AFL 2021: Everything you need to know ahead of Round 4

AFL expert Josh Gabelich previews another action-packed weekend - with four games exclusively live on BT Sport.

Published: 8 April 2021 - 4.17pm

Three rounds into the 2021 season and one thing is certain: nothing is certain in the AFL right now. Only three teams remain undefeated and only two teams haven’t won a game yet. Anything can happen on any day.

Sydney, Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs are three from three, but all the buzz is about the phenomenal rise of the young Swans this week after they upstaged the reigning premiers Richmond at the MCG on Saturday.

BT Sport Monthly Pass

Join the home of live sport for just £25 per month. Get instant access to the BT Sport app, with no contract and no BT broadband required.

The Swans open round four when they host Essendon at the SCG on Thursday, facing a Bombers side who bounced back from a disappointing opening fortnight to embarrass St Kilda at Marvel Stadium on Saturday. Four-time Coleman medallist Lance Franklin is back for Sydney and the 34-year-old is worth tuning in for.

Two premiership contenders meet on Friday in a blockbuster encounter at Adelaide Oval. Both Port Adelaide and Richmond are coming off dismal displays last weekend, adding extra spice to this one.

The Tigers have been inflicted by early season injuries to key players, turning to two debutants for the trip to South Australia in a rematch of last year’s thrilling preliminary final.

Round 4: Channels & times

If Friday doesn’t deliver – don’t worry, it will – then this will. Brisbane will end their three-week stint in Victoria due to COVID restrictions in Queensland when they face the Western Bulldogs in Ballarat on Saturday.

The Lions breathed new life into their season last Thursday night when Zac Bailey lived every kid's dream by kicking a goal after the siren to beat the Magpies by a point.

Put Greater Western Sydney aside – they were disappointing last year, too – no one has been more disappointing so far than St Kilda in 2021. The Saints ended a decade long finals drought last year and were expected to challenge for the premiership this September.

Right now they are 1-2 and staring down the barrel at a 1-5 start with brutal games to come against West Coast, Richmond and Port Adelaide, starting with the Eagles at Marvel Stadium. It will be a long way back from 1-3 for Brett Ratten’s side. Put a line through them at 1-5.

Lance Franklin
Brisbane Lions' Zac Bailey was the hero of round three

You need a lot of luck in AFL. And right now, luck isn’t on Gold Coast’s side. They lost the best teenager in the game in Matt Rowell in round one and now they have lost their most important player in Jarrod Witts for the rest of the season after the star ruckman tore his anterior cruciate ligament on Good Friday.

Carlton travels to Metricon Stadium this weekend looking to level the ledger at 2-2 after finding form against Fremantle last weekend, courtesy of dominant displays by co-captain Patrick Cripps and young spearhead Harry McKay.

It was a long Easter for Collingwood. That’s what happens when you lose after the siren on Easter Thursday. The Magpies wasted a golden opportunity to beat a premiership contender at Marvel Stadium and should make light work of Greater Western Sydney at the MCG on Saturday.

The Giants are in a world of pain right now and are only going backwards after losing captain Stephen Coniglio for the next few months.

This year was always going to be challenging for North Melbourne and new coach David Noble, but now we know exactly how big the task is after the Western Bulldogs smashed them by 128 points on Good Friday.

Maligned key forward Taylor Walker is leading the Coleman Medal after three rounds with 17 majors on the board and will be licking his lips for the trip to Victoria, after Josh Bruce slotted 10 goals against the Kangaroos last weekend.

Isaac Smith
North Melbourne had a night to forget as they lost by 128 points to Western Bulldogs

Three weeks ago, no coach was under more pressure than Simon Goodwin. But what a difference a fast start makes. The Demons are undefeated after three rounds and face Geelong at the MCG on Sunday in form.

The Cats were fortunate to hold on against the Hawks on Easter Monday and could be 0-3 if things had gone against them late in the past fortnight. It is a game of inches.

Round four ends in Perth when Hawthorn travels west to face an injury ravaged Fremantle side who were touched up by Carlton last weekend.

Dual Brownlow Medallist Nat Fyfe is expected to return from concussion and could prove to be the difference at Optus Stadium. We still don’t know where Hawthorn are right now, but we will know by Sunday.