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AFL 2021: Everything you need to know ahead of Round 12
AFL expert Josh Gabelich previews another action-packed weekend - with five games exclusively live on BT Sport.
Just when everyone thought the pandemic had released its grip on Australia, things have intensified in Victoria, changing the landscape of the AFL season for a second year.
The AFL has been scrambling to reschedule matches in round 12, moving three games from Melbourne to Perth and Sydney. It remains to be seen whether hubs will become a reality again in 2021, although that is a last resort.
Six clubs have the week off, with the bye rounds commencing at an ideal time for some Victorian-based sides. But we still have six games on the fixture, with five on BT Sport, and the first one is undoubtedly the very best.
A week after being undone by Adelaide, in controversial circumstances at the death, Melbourne returned to the top of the ladder with a brilliant performance and win over another premiership contender in the Western Bulldogs. We may be halfway through the season now, but it is still hard to believe just how good this Melbourne team really is.
Simon Goodwin’s men face the other in-form team in the competition on Friday, when they meet Brisbane at Giants Stadium in western Sydney - live on BT Sport 1 HD from 10.30am.
After dropping three of their first four games, the Lions have won seven in a row to show they will be there or thereabouts at the business end of the season.
The Saints kept their finals hopes alive with an unconvincing win over North Melbourne last weekend and face a much sterner task at the SCG on Saturday, live on BT Sport 1 HD from 4.30am.
All eyes will be on who Brett Ratten sends to Sydney superstar Lance Franklin, who has booted nine goals in the past two rounds to take his tally to 22 from seven games this season.
Collingwood continue to be one of the main talking points in the game. And it is all about who will be president, on the board and in the coaches box next year, rather than them winning games of football. The Magpies have been close to finals-bound Geelong and Port Adelaide in the past fortnight and travel to Adelaide to face the Crows in a game that could realign a dreadful season to date.
The Dreamtime game - between Essendon and Richmond - is one of the highlights of the home and away season and will be live on BT Sport ESPN HD from 10.30am on Saturday.
It is usually played at the MCG in front of more than 70,000 people. That was the plan again this year until things changed last week. Now, the Bombers and the Tigers will meet inside Perth’s new Optus Stadium, where the locals have already sold the game out, much to the envy of Melburnians.
West Coast travel across the country looking to regain some credibility after falling to Essendon at home last time out. The Eagles will face the Blues on neutral territory at the SCG, at the same venue Carlton fell away late against the Swans last weekend, from 6am on BT Sport ESPN HD this Sunday.
Round 12 finishes later that day, with Fremantle hosting a Western Bulldogs outfit who were brought crashing back down to earth with a thud at Marvel Stadium. Expect Marcus Bontempelli, Tom Liberatore, Jack Macrae and co to go work in Perth from 9.30am on BT Sport ESPN HD.