Round thirteen of the 2021 AFL season, the second bye-shortened round of the year, celebrated revered former AFL player and coach Neale Daniher, his brave fight against Motor Neurone Disease and his remarkable ongoing campaign to raise money and awareness to eventually find a treatment for this horrible condition.

The on field actions was, on the whole, scintillating, with a series of hard fought, high quality matches. We saw a pair of premiership hopefuls play out a football game of the highest standard, two ‘from the clouds’ comebacks, and two surprising upsets.

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 Richmond Tigers

King Kennedy has still got it.

Veteran Eagles full forward Josh Kennedy turned back the clock to put on a vintage display, including snapping the go ahead goal in the final minute, to lead his team to a come from behind victory over a shell shocked Richmond in Perth.

With both teams entering this contest in the bottom rungs of the top eight, a win going into their respective bye rounds would be huge psychologically.

The Tigers had the upper had early, peppering the Eagles back line, which was able to hold up for the most part. At the other end West Coast were making the most of their limited opportunities to kick three straight – including a gem of a snap from big ruckman Nic Naitanui – to lead at the opening break.

The Eagles, generally one of the more methodical teals in the AFL when it comes to moving the football, attacked with pace early in the 2nd quarter in a surprising tactical shift. Richmond were able to ride that wave and responded with a Dustin Martin goal through the Tigers’ typically powerful running game. That kicked off a run of four after Kane Lambert extended the Tigers lead out to 15 points.

Through Jamaine Jones and Jake Waterman, the Eagles answered and closed the gap at halftime to just four points, though not before a moment of controversy as Jack Graham appeared to attempt to get a handball away. Or was he simply punching Jack Redden in the head? You decide:

The opening stages of the 3rd term mirrored that of the first. The Eagles had territorial advantage, but were unable to apply scoreboard pressure as the Tigers broke absorbed the proverbial punches before breaking out with a goal to Callum Coleman-Jones. When Jason Castagna ran into an open goal, Richmond suddenly led by 17.

Liam Ryan steadied the Eagles with a late quarter goal very much against the run of play, keeping the margin to 12 points and his team within striking distance.

Kennedy gave the Eagles the perfect platform in the final term with his 3rd goal of the evening, reducing the margin to only six points. But the Tigers, as they did last week to the Bombers, started to move the ball with pace and precision, Martin kicking truly on the run, Lambert adding his 2nd goal, and when Shai Bolton kicked a beauty on on the run from the 50 meter arc, the Tigers led by 22 points and looked like they were about to overrun their opponents.

Unlike last week, though, the floodgates remained closed.

Waterman goaled for the home side to halt the Tigers’ momentum, before Jamie Cripps scored to give the Eagles a sniff. Right as West Coast were looking like storming back, missed shots by Ryan and Naitanui sucked the air out of Optus Stadium. Thankfully Oscar Allen converted the Eagles next chance; suddenly the margin was two points with seven minutes remaining.

With just over a minute remaining, a long kick from Elliott Yeo towards the Eagles’ left half forward area saw Ryan smartly ease Tiger Nathan Broad under the ball, turn and gather the bouncing football with appalling ease and deliver the shortest of short passes to Kennedy. As he has done so often over his long career, Kennedy settled himself and kicked truly to give the Eagles a surprise lead.

Despite the lack of time on the clock, there was time for one more piece of drama. Dustin Martin kicked on the run from 55 meters out, but only into the waiting arms of veteran Eagle Shannon Hurn, who held the ball until the siren.

Yeo was herculean for the Eagles in the final term, with 10 possessions. As well as kicking the winning goal, Kennedy was a strong target on a night that proved difficult for forwards, with four goals. Naitanui was everywhere for West Coast in a best on ground performance. Jack Redden amassed 32 disposals.

The Master/Apprentice tag-team of Martin and Bolton were menacing all game for the Tigers. Veteran Bachar Houli was his usual mix of class and composure from half back, whilst Lambert was impressive in his return from injury with 27 touches.

Both teams will get next week off, as the bye rounds conclude.

