Well it’s on to Round 14, the round with the fewest scheduled games of any this century with just the 5 games thanks to West Coast and Richmond being rescheduled, and amidst the craziness of the Queen’s Birthday with upsets galore, Round 13 was only the second round in the 21st Century that every Bottom Four team didn’t lose, joining Round 3 of 2002:
Here’s an odd fact, the 1997 and 2002 instances both included that season’s minor premier.
St Kilda started 0-2 in 1997, but recovered to win 15 games, and Port Adelaide started 0-2 in 2002, but ended up winning 18 games.
Can’t say the same about 2021.
Geelong (3rd) vs Western Bulldogs (2nd) at GMHBA Stadium, Friday 7:50pm AEST
The big clash of the weekend in front of a 7,000 strong sellout at GMHBA Stadium, as the Dogs, fresh off the bye, celebrate Lachie Hunter’s 150th game.
Geelong has always proven to be hell on earth for the Footscray/Western Bulldogs, winning just 13 times from 58 attempts (With 1 draw) at Kardinia Park in their history, with the Doggies’ last win there coming back in Round 16 of 2003, ironically a year in which they won the wooden spoon, and further proving how much trouble the Doggies have had in Sleepy Hollow, if you go back prior to World War II, they won just once from 11 attempts at the old Corio Oval.
The only ground the Dogs have found worse than Kardinia Park from nearly as many attempts in their history is Victoria Park, where they only won 10 out of 54 visits, and overall, the Cats’ head-to-head winning percentage against the Dogs is 64.2% (103-2-57), their best against any Victorian club.
More to the present, and the Cats have won 17 out of the last 20 games against the Dogs going back to 2007, although the last 4 encounters have been split 2-2, and if Geelong do win, they’ll join Richmond as one of only two teams to hold an active multiple game winning streak over the Bulldogs.
Fancy that – Dogs don’t like teams nicknamed after varieties of cats.
Gold Coast (15th) vs Port Adelaide (5th) at Metricon Stadium, Saturday 1:45pm AEST
The big player milestone across the league this weekend is that Port Adelaide gun Robbie Gray plays his 250th game, 15 seasons after he debuted in the now unfamiliar No.17, given he switched to No.9 in 2013, and to give you an indication as to how many injury problems Gray has dealt with over the journey, he debuted 2 games (Round 10) before his current teammate and former Power captain Travis Boak in 2007, and as of Round 13, Boak is only 4 games away from his 300th game, and Gray has only just reached his 250th game.
Now, for no reason, here’s Robbie’s first career goal, which actually came in his second game the next week against Carlton:
Moving on to other things, and as many people may remember, the Gold Coast recorded their maiden AFL win against Port Adelaide in Round 5 of 2011, and a decade later, it’s still the only win the Suns have ever recorded against the Power, who have won the last 11 meetings in two different countries.
Another odd fact about this game, given it’s location, you know who is the only team to defeat the Power in their 11 visits to Carrara/Metricon Stadium?
Geelong, in Round 12 of last season by 10 goals.
North Melbourne (18th) vs Brisbane Lions (4th) at Blundstone Arena, Saturday 4:35pm AEST
Way back in the day, the Fitzroy Lions played 4 home games at North Hobart Oval between 1991 and 1992, plus one way back in 1952, and although the post-merger Lions have played multiple times in Launceston, they’ve never played in the Tasmanian capital, and perhaps it’s fitting that a native Taswegian in Chris Fagan brings up his 100th game as Lions coach in the Apple Isle, against his former Lions right hand man David Noble, himself a Taswegian.
Fancy that- A pair of Taswegians coaching an AFL game in a city where they both had success as players in the Tasmanian Football League.
Fagan played in a TFL premiership with the Hobart Tigers in 1980 (He later won another with Devonport in 1988), while Noble was the vice captain in the North Hobart Demons’ flags in 1987 and 1989, which led to him being drafted by Fitzroy, and he ironically made his AFL debut at North Hobart Oval against Hawthorn in 1991, a game remembered for the Hawks racking up 231 points.
