Round nineteen of the 2021 AFL season saw a change at the top of the table, as the challengers to Melbourne’s long held ascendancy assembled themselves. At the other end of the ladder, the long presumed wooden spooners claimed a statement win, whilst the battle for the coveted 8th spot also took a turn.

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: West Coast Eagles vs St Kilda Saints

The Eagles and Saints came into this match with different perspectives of the same battleground. In the fight for a finals berth, the 7th placed Eagles held the high ground but were riding patchy form, whereas the in-form Saints – sitting 11th – were at the tail end of a slew of teams fighting it out for September action.

With the Saints’ recent resurgence coming through free flowing, attacking football, would a veteran Eagles outfit look to slow them down, or rely on their own considerable – if aging – firepower?

In the opening stages, each team waited for the other to show their hand, as conservative decision making saw neither team hit the scoreboard until Josh Kennedy got the Eagles going through a swift counter attack. The Eagles’ game plan was looking increasingly as though they were going to absorb the Saints’ pressure and try to hit them on the rebound. It was indeed another counter attack that saw Liam Ryan get on the board. Unfortunately for the classy half forward, he tweaked his hamstring as he ran into the open goal and was substituted out of the game not long after.

The Saints finally got moving through late first term quarter goals to Jack Billings and veteran ruckman Paddy Ryder, as the Saints closed to within a point at quarter time.

Jack Darling broke out of his recent funk to kick a pair of early 2nd term goals for the Eagles, though they were soon answered by Max King, kicking truly after a pair of powerful contested marks.

King was taking huge marks everywhere. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Saint Max King with another pack mark. Photo: Paul Kane/Getty Images

The Eagles stole back the momentum through a tough goal to Tim Kelly, as West Coast finally started to ease away from St Kilda. Another pair of goals to Kennedy, as well as one to Jamie Cripps, saw West Coast take a suddenly very comfortable 28 point lead into the long break.

The Eagles started the 3rd quarter as they had finished the previous with Nic Naitanui marking well in the goal square before scoring.

The Saints, however, found another gear. King kicked another beauty, before a shocking bounce for Eagles defender Josh Rotham allowed Dan Butler to stroll in and kick another.

Jake Waterman kicked a steadying goal for the Eagles after taking a mark that the term ‘uncontested’ fails to do justice to. It was almost as if the Saints forgot he was there. At the other end, Ben Long missed a gimme for the Saints as he ran into an open goal, though teammate Paul Hunter softened the blow somewhat when he converted not long after.

With the lead back to under 20 points, Darling marked and goaled seconds before the end of the quarter to give the Eagles some breathing room.

Both teams traded majors early in the final quarter, King again marking well inside a minute to get the ball rolling. He kicked his 5th not long after, but every goal from the Saints big man was answered in kind, as Zac Langdon and Dom Sheed kicked truly for West Coast.

St Kilda had one final run in them as Tim Membrey, then Butler and that man King all scoring in quick succession to reduce the margin to just eight. But it was famed closer Dom Sheed who snapped a classy goal on the run from 45 meters to seal the win for the Eagles; Jack Sinclair’s late goal proving to be nothing more than academic.

The Eagles will be encouraged by the return to form of key forwards Kennedy and in particular Darling. Darling hadn’t booted multiple goals in a game since round nine, and his ability to capitalise from the attention Kennedy receives has long been a key facet of the Eagles’ attack. It’s no coincidence that Darling’s best game in close to three months saw Kennedy play his best for a long while.

At the other end of the park, it was all about Max King. The Saints forward not only kicked a career high six goals, but commanded the forward line in a manner not yet seen in his short career. He was snaring big pack marks seemingly at will and, where he couldn’t take possession, was crashing packs and creating havoc for his small forwards to feast upon.

The less accomplished though – perhaps by dint of not playing the Gold Coast – more hyped of the King twins has more often that not flattered to deceive in his young career. That is usually as a result of his yips in front of goal, not dissimilar to the man he inherited the Saints #12 from, all-time club great Nick Riewoldt. This game could prove to be a coming of age for the 21 year old.

