to start the run, before veteran forward Eddie Betts kicked another to give Carlton the lead. Matt Owies and Jack Martin scored before Adelaide full forward Taylor Walker finally converted after three misses to break the run.

It proved to be scant relief as the Blues kicked another four on the trot, starting with a moment of that trademark magic from Betts and a gem of a power running goal from Patrick Cripps.

Jimmy Rowe goaled for Adelaide right on the half time siren to take a little of the wind out of Carlton sails, though the Blues still led by 28 points at the main break.

Blues coach David Teague had to be overjoyed with his players pressure on the ball and decisiveness on the counter attack, but at the same time he must have been wondering where this form had been all season.

Betts opened the 3rd term with his 3rd goal, but the Crows had the run of play as they began to slowly but surely chip away at Carlton’s lead. Ned McHenry and Ben Keays kicked truly before Seedsman snapped under pressure from a tight angle. The Blues steadied via Jack Martin’s 2nd goal – from an ill disciplined free kick given away by McHenry – to lead by 21 points at the final change.

Though Adelaide had the best of the 3rd term, the Blues lead was looking comfortable, but the question remained as to how the fragile Blues would cope if the Crows were able to put on some scoreboard pressure in the final term.

After six minutes of cancelling each other out, including an inspirational rearguard effort from Saad, Walker was again able to break away from Jacob Weitering to kick his 2nd goal, the lead back to 15 points.

Both teams had plenty of opportunities to kick majors but were wasteful as fatigue kicked in before Walker again marked and converted to cut the Carlton lead to 10 points with eight minutes remaining.

Carlton could have sealed victory but for misses from McKay and Sam Petrevski-Seton. Adelaide had their own chances but a horrible Lachlan Scholl shank and some desperate Carlton defense preserved a much needed victory.

Whilst Betts’s vintage moments and Saad’s desperate tackle will get the headlines, a tip of the cap is due to Carlton’s key defenders Weitering and Liam Jones. The pair had 22 intercept possessions between them as they repeatedly turned away Adelaide attacks, in particular in the first quarter when the rest of the Blues had yet to get out of 1st gear, and late on as Adelaide attacked relentlessly against a tiring Blues outfit. The match up between Walker and Weitering was especially fascinating.

Sam Walsh was dominant in midfield, earning himself 38 possessions for Carlton and Zac Williams – one of those under the most pressure as an under performing high priced recruit – responded with 26 disposals and four tackles.

Rory Laird and Ben Keays were industrious at the stoppages, clearing the ball 15 times between them whilst both getting over 30 touches.

The result leaves both teams with five wins on the season, sitting next to each other on the ladder: Carlton 13th, Adelaide 14th.

The Crows host the red hot Brisbane Lions next week as Carlton travel west to take on the Dockers.

Carlton Blues: 12 goals, 11 behinds (83)

Adelaide Crows: 10 goals, 13 behinds (73)

Goals

Carlton: Betts 3, Martin 2, McKay 2, Cripps, Dow, Saad, Owies, Williams

Adelaide: Walker 3, Fogarty 2, Seedsman 2, Keays, McHenry, Rowe

Best

Carlton: Walsh, Williams, Jones, Cripps, Saad, Kennedy

Adelaide: Laird, Seedsman, Keays, O’Brien, Walker, Kelly

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

Brisbane Lions 13 goals, 16 behinds (94) defeated Geelong Cats 7 goals, 8 behinds (50)

Goals

Brisbane: Daniher 4, Cameron 3, Hipwood 2,McCarthy 2, Coleman, Lyons

Geelong: Smith 2, Tuohy 2, Hawkins, Rohan, Dangerfield

Best

Brisbane: Cameron, Rich, Zorko, Daniher, Adams, Andrews, McInerney, Starcevich

Geelong: Guthrie, Dangerfield, Tuohy, Smith

Their round two match up was an instant classic, though this match fizzled somewhat as the Lions controlled proceedings from the outset, leading 31 to one at the first change. Second quarter goals to Cats veterans Zach Tuohy, Patrick Dangerfield and Isaac Smith over four minutes threatened to make the game close but Brisbane’s big guns, Eric Hipwood and Joe Daniher answered. The Lions managed the game in the second half to run out 44 point winners, pushing themselves up to 3rd on the table. In a battle of star studded forward lines, Daniher, Hipwood and Charlie Cameron kicked nine for the Lions, whereas Cats trio Gary Rohan, Jeremy Cameron and Tom Hawkins could only manage two between them. Credit must go to Lions backs Marcus Adams and Harris Andrews, who were imperious.

