Round ten of the 2021 AFL season saw the last undefeated side of the year finally fall, whilst their fellow ladder leader scored a crushing victory – they meet in an enticing match next week. Similarly, a few clubs languishing towards the foot of the ladder were unable to lift themselves out of the mire as they continue to lose touch with the rest of the competition.

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: Adelaide Crows vs Melbourne Demons

Melbourne’s undefeated start to season 2021 was finally brought to an end by a decisive Adelaide Crows outfit at the Adelaide Oval.

In the final few minutes, a win, loss or draw was in play as the Crows came home with a rush and the Demons hung on grimly.

In the end it was veteran Crows full forward Taylor Walker who continued his Indian Summer, cooly slotting home the go-ahead goal from 40 metres out, with only 47 seconds left on the clock.

Melbourne’s form has plateaued a little over the past few weeks, though they have continued to find a way to win, whilst Adelaide’s surprising early season form had fallen away sharply.

The Demons, traditionally slow starters, this time around started fast with an Ed Langdon snapped goal inside 90 seconds. The Crows were able to answer through impressive rookie Riley Thilthorpe as the teams traded early goals. Melbourne looked to take control of the game late in the 1st period through three goals in four minutes, including a booming kick from young defender Trent Rivers, before live wire Crows forward Jimmy Rowe snapped two of his own inside two minutes; the latter coming from a deliberate out of bounds free kick that would take on unexpected importance late in the game.

Demon Bayley Fritsch opened the 2nd quarter scoring, the recipient of a magnificent pass from star midfielder Christian Petracca. The Crows, who were starting to wrest control of the contest from their more fancied opposition, answered through veteran David McKay before Darcy Fogarty gave the home side the lead. A late James Harmes bomb leveled the scores shortly before halftime, though it was a parity barely deserved for the undefeated Demons, who were playing well below their best.

Though it was widely expected that a strong finishing Demons outfit would flex their muscles in the 2nd half, Adelaide had their tails up and were proving a handful.

Ben Keays and Paul Seedsman kicked early 3rd term goals for the Crows as their raucous home crowd just about lifted the roof off of Adelaide Oval; goals to Demons Petracca and Kysaiah Pickett couldn’t mellow them.

Alongside Petracca Melbourne ball magnet Clayton Oliver was fighting rising tide of Crows midfielders. Paul Seesdman, Ben Keays and Rory Laird all getting plenty of the ball.

With a three point lead at the final change, the Demons were again expected to put the foot down and finally put Adelaide’s brave resistance to bed. After a period of intense pressure could only generate behinds, diminutive Melbourne forward Charlie Spargo set the Demons on their way. In contrast, a Adelaide counter attack saw Shane McAdam kick truly, as the Crows found another gear.

The Demons seemed to struggle with Adelaide’s intensity. Their league nest defense were increasingly error prone, though Jake Lever and Steven May were able to keep the damn from bursting long enough for Langdon to kick his 2nd, then Oliver – imperious in the final term – his 3rd. With the lead at 16 points and 10 minutes left to play, it looked like the Demons had finally taken control of the game.

The Crows, however, had other ideas.

Walker kicked his 2nd to start the ultimately deciding run. Fogarty’s 2nd brought the Demons lead back to under a goal – the Adelaide crowd going nuts by this stage.

With the match on a knifes edge, veteran Crows captain Rory Sloane barely got a kick away as he was tackled on Adelaide’s half forward line. The balls’ unusual flight deceived the Demons, Walker reading it best to mark in an identical spot to where he’d missed a set shot around 10 minutes prior. This time, with the game resting on the result of his kick, the 31 year old kicked truly to give his side a one point lead with 47 seconds remaining.

There was still time for the Demons to play the thief. As Petracca kicked the ball into their forward line, Pickett broke free to run onto the ball, but the youngster spilled his mark. The ball fell to Crows backman Nick Murray who hand balled towards the boundary line, in a circumstance eerily similar to Lever’s in the first term. Lever’s resulted in a free kick and a goal to Rowe – this time the umpires wallowed their whistles, robbing the Demons of a final opportunity to maintain their unblemished record.

