Round nine of the 2021 AFL season is in the books. North Melbourne at long last got on the board, the Demons continued to take down all comers, a pair of premiership contenders slugged it out in Adelaide, whilst a pair of traditional powers at either end of the rebuilding process played out heart-stoppers.

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: Richmond Tigers vs Greater Western Sydney Giants

The reigning premiers and the talented but erratic Giants came into this match up with 4-4 records that both teams would be disappointed with, though not yet panicking. Securing a result in this match, however, could be vital with both teams facing tough match ups next week.

For the Tigers, it was also an opportunity to put the midweek nightclub incident – that saw Shai Bolton added to the Tigers already extensive injured list – behind them.

After a tightly contested opening term, highlighted by a soccered Jamie Aarts goal, the game was blown open by Giants forward Jesse Hogan. In the four minutes, Hogan dominated Tiger David Astbury as he booted three goals to stun the Tigers.

Undoubtedly talented though often wayward and unfocused, Hogan is surely on his last chance at AFL level. This is a great start at his 3rd club and this writer sincerely hopes that he’s finally able to find some peace – and form to match – though there are lingering doubts that we’ve seen these moments before from the 26 year old before he inevitably loses focus.

Tigers superstar Dustin Martin kicked a pair of goals to get the Tigers back in touch before Hogan bobbed up to slam home his 4th of the quarter to push the Giants halftime lead out to 21 points. With an away game against the red hot Lions next week, Richmond were in a precarious position.

Tigers coach Damian Hardwick swung the changes at half time. Nick Vlastuin and Liam Baker moved from defence into midfield, Noah Balta returning to his customary defensive post after a run up forward, big men Toby Nankervis and Tom Lynch taking turns on the wing, Marlion Pickett moved into the ruck and – most importantly – Dustin Martin moving on to the ball, with a licence to attack at every opportunity.

Even with the tactical switches, GWS were able to extend their lead to 28 points mid way through the 3rd quarter. Enter: Dusty.

Martin took control of the game from that point on, becoming perhaps the only Tiger to capitalise on teammate Nankervis’ dominance in the ruck. Martin practically willed the ball forward for the Tigers, cleaning up anybody that got in his way (including a goal umpire) having a hand in goals to Lynch and Jason Castagna as the Tigers roared back into the match with four goals in a 10 minute stretch.

Trailing by just three points as the final quarter started, Martin gave the Tigers the lead with a goal right on the line before GWS were able to respond through Jacob Hopper. The AFL script writers were at their best, with Tiger Daniel Rioli – a key player in the nightclub controversy – giving the Tigers their final lead.

The Giants threw everything they had at Richmond as they tried to steal the lead back. Talisman Toby Greene felt hard done by in a wrestle with Tigers defender Dylan Grimes, though it was perhaps overplayed.

In a tense and tight final two minutes, the Giants had a chance to take the game as Tim Taranto picked up the ball in the forward pocket and attempted to dribble through the goal. Grimes was the hero for Richmond as he turned himself into Kasper Schmeichel to turn the ball onto the post.

The Tigers held on to win by four points, and keep themselves in the top eight.

Martin was immense for Richmond. His 28 disposals – 15 contested – and four goals paced the undermanned Tigers. Stats, though, don’t do his game justice. His goals in the 2nd term kept his team in touch when the Giants were looking like blowing the game wide open. From midway through the 3rd quarter he put his team on his back, winning damn near every ball that came his way. Liam Baker’s 33 possessions – in perhaps his best game for the club – were also important.

For the Giants, Jacob Hopper continued his impressive season with 35 disposals and 11 clearances. Hogan’s influence waned noticeably after his early explosion, though he was still a willing target for the Giants midfielders.

Richmond travel to Brisbane next week to take on the white hot Lions, whilst GWS return home but will face the equally in form West Coast Eagles.

Richmond Tigers: 13 goals, 9 behinds (87)

GWS Giants: 12 goals, 11 behinds (83)

Goals

Richmond: Martin 4, Aarts 2, Collier-Dawkins 2, Nankervis, Lynch, Castagna, Rioli, Reiwoldt

Giants: Hogan 4, Ward, Kelly, Green, Greene, Hill, O’Halloran, Lloyd, Hopper

Best

Richmond: Baker, Martin, Short, Nankervis, Naish, Collier-Dawkins

Giants: Green, Tranato, Hopper, Hogan, Ward, Taylor

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

St Kilda Saints 5 goals, 17 behinds (47) lost to Geelong Cats 10 goals, 8 behinds (68)

Goals

St Kilda: Membrey 2, Butler, King, Steele

Geelong: Close 2, Rohan 2, Hawkins 2, Cameron, C Guthrie, Narkle, Menegola

Best

St Kilda: Crouch, Ross, Billings, Sinclair, Membrey

Geelong: Tuohy, C Guthrie, Duncan, Smith, Stewart, Close, Henderson

There’s a saying in this game: bad kicking is bad football. In that sense, St Kilda played some bad football. Despite the underdog Saints having the run of play, they kicked nine behinds before Max King finally steered one through midway through the 2nd quarter. The Saints should have been, if not out of sight, then at least in a commanding position. Instead, they led by three points at the half despite having had 14 scoring shots to the Cats six. There’s another common saying: don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. The Cats were not about to turn down this gift. The Saints were able to play the Cats to a standstill in an arm wrestle of a 3rd term but class finally shone through. Three Geelong goals inside four final quarter minutes finally broke the Saint spirit, the Cats running out 21 point winners.