Richmond Tigers 2 goals, 10 behinds (22) lost to St Kilda Saints 9 goals, 8 behinds (62)

Goals

Richmond: Edwards, Martin

St Kilda: King 2, McKenzie 2, Dunstan, Higgins, Long, Ross, Wood

Best

Richmond: Pickett, Vlastuin, Baker, Graham

St Kilda: Steele, Dunstan, Crouch, Sinclair, Webster, Byrnes

There is a prevailing belief that the Tigers are still amongst the premiership favourites, despite their patchy form. An effort like this, though, is most concerning. Against an under performing and under pressure Saints outfit, Richmond simply failed to show up, kicking less goals that star man Dustin Martin has Norm Smith Medals. Luke Dunstan and Jack Steele were outstanding for the Saints with 32 and 25 disposals respectively. Dougal Howard mopped up on the rare occasions that Richmond ventured forward. Perhaps only Marlion Pickett could hold his head high in a ragged, dispirited Richmond performance.

Collingwood Magpies 12 goals, 7 behinds (79) lost to Fremantle Dockers 14 goals, 7 behinds (91)

Goals

Collingwood: Bianco 2, Grundy 2, Thomas 2, C.Brown, Elliott, Hoskin-Elliott, Mihocek, Sidebottom

Fremantle: Lobb 3, Schultz 3, Henry 2, Bewley 2, Switkowski, Treacy, Brayshaw, Crowden

Best

Collingwood: Adams, Sidebottom, Pendlebury, Maynard, Grundy, Crisp

Fremantle: Mundy, Brayshaw, Darcy, Ryan, Henry, Switkowski

Fremantle pushed themselves into finals contention with a stirring victory over Collingwood. In a see-sawing match, Fremantle timed their run to perfection with two goals to Brett Bewley and another to Lachie Schultz stealing victory after the Magpies had grabbed the lead midway through the final term when trailing by as much 25 points in the 3rd quarter. The Dockers were inconsistent, but were able to put together momentum halting runs of three and four goals in the first half to take control of the match. The Magpies, to their credit, seemed to always have an answer, though they ran out of time to respond to the Dockers late counter punch. Fremantle’s forward line clicked with Schultz and Liam Henry buzzing at the feet of Rory Lobb, whilst Luke Ryan kept Magpie Brody Mihocek under control. Veteran Collingwood midfielders Steele Sidebottom and Scott Pendlebury continually drove the Magpies forward.

North Melbourne Kangaroos 9 goals, 18 behinds (72) defeated Gold Coast Suns 9 goals, 9 behinds (63)

Goals

North Melbourne: Larkey 3, Zurhaar 2, Davies-Unaicke, Simpkin, Turner, Mahoney

Gold Coast: Corbett3, Ainsworth, Sexton, Ellis, Flanders, Smith, Greenwood

Best

North Melbourne: Cunnington, Goldstein, Zurhaar, Davies-Unaicke, Simpkin

Gold Coast: Miller, Ellis, Corbett, Markov

This result had been coming. For both sides. The bottom placed Kangaroos had, despite their poor record, been playing increasingly better week-on-week. On the other had, Gold Coast had won one of their past six, playing progressively worse. On the whole, the Roos looked to have the upper had, despite the score staying close until a Cam Zurhaar goal pushed the lead to 20 points midway through the final period. For reasons that are unclear, the Suns finally clicked into gear at that point, laying siege to the North Melbourne goal; the Kangaroos defending desperately. A Hugh Greenwood goal got the Gold Coast moving and despite wave after wave of attack, North Melbourne were able to force behinds, when the Suns needed goals. Josh Corbett and Touk Miller were the Suns best, whilst the old guard came through for the Roos, Ben Cunnington and Todd Goldstein controlling the stoppages.

