AFL 2021 Round 11: Sir Doug Nicholls Round, Bombers win in WA, Robinson stars for Lions


The latest COVID restrictions, imposed by the various state Governments, led to a heavily impacted weekend of footy that included no crowds being allowed in Victoria.

Unfortunately that meant Marvel Stadium being empty, for the much anticipated top two clash, where Melbourne flexed their muscles by defeating the Western Bulldogs.

The Demons made a strong start, James Harmes kicking a goal in the opening 20 seconds, which laid the foundation for them to go on and dominate the contest.

That match kicked off the AFL’s annual round of recognising and celebrating First Nations players and culture which is named in honour of Sir Doug Nicholls.

The first Aboriginal person to be knighted, he also served as Governor of South Australia and was devoted to the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. He played 54 games for Fitzroy and was a brilliant all-round athlete.

One of the showpiece games, due to take place up in Darwin, between Gold Coast and Hawthorn was originally called off due to the quarantine requirements imposed by the Northern Territory Government before the decision to relocate it to the SCG.

Forwards Izak Rankine, with a career best, and Ben King both kicked four apiece as the Suns recorded their biggest score under coach Stuart Dew, since he took over the reins in 2018, as they led for the whole evening and romped to an easy win.

The other fixture that required a change of venue was Richmond against Adelaide. This was due to the South Australian border requirements, which wouldn’t have allowed the Crows to return to back home from Victoria without a 14-day quarantine.

So, instead, it went ahead at the Giants Stadium, in NSW, where Jack Riewoldt (five) and Callum Coleman-Jones (four), in only his second senior game, were on the scoresheet for a Tigers side that came from behind to record a 28-point success.

Arguably the result of the round took place at Optus Stadium where Essendon put in a powerful second half to knock over West Coast on their fortress home deck.

Bombers coach Ben Rutten delighted with the performance of his side; he said “It was a fantastic effort. Every player tried their hearts out and had significant moments at different times. They showed huge spirit and character and it’s something we’re going to have to draw upon in our journey moving forward.”

He continued “It’s our first win away as a group this year and it was something the guys were really keen to do. It was a significant game for us in our development.”

Following their humiliating 111-point loss, last weekend, St.Kilda coach Brett Ratton’s decision to make several changes paid dividends as he watched his side respond in the right way by getting up over North Melbourne in a 20-point triumph.

Luke Dunstan (26 touches, 13 tackles) and Mason Wood (three goals) made the most of their re-calls while Sebastian Ross played his 150th game for the Saints.

Sydney produced a big final quarter to eventually see off the challenge of a resolute Carlton and keep themselves within the chasing pack, in sixth place, on the ladder.

Forward Isaac Heeney (three goals, 22 disposals and 14 marks) won his second Goodes-O’Loughlin Medal, with eight votes, for his best on field display and, in doing so, also became the first player to win it twice in its six year history.

Speaking post-match, to Swans TV, the 25-year-old said “It was a great arm wrestle I guess. They came at us pretty hard and it was good to counterattack that and, in particular, the last quarter to really get on top and convert when we went forward.”

On winning the award, he continued “Goodesy was obviously amazing for me coming through when I started and Micky has been great for me as well. They’re both amazing people and so this means a lot with the round and the recognition.”

In-form Brisbane showed no mercy to an injury-ravaged GWS outfit, which also endured real travel problems and forced to fly up on the day, in a 64-point thrashing.

Winger Mitch Robinson put in a display that coach Chris Fagan described “as good as I have seen him play in his career” with four majors and was one of thirteen different goalkickers for a Lions side that increased their lead at every change.

The Giants had been due to jet in from Sydney, the day before, but were turned away after the AFL failed to lodge an exemption for the team to enter Queensland.

Geelong and Collingwood both seemed to leave their shooting boots at home in what was a pretty poor and low-scoring affair that the Cats edged by ten points.

Indeed, the Magpies couldn’t muster a single goal in the first half, for the first time since 2005, and only managed one to the final change. Completing a miserable day, they lost ruckman Brodie Grundy to a neck injury that required a trip to the hospital.

Closing out the action, a fast starting Port Adelaide proved too strong for a Fremantle outfit that they belted by 46 points in front of a crowd of 26,759 at the Oval.

It came at a cost, though, with the Power losing both defender Ryan Burton, who had to be subbed off in the final quarter, and forward Orazio Fantasia – the latter sent for scans to assess the damage and whether he is going to face a spell on the sidelines.

Round 11 Results
Western Bulldogs 8.11 (59)
Melbourne 13.9 (87)

Collingwood 6.15 (51)
Geelong 8.13 (61)

Brisbane 19.15 (129)
GWS 10.5 (65)

St.Kilda 12.16 (88)
North Melbourne 10.8 (68)

Gold Coast 17.11 (113)
Hawthorn 11.10 (76)

West Coast 11.5 (71)
Essendon 12.15 (87)

Richmond 17.9 (111)
Adelaide 12.11 (83)

Sydney 15.10 (100)
Carlton 11.12 (78)

Port Adelaide 18.7 (115)
Fremantle 9.15 (69)

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