The following are previews with betting tips for Round 2 of the 2021 AFL season.
Thursday, March 25
Carlton vs Collingwood
7:20pm AEDT, MCG
Round 2 opens with two old rivals facing off on Thursday night, both of them hoping to get their first win of the season. It’s hard to know what to think of Carlton after last week. They challenged the Tigers for the most part, but when Richmond went to another gear in the last quarter the Blues just couldn’t match them. That’s been a persistent problem for Carlton over the last couple of years, but I thought the signs were positive. Adam Saad seems to fit in perfectly, and Sam Walsh is set to take his game to another level. They welcome back Jack Martin and new recruit Zac Williams this week, and all of a sudden they’ve got a bit more flair to their game. Oscar McDonald played well when he came on the ground and is probably unlucky not to get a go in this one, but it looks like he’ll be a handy player for the Blues at times this year. They’ve got all the pieces, Carlton, they just need to work on putting it together for four quarters.
Collingwood, on the other hand, are missing an integral piece: they don’t have a forward line capable of kicking a winning score. It’s a problem that has plagued them since 2019, and it looks to be as problematic as ever. Against the Bulldogs on Friday night they just didn’t look dangerous heading into their forward half, particularly when Jordan De Goey and Jamie Elliott are forced to play more minutes in the midfield. Steele Sidebottom’s return this week will help in that regard, but I’m still not confident they’ve got enough genuine scoring options. Carlton’s defence isn’t too shabby these days, and their midfield should be able to at minimum break even with Collingwood. If that’s the case, I reckon the Blues win this one. It’s going to be a tough battle — the Pies still have plenty of talent — but I’m backing Carlton to send their arch-rivals to 0-2.
Betting tip: Carlton to win @ $2.00 (BlueBet)
Friday, March 26
Geelong vs Brisbane
7:20pm AEDT, GMHBA Stadium
It’s not often the stakes are this high in Round 2, but Friday night’s game is crucial for these two clubs who both have their sights set firmly on a premiership. Sometimes we delve too deeply into stats like ‘no team has ever won a flag from X position’, but ultimately, no premiership contender wants to start the season with two losses. It’s not that it can’t be done from there, it just means you don’t have much room for error.
As far as last week goes, I think it’s fair to give these clubs the benefit of the doubt: they didn’t come switched on, and they paid the price. But they should still feature heavily at the pointy end of the season. Geelong were embarrassed by a quick, young Adelaide team, but that won’t happen too often this year. They’ll have to play the next three weeks without star Patrick Dangerfield, but fortunately for them, their next two after the Lions are easier assignments. They’ll definitely miss him against Brisbane, but they do have the benefit of playing at home in Geelong. The Lions haven’t won in Geelong since 2003, and, more to the point, they were dominated by Geelong both times they met last year.
So even without Dangerfield, the Lions have their work cut out for them. I expect them to go close this week, but it’s almost impossible to tip against Geelong at GMHBA. I’ll go with the Cats in a tight one.
Betting tip: Geelong to win @ $1.66 (Sportsbet)
Saturday, March 27
Sydney vs Adelaide
1:45pm AEDT, SCG
It’s quite nice that the two teams who caused massive upsets in the opening round face off in Round 2. The Crows stunned Geelong on Saturday afternoon, before Sydney overcame a slow start to outplay the Lions that night. Both sides surprised their opponent by playing fast, aggressive footy, energised by a host of new youngsters. Errol Gulden was almost BOG in his first game for the Swans, while the Crows had ten players with less than ten games experience. Which means what they did to Geelong is probably not sustainable, but there’s no doubt they’ll be full of pep and ready to go again in this one. The Swans probably have that little bit more experience, particularly in the midfield where Luke Parker and Josh Kennedy can help guide them through, and, of course, let’s not forget what the inclusion of Buddy Franklin could do for their forward line, if he’s fit.
I don’t think anyone is expecting Buddy to come in and be at his best, but if he can play a role and attract the opposition’s best defender it’s going to help Sam Reid and Logan McDonald immensely. I reckon the Swans will be too good for the Crows here; as impressive as Adelaide were last week, surely they can’t do that week-in, week-out.
Betting tip: Sydney (-20.5) @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Port Adelaide vs Essendon
4:35pm AEDT, Adelaide Oval
Port might have had some nervous thoughts leading into their game after seeing fellow premiership favourites Brisbane and Geelong lose the unthinkable, but they didn’t have the same issue. Port brushed North Melbourne aside with ease to cement themselves as one of the teams to beat in 2021. Orazio Fantasia immediately showed how dangerous he will be in Port’s forward line, and he’ll get a chance to put his old club to the sword on Saturday afternoon when Port host the Bombers.
It was almost a brilliant start to the season for Essendon; they looked as sharp as they had for a long time in that first half against Hawthorn. But then the Hawks came at them, and they couldn’t stop the rot. It was almost cruel, the way it happened, but it just proved the Bombers aren’t quite ready to match it with the better teams, if they can’t hold onto a seven goal lead against a team like Hawthorn. That spells trouble for this week when they play Port over in Adelaide; the margin could blow out if the Bombers aren’t careful, and I’m a little worried about their backline. Ben Rutten has said he won’t push Cale Hooker back to play on Charlie Dixon, and I expect that could lead to the Port spearhead kicking a bag and leading his team to a 10+ goal victory.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide By 40+ @ $2.25 (UniBet)
St Kilda vs Melbourne
7:25pm AEDT, Marvel Stadium
The Saints and the Dees face off on Saturday night in a game that will set the victor up nicely. The Demons won their first Round 1 game since 2017 last weekend, and wouldn’t they love to be 2-0 after the rough couple of years they’ve had since their prelim final loss to the Eagles. It would relieve pressure on Simon Goodwin and give the Dees some genuine hope for the rest of the season.
