After an exhilarating and upset-filled opening weekend of the 2021 AFL season, are we set for more boilovers in Round 2?

Carlton v Collingwood @ MCG

Thursday 25th March, 19:25 (AEDT)

L.Plowman, L.Jones, T.WilliamsonBB.Maynard, J.Roughead, J.Madgen
HBS.Docherty, J.Weitering, A.SaadHBJ.Crisp, D.Moore, J.Howe
CW.Setterfield, P.Cripps, E.CurnowCJ.Noble, S.Pendlebury, T.Brown
HFP.Dow, L.Casboult, M.MurphyHFJ.Elliott, B.Mihocek, J.De Goey
FM.Gibbons, H.McKay, J.MartinFJ.Daicos, M.Cox, J.Thomas
FOLM.Pittonet, S.Walsh, Z.WilliamsFOLB.Grundy, T.Adams, S.Sidebottom
I/CS.Petrevski-Seton, J.Newnes, L.Fogarty, Z.FisherI/CW.Hoskin-Elliott, I.Quaynor, C.Brown, B.Sier

Played 258: Carlton 127 v Collingwood 127 (4 draws)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 14, 2020: Carlton (48) def by Collingwood (72)

Final Thoughts: It was a familiar story for the Blues last week, registering another ‘honourable loss’ in the season opener with Richmond. But while there were genuine positives from the defeat to the premiers, coach David Teague knows excuses will quickly become thin in 2021 for a side which hasn’t played finals footy since 2013. Carlton’s ball movement in Round 1 revealed they will take it to most sides this season. Four points would also see them avoid a 0-2 start for the ninth straight season. The Pies were lacklustre in their season opener and will hugely benefit from the return of Steele Sidebottom for some midfield polish. They start as marginal favourites in what should be a huge clash at the MCG, with up to 75,000 fans (which would be the biggest worldwide post-COVID crowd) allowed in.

Tip: H2H: Carlton @ $2.00

Geelong v Brisbane Lions @ GMHBA Stadium

Friday 26th March, 19:50 (AEDT)

L.Henderson, M.Blicavs, M.O’ConnorBD.Rich, H.Andrews, J.Payne
HBT.Atkins, T.Stewart, J.KolodjashnijHBB.Starcevich, R.Lester, G.Birchall
CI.Smith, C.Guthrie, Z.TuohyCH.McCluggage, D.Zorko, J.Berry
HFJ.Clark, G.Rohan, C.ConstableHFZ.Bailey, J.Daniher, L.McCarthy
FG.Miers, T.Hawkins, S.HigginsFM.Robinson, E.Hipwood, C.Cameron
FOLR.Stanley, B.Parfitt, J.SelwoodFOLO.McInerney, J.Lyons, L.Neale
I/CJ.Bews, L.Dahlhaus, F.Evans, J.HenryI/CC.Ah Chee, T.Berry, T.Fullarton, H.Sharp

Played 36: Geelong 21 v Brisbane 15

Last Meeting: AFL Preliminary Final, 2020: Brisbane (42) def by Geelong (82)

Final Thoughts: Few would have thought at the start of the season that one of these two clubs will start the season at 0-2. But its a predicament that awaits the loser after both clubs suffered shock Round 1 defeats; the Cats to 2020 wooden spooners Adelaide, and Brisbane to fellow bottom-four side Sydney.

Geelong are back at home after a long layoff, but will be forced to front the next three games without star midfielder Patrick Dangerfield, rubbed out at the tribunal on Tuesday night. Sam Menegola is a “50/50” chance to return according to coach Chris Scott. For the Lions, All Australian defender Harris Andrews has simply said they need to be better. “We’ve shown over the last couple of years that when we’ve had those sort of wake-up calls we’ve been able to respond pretty well, and I’d expect nothing less this week.”