Port Adelaide Power 9 goals, 18 behinds (72) defeated Sydney Swans 9 goals, 9 behinds (63)

Goals

Port Adelaide: Dixon 2, Marshall, Rozee, Farrell, Powell-Pepper, Houston, Boak, Bergman, Mayes, Lycett

Sydney: Franklin 4, Papley 2, Hayward 2, Gulden, Parker

Best

Port Adelaide: Boak, Wines, Dixon, Bergman, Houston

Sydney: Franklin, Mills, Parker, Papley, Hayward

You can’t keep a good man down; but a good man is no match for a good team. Port Adelaide weathered an early storm to lead by 17 points at three quarter time in an otherwise tight match. They looked to have the match under control. Enter: Lance Franklin. The legendary forward kicked the opening three goals of the final quarter to steal a four point lead for the Swans, before Port’s superior strength in depth came to the fore with goals to Sam Mayes and a beauty to Scott Lycett to seal the win. In a game for the experienced men, Franklin and Luke Parker (34 possessions) were the Swans best. The Power were lead by veteran midfielders Ollie Wines (29 disposals and eight clearances) and Travis Boak (30 disposals).

Essendon Bombers 8 goals, 9 behinds (57) lost to Melbourne Demons 9 goals, 14 behinds (68)

Goals

Essendon: Jones 2, Wright 2, Stringer, Smith, Heppell, Hooker

Melbourne: Jordan 2, Petracca 2, Harmes, Jackson, Spargo, McDonald, Sparrow

Best

Essendon: Merrett, Heppell, Parish, Stringer,, Ridley, Langford, Redman

Melbourne: Petracca, Oliver, Salem, Lever, May, Jordan, Harmes

The Bombers kept up their recent good form, pushing a wasteful Demons all the way in a dour, almost ugly game of football. The ladder leading Demons could have been on their way early, but for wasteful goal kicking, only James Harmes converting, before the Bombers kicked truly three times either side of the quarter time break. The Demons again pressured the ball forward, but couldn’t convert their around the ground advantage to the scoreboard until a Luke Jackson goal, followed by a Charlie Spargo snap, restored the Demons lead. Four goals either side of half time saw Melbourne threaten to finally break the game open before Bombers skipper Dyson Heppell kicked a much needed goal. Again, Melbourne pushed but couldn’t convert. Finally, Tim Sparrow goaled to push the margin to 22 points in a low scoring contest. The young Bombers didn’t fold as Peter Wright and Cale Hooker scored to give the Demons a late scare. Clayton Oliver had 34 possessions for the Demons and Zach Merrett, fresh of signing a contract extension, amassed a career high 41 touches.

GWS Giants 11 goals, 6 behinds (72) lost to Hawthorn Hawks 13 goals, 12 behinds (90)

Goals

GWS: Hill 2, Greene 2, Ward 2, Lloyd 2, Perryman, Finlayson, Briggs

Hawthorn: Moore 4,O’Brien 2, Worpel, Phillips, Breust, McEvoy, Wingard, Newcombe, O’Meara

Best

GWS: Whitfield, Haynes, Perryman, Kelly, Taranto

Hawthorn: Mitchell, Scrimshaw, Moore, Howe, Day, Worpel, O’Brien

In an entertaining match, the Giants started strongly, kicking the opening four goals before the Hawks were able to respond. Bobby Hill’s 2nd of the term gave the Giants a 16 point lead at the opening break. Seemingly, GWS forgot to step back onto the park, as Hawthorn scored all four goals in the 2nd period, with another two coming just after half time to see the Hawks take control with a 22 point lead. Led by the dynamic Toby Greene, the Giants answered with three straight (two to Greene) to reduce the margin to just three at the final change. A tight contest opened up from that point as both teams opted to go for the win, as opposed to ‘not losing’. Jai Newcombe and Dylan Moore started the Hawks off on the right foot before Dan Lloyd and Callan Ward responded for GWS. Moore then took over, kicking another two goals – he had four all up – to see the Hawks hold onto a well deserved win. Moore’s late goals were the difference; ball magnet Tom Mitchell also gathering 40 possessions. Lachie Whitfield (32 disposals) and Harry Perryman (29 touches and a goal) were the Giants best.

