AFL 2021: Everything you need to know ahead of Round 2

After a captivating opening weekend, our resident AFL expert Josh Gabelich looks ahead to the nine matches from Round 2 – with five games exclusively live on BT Sport.

Published: 24 March 2021 - 3.25pm

If the opening round of the AFL season threw up a few shock results, this weekend is stacked full of must-watch games that will continue a blistering start to 2021.

While some people are still coming to terms with Adelaide’s had-to-see-it-to-believe-it upset win over Geelong, others are still scratching their heads about the Brisbane Lions. How did the Sydney Swans do what they did at the Gabba last Saturday?

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But, as they say, a week is a long time in football. Geelong and Brisbane get the chance to realign their season when they face off at GMHBA Stadium on Friday night. The Lions haven’t won down in Geelong since 2003 – the year they went back-to-back-to-back – and their chances have been improved by the suspension of Cats superstar Patrick Dangerfield, and the continued absence of big-name recruit Jeremy Cameron.

Round 2: Channels & times

Dangerfield has been the biggest talking point in the AFL this week after he was suspended for three games following a contentious head-high bump on Jake Kelly, which left the Adelaide defender with a concussion and a broken nose.

Before we get to that game, round two starts with a blockbuster encounter between archenemies Collingwood and Carlton at the MCG, in front of a crowd of up to 75,000 people – yes, you read that right! It will be the biggest mass gathering in the southern hemisphere since the start of the pandemic 12 months ago.

Lance Franklin
Swans superstar Lance Franklin has been cleared to return this weekend after years of injury hell

If you were looking for odds a week ago on one of Sydney or Adelaide being 2-0 after the first fortnight of the season you would have found something extremely enticing. The reality is one of the Swans or Crows will be undefeated after two rounds – unless they draw, of course. Sydney welcome back one of the biggest names in the game, Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin, for the first time since 2019, pairing him with top draft pick Logan McDonald for the very first time.

Premiership contenders Port Adelaide host Essendon at Adelaide Oval on Saturday afternoon, providing new Power recruit Orazio Fantasia with an early opportunity to remind the Bombers what they are missing out on in 2021, after the goal sneak moved home during the off-season. The Bombers were left licking their wounds last weekend, after coughing up a 40-point half-time lead to lose to Hawthorn by the narrowest of margins.

Gold Coast and North Melbourne both suffered defeat first-up and the news hasn’t got much better this week. The Suns lost one of the brightest young talents in the game against the Eagles, with Rising Star favourite Matt Rowell suffering a serious knee injury. While the Kangaroos will be without their key defender for the next few months, after Robbie Tarrant underwent liver surgery this week. Gold Coast must win this game if they are to kick-start their season.

Tom Mitchell
Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell proved his credentials yet again in Hawthorn’s season opener

Hawthorn may have pulled off a minor miracle at Marvel Stadium last Saturday, but they face much tougher competition in the shape of reigning premiers Richmond on Sunday. The Hawks’ Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell reminded the AFL why he is the best ball winner in the game with a virtuoso display against the Bombers. If he continues that form, he could battle with Richmond superstar Dustin Martin for this year’s Brownlow Medal on the final Monday night of the season.

If Friday night’s game is the most anticipated clash of round two, Sunday’s encounter between the Western Bulldogs and West Coast is a close second. Two sides who are firmly in the hunt for this year’s premiership, and two sides who will be looking to maintain an unblemished record after the first fortnight. The Dogs flexed their midfield muscle against the Magpies last Friday, but they will struggle to contain the Eagles’ tall forward line at Marvel Stadium.

Greater Western Sydney travel to Western Australia to face Fremantle in the final game of the round. Both the Giants and the Dockers are desperate for a win after losing in disappointing fashion to start the season. Fremantle currently have the most severe injury list in the AFL and could be ripe for the picking by a Giants side who produced one of their finest performances of 2020 against the Dockers and on this patch.

Check out our What’s On page for all the details on upcoming AFL matches on BT Sport.