AFL Rd 1 - Richmond v Carlton
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 18: Dustin Martin of the Tigers is tackled by Sam Walsh of the Blues during the 2021 AFL Round 01 match between the Richmond Tigers and the Carlton Blues at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 18, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The old saying of ‘premierships aren’t won in April’ remains true. However, the end of your season can be easily impacted by it’s beginning.

The opening month of the 2021 AFL season looks to have been riddled with as many surprises as you would expect from a full 23-round campaign.

Last year’s wooden-spooners in Adelaide have started hot out of the gates, amassing a 3-1 start off the back of a resurgent Taylor Walker.

The only side to defeat the boys from West Lakes are the Swans, who to many’s surprise remain undefeated from their four matches.

The Bloods’ tale to date has been headlined by a youthful injection of debutants, with Errol Gulden, Braeden Campbell and Chad Warner collecting the opening three rounds of Rising Star nominations.

Added to their already overflowing crop of neophytes is the return of star forward Lance Franklin, with the Swans’ mix of characters on course for a potential premiership tilt.

Perhaps a concept not too many had considered prior to the opening bounce, but should either the Crows or Swans continue their push, they’re sure to remain fancied for a top-eight finish.

The usual suspects of Richmond, Geelong, Brisbane and Port Adelaide have all gone their separate ways, collectively sitting with an 8-8 record.

The Tigers will never be ruled out of the premiership equation, as Richmond’s odds to win the AFL premiership are 4.50 despite a 2-2 start.

No matter how uncharacteristic their first few rounds are, you can pencil Richmond in for the flag hunt.

Fellow 2020 Grand Finalists Geelong have found their start to the season a touch more difficult despite sitting at .500 too.

Their gameplay and style has come under great scrutiny, with both of their wins coming by less than a kick in controversial fashion.

They will gain superstar duo Patrick Dangerfield and Jeremy Cameron, but many critics believe an All-Australian side couldn’t win the flag under Geelong’s current curriculum.

Port Adelaide have been steady in their stride for a consecutive minor premiership, while the Lions have found a contrasting fate across their opening month of the season.

Outside of the tipped ‘top-four’, the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne Demons look to be making their claim for premiership rights in 2020, and deservingly so.

The Doggies have looked comfortable in their opening month of the season, with wins over the Magpies, Eagles, Kangaroos and Lions to construct an undefeated run.

Melbourne have also collected four wins from four, with victories over a quartet of pre-season top-eight fancies in Fremantle, St Kilda, GWS and Geelong.

Moving further down the ladder you find West Coast. The interstate giants who’s struggles away from the nest seem persistent.

Had the Eagles have gotten the edge over the Bulldogs in Round 2, perhaps they would be priced as the premiership favourites given their star-infested casualty ward.

Their Round 4 loss to St Kilda reignited doubts surrounding their form away from home, while many are still out to decide on just how good the Saints are in 2021.

A narrow, hard-fought victory over the Giants in their season-opener was the start needed, however poor outings against the Demons and tipped cellar-dwellers Essendon suddenly had many putting a line through the Saints’ season.

They recovered against the Eagles, but given they have the toughest fixture of the lot, they looked to have missed the mark and are sure to be playing catchup from here-on-out.

Only the brave punters will place their chips on the red, white and black, while those looking for a darker horse may opt for the aforementioned early crows in Adelaide and Sydney.

The Tigers are sure to remain in everyone’s mind irrespective of their start, while Port Adelaide, Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs are very hard to ignore.

The time will tell with Geelong, should their reliance on their star players be warranted, while the Eagles firm as the forgotten foe formidable for a flag chase.

It’s hard to put a line through the Lions despite their unconvincing ignition, given their value on paper is as high as any rival’s.

While the opening month has given footy fans a warm return and unpredictable foundation, it will be the next four weeks that begins to mould the competition from head to toe.

With a Grand Final rematch and interstate derbies fixtured for the next month, it is sure to be an enticing few rounds to come.

Should the Bulldogs, Demons or Swans hold on to their perfect start, they may just secure their finals place come the midway mark of the season.

With several flag fancies fighting in the ladder’s mid-rift, it could spell an upsetting season for a key contender in 2021.

But as mentioned, premierships aren’t won in April.