How’s this for ladder symmetry after Round 7:
One team is 7-0, one team is 0-7.
One team is 6-1, one team is 1-6.
Two teams are 5-2, two teams are 2-5.
Five teams are 4-3, five teams are 3-4.
Richmond (6th) vs Geelong (5th) at the MCG, Friday 7:50pm AEST
The 122nd Grand Final rematch in league history, the third between Richmond and Geelong (The last coming in 1968), and a majorly random fact is that way back in Round 6 of 1932 at Corio Oval, the Cats and Tigers played in a 69-69 draw in the rematch of the 1931 Grand Final (Won by Geelong), which remains the most recent Grand Final rematch to end in a draw, with the only other examples of drawn rematches both involving Fitzroy against Melbourne in 1901, and Carlton in 1917.
In a potential bad omen for the home team, Richmond have lost their last 5 Grand Final rematches; 1975 against North Melbourne, 1981 against Collingwood, 1983 against Carlton, 2018 against Adelaide, and last season against GWS.
By comparison, Geelong’s recent Grand Final rematch is much better; A win against Carlton in 1996, a win against Port Adelaide in 2008, a win against Hawthorn in 2009, although they did lose to both St Kilda in 2010 and Collingwood in 2012.
Overall, including the draw, Richmond has only won 9 out of 23 (9-1-13) Grand Final rematches, and Geelong 8 out of 17 (8-1-8).
Gryan Miers has been ruled out for Geelong with a fractured fibula, meaning that Friday will mark the first game Miers has missed since he debuted for the Cats in Round 1 of 2019, ending a run of 53 consecutive games.
Saturday’s defeat against Sydney after leading by 28 points at quarter time was Geelong’s biggest blown quarter time lead since they were 31 points up against West Coast in Round 10 of 2006, a game they infamously lost by 3 points after leading by 9 goals halfway into the 3rd Quarter.
On the milestone front, Gary Rohan plays his 150th AFL game, encompassing 106 appearances for Sydney, and what will be his 44th appearance for the Cats since 2019, and the major stat for Geelong is that they’ve won every game in which Rohan has kicked at least 3 goals for the Hoops, which he’s done on 8 occasions.
Finally, on the passing of former Geelong president Frank Costa, I’ll make mention that during his tenure as president (1999-2010), the Cats recorded the most wins of any club (171 from 282 games, 8 more than the Brisbane Lions), including 2 minor premierships, and the drought-breaking 2007 & 2009 flags, the first for the Cats since 1963.
Gold Coast (10th) vs St Kilda (14th) at Metricon Stadium, Saturday 1:45pm AEST
The second KINGBOWL between the King twins Ben (Suns) & Max (Saints), with Max getting to sleep in the top bunk in Round 10 last year after the Saints won by 4 points at Carrara.
On that note, the last 4 games between the Suns and Saints have all been decided by fewer than 4 points (4, 4, 2 & 1), with the Saints winning all four games as part of a 5-game winning run over the Suns, with the Suns’ last win in against the Sainters coming in Round 15 of 2016, which just happened to be on the same day as the 2016 Federal Election.
Last week, the Saints held Hawthorn scoreless in the 1st Quarter, marking the first time they’d held any team to a scoreless quarter since they did it to a depleted Fremantle in Round 23 of 2013, which was best remembered as the farewell game for Stephen Milne, Justin Koschitzke and Jason Blake.
For the sixth consecutive season, the Suns have a record of 3-4 after 7 games, and randomly, after 222 AFL games, the Suns are now conceding an average of exactly 100 points per game – They’ve given up 22,200 points against in that game.
Finally, Brandon Ellis brings up his 200th game, having played 176 games for Richmond between 2012-19, including the 2017 & 19 Premiership teams, and he’ll become the first player to play his 200th game in a Suns guernsey since Jarrod Harbrow and Matt Rosa both did in Round 21 of 2017.
GWS Giants (11th) vs Essendon (15th) at Giants Stadium, Saturday 2:10pm AEST
In light of the BBQ-loving positive case in Sydney, the AFL have decided to swap the starting times of the Giants-Bombers and Suns-Saints, with the game at Giants Stadium now starting at 2:10pm AEST to allow the Bombers to fly in and out of Sydney on a charter flight on the Saturday.
Essendon go to Western Sydney on the back of losing the highest scoring game of the year (230 points) to Carlton on Sunday at the MCG, dropping to 2-5 for the first time since 2018, with the game also being their 199th defeat at the MCG in VFL/AFL history, with their next visit there coming in the Dreamtime game against Richmond in Round 12 to stave off the double century.
It was also the first league game in which both teams had scored 100 points since Carlton lost to Melbourne in Round 16 of 2019.
In the first of two potential changing of club games records this weekend, Callan Ward plays his 172nd game for the Giants (232nd overall), assuming the outright from Jeremy Cameron, with Giant for life Toby Greene not too far behind on 165 games.
On another note, how’s this for near symmetry:
After 7 games in 2020, GWS were 3-4 and had a percentage of 97.3%.
After 7 games in 2021, GWS are 3-4 and have a percentage of 97.6%.