Sydney Swans 10 goals, 12 behinds (72) defeated Collingwood Magpies 5 goals, 12 behinds (42)

Goals

Sydney: Heeney 3, Papley 2, Franklin 2, Warner, McLean, Blakey

Collingwood: De Goey 2, McCreery, Cameron, Hoskin-Elliott

Best

Sydney: Mills, McInerney, Parker, Hickey, Rampe, Heeney

Collingwood: Crisp, Hoskin-Elliott, Mayne, Maynard, Sidebottom

Collingwood looked to be shaking their malaise early in this match, kicking the opening three goals, including two to Jordan De Goey, who was in a rich vein of form until Swans veteran stopper Dane Rampe shut him down. The scrappy Swans were able to claw their way back into the game on the back of veteran Luke Parker (25 disposals) and youngsters Callum Mills (26) and Justin McInerney (24). Livewire forward Tom Papley kicked a team lifting goal in the 3rd period, starting a counter attack at half back, sprinting over 100 metres to get on the end of a Hayden McLean pass before kicking truly. Jack Crisp and Will Hoskin-Elliott were amongst the Magpies best with 23 disposals apiece.

Hawthorn Hawks 12 goals, 8 behinds (80) lost to North Melbourne Kangaroos 14 goals, 10 behinds (94)

Goals

Hawthorn: Wingard 2, Koschitzke 2, Breust 2, Cousins 2, Lewis, Shiels, Moore, Scrimshaw

North Melbourne: Zurhaar 4, Garner 2, Taylor, Goldstein, Larkey, Thomas, Mahoney, Davies-Uniacke

Best

Hawthorn: Wingard, Scrimshaw, Shiels, Cousins, Hardwick

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

The Kangaroos finally, finally, broke their 2021 duck against the struggling Hawks. It didn’t look like the Roos had a hope after a blistering start by Hawthorn, kicking a trio of late opening stanza goals to lead by 32 points early in the 2nd quarter. North Melbourne steadied through the inspirational Cam Zurhaar to reduce the half time margin to 22 points. James Cousins kicked the opening goal of the 2nd half for Hawthorn, but it was all North Melbourne from that point on. Taylor Garner, Jack Mahony and Luke Davies-Uniacke all kicked truly before Zurhaar kicked truly either side of three quarter time to give the Roos a well deserved lead. When he then slotted home his 4th shortly afterwards, North Melbourne were in the unusual position of holding a late lead. First Cousins and then Jack Scrimshaw goaled to give the Hawks back the lead by a solitary point – at that stage it looked like another heart breaker for the luckless Roos. Garner’s 2nd gave the Roos back the advantage before Tarryn Thomas gave them some breathing space. With the monkey off their back after some strong performances in recent weeks, it will be interesting to see if North Melbourne can kick on and maybe get themselves a few more wins in the next month.

Gold Coast Suns 7 goals, 9 behinds (51) lost to Brisbane Lions 19 goals, 10 behinds (124)

Goals

Gold Coast: King 2, Ainsworth, Atkins, Corbett, Flanders, Greenwood

Brisbane: McStay 4, Cameron 3, Daniher 2, Hipwood 2, McCarthy 2, Bailey 2, Coleman, McCluggage, Zorko, Prior

Best

Gold Coast: Swallow, Weller, Greenwood, Anderson

Brisbane: Lyons, Zorko, McStay, McCluggage, Starcevich, Andrews, Birchall

The Queensland derby was an absolute fizzer, the Lions running out convincing 73 point winners. The Suns were able to answer a fast Brisbane start to trail by only a goal at the 1st change. Brisbane strung together three goals, including two to Daniel McStay to push the lead out to 29 at the main break. The 3rd quarter was a procession for the Lions, slamming on 50 points to a solitary Suns behind. Between Sun Ben King’s early 2nd term goal and Sam Flanders kicking truly midway through the final quarter, Brisbane piled on 14 straight goals at which point the lead was out to 91 points. A too-little-too-late flourish brought the margin back to its eventual 73 points, but that did little to hide the embarrassment for Gold Coast. Former Sun Jarryd Lyons was magnificent, recording 38 disposals and nine clearances in a best on ground performance. Brisbane captain Dayne Zorko had 34 possessions of his own. McStay and Lincoln McCarthy kicked seven goals between them to almost outscore the Suns by themselves.

