The 2021 AFL season is just around the corner and all 18 teams are stepping up their final preparations for the home and away season, which begins on Mar. 18.
Stay up to date with all the results, injury news and insights for the season ahead below.
MONDAY, MARCH 8
Rayner injury mars Lions' win over Suns
A serious-looking knee injury to Cam Rayner has overshadowed Brisbane's 28-point win in Monday's AFL pre-season match against Gold Coast.
The 2017 No.1 draft pick suffered a suspected ACL injury midway through the second-quarter of the Lions' 18.9 (117) to 13.11 (89) win over their Queensland rivals.
Rayner collapsed in agony after jarring his right knee before limping off the field in tears.
The Lions said at halftime they suspected a potentially season-ending ACL issue, though scans on Tuesday will confirm the full extent of the 21-year-old's injury.
Rayner's heartbreak appeared to spark his teammates to life as they ran over the Suns in the second half of Monday's game.
Trailing by 23 points at the main break, the Lions piled on 7.8 in the third term to turn that deficit into a 25-point lead going into the final quarter.
Key recruit Joe Daniher finished the game with three goals, with small forward Charlie Cameron topping the goalscoring for the Lions with four majors.
Zac Bailey, Dayne Zorko and Tom Fullarton also kick multiple majors for the visitors with two goals apiece.
Gun youngster Matt Rowell got through all four quarters to show he's ready to make his much-anticipated return to the AFL when the Suns start their season in Perth against West Coast.
The 19-year-old finished with 20 possessions and seven clearances.
Brandon Ellis topped the disposals count with 31 touches, one ahead of Touk Miller with Jarrod Berry the leading possession-getter for the Lions with 28 touches while Brownlow Medallist Lachie Neale finished with 25 touches after playing a key role in Brisbane's second-half revival.
While the Suns face the Eagles in round one, Brisbane begin their campaign at home against Sydney.
Bulldogs' Naughton fears allayed after win over Demons
Scans have cleared ace Western Bulldogs forward Aaron Naughton of any serious damage after injuring his right forearm in his team's resounding 39-point AFL practice-match victory over Melbourne.
The 21-year-old took no part in Monday's second-half at Marvel Stadium after hurting himself before the main break, and the strong marking goal threat later had his arm in a sling.
But Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said X-rays did not reveal any significant damage and Naughton will be in contention to tackle Collingwood in round one.
"We didn't want to take any risk with (Naughton). We took him out of the game because he was in a fair bit of pain, but he should be OK," Beveridge said.
But defender Hayden Crozier suffered a "significant" shoulder injury and would appear to be in doubt to face the Magpies at the MCG on March 19.
Captain Marcus Bontempelli put on a masterclass as the Bulldogs asserted their dominance on the scoreboard in the third quarter and ran out winners 15.16 (106) to 10.7 (67).
Champion midfielder Bontempelli controlled the game with 32 possessions and three goals.
Caleb Daniel and Jack Macrae also found plenty of the ball as Melbourne defenders Steven May - who copped a late head knock - and Jake Lever prevented the margin from blowing out further.
Bulldogs ruckman Tim English seemed to enjoy the support of veteran big man Stefan Martin, who arrived at the club from the Brisbane Lions during the off-season, putting in a brave display against Max Gawn.
SUNDAY, MARCH 7
High injury tolls for West Coast, Dockers
Fremantle stars Rory Lobb and Michael Walters appear certain to miss the start of the AFL season after going down with injury during a western derby of carnage.
Lobb's right knee and ankle both twisted at awkward angles when he was tackled by Tom Cole in the first quarter of the 10-point pre-season loss to West Coast on Sunday in front of 20,166 fans at Optus Stadium.
The Dockers big man immediately grabbed at his knee while he writhed in pain, and he could barely put weight on his right leg when he was eventually helped off the ground.
Lobb was later spotted wearing a knee brace and using crutches.
Even if he has avoided an anterior cruciate ligament tear, any medial ligament damage could rule him out anywhere between four to 12 weeks.
Lobb's injury comes at an unfortunate time for the Dockers, with No.1 ruckman Sean Darcy no certainty to play in round one due to a knee injury.
Walters tore his right hamstring late in the third quarter of the 9.13 (67) to 8.9 (57) defeat when he attempted to sprint away from a stoppage.
The loss of Walters and Lobb for the start of the season is a huge blow to Fremantle, who are aiming to end their five-year finals drought.
