Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge says a 19-point win over AFL premiership contenders Port Adelaide will build belief in his players.
With a rip-snorting round of footy and a real lack of dud match-ups, it’s actually a difficult task to sort these games in order of relevance and excitability but here we go, every Round 7 match-up, ranked.
9. North Melbourne vs Melbourne: 1:10 pm, Sunday, Blundstone Arena
The bookies have the Roos at $12.50, the line at 50+ and no one thinks Melbourne will be 6-1 as we sit here. It’s on at a bit of an irrelevant time too and rightly so due to North’s struggles but Melbourne at Blundstone aren’t quite the same team. No game is an easy game in this league but here on Thursday morning, this game just exists.
8. Adelaide vs GWS: 2:10 pm, Saturday, Adelaide Oval
Every other game this round is a rip-snorter and this is no exception as these two have played a cracking game at the Adelaide Oval and in a weird twist of fixturing fate, this is the sixth time in seven match-ups between these sides at Adelaide Oval and 2015 was their last match-up at Spotless Stadium.
Adelaide look like they’re hitting the wall and the Giants still believe they can play finals but there’s a sense of ‘loser’s year is done’ even though most didn’t have either of these sides in their top eight.
7. St.Kilda vs Hawthorn: 4:35 pm, Saturday, Marvel
Unless you support either of these teams, it’s hard to see a lot of neutrals scrambling to their TVs to tune in but even if the Saints have another performance that they’ve had in the past, they’re not the newspaper-selling club that will dominate headlines when things are going badly.
However, this side made a semi-final and are currently 16th, coming up against a Hawthorn side that have had two wins by a combined four points but have plenty of heart so there could be some interesting things to come out of this clash, there’s not a lot yet.
6. Collingwood vs Gold Coast: 1:45 pm, Saturday, MCG
This is only a game people care about because they want to step on the Pies and rightly so if they lose but on any footy media radio, television show or podcast, it’s all about what Collingwood have done this year and Nathan Buckley’s future.
This game will only have a care factor if the Suns get up and there’s every chance that could happen – they look a different team in dry weather – but if the Pies are up by three goals-plus at quarter-time, neutrals will turn it off.
5. Sydney vs Geelong: 7:25 pm, Saturday, SCG
On most other rounds, this would be a top-three game for sure but as such is the quality of games in 2021 that it slips to fifth.
The Swans have lost two in a row and look like they can’t even turn the car on let alone get out of first gear whereas the Cats did things to West Coast that felt illegal. However, the last five games between these sides have an average of a 16.8-point margin and it’ll be a high-quality scrap up at Sydney.
4. Carlton vs Essendon: 3:20 pm, Sunday, MCG
Perhaps controversially high on the list but a bit like Collingwood, if Carlton lose this they fade into irrelevancy which isn’t like the boys from Ikon Park, even if they’ve struggled they’ve been talked about but neutrals shouldn’t give a damn if they don’t fight here.
However, Essendon have transitioned from ‘mass exodus in the off season’ to ‘fighting young group’ to ‘genuine star young talent’ with the likes of Nik Cox looking fantastic, plenty of blokes in career-best form and the return of Jordan Ridley is a big one. The Dons are genuinely good to watch, somehow.
3. Richmond vs Western Bulldogs: 7:50 pm, Friday, MCG
It does say a lot about the quality of footy on this weekend that the reigning champions take on the top-of-the-table challengers and it only gets bronze but that’s a credit more to the footy being played I believe.
Richmond go in a bit banged up after their loss to Melbourne with Kane Lambert and Dustin Martin going out, Dion Prestia and Nick Vlaustin will miss again while the Dogs will miss Josh Dunkley and Tim English who are walk-up starts. Fingers crossed the hyphens of Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Riley Collier-Dawkins get unleashed on Friday night but this will still be a corker.
2. West Coast vs Fremantle: 4:40 pm, Sunday, Optus Stadium
First of all, it is criminal that this game isn’t in primetime and it’s on the AFL in 2022 to get this on a Friday night, a Saturday night or even a Thursday night for crying out loud.
The Dockers aren’t the favourites but have won three on the trot while West Coast are a new team back at Optus compared to travelling. The Eagles have got plenty missing but this could be a handover of the best team in Western Australia for the first time since 2018 and will be a ripping contest to watch.
1. Brisbane vs Port Adelaide: 7:25 pm, Saturday, Gabba
Shame on the Victorian media here because this game is getting zero traction across their television and radio discussions, but this is the game of the round for mine.
Yes, the Lions miss Lachie Neale and Darcy Gardiner but they’re at home and have been in good form, having a +75 in points differential in the last two weeks. Port Adelaide are the second-best team in the competition and although the Gabba isn’t the fortress anymore due to the exposure during COVID, a travel game is still difficult.
With Brisbane’s poor start to the year before the last fortnight and Port Adelaide not being spoken about a lot as the footy public are consumed by Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs, this will be the game of the round.