It’s that time of the year when fans become bored and clubs rejoice, that’s right – it’s the bye rounds.

Having to go two weeks without seeing your team play is a very first world problem from the outside looking in, but for footy fans it’s excruciating. What’re we supposed to do? Socialise? (not you Melbourne) Mow the lawn? Paint the front fence?

All jokes aside, Round 12 was another good one for the books, with the second week of Sir Doug Nicholls Round serving up some tasty encounters.

With this, let’s see where each side fits into the power rankings this week. Be warned, some clubs were hard done by despite having the week off, but will have the chance to regain their spot when other sides have their week off.

1. Melbourne (-)

No one should be questioning the Dees premiership credentials now following their huge display against contenders Brisbane in Western Sydney.

It looked as if the Demons had met their match in the first half as Chris Fagan‘s side were ruthlessly efficient with the ball. However the Demons’ second half performance was something to be marvelled at.

It was lead once again by their incredible midfield, with Christian Petracca once again turning it on (two goals, 26 disposals, nine clearances) alongside Clayton Oliver (25 disposals, eight clearances) and James Harmes (23 disposals, six clearances) to elevate the Dees to 11-1. It seems as if it’s theirs to lose at this stage of the year, with no team being able to comprehensively beat them.

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Barring an almighty collapse, Melbourne should at minimum have a home qualifying final to show for their efforts during the home-and-away season. Next weekend the Dees have the Big Freeze, this time at the SCG, as they aim to put the sword to Nathan Buckley‘s Collingwood side.

2. Western Bulldogs (+1)

The Doggies didn’t have it easy in the West this week against the Dockers, but outlasted their opposition to make it 10-2.

They were troubled by the tenacious Fremantle, being only eight points in front going into the last, but their class made the difference as they ran out 28 point winners.

Marcus Bontempelli was the best for Luke Beveridge‘s side (two goals, 27 disposals, seven clearances) whilst Jack Macrae (35 disposals) and Lachie Hunter (one goal, 27 disposals) were also fantastic for the away team.

This week they have a well-earned break before a huge match against the Cats. It’s suffice to say that should the Western Bulldogs win this encounter, a top two finish might just be sewn up.

3. Brisbane (-1)

Chris Fagan‘s side could not keep up their superb first half level of performance for the entire four quarters, as they were run over by the Demons to go down by 22 points. Whilst it would have been a tough one to take for the Lions considering the strong vein of form they were in, there were plenty of positives to take from the match.

Youngster Zac Bailey was in incredible form and was Brisbane‘s best-on-ground easily, with Jarryd Lyons also building on his incredible 2021 form with 28 touches and eight tackles. Skipper Dayne Zorko will most likely miss his next match after striking Tom McDonald, but was also instrumental for the losing side (one goal, 22 disposals, ten tackles).

It’s not the end of the world for the Lions, but a home qualifying final is now a tougher goal to strive for considering the blistering pace that the top two teams are showing. This week they have a rest before they travel to face North Melbourne in Round 14.

4. Geelong (-)

The Cats had a bye this week, and will face Port Adelaide this Friday in Adelaide. They should hopefully welcome back star midfielder Patrick Dangerfield, whilst big man Mark Blicavs is also set to return as well.

Win this and suddenly they have a one game buffer inside the four – lose, and it’ll make their run at a double chance a tad more difficult.

5. Richmond (+1)

Richmond were going okay up until the final term against the Bombers, with the side surviving a scare to kick away and win by 39 points. Like they have done time and time again, the Tigers dug deep to overcome adversity and come out on top as they continue their quest for the three-peat.

https://twitter.com/Richmond_FC/status/1401158651696488453

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Dustin Martin was his usual self for much of the game, whilst Shai Bolton (three goals, 21 touches), Jack Graham (two goals, 22 disposals) and big man Mabior Chol (19 disposals, 19 hit-outs) were all very impressive in their own rights.

