The following are previews with betting tips for Round 5 of the 2021 AFL season.
Thursday, April 15
St Kilda vs Richmond
7:20pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
The Saints and the Tigers go head to head on Thursday night in Maddie’s Match, an important night and a massive game for both clubs. The Tigers have now lost their last two after going down to Port Adelaide on Friday night, but they won’t be too worried just yet. They were probably outplayed by Port but were still good enough to hang on and give themselves a really good chance of taking home the four points. They can’t really afford another loss this weekend though; it would set them a tough ask for the rest of the year to fight back into the top four.
The Saints were in a similar position last weekend: they needed to win to avoid slipping too far behind the pack, and despite things being in pretty bad shape midway through the game, they managed to turn it around in the second half and record a stunning victory over the Eagles. It was an effort that may just turn their season around, but they’ve got a tough fortnight ahead of them. The return of ruckman Rowan Marshall clearly gave them a huge boost, while Jack Steele is, at present, one of the competition’s premier midfielders. His team will have to work out how to stop Dustin Martin, who is due for a big game after a couple of quiet ones by his standards.
I expect this to be an entertaining game of footy, and while I think the Saints partially regained their mojo last week, I don’t see them being good enough to beat a Richmond team that simply needs to win. I’ll go with the Tigers by three goals.
Betting tip: Richmond (-13.5) @ $1.91 (bet365)
Friday, April 16
West Coast vs Collingwood
8:10pm AEST, Optus Stadium
The Pies head back over to Perth to take on the Eagles for the first time since last year’s epic Elimination Final. The Pies were significant underdogs in that encounter, and they’ll enter this game the same way. I think it’s fair to say now, after four rounds of footy, that the Pies probably aren’t playing finals in 2021. They’re still competitive and have plenty of individual talents, but they have too many serious holes in their team to win enough games to make the eight. They were incredibly disappointing on Saturday night against the Giants, and that performance has sparked calls for Nathan Buckley to play the youngsters. Finlay Macrae will get his debut this week, while the Pies have also opted to drop big Mason Cox, who put the Eagles to the sword in that final last year.
West Coast have some worries of their own, with a poor second half against the Saints leaving them sitting at 2-2, with lingering question marks over their ability to win against good teams outside of Perth. They do still have some injury issues, but so did the Saints. They should win this week, but next week a much bigger test awaits: Geelong, in Geelong. That’ll tell us a bit more about the 2021 Eagles.
Betting tip: West Coast to win @ $1.37 (Sportsbet)
Saturday, April 17
Western Bulldogs vs Gold Coast
1:45pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
The Suns did their best in trying circumstances in their clash against the Blues on Saturday night. Not having a ruckman was always going to make it tough, but they did pretty well to keep the game tight. This week will be a bigger test when they head to Melbourne to take on the Dogs at Marvel Stadium. The Dogs are coming off their fourth consecutive win to start the season, this one more of a grind in the elements over in Ballarat. They were too strong for Brisbane, and will now relish heading back indoors to play their brand of footy under the roof.
It’s going to be really difficult for the Suns to stop them. The Dogs have been known, over the last few years, to drop games they were expected to win, but they feel like a stronger, more mature side this year; plus, the Suns are undermanned and it’d take something really special from them to cause an upset. I do think the Suns will fight it out and won’t allow it to blow out too much, but the Dogs should be much too strong. They’ll probably end up winning by six or seven goals, and both clubs should be relatively happy with that result.
Betting tip: Western Bulldogs By 25+ @ $1.42 (bet365)
Sydney vs GWS Giants
4:35pm AEST, SCG
The last couple of seasons when these two teams have faced off, the Giants have been the premiership contenders and the Swans have been struggling. Now it’s GWS’s turn to be the struggling team who are up against the contenders. That said, the Giants were incredibly impressive against the Pies last weekend, but this will provide them with a totally different challenge. They’re still severely depleted with injury, and the Swans will attack them and test their defence a whole lot more than Collingwood did.
The young Swans might have showed some signs of tiring in their tight win last weekend over the Bombers, but a nine day break should have them ready to return to their high pressure, run and gun game style. That’s the sort of game that the Giants don’t really want to be involved in, and if it breaks open like that then the Swans should have a big win. It’ll be fascinating to see what the Giants do with the ruck; do they keep veteran Shane Mumford after a great effort against the Pies, or return to the young Matt Flynn? I reckon Mumford gets another week before a rest, but either way it shouldn’t have too much impact on the result. The Swans should get up.
Betting tip: Sydney to win @ $1.50 (BlueBet)
Brisbane vs Essendon
7:25pm AEST, The Gabba
Who would’ve thought that when Joe Daniher faced his old side for the first time the Bombers would sit above the Lions on the ladder? It’s been a tough start for Joe, and while he and his new club would be stoked that he’s fit and out playing footy, the season isn’t shaping up as they would have liked. They were always going to struggle against the Dogs in Ballarat, but now is their opportunity to head back home and re-group.
They’ve got a tricky period to navigate now, but the equation is simple: they just need to keep winning from here. And the Bombers won’t be easy to overcome. They’ve been a much better side the last two weeks after a disastrous opening fortnight; they seem to have settled nicely and are playing with some confidence and exuberance, spurred along by the inclusion of some very talented youngsters. I’m fascinated to see how they go this week, away from home against a good team in Brisbane. It some ways