round seven
Sydney Swan Tom Papley celebrates a goal. Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images.

Round seven of the 2021 AFL season was somewhat of a reclamation round for many teams. Three teams with their finals chances potentially slipping away managed to keep themselves in touch with the top eight, whilst a couple of premiership favourites made strong statements in match ups with fellow title fancies.

At the other end of the table, one cellar dweller showed no little pride, despite not getting the desired result, whilst another looked completely bereft of any fight.

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 Western Bulldogs

Strong and bold, the Tigers of old re-emerged on Friday night.

Coming into their blockbuster with the top of the table, undefeated Bulldogs, Richmond were without a host of name players including Dustin Martin, the biggest name in the game. A potential 4th loss in five loomed over the reigning premiers as their title defense looked in danger of sputtering.

Sensing blood, the Dogs went to work from the opening bounce, scoring the opening three goals of the contest through Anthony Scott, Aaron Naughton and Josh Bruce before Jamie Aarts finally got the Tigers on the board late in the quarter. For all of the Bulldogs early ascendancy – at one stage they led the clearance count 14 to one – better goal kicking from maligned Richmond full forward Tom Lynch would have seen the game evenly poised. Instead, the former Sun could only manage three behind as a ‘reward’ for his strong marking.

The second term was a far more evenly fought battle, as the Tigers started to gain a foothold in the midfield, though when the Dogs were able to break, they broke with devastating efficiency.

Goals to Bailey Smith from outside the 50 metre arc and a second to Naughton pushed the Bulldogs lead out to 25 points in a low scoring contest. Again, Lynch was wasteful. The big man scoring bends from two more very presentable opportunities. As in the first quarter, Richmond were able to steal a goal late on, this time through the speedy Shai Bolton, before Bulldogs skipper Marcus Bontompelli wasted a golden opportunity for the Dogs to push the lead back out to 24 right on the half time siren.

Whatever spray Tigers coach Damien Hardwick gave to his troops at half time should be bottled, for the Tigers were a completely different outfit after the break. This Richmond came out breathing fire; applying extreme pressure; moving the ball with speed and precision; played with daring and an element of shithousery. This was the Richmond that has claimed three flags in four years.

Veteran forward Jack Reiwoldt kicked truly to give the Tigers a boost early in the 3rd period, before Lynch again marked strongly. From close range, it would have been harder to miss his shot at goal, but at least he had his first major and – importantly – the monkey from his back.

Jack Graham goaled shortly afterward and suddenly the Tigers had their tails up, trailing by only by only a point. The Bulldogs looked utterly shell-shocked. Lynch kicked his second to give Richmond their first lead of the night as the Tigers dominated both possession and territory, at one stage chalking up 16 consecutive inside 50’s before the Bulldogs had one of their own. It took the Dogs a full 20 minutes to break into their forward line. Naughton marked well, converting his 3rd goal of the evening to restore parity, though Lynch – now playing with the arrogance that often comes with his best form – duly answered for Richmond, his 3rd goal of the term.

Tiger Liam Baker celebrates a goal. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

When Liam Baker, the defender pinch-hitting in the forward line, kicked a classic rovers goal seven minutes into the final quarter, Richmond’s 12 point lead looked far bigger than it was from a Bulldogs perspective. Former #2 draft pick Josh Schache’s set shot goal halved the margin three minutes later and a grandstand finish looked on the cards, despite the Bulldogs struggles.

The Tigers got their steadying goal from an unlikely source in Bachar Houli. The defender – turning 33 in less than a fortnight – is anything but a renowned goal scorer, despite possessing a sweet left foot. From right on the 50 metre arc, Houli unloaded, though the goal was perhaps a tad fortunate. Three Bulldog defenders had the chance to spoil the ball as it was about to cross the line. Bailey Dale was too far away from the contest, Jason Johannisen opted to stay with his direct opponent rather than attack the football, and Alex Keath’s attempted punch just sort of….missed!

Houli’s kick proved to the the proverbial straw that broke the Bulldogs back, as Bolton helped himself to a pair of late goals as the Tigers announced to the AFL that they are no spent force, winning by 22 points.

