The following are previews with betting tips for Round 3 of the 2021 AFL season.
Thursday, April 1
Collingwood vs Brisbane
7:40pm AEDT, Marvel Stadium
The first game to be shifted due to COVID-19 in the 2021 season comes in Round 3, and it really doesn’t suit the Lions. Their follow-up game against the Pies will be shifted to the Gabba, but they would much prefer to be back at home this week as they stare down the barrel of a 0-3 start to the season. Not only that, but Oscar McInerney hasn’t come up from an ankle injury suffered against the Cats, and they’ve spent the week stranded in Melbourne.
It seems as if everything is conspiring against them at the minute, but good teams need to be able to find a way to scrounge a win in these situations. They’ve brought in Connor Ballenden, who will share ruck duties with Tom Fullarton and potentially Joe Daniher. That should allow Brodie Grundy to dominate, which is obviously not what the Lions want, particularly when Collingwood looked so much better in the midfield last week against Carlton. Grundy was good, Taylor Adams played an outstanding game, and Steele Sidebottom’s inclusion helped. The Lions do have a solid defence so they might be able to stifle Collingwood’s lacklustre offence, but it’s going to take a big effort.
A win against Carlton doesn’t necessarily elevate the Pies to top eight status, but it does show that they’re still a more than capable footy side. The Lions were gallant against the Cats, but they couldn’t quite get over the line and now that McInerney is down they’re really up against it in the midfield. The Pies would have taken a close look at how the Cats curtailed Lachie Neale and may just try a tag of their own.
It’s going to be a really interesting game of footy and one that should tell us plenty about the Lions. I’ve got no doubt they’ll give it their all but with so much against them right now I find it hard to go against the Pies.
Betting tip: Collingwood to win @ $1.80 (BlueBet)
Friday, April 2
North Melbourne vs Western Bulldogs
3:20pm AEDT, Marvel Stadium
The Dogs recorded a massive victory over the Eagles on Sunday afternoon in an early season thriller. It was the battle of two different styles, and while the Eagles threatened to win via their tall forward dominance, the Dogs regained control of the midfield battle in the last quarter to snatch the four points. It showed off exactly why they were happy to bring Adam Treloar into the club despite having an already stacked midfield; he was able to rotate into the centre for the last term after spending the rest of the game on a wing, and he had a real impact. Clubs that don’t have a strong midfield group are going to struggle against the Dogs, and that might be North’s downfall on Friday.
They do welcome the return of Ben Cunnington, but you’ve got to wonder how match fit he is. Will Phillips comes in for his debut, and while he is obviously a talented kid, you can’t be expecting too much from him in his first game. That said, North will be fired up for this one. They’ve been disparaged in the media for their poor performance against the Suns, and questions have been asked about whether they deserve to continue hosting the Good Friday match. They’re not happy about that, but will it light a fire under the playing group? I suspect it will to some extent, but it’s not going to help them beat the Dogs. If North can keep the margin below five goals they’ll have done quite well.
Betting tip: Western Bulldogs By 25+ @ $1.28 (Sportsbet)
Adelaide vs Gold Coast
6:50pm AEDT, Adelaide Oval
The other Good Friday game takes place in Adelaide between the Crows and the Suns, and it should be a ripper. The Crows weren’t quite as impressive against Sydney as they were the previous week against Geelong, but they still showed enough to suggest they’re much improved this season. The Suns, meanwhile, enjoyed their first home game of the season, notching up a ten goal win over the Kangaroos. This week should be slightly more difficult; Adelaide are looking energised, and they’ll feed off the Friday night Adelaide Oval crowd. As we saw against the Cats, if the Crows get some momentum and hit the scoreboard they’ll be hard to rein in.
The question is, how long can they keep it up? They’ve got so many youngsters in the team who will no doubt fluctuate pretty wildly form-wise, but they’ve also had big Tex Walker in just about career best form over the past two weeks. He’s not going to kick a bag every weekend, and they might struggle when he’s not looking as dangerous. I’m predicting the Suns to get the better of them here, but I reckon it’ll be a pretty interesting game of footy.
Betting tip: Gold Coast to win @ $1.87 (Bet365)
Saturday, April 3
Richmond vs Sydney
1:45pm AEDT, MCG
Second plays third on Saturday afternoon as the Swans look to prove themselves the real deal in 2021. They’ve been pretty bloody impressive so far, but there’s no bigger test than the reigning premiers at home. Unfortunately Buddy Franklin won’t be available, but the Swans showed in the opening round that they’re still dangerous without him.
The Tigers continue doing what they do best; rising to the occasion when necessary, otherwise toying with lesser opponents and stringing together wins. Other than Dusty, the Tigers weren’t necessarily imposing against Hawthorn, but they didn’t need to be. They got the job done without any fuss and will look to do the same this weekend. I suspect the Swans will give them a little more to think about, but I’d be surprised if Sydney genuinely challenge them. The Swans are still relying on a host of young players, and those guys might be a touch overawed going up against the Tigers at the MCG. I reckon it’ll be relatively tight for the first half before the Tigers run out four or five goal winners.