West Coast Eagles: 13 goals, 7 behinds (85)

Richmond Tigers: 12 goals, 9 behinds (81)

Goals

West Coast: Kennedy 4, Waterman 2, Cripps 2, Allen, Naitanui, Jones, Ryan

Richmond: Riewoldt 2, Coleman-Jones 2, Lambert 2, Martin 2, Graham, Aarts, Castagna, Bolton

Best

West Coast: Kennedy, Naitanui, Redden, Yeo, Sheed, Hurn, Foley

Richmond: Lambert, Vlastuin, Martin, Houli, Broad, Short, Bolton

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

Port Adelaide Power 14 goals, 7 behinds (91) lost to Geelong Cats 17 goals, 10 behinds (112)

Goals

Port Adelaide: Roezee 5, Dixon 4, Georgiades, Powell-Pepper, Farrell, Wines, Jones

Geelong: Cameron 5, Hawkins 4, Rohan 3, Parfitt 2, Smith, Duncan, Henderson

Best

Port Adelaide: Rozee, Wines, Dixon, Boak, Gray

Geelong: Cameron, Hawkins, Rohan, Stewart, Parfitt, Duncan

Premiership aspirants the Power and Cats played out a see-sawing, counter-punching gem of a football match in Adelaide. In the end, the Cats performed a veritable smash and grab to steal away the points. Even early on, when the Power slammed on four goals in under seven minutes, this was a game of runs. The Cats had themselves a run of five straight goals either side of half time. Trailing by 10 points at the final break, the Power finally began to assert themselves with a pair of goals to Charlie Dixon and another to Conner Rozee. Then Geelong’s star studded forward line took over. Jeremy Cameron kicked three of his five overall goals in the final term, Tom Hawkins and Gary Rohan (four and three for the game, respectively) each added a major as the Cats pulled away to win by 21 points. In a game for the big forwards, Dixon kicked four whilst midfielder Rozee helped himself to a career high five goals.

Sydney Swans 7 goals, 9 behinds (92) lost to Hawthorn Hawks 14 goals, 5 behinds (89)

Goals

Sydney: Amartey 2, Hayward, Franklin, Heeney, Florent, Wicks

Hawthorn: Koschitzke 2, Moore 2, Phillips 2, Breust 2, Ceglar, Morrison, Wingard, Mitchell, McEvoy

Best

Sydney: Mills, Kennedy, Amartey, Rampe, Parker

Hawthorn: Mitchell, O’Meara, Ceglar, Frost, Scrimshaw, Jiath, Newcombe

The 2021 version of the Hawks are the worst since the early 2000’s, when the team stocked up on the high draft picks that eventually led to four premierships. On this occasion, however, they bore more than a passing resemblance to the Hawks of the glory years, and reduced the risk of a first wooden spoon since 1965. With intense pressure from the first bounce Hawthorn took the Swans by surprise and though the game was close through the first period, it was clear that the Swans were rattled. Three late 2nd quarter goals to the Hawks saw them ease out the lead to 24 points at the main break. The game was an arm wrestle through the 3rd quarter as the Swans superior talent struggled to overcome the Hawks superior intensity. The dam finally broke in the final term as the Hawks slammed on four goals in seven minutes to put Swans away, eventually winning in a 38 point upset. Former Swan Tom Mitchell had a field day with 34 possessions. Hawk Jai Newcombe epitomised his team’s pressure with 14 tackles on debut.

Fremantle Dockers 11 goals, 10 behinds (76) defeated Gold Coast Suns 6 goals, 13 behinds (49)

Goals

Fremantle: Mundy 2,Treacy 2, Lobb 2, Schultz, Colyer, Darcy, Walters, Henry

Gold Coast: Rankine 2, Burgess 2, Flanders, Miller

Best

Fremantle: Mundy, Pearce, Treacy, Aish, Brayshaw, Ryan

Gold Coast: Miller, Powell, Rankine, Swallow, Greenwood

In a round full of high quality play and surprise results, this game was the exception: despite a close first half the result was never truly in doubt and the play was, in a word, dire. The first half could be generously described as attritional, as both teams saw their foot skills seemingly taken by the Monstars. It took an inspired 10 minutes from the soon to be 36 year old David Mundy and some sharp shooting from teenager Josh Treacy to break the game open in the 3rd quarter, before Michael Walters slotted home from a tight angle. It was expected that the Suns would make a final push, but it never came. The Dockers eventual 27 point victors. Docker defender Alex Pearce, returning from a knee injury, smothered Suns star forward Ben King, keeping him goaless. Luke Ryan and James Aish completed a devastating defensive trio.