Tip: Line: Geelong -8.5 @ $1.90

Sydney v Adelaide @ SCG

Saturday 27th March, 13:45 (AEDT)

H.Cunningham, D.Rampe, B.CampbellBA.McPherson, J.Butts, N.Murray
HBJ.Dawson, T.McCartin, J.LloydHBT.Doedee, B.Smith, W.Hamill
CO.Florent, C.Warner, G.HewettCL.Sholl, R.Sloane, P.Seedsman
HFI.Heeney, L.McDonald, T.PapleyHFJ.Rowe, B.Frampton, N.McHenry
FS.Wicks, L.Franklin, E.GuldenFS.McAdam, T.Walker, L.Murphy
FOLT.Hickey, L.Parker, J.KennedyFOLR.O’Brien, R.Laird, B.Keays
I/CC.Mills, S.Reid, J.McInerney, N.BlakeyI/CT.Lynch, S.Berry, H.Schoenberg, D.Mackay

Played 42: Sydney 17 v Adelaide 25

Last Meeting: AFL Round 1, 2020: Adelaide (71) def by Sydney (74)

Final Thoughts: There’s a huge carrot dangling in front of the winner of this one: an unexpected 2-0 start in a season many experts predicted both clubs to finish in the bottom four. Both caused big upsets in Round 1; the Swans $4.10 outsiders against the Lions, and the Crows a $4 boilover against the Cats. But it’s the Swans who deservedly start $1.37 favourites on Saturday afternoon. The slick ball movement they possessed in Round 1 (with a host of debutants, no less) made the competition sit up. And with Buddy Franklin back in for his first game since 2019, the young Bloods outfit may just have a higher ceiling than many thoughts just a week ago.

Tip: To score 2+ goals: Sam Wicks (SYD) @ $3.60

Port Adelaide v Essendon @ Adelaide Oval

Saturday 27th March, 16:35 (AEDT)

Port AdelaideEssendon
R.Burton, T.Clurey, D.HoustonBJ.Laverde, C.Hooker, M.Redman
HBA.Aliir, T.Jonas, D.Byrne-JonesHBN.Hind, J.Ridley, D.Heppell
CX.Duursma, O.Wines, K.AmonCN.Cahill, Z.Merrett, D.Parish
HFO.Fantasia, P.Ladhams, S.MotlopHFD.Shiel, H.Jones, W.Snelling
FZ.Butters, C.Dixon, R.GrayFB.Ham, P.Wright, A.McDonald-Tipungwuti
FOLS.Lycett, W.Drew, T.BoakFOLS.Draper, J.Caldwell, K.Langford
I/CT.Marshall, H.Hartlett, M.Bergman, K.FarrellI/CA.McGrath, D.Smith, N.Cox, A.Francis


History: Played 32: Port Adelaide 18 v Essendon 14

Last Meeting: AFL Round 17, 2020: Port Adelaide (79) def Essendon (29)

Final Thoughts: The Power showed why they’re considered Minor Premiership second-favourites (at $5.50 with Palmerbet) in Round 1 with a clinical dismantling of North Melbourne. Recruits Orazio Fantasia and Aliir Aliir impressed, and may just be the difference in Ken Hinkley’s side going one step further in 2021. Connor Rozee could be back for this one, although the Power may just opt to give him one more week to be sure.

For the Dons, a first-up win looked a surety against arch rivals Hawthorns at 39 points up last weekend. Now, however, they’re staring down the barrel of a 0-2 start. Jake Stringer got through an hour in a VFL practice game last week and, like Port with Rozee, the Dons will need to weigh up rushing him back.

Tip: Total Points: Under 177.5 @ $1.88

St Kilda v Melbourne @ Marvel Stadium

Saturday 27th March, 19:25 (AEDT)

St KildaMelbourne
J.Webster, D.Howard, C.WilkieBN.Jetta, S.May, A.Tomlinson
HBB.Long, T.Highmore, J.SinclairHBJ.Hunt, J.Lever, C.Salem
CJ.Billings, S.Ross, H.ClarkCA.Brayshaw, C.Petracca, E.Langdon
HFD.Butler, B.Hill, J.LonieHFT.Sparrow, T.McDonald, K.Pickett
FT.Membrey, S.McKernan, M.KingFA.Neal-Bullen, L.Jackson, B.Fritsch
FOLP.Hunter, J.Steele, J.GreshamFOLM.Gawn, C.Oliver, J.Viney
I/CJ.Higgins, Z.Jones, J.Battle, N.CoffieldI/CN.Jones, C.Spargo, J.Jordon, T.Rivers