West Coast Eagles 6 goals, 7 behinds (43) lost to Western Bulldogs 13 goals, 20 behinds (98)

Goals

West Coast: Allen 2, Kennedy, Cripps, Gaff, Petrucelle

Western Bulldogs: Naughton 4, Bontompelli 3, Smith 2, Macrae, McLean, Garcia, Wightman

Best

West Coast: Naitanui, Sheppard, Hurn, Redden

Western Bulldogs: Bontompelli, Smith, Naughton, Macrae, Hunter, Liberatore, Dale, Richards

After getting themselves back on track, the visit of the Bulldogs was a litmus test for the Eagles. They failed. Despite trailing by 13 points at the opening break, the Eagles should have been left in the dust as the Bulldogs conspired to kick 2 goals and 8 behinds. The 2nd quarter followed suit, though West Coast were able to stem the flow of football into the Bulldogs forward line. In the 3rd term, the Eagles stepped it up, answering every question the Bulldogs posed. Oscar Allen and Jack Petrucelle canceled out a pair of Bailey Smith goals. Trailing by 19 points, but finally, in the contest, the Eagles were a chance of pulling out another of those famous comebacks. The Dogs, however, had other ideas. The Bulldogs kicked the opening six goals of the final term, including four in a five minute span, to blow West Coast out of the water. Jamie Cripps kicked a late consolation goal, but the Dogs ran out comfortable 55 point winners. The lopsided scoring shots – 13 to the Eagles, 33 to the Bulldogs – was indicative of the Dogs general dominance. High flying forward Aaron Naughton kicked three of his four goals in that late run, Marcus Bontompelli and the luxuriously coiffed Bailey Smith sharing best on ground honours.

Coleman Medal leader board

Harry McKay (Carlton) – 43 (2 goals this week)

Taylor Walker (Adelaide) – 40 goals (3)

Josh Bruce (Bulldogs) – 37 (0)

Jack Riewoldt (Richmond) – 34 (0)

Ben King (Suns) – 34 (0)

Aaron Naughton (Bulldogs) – 33 (4)

Tom Hawkins (Geelong) – 31 (1)

Cale Hooker (Bombers) – 30 (1)

#ClubMPts%ForAgtThis WeekProjectedNext
1Melbourne1448131.4 %1218927Won @ Ess
68 â€“ 57
2nd: 68 pts, 127 %Saturday
vs GWS
2W Bulldogs1444148.6 %1361916Won @ WCE
98 â€“ 43
1st: 68 pts, 147 %Sunday
vs N.M.
3Brisbane1440131.5 %1286978Won vs Geel
94 â€“ 50
3rd: 64 pts, 133 %Saturday
@ Adel
4Port Adel1440122.2 %1210990Won vs Syd
81 â€“ 71
5th: 60– pts, 117 %Saturday
@ Haw
5Geelong1440120.6 %1193989Lost @ B.L.
50 â€“ 94
4th: 60 pts, 120 %Friday
vs Ess
6Sydney1432106.6 %11931119Lost @ P.A.
71 â€“ 81
7th: 48 pts, 103 %Sunday
vs WCE
7WC Eagles1432102.6 %12151184Lost vs W.B.
43 â€“ 98
8th: 44 pts, 97 %Sunday
@ Syd
8Richmond1428101.5 %11521135Lost vs St.K
22 â€“ 62
6th: 48 pts, 107 %Thursday
@ G.C.
9Fremantle142893.0 %10801161Won @ Coll
91 â€“ 79
11th: 40 pts, 92 %Saturday
vs Carl
10GWS Giants142696.2 %11501195Lost vs Haw
72 â€“ 90
13th: 38 pts, 94 %Saturday
@ Melb
11Essendon1424101.9 %12681244Lost vs Melb
57 â€“ 68
9th: 40 pts, 103 %Friday
@ Geel
12St Kilda142482.1 %9801194Won @ Rich
62 â€“ 22
12th: 40– pts, 86 %Sunday
@ Coll
13Carlton142091.4 %11651274Won vs Adel
83 â€“ 73
10th: 40 pts, 98 %Saturday
@ Freo
14Adelaide142086.9 %11101277Lost @ Carl
73 â€“ 83
14th: 32 pts, 87 %Saturday
vs B.L.
15Collingwood141689.7 %9891103Lost vs Freo
79 â€“ 91
15th: 28 pts, 89 %Sunday
vs St.K
16Gold Coast141686.4 %9531103Lost @ N.M.
63 â€“ 72
16th: 28– pts, 85 %Thursday
vs Rich
17Hawthorn141682.0 %10321258Won @ GWS
90 â€“ 72
17th: 28 pts, 83 %Saturday
vs P.A.
18North Melb141063.7 %8901398Won vs G.C.
72 â€“ 63
18th: 18 pts, 66 %Sunday
@ W.B.