West Coast didn't come away unscathed either.
Zac Langdon was stretchered off in the third quarter after a sickening clash of heads with Nat Fyfe that knocked the Eagles recruit out cold.
Fyfe was able to get up almost straight away, but a clearly groggy Landgon couldn't even support the weight of his head when he tried to sit up.
Eagles skipper Luke Shuey injured his ankle in the third quarter, while defender Brad Sheppard received a knock to the head from Darcy Tucker.
Shuey didn't return, but it was more a management decision rather than concern over the injury.
Sheppard returned, before copping a knee to the head from Bailey Banfield in the final quarter.
Banfield injured his right ankle in the incident, while Sheppard was left with blood streaming from his head.
Dockers forward Lachie Schultz injured his ankle late in the match but he managed to play on.
Eagles defender Jeremy McGovern faces a nervous wait for an earlier high bump on Schultz.
Eagles forward Liam Ryan booted three goals and set up numerous other attacks in a dazzling display, while Andrew Gaff racked up 31 disposals in the midfield.
Ruckman Nic Naitanui tallied 22 hitouts and five disposals in two-and-a-half quarters.
Fyfe overcame an early leg concern to finish with 27 disposals, 10 clearances and a goal in a star performance, while ruckman Lloyd Meek battled hard to tally 18 hitouts and six clearances.
Port recruits shine in AFL win over Crows
Port Adelaide recruits Aliir Aliir and Orazio Fantasia have dominated in a 71-point belting of a lacklustre Adelaide in Sunday's AFL pre-season game.
Aliir was arguably best-afield while Fantasia booted 3.3 in Port's comprehensive 17.14 (116) to 6.9 (45) win at Noarlunga Oval in Adelaide's south.
Ex-Essendon goalsneak Fantasia only played the opening half before being rested but has slotted seamlessly into Port's attack.
And ex-Sydney utility Aliir shone throughout the entire game, taking 14 marks and collecting 21 disposals.
The Power, beaten by eventual premiers Richmond in a preliminary final last season, were superbly served by Dan Houston (34 disposals) and Zak Butters (24 touches, two goals).
Their teammates Robbie Gray (26 disposals), Connor Rozee and Peter Ladhams capped influential games with two goals apiece while Mitch Georgiades also slotted two majors after coming on for the last half.
Some 18 Power players had a dozen or more disposals to overwhelm the Crows, who unveiled their highest-ever draft pick Riley Thilthorpe.
The 18-year-old, the No.2 selection at last year's draft, appeared for the first time some 13 minutes into the third quarter but he managed just three disposals.
Adelaide stalwarts Taylor Walker (three goals), Brodie Smith (24 possessions) and Rory Laird (25 disposals, 10 tackles) battled gamely and Shane McAdam booted two last-term consolation goals.
But last year's wooden-spooners were barely competitive against the slick Power, who kicked two goals in a tick over two minutes to start the game and set an ominous tone.
Fantasia then took the spotlight, booting his first major and having three other shots at goal which missed as Port led 3.6 to 0.1 at quarter-time.
Just 35 seconds into the second term, Fantasia goaled on the run and 10 minutes later he potted another - his 3.3 return eclipsed Adelaide's entire score of 1.2 to halftime.
Port added six more goals to two in the third term, despite resting Fantasia and frontliners Charlie Dixon, Travis Boak and Tom Clurey, before a tame last quarter of a game which featured no injuries.
Giants hold off young Swans in western Sydney
Toby Greene and impressive youngster Tanner Bruhn have shone for GWS in a 28-point AFL pre-season over local rivals Sydney.
The Giants kicked the first four goals of Sunday's game and surged to a 37-point lead in the second quarter, with GWS midfielder Jacob Hopper snaffling eight clearances.
The Swans lifted their intensity in the third term at Giants Stadium, dominating clearances and kicked six out of seven goals to twice get within a point.
With the game on line in the last, Greene kicked truly from 50 metres and followed up with a brilliant, instinctive goal off the ground.
Goals to Harry Himmelberg, Tom Greene and Bruhn, swelled the Giants advantage to 23 points
Bruhn, the Giants' first pick In the 2020 draft, kicked four majors to enhance his chances of a round-one AFL debut.
Another potential first-round debutant is highly-rated Logan McDonald, the young key forward drafted at No.4 by Sydney last year.
He kicked a goal from 49 metres and was just off target from a little further out a few minutes later.