Port Adelaide Power 12 goals, 5 behinds (77) lost to Western Bulldogs 15 goals, 6 behinds (96)

Goals

Port Adelaide: Fantasia 2, Dixon 2, Georgiades 2, Hartlett, Amon, Drew, Gray, Powell-Pepper, Wines

Bulldogs: Naughton 4, Weightman 3, Bontompelli 2, Bruce 2, Johannisen 2, McNeil, Hannan

Best

Port Adelaide: Wines, Fantasia, Boak, Amon, Georgiades

Bulldogs: Bontompelli, Naughton, Daniel, Liberatore, Weightman

A potential Grand Final preview in Adelaide as the Power hosted the Bulldogs. A riveting, high-pressure, see-sawing match saw the Dogs jump out to an early 25 point lead as they threatened to turn the game into a non-event. Port finally switched on in the 2nd term, kicking five goals in nine minutes to snatch back the lead. The teams traded blows for the rest of the half as the Bulldogs held a one point lead at the main break. As in the opening term, the Bulldogs kicked away early in the 3rd quarter, Mitch Hannan’s goal pushing the lead out to 19. That would be the final margin as the Bulldogs were able to answer every Power goal in the final period, with Power veteran Robbie Gray kicking a somewhat fortunate goal and young Bulldog Cody Weightman’s 3rd coming from a moment of brilliance. Marcus Bontompelli (26 possessions and two goals) and Tom Liberatore (27 with 12 clearances) drive to Dogs forward as Aaron Naughton continued his Coleman Medal push with four goals.

Essendon Bombers 10 goals, 8 behinds (68) defeated Fremantle Dockers 8 goals, 13 behinds (61)

Goals

Essendon: McDonald-Tipungwuti 2, Jones 2, Langford, Parish, Redman, Wright, Phillips, Ham

Fremantle: Taberner 4, Cerra, Lobb, Walters, Mundy

Best

Essendon: Parish, Hind, McGrath, Redman, Heppell, McDonald-Tipungwuti

Fremantle: Brayshaw, Darcy, Fyfe, Serra, Serong, Mundy

Three goals in the first six minutes – including a pair to Harrison Jones – before Fremantle had even bothered the scorers saw the Dockers staring into the abyss of a huge defeat at Marvel Stadium, before they finally decided that they may as well play some football. Freo were able to take the lead early in the 2nd term through Adam Cerra as the teams traded goals through to half time. A pair of early Docker goals to the otherwise quiet Michael Walters and Matt Taberner saw Fremantle take an 11 point lead, their largest of the day. Again, the sides traded goals in a tight and tense affair. The Bombers stuck their noses back in front early in the final term and wouldn’t trail again, though the Dockers did at one stage draw level. Brayden Ham’s kick saw the Bombers lead once again and despite a frantic Freo finish, were able to hold on in a nail biter. Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti was a menace all day with four Bombers goals. Darcy Parish continued his career best run with 39 possessions in another dominant display. Cerra was the Dockers best with 28 disposals.

Melbourne Demons 13 goals, 16 behinds (94) defeated Carlton Blues 10 goals 8 behinds (68)

Goals

Melbourne: McDonald 3, Fritsch 3, Neal-Bullen 2, Oliver, Hunt, Spargo, Langdon, Pickett

Carlton: McKay 3, Owies, Betts, Pittonet, Casboult, Stocker, Gibbons, Murphy

Best

Melbourne: McDonald, May, Spargo, Jordan, Oliver, Petracca, Salem, Langdon

Carlton: Walsh, Cripps, Docherty, Williams, Saad

Carlton appear to have taken on Melbourne’s traditional role as the AFL’s Jekyll & Hyde team. The talented Blues came into this match at 3-5, yet were seen as a more than sneaky chance to end the Demons unbeaten run. Carlton were dealt an early blow as David Cunningham suffered an ACL injury and then saw star full forward Harry McKay feeling his shoulder. Despite those blows the Blues were able to stick it to the Dees early on through an early 12 point lead. Tom McDonald led Melbourne back into the match, kicking all of his three goals either time of quarter time as the Demons turned that deficit into a 19 point lead. Melbourne’s pressure game was starting to show as Carlton were forced to dump the ball long into their forwards, playing right into the hands of Melbourne’s miserly back line. By contrast, the Demons were precise with their delivery. The teams came out after half time to a deluge that halted the momentum of both teams, as the midfields became more important. Patrick Cripps (27 disposals) was brave for Carlton but was ultimately overwhelmed by a deep Demons group led by Clayton Oliver (29 possessions) and Christian Petracca (27). The Demons won their 9th straight for the 6th time in their long history. The previous five occasions have occurred in Premiership years.

