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AFL 2021: Everything you need to know ahead of Round 13
AFL expert Josh Gabelich previews another action-packed weekend live on BT Sport.
The AFL season is in a much better position this week than it was last week, with the uncertainty around Victoria’s lockdown situation being cleared up in the past 24 hours.
Things have improved in Melbourne, but the round 13 fixture reshuffle will mean matches remain outside the state for this weekend.
It has been another crazy week for the Collingwood Football Club. This time another domino has fallen, with club legend and current coach Nathan Buckley stepping down from the role after Monday’s Queen’s Birthday clash against Melbourne in Sydney.
The traditional marquee game has been relocated from the MCG to the SCG due to the outbreak in Melbourne, much to the disappointment of Demons fans who usually leave that game without the four points and start booking ski trips for the rest of the football season.
But that is a thing of the past. Simon Goodwin’s team are the premiership favourites after beating Brisbane and the Western Bulldogs in the past fortnight in convincing fashion. It is scary how good this team is. They might actually have eight players in the All-Australian team right now if it was picked after twelve rounds.
The round actually starts on Thursday with Geelong travelling to South Australia to face Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval. Both sides haven’t been impressive in the past month. Brownlow Medallist Patrick Dangerfield is back for his first game since round 5 – and for just his third game of the season due to suspension and a syndesmosis injury.
Chris Scott has wielded the axe, dropping five players as he looks to spark the Cats on the road to September.
Hawthorn heads to Sydney to face an old hero – Lance Franklin – and a team that has taken everyone by surprise this season. The Swans are 8-4 and level with third-placed Geelong as they look to return to the finals after back-to-back bottom-four finishes.
Many expected Fremantle and Gold Coast to compete for a finals berth this year, but the longer this season unfolds, the further away both sides are.
The Dockers have been much better than the Suns, but that isn’t hard given Stuart Dew’s men continue to be one of the most disappointing teams in the AFL. At 4-7, Gold Coast is still a mathematical chance of making the top-eight, but footy isn’t mathematics. Another wasted season in southern Queensland.
If the Dockers and Suns were expected to fight for a finals spot, then St Kilda was expected to fight for a top-four position after returning to the finals for the first time in a decade last year. That hasn’t happened.
The Saints are the most disappointing side this year given how far they have fallen. Brett Ratten’s men have been in Sydney all week after losing to the Swans and now face Adelaide in a must-win game in Cairns on Sunday.
Greater Western Sydney has recovered from a nightmare start and overcome their share of key injuries to remain in the hunt for September. That may be a stretch given how much quality is still out of Leon Cameron’s side, but this match shouldn’t be a stretch. The Giants head to Hobart to face North Melbourne in a game that should be an easy kill.
If Thursday fails to deliver, West Coast versus Richmond should prove to be one of the games of the round, if not, the game of the round.
The Tigers roared back from the brink of defeat in last Saturday’s Dreamtime game against Essendon at Optus Stadium. Now they return to the same venue to face an Eagles outfit decimated by injury and running out of chances in 2021.