Sydney Swans vs Essendon at the SCG, Thursday 7:20pm AEST
In a major milestone for the ages, Essendon have reached their 2500th VFL/AFL game, joining Collingwood and Carlton as the only clubs to make it a quarter of the way to 10,000 games.
Looking through the records, the Bombers have recorded 1393 league wins, and have officially played 1182 games as the ‘away’ team – Their current record in those games is 582-17-583, which means they can have a perfectly balanced away record through 2500 games.
By thumping St Kilda to get on the board in 2021, Essendon ensured they would avoid an 0-3 start for the 54th consecutive season, and amazingly, the Bombers’ only 0-3 start in their 123-season history was 1967, when they lost their first 5 games in what was John Coleman’s final year as coach.
The Swans sit at 3-0 for the first time since 2015, although a worrying sign in the 7-goal pasting of Richmond was that they recorded their lowest score of the season to date, with a disappointing 117 points.
The Swannies were the first club ever to record 2 Rising Star nominations in the opening 2 rounds of a season (Errol Gulden and Braeden Campbell), and they’ve now further separated themselves in the history books, thanks to Chad Warner making it 3 out of 3.
Assuming Lance Franklin returns, Bombers fans can be forgiven for experiencing PTSD, because Buddy has kicked more goals against Essendon (70 from 16 games) than any other team, including two bags of 9 goals, one bag of 8, one bag of 6, four bags of 5, and the 2010 Goal of the Year.
And finally, since the turn of the century, the Swans and Bombers have been involved in at least 10 games to be decided by fewer than 6 points, with 4 of them being at the SCG – The teams have split them at 2 apiece.
Port Adelaide vs Richmond at the Adelaide Oval, Friday 7:20pm ACST
A huge Friday night sees the rematch of last season’s First Preliminary Final, in which Richmond joined the small list of Victorian clubs to win a Preliminary Final interstate thanks to Kane Lambert’s final quarter goals, and both teams come off having their egos bruised on Easter Saturday:
The Tigers’ surprise drubbing at the hands of the Swans saw them bring up the milestone of 1100 VFL/AFL defeats, and Port Adelaide were well beaten by the Eagles in Perth, which saw them lose top spot on the ladder for the first time THIS DECADE, ending a run of 20 consecutive rounds on top.
Since the start of 2019, Richmond have now lost 4 games (out of 21) at the MCG, with all of them being 5+ goal margins; Collingwood by 44 in Round 2 of 2019, Geelong by 67 in Round 12 of 2019, Hawthorn by 32 points in Round 3 of 2020, and Sydney won by 45 points last week.
Last week’s 52 point deficit at half time was Port’s biggest half-time deficit since Round 22 of 2019 against North Melbourne (58 points), a night not fondly remembered by the Alberton crowd due to Ben Brown’s 10-goal performance that not only outscored Port, but finished off their finals chances.
And, Will Martyn and Rhyan Mansell will make their debuts for Richmond, and if Rhyan isn’t nicknamed NIGEL, I’ll be very disappointed.
Western Bulldogs vs Brisbane Lions at Mars Stadium (Ballarat), Saturday 1:45pm AEST
Considering that this game is already sold out, I would think that yes, there is life on Mars.
Thanks to their club record 128-point win against North Melbourne, the Bulldogs have rocketed to the top of the ladder by some 40 percentage points, making it only the sixth time this millennium/century that the Dogs have sat on top after a round; Rounds 1, 3-4 of 2006, and Rounds 1-2 of 2016 are the other five rounds the Doggies have sat on top in the 2000s.
It was also the first 100+ point win since the Bulldogs defeated the Bombers by 104 points in Round 21 of 2019, and 167 points was also the highest score by any team since Adelaide scored 177 points against Brisbane in Round 20 of 2016.
Of course, the star of the show was Josh Bruce, who became the first player to kick 10 goals in a game since the aforementioned Ben Brown kicked 10 against Port Adelaide in 2019, with Brucey being the first Bulldog to reach double figures since Simon Beasley against the Brisbane Bears in Round 21 of 1987.
