AFL 2021: Everything you need to know ahead of Round 21

Aussie Rules insider Josh Gabelich previews another jam-packed weekend of action on BT Sport as we approach the business end of the season.

Published: 4 August 2021 - 4.48pm

After a few less than ideal rounds of fixtures, round 21 looms as an absolute cracker with almost every game impacting the top-four, top-eight and the wooden spoon. And that is exactly what we want at this time of year.

It all starts on Friday with Geelong hosting Greater Western Sydney at GMHBA Stadium in the prime time slot to start the round.

The game will be played behind closed doors and a loss for the Giants will all but close the door on their finals hopes. Despite the continued absence of big name recruit Jeremy Cameron – who won’t return to face his old club this weekend – the Cats are purring right now, having won 11 of their past 12 matches, including the past five straight.


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The two coaches under the most pressure in the AFL right now – David Teague and Stuart Dew – will face off when Carlton meets Gold Coast at Marvel Stadium on Saturday. The Blues are still in the hunt for September, but Alastair Clarkson is now available and hovering above Princes Park. While it is the same old story at the Suns – another wasted year in a place not many want to play footy.

The reigning premiers Richmond have fallen off a cliff in 2021 and now look vulnerable against a side who have had a mortgage on the wooden spoon all season long. North Melbourne has improved out of sight in the second half of the season under first-time coach David Noble. If they can defeat the Tigers, it would be the icing on the cake after a nightmare start to the season.

Strap yourself in for two big games of Saturday night football. The first involves one of the great rivalries in Australian sport with Adelaide facing crosstown rivals Port Adelaide in Showdown 50. The Crows have been poor again this season while the Power are clicking into gear late in the season and now look like a genuine premiership threat, shaking the pretenders tag that has followed them around in 2021.

Back in Melbourne, the Saints have one final chance to resuscitate a season that has been on life support for months. Just when it looked like they were back in the hunt for September, they have dropped the past three games, including last Friday night’s game against Carlton. The Swans are the real deal in 2021 and should end St Kilda’s season once and for all.

Collingwood heads to Tasmania for the first time in their history this weekend after the clash against Hawthorn was shifted to Launceston in a massive fillip for the apple isle. These two powerhouse clubs have endured a nightmare season on the field and in the boardroom, losing senior coaches – who are two of the most famous men in the history of their respective clubs – amid turmoil by the powerbrokers at each club.

Ladder leaders the Western Bulldogs are two games inside the top-four and will lock up that double chance if they can defeat Essendon at Marvel Stadium on Sunday. Luke Beveridge’s men have been the team to beat for some time now. The Bombers must win if they are to remain within touching distance of eighth spot, which is currently held by Fremantle after they beat Richmond in the west last weekend.

The Dockers host Brisbane in the final game on Sunday in a game that holds extraordinary significance on the top-eight. A win won’t secure a first finals berth since 2015 for Justin Longmuir’s men, but it will keep the chasing pack at bay. While the Lions have drifted in the past month and don’t look like the premiership threat many expected them to be this September. One to look forward to.

With the AFL needing to be flexible amid another chaotic season, Monday night football returns this round with Melbourne heading to Perth to face West Coast at Optus Stadium. The blowtorch has been on the Eagles all week after their horrendous performance in Shannon Hurn’s 300th game last weekend. It looks like the era may be over in the west. Where to from here?