The following are previews with betting tips for Round 6 of the 2019 AFL season.
Wednesday, April 24
Richmond vs Melbourne
7:35pm AEST, MCG
Melbourne’s early season struggles have continued into another round of football, with the Saints completely out-playing them for much of the game on Saturday. The final margin was 40-points; a significant loss against a team Melbourne were expected to seriously out-perform in 2019. They just don’t seem to be functioning on any level at the moment, and the win over the Swans clearly didn’t act as a boost to their confidence. The forward line is devoid of creativity, and they’re not getting many hard-fought goals via their contested ball abilities either.
They’ve got another tough game this week when they take on the Tigers on the big stage of ANZAC Day eve. The whole footy world will be watching, waiting to see if they can show anything. The pressure will be high, and the Demons will either crumble, or they’ll lift. From everything we’ve seen from them so far this year, I can’t imagine they’re going to handle it well, not against the Tigers, who love pressuring their opponents into making mistakes. It could get really ugly if the Tigers have their way and force Melbourne to play their style of game; once the Demons make a couple of mistakes and the Tigers pounce, they’re only going to continue second-guessing themselves.
While the Demons have swung the axe in an attempt to mix things up, the most significant change for this game is Richmond’s sole inclusion; Jack Riewoldt is ready to return after a month’s layoff with a wrist injury. Jack and his new parter-in-crime, Tom Lynch, might be in for a field day against a struggling Melbourne defence.
Betting tip: Richmond to win @ $1.47 (BetFair)
Thursday, April 25
Essendon vs Collingwood
3:20pm AEST, MCG
The recent spurt of good form by the Bombers has this set up to be a ripping game of footy; an unconvincing win over Melbourne in round 3 was followed by thrashings of the Lions and the Roos. The Bombers now look to be back to somewhere near their best form, which is what they’ll need to be in order to compete with the Pies on Thursday. Collingwood haven’t quite hit their stride yet in 2019, but they’ve shown bursts of the form that got them into last year’s grand final, and so far they’ve only been beaten by the Cats and the Eagles, two of the best teams in the competition. After a scrappy win over the Western Bulldogs the previous week, the Pies flexed their muscles on Thursday night to teach the young Lions a lesson in pressure football. They were dominant in every aspect of the game; they’ll beat just about every other club in the league if they play that sort of footy each week.
I’m expecting they’ll be too good for the resurgent Bombers this week, but ANZAC Day is one of those funny games when anything can happen. If the Bombers play out of their skins and slingshot the ball quickly to their dangerous forwards, they’ll put plenty of pressure on Collingwood’s defence. But I just feel like the Pies are currently much better at handling pressure, and with the midfield they possess they should be far too good for the Bombers in the clinches; let’s not forget that Essendon’s weakness is still their midfield, and their past two impressive wins have come against the Lions and the Roos — not what you’d call the strongest midfield groups going around, with all due respect to Lachie Neale and Shaun Higgins. I reckon the Pies will dominate the midfield battle in this one, and that’ll be the difference in the game.
Betting tip: Collingwood to win @ $1.59 (BetFair)
Friday, April 26
Port Adelaide vs North Melbourne
7:50pm AEST, Adelaide Oval
Port recovered from two consecutive losses in emphatic style when they travelled to Perth to take on the reigning champs; a ‘chaos ball’ style approach in slippery conditions caused havoc in the West Coast defensive half and propelled Port to a decisive 42-point victory. It was an impressive combination of clever tactics and determined execution; it was the sort of victory that can instill a deep confidence in a group and should have them believing they’re good enough to beat anyone they come up against. This week they return to Adelaide to host North Melbourne, who are on the other end of the spectrum, well down on confidence. I thought a win over the Crows in round 4 might have provided the spark they needed to get their season back on track, but they reverted to their earlier form in their game against the Bombers to cop another belting, this time to the tune of 58-points. Inaccuracy in front of the goal didn’t help, but they need to be better than that all over the ground.