Thanks to Zac ‘The Rat’ Bailey (Who plays his 50th game this week) pulling off the 52nd winning after the siren goal in league history, the Lions became the 7th team to lose a game by 1 point, then win their next game by 1 point, and the first in 29 years:
As was well documented, the Lions won despite recording just 4 hitouts, equalling the record for the fewest hitouts by a winning team, and in another one for the coincidence file, the other 3 games also involved the Brisbane Bears/Lions!
Given the Lions up against Stefan Martin, who left Brisbane for the Dogs at the end of 2020, they might get another crack it.
And finally, the Head to Head between the teams is a perfectly even 20-20 after 40 meetings – The Bulldogs took the lead for the first time in Round 8 of 2018, but the Lions brought it level again by winning the last 2 encounters at the Gabba in 2019 and 2020.
St Kilda vs West Coast Eagles at Marvel Stadium, Saturday 4:35pm AEST
Round 16 of last season was the 50th match between St Kilda and West Coast (The Eagles lead 31-1-18), with none of them being a final – Only Fremantle (51) has played more games against the Eagles and never played them in a final.
Saturday will also mark West Coast’s 800th game in the VFL/AFL, with the Eagles currently holding the 3rd-greatest winning percentage of any club in history (57.32%) behind Collingwood and Carlton, and they also have two major milestones for key defenders:
2018 premiership captain Shannon Hurn equals Dean Cox’s club record of 290 games:
And, reigning Best & Fairest Brad Sheppard plays his 200th game, having missed just 2 games since the start of 2015 – The unfortunate part of that fact is that it was when Sheppard pulled his hamstring in the 2018 Qualifying Final and missed the Eagles’ premiership team.
Finally, the Eagles have dominated the last decade against St Kilda, winning 11 out of the 12 encounters since 2012, with the Saints’ only win being by 8 points at Docklands in Round 20 of 2017.
Collingwood vs GWS Giants at the MCG, Saturday 7:25pm AEST
Zac Bailey’s game winning kick last Thursday night was the first time Collingwood have LOST (Mitch McGovern’s kick in 2017 was for a draw) as a result of a kick after the siren since Bulldog spearhead Simon Beasley did it to them at the Western Oval in Round 10 of 1984, after he intercepted an infamous loose kick across goal by Graeme ‘Gubby’ Allan to hand Footscray a 1-point win:
The only Collingwood player to ever kick a goal after the siren to win was Chris Tarrant against Adelaide at Football Park in Round 7 of 2003.
Two weeks ago, Scott Pendlebury played his 200th game at the MCG to move level with Kevin Bartlett for the most games played at one ground, and this Saturday Pendles is all set to claim the unique record with his 201st game at the home of footy.
It is a sign of modern day fixturing that this is Pendlebury’s 320th game in breaking the record, while Bartlett played 403 games.
On another note, this is also the Giants’ first game at the MCG since their 2019 Grand Final horror show against the Tigers, and unless they get their arses into gear quick smart, it’ll be one of only two times they play at the ground this season – Their only other visit comes in Round 16 against Melbourne.
Still, if you think that isn’t much, Fremantle’s visit in Round 1 is the only time they’ll play at the MCG during the home & away season.
Gold Coast vs Carlton at Metricon Stadium, Saturday 7:25pm AEST
Continuing the revival of the big key forwards in 2021, Harry McKay kicked a career-best 7.5 against Fremantle on Sunday, having never kicked more than 4 goals in a game – He put that to bed 10 minutes after half time when he kicked his 5th goal.
It was the best haul by a Carlton player since Jarrad Waite kicked 7.1 against Essendon in Round 11 of 2013, and only poor goalkicking robbed McKay of having a crack at being the first Blue to kick 10 goals in a game since Stephen Kernahan in Round 3 of 1995…
That’s if you don’t count Fev kicking 12 goals in the Millennium Game against Collingwood.