This win solidifies the Eagles in the top eight as they now enjoy a six point gap to the 8th placed Giants, with the Bombers, Tigers, Dockers and Saints a further two behind. They get the chance to further cement their finals berth with a contest against the lowly Magpies next week in a rematch of the 2018 grand final.

The Saints, for their part, are still in the mix but a poor percentage stemming from their woeful early season form could be too big an obstacle to overcome. They take on the Blues next weekend.

West Coast Eagles: 14 Goals, 10 Behinds (94)

St Kilda Saints: 13 Goals, 8 Behinds (86)

Goals

West Coast: Kennedy 3, Darling 3, Sheed 2, Ryan, Cripps, Kelly, Naitanui, Waterman, Langdon

St Kilda: King 6, Butler 2, Sinclair, Billings, Ryder, Hunter, Membrey

Best

West Coast: Sheed, Kelly, Kennedy, Cripps, Yeo, Darling, Naitanui, Hurn

St Kilda: King, Jones, Butler, Ross, Sinclair, Ryder, Hill

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

Port Adelaide Power 14 goals, 13 behinds (97) defeated Collingwood Magpies 10 goals, 9 behinds (69)

Goals

Port Adelaide: Dixon 4, Marshall 3, Ladhams 2, Woodcock, Amon, Houston, Wines, Rozee

Collingwood: Mihocek 3, Henry 2, De Goey, Elliott, Bianco, Cameron, Cox

Best

Port Adelaide: Drew, Boak, Amon, Houston, Dixon, Wines, Marshall

Collingwood: Grundy, Mihocek, Crisp, Adams, Sidebottom, Ruscoe, De Goey

Collingwood have looked better since coach Nathan Buckley’s removal, without getting reward for effort. They started the stronger against the favoured Power, with a pair of goals inside four minutes. Port recovered to take a late lead before Jordan De Goey kicked truly to give the Magpies a quarter time advantage. After a tight start to the 2nd, it was all Port Adelaide, Charlie Dixon kicking the first of four unanswered for his team, as they eased out to a 19 point lead at the half. Two more goals to open the 3rd say the Power close to breaking the game wide open, but to Collingwood’s credit, they fought back with five of the next six majors, including a couple to Brody Mihocek. Port steadied late in the game, however, Dixon kicking the final two goals to add the cherry on the cake that was a 28 point victory. In his 300th appearance, Travis Boak had 30 disposals and seven clearances, youngster Willem Drew starring with 32. Brody Grundy continued his resurgence for the Magpies, with 24 possessions, in a match that saw Collingwood lose captain Scott Pendlebury for the season with a broken leg.

Carlton Blues 11 goals, 11 behinds (77) lost to North Melbourne Kangaroos 18 goals, 8 behinds (116)

Goals

Carlton: Cripps 3, Kennedy 2, Newnes 2, Owies, Martin, Fisher, Curnow

North Melbourne: Larkey 7, Thomas 4, Stephenson 3, Anderson 2, Zurhaar, Goldstein

Best

Carlton: Newnes, Silvagni, De Koning, Walsh, Curnow, Cripps

North Melbourne: Simpkin, Larkey, Thomas, Stephenson, Cunnington, Hall

A devastating 3rd quarter burst of seven unanswered goals saw the Kangaroos pile further pressure on Carlton and beleaguered coach David Teague. A tight, low scoring first half gave no indication of the avalanche that was to come, as Ed Curnow’s late 2nd term goal saw the lead change hands for the 9th time to that point. Two minutes into the 3rd quarter, Roos forward Jaidyn Stephenson kicked his 3rd – that 10th lead change would prove the last. North Melbourne dominated the 3rd term, slamming on 44 points to just four as the Roos belied their bottom-of-the-table status. The Blues looked helpless. Jack Newnes finally broke the run with a goal in the opening minute of the final term, though any chance of a miraculous Carlton comeback was thwarted when Tarryn Thomas kicked two in as many minutes. The Roos young forward line was incredible: Nick Larkey kicked a career best seven goals, Thomas had four and Stephenson had three. That powerhouse Cam Zurhaar kicked a solitary major proved academic. Ben Cunnington drove the Kangaroos forward from the middle as his team dominated the clearances.

