AFL Rd 4 - Melbourne v Geelong
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 11: Christian Salem of the Demons kicks during the round four AFL match between the Melbourne Demons and the Geelong Cats at Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 11, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

On Friday night, another mammoth twist in the tale of season 2021 played out before our eyes.

The Giants, who had fallen victim to the likes of Gold Coast, Hawthorn and nearly North Melbourne, upset a high-flying Geelong side on their home patch at Kardinia Park.

The Cats were clear favourites to take the four points in this clash and go top of the ladder with two rounds to go following their run of five wins on the trot, however, came up second best.

Despite superstar midfielder Josh Kelly being a late withdrawal pre-game, Leon Cameron’s side managed to outplay Chris Scott’s Geelong and plant one foot firmly inside the top eight.

With this boil-over in mind, as well as the many others that have come before it in 2021, it begs the question – is this the most even season we have witnessed in the past decade?

If one were to judge the equality of competition based on the gap from first place all the way down to 18th then yes, 2021 is shaping up to be one of the tightest years in recent memories.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JULY 18: George Hewett of the Swans is tackled by Josh Kelly of the GWS Giants during the round 18 AFL match between Greater Western Sydney Giants and Sydney Swans at Metricon Stadium on July 18, 2021 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Excluding 2020 due to its shortened fixture list, the gap from the first-placed Bulldogs on 60 points at the time of writing down to North Melbourne on 18 points is the shortest it has been all decade.

Yes, there are still two more weeks of football yet to be played out, however the number of wayward results this year has exemplified the fact that no team has been spared their blushes.

Every team inside the top eight, barring Ken Hinkley’s Power side, have stumbled against opposition that are currently sitting in the bottom ten.

This bodes well for the premiership race as well, with the consensus amongst fans being that there are at least five teams who can genuinely go all the way in season 2021.

The mad scramble in the mid-section of the ladder for a final spot in September is set to go down to the wire based off recent results.

Although GWS sit two points clear of the now ninth-placed Fremantle, Leon Cameron’s side will have to go up against fellow finals hopefuls Richmond and Carlton in the final two weeks of the season with a loss in either fixture potentially spelling their exit from the final eight.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 01: Andrew Brayshaw of the Dockers kicks the ball during the 2021 AFL Round 20 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Richmond Tigers at Optus Stadium on August 1, 2021 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The Dockers face the sliding Lions on Sunday and a Western Derby with West Coast with a Round 23 date with the Saints set to shape their destiny as they look to make finals for the first time since 2015.

Meanwhile, the Bombers, Tigers, Saints and Blues are also still in with an outside chance of sliding into September, but will have to rely heavily on results going their way elsewhere to be in with a genuine chance.

Further down the ladder, the race for the wooden spoon is heating up too, with 14th and 18th place only separated by six premiership points.

Another quirk to this season is that there hasn’t been a standout worst team.

For all their early season woefulness, David Noble’s North Melbourne side have dished up nothing but tenacious football since Round 10, with their last true walloping coming at the hands of the Bombers.

Since then, the Roos have won three and drawn one of their last nine games - with the average losing margin in their five defeats being 22 points.

Meanwhile, the Hawks, for all their coaching troubles, have been on a very similar trajectory to North, winning three and drawing one since Round 13.

A draw against the Dees was a standout result for them, however their spirited win in Round 20 over Brisbane was arguably the highlight of their year so far.

Collingwood have had a torrid time in 2021, but have still upset the apple cart on some occasions, beating Richmond, West Coast and most notably Melbourne to have their say on the final makeup of the ladder.

Even Adelaide have had their moment in the sun, with a first-round win against the Cats and a thrilling victory over the previously flawless Demons giving their playing group a huge gee up.

It’s this trend of teams in the bottom-half of the ladder being able to topple any given side on their day that has given us so much entertainment this year.

LAUNCESTON, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 25: Oliver Hanrahan of the Hawks runs with the ball under pressure from Elliott Himmelberg of the Crows during the round six AFL match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Adelaide Crows at University of Tasmania Stadium on April 25, 2021 in Launceston, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Although the year isn’t over yet and the top sides will likely widen the gap from first to last, the competition is as healthy as it has ever been.

With two rounds remaining there is still no position set in stone, and with the rapidly changing fixture list due to COVID complications across the board, season 2021 still has plenty of bombshells left in it.

One thing is for sure, even though the precarious situation has given teams and AFL officials alike headaches, it has made for a killer standard of footy.