It looks like it’s going to happen again, with Damien Hardwick‘s side finally hitting their stride halfway through the year to storm home, secure a top four finish and win the flag. Yes we are getting ahead of ourselves, but it just has the hallmarks of another huge push from the Tigers. Next week they face the lowly Eagles in Perth, and should go in as favourites considering West Coast‘s recent average form.

6. Port Adelaide (-1)

The Power were stiff to move down despite not playing this week, but have their chance to even things out as they go up against the Cats on Friday.

Plenty have had question marks over the Power’s ability this year, but the side will be keen to prove the doubters wrong by making a huge statement win over Chris Scott‘s side in front of a packed out Adelaide Oval.

7. Sydney (-)

The Swans were under pressure from the Saints on Saturday afternoon, and were lucky to win off the back of some insipid goal accuracy from St Kilda. However, it was their stars that stood up to get them across the line in an arm-wrestle of an encounter.

Luke Parker (one goal, 27 touches), Dane Rampe and Tom Hickey were huge for John Longmire‘s side, whilst young gun Will Hayward chalked up a trio of goals. Isaac Heeney, Lance Franklin and Logan McDonald all also had two goals apiece.

The Swans are building nicely into the latter stages of the year, and will be hoping to solidify their top eight berth over the next few weeks. Next week they welcome the Hawks to the SCG in what should be an easy four points for the Bloods.

8. West Coast (+2)

The Eagles did enough on Sunday afternoon to emerge victorious against the disappointing Carlton despite their big list of outs. It was the brilliance of Liam Ryan that got Adam Simpson‘s side over the line in a special showing from the enigmatic forward.

Andrew Gaff, Dom Sheed and Shannon Hurn all starred for the Eagles, racking up 89 touches between the three of them, whilst Zac Langdon was impressive on his return to the side, with 20 disposals and a goal to cap off a tidy showing.

Next week will be an incredibly tough encounter at home to the Tigers, but will welcome back young star Oscar Allen to the side to help ease their injury woes. It’ll be a tough encounter, but a place in the top eight is on the line and Adam Simpson will want a statement victory to show they’ve still got it.

9. Essendon (-)

The Bombers, despite losing to the reigning premiers, showed a lot of promise in their 39 point defeat. It looked like they were going to cause another boil-over for the second week in a row, but were eventually outclassed by the Tigers.

Darcy Parish once again showed why he is arguably the most improved player this season, winning the Yiooken Award ahead of Richmond‘s Dustin Martin. Zach Merrett (32 touches, 7 tackles), Kyle Langford (one goal, 28 touches) and Rising Star nominee Nik Cox (one goal, 23 disposals) all had great games too.

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Aside from the loss, the Bombers are still playing some good football. With their recent run of form, out-of-contract star Zach Merrett should be able to be enticed into staying at The Hanger in the off-season – a huge deal should the club get it done. The Bombers have a bye this week and will be gearing up for a tough second half of the year.

10. GWS (-2)

The Giants had a week off this round, and will be hoping to rebound from their disappointing loss in round 11 to the Lions as they go down to Tasmania to face bottom of the table North Melbourne.

Toby Greene, Phil Davis and Matt de Boer are both set for a return to the side and will go a long way in helping the Giants launch at a potential top eight spot.

11. Fremantle (+3)

Despite losing to the Dogs, the Dockers did surprisingly well all things considered. They were in touching distance of the Bulldogs at three quarter time but were decimated by injury, with Nat Fyfe, Brennan Cox and Sean Darcy all going down two minutes into the final term.

David Mundy was superb with 30 touches and eight clearances, whilst Andrew Brayshaw (one goal, 27 touches) and pick 7 in last year’s draft Josh Treacy were also instrumental, with the latter booting three goals.

Justin Longmuir’s side have a very winnable game next week against the Suns at home, and should be able to get the job done despite all their injuries.