St Kilda Saints 8 goals, 12 behinds (60) lost to Adelaide Crows 9 goals, 12 behinds (66)

Goals

St Kilda: King 2, Wood 2, Butler, Byrnes, Crouch, Sinclair

Adelaide: Thilthorpe 3, Mackay, McAdam, Rowe, Sloane, Walker, Smith

Best

St Kilda: Steele, Highmore, Dunstan, Howard, Crouch, Higgins, Sinclair

Adelaide: Seedsman, Keays, Laird, Doedee, Smith Thilthorpe

This game was…unusual. The Saints jumped out of the blocks to take a 27 point quarter time lead, holding the Crows scoreless. In fact, Adelaide didn’t hit the scoreboard until a Shane McAdam behind more than 15 minutes into the 2nd term. At that point, the question was: Saints by home many? That behind was the first of a 15 point run that saw the Crows work their way into the contest, though late goals to Saints Max King and Ryan Byrnes saw the Saints lead by 30 at the half though, remarkably considering the Crows barren spell, it was a margin that flattered the Saints somewhat. St Kilda opened the 2nd half scoring through Brad Crouch to extend the lead to 36 and…that was about it for the Saints. Four Crows goals saw the final change difference reduced to 15 points. Adelaide’s pressure continued to increase as the Saints looked increasingly wobbly. A pair of goals to prized rookie Riley Thilthorpe – including a party piece – saw Adelaide snatch a late lead and with it a win that they must have thought was beyond them just an hour or so earlier. In a low scoring game, Thilthorpe’s three goals were crucial. Paul Seedsman and Ben Keays were prime ball movers for Adelaide, whilst Rory Laird shook off a poor first half to gather 21 of his 33 disposals in the 2nd half.

North Melbourne Kangaroos 14 goals, 10 behinds (94) drew with Greater Western Sydney Giants 14 goals, 10 behinds (94)

Goals

North Melbourne: Zurhaar 2, Simpkin 2, Larkey 2, Cunnington 2, Thomas 2, Davies-Unaicke, Goldstein, Mahoney, Powell, Scott, Stephenson

GWS: Findlayson 2, Lloyd 2, Himmerlberg 2, Flynn 2, Kelly 2, Greene, Taranto, Ward, Hill

Best

North Melbourne: Simpkin, Cunnington, Zurhaar, Goldstein, Hall, Stephenson

GWS: Kelly, Haynes, Cumming, Taranto, Hopper, Flynn

The Kangaroos, rooted to the bottom of the ladder with a solitary win, will be kicking themselves (though they’d likely miss) that they let this game slip. Throughout a tight first half, the gallant Roos stood toe-to-toe with their more fancied rivals, and kept their noses in front, thanks to a Ben Cunnington goal right on half time. North Melbourne produced a devastating 3rd term to outscore the Giants 27 to five to lead by 28 points; Cunnington and Aaron Hall starring. Giants coach Leon Cameron threw caution to the wind, moving star forward Toby Greene (well held to that point) into midfield – the move paid off. Greene was the driving force as the Giants came home with a wet sail. They kicked a pair of goals in the opening three minutes of the final term to put the Kangaroos on the back foot. With seven minutes remaining, they were hanging in for dear life as wave after wave of Giants attacked. In the end, it was veteran forward Dan Lloyd (who had hardly had a kick) that slotted home the final two goals to tie up the contest and seal a draw that must have felt like a loss to the luckless Roos.