Whilst Lynch’s return to form is most welcome for the Tigers, it also shines a light on the Bulldogs biggest weakness: big defenders. Lynch rag-dolled Keath and Zaine Cordy all night and only a wayward kicking boot held him back from a huge haul. Bailey Dale is a star, but he’s not big enough to take on true power forwards.

Bolton, with three goals and 22 disposals was a constant menace and probably the Tigers best player. Captain Trent Cotchin was precise with his disposal before being withdrawn late with a tight hamstring. As well as his telling goal, Houli was prolific across half back with 31 possessions.

The Bulldogs early dominance and short possession style of play saw rack up plenty of the football. Caleb Daniel had 35 possessions, Jack Macrae 30. Adam Treloar and the Baileys Smith and Dale had 27 apiece. As went the Bulldogs, all of them were far more prolific before the main break.

The loss sees the Dogs lose their perfect record to start season 2021, and with it top spot on the ladder. They face a tough Blues outfit next week.

For the Tigers, this was a statement game; right in time for a blockbuster grand final rematch against Geelong.

Richmond Tigers: 11 goals, 11 behinds (77)

Western Bulldogs : 7 goals, 13 behinds (55)

Goals

Richmond: Lynch 3, Bolton 3, Aarts, Reiwoldt, Graham, Baker, Houli

Bulldogs: Naighton 3, Scott, Bruce, Smith, Schache

Best

Richmond: Lynch, Cotchin, Bolton, Broad, Houli, Short

Bulldogs, Macrae, Dale, Liberatore, Treloar, Daniel, Bontompelli

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

Collingwood Magpies 7 goals, 13 behinds (55) lost to Gold Coast Suns 12 goals, 7 behinds (79)

Goals

Collingwood: Mihocek 4, Daicos, Noble, Grundy

Gold Coast: Corbett 4, King 2, Swallow 2, Rankine, Greenwood, Ellis, Burgess

Best

Collingwood: Mihocek, Daicos, Pendlebury, Quaynor, Noble

Gold Coast: Miller, Ellis, Corbett, Bowes, Greenwood

The Magpies 2021 campaign went from bad to worse with a lacklustre display at home to the Suns, who claimed only their 4th ever victory at the MCG. The Suns got away to the perfect start, Chris Burgess kicking the opening goal after only 15 seconds without the Magpies touching the football. Brody Mihocek, a shining light for the Magpies kicked a pair of 1st quarter goals, but that was as good as it got for Collingwood, who conceded the next five majors. Though the Magpies hit back early in the third with another Mihocek goal as well as a Josh Daicos major, Gold Coast were able to respond with five of the next six to put the game to bed. Sun Josh Corbett matched Mihcek’s four goals. Touk Miller had himself 34 possessions and Hugh Greenwood picked up 26 of his own as well as 10 tackles.

Adelaide Crows 4 goals, 15 behinds (39) lost to Greater Western Sydney Giants 15 goals, 16 behinds (106)

Goals

Adelaide: Walker 2, Murphy, Murray

GWS: Hogan 4, Himmelberg 3, Green 2, Reid 2, Greene, Hill, Kelly, O’Halloran

Best

Adelaide: Keays, Scholl, Laird, Seedsman, Walker

GWS: Taranto, Kelly, Hogan, Whitfield, Himmleberg, Perryman, Hopper

The Crows surprising early season form has fallen off a cliff. Taylor Walker goaled for Adelaide inside the opening minute, but from there the Giants had full control of this match….in a sense. Despite dominating possession and territory in the early stages, poor kicking for goal saw the Giants only take a seven point lead into quarter time. A burst of four straight goals in six minutes midway through the 2nd stanza broke the game open, though. From there the Giants never looked back, running out comfortable 67 point winners. On his debut for the club, nomadic forward Jesse Hogan slotted through four goals whilst Tim Taranto, Lachie Whtfield and Jacob Hopper all amassed 30+ disposals. Ben Keays and stand-in skipper Tom Doedee were Adelaide’s best.