Taking on the Power in Adelaide isn’t going to be easy, but a tough game away from home might be what they need to bond as a team. I can’t see them being good enough to win, but a spirited effort might keep them in the contest until late and at least build some belief for the weeks ahead. The effort will need to be considerably better for that to happen, but regardless, this should end up a Port Adelaide victory. I’m backing them to get up by four or five goals.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide (-26.5) @ $1.86 (BetFair)
Saturday, April 27
Gold Coast vs Brisbane
1:45pm AEST, Metricon Stadium
The Lions were disappointing for the second week in a row when they hosted Collingwood in a Thursday night sell-out at the Gabba. They didn’t put up much of a fight at all and let the Pies dominate them from the very start of the contest. The Suns did a similar thing; after being competitive in every other game so far, it was a slight shock to see them thrashed by the Crows. Nevertheless, both teams have the chance to move on quickly, and what better way to do that than in the Q-Clash. These games are beginning to turn into genuine grudge matches and both clubs will relish the chance to get one up on their closest rival.
The Lions have made four changes after their two poor efforts, with the injury to Harris Andrews the biggest loss amongst them. He’s crucial to their structure, and his omission gives the Suns a real chance in this one. I think they match up fairly well against the Lions, and while the Lions are probably more dangerous in the forward half, the Suns have shown they’re capable of defending well as a team. I reckon this one will go right down to the wire and wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Suns manage to get the points.
Betting tip: Gold Coast (+13.5) @ $1.93 (TopBetta)
St Kilda vs Adelaide
4:35pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
The Saints were once again super impressive in their big win over the Demons at the MCG, proving that their good start to the season is no fluke. They’ve got a great chance to take another scalp on Saturday afternoon when they host the Crows at Marvel Stadium; Adelaide haven’t been good so far this year, but their thumping of the Suns last weekend was easily their most impressive performance and could be a building block for them. They’ll need to bring a strong work-rate this week to match the Saints, who seem to be the hardest-working team in the competition right now. That starts with their captain Jarryn Geary, who will unfortunately be out for 4-6 weeks after a serious corked thigh required surgery. His loss will be significant, not necessarily in terms of skill or role, but just in terms of the way he organises the backline and provides an example for the rest of the team.
If the Saints can manage to keep up their intensity and organisation without him, they’re every chance to notch up another win this weekend against the Crows; I’ve gone early thinking other sides have turned the corner after one impressive win, but this time I’ll wait to reserve judgement; if the Crows can put a month of good footy together then I’ll start to trust them again. As it is, the Saints have the much better form-line, so I’ll back them in to get the job done on Saturday.
Betting tip: St Kilda to win @ $1.87 (TopBetta)
Sydney vs GWS Giants
7:25pm AEST, SCG
The Swans weren’t disgraced in their Saturday night loss to the Tigers, but it was another game they didn’t really look capable of winning at any stage of the match. They’ve escaped much of the scrutiny this week, thanks to the Demons, Kangaroos, and the Dogs — and because they were never really expected to beat Richmond — but if they lose to the Giants without putting up a real fight the heat will start to come. And realistically, from what we’ve seen so far this year, it’s hard to imagine them getting close to GWS; the Giants have been good overall, but a disappointing loss last week to Fremantle will have them eager to make amends. Toby Greene comes back into the team to add to their array of forward threats; if the Giants get enough of the ball down their end of the ground, they should end up kicking a score well over 100 points. And on the narrow confines of the SCG, you’d suspect they will. The Swans are still struggling at home, and nothing suggests that’s going to change this week, particularly not against a side as good as the Giants; I reckon GWS will heap pressure on the Swans this week by giving them an absolute belting.