North Melbourne (18th) vs Collingwood (17th) at Marvel Stadium, Saturday 4:35pm AEST
Ahead of the clash between the Bottom 2 teams, better known as SPOONBOWL, North Melbourne’s percentage of 49.2% is the worst by any team after 7 games in the AFL era, surpassing the 2010 Tigers (49.5%), and is the lowest percentage for any team after 7 games since St Kilda in 1955, who sat on 44.9% after 7 games.
For some context, while the Tigers ultimately recovered to finish second-last with 6 wins and a percentage of 73%, the Saints’ percentage would actually fall to 44.1% after Round 9, and they ultimately won the wooden spoon with a record of 1-17 and a percentage of 45.39%, which still remains the worst by a team in the last 75 years, with only the dying remnants of Fitzroy and the inaugural GWS team coming close.
Collingwood have lost 5 consecutive matches for the first time since Rounds 14-18 in 2015, and their 1-6 record is their worst after 7 games since 2005 – The only time the Pies have ever started 0-7 was their last wooden spoon season in 1999.
With David Noble coaching the Roos, if John Noble lines up for Collingwood, then the Roos-Magpies will serve as the third instance of a father coaching against his son in league history, with all of them involving North Melbourne or Collingwood:
Magpies great Bob Rose coached Footscray against son Robert playing for Collingwood in Round 8 of 1972 (The Scraggers won at Victoria Park), and Hall of Fame Legend John Kennedy Snr coached North Melbourne against Hawthorn with John Kennedy Jnr a grand total of 8 times between 1985-89.
In those 9 instances of Family Feud, sons lead fathers 8-1-0, with the Kennedys drawing 113 apiece in Round 11 of 1985, and if you want to know something else, that was Hawthorn’s only drawn game been 1969 and 1995.
And, 2010 Premiership player Steele Sidebottom plays his 250th game for Collingwood, drawing level with Peter Daicos and Lou Richards on an even 250 appearances for the Magpies, and joining the other esteemed members of the Collingwood 250 club; His captain Scott Pendlebury, Tony Shaw, Gordon Coventry, Wayne Richardson, Len Thompson, Scott Burns, Jock McHale, current coach Nathan Buckley, Dane Swan, Gavin Brown and Harry Collier.
I imagine Steele’s going to celebrate by heading out to Daniel Wells’ place for a few quiet ones.
Melbourne (1st) vs Sydney Swans (4th) at the MCG, Saturday 7:25pm AEST
In addition to keeping up their longest winning run to start a season since 1965, the Demons go into Saturday night on a 9 game winning streak dating back to Round 17 last season.
They haven’t won 10 games in a row since the run from the 1964 Second Semi Final (Including the ’64 Premiership) through to Round 8 of 1965.
With the Bulldogs being brought undone against Richmond, the Demons also claimed top spot on the ladder for the first time since Round 3 of 2005, and in addition to being No.1 for quarters won thus far (20 out of 28), they’re a perfect 7 out of 7 in 4th Quarters this season.
The Swans win against Geelong was the first time they’d won a game with 8 fewer scoring shots than their opposition since they defeated Port Adelaide by 7 points in Round 1 of 1998.
The score that day was 20.4-124 to 17.15-117 at Football Park, with Peter Filandia kicking 5 goals and Tony Lockett 4.
It might seem unsurprising given their recent histories, but the Swans have proven to be something of a bogeyman for the Demons, winning 15 out of the last 18 meetings between the sides since 2006.
The last time the Dees defeated the Swannies at the MCG was Round 17 of 2010, with their best result since then being the draw in Round 1 of 2011, which was the only year between 2006 to 2014 that Melbourne didn’t lose in Round 1.
One final note, this’ll mark the 97th time the Dees and Swans have played at the home of football, once you include South Melbourne’s side of the Swans story, with Melbourne leading 49-2-45.
Port Adelaide (3rd) vs Adelaide (13th) at the Adelaide Oval, Saturday 7:10pm ACST
Showdown 49 between the Power and Crows, and with the threat of a points deduction looming over Port’s heads if they bust out a set of prison bars, the two South Australian stalwarts go in absolutely neck and neck at 24 wins apiece, and that doesn’t include that night at the Ramsgate in 2002.
The Power took the overall lead in Showdown victories after Showdown 9 in 2001, held it until Showdown 42 in 2017, lost it after 43, tied it again thanks to Steven Motlop at the end of 44 in 2018, lost it again thanks to Josh Jenkins’ phantom poster in 45, but it’s now back level thanks to Port’s wins in 47 and 48.
Due to the shortened season, 2020 was only the second season in history to feature an odd number of Showdowns (1), after the three in 2005 due to ‘The Ultimate Showdown’ Semi Final (Showdown 19) during the finals.
So from that sense, we’re back to ending seasons with an even number of Showdowns once again.
Hawthorn (16th) vs West Coast Eagles (8th) at the MCG, Sunday 1:10pm AEST
In one for the history books, this year marks 30 years since the Hawks and Eagles met in the 1991 Grand Final, the same year in which they took part in the first ever VFL/AFL final to be played outside of Victoria, and the only Grand Final to be played at Waverley Park, with the experienced Hawks proving too good on both occasions.
