St Kilda vs Richmond at Marvel Stadium, Thursday 7:25pm AEST
Richmond and St Kilda face off in the sixth annual Maddie’s Match, dedicated to Nick Riewoldt’s late sister (And Jack’s cousin) Maddie Riewoldt, raising funds for Bone Marrow Failure Syndromes, and the Saints bring up a pair of 150 game milestones to boot – Jake Carlisle plays game 150, and Brett Ratten coaches his 150th game, combining his 120 for Carlton and 29 (As of Round 4) for St Kilda.
After looking absolutely shot to bits against the Eagles, the Saints came back from 33 points down late in the 3rd Quarter to kick the final 8 goals and win by a comfortable 20 points – It was their biggest comeback since Round 13 of 2018 against the Gold Coast, when they came back from 39 points down in the 3rd Quarter to win by 2 points thanks to a late Jade Gresham goal.
Showing how little it concerns them, Richmond made it a hat-trick of 2-2 starts to a season by going down narrowly to Port Adelaide on Friday night, and just to cap it off, Orazio Fantastia’s goal in the 2nd Quarter gave the Tigers a slice of history.
It took them past 200,000 points conceded in the VFL/AFL – They now stand at 201,573 points for, and 200,041 against (100.77%).
I think we can expect to see that 200,000 point milestone come up again within the next fortnight, because Carlton are only 88 points away from joining them.
On another note, the 2021 season marks 50 years since Richmond and St Kilda performed a notoriously rare player trade; Then-dual Brownlow Medalist (And current Hall Of Fame Legend) Ian Stewart was cleared from Moorabbin to Punt Road, in exchange for champion Tigers centreman ‘Bustling’ Billy Barrot.
In one of the more lopsided deals, Barrot played just 2 games with the Saints, was cleared to Carlton midseason and left the VFL after 1971, while a reborn Stewart won his third Brownlow Medal that same year, although the Saints did knock the Tigers out in the Preliminary Final by a comfortable 5 goals.
West Coast Eagles vs Collingwood at Optus Stadium, Friday 6:10pm AWST
West Coast have won 5 out of the past 7 meetings against Collingwood, but both of the Magpies’ wins were by a solitary point at Optus Stadium, including last season’s Elimination Final, and staying on the topic of that knockout final, it was the fourth game between the Eagles and Magpies to be decided by a point – Collingwood has won all four games.
Saturday evening’s aforementioned 2nd Half wipeout at the hands of St Kilda, in which the Saints kicked the final 8 goals of the game, marked the first time the Eagles have blown a lead of at least 30 points (33) since Round 5 of 2013 against Port Adelaide, when they led by 41 points and lost by 5.
The Eagles have now lost their last 4 games in Victoria, having not won there since Round 20 of 2019 against Carlton.
With Shannon Hurn sidelined and unable to break Dean Cox’s games record for a couple of weeks, the only milestone is for Eagle Jack Redden, who plays his 100th game for the club, with his 129 appearances for the Lions feeling like a space age ago.
Western Bulldogs vs Gold Coast at Marvel Stadium, Saturday 4:35pm AEST
The last 2 games between the Dogs and Suns have both been decided by 5 points – The Suns won 73-68 at Docklands in 2019, and the Dogs won 51-46 at Carrara last season.
In addition to sitting on top of the ladder, the Dogs have won their first 4 games for the first time since 2008 – Every previous season the Dogs have started 4-0 (2008, 2006, 1998, 1961 and 1946), they’ve reached the finals.
The Bulldogs won the hitouts 40-35 against the Lions at Ballarat on Saturday afternoon, ending a record 37-game streak without winning the hitout statistic, which ironically started against the Lions at Ballarat on a Saturday afternoon in Round 8 of 2019.
Meantime, the Suns may have lost against Carlton on Saturday night, but they reached a minor milestone – Their final score of the game (A rushed behind just shy of 26 minutes into the final quarter) saw them reach exactly 16,000 points in their history
Sydney Swans vs GWS Giants at the SCG, Saturday 4:35pm AEST
The 20th edition of the Sydney Derby, aka the Battle Of The Bridge, with the Swans leading 12-7 over the Giants, and another noteworthy fact in those 19 games is that they’ve already played in 2 finals against each other (2016 & ’18) with GWS winning both times.
By comparison with other local rivalries, there’s only been one Showdown final (2005) out of 48 meetings between the Crows and Power, the Eagles and Dockers have played 51 Western Derbies but no finals, and there obviously hasn’t been a ‘Q-Clash’ final as the Suns have never made the finals.
