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AFL 2021: Round Seventeen Matchups & Insights

round seventeen

Magpie’s forward Jamie Elliott. Photo: Getty Images

An unusually long round seventeen of the AFL season saw games take place over five days instead of the usual three. With five genuine upsets and another where an out of sorts contender finally found their best, it was a round that was not friendly to the tipsters but was immensely entertaining – and certainly surprising – all the same.

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 writers ladder predictions are located here.

Match of the Week: Richmond Tigers vs. Collingwood Magpies

The King is dead; long live the King.

The premiers were stung by last weeks shock loss to the Gold Coast. A swift and strong response was expected. For their part, Collingwood played one quarter of brilliant football and almost stole a win. Once again, they excelled in the final term to overrun a Tigers outfit that must surely have relinquished their crown – unofficially, at least.

In the opening stages of this match, the two teams played each other to a standstill. Literally the only happening of note was Tigers big man Maribor Chol limping off the field. Whilst he was able to return it did give Magpies ruckman Brodie Grundy a huge advantage at the stoppages and around the ground.

Eventually, the teams decided that kicking goals might be a worthwhile pursuit, as Riley Collier-Dawkins opened things up for Richmond, live wire Jamie Elliott responding in kind for Collingwood. A late flurry of Tigers majors, including two for Tom Lynch who had recovered from a leg injury sustained in last week’s match, saw Richmond lead 24 points to seven at quarter time, the Tigers looking professional and, if not at their best, then certainly something close to it.

The Magpies were solid around the ground, but Richmond’s defensive pressure forced Collingwood into sloppy turnovers, and the Tigers ruthlessly pounced on those counter attacking opportunities.

The Tigers continued on their way in the 2nd term, with an opportunistic Dustin Martin goal followed by a long range set shot by Liam Baker that put the Tigers, who were executing precisely, up 37 to eight – a rout looked to be coming.

Collingwood were game but just seemed unable to match Richmond for skill level and execution. They needed a spark, and, as they often are, it was provided by Elliott. His second started a run of Collingwood goals. Veteran captain Scott Pendlebury burst clear after a chain of handballs to goal on the run Darcy Cameron reduced the margin to 11 points. The Tigers had the final say of the half as Jack Riewoldt – otherwise well contained by Brayden Maynard – kicked his 700th career goal with a shot after the siren, pushing the lead back out to 17 points.

Richmond built on that late momentum in the 2nd half with quickfire goals to Baker and Jason Castagna as normal service looked to have resumed, with the lead out to a game high 29 points.

The Magpies, however, were showing signs of life. Josh Thomas kicked a goal, Brody Mihocek had a pair of opportunities that he might have capitalised on, and as the teams went into the final change, the Magpies were back on top, if not on the scoreboard, then in the run of play.

Whatever interim Collingwood coach Robert Harvey said to his team at the final break had an immediate impact. Cameron and Elliott both kicked truly as the Magpies piled on the pressure, the Tigers suddenly pinned in their own half.

The damn walls eventually broke as Collingwood slammed on four goals in six minutes of action to snatch a 15 point lead with a little over 10 minutes to play. Jordan De Goey was instrumental in the run, kicking the go ahead score and then setting up Nathan Murphy for his 1st AFL goal. When Grundy booted the next, the Magpies were on a run of seven straight goals.

Tom Lynch gave the Tigers an outside chance with his 3rd goal of the game before Josh Thomas kicked a crumbing goal to seal the points for the Magpies, securing Harvey’s 1st win as an AFL coach.

Grundy took advantage of the Tigers missing 1st choice ruck Toby Nankervis, exacerbated by Chol’s early injury. In addition to his 40 hit outs, the former All Australian had 22 possessions and kicked a key late goal whilst giving his midfielders silver service at the stoppages.

Jordan De Goey has played predominantly in midfield since Harvey took the reigns, but the 4th quarter move back to the forward line was a key factor in Collingwood’s comeback.

Shai Bolton, with 26 possessions, eight clearances, and an early goal, was the Tigers best.

Collingwood will move from one old enemy in Richmond to another in Carlton next week. Whilst Richmond, their flag defense surely lying in tatters, face another stern test in Brisbane.