Brisbane Lions 17 goals, 18 behinds (120) Defeated Gold Coast Suns 10 goals, 11 behinds (71)

Goals

Brisbane: McCarthy 4, Daniher 3, Cameron 3, Ah Chee 2, Robinson 2, McStay, Neale, Zorko

Gold Coast: King 3, Corbett 3, Ainsworth, Rowell, Sexton, Sharp

Best

Brisbane: McInerney, Lyons, McCarthy, McCluggage, Starcevich, Andrews, Robinson

Gold Coast: Fiorini, Miller, Sharp, Lukosius, Stupid Sexy Flanders, Ainsworth

The Suns clearly had early dinner plans and had to get their football in early. Through the 1st half, they did just that, kicking the opening three majors to take an early 19 point lead. Brisbane responded through Joe Daniher and Lincoln McCarthy, but a 2nd term surge saw the Suns kick four of five to take a 60 to 33 lead into the main break. Let’s hope the Suns enjoyed that dinner, because the Lions enjoyed feasting on the carcass left behind. A frightening run of 13 goals to one in the second half saw the Lions make a 78 point turnaround, steamrolling their local rivals by 49 points. Reigning Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale got the ball rolling with an early goal and Charlie Cameron added another, but over half way through the 3rd quarter the Suns still led by 13 points. Then the damn walls collapsed. Three more goals saw the Lions take a six point lead into the final change, before another six – including three in four minutes – busted the game open. The Suns, so brilliant in the opening half, were reduced to chasing shadows. Josh Corbett finally broke the run with this 3rd goal of the afternoon, but the Lions responded with a couple of their own to put the finishing touches on a stirring 2nd half.

Melbourne Demons 9 goals, 11 behinds (65) lost to Western Bulldogs 13 goals, 7 behinds (85)

Goals

Melbourne: Brown 2, Fritsch 2, Pickett 2, McDonald, Petracca, Viney

Western Bulldogs: Bontompelli 2, Bruce 2, Hannan 2, Naughton 2, Daniel, Smith, English, Ugle-Hagan, Weightman

Best

Melbourne: Oliver, Petracca, Neal-Bullen, Gawn, Hunt, Lever

Western Bulldogs: Bontompelli, Daniel, Macrae, Smith, Hunter, Schache, Liberatore

Through a mixture of a torrential early downpour, stifling Bulldog pressure and poor Demon goal kicking, this top of the table fixture proved to be a fizzer as a spectacle. Melbourne started with all the momentum though, typically, were not able to transfer that into scoreboard pressure. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, turned their straight shooting into an early 10 point lead despite both teams managing the same amount of attempts on goal. The 2nd quarter followed a similar line, with the teams fairly even around the ground but the Dees unable to find any accuracy in the forward line; the Dogs held as 21 point half time advantage. After kicking two goals in the first half, Melbourne kicked two in the first minute of the 3rd term as the game opened right up. The combatants managed nine goals in the term, more than they scored in the entire first half. Melbourne came hard in the final quarter, Ben Brown’s tight set shot reducing the margin to four points before Marcus Bontompelli steadied the Dogs. A set shot from rookie Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and a simple finish to former Dee Mitch Hannan saw the Bulldogs take the game, and with it, top spot on the AFL ladder.

Adelaide Crows 16 goals, 6 behinds (102) defeated Hawthorn Hawks 13 goals, 5 behinds (83)

Goals

Adelaide: Walker 4, Fogarty 2, Murphy2, Laird 2, Himmelberg 2, Lynch, Smith, Keays, McHenry

Hawthorn: Lewis 3, Phillips 2, Worpel, Koschitzke, Moore, O’Brien, Mitchell, Breust, Brockman, McEvoy