St Kilda Saints 19 goals, 14 behinds (128) defeated Hawthorn Hawks 9 goals, 5 behinds (59)

Goals

St Kilda: Higgins 4, Butler 3, Jones 2, King 2, Membrey 2, Marshall 2, Clark 2, Coffield, Sinclair

Hawthorn: Kaschitzke 2, Breust 2, Hanrahan, Lewis, Sheils, Moore, McEvoy

Best

St Kilda: Jones, Clark, Hill, Crouch, Butler, Ross

Hawthorn: Worpel, Scrimshaw, Mitchell, Hardwick

With their season in danger of imploding, St Kilda came to life at a most opportune moment, crushing the Hawks by 69 points. St Kilda set up the result with a dominant 1st quarter, scoring 34 points whilst shutting out the Hawks. Tom Mitchell finally broke the Hawthorn duck with a behind to open the 2nd period, quickly followed by a Jacob Koschitzke goal, though that proved a temporary joy as the Saints kicked four of the next five goals. The Saints didn’t let up in the 2nd half and but for a pair of late Hawks goals, this margin would have been embarrassing for Hawthorn. Zak Jones had a career high 37 disposals for the Saints, whilst the maligned Brad Hill was hot to start the match with 11 1st quarter possessions. Without star trio Jaeger O’Meara, Chad Wingard and Shaun Burgoyne, the Hawks struggled to find winners on the night, though Mitchell and James Worpel worked hard.

Brisbane Lions 13 goals, 15 behinds (93) defeated Port Adelaide Power 5 goals, 14 behinds (44)

Goals

Brisbane: Cameron 4, Daniher 2, Bailey, Ah Chee, McCluggage, McCarthy, McStay, Zorko

Port Adelaide: Bergman, Drew, Wines, Gray, Woodcock

Best

Brisbane: Andrews, McCluggage, Zorko, Daniher, Cameron, Lyons

Port Adelaide: Wines, Aliir, Amon, Drew

Port Adelaide – this writer’s pick for the 2021 premiership – have shown a worrying inability to travel when facing the better sides in the competition. This disappointing performance in Brisbane follows an equally lacklustre display in Perth against the Eagles in round three. This one was effectively out of reach for the Power by half time, when Brisbane’s 56 points was better than Port’s eventual full time output. A balanced Brisbane attack gave Port’s defense all sorts of concerns in the first half, before Charlie Cameron kicked four 2nd half majors. At the other end, Brisbane’s defense was immense, despite Port getting the better of the Inside 50 count. Star Lions fullback Harris Andrews, comprehensively beaten by Carlton’s Harry McGuire last week, blanketed Port man-mountain Charlie Dixon. All up, Andrew had a game high 11 interceptions.

Sydney Swans 14 goals, 6 behinds (90) defeated Geelong Cats 12 goals, 16 behinds (88)

Goals

Sydney: McLean 4, Florent 2, Papley 2, Warner, Gulden, Stephens, Hickey, McInerney, Rowbottom

Geelong: Cameron 3, Rohan 2, Close 2, Miers, Menegola, Duncan, Hawkins, Dalhaus

Best

Sydney: Mills, Hickey, McLean, McCartin, Rowbottom, Florent

Geelong: Selwood, Guthrie, Duncan, Stewart, Cameron, Henry

The Cats will rue this game as a missed opportunity, both through their own profligacy and a pair of controversial late umpiring decisions. Despite dominating the territory battle, the Cats could never quite kick themselves into a substantial lead. A run of five 1st quarter goals saw the Cats lead by 28 points at the first change, though Syndey’s 2nd term fightback saw the halftime lead cut to just six. A tight contest from that point on with seven 2nd half lead changes, the Cats were on course to pull out a string victory away from home until James Rowbottam kicked truly, then Tom Papley – with only 90 seconds remaining – snapped a goal on his left boot. The Cats attacked, looking to steal the points and perhaps should have had them as Jeremy Cameron was controversially denied a mark close to goal, the umpire ruling the kick had not travelled the required 15 metres; a ruling the AFL has since admitted was incorrect, perhaps the Footy Gods squaring the ledger from round two. From there, Cats skipper Joel Selwood wrapped up Rowbottom in a strong tackle (which took the Cats champion to the outright all-time leader of tackles in the history of the game) with only the final siren saving the youngster from giving away a holding the ball free kick. Hayden McLean’s four goals suggests that there may be life after Buddy Franklin in the Swans forward line. Oliver Florent, with 26 possessions and a pair of goals was excellent for Sydney. Selwood, Cam Guthrie and Mitch Duncan were the Cats best.