Played 217: St Kilda 94 v Melbourne 122 (1 draw)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 14, 2020: Melbourne (52) def St Kilda (49)

Final Thoughts: Both these clubs will likely be fighting it out for 5th to 8th on the AFL ladder this season — which makes victory against one another all the more important. The winner on Saturday night will also go to 2-0 ahead of more than winnable clashes in Round 3. The Saints, still riding high from their win in the Sydney wet, will welcome back Max King and Zak Jones in two big ins for Round 2. Dan Hannebery is still a week or two away.

For the Dees, Jack Viney (foot), Michael Hibberd (ankle) and Jake Melksham (hamstring) all played in the VFL last week and could feature at selection.

Tip: Margin: St Kilda 1-39 @ $2.40

Gold Coast Suns v North Melbourne @ Metricon Stadium

Saturday 27th March, 20:10 (AEDT)

Gold CoastNorth Melbourne
C.Budarick, S.Collins, S.LemmensBLa.Young, B.McKay, S.Atley
HBJ.Bowes, C.Ballard, O.MarkovHBJ.Ziebell, A.Corr, A.Bonar
CB.Ellis, H.Greenwood, J.LukosiusCJ.Polec, L.Davies-Uniacke, J.Mahony
HFD.Swallow, S.Day, L.WellerHFK.Turner, J.Walker, T.Thomas
FI.Rankine, B.King, D.MacPhersonFB.Scott, N.Larkey, T.Powell
FOLJ.Witts, B.Ainsworth, T.MillerFOLT.Goldstein, J.Stephenson, J.Simpkin
I/C (from)N.Anderson, W.Brodie, W.Powell, A.SextonI/C (from)J.Anderson, D.Tyson, C.Lazzaro, C.Zurhaar


History: Played 13: Gold Coast 6 v North Melbourne 7

Last Meeting: AFL Round 14, 2020: Gold Coast (91) def North Melbourne (28)

Final Thoughts: The Suns were impressive in the west despite a first-up loss to the Eagles but are hampered again by another injury to young star Matt Rowell, who will be missing at least the next two months of football. Nevertheless, Stuart Dew’s side start as strong $1.33 favourites in a game that simply becomes a must-win if they’re to feature in their first ever finals series in 2021.

Like the Suns, there were some positives for North despite a Round 1 loss, not least the form of recruit Jaidyn Stephenson. Not helping the Roos is a length injury list for this time of the year, and they’ll need to pull something special for an away win here. Yet they should remain in the contest, and look a solid option at the line.

Tip: Line: North Melbourne +20.5 @ $1.90

Hawthorn v Richmond @ MCG

Sunday 28th March, 13:10 (AEDT)

S.Frost, K.Hartigan, D.HoweBD.Astbury, D.Grimes, N.Balta
HBJ.Impey, B.Hardwick, H.MorrisonHBL.Baker, S.Edwards, J.Short
CD.Moore, J.O’Meara, W.DayCK.McIntosh, T.Cotchin, J.Caddy
HFL.Breust, J.Koschitzke, T.PhillipsHFJ.Aarts, S.Bolton, J.Castagna
FT.O’Brien, J.Ceglar, T.BrockmanFT.Lynch, D.Martin, J.Riewoldt
FOLB.McEvoy, T.Mitchell, J.WorpelFOLT.Nankervis, D.Prestia, K.Lambert
I/C (from)L.Shiels, C.Jiath, S.Burgoyne, T.BrockmanI/C (from)N.Broad, J.Graham, M.Pickett, D.Rioli


History: Played 160: Hawthorn 71 v Richmond 89

Last Meeting: AFL Round 3, 2020: Richmond (39) def by Hawthorn (71)

Final Thoughts: That familiar sense of inevitability occurred last week during Richmond’s season opener, when even as Carlton were within a kick of the premiers, they were never truly considered a chance to win. Damien Hardwick’s side turned on the gas and, within minutes, the lead ballooned out and the Tigers were home. Again, it is only a small sample size, but there’s little to suggest Richmond aren’t as hungry as ever in a bid for the three-peat. Skipper Trent Cotchin should return this week, while Bachar Houli remains a ‘maybe’.