As the siren sounded, players from both teams fell to their knees though with vastly differing emotions. Adelaide pulling out a one point win in an instant classic of a football match.

Keays in particular was wonderful for the home side with 34 disposals and a pair of goals. Every time the Crows needed a lift, he seemed to find a way to impact a contest, clasp a key mark, or kick a timely goal. He was well supported by Seedsman, the former Magpie picking up 34 possessions of his own alongside a goal.

The Petracca/Oliver due were again Melbourne’s best. Petracca didn’t waste any of his 32 disposals. Oliver’s best-on-ground performance was incredible, especially in the 2nd half. He had 38 possessions – an incredible 27 of them contested – 13 clearances, nine tackles in addition to three goals from a man not noted for hitting the scoreboard.

The Crows win sees them move up to 13th in the table, though they face a tough match up with the wounded Tigers next week.

Melbourne’s loss not only saw their perfect record disappear, it saw them lose top spot on the AFL ladder. They face the Bulldogs – the team that now sits on that perch – in a peach of a match up.

Adelaide Crows: 15 goals, 6 behinds (96)

Melbourne Demons: 14 goals, 11 behinds (95)

Goals

Adelaide: Walker 3, Rowe 2, Thilthorpe 2, Keays 2, Fogarty 2, Mackay, Seedsman, Berry, McAdam

Melbourne: Oliver 3, Langdon 2, Gawn, McDonald, Fritsch, Rivers, Weidemen, Harmes, Petracca, Pickett, Spargo

Best

Adelaide: Seedsman, Keays, Walker, Laird, Mackay

Melbourne: Oliver, Langdon, Gawn, Petracca, Lever

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

Brisbane Lions 15 goals, 12 behinds (102) defeated Richmond Tigers 11 goals, 8 behinds (74)

Goals

Brisbane: Hipwood 4, Bailey 4, Cameron, Daniher, Coleman, Lyons, Mathieson, Madden, Zorko

Richmond: Lynch 3, Reiwoldt 3, Aarts 2, Ross 2, Naish

Best

Brisbane: McCluggage, Lyons, Hipwood, Bailey, Zorko, Robinson

Richmond: Balta, Short, Pickett, Houli, Aarts

Brisbane reaffirmed they are back to their 2020 best with their 6th straight victory, though early on it looked like anything but a Lions win. The depleted Tigers lept out of the blocks to kick three goals before the Lions had troubled the scorers. The Lions prime movers stepped up in the 2nd period. Goals to Hugh McCluggage, Zac Bailey and Eric Hipwood – his 3rd of the half – saw the Lions take a narrow seven point lead into the major break. Despite Tom Lynch kicking the opening 3rd term goal for Richmond, Brisbane answered with four of their own to lead comfortably at the final change. Lynch was dangerous for the Tigers, kicking his 2nd and 3rd goals in the final term, though the Lions had all the answers. Dayne Zorko’s goal pushed the margin out to 34 points before the Tigers added some late respectability to the scoreboard. The Hipwood/Bailey double act was unstoppable for the Lions, with eight goals between them, whilst McCluggage continued to step up in the absence of Brownlow Medallist Lachie Neale. Noah Balta took the points in his battle with giant Brisbane forward Joe Daniher; veteran Tiger Bachar Houli offered plenty of drive and polish from half back.