The Swans have won their first 4 games for only the second time this century, alongside their premiership year of 2012, when they won their first 5 games.
Swans co-captain Josh Kennedy plays his 250th game for the club, becoming the 10th player to reach 250 games for South Melbourne/Sydney; Adam Goodes, Jude Bolton, Jarrad McVeigh, Michael O’Loughlin, John Rantall, Heath Grundy, Kieren Jack and Mark Browning are the others.
The Giants cracked it for a win against Collingwood, in what was only their fifth win from 21 visits to the MCG, and the focal point was stand-in captain Toby Greene, who became the first Giants captain to kick 5 goals in a game, causing SirSwampThing to unveil another stat about University:
Finally, this is the 100th game for GWS as the ‘Away’ team in their history: Their record through 99 games sits at 33 wins, 2 draws and 64 defeats.
Carlton vs Port Adelaide at the MCG, Saturday 7:25pm AEST
Starting with the obvious talking point of Robbie Gray’s after the siren goal in Round 7 last season, it should be noted that Gray wasn’t the first Port Adelaide player to kick a winning goal after the siren against Carlton – Peter Burgoyne pulled it off in Round 21 of 2000 at Football Park:
Gray’s kick was the milestone 50th winning goal after the siren in VFL/AFL history.
By defeating the Suns and moving on to 2-2, Carlton also improved their percentage to 103%, the first time the Blues have had a percentage above 100 after 4 games since 2012, when they were 3-1 and sitting on 152.4%.
Eddie Betts ties Andrew Walker on 202 games, the most for an Indigenous player at Carlton, and Blues co-captain Sam Docherty will finally play his 100th game for Carlton, having joined the club from Brisbane after 2013, a milestone that has been years in the making due to his multiple knee injuries.
And, thanks to the narrow win against Richmond, the Power now have a 9-1 record against the reigning premier during the Home & Away season under Ken Hinkley (2013-) – The only defeat in that time came against Hawthorn in Round 16 of 2016, although if you go further and include the 2014 and 2020 Preliminary Finals, that record drops to a mere 9-3.
Brisbane Lions vs Essendon at the Gabba, Saturday 7:25pm AEST
Joe Daniher plays against his old side for the first time, and looking back through the record books, the last time a member of the Daniher family played AGAINST Essendon was none other than Joe’s father Anthony for Sydney in Round 16 of 1986, the last of his 6 years with the Swans before he joined his brothers at the Bombers.
2021 also marks 20 years since the fabled ‘Predator’ game in Round 10 of 2001, when the 4-5 Lions took on an 8-1 Bombers team that had won 32 out of its past 34 games, prior to which Lions coach Leigh Matthews quoted Arnie’s line “If it bleeds, we can kill it” to inspire his team.
As fate would have it, the Lions won the game by 28 points, igniting what turned into a 20-game winning streak in which they completed chapter one of the Threepeat by defeating the Bombers in the 2001 Grand Final, which the Lions will celebrate on Saturday night with a commemorative guernsey.
In a random coincidence, the 2001 Lions started the season 1-3 after losing to the Bulldogs in Round 4, and the 2021 Lions have started 1-3 after losing to the Bulldogs in Round 4 – Whether or not the talent levels are quite the same is up for debate.
Conversely, the Dons have won the last 4 encounters against the Lions in Brisbane, with the Lions’ last win coming back in Round 6 of 2009, which was so long ago that it was the same night that Dustin Fletcher played his 300th game and fractured his leg in the process, and Matthew Lloyd became the 8th player to kick 900 league goals.
Another random fact for the Bombers – Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti will play his 100th consecutive game on Saturday night, a streak dating back to Round 13 of 2016, the second-longest active streak of any player behind Collingwood’s Jack Crisp on 142.
Amazingly, Round 12 of 2016 is the only Essendon game that Tippa’s missed since he debuted at the beginning of 2016, having played 110 out of a possible 111 games in that time.
Adelaide vs Fremantle at the Adelaide Oval, Sunday 12:40pm ACST
With the win against North Melbourne to move to 3-1, the Crows are the second reigning wooden spooner in succession to win 3 of their first 4 games – The Suns did it last year, but prior to that, you have to go back to Terry Wallace’s Richmond in 2005 find a reigning wooden spooner that started 3-1.
Oddly enough, despite the positive start, the Crows still haven’t won a 3rd Quarter this season, after being held to 3 behinds by the Roos to trail at the final break, before they kicked 6 goals to none in the final quarter.
Despite being held to a season-low 3 goals by Ben McKay, Taylor Walker continued his revival by becoming the first player to kick at least 20 goals in the first 4 rounds of the season since Lance Franklin in 2008.