North Melbourne Kangaroos 11 goals, 7 behinds (73) lost to Melbourne Demons 16 goals, 7 behinds (103)

Goals

North Melbourne: Larkey 2, Campbell 2, Cunnington 2, Mahoney, Zurhaar, Atley, Simpkin, Powell

Melbourne: Fritsch 6, Pickett 3, Brown 2, Langdon, Jackson, Jordan, Spargo, Oliver

Best

North Melbourne: Cunnington, Hall, Powell, McKay, Simpkin, Turner

Melbourne: Fritsch, Jackson, Salem, May, Pickett, Petracca

It’s without doubt a low bar to clear, but this was by far the Kangaroos best effort of season 2021. The winless Roos were given practically no chance of taking down the undefeated Demons. Even after a hot start it was expected that, in a similar vane to their past few outings, the Kangaroos would quickly fade by half time. Except that this time, they didn’t. Even as the Demons belatedly roused from their slumber in the 2nd term, North Melbourne kicked the last three goals of the quarter to take a 19 point lead, and with it the very real chance of the biggest upset of the season so far. In the 2nd half, however, the Demons finally turned it on. Through star man Christian Petracca, underrated forward Bayley Fritcsh and 19 year old Luke Jackson, the Dees started to mount their comeback. Fritsch – on his way to a career high 6 majors – kicked three of Melbourne’s six 3rd quarter goals to turn a 19 point deficit into a 13 point three quarter time lead. A lengthy arm wrestle opened the final term with neither side able to break free before Ben Cunnington’s 2nd goal seemed to give the Kangaroos the impetus. Melbourne, though, steadied through James Jordan’s goal before piling on three more to ease the margin out to a somewhat flattering 30 points, the win moving the Demons to the top of the AFL ladder. Fritsch and Jackson were by far the Demons best on the day, whilst Cunnington can hold his head high for the Roos. Melbourne’s big name recruit Ben Brown made his debut for the club – against his old side, no less – but was well held by Ben McKay, despite a pair of goals.

Essendon Bombers 16 goals, 11 behinds (107) lost to Carlton Blues 19 goals 9 behinds (123)

Goals

Essendon: Hooker 5, McDonald-Tipungwuti 4, Jones 3, Stringer 3, Smith

Carlton: McKay 4, Betts 3, Owies 3, Cuningham 2, Fogarty 2, Cripps, Curnow, Saad, McGovern

Best

Essendon: McGrath, McDonald-Tipungwuti, Hooker, Stringer, Perkins

Carlton: Walsh, Saad, Curnow, Weitering, Cripps, Cuningham

A youthful Bombers outfit jumped out of the gates against the Blues, kicking six opening quarter goals – including three to the irrepressible Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti – to take a 14 point lead into the first change. From there, Carlton – undoubtedly a team under pressure – probably shaded their young opponents, slowly turning the game in their favour. A big 2nd quarter from former Bomber Adam Saad (relentlessly booed by the Essendon fans) helped swing momentum in Carlton’s favour. The final term was wild, with both teams going on runs of goals that looked to have them in the ascendancy. After Bomber Jake Stringer opened the scoring for the quarter, Carlton laid on four goals in nine minutes to take the game away from Essendon. The Bombers responded with three of their own in eight minutes reduce the margin to just nine points, before David Cunningham goaled to steady Carlton nerves. This was a fine advertisement for the game: high paced, high scoring, with no little amount of skill displayed by both squads. Carlton young-gun Sam Walsh, with 33 disposals and eight clearances, continued his rise toward super stardom.