Moving on, and the Lions go to Tasmania having won the last 3 games against the Kangaroos, all by under 20 points, and if the Lions win, Lord Fagan will have a perfectly even 50 wins and 50 losses through the first 100 games, after only winning 14 of his first 50 in charge.
Meanwhile, North Melbourne go back to Bellerive having experienced their first drawn game since Round 16 of 2009 against Richmond at the MCG, a game in which their current AFLW coach Darren Crocker was the caretaker coach after the resignation of Dean (Now Dani) Laidley midseason, and the Roos game back from 7 goals at half time to lead by a goal with a minute to play, only for the Tigers to pinch a draw with a goal to Mitch Morton.
Adding to the spookiness, in both draws the goals & behinds were exactly the same (12.13 and 14.10), and an opposition player (Brett Deledio for Richmond and Sam Reid for GWS) played their 100th game.
Another random fact – Last Sunday’s Roos-Giants draw also made history as the first time a team sitting in 18th has played in a draw.
For the record, 17th has played in at least one draw – Gold Coast vs West Coast in Round 18, 2015.
GWS Giants (10th) vs Carlton (14th) at Giants Stadium, Saturday 7:25pm AEST
With that aforementioned wild draw in Hobart on Sunday afternoon, GWS have now played in four draws in the past five seasons, including the only two AFL draws in Tassie, not including Sirengate.
If you’d like some context on how absurd that figure is over a short space of time, Adelaide have only played in 2 draws in 31 seasons, Hawthorn have only played in 2 draws this century, Melbourne haven’t played in a draw since 2011, West Coast have only played in one draw since 2004, and Fremantle have only played in one draw in their 27 seasons.
In the meantime, unless this game gets moved because of the recent outbreak in New South Wales, the Blues will be sweating bullets for different reasons, because they’ve gone winless from 4 visits to the Showgrounds dating back to Round 14 2014, which marked the Giants’ maiden win against Carlton.
Since then, the Giants have won 7 out of the last 8 games against the Bluebaggers, with Carlton’s only win being a 1 point win in 2017.
My memory isn’t as sharp as people claim, but that could’ve been the game when Brendan Bolton recalled tall forward Liam Jones for his first game of the year and threw him down back on Jonathan Patton, Jones wound up playing like Steven Silvagni, minus the long sleeves, and he’s played as a key defender ever since.
Hawthorn (17th) vs Essendon (9th) at University of Tasmania Stadium, Sunday 3:20pm AEST
Thanks to the AFL being forced into an unfortunate reschedule last weekend, after 29 years away, Essendon will finally play their second AFL game in Tasmania, with their lone visit to Tassie being their Round 17, 1992 win against Fitzroy at North Hobart Oval, a game the Dons won by 3 points thanks to a late goal to Gary O’Donnell.
It would be the last AFL game in Tasmania until 2001, and the last in Hobart until 2012.
Aside from keeping their undefeated Apple Isle record intact, there’s another slice of history on offer for the Bombers, as they sit on 99 wins from 165 games against their often heated rivals from Glenferrie, meaning they could join Carlton the only teams to record a century of wins against the Hawks.
Thanks to the 1-point result in Round 1, one streak that is still going strong is that Essendon and Hawthorn have never played in a draw through those 165 games, spread across 97 seasons.
While 165 is the most games the Bombers have played against any team without a draw, the Hawks haven’t played in a draw from 169 games against Carlton, and 166 against both Melbourne and Collingwood.
The all-time leader for most games without a draw is Sydney/South Melbourne and Geelong, who have played 227 games since 1897 without a draw.
And, based on the last 2 games between the Hawks and Bombers, the obvious key to victory will be to spot the opposition a 6 goal head start at half time.
The Hawks led by 36 points at half time in Round 14 last season, only for the Bombers to come flying back and win by a comfortable 16 points with 11 goals to 3 in the 2nd Half:
And in Round 1, the Bombers led by 39 points at the half, only for the Hawks to come flying back and win by that aforementioned one point.
What excitement the Taswegians are in for.