Betting tip: GWS By 25+ @ $2.55 (Bet365)
Fremantle vs Western Bulldogs
8:10pm AEST, Optus Stadium
The Dogs were so bad in Sunday’s game against Carlton that not only did they give the Blues their first win of the season, they went down to the worst team in the competition by a whopping 44-points. It was a terrible performance by a team that started the season so well, and one you would’ve thought might cause some drastic changes at the selection table, but they’ve opted for just one: Jackson Trengove comes in for Bailey Williams. Trengove will provide some much needed ruck support for young Tim English, but it seemed like the Dogs need reinforcements down back as well, since they were dominated by Harry McKay and Levi Casboult, and this week they’re faced with a forward line containing Jesse Hogan, Matt Taberner and Cam McCarthy. Perhaps they can swing Aaron Naughton down back, but then who is their main forward target?
Luke Beveridge has been known for some head-scratching selection decisions over the years, but they’re easier to justify when things are going well, not so much when you’ve just been thumped by the Blues, and you go in the next week with a similarly unbalanced team. On paper, the Dogs don’t stand a chance against the Dockers this week, and looking at the form Freo will bring into this clash — having just beaten the Giants in Canberra, one of Fremantle’s best victories in years — it doesn’t look like being a close game. The Dockers should have a field day; I’m expecting the final margin to look similar to their opening round clash against the Kangaroos.
Betting tip: Fremantle By 25+ @ $2.40 (Bet365)
Sunday, April 28
Hawthorn vs Carlton
3:20pm AEST, University of Tasmania Stadium
The Blues long-awaited first win of the season came in emphatic style on Easter Sunday, when they played all over the Dogs to win by a hefty 44-points. So much went right and so little wrong for the Blues, that it was almost hard to believe it was the same Carlton side playing as the one that had lost the four weeks prior. Levi Casboult came into the team as a late replacement for Charlie Curnow, and he formed a deadly combination with emerging star Harry McKay, the duo kicking seven goals between them. Whether the Blues opt to keep Casboult in the team when Curnow returns will be interesting, but it seems hard to drop him after that performance. Either way, Carlton’s key forwards will have a tougher defensive unit to cope with this week when they take on the Hawks in Tasmania.
Hawthorn never really looked like stealing the game from Geelong on Monday, but they stayed near enough to the Cats all day and will be fairly happy with their efforts, all things considered. This week looms as an opportunity to notch up another win and ensure their wretched run with injury doesn’t ruin their season just yet. The Blues won’t be beaten easily, but as long as the Hawks don’t take them lightly you’d suspect they’ll be too good for them down in Tassie. Carlton also need to make sure they’re not too relieved from their first win and are still 100% focused on this week, otherwise the Hawks will make them pay.
Betting tip: Hawthorn (-22.5) @ $2.05 (TopBetta)
Geelong vs West Coast
4:40pm AEST, GMHBA
Another round saw another big upset, and this time it was Port Adelaide surprising the reigning premiers to win comfortably over in Perth. The Eagles weren’t able to cope at all with Port Adelaide’s pressure and their ugly forward 50 entries. The usually reliable West Coast backline were stripped of their ability to intercept and they were beaten when the ball was on the deck. That had something to do with the slippery conditions, but also Port’s tactics; it’ll be interesting to see if other teams try to follow suit against the Eagles.
The Cats have the first opportunity to do so, but they generally stick to their formula. They’re playing good footy and know their best is good enough to beat anyone right now, so you’d expect they’ll just back themselves to beat the Eagles rather than try any significant change of tactic. The return of Zach Tuohy and Charlie Constable will make them even stronger, although unfortunately Brandon Parfitt will be out for a while due to a quad strain.
As difficult as Geelong are to beat down in Geelong — and as rarely as they lose two in a row down there — I think the Eagles are a real chance this week. They’ll be hurting from the home loss to Port, and they’re a very, very good football side. They don’t lose many games of footy when Jack Darling and Josh Kennedy are both in the side, and they’ve got most of the rest of their best 22 available for this one. It should be a ripping game of footy and while I’ll still back the Cats in at home, I could easily see this going either way; I reckon it’ll be the game of the round.
Betting tip: Geelong to win @ $1.45 (TopBetta)
Best Bets of the Round
Fremantle By 25+ @ $2.40 (Bet365)