12. Adelaide (-1)

It was looking like the Crows were going to get the biscuits in the last term, but shot themselves in the foot with some individual errors to gift the game to the struggling Pies.

Rory Laird would have visited the hospital afterwards with a case of leather poisoning, racking up 40 touches for the match, whilst Paul Seedsman (27 touches) and Ben Keays (33 touches) nicely complemented an incredibly industrious midfield.

RORY LAIRD
Defender
Adelaide
2021 SEASON AVG
31.3
Disposals
5.9
Tackles
6.9
Clearances

Matthew Nicks would have been fuming with the way his side coughed the ball up to the Pies and how they couldn’t make it count when it mattered. This week they go up against the Saints in Cairns, and will be hoping to bounce back with a win.

13. Carlton (-1)

In what was a very winnable game for the Blues, they once again pulled out another disappointing display to go down to the undermanned Eagles. In a season that promised so much, Carlton do not look in any way, shape or form to have made headway in their improvement.

Sam Walsh once again was the standout for the Blues, with 30 touches and a goal to his name, whilst new recruits Zac Williams and Adam Saad were also very productive for their side.

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Following the announcement of the club conducting an external review into their footballing department on Monday, and the departure of assistant coach John Barker, things at Ikon Park aren’t looking rosy at the minute. This week they will have some time to look within as they have their scheduled bye.

14. St. Kilda (+1)

The Saints were unlucky not to get the four points on Saturday against the Swans, as inaccurate kicking ultimately cost the side a big win.

Jack Higgins was the standout and, as previously mentioned, also the villain for his side kicking one goal and six behinds, including one that would have put them ahead in the dying stages.

JACK HIGGINS
Forward
St Kilda
2021 SEASON AVG
15
Disposals
4
Marks
1.3
Goals

Their midfield department went off in this one as well, with Brad Crouch and Jack Steele combining for 69 touches between them, as Jack Sinclair put in a shift with 29 disposals too.

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The fact that the Saints stuck it to the Swans will see them take huge confidence next week into their clash with the Crows in Queensland. If they kick straight and take much of their performance into this one, then there is no reason why they can’t make it six wins in 2021.

15. Collingwood (+1)

The Pies were better this week – and by a fair margin. They were very accurate in front of goal during their win over the Crows, kicking 12.6, and duly deserved their win away from home.

You’d be slaughtered if you didn’t give best-on-ground to the returning Jamie Elliott, who booted an incredible six goals for the match, including four in just the first term.

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Jack Crisp was instrumental as well with 31 touches, whilst young mid Caleb Poulter was fantastic in his sixth game of AFL football, with 20 touches, ten marks and a goal to his name.

Collingwood fans should savour this win over the Crows, as next week they face the top of the ladder Melbourne in Sydney for the Queens Birthday match. An honourable loss to the Dees would be acceptable for Pies fans, with many fans determined just not to see their side embarrassed.

16. Gold Coast (-2)

The Suns had a week off to rejuvenate themselves, and will be confident they can make a game out of their encounter with the Dockers in Perth.

In huge news, young prodigy Matt Rowell is set to return to the side following a lengthy stint on the sidelines, which will undoubtedly give his side a huge lift. Jack Bowes and Sam Day are both rumoured to be in contention, as the Suns injury woes slowly start to wane.

17. Hawthorn (-)

Alastair Clarkson‘s side will be hoping to make a dent in the Swans‘ ego this week as they go up against the Bloods in Sydney.

Key stars Jack Gunston, Jaegar O’Meara and Will Day are set to be up for selection, however even with these players it’s hard to see Hawthorn troubling Sydney too much.

18. North Melbourne (-)

North Melbourne had their bye last weekend, and will need all the help they can get as they go up against the Giants who are set to welcome back Toby Greene amongst a host of other injured stars.

However David Noble‘s side will be buoyed by the return of a few of their own, namely Jaidyn Stephenson and Jared Polec as they search for their second win of the year.