Strangely enough, this is the only time the teams will meet this year…. obviously the AFL didn’t want to give the Eagles another cheap 4 points, judging by the stench emanated by this Hawthorn side.
For the Hawks, their 69-point blowout at the hands of St Kilda was the first time they’d lost by more than 4 goals at Docklands since Round 14 of 2009, when the Western Bulldogs defeated them by 88 points.
The Hawks have only won 1 out of 7 2nd Quarters this season, their worst 2nd Quarter record after 7 games since 1953, and their 2-5 record is equal with 2017 for their worst start to a season in the last decade.
For the Eagles, thanks to their 11th consecutive Derby win in front of an empty Optus Stadium on Sunday, they’ve started a season 4-3 for the third consecutive year, and it takes their streak of alternating wins and losses up to 9 games, dating back to Round 18 of last season.
The Eagles’ longest run of alternating wins & losses is 12 games in both 2001-02 and 2017, although it’s still slightly short of the all-time record of 15 by Fremantle between Round 21 of 2001 and Round 13 of 2002.
Tim Kelly won the Glendinning-Allan Medal for his 42 disposals, and in the process, he also overtook Gary Ablett Jnr’s record for the most disposals in a game without taking a mark:
And, Eagles premiership captain Shannon Hurn drew level with Dean Cox on a club record 291 games on April 10, and just short of a month since then, Bunga still hasn’t played since his calf injury that Saturday evening against St Kilda, after missing the Derby due to a calf injury sustained the day before.
It does mean this video the Eagles put together in celebration will still hold water for at least a few days to come:
Western Bulldogs (2nd) vs Carlton (12th) at Marvel Stadium, Sunday 3:20pm AEST
This is the 150th meeting between the Bulldogs and Blues, with Carlton leading 89-4-56 through the first 96 years, and going way back, it took Footscray only 4 attempts to defeat Carlton in the VFL, ironically breaking the drought by a point in Round 9 of 1928 – By comparison with the other teams admitted to the league in 1925, North defeated the Blues for the first time a month prior, and it took Hawthorn until 1939 to defeat Carlton, having lost the first 25 encounters.
Speaking of 150ths, it’s the 150th game for former Bulldog turned Blues key defender Liam Jones, who played 66 games for the Doggies between 2010-14, before he was traded from the Whitten Oval to Princes Park for Pick 46 in the 2014 draft, which the Bulldogs used to draft Caleb Daniel.
2021 also marks 30 years since the Bulldogs held Carlton to a solitary goal in the driving rain at the Whitten Oval, with Mark Arceri kicking Carlton’s only goal 33 seconds from time, sparing the Blues what would’ve been the first goalless game by a team since Richmond in 1961 – The final scoreline read 8.9-57 Footscray to 1.10-16 Carlton.
Last Sunday was the first time Carlton have kicked more than 16 goals in a game since they kicked 17 goals in Round 12 of 2015 against Port Adelaide (The Blues won by 4 points), and the Blues have had great success scoring against the Bulldogs in recent years, racking up three consecutive 100+ scores, although the Dogs did manage to hold on by 3 points in the middle game of that streak, despite Charlie Curnow kicking 7 goals.
Also, this is the first season in the Bulldogs’ history in which they’ve won their first 7 1st Quarters to start a season, although their record in 3rd Quarters is only 2/7, whereas the 3rd Quarter is Carlton’s strongest, having won 5 out of 7 so far.
Brisbane Lions (7th) vs Fremantle (9th) at the Gabba, Sunday 4:40pm AEST
With Fremantle forced to hit the road due to not being guaranteed a crowd at Optus Stadium for what would’ve been a Dockers home game on Sunday, and the fact that they were playing in Melbourne in Round 9, this game has become the third AFL or AFLW game to have a change of venue this year due to COVID restrictions.
Funnily enough, all 3 games have involved the Brisbane Lions, although this is the first time they’ve actually gained a home game, and the first in which they haven’t played Collingwood:
Round 7 of the AFLW – The Lions get a home game against Collingwood moved to the Whitten Oval behind closed doors.
Round 3 of the AFL – The Lions have a home game against Collingwood on Easter Thursday swapped to Round 22 and moved to Marvel Stadium due to the Brisbane lockdown, which becomes memorable thanks to Zac Bailey
Round 8 of the AFL – What would’ve been a Fremantle home game at Optus Stadium gets swapped to Round 21 with the Round 8 game moved to the Gabba.
Going back through the year, Fremantle lost their first 8 games at the Gabba against the Brisbane Bears and Lions, before they finally broke through in Round 7 2010, and would eventually extend the streak to 4 in a row in 2016, before the Lions hit back to win the 2 most recent meetings at the ground in 2017 and 2020.
Through 29 games since the merged Lions came into being in 1997, the Dockers hold a narrow 15-14 lead in the head to head, with the home teams naturally dominating, with the Lions leading 9-4 at the Gabba, and Fremantle leading 11-5 at Subiaco & Optus Stadium.
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