Richmond Tigers: 11 goals, 5 behinds (71)

Collingwood Magpies: 13 goals, 9 behinds (87)


Richmond: Lynch 3, Baker 2, Collier-Dawkins, Bolton, Martin, Riewoldt, Castagna, Pickett

Collingwood: Elliott 3, Thomas 2, Cameron 2, Pendlebury, Mihocek, Adams, Murphy, De Goey


Richmond: Bolton, Grimes, Short, Graham, Baker, Lynch

Collingwood: Crisp, Adams, De Goey, Maynard, Elliott, Pendlebury

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

Port Adelaide Power 8 goals, 7 behinds (55) lost to Melbourne Demons 12 goals, 14 behinds (86)


Port Adelaide: Georgiades 2, Dixon 2, Amon, Wines, Rozee, McKenzie

Melbourne: McDonald 3, Petracca 3, Pickett 3, Jackson, Spargo, Fritsch


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

Melbourne: Petracca, McDonald, Oliver, Salem, Gawn, May

After a subpar three weeks, the Demons reasserted their Premiership credentials with a professional victory over fellow title fancies the Power in Adelaide. As expected, both teams came out and played intense football, with the Demons sneaking into a quarter time lead. Christian Petracca got out the back for an easy goal to start a run of four, including a gem from Bayley Fritsch on his non-preferred foot. Charlie Dixon’s goal right on half time looked to spark the Power, as Mitch Georgiades took a flying mark and kicked a goal, though a pair of late goals to Tom McDonald steadied the Dees, who controlled the final term in their way to a 31 point win. A pair of interesting tactical tweaks saw Port’s defensive powerhouse spend much of his time forward, whilst returning Demon Ben Brown played much higher up the field than his traditional lead-out full forward role.

Essendon Bombers 11 goals, 18 behinds (84) defeated Adelaide Crows 2 goals, 9 behinds (21)


Essendon: Perkins 3, Wright 2, Hooker, Jones, McDonald-Tipungwuti,Snelling, Stringer, Waterman

Adelaide: Murhpy, Schoenberg


Essendon: Merrett, Redman, Perkins, Ridley, Snelling, Hind

Adelaide: Seedsman, Laird, Smith, Schoenberg

The Crows slumped to the lowest score in club history in a dispiriting performance. They were perhaps lucky that the Bombers took their foot off the gas as the game wore on, otherwise this could have been a 100+ point mauling. Despite the scoreline, this was a slow burner, with 25 minutes elapsing before Cale Hooker kicked the opening goal. In contrast to the blitzing, run-and-gun game the Bombers have employed in their recent hot streak, this was somewhat workmanlike as the Crows – devoid of any sort of intensity – seemed to drag the Bombers down to their level for large stretches. By the time Harry Schoenberg kicked Adelaide’s opener late in the 2nd term, the Bombers had kicked five. Any thoughts of an Adelaide revival evaporated early in the 2nd half as the Crows looked just as dispirited as they had before the long break. The Bombers perhaps should have won by more but will be satisfied with the 63 point margin. Zach Merrett continued his hot form with a game high 35 disposals. Youngster Archie Perkins was a key influence with three goals from his 18 touches.

Hawthorn Hawks 68 goals, 10 behinds (46) lost to Fremantle Dockers 16 goals, 12 behinds (108)


Hawthorn: Jeka 2, Koschitzke 2, Moore, Worpel

Fremantle: Lobb 4, Banfield 3, Mundy 2, Switkowski 2, Treacy 2, Acres, Fyfe, Walters


Hawthorn: Mitchell, Jiath, Bramble, Koschitzke

Fremantle: Darcy, Serong, Fyfe, Mundy, Banfield, Lobb, Brayshaw

In his 200th game, Dockers skipper Nat Fyfe was superb in leading his side to a commanding 62 point win over the Hawks. He had 13 of his 31 possessions is a devastating opening quarter burst that saw Fremantle kick five goals to two. The Dockers continued to pile the pressure on the Hawks, winning every quarter as they moved inside the top eight, keeping their finals chances alive. David Mundy continued his Indian Summer with another 30 possessions, Caleb Serong joining him on that number. Rory Lobb kicked four goals as the main beneficiary of the Dockers midfield dominance, with Bailey Banfield slotting three. Sean Darcy outduelled the Hawks two-pronged ruck attack on his way to 27 hit outs. As per usual, Tom Mitchell (39 disposals) led the way for Hawthorn.

Carlton Blues 5 goals, 14 behinds (44) lost to Geelong Cats 10 goals, 10 behinds (70)


Carlton: Walsh 2, McKay 2, Petrevski-Seton

Geelong: Tuohy 2, Ratugolea, Bews, Smith, Parfitt, Rohan, Higgins, Stanley, Holmes


Carlton: Walsh, Weitering, Newnes, Cripps, Saad

Geelong: Tuohy, Stewart, Smith, Guthrie, Henderson, Menegola, Parfitt

The Blues and Cats are, on their day, two of the most exciting teams in the AFL. This was not their day. Frankly, this was a turgid game of football that the Cats didn’t so much win as not lose by as much as Carlton did. Despite having the better if general play, the Blues execution in the forward half was deplorable as they kicked a single 1st half goal against nine behinds. Against a side with as much class as the Cats, you simply can’t be that profligate. Early 3rd quarter goals to Brandon Parfitt and Gary Rohan saw the Cats lead by 17 points, but it felt like 170 for all the threat that the Blues offered. The Cats finally clicked into gear in the final term pushing the lead out to 37 before a pair of Carlton goals added some undeserved respectability to the scoreboard. Sam Walsh (35 possessions) could hold his head high for Carlton, but he was alone in that regard. Cam Guthrie and Zach Tuohy directed play well for the Cats, the Irishman Tuohy kicking two goals. Tom Stewart was impressive in defense for Geelong.