Carlton Blue 13 goals, 8 behinds (86) defeated Hawthorn Hawks 9 goals, 9 behinds (63)

Goals

Carlton: Betts 2, Owies 2, McKay 2, Silvagni, De Koning, Williams, Pittonet, Walsh, Gibbons, Murhpy

Hawthorn: Breust 3, Morrison 2, Koschitzke, Lewis, Howe, Moore

Best

Carlton: Walsh, Docherty, Saad, Cripps, Williams, Pittonet

Hawthorn: Worpel, Mitchell, Wingard, Scrimshaw, Breust, Hartigan

Midway through the 2nd period, Carlton looked in control of this contest, holding a 23 point lead after Matt Owies kicked his 2nd goal. A rush of four goals to one to close the half saw the Blues lead reduced to just three points. Blues coach David Teague admitted post match that he had given his chargers an almighty spray at the break – it had the desired effect. Carlton came out fierce in the contest and though a Dylan Moore goal put the Hawks in front, it was to be their only lead of the day. Marc Pittonet quickly answered to restore the Blues lead and a trio of late 3rd quarter goals pushed the margin out to 19 points at the final change. The last quarter was an arm wrestle, which suited the Blues just fine. They ran out eventual 23 point victors. Adam Saad and Zac Williams were electric of half back for Carlton and Teague will be happy that the team spread the goals around rather than relying on Harry McKay.

Geelong Cats 14 goals, 7 behinds (91) defeated Gold Coast Suns 8 goals, 9 behinds (57)

Goals

Geelong: Cameron 3, Duncan 2, Rohan 2, Hawkins 2, Tuohy, Higgins, Blicavs, Close, Bews

Cold Coast: King 3, Corbett, Smith, Greenwood, Miller, Burgess

Best

Geelong: Selwood, Guthrie, Blicavs, Higgins, Narkle, Menegola, Stewart

Gold Coast: Miller, Greenwood, Lukosius, Swallow, King, Powell

After last week’s meek surrender to the Lions, the Suns responded with a brave, though ultimately fruitless effort against the Cats in Geelong. Geelong had to be at something approaching their best in the 1st half as Gold Coast threw everything at their more fancied opposition. When Hugh Greenwood kicked the first goal of the 2nd half, the margin was only five points and an upset looked a very real possibility. That snapped the Cats into gear as they proceeded to kick five of the next six goals to give themselves some breathing room, though three late Suns goals reduced the margin somewhat. The final 34 point margin did not truly reflecting the Suns competitiveness. Quentin Narkle (34 possessions) stood up in an undermanned Cats midfield and skipper Joel Selwood was magnificent with a game high 39 disposals. Touk Miller was a driving force for the Suns with 30 possessions from half back.

Western Bulldogs 21 goals, 18 behinds (144) defeated St Kilda Saints 5 goals, 3 behinds (33)

Goals

Bulldogs: Naughton 5, Bontompelli 4, Bruce 3, Dale 2, Weightman 2, Hannan, Hunter, Johannisen, Liberatore, R Smith

St Kilda: Membrey 2, Billings, Butler, McKernan

Best

Bulldogs: Bontompelli, Macrae, Dale, Liberatore, Daniel, Naughton

St Kilda: Sinclair, Steele, Byrnes, Membrey

With news of the Demons loss fresh in their minds, the Bulldogs made short work of the hapless Saints to reclaim top spot on the AFL ladder. For the 2nd time this season, the Dogs had themselves a 100+ point win. A tight first term saw the Bulldogs lead by 11 points. From that point on, however, this was a demolition. The Saints managed a single goal in each of the remaining terms, watching as the Bulldogs slammed on seven, five and six of their own. Aaron Naughton kicked five goals, former Saint Josh Bruce had three, whilst skipper Marcus Bontompelli kicked four from midfield to go along with 26 possessions. Saints coach Brett Ratten lamented his teams mental approach, saying that their problems were ‘all above the shoulders’, perhaps signaling wholesale changes for next week.