West Coast Eagles 16 goals, 10 points (106) defeated Adelaide Crows 11 goals, 10 behinds (76)

Goals

West Coast: Darling 5, Allen 3, Kennedy 3, Waterman 2, Cripps, Jones, Petrucelle

Adelaide: McAdam 3, Berry 2, Thilthorpe 2, Fogarty, Rowe, Laird, Schoenberg

Best

West Coast: Darling, Naitanui, Kelly, Redden, Kennedy, Witherden, McGovern

Adelaide: Laird, Keays, McAdam, Schoenberg

A tight opening period gave scant warning to the cyclone that was to hit in the 2nd term. Eagles forward Jack Darling produced a quarter for the ages, kicking five goals to stun the Crows, giving his side a 29 point half time lead. Whilst Darling stole the headlines, the Eagles other two big forwards, Oscar Allan and Josh Kennedy, contributed two apiece to account for the entirety of the Eagles goal tally. After halftime, the Crows looked punch drunk early before making an inevitable push as the narrowed the margin to 17 points, though credit to Eagles defenders Tom Cole, Alex Witherden and Jeremy McGovern who turned away waves of attacking Crows. Once the Crows had punched themselves out, Nic Naitanui’s ruck dominance came to the fore, feeding his fleet of midfielders: Dom Sheed, Tim Kelly and Andrew Gaff all feasting from the ruckman’s silver service. In the final term the Eagles managed the game somewhat, keeping Adelaide at arms length without really pushing themselves too hard.

Coleman Medal leader board

Harry McKay (Carlton) – 33 (3 goals this week)

Taylor Walker (Adelaide) – 27 goals (-)

Josh Bruce (Bulldogs) – 27 (2)

Matt Taberner (Dockers) – 26 (4)

Jack Darling (Eagles) – 26 (5)

Ben King (Suns) – 25 (2)

Cale Hooker (Bombers) – 22 (0)

Jack Reiwoldt (Richmond) – 22 (1)

Toby Greene (Giants) – 22 (1)

Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (Bombers) – 22 (2)

Aaron Naughton (Bulldogs) – 22 (4)

#ClubMPts%ForAgtThis WeekProjectedNext
1Melbourne936144.3 %808560Won vs Carl
94 β€“ 68
2nd: 68 pts, 124 %Saturday
@ Adel
2W Bulldogs932146.9 %889605Won @ P.A.
96 β€“ 77
1st: 68 pts, 133 %Saturday
vs St.K
3Geelong924128.8 %796618Won @ St.K
68 β€“ 47
4th: 60– pts, 123 %Saturday
vs G.C.
4Brisbane924126.4 %818647Won @ G.C.
124 β€“ 51
3rd: 60 pts, 124 %Friday
vs Rich
5Port Adel924120.6 %783649Lost vs W.B.
77 β€“ 96
5th: 56 pts, 115 %Sunday
@ Coll
6Sydney924113.2 %795702Won vs Coll
72 β€“ 42
8th: 48 pts, 104 %Saturday
@ Freo
7WC Eagles924112.2 %844752Won vs Adel
106 β€“ 76
7th: 48+ pts, 105 %Sunday
@ GWS
8Richmond920103.1 %741719Won vs GWS
87 β€“ 83
6th: 52+ pts, 113 %Friday
@ B.L.
9GWS Giants91698.0 %724739Lost @ Rich
83 β€“ 87
10th: 40+ pts, 99 %Sunday
vs WCE
10Fremantle91693.5 %693741Lost @ Ess
61 β€“ 68
11th: 40 pts, 93 %Saturday
vs Syd
11St Kilda91681.5 %654802Lost vs Geel
47 β€“ 68
12th: 40 pts, 89 %Saturday
@ W.B.
12Essendon91296.8 %813840Won vs Freo
68 β€“ 61
13th: 36+ pts, 98 %Sunday
vs N.M.
13Carlton91292.6 %779841Lost @ Melb
68 β€“ 94
9th: 44– pts, 102 %Saturday
vs Haw
14Gold Coast91290.5 %640707Lost vs B.L.
51 β€“ 124
14th: 32 pts, 90 %Saturday
@ Geel
15Adelaide91284.6 %719850Lost @ WCE
76 β€“ 106
15th: 32 pts, 85 %Saturday
vs Melb
16Collingwood9885.1 %643756Lost @ Syd
42 β€“ 72
16th: 28 pts, 87 %Sunday
vs P.A.
17Hawthorn9875.4 %641850Lost vs N.M.
80 β€“ 87
17th: 24 pts, 79 %Saturday
@ Carl
18North Melb9457.4 %542944Won @ Haw
87 β€“ 80
18th: 16 pts, 65 %Sunday
@ Ess