The Hawks will take solace in the fact that, quite incredibly, they inflicted the biggest loss on the Tigers in the 2020 season (32 points in Round 3). Back at the MCG, if anyone is going to orchestrate the biggest upset of the round, it’s Alastair Clarkson.

Tip: Margin: Richmond 1-39 @ $2.20

Western Bulldogs v West Coast @ Marvel Stadium

Sunday 28th March, 15:20 (AEST)

Western BulldogsWest Coast
B.Williams, R.Gardner, C.DanielBJ.Rotham, T.Barrass, B.Sheppard
HBT.Duryea, A.Keath, A.TreloarHBT.Cole, J.McGovern, S.Hurn
CP.Lipinski, B.Smith, L.HunterCA.Gaff, J,Redden, J.Cripps
HFB.Dale, A.Naughton, J.DunkleyHFD.Sheed, J.Darling, X.O’Neill
FT.English, J.Bruce, M.BontempelliFL.Ryan, J.Kennedy, O.Allen
FOLS.Martin, J.Macrae, T.LiberatoreFOLN.Naitanui, T.Kelly, L.Duggan
I/C (from)A.Scott, L.McNeil, M.Wallis, L.VandermeerI/C (from)J.Nelson, N.Vardy, Z.Langdon, J.Jones


History: Played 56: Western Bulldogs 19 v West Coast 36 (1 draw)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 16, 2020: Western Bulldogs (49) def West Coast (47)

Final Thoughts: One of the matches of the round, this. And one that swings heavily due to the location; the Dogs start solid favourites, but the markets may very well be inverted should it have taken place in the West. Nevertheless, both sides are coming off solid first-up victories.

It will be interesting to see how the Dogs, who can play a fast brand of footy under the roof at Marvel, take the game to the Eagles under the new man-on-the-mark rules. Punters might have a look at the Total Points market given the scoring ability of West Coast, too. Neither side are due to make any major changes, with Luke Shuey still at least a week away for the Eagles.

Tip: Total Points: Over 174.5 @ $1.88

Fremantle v GWS Giants @ Optus Stadium

Sunday 28th March, 18:10 (AEDT)

H.Young, B.Cox, H.ChapmanBH.Perryman, L.Keefe, N.Haynes
HBR.Conca, L.Ryan, N.WilsonHBI.Cumming, P.Davis, S.Reid
CJ.Aish, N.Fyfe, B.AcresCC.Ward, J.Kelly, L.Ash
HFE.Hughes, A.Cerra, T.ColyerHFT.Taranto, Z.Sproule, T.Greene
FS.Switkowski, M.Taberner, L.SchultzFB.Hill, H.Himmelberg, T.Bruhn
FOLL.Meek, A.Brayshaw, D.MundyFOLM.Flynn, S.Coniglio, J.Hopper
I/C (from)S.Darcy, C.Serong, S.Giro, M.FrederickI/C (from)J.Buckley, S.Taylor, Boer, B.Daniels


History: Played 10 Fremantle 5 v GWS 5

Last Meeting: AFL Round 14, 2020: Fremantle (53) def by GWS (91)

Final Thoughts: Another match in Round 2 that’s very difficult to split. Fremantle were one of the most disappointing sides of Round 1; their decision-making at the MCG poor against a Melbourne side who hardly lit it up themselves. The Giants were in a winnable position against the Saints and arguably should have sealed the win late. But again, a lack of ruthlessness cost them. However they will benefit from the larger (and presumably drier) surrounds of Optus Stadium, where their skills can come to the fore. They need a spark, and senior players (Coniglio, Haynes, Greene etc) need to provide it.

Tip: Margin: GWS 1-39 @ $2.40