Hopper and Tim Taranto (31 touches) were strong performers in the GWS engine room and the Giants moved the ball more fluently than they did for much of last season.
Sydney veteran Luke Parker collected team highs of 22 possessions and three goals.
Tom McCartin, who came to the Swans club as a key forward, continued his impressive transition into the backline with a strong performance headlined by six marks.
SATURDAY, MARCH 6
Cats edge Bombers by seven points
Boom recruits Jeremy Cameron, Isaac Smith and Shaun Higgins all made valuable contributions as Geelong edged inaccurate Essendon by seven points in the AFL pre-season match at GMHBA Stadium.
There was plenty to like about the new-look Bombers in coach Ben Rutten's first official game in charge since taking over from John Worsfold.
But they were left to rue inaccuracy in front of goal on Saturday night as the Cats slotted the last two goals of the game through the impressive Jordan Clark and youngster Francis Evans to win 12.7 (79) to 9.18 (72).
Former GWS spearhead Cameron was Geelong's biggest off-season signing and he showed some good signs after battling a hamstring strain during the pre-season.
The nine-time Giants leading goalkicker booted two second-quarter goals.
Three-time Hawthorn premiership star Smith amassed 25 possessions, while ex-Western Buudlogs and North Melbourne midfielder Higgins had 11 disposals and kicked a goal.
The Cats were also well served by midfielders Clark and Patrick Dangerfield.
Koschitzke helps Hawks thump Kangaroos
Untried Hawthorn key forward Jacob Koschitzke is banging the door down for a round one debut after kicking six goals against North Melbourne at Arden Street on Saturday.
The Hawks led by only four points late in the second quarter of the practice match before the 20-year-old stepped in and tore the game wide open, booting four majors in a row either side of halftime in the Hawks' 39-point victory.
Koschitzke put on an impressive display of set-shot goalkicking in particular as Hawthorn got out to a 57-point lead at one stage, before running out 17.18 (120) to 12.9 (81) victors.
After finishing in the bottom four last year they're building some meaningful momentum heading into the new season, backing up their victory over Western Bulldogs last week.
As for the Kangaroos who finished second-bottom last year, the early signs for 2021 are worrying considering they lost to St Kilda by 91 points last week.
North were missing Ben Cunnington, Robbie Tarrant, Jed Anderson, Trent Dumont and Jared Polec, but it could hardly be used as an excuse as Tom Mitchell, Jack Gunston, Chad Wingard, Luke Breust, Jaeger O'Meara, Jack Scrimshaw, and James Sicily (ACL), who is unlikely to play at all this year, were all absent for the Hawks.
Koschitzke wasn't the only youngster to impress for Hawthorn, with third-year defender Changkuoth Jiath (24 disposals) looking very strong off half-back with his intercept marking and ability to launch numerous rebounds key pillars of his game.
New draftee Tyler Brockman set up the victory with three goals in the first quarter.
Hawthorn were also well-served by Liam Shiels, who had 33 touches and a goal, Harry Morrison (30 and a goal), new recruit Tom Phillips (30 and a goal) and ruckman Jon Ceglar.
Dom Tyson (23 and three goals) and former No.4 draft pick Luke Davies-Uniacke (21 and a goal) put in strong showings in the Kangaroos' midfield, while Josh Walker booted three majors and former Magpie Jaidyn Stephenson had a team-high 25 touches to go with seven score involvements.
FRIDAY, MARCH 5
Sidebottom, Kelly down in Pies' AFL loss
Collingwood could be forced to take a depleted midfield into the AFL home-and-away season after losing Steele Sidebottom to a calf issue during their six-point loss to Richmond.
Sidebottom went off the ground during the first quarter of the pre-season match at Marvel Stadium on Friday night.
He returned briefly, but was ruled out with what the club later described as "calf tightness".
The 30-year-old joins fellow vice-captain Taylor Adams (hamstring) in a race against time to be fit for the round-one showdown with the Western Bulldogs at the MCG on March 19.
The midfield injury issues come after the Magpies forced out Adam Treloar during last year's trade period, and with Jordan De Goey set to spend more time in the engine room this season.
Adding to Collingwood's injury woes, unlucky youngster Will Kelly appears to have broken his left collarbone during the 11.14 (80) to 11.8 (74) defeat to Richmond.
The 20-year-old father-son selection, who dislocated his left elbow on debut last year, was hurt in a marking contest with Dylan Grimes and left the field immediately.