Brisbane Lions 8 goals, 15 behinds (63) lost to St Kilda Saints 14 goals, 11 behinds (95)


Brisbane: Zorko 3, Ah Chee, Bailey, Birchall, Daniher, McStay

St Kilda: King 3, Byrnes 2, Membrey 2, Steele 2, Billings, Connolly, Crouch, Long, McKenzie


Brisbane: Zorko, Neale, Madden, Rich, McInerney, Adams

St Kilda: Jones, Dunstan, Steele, Webster, King, Membrey, Highmore

The Saints resurrection continued with a stunning takedown of the Lions in Brisbane. After a tight, low scoring opening quarter, marred by a knee injury to star Lions forward Eric Hipwood, the Saints blew the game open on the back of a five goal run in a 10 minute span. Young full forward Max King (twin brother of Suns star Ben) contributed three to that run as the Saints turned a 13 point defect into a 10 point halftime lead. Early 3rd term goals to Zac Bailey and Joe Daniher saw the Lions regain the lead as the Saints began to wobble. They were able to steady and kicked another six unanswered goals either side of three quarter time to take a huge win in the context of their season as they now sit outside the top eight only on percentage. Saints skipper Jack Steele led from the front, as per usual, collecting 31 disposals and two goals. Zak Jones was outstanding on his return from a ruptured quad, gaining 26 possessions from half back. In his 200th game, Lion stalwart Dayne Zorko was brave, kicking three goals.

GWS Giants 9 goals, 10 behinds (64) lost to Gold Coast Suns 10 goals, 5 behinds (65)


GWS: Greene 3, Himmelberg 2, Whitfield, Lloyd, Hill, Finlayson

Gold Coast: Sexton 2, Day 2, Miller 2, Atkins, Burgess, Rowell, Swallow


GWS: Hopper, Kelly, Green, Taylor, Daniels, Ward

Gold Coast: Miller, Ellis, Swallow, Burgess, Sexton, Ballard, Fiorini

GWS and Gold Coast in a cold and windswept Ballarat: welcome to COVID. The Suns maintained the momentum of their upset win over Richmond by stealing a win with a last quarter comeback. In a tight match, the Giants started the stronger Toby Greene, thumping a long goal to open proceedings, but a four goal run to close the half saw the Suns lead by 11 in a low scoring contest at the main break. When Sam Day goaled to put the Suns up by a game high 16 points, an upset was on the cards. The Giants responded with a four goal run of their own to take a three quarter time lead. Greene’s 3rd goal looked to see off the Suns challenge, but quick goals (the latter form a controversial free kick) to Matt Rowell and David Swallow – former #1 overall picks in 2019 and 2010 respectively – saw the Suns steal a late lead. Greene had the chance to win, or at least tie match with 40 seconds remaining, but his tough set shot held up in the swirling breeze and was marked by Suns defender Charlie Ballard.

Western Bulldogs 8 goals, 12 behinds (60) lost to Sydney Swans 11 goals, 13 behinds (79)


Bulldogs: Bruce, Daniel, Richards, Scott, Smith, Wallis, Young, English

Sydney: Dawson 3, Hayward 2, Amartey, Bell, Florent, Heeney, Parker, Franklin


Bulldogs: Keath, Daniel, Smith, Bontompelli, Dale, Duryea

Sydney: Mills, Dawson, Rampe, Parker, Lloyd, Heeney

In yet another upset, the upstart Swans solidified their spot in the top eight by knocking off the top of the table Bulldogs, by beating them at their own game. The Swans swift and precise ball movement was reminiscent of the Dogs at their best. The Bulldogs got off to a flyer with a Bailey Smith goal inside 20 seconds, though Sydney, through a pair of Jordan Dawson goals, were able to lead after a tight opening term. The teams traded majors in the 2nd before Joel Amartey pushed the halftime lead to 11 points. In a tight contest, the Swans eases the margin out in the 3rd quarter through goals to star midfielders Isaac Heeney and Luke Parker before both teams really opened up in the final quarter…not with much success, mind. Both teams peppered the goals in the 4th term, but inaccurate kicking kept things close. Lance Franklin sealed the win with his only goal of the game before a late Dogs flurry reduced the margin somewhat. Callum Mills and Jake Lloyd were outstanding for the Swans whilst Marcus Bontompelli and Caleb Daniel led the Dogs. The match also saw the debut of 1st overall draft pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, though it was a debut he’d rather forget.