Fremantle Dockers 12 goals, 14 behinds (86) defeated Sydney Swans 13 goals, 6 behinds (84)

Goals

Fremantle: Lobb 4, Schultz 2, Cerra, Serong, Walters, Taberner, Tracy, Fyfe

Sydney: Franklin 6, Papley 2, Florent, Hayward, Heeney, Rowbottom, Warner

Best

Fremantle: Lobb, Fyfe, Mundy, Walters, Darcy, Cerra, Ryan, Schultz

Sydney: Franklin, Mills, Papley, Warner, Dawson, Kennedy

Veteran Swans forward Lance Franklin turned back the clock with a masterful display of forward craft, kicking six goals. Despite Franklin’s ascendancy, the Dockers were able to sneak home by two points in a wonderful game of football. Fremantle had the bulk of possession and territory, though their own inaccurate kicking for goal almost proved costly given Franklin’s dominance at the other end. Nat Fyfe was immense with 29 disposals, 13 clearances and – importantly – the match winning goal. Sydney launched one final bid to steal the game, but champion Dockers defender Luke Ryan made a desperate smother to thwart the attack. Docker Rory Lobb stepped up to kick four goals once star forward Matt Taberner went down with an ankle injury.

GWS Giants 13 goals, 15 behinds (93) defeated West Coast Eagles 11 goals, 11 behinds (77)

Goals

GWS: Finlayson 3, Flynn 2, Green 2, Hill 2, Sproule 2, Lloyd, Whitfield

West Coast: Cripps 2, Petrucelle 2, Allen, Darling, Kennedy, Kelly, Redden, Waterman, Phillips

Best

GWS: Kelly, Green, Hopper, Taylor, Flynn, Taranto, Finlayson

West Coast: Kelly, Naitanui, Redden, Gaff, Petrucelle, Sheed

Despite missing key forwards Toby Greene and Jesse Hogan, the Giants were able to eek out a tight win over the Eagles, the final 16 point margin the largest of the match. In a tight, see-sawing first half, neither side were able to open up a double digit lead as the teams swapped goals, the Giants holding a narrow one point lead. The game didn’t break open in the 2nd half until a late pair of Giants goals via Bobby Hill sealed the result. The Giants were able to spread the load offensively, with Finalyson’s three leading the way. The same was true of their midfield, with Tim Taranto, Josh Kelly, Tom Green, Callan Ward and Jacob Hopper all amassing between 27 and 29 disposals. The Eagles vaunted big forwards were held to three goals between them, despite Nic Naitanui’s ruck dominance setting the table for the Eagles midfield.

Collingwood Magpies 8 goals, 10 behinds (58) lost to Port Adelaide Power 8 goals 11 behinds (59)

Goals

Collingwood: McCreery 3, Grundy 2, Cameron, Daicos, Poulter

Port Adelaide: Gray 3, Dixon, Marshall, Wines, Houston, Powell-Pepper

Best

Collingwood: Adams, Quaynor, Grundy, Moore, Roughead, Crisp

Port Adelaide: Gray, Boak, Powell-Pepper, Wines, Farrell, Burton

In a dour, desperate match, the Magpies looked to be finally putting their horrid form behind them in a dominant opening quarter. By the time Brodie Grundy goaled early in the 2nd term, Collingwood led 26 points to one. Port Adelaide finally kicked into gear with a pair of goals either side of half time reducing the margin to two points, before Magpie Beau McCreery kicked a pair to restore the margin somewhat. Out of the blue, given the nature of the contest, the Power strung together four final quarter goals to stun the Magpies and take a 13 point lead with 10 minutes to play. McCreery’s 3rd and a late Caleb Poulter major reduced the margin to a point, though Port hung on in a desperate finish. Travis Boak and Ollie Wines were influential in midfield, though veteran forward Gray (18 possessions and three goals) was vital to the Power comeback. Brodie Grundy was outstanding in the ruck for Collingwood, garnering 23 possessions, nine clearances and 33 hit outs.