Best

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

Hawthorn: Mitchell, O’Meara, Worpel, Howe, Moore

A fast starting Adelaide did enough to see off the much improved Hawks, in this one. The Crows had three goals on the board – Darcy Fogarty with a brace – before the Hawks were out of the gates. Hawthorn got back into the game and at quarter time a genuine shootout looked on the cards. The teams went goal for goal in the 2nd as the defensive pressure was turned up, Crow Elliott Himmelberg slotting one through right on the siren. The Hawks made a run in the 3rd term, kicking four on the trot, taking their first and only lead of the night after star midfielder Tom Mitchell goaled. The game stayed tight as the teams again traded goals through the rest of the period and on into the 4th. Twice the Hawks were able to close to within a point late on, before the Crows kicked the final three goals of the contest to pull away. Rory Laird was magnificent for the Crows with 36 possessions and two goals. Taylor Walker regained some of his early season form with four goals in a powerful display. The loss, combined with the Kangaroos win, leaves Hawthorn only off the bottom of the ladder by percentage. With North Melbourne’s form far superior, the Hawks are in danger of collecting their 1st wooden spoon in 56 years.

Sydney Swans 14 goals, 14 behinds (98) defeated Fremantle Dockers 8 goals, 10 behinds (58)

Goals

Sydney: Heeney 5, Parker 2, Franklin 2, Gulden, Rowbottom, Papley, Hayward, Hickey

Fremantle: Taberner 2, Cerra 2, Darcy, Mundy, Schultz, Crowden

Best

Sydney: Heeney, Kennedy, Parker, Gulden, Hewett, Hickey, Lloyd

Fremantle: Cerra, Brayshaw, Serong, Wilson, Darcy

Fremantle honoured David Mundy’s 350th appearance, but celebrations turned sour as the Swans put in a 2nd half clinic to run away comfortable 40 point victors. The Dockers shaded a tight 1st term with Mundy helping himself to a goal on his milestone day. Mitch Crowden’s goal pushed the Fremantle lead out to 17 mid way through the 2nd term, though it all went wrong for the men in purple after that. Isaac Heeney – who was immense throughout – goals sandwiched a Tom Papley major as the Swans stole a narrow half time lead. The 3rd quarter was all Swans as they poured on another six unanswered goals with Fremantle only managing a solitary behind. That dominant display gutted the Dockers, and through they were able to get a couple of final term goals through Adam Cerra, the Swans cantered to comfortable win. Heeney’s haul of five goals was punctuated by a huge grab. Veteran centreman Josh Kennedy racked up disposals with 34. Young midfielders Cerra (34 disposals and two goals) and Andy Brayshaw (30) were the Dockers best.

Geelong Cats 15 goals, 5 behinds (95) defeated Richmond Tigers 8 goals, 9 behinds (57)

Goals

Geelong: Hawkins 4, Ratugolea 4, Close, Dangerfield, Miers,Narkle Parfitt, Rowan, Stanley

Richmond: Aarts 2, Riewoldt 2, Castagna, Cotchin, Lambert, Lynch

Best

Geelong: Dangerfield, Hawkins, Guthrie, Ratugolea, Stewart, Smith, Stanley

Richmond: Short, Rioli, Ross, Parker, Mansell

Last week’s stirring win over Brisbane looked more like the Tigers death rattle in light of this performance. Richmond brought the heat early on, as neither side could establish any ascendancy. You couldn’t help but get the feeling that the damn walls were ready to burst and half way through the 2nd term, they indeed did. A run of five goals in nine minutes saw a narrow lead become a 51 to 10 gap at the main break. Proud champions they are, the Tigers hit back through Jason Castagna and Jamie Arts at the beginning of the 3rd, but the Cats quickly strangled the life out of that comeback through a Tom Hawkins goal from deep in the pocket. When Esava Ratugolea kicked truly right on three quarter time, the Tigers looked spent. The teams traded goals in the final term as the Cats took their collective feet off the gas, managing the game through to it’s final 38 point margin. Patrick Dangerfield produced a vintage display with seven tackles, seven clearances and a goal. Richmond – who were brave despite the socreline – were led by Jayden Ross, who rebounded well from half back.

