The following are previews with betting tips for Round 21 of the 2018 AFL season.
Friday, August 10
Essendon vs St Kilda
7:50 pm AEST, Etihad Stadium
Despite their recent run of form being just as good as anyone’s, Essendon’s four point loss to the Hawks on Saturday afternoon may have effectively ended their season. It was a thrilling contest that the Bombers had plenty of chances of winning; they got out to a handy lead in the first quarter before the Hawks lifted, and then they nearly snatched the lead back in the dying seconds. They’ll obviously be kicking themselves for letting it slip, but a big win over the Saints will keep them in with a mathematical chance of finishing in the top eight. It shouldn’t be too difficult either; the Saints were an absolute rabble after quarter time in their match against the Dogs last weekend. They jumped out of the blocks to kick the first five goals of the game and looked set for a big win, before stopping dead in their tracks and watching on as the Dogs piled on goal after goal. It wasn’t a pretty hour of football for Alan Richardson and his men. They’ll need to close out the season in much better fashion to give their supporters some hope for next year and beyond, because right now the outlook isn’t great.
I expect their effort to be stronger this week, but I think the Bombers will still beat them comfortably — I feel it might be an arm wrestle for the first half before the Bombers run away with it.
Betting tip: Essendon (-28.5) @ $1.91 (William Hill)
Saturday, August 11
Hawthorn vs Geelong
1:45 pm AEST, MCG
The Hawks and the Cats were both involved in epic contests that went down to the wire last weekend and what better way to prepare for this weekend’s clash, as it’s highly likely to end in a similar fashion. These clubs have shared plenty of classic encounters over the past ten years and are very evenly matched in 2018. The Hawks are in the stronger position after overcoming the Bombers on Saturday afternoon, while the Cats sit just outside the eight after their heartbreaking loss to the Tigers on Friday. They had every chance of ending Richmond’s record-breaking streak at the MCG but a couple of errors in the final minutes cost them. They’ll be desperate to bounce back this weekend and I expect they might get the better of Hawthorn if they can play like they did last week.
It’s sure to be a great game of footy and one you’d suspect will have plenty of lead changes, but I reckon the Cats will hold strong in the final quarter and drag themselves over the line after the disappointment of last weekend.
Betting tip: Geelong to win @ $1.68 (Bet365)
Gold Coast vs Richmond
2:10 pm AEST, Metricon Stadium
The Tigers got out of jail in their Friday night clash against the Cats when a late shot at goal from Geelong superstar Gary Ablett sailed wide. It would’ve put the Cats in front with a minute remaining, and the Tigers would’ve been staring down the barrel of their first defeat at the MCG for a very long time, but Ablett missed, and as it stands the Tigers still have their MCG streak intact and are sitting happily on top of the ladder with three rounds to play. That doesn’t look like changing either with the Tigers set to face the Suns and the Dogs in two of their last three games. The Suns copped yet another belting — this one to the tune of 96 points — when the Demons ran all over them on Sunday afternoon, and they’re incredibly likely to cop a similar result this week when they host the Tigers. The only consolation for the Suns is that the season is nearly over; soon enough they can rest up and reload for next year. It might not turn out to be much better than 2018, but at least they’ll have some renewed hope for a fresh season.
Betting tip: Richmond (-63.5) @ $1.90 (Bet365)
Port Adelaide vs West Coast
4:35 pm AEST, Adelaide Oval
What a hugely disappointing weekend it was for these two clubs last round: Port went down to the Crows in the Showdown to put their top four hopes in jeopardy, while the Eagles have lost star midfielder Andrew Gaff for the rest of the season due to his inexplicable, out-of-character punch on Fremantle youngster Andrew Brayshaw. The Eagles won the game, but the loss of Gaff hurts them more than any single result could have. It’s his own fault of course, and he’s been penalised heavily by the AFL tribunal, but the biggest penalty will be the damage that he has done to his team’s premiership chances. The Eagles are in second position and are likely to earn themselves a home qualifying final, which would in turn make them odds on to play in a home preliminary final and thus in the last game of the year. If that happens, to be any chance to win on the MCG against the Tigers (or anyone else) they’d absolutely need Gaff to be up and firing, and now he’s not going to be there. They may now even struggle in their home finals without him, especially if Josh Kennedy is also still out. His absence is going to make this weekend difficult as well; Port are a tough side to beat at home, and the Eagles and the Power have had some epic battles in the past few years.
I expect West Coast might be missing a few too many quality players to travel to Adelaide and knock Port off, but it should still be a fairly close game — I’m backing Port to get home by three or four goals.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide to win @ $1.47 (Bet365)
Collingwood vs Brisbane
7:25 pm AEST, Etihad Stadium
Brisbane’s form over the second half of the year has been really solid and that continued last weekend when they narrowly went down to the Kangaroos in one of the four games in round 20 that was decided by less than a goal. Cam Raynor had a chance to put the Lions in front late in the game but it wasn’t to be, and you’d expect the youngster will learn from the experience. This week the Lions travel down to Melbourne to take on the Pies, who are looking to turn things around after two consecutive losses. They were incredibly close to edging past the Swans on Saturday night but couldn’t quite manage it. It’s a testament to their depth and hunger that they’re still playing as well as they are despite so many injuries, but it’s surely going to make things difficult come finals time.