Essendon Bombers 22 goals, 9 points (141) defeated North Melbourne Kangaroos 10 goals, 9 behinds (69)

Goals

Essendon: Wright 3, McDonald-Tipungwuti 3, Jones 3, Hooker 2, Waterman 2, Cox 2, McGrath, Zaharakis, Snelling, Perkins, Langford, Hind

North Melbourne: Garner 3, Campbell 2, Thomas 2, Cunnington, Walker, Zuurhaar

Best

Essendon: Parish, Merrett, Redman, McGrath, Hind, Wright

North Melbourne: Cunnington, Thomas, Atley, Ziebell, Garner

After last week’s drought breaking win, the Bombers were keenly aware of any momentum that North Melbourne might be carrying. They hit the Kangaroos early and they hit them hard. A six goal to two opening term followed by a five to one 2nd saw the Bombers commanding 50 point leaders at the half. Whist North Melbourne were able to find themselves somewhat in the 3rd quarter, the fightback was both short lived and futile as the Bombers kicks five of the final six goals to run out convincing 72 point winners. Essendon’s balanced attack – 13 individual goal kickers – were fed by the marvelous midfield trio of Darcy Parish (36 disposals) Andrew McGrath and Zach Merrett (31 apiece). As always, Ben Cunnington battled bravely for the Roos, whilst Cam Zurhaar stepped up to lead the 3rd quarter resistance.

Coleman Medal leader board

Harry McKay (Carlton) – 35 goals (2 goals this week)

Taylor Walker (Adelaide) – 30 (3)

Josh Bruce (Bulldogs) – 30 (3)

Ben King (Suns) – 28 (3)

Matt Taberner (Dockers) – 27 (1)

Jack Darling (Eagles) – 27 (1)

Aaron Naughton (Bulldogs) – 27 (5)

Jack Reiwoldt (Richmond) – 25 (3)

Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (Bombers) – 25 (3)

#ClubMPts%ForAgtThis WeekProjectedNext
1W Bulldogs1036161.9 %1033638Won vs St.K
144 β€“ 33
1st: 72 pts, 146 %Friday
vs Melb
2Melbourne1036137.7 %903656Lost @ Adel
95 β€“ 96
2nd: 64 pts, 121 %Friday
@ W.B.
3Geelong1028131.4 %887675Won vs G.C.
91 β€“ 57
4th: 56 pts, 121 %Saturday
@ Coll
4Brisbane1028127.6 %920721Won vs Rich
102 β€“ 74
3rd: 60+ pts, 127 %Saturday
vs GWS
5Port Adel1028119.1 %842707Won @ Coll
59 β€“ 58
5th: 56 pts, 114 %Sunday
vs Freo
6Sydney1024111.5 %879788Lost @ Freo
84 β€“ 86
7th: 48 pts, 105 %Sunday
vs Carl
7WC Eagles1024109.0 %921845Lost @ GWS
77 β€“ 93
8th: 48 pts, 103 %Saturday
vs Ess
8GWS Giants1020100.1 %817816Won vs WCE
93 β€“ 77
9th: 44 pts, 101 %Saturday
@ B.L.
9Richmond102099.3 %815821Lost @ B.L.
74 β€“ 102
6th: 52 pts, 110 %Sunday
vs Adel
10Fremantle102094.4 %779825Won vs Syd
86 β€“ 84
11th: 44– pts, 95 %Sunday
@ P.A.
11Essendon1016105.0 %954909Won vs N.M.
141 β€“ 69
12th: 40 pts, 102 %Saturday
@ WCE
12Carlton101695.7 %865904Won vs Haw
86 β€“ 63
10th: 44 pts, 101 %Sunday
@ Syd
13Adelaide101686.2 %815945Won vs Melb
96 β€“ 95
13th: 36 pts, 88 %Sunday
@ Rich
14St Kilda101672.6 %687946Lost @ W.B.
33 β€“ 144
14th: 36 pts, 83 %Saturday
vs N.M.
15Gold Coast101287.3 %697798Lost @ Geel
57 β€“ 91
15th: 32 pts, 90 %Saturday
vs Haw
16Collingwood10886.0 %701815Lost vs P.A.
58 β€“ 59
16th: 24+ pts, 86 %Saturday
vs Geel
17Hawthorn10875.2 %704936Lost @ Carl
63 β€“ 86
17th: 24 pts, 78 %Saturday
@ G.C.
18North Melb10456.3 %6111085Lost @ Ess
69 β€“ 141
18th: 12 pts, 63 %Saturday
@ St.K