Highlights - Leinster vs La RochelleMay 28
AFL 2021: Everything you need to know ahead of Round 9
AFL expert Josh Gabelich previews another action-packed weekend - with five games exclusively live on BT Sport.
We are eight rounds into the 2021 AFL season and seven teams have established their premiership credentials, maybe even one more. It is one of the great things about this game, compared to the Premier League where only three or four teams can ever win it.
Richmond are the reigning premiers and have won three of the past four flags, but they are 4-4 right now and not quite as formidable as they have been in recent times. Geelong smashed the Tigers by 10 goals last weekend, with their new star recruits clicking for the first time to remind the competition how good they can be.
Melbourne are undefeated after two months, and Port Adelaide, Brisbane and the Western Bulldogs are all humming right now and could go deep into September. And you can’t rule out West Coast, given their advantage at home. It is a dream situation for the AFL.
The Cats have been the focus in the media this week following their stunning performance against Richmond last Friday. With Jeremy Cameron and Tom Hawkins – the past two Coleman Medal winners – firing on all cylinders for the first time together, St Kilda will have to stop that duo if they are going to beat Geelong at Marvel Stadium on Friday.
After a month of deafening noise at Collingwood, the Magpies turned the pressure down slightly by beating North Melbourne last weekend. If they can travel to Sydney and get the job done at the SCG on Saturday, the volume will be turned down a few more notches. Magpies superstar Jordan De Goey burst back to life against the Kangaroos and Nathan Buckley will need him to dominate again.
North Melbourne haven’t won a game this year – and haven’t won a game in almost 12 months – but will get a great opportunity to get on the board when they meet Hawthorn in Tasmania this weekend. The Kangaroos have bottomed out and are rebuilding, but it still remains unclear what is going on at the Hawks. They have been one of the most successful clubs of the past 30 years, but the heat is coming at Waverley Park.
The Q-Clash is not the most celebrated rivalry in the AFL, but the encounter between the two Queensland clubs, Gold Coast and Brisbane, always produces some fireworks. The Lions have recovered from a slow start by winning their past four games and shouldn’t have too many issues driving an hour down the highway to Metricon Stadium to get the job done.
If Greater Western Sydney are going to play finals this year, then they need to win games like Saturday night against Richmond. The Tigers are one of the premiership favourites, but they are decimated by injuries and have now lost young star Shai Bolton who fractured his wrist in a nightclub incident last weekend.
Looking for the game of the round? This is it: Port Adelaide against the Western Bulldogs at Adelaide Oval. Doesn’t get much bigger right now. The Dogs have dropped only one game from the first two months and look like genuine flag threats. We will know much more about them after the trip to South Australia this weekend.
Just when Fremantle started looking like a decent team, they have dropped the past two games in disappointing fashion. Two-time Brownlow Medallist Nat Fyfe has endured a nightmare run in front of goal, kicking 2.15 so far in 2021. The Dockers need a lift from the skipper to get them out of this rut when they face Essendon at Marvel Stadium on Sunday.
It is still hard to believe that Melbourne are 8-0 – the only undefeated team in the AFL – but they are. It is remarkable, when you consider how far they fell after the 2018 finals series. If the Demons continue their form on Sunday it will cause more headaches for Carlton and their underperforming stars.
Round eight finishes in Perth with Adelaide travelling to face West Coast at Optus Stadium. After such a brilliant start to the year, the Crows have lost their past four games to hover just about the bottom-four at 3-4. The Eagles are rarely troubled at home and shouldn’t have too much trouble with this one.