Essendon Bombers 7 goals, 11 behinds (53) lost to GWS Giants 9 goals, 12 behinds (66)

Goals

Essendon: Hooker, Parish, Perkins, Smith, Zaharakis, Cox, Stringer

GWS: Hogan 2, Himmelberg, Ash, Lloyd, Ward, Mumford, Reid, Daniels

Best

Essendon: Ridley, Durham, Heppell, Cox, Perkins, Merrett

GWS: Whitfield, Green, Perryman, Ash, Mumford, Ward

A dour, low scoring, but tense and tight affair to close round nineteen, as the Giants strong 2nd half saw them earn a victory that puts them back inside the top eight – at the expense of their vanquished opposition. The first half was tight as Bombers’ early ascendancy was quickly matched by the Giants. Though when Devon Smith kicked truly late in the 1st half, the Bombers’ 16 point lead looked much bigger than that within the context of the game. The 3rd term, though, was all GWS. Lachy Ash, Harry Himmelberg and veteran ruckman Shane Mumford all tallied goals before the Bombers had scored, to give the Giants a narrow lead. When Jesse Hogankicked his 2nd right on the siren, the Giants suddenly looked in control. Sam Reid’s early 4th quarter goal only solidified the GWS lead as neither team was able to make inroads on the other. Lachie Whitfield led all comers with 36 disposals, but it was the efforts of Ash is slowing down the red hot Darcy Parish that most impressed; the Bomber star held to just 15 possessions.

Coleman Medal leader board

Harry McKay (Carlton) – 52 (- goals this week)

Taylor Walker (Adelaide) – 46 goals (4)

Tom Hawkins (Geelong) – 45 (4)

Jack Riewoldt (Richmond) – 44 (2)

Josh Bruce (Bulldogs) – 43 (2)

Ben King (Suns) – 43 (3)

Lance Franklin (Swans) – 39 (2)

Bayley Fritsch (Demons) – 37 (2)

Charlie Dixon (Power) – 37 (4)

Aaron Naughton (Bulldogs ) – 36 (2)

#ClubMPts%ForAgtThis WeekProjectedNext
1W Bulldogs1856139.9 %17041218Won @ Melb
85 – 65
1st: 68 pts, 139 %Saturday
vs Adel
2Geelong1856132.1 %15561178Won vs Rich
95 – 57
2nd: 68 pts, 132 %Saturday
@ N.M.
3Melbourne1854124.2 %15031210Lost vs W.B.
65 – 85
3rd: 66 pts, 124 %Saturday
@ G.C.
4Port Adel1852121.0 %15231259Won vs Coll
97 – 69
5th: 60 pts, 118 %Sunday
@ GWS
5Brisbane1848127.3 %16661309Won vs G.C.
120 – 71
4th: 60 pts, 129 %Saturday
@ Haw
6Sydney1848118.8 %15861335Won vs Freo
98 – 58
6th: 56 pts, 117 %Friday
@ Ess
7WC Eagles184098.6 %14931514Won vs St.K
94 – 86
8th: 44 pts, 94 %Sunday
@ Coll
8GWS Giants183496.6 %14161466Won @ Ess
66 – 53
12th: 38+ pts, 95 %Sunday
vs P.A.
9Essendon1832103.4 %15541503Lost vs GWS
53 – 66
9th: 40 pts, 102 %Friday
vs Syd
10Richmond183298.2 %14531480Lost @ Geel
57 – 95
7th: 44 pts, 102 %Sunday
@ Freo
11Fremantle183290.3 %13411485Lost @ Syd
58 – 98
10th: 40 pts, 91 %Sunday
vs Rich
12St Kilda183286.9 %12921486Lost @ WCE
86 – 94
11th: 40 pts, 89 %Saturday
vs Carl
13Carlton182891.9 %14571586Lost vs N.M.
77 – 116
13th: 36 pts, 94 %Saturday
@ St.K
14Gold Coast182486.2 %12451444Lost @ B.L.
71 – 120
14th: 32 pts, 87 %Saturday
vs Melb
15Adelaide182481.5 %13481653Won vs Haw
102 – 83
16th: 28 pts, 81 %Saturday
@ W.B.
16Collingwood182088.5 %12681432Lost @ P.A.
69 – 97
15th: 28 pts, 90 %Sunday
vs WCE
17Hawthorn181879.1 %12931634Lost @ Adel
83 – 102
17th: 22 pts, 79 %Saturday
vs B.L.
18North Melb181870.8 %12291735Won @ Carl
116 – 77
18th: 22 pts, 72 %Saturday
vs Geel