North Melbourne vs Adelaide at Marvel Stadium, Sunday 1:10pm AEST
Starting with the good for North, in Round 9 of last season, the Roos defeated Adelaide by 69 points at Carrara, handing the Crows what was their 12th consecutive defeat at that point in time, with 119 points remaining the highest score by any team in 2020.
That win is also the Kangaroos’ most recent win (As of April 7), and their only win in their last 18 games, with their 11 consecutive defeats being the worst run of form by a North Melbourne team since 1972, their most recent wooden spoon season.
North’s 128-point Good Friday crucifixion at the hands of the Doggies was capped off by the Roos conceding 10.7-67 in the final quarter, the most points conceded by a Roos team in the final quarter since Collingwood kicked 11.5-71 on them in Round 9 of 1990, which remains the Magpies’ greatest final quarter in their history.
A few hours later, the Crows tried to restore the Good in Good Friday Football after getting the better of the Gold Coast in a hard-fought 10 point win at the Adelaide Oval, as Taylor Walker kicked another 6 goals to move on to 17 goals for the season, the most by any player after 3 rounds since Jonathan Brown also kicked 17 in 2010, with Tex also surpassing his 2020 total in the process:
Still, 17 goals after 3 games isn’t even a record for Adelaide, because Tony Modra kicked 22 after 3 games (10-6-6) in 1993, on his way to 129 for the year.
Melbourne vs Geelong at the MCG, Sunday 3:20pm AEST
The two oldest clubs in our game go at it again – the Melbourne Football Club were effectively founded at the Parade Hotel on May 17, 1859, when the the Rules of the Melbourne Football Club were written on paper, and the Geelong Football Club were founded at the Victoria Hotel on July 10, 1859, and as a sign of how little the folks of Corio thought of the place, the Victoria Hotel was demolished for a bank.
In a well-documented story, the Demons have started a season 3-0 for the first time since 2005, a time when they had the settled leadership of Neale Daniher as coach and David Neitz as captain.
If you’d like to know what happened to the Dees in 2005, they sat in 2nd with 9 wins after Round 12, promptly lost 7 games in a row to fall out of the Top 8, but magically picked themselves off the canvas with 3 narrow wins in their final 3 games (Including the 1 point win against the Cats at Kardinia Park) to smuggle themselves into the finals, where the Cats thumped them by 55 points in an Elimination Final best remembered for Stephen King kicking Jeff White in the face in a freak accident:
Moving on, the win against the Giants in Canberra was also the first time the Demons have won a game after trailing at both 1/4 time and 1/2 time since Round 14 of 2019 against Fremantle, where they trailed after the first 3 quarters and eventually won by 14 points.
Thanks to their 2 narrow escapes in the last fortnight, Geelong are 2-1 and inside the Top 8 with a percentage of 97.8 – The last time the Cats had a 2-1 record and a percentage below 100 was 1981.
Finally, in an unsurprising fact given their recent histories, Geelong has absolutely dominated the Dees with 15 wins out of 17 encounters since 2007, with Melbourne’s only win against the Pivotonians at the MCG since 2006 being the 2018 Elimination Final.
Fremantle vs Hawthorn at Optus Stadium, Sunday 2:40pm AWST
Hawthorn is Fremantle’s bogey team by some margin, with the Hawks leading the Head to Head between the teams 28-9, although the Dockers did break through for a narrow win in Round 11 of last season, which was their first win against the Hawks since 2014.
That also means Fremantle have the chance to win consecutive games against the Hawks for the first time since 2006-07, which would also equal their longest-ever winning streak (2 games) against the Hawks, alongside the clean sweep of 1997.
Yep, it’s been that lopsided.
And, Hawks defender Changkuoth Jiath, the player mysteriously described as being ‘athletic’ by every commentator whenever possible, has polled in the Coaches votes in all 3 Hawthorn games to date, and is one of only 4 players across the league to poll votes in every game:
Who’s the cat that won’t cop out, when there’s danger all about?