Betting tip: Richmond By 25+ @ $1.80 (Bet365)
Essendon vs St Kilda
4:35pm AEDT, Marvel Stadium
Not much has gone right for Ben Rutten in the beginning stages of his senior coaching career. Not only have the Bombers badly lost, but they’ve now been dealt a massive injury blow. Sam Draper, Dylan Shiel, and Jye Caldwell are all set to spend significant time on the sidelines, leaving a gaping hole in Essendon’s midfield, an area they can ill-afford to be weakened. They do welcome Jake Stringer back into the fold, and draftee Archie Perkins will make his debut, but they’re going to be light on for midfield depth.
The Saints themselves don’t have a recognised ruckman, so the Bombers might not be too badly exposed there, but Brad Crouch will make his debut for the Saints which will bolster their midfield brigade. The Saints are also coming off a disappointing loss against the Dees, and I can see them really putting Essendon to the sword here. The Bombers will be looking for a spark, but I honestly can’t see where it comes from; I expect the Saints to be much too good for them on Saturday.
Betting tip: St Kilda (-22.5) @ $1.91 (Bet365)
West Coast Eagles vs Port Adelaide
7:10pm AEDT, Optus Stadium
The best game of Round 3 will take place in Perth when the Eagles host the unbeaten Power in a mouth-watering contest. West Coast have started the season well, despite their loss to the Dogs on Sunday, and will be very hard to beat in Perth. Port are absolutely flying, but they haven’t had a test against anyone of note yet. So how will this play out? Well, both teams have strong midfields, and with the likely return of Luke Shuey the Eagles are one step closer to their best team.
Allir Allir has slotted in beautifully, but Port’s tall defenders are still the one area they can be slightly susceptible, and that could come into play this weekend as they look to tame all three of Josh Kennedy, Jack Darling, and Oscar Allen. The Eagles’ defence will have headaches of their own; Charlie Dixon is obviously an imposing target, but Port have so many varied avenues to goal that it makes them difficult to defend. Connor Rozee’s return makes them even more potent, and his inclusion could allow someone else to get off the leash. This is all set up to be a very free-flowing, high-scoring game of footy, weather permitting.
Betting tip: Total Match Points Over 167.5 @ $1.90 (Unibet)
Sunday, April 4
Carlton vs Fremantle
3:20pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
Just two games into the season and Carlton are already under the pump. Some things never change. It wasn’t a great effort from David Teague’s men on Thursday night in what was almost a must win game for them, and now it’s do-or-die against the Dockers. They just can’t afford to start the season 0-3; it would put so much pressure on David Teague that it’d be almost hard to see how he survives it. The Blues have been building for long enough that they now need to be regularly winning games of footy; coming close isn’t good enough.
The Dockers are another side on the up, but they’re showing better signs than Carlton. They completely outplayed the Giants on Sunday afternoon, a nice midfield combination of young (Serong, Brayshaw, Cerra) and old (Mundy) proving too much for the Giants. They’ll be missing skipper Nat Fyfe this week as he recovers from concussion, and that could be the difference here. Freo would fancy themselves either way, but I’m not sure they’ve got it in them to win without Fyfe, away from home against a half-decent footy side who are desperate for a win. Carlton have injury concerns of their own with Jack Martin and Zac Fisher — two of their most dynamic players — being ruled out for a number of weeks, but I expect the under-pressure skippers Patrick Cripps and Sam Docherty to lead the way on Sunday. It’s likely to be an arm-wrestle, but I reckon the Blues will fight to their first win of 2021.
Betting tip: Carlton to win @ $1.46 (Sportsbet)
GWS Giants vs Melbourne
6:10pm AEST, Manuka Oval
The Giants’ fall from grace continues, and it’s about to get a whole lot worse if they can’t turn things around against the Dees on Sunday. The club has been plagued by issues since their 2019 Grand Final loss to the Tigers, and it’s hard to see things changing without drastic measures. They’ve got well-paid players who aren’t performing, and it starts in the middle: Coniglio, Kelly, Taranto, and Hopper were belted by their less-experienced Fremantle counterparts, and that’s just not good enough for a team with this much talent.
They’re up against a Melbourne team with a head full of steam who won’t make it easy for them. The Demons have a strong midfield, led by Max Gawn, who will be licking his lips at the prospect of going one out against Matt Flynn, as admirable as he’s been. Gawn should allow first use to his midfielders, just as he did against the Saints, which allowed Clayton Oliver to have a field day. If the Giants can’t find a way to stifle the Dees this one could be another nasty result. I’m expecting some sort of response from GWS, but it’s really hard to tip them to win right now. I’m not convinced by Melbourne just yet, but they’ve done enough to head into this one as deserved favourites.
Betting tip: Melbourne to win @ $1.60 (BlueBet)
Monday, April 5
Geelong vs Hawthorn
3:20pm AEST, MCG
The annual Easter Monday clash between the Cats and the Hawks is back, but it doesn’t have quite the same appeal as it held in yesteryear. The Hawks were relatively competitive against the Tigers on the weekend, and they’ll probably put in a strong effort against the Cats, but they’re not quite good enough to push them all the way.
Not that Geelong are looking all that strong at the minute; in the end they were lucky to get the win over Brisbane, but they’ll take it and move on. They’re still missing a whole bunch of their best players, and they’re not likely to be firing on all cylinders until most of those guys return. As long as they can manage to keep the wins coming in the meantime — which I think they will, particularly this weekend — then they’ll be right at the pointy end come the business end of the season. Geelong by four goals in this one.
Betting tip: Geelong (-22.5) @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Best Bets of the Round
Gold Coast to win @ $1.87 (Bet365)