Heroes & Villains, R11: A forgotten Roo's stellar debut; the bad habit a star Tiger must kick

On the field, Round 11 wasn't the prettiest spectacle, with five of the nine matches decided by 49 points or more, but off the field, the acknowledgement of Indigenous contribution to the game of Australian rules football was as brilliant as ever.

Thankfully, the Hawks and Power put on a good show in Tasmania, while the Giants proved to be the biggest shock of the week in beating the Crows in Adelaide.

Elsewhere, the Sir Doug Nicholls Round's headline match between Essendon and Richmond was a prime-time flop, the Roos showed some frighteningly-good signs, while the Dockers once again proved that their inexperienced outfit is simply woeful on the road.

Heroes and Villians, from Round 11:


Sir Doug Nicholls Round: What a week on the footy calendar the Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round has become in recent years.

From somewhat humbler beginnings when Richmond and Essendon contested the first Dreamtime at the 'G fixture in 2005, the league-wide celebration of the Indigenous community has grown into the round of footy the world's oldest culture deserves.

Considering the contribution of Indigenous Australians to our great game, it's only fitting now that all 18 clubs and all nine matches pay tribute to Indigenous Australians.

From the Marn Grook match -- which is quickly becoming a must-see fixture up in Sydney -- to the elaborate and enchanting jumper designs worn by all 18 teams and the intense Dreamtime at the 'G pregame light and sound show, the weekend has been wonderfully developed over the years to become a moving can't-miss weekend of footy.

In fact, the Dreamtime game's fabulous pre-game ceremony goes to show just how brilliant a night grand final might be... but that's a debate for another time.

Paul Ahern: If you haven't heard of Paul Ahern, don't worry, you're probably not alone. One of two North debutants in their statement-making 54-point win over the Lions on Sunday, Ahern showed the world what pure persistence looks like.

Drafted by the GWS Giants at pick No. 7 in the 2014 draft, Ahern was nearing a debut in February 2016 before he ruptured his ACL at preseason training. Not seven months later, while still on the road to recovery, Ahern injured the same knee, requiring another reconstruction.

Later that year he was then traded to North Melbourne for pick No. 69 with the knowledge that he would not lace up the boots at all in 2017, pushing his debut back into at least his fourth year of footy.

On Sunday he finally got his chance and Ahern reminded us all why he was taken ahead of names such as Jake Lever, Darcy Moore and Peter Wright in the 2014 draft, amassing 29 disposals (including 13 contested, four inside 50s and four rebound 50s) on debut.

Ferocious Giants: Battered from pillar to post not only in the media but by injuries as well, the Giants were in desperate need of a team-defining win on Sunday -- and there aren't many bigger scalps than the Crows at Adelaide Oval.

In a crunch game of epic proportions -- whereby the Giants would have been 2.5 games outside the eight with a loss, but just half a game out with a win -- Leon Cameron's men set the tone early with previously-unseen physicality which clearly rattled the home side.

Described as millionaires and spoiled brats in recent weeks, the Giants shocked the Crows with a ferocious 96-tackle effort (including 25 in the first 15 minutes) which laid the foundation for a gutsy and season-saving 16-point win.

Special mention to eighth-gamer Zac Langdon; the small forward was instrumental for the Giants, booting three goals and laying eight tackles in the victory.


Alex Rance: He's a premiership star, a four-time All-Australian and one of the best full backs in the league, but Alex Rance needs to stop diving.

Having escaped sanctions for similar indiscretions in the past, Rance was again involved in an incident in the third quarter of Richmond's thumping win over Essendon, whereby he clearly accentuated contact in a marking contest with Shaun McKernan.

Labelled by some as a "Superman" dive, Rance drew one of the worst free kicks paid this year, something which incensed both McKernan and the Essendon home crowd,

Rance wasn't the only player to take a dive in Round 11, though he was the highest-profile actor; Sydney's Callum Sinclair was fined after diving as a result of being (lightly) bumped by Carlton star Patrick Cripps.

Blockbuster Bombers: Put simply, criticism concerning Carlton's Friday night appearances have been blown well out of proportion considering there's one other club which shouldn't be escaping the big-stage blowtorch.

The Bombers -- who play in the AFL's two biggest free-to-air home-and-away games (Anzac Day and the Dreamtime match) -- have been massive flops on both occasions, with Saturday night's embarrassing 71-point loss to Richmond leaving many clamouring for the exits halfway through the third term.

Essendon also lost to the Pies on Anzac Day by 51-points in a fizzer, while many would have switched off early on Saturday night after a stunning Indigenous display in the pre-game and a fast start for the Tigers.

In their two marquee games, the Bombers have scored just 52 and 43 points for an average of just 47 per game, while the loss leaves the Bombers three games out of the eight in 12th position, with finals now a major uphill battle.

Injuries galore: Someone clearly upset the footy gods this week, with Round 11 being one of the worst in recent memory for serious injures.

Highlighted by a knee injury to the AFL's most in-form player in Jack Darling, and an ACL tear to Melbourne defender Jake Lever, there have also been some serious shoulder concerns to Gold Coast's Aaron Hall and Essendon's David Zaharakis.

Adelaide's injury list also grew over the weekend, with underrated forward Tom Lynch suffering a nasty abdominal injury after being collected in a marking contest.

And after what really has been a lucky start to the year with regards to injuries, it all came undone for the Lions in their 54-point loss to North Melbourne; Charlie Cameron hobbled off with what looks like a fairy significant foot injury, Jarrod Berry and Hugh McLuggage picked up hamstring and calf injuries respectively, while journeyman Allen Christensen suffered a nasty concussion.