They should be fine to take care of the Lions this week, despite Brisbane proving themselves a worthy opponent in recent times, but greater challenges await next week when they battle Port Adelaide at the MCG. The Pies should win this by at least five goals to set up a huge game against Port next weekend.
Betting tip: Collingwood (-26.5) @ $1.92 (Neds)
GWS vs Adelaide
7:25 pm AEST, UNSW Canberra Oval
The Giants continued their winning streak in round 20, crushing the hapless Blues by 105 points to find themselves now sitting in third position. All they have to do from here is win their remaining three games and they’ll earn themselves a double chance, which is something they wouldn’t have even dreamed of a few months ago when their season was on the rocks. Winning the last three games is easier said than done however, especially since the injury curse doesn’t seem to be going away: Toby Greene, Dawson Simpson and Brett Deledio are all back on the injury list, although in better news for GWS, Dylan Shiel, Ryan Griffen and Tim Taranto will all return to face the Crows. Adelaide have some injury woes of their own after an epic victory after the Power last weekend: Daniel Talia and Riley Knight are both out, with Kyle Cheney and Richard Douglas coming in as their replacements.
I expect this to be an entertaining game of footy, and if both sides bring their best form it may go down to the wire, but the Giants are looking potent at the moment, and with Jeremy Cameron fresh from an enforced mid-year break I reckon they might cause havoc against an Adelaide defence missing Talia.
Betting tip: GWS (-14.5) @ $1.93 (Bet365)
Sunday, August 12
North Melbourne vs Western Bulldogs
1:10 pm AEST, Etihad Stadium
North Melbourne’s last gasp victory over the Lions on Saturday afternoon kept their season alive for at least another week, and considering they’ve got the Dogs this week and the Saints in round 23, you’d expect their season to come down to whether they can beat the Crows in Adelaide next weekend. Other results will need to go their way of course, and the Dogs did trouble them earlier this year: North kicked the last goal of the game to take the lead with 20 seconds left on the clock. Shaun Higgins starred in that encounter, and the Roos will importantly regain him this week as they make their charge towards September action.
The Dogs had looked lifeless for the previous month, and at quarter time on Saturday night it appeared that nothing had changed. But following the quarter time break the Dogs put on a clinic, restricting the Saints to just five goals and kicking 15 themselves. Jason Johannisen was back to his blistering best, for some strange reason he was allowed to roam free by the Saints all night. He definitely won’t be afforded that luxury this week by North, and handling some close attention is not one of his biggest strengths. If you stop him, you stop much of the Bulldog’s run from half back and they become much slower and more predictable. That’s exactly what the Roos will look to do, and I expect they’ll succeed. I’m also expecting Ben Brown to get back into some form and kick a bag against a struggling Dogs defence. If those things happen, the Roos should win; I reckon they get up by at least three goals to keep their season alive yet again.
Betting tip: Kangaroos (-17.5) @ $1.68 (CrownBet)
Melbourne vs Sydney
3:20 pm AEST, MCG
There are some big games of footy taking place this weekend but this could perhaps be the biggest. The Dees and the Swans are two of five teams currently sitting on 12 wins apiece, meaning a win here is absolutely vital to get ahead of the pack, especially with the tough last couple of games these clubs both have. Last weekend the Dees made the most of their last easy game of the season, crushing the Suns by 96 points, while the Swans edged out the Pies in a thrilling contest at the SCG. This week they’ll need to be just as good, if not better, to match it with Melbourne at the MCG. Dan Hannebery and Gary Rohan have both been named on the extended bench in a possible boost for Sydney’s midfield, while Melbourne are likely to go with just the one forced change when they replace the injured Joel Smith.
It’s set to be the first of three mini-finals for these clubs. The winner will be in a great position to ensure September action, while the loser will need to win their last two games to be any chance. Have the Demons learnt anything from their 2017 season, where they missed out on finals at the last possible hurdle? I think they have, and expect they’ll do everything within their means to ensure it doesn’t happen again. They play the ‘G incredibly well and match up strongly against the Swans, so I’m backing them to get home in this one, but only just.
Betting tip: Melbourne By 1-39 @ $2.15 (BlueBet)
Fremantle vs Carlton
4:40 pm AEST, Perth Stadium
The last game of the round isn’t much to write home about. The season is well and truly over for both clubs, and there’s really not much to play for. The youngsters are tired and running out of steam, and both clubs are probably wishing the season was over, but they have to go again for another three weeks. Both clubs have made a host of changes as they juggle injury and availability, and neither will field their best team on the park this week, so it’s sure to be a sloppy game of footy.
The Blues were quickly brought down to earth after their win over the Suns when the Giants crushed them on Sunday afternoon, and I think they might be in for something similar here. The Dockers aren’t anywhere near the level of GWS, but they play well at home and I expect Carlton to struggle over in Perth, so it could get ugly.
Betting tip: Fremantle By 25+ @ $1.82 (Ladbrokes)
Best Bets of the Round
GWS (-14.5) @ $1.93 (Bet365)
All Bets: -11.75 units
Best Bets: -1.68 units