Melbourne Demons 9 goals, 9 behinds (63) lost to Collingwood Magpies 11 goals, 14 behinds (80)

Goals

Melbourne: Jackson 2, Neal-Bullen, Harmes, Oliver, Gawn, Petracca, Fritsch, Langdon

Collingwood: Cameron 4, Mihocek 3, Hoskin-Elliott, McCreery, Pendlebury, Sidebottom

Best

Melbourne: Gawn, Salem, Petracca, Harmes, Oliver, Jordan

Collingwood: De Goey, Maynard, Pendlebury, Crisp, Cameron, Quaynor

The Magpies farewelled a club legend in Nathan Buckley. No, he wasn’t dead (despite the tone of some media reports), rather the coach stepped down after a decade at the helm, bringing to an end his 27 year association with the club. I can be argued that Buckley is be the best player in the storied history of the club; the same argument can’t be made of his coaching. For the top of the table Demons, this was a danger match as the Magpies were surely going to give their long time coach a fired up performance. And so it played out. Melbourne were second to the ball all day as Collingwood, despite their clearly inferior overall talent, worked the Demons over. The game was broken open by the Magpies in a four goal burst in the 2nd quarter, with Brody Mihocek kicking a pair. After half time Melbourne, likely smarting from a half time spray, worked their way back into the contest as skipper Max Gawn started to assert his influence around the ground. As they had all day, Collingwood responded. When captain Scott Pendlebury – who actually played with Buckley – kicked truly the margin was out to 20 points. Melbourne huffed and puffed late on, but didn’t look likely to blow down Collingwood’s house.

Bye: Brisbane, Western Bulldogs, Carlton, Essendon

Coleman Medal leader board

Harry McKay (Carlton) – 38 (- goals this week)

Taylor Walker (Adelaide) – 37 goals (1)

Josh Bruce (Bulldogs) – 34 (-)

Jack Riewoldt (Richmond) – 34 (2)

Ben King (Suns) – 32 (0)

Jack Darling (Eagles) – 29 (0)

Aaron Naughton (Bulldogs) – 29 (-)

Cale Hooker (Bombers) – 29 (-)

Bayley Fritsch (Demons) – 28 (1)

Josh Kennedy (Eagles) – 28 (4)

1Melbourne1344132.2 %1150870Lost vs Coll
63 â€“ 80
2nd: 68 pts, 126 %BYE
2W Bulldogs1240150.0 %1185790BYE1st: 68+ pts, 143 %Friday
@ Geel
3Geelong1236129.7 %1060817Won @ P.A.
112 â€“ 91
4th: 60 pts, 123 %Friday
vs W.B.
4Brisbane1232127.3 %1124883BYE3rd: 60 pts, 128 %Saturday
@ N.M.
5Port Adel1232118.0 %1048888Lost vs Geel
91 â€“ 112
5th: 56 pts, 113 %Saturday
@ G.C.
6Sydney1332108.1 %11221038Lost vs Haw
51 â€“ 89
7th: 48 pts, 102 %BYE
7WC Eagles1332107.9 %11721086Won vs Rich
85 â€“ 81
8th: 48 pts, 101 %BYE
8Richmond1328105.3 %11301073Lost @ WCE
81 â€“ 85
6th: 52 pts, 112 %BYE
9Fremantle132491.4 %9891082Won vs G.C.
76 â€“ 49
12th: 40 pts, 92 %BYE
10GWS Giants122293.9 %9761039Drew @ N.M.
94 â€“ 94
9th: 42 pts, 95 %Saturday
vs Carl
11Essendon1220102.0 %11251103BYE10th: 40+ pts, 104 %Sunday
@ Haw
12Adelaide132086.9 %10371194Won @ St.K
66 â€“ 60
16th: 32+ pts, 88 %BYE
13St Kilda132078.3 %9181172Lost vs Adel
60 â€“ 66
13th: 36 pts, 83 %BYE
14Carlton121692.4 %10161099BYE11th: 40 pts, 99 %Saturday
@ GWS
15Gold Coast121690.4 %859950Lost @ Freo
49 â€“ 76
14th: 32 pts, 92 %Saturday
vs P.A.
16Collingwood131689.9 %9101012Won @ Melb
80 â€“ 63
15th: 32 pts, 90 %BYE
17Hawthorn121279.0 %8691100Won @ Syd
89 â€“ 51
17th: 24 pts, 80 %Sunday
vs Ess
18North Melb12661.0 %7731267Drew vs GWS
94 â€“ 94
18th: 14 pts, 64 %Saturday
vs B.L.