On fire is the Big Texan:
Conversely, despite a relatively comfortable win against Hawthorn in the finale to Round 4, Dockers captain Nat Fyfe kicked 6 behinds without a goal, matching the second-worst goalless performance of the AFL era.
The only player to kick 7 behinds without a goal since 1990 is his coach Justin Longmuir (Explains where Fyfey got the inspiration), who pulled it off in Round 20 of 2003 against the Western Bulldogs in perfect Sunday weather at Subiaco.
Still, that isn’t even close to the all-time record of behinds without a goal in a game, which is 11 by Melbourne’s Stuart Spencer in 1956, and Richmond’s Tom Allen in 1949.
Hawthorn vs Melbourne at the MCG, Sunday 3:20pm AEST
In addition to winning their first 4 games for the first time since 1994, Melbourne have the longest active winning streak of any club against Hawthorn, having won the last 3 encounters since the 2018 Semi Final.
If you go back through the ages, the last time the Demons won at least 4 games in a row against the Hawks was between 1957 and 1960, when they won 5 in a row – Back then it was Norm Smith coaching against John Kennedy Snr, who have now both been recognised as Legends by the Hall Of Fame.
If you include the final 2 rounds of last season, the Dees are currently on a 6-game winning streak, matching their longest winning streak under Simon Goodwin (Round 6 to Round 11 of 2018), and Round 4 marked the first time they’ve sat in the Top 2 after a round since Round 13 of 2005.
Nathan Jones hadn’t even debuted then, and he’s playing his 299th game on Sunday…..
Which also means he’ll play his 300th game in the ANZAC Eve spectacular in front of a bumper crowd.
Last year’s meeting at Giants Stadium was the first time Hawthorn and Melbourne haven’t played each other at the MCG since they played at Waverley in 1999, the final year before Arctic Park shut down and the Hawks moved their home games to the ‘G.
This is also the first of two games between Hawthorn and Melbourne in 2021, on what is the 25th anniversary of the failed merger attempt that would’ve led to the Melbourne Hawks bringing a new age of strife on the league.
Due to large numbers of proxy votes and many members being blocked out of the meeting hall, Melbourne became the first club in league history to vote itself out of existence by a margin of 4679-4229, although the merger was easily struck down by riled Hawthorn members.
If there is a potential spark of hope for the 17th-placed Hawks, it’s this:
And finally, Changkuoth Jiath, who polled 1 Coaches’ vote, is one of only 2 players (Jack Macrae being the other) to poll at least 1 vote in all 4 rounds to date.
Geelong vs North Melbourne at GMHBA Stadium, Sunday 4:40pm AEST
The Cats have a chance for a slice of history – Their 700th VFL/AFL win in Geelong.
The Cats have recorded 458 wins at Kardinia Park since 1941, and they won 241 games at the old Corio Oval, which was their home from the inception of the VFL in 1897 up until 1940, when they had to leave the ground after the Army took it over as a training camp, after which they moved to Kardinia Park, originally as a temporary measure, but after returning from an enforced wartime recess (1942-43) in 1944, the Cats stayed at Kardinia Park permanently, after which Corio Oval was taken over by the
cheats on seats trots, dishlickers and the Salvation Army, and the main grandstand was promoted to glory in the early 1980s.
To celebrate what will probably be their 700th win, here’s one of the previous 699 – Round 8 of 1992, as the Cats backed up their league-record 239 points against the Bears in Round 7 by cracking a lazy 210 points against the Crows in a 123 point win:
Funnily enough, North Melbourne has one of the better records of away clubs at Kardinia Park, sitting at 25-33 (43.1%) from 58 visits, which is only behind Collingwood, Carlton and Essendon.
On to more recent history, the Cats sit at 2-2 for the second year running, although their percentage of 90.66% is the first time they’ve been below 100% after 4 games since 2015, when they were 1-3 with a percentage of 72.2%.
The Cats have only kicked 6.11 through 4 final quarters, their lowest final quarter aggregate after 4 games since 1919.
On to the Kangaroos, and there isn’t much I can add that hasn’t been thrown at them.
Their percentage of 43 is the worst after 4 games in the club’s history, surpassing the 44.4% in 1931, a year in which they lost all 18 games to claim the wooden spoon.
The Roos’ 41 point defeat to Adelaide, despite leading by 4 points at the final break, was their biggest defeat after leading at the final change since Round 19 of 2002, when the Swans turned around an 11-point deficit to kick 10 goals to 1 and defeat the Roos by 47 points.