De Goey, who had some medical attention of his own on a sore left knee, was one of Collingwood's best in a dual midfield-forward role against the Tigers.
He played out the match and had 27 disposals, five clearances and two goals.
Jeremy Howe was strong again in defence on return from last year's knee injury while key forward Mason Cox kicked three goals when he came alive for the Pies after half-time.
But Richmond led by a comfortable 21 points at the main break and were able to hold off Collingwood's challenge.
Jayden Short (43), Jack Graham and Josh Caddy (27 each) racked up plenty of touches and Dustin Martin showed flashes of his best, starting with the first centre clearance - one of his four for the night.
Jason Castagna kicked four goals for the Tigers.
THURSDAY, MARCH 4
Saints down Blues in free-flowing, frenetic contest
St Kilda and Carlton played out a highly entertaining contest as the AAMI Community Series commenced at Marvel Stadium, with the Saints claiming victory after a late surge.
The ball pinged around Marvel Stadium all evening, with both teams displaying eye-catching speed in looking to take the game on as much as possible, with the final score 19.11 (125) to 15. 9 (99).
The Blues' loss was compounded by injuries to key forward Harry McKay (ankle), Jacob Weitering (hip) and Jack Newnes (ankle) while star recruit Zac Williams will be facing a nervous wait as the AFL's Match Review Panel assesses a first-quarter collision with Hunter Clark.
The Saints lost recruit James Frawley to a hamstring injury but had plenty of exciting contributors including Jack Sinclair, Jack Higgins, Bradley Hill and Tim Membrey.
Adam Saad gave glimpses of why Carlton pushed so hard to recruit him, kicking a running goal from 50m during the third quarter, while emerging stars Sam Walsh and Zac Fisher were busy throughout the night.
Former Melbourne defender Oscar McDonald kicked two goals and had a hand in others while playing in attack on trial for Carlton as he continues to press his case for an AFL lifeline.
SATURDAY FEB. 27
Daniher on track as Lions down Suns
Brisbane fans will be licking their lips at the prospect of new recruit Joe Daniher making immediate impact for the club, after his four-goal effort helped the Lions to a 47-point win over the Gold Coast Suns, 15.12 (102) to 8.7 (55).
Eric Hipwood also kicked four for Brisbane, while for the Suns, Matt Rowell made a successful return from a shoulder injury which ended his debut season after just a few matches in 2020. He played the first half and sat out the second. Will Brodie and Ben Ainsworth also showed good signs.
Fyfe dominant in Freo's big win over West Coast
Fremantle defenders Joel Hamling and Alex Pearce have made successful returns from injury in their team's 47-point thumping of West Coast.
Hamling and Pearce missed all of last year with horrific ankle injuries, but the pair stood tall against the likes of Jack Darling Jarrod Brander and Oscar Allen.
Pearce came off in the third quarter and had a big ice pack applied to his left ankle, but his early exit looked part of a managed minutes strategy rather than an injury.
Dockers skipper Nat Fyfe starred through the middle in Saturday's 16.11 (107) to 9.6 (60) victory before being rested after halftime, while Michael Walters booted four goals in a dazzling display.
Dockers forward Josh Treacy, who was taken by Fremantle in last year's rookie draft, showed some promising signs to finish with two goals.
All-Australian defender Luke Ryan sent an injury scare through the camp in the second quarter when he copped a knee to the back from Brander in a scramble for the ball.
Ryan writhed in pain on the ground for more than a minute and was clearly sore when he eventually trudged off the ground.
West Coast were without Nic Naitanui, Josh Kennedy, Elliot Yeo, and Tim Kelly, while the Dockers were missing Matt Taberner, Sean Darcy, Griffin Logue, and Stephen Hill.
Fyfe starred in the first half, helping the Dockers open up a 24-point lead.
Both teams rested some big names in the second half, and Fremantle's lead ballooned to 50 points as they took total control of the contest.
The two teams will clash again on Sunday week in an official pre-season match.
Swans and Giants play out draw in tough conditions
In a scrappy match hampered by morning dewy conditions, the Swans and Giants drew 54 points apiece at Giants Stadium, with GWS's Josh Kelly impressing, and Sydney's Tom Papley looking lively around goal, as per Fox Sports.
Crows' Milera suffers serious knee injury in loss to Power
Adelaide defender Wayne Milera could miss the entire AFL season after suffering a serious knee injury in the Crows' practice match against Port Adelaide.