West Coast Eagles 20 goals, 12 points (132) defeated Fremantle Dockers 11 goals, 7 behinds (73)

Goals

West Coast: Darling 3, Kennedy 3, Waterman 3, Brander 2, Cripps 2, Jones 2, Langdon 2, Gaff, Vardy, Petrucelle

Fremantle: Taberner 3, Lobb 2, Colyer, Frederick, Mundy, Serong, Walters, Watson

Best

West Coast: Kelly, Gaff, Sheed, Redden, Naitaniui, Rotham, Kennedy, Darling

Fremantle: Brayshaw, Fyfe, Mundy, Taberner, Walters, Conca

With Fremantle coming off a win and the Eagles following on from a 93 point hiding, the Derby was always going to be an intriguing affair. For half a game it proved so, with only a goal to Eagle Jake Waterman right on half time pushing the margin beyond 11 points. Come the 3rd quarter, though, the Eagles exploded back to life. Jamie Cripps goaled inside 30 seconds and though Fremantle quickly answered through Tobe Watson and Rory Lobb, it would be Fremantle’s last thrown punch. West Coast kicked the final eight goals of this game, outscoring their neighbours 55 points to four after Lobb’s goal. With Elliott Yeo and Luke Shuey out injured, Tim Kelly stepped up and performed brilliantly with a career high 42 disposals, combing neatly with Nic Naitanui around the stoppages for 14 clearances. Andrew Gaff and Dom Sheed, as always, brought their own footy to match. Veteran David Mundy continued his Indian Summer with another standout game for the Dockers.

Coleman Medal leader board

Taylor Walker (Adelaide) – 27 goals (2 goals this week)

Harry McKay (Carlton) – 26 (4)

Cale Hooker (Bombers) – 21 (5)

Josh Bruce (Bulldogs) – 20 (1)

Jack Reiwoldt (Richmond) – 20 (1)

Ben King (Suns) – 20 (2)

Matt Taberner (Dockers) – 20 (3)

#ClubMPts%ForAgtThis WeekProjectedNext
1Melbourne728149.1 %647434Won @ N.M.
103 β€“ 73
1st: 68– pts, 126 %Saturday
vs Syd
2W Bulldogs724157.0 %686437Lost @ Rich
55 β€“ 77
2nd: 64 pts, 133 %Sunday
vs Carl
3Port Adel720120.2 %619515Lost @ B.L.
44 β€“ 93
5th: 56 pts, 112 %Saturday
vs Adel
4Sydney720112.1 %665593Won vs Geel
90 β€“ 88
7th: 48 pts, 101 %Saturday
@ Melb
5Geelong716118.5 %602508Lost @ Syd
88 β€“ 90
6th: 52– pts, 111 %Friday
@ Rich
6Richmond716115.9 %591510Won vs W.B.
77 β€“ 55
3rd: 60 pts, 125 %Friday
vs Geel
7Brisbane716114.1 %599525Won vs P.A.
93 β€“ 44
4th: 56 pts, 119 %Sunday
@ Freo
8WC Eagles716103.9 %640616Won vs Freo
132 β€“ 73
9th: 44 pts, 100 %Sunday
@ Haw
9Fremantle71697.1 %561578Lost @ WCE
73 β€“ 132
11th: 40 pts, 94 %Sunday
vs B.L.
10Gold Coast712102.9 %535520Won @ Coll
79 β€“ 55
14th: 36 pts, 94 %Saturday
vs St.K
11GWS Giants71297.6 %534547Won @ Adel
106 β€“ 39
10th: 40 pts, 98 %Saturday
vs Ess
12Carlton71296.9 %620640Won @ Ess
123 β€“ 107
8th: 44 pts, 103 %Sunday
@ W.B.
13Adelaide71292.1 %605657Lost vs GWS
39 β€“ 106
16th: 32+ pts, 88 %Saturday
@ P.A.
14St Kilda71280.0 %544680Won vs Haw
128 β€“ 59
12th: 40 pts, 90 %Saturday
@ G.C.
15Essendon7895.2 %640672Lost vs Carl
107 β€“ 123
13th: 36+ pts, 98 %Saturday
@ GWS
16Hawthorn7875.3 %501665Lost @ St.K
59 β€“ 128
17th: 32 pts, 83 %Sunday
vs WCE
17Collingwood7483.4 %507608Lost vs G.C.
55 β€“ 79
15th: 32– pts, 90 %Saturday
@ N.M.
18North Melb7049.2 %379770Lost vs Melb
73 β€“ 103
18th: 12 pts, 63 %Saturday
vs Coll