An unanswered 11-goal surge has spurred the Brisbane Lions to a 49-point comeback AFL win over the Gold Coast Suns at the Gabba on Saturday.
All Victorian-based AFL clubs have been ordered into a seven-day lockdown as Gold Coast’s clash with Hawthorn in Darwin is likely to be shifted or postponed.
Gold Coast’s AFL clash with Hawthorn in Darwin on Saturday night is set to be either postponed or moved to Queensland.
Essendon and Carlton will leave Melbourne early for their interstate matches this weekend and still plan to return to Victoria after their respective round 11 games despite the return of strict protocols.
The nine Melbourne-based clubs, as well as Geelong, will face new restrictions for at least the next seven days with players and staffers recommended to only leave their homes for playing, training and essentials.
But the worsening situation in Victoria means the Suns-Hawks game in the Northern Territory is set to be canned.
One option is to move the game to Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast, or postpone the game altogether and give the two teams a bye.
The AFL is yet to finalise its re-jigged plans for the match.
The AFL was thrown another curve ball when the South Australian government announced it would shut its borders to the greater Melbourne area.
It means the AFL will now have to seek an exemption for the Adelaide Crows to travel for Sunday’s clash with Richmond at the MCG.
Richmond’s contingent already planned to be tested for COVID-19 as a precautionary measure to assist the Crows in returning to South Australia after the match.
The Bombers and the Blues flew out of Melbourne on Wednesday, several days earlier than planned.
Essendon are off to Perth for Saturday’s game against West Coast while Carlton are in Sydney for Sunday’s match against the Swans.
The hasty departures from Melbourne come as health authorities ordered thousands of fans who attended last Sunday’s fixture between Collingwood and Port Adelaide at the MCG to get a COVID-19 test and isolate until they return a negative result.
And late Wednesday, the AFL extended that edict to fans who attended Sunday’s game at Marvel Stadium between Essendon and North Melbourne.
A person who attended that match has since tested positive to COVID-19.
Victoria’s health department issued text messages to supporters seated in the vicinity of the positive cases, classifying them as close contacts and advising them to get tested.
Marvel Stadium is set to host a top-of-the-table clash between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs on Friday night – the first of four AFL games in the Victorian capital this weekend.
Acting Victorian premier James Merlino said AFL games would go ahead with crowds in Melbourne, but that could change if the outbreak worsens.
“This is subject to how we go over the next 24 hours. We have got a critical period in front of us,” Merlino told reporters on Wednesday.
Bulldogs players and staff were all tested on Tuesday and cleared of having COVID-19 after being linked to a growing outbreak in Melbourne.
A Bulldogs staff member visited a shopping centre when it was a coronavirus-exposed site.
Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli said players were prepared to adapt to the changing conditions to keep the season running as scheduled.
“It is a bit of a throwback in a sense (to 2020), but we’re sort of well versed and well prepared,” he said on Wednesday.
COVID-19 restrictions were ramped up in Melbourne as authorities try to contain the outbreak in Whittlesea in the city’s north, which has reached 15 cases.
The AFL has paused ticket sales for games in round 11 and 12, with the Victorian government yet to make a decision on crowd sizes.