Milera, who played just two games last season because of a stress fracture to his foot, ruptured his patella tendon in the second quarter of Saturday's 52-point loss to the Power.
The 23-year-old will undergo surgery in the next 24 hours, and he faces an uphill battle to play again in 2021.
Port duo Charlie Dixon and Xavier Duursma booted three goals apiece in the 18.17 (125) to 11.7 (73) win, while for the Crows, No. 2 pick Riley Thilthorpe booted four in a performance sure to have the town talking.
Power's Todd Marshall suffered a cheek injury in the second quarter and sat out the rest of the match.
But it was Milera's injury that was the talking point of the day, with the luckless defender now set for another frustrating stint on the sidelines.
The No. 11 pick from the 2015 national draft had set himself for a big season after recovering from last year's serious foot injury, with his aim to secure a spot in Adelaide's midfield.
FRIDAY FEB. 26
Dees display firepower in win over reigning premiers
Melbourne showed hardly a sign of lacking firepower in their 11-point pre-season win over Richmond, despite high profile recruit Ben Brown and young key forward Sam Weideman both succumbing to summer injuries.
Perennial swingman Tom McDonald was deployed as a forward and slotted one major, while Max Gawn, Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver commanded the middle in the 14.9 (93) to 12.10 (82) result at a breezy Casey Fields.
The Tigers were missing injured quintet Daniel Rioli, Kane Lambert, Dion Prestia, Bachar Houli and Riley Collier-Dawkins but coach Damien Hardwick will be encouraged by signs shown by their young cubs.
Cats hold off Pies in two-point scratch match thriller
In a sight for sore eyes for Cats fans, boom recruit Jeremy Cameron slotted the first goal of the game while Patrick Dangerfield emerged unscathed in Geelong's thrilling two-point win over Collingwood.
The entertaining contest saw the home side prevail 11.8 (74) to 11.6 (72) at GMHBA Stadium after kicking four of the first five goals in a quickfire opening term, before holding on in a tug of war thereafter.
Oliver Henry, who was the Magpies' opening pick in the 2020 draft, is firming for a Round 1 debut, while Jeremy Howe looks like he hasn't missed a beat as he continues his return from last year's season-ending knee injury.
Jordan De Goey, Taylor Adams and Chris Mayne were the notable outs for Pies, while Isaac Smith, Zach Tuohy, Mitch Duncan and Luke Dahlhaus were missing for the Cats.
THURSDAY FEB. 25
Blues make winning start against old rival
Could Carlton be set to make a return to the top eight in 2021?
The Blues showed they are a team to take seriously this year, easing past Essendon 14.11 (95) to 11.8 (74) at IKON Park.
New recruits Zac Williams and former Bomber Adam Saad both impressed for Carlton, adding some much-needed pace off half-back and through the midfield. Zac Fisher and Paddy Dow also looked to have improved over the off-season, turning in impressive performances.
Also, have a standard Zac Fisher bitta wizardry to go with it. pic.twitter.com/iZ4REpZaNI— Carlton FC (@CarltonFC) February 25, 2021
There was one worrying sign for the Blues, though, with key forward Harry McKay limping off the ground in the final quarter. He was seen after the match without his right boot on. Meanwhile, Essendon's Aaron Francis left the game early with an ankle concern.
Saints fire warning shot to competition with rout of Kangas
Sure, it's only preseason, but 91-point win must mean something? The Saints were in dominant form against the Kanagaroos at Arden Street on Thursday, with former Roo Mason Wood rubbing salt into the wound by bagging four majors for St Kilda.
The Saints cruised for most of the match, and looked excellent in transition, while for North, recruit Jaidyn Stephenson kicked two goals as he stayed mostly up forward in the 22.8 (140) to 6.13 (49) loss.
WEDNESDAY FEB. 24
Hawks overrun Dogs in opening scratch match
Alastair Clarkson's Hawthorn has given fans something to get excited about ahead of the season, coming from four goals down to beat the Bulldogs in the AFL's first practice match of 2021, 15.7 (97) to 12.10 (82).
The Dogs looked the better side for the majority of the contest with Caleb Daniel and Bailey Smith wreaking havoc in the midfield, but a late burst from the Hawks saw them run out 15-point winners.
Plenty of big names missed the game through injury, including Adam Treloar, Aaron Naughton, Jack Macrae, Chad Wingard, Tom Mitchell and Jack Gunston.