West Coast Eagles 8 goals, 12 behinds (60) lost to North Melbourne Kangaroos 10 goals, 10 behinds (70)


West Coast: Kennedy 2, Allen 2, Ryan 2, Langdon, Kelly

North Melbourne: Larkey 3, Zurhaar 2, Goldstein 2, Thomas, Cunnington, Stephenson


West Coast: Naitanui, Hurn, Kennedy, Yeo, Kelly

North Melbourne: Stephenson, Larkey, Cunnington, Zurhaar, Davies-Unaicke, Thomas, Simpkin

In a round choc-full of upsets, it’s only fitting that it was closed by the bottom of the ladder Kangaroos upsetting the fancied – though badly out of form, admittedly – Eagles. In a match that was tight for the first three quarters, the Eagles got off to a flyer with veteran spearhead Josh Kennedy kicking truly less than 70 seconds in. They didn’t move into double figures for either side until late in the 3rd term when Nick Larkey put the Roos up by 11 with a quarter to play. With pride, and possibly a finals berth, at stake the Eagles came out breathing fire to open the last stanza, kicking four goals in the span of 7 minutes to seemingly extinguish a brave North Melbourne effort. The Kangaroos found one final push, though, with Cam Zurhaar, Ben Cunnington, and Jaidyn Stephenson (remarkable in the 2nd half) putting the Roos back in front. Liam Ryan scored to give the Eagles hope, but veteran ruckman Todd Goldstein – who also broke the all time league record for hit outs in this match – took a strong mark to goal and maintain a huge win for the Roos.

Coleman Medal leader board

Harry McKay (Carlton) – 48 (2 goals this week)

Taylor Walker (Adelaide) – 41 goals (-)

Josh Bruce (Bulldogs) – 40 (1)

Ben King (Suns) – 38 (0)

Tom Hawkins (Geelong) – 37 (0)

Jack Riewoldt (Richmond) – 36 (1)

Toby Greene (Giants) – 35 (3)

Aaron Naughton (Bulldogs) – 33 (-)

Lance Franklin (Swans) – 33 (1)

#ClubMPts%ForAgtThis WeekProjectedNext
1Melbourne1652129.9 %13591046Won @ P.A.
86 – 55
1st: 68 pts, 129 %Saturday
vs Haw
2W Bulldogs1648142.4 %15291074Lost vs Syd
60 – 79
2nd: 64 pts, 137 %Saturday
@ G.C.
3Geelong1648124.9 %13611090Won @ Carl
70 – 44
3rd: 64 pts, 124 %Thursday
@ Freo
4Brisbane1644129.0 %14601132Lost vs St.K
63 – 95
4th: 60 pts, 129 %Friday
@ Rich
5Port Adel1644119.8 %13521129Lost vs Melb
55 – 86
5th: 56+ pts, 116 %Saturday
@ St.K
6Sydney1640115.4 %13901205Won @ W.B.
79 – 60
6th: 52 pts, 113 %Saturday
7Fremantle163297.3 %12521287Won @ Haw
108 – 46
8th: 44 pts, 97 %Thursday
vs Geel
8WC Eagles163294.8 %13011372Lost vs N.M.
60 – 70
12th: 40 pts, 90 %Sunday
@ Adel
9St Kilda163286.9 %11451318Won @ B.L.
95 – 63
9th: 44 pts, 90 %Saturday
vs P.A.
10GWS Giants163097.2 %12781315Lost vs G.C.
64 – 65
13th: 38 pts, 95 %Saturday
vs Syd
11Essendon1628103.4 %14091363Won vs Adel
84 – 21
7th: 44 pts, 105 %Sunday
@ N.M.
12Richmond162899.3 %12901299Lost vs Coll
71 – 87
10th: 40 pts, 102 %Friday
vs B.L.
13Carlton162491.5 %12891408Lost vs Geel
44 – 70
11th: 40 pts, 96 %Sunday
@ Coll
14Gold Coast162488.7 %10951234Won @ GWS
65 – 64
15th: 32 pts, 88 %Saturday
vs W.B.
15Collingwood162091.4 %11371244Won @ Rich
87 – 71
14th: 32 pts, 93 %Sunday
vs Carl
16Adelaide162080.8 %11901472Lost @ Ess
21 – 84
16th: 32 pts, 83 %Sunday
vs WCE
17Hawthorn161677.8 %11311453Lost vs Freo
46 – 108
17th: 24 pts, 78 %Saturday
@ Melb
18North Melb161466.3 %10391566Won @ WCE
70 – 60
18th: 18+ pts, 68 %Sunday
vs Ess
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