But they’re up against a pretty good footy side in St Kilda, who showed in their win against GWS that they’re capable of toughing out a win despite not being at their best. The Giants had them under immense pressure midway through that last quarter, but the Saints found a way. They’ll still be missing a few of their really important players this week, but if they can take care of the Giants away from home then surely they can do the same against the Demons at Marvel Stadium. It’s a big year for the Saints, and with their draw it’s feasible that they could head into a Thursday night clash with Richmond in a few weeks sitting at 4-0. I expect they’ll beat the Dees relatively easily in this one.
Betting tip: St Kilda to win @ $1.69 (Sportsbet)
Gold Coast vs North Melbourne
8:10pm AEDT, Metricon Stadium
North Melbourne were probably the only club in Round 1 that wasn’t competitive. Every other game had moments where either team was a chance, but save for the first quarter, North never looked like challenging Port Adelaide. That’s not necessarily an indictment on North as Port are a very good team, but it does perhaps hint at this year being a long season for the Roos.
This week they travel to Queensland to take on the Suns, and that’s not going to be an easy game either. Gold Coast were pretty decent against the Eagles on Sunday afternoon and with a little more composure could easily have caused an upset. The unfortunate injury to Matt Rowell hurts, but they’ve got enough talent in their side to be able to cover him, particularly against the lower-end sides like North Melbourne. If the Suns are genuinely a team on the up and ready to challenge for a finals position this year, then winning here is non-negotiable. They need to beat the Roos, and I expect they’ll do it with relative ease.
Betting tip: Gold Coast (-21.5) @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Sunday, March 28
Hawthorn vs Richmond
1:10pm AEDT, MCG
The Hawks pulled off one of the great comebacks last week against the Bombers, erasing a 39-point deficit in a blistering second half. It was in stark contrast to the first half, which made them look like a potential wooden spooner. So, which was the real Hawthorn? Well, probably a mixture of both. They’ve still got some good talent and experience and will occasionally get on a roll, but they’ll also be easy to play against at times.
The Tigers, who showed against Carlton they can still go to another level when the game is on the line, are the type of team that will make the Hawks pay when they make mistakes. Richmond still look like being the team to beat in 2021, and the Hawks are probably set for a bottom six finish. I can’t see any way that they challenge Richmond on Sunday; the Tiges should be able to cruise to a relatively simple five or six goal win.
Betting tip: Richmond (-22.5) @ $1.57 (Sportsbet)
Western Bulldogs vs West Coast
3:20pm AEDT, Marvel Stadium
The Dogs dominated their Friday night clash against the Pies, but only managed to win by 16 points. That continues to be the problem for Luke Beveridge; he might have the best midfield in the competition, but if they can’t translate midfield dominance and high inside 50 numbers into goals then it won’t matter. The Eagles don’t have that problem at all, with the three-pronged attack of Josh Kennedy, Jack Darling and Oscar Allen proving dangerous against the Suns. Those guys should trouble the Dogs’ defence if they get enough supply, the worry will be getting it down there enough. Still missing Luke Shuey and Elliott Yeo, the Eagles might struggle against the stacked Dogs midfield.
Because of that, I expect this game to come down to how well the Eagles defend. If West Coast can stop the Dogs scoring from their entries and rebound quickly and efficiently, they’ll win. But if the Dogs can create good opportunities from the significant number of inside 50s they’re likely to generate, the Eagles won’t be able to stop them. I’m sticking with the Dogs because it’s at Marvel, but it should be an intriguing battle.
Betting tip: Western Bulldogs to win @ $1.54 (BlueBet)
Fremantle vs GWS Giants
6:10pm AEDT, Optus Stadium
Fremantle had a horrible run with injury over the pre-season, and things only got worse for them in Round 1. Both Alex Pearce and Joel Hamling are now set to miss a chunk of the season, which leaves their key position stocks bare for the time being. They’ll be really disappointed, as they’ve got what it takes to challenge for a finals position this year, but they won’t be able to do that with so many injuries to key players.
They head back home this week to host the Giants, with both clubs looking for their first win of the season. The Dockers weren’t bad against Melbourne, but they didn’t really look capable of snatching a victory. The Giants, on the other hand, will be bitterly disappointed they couldn’t hold on against St Kilda. They were in the box seat and let it slip. That puts them under immense pressure to get the win here; the Giants are a team that thrives on confidence and good form, and can quickly drop their heads if things don’t go their way. The signs were relatively encouraging against St Kilda – big Matt Flynn in particular looks capable of filling the ruck void they’ve had for a number of seasons – but they need to ensure they don’t let their season get off to a slow start. It won’t be easy against the Dockers in Perth, but you’d think they’ll be able to get over the line considering the Fremantle injury list.
Betting tip: GWS to win @ $1.97 (Bet365)
Best Bets of the Round
St Kilda to win @ $1.69 (Sportsbet)
Gold Coast (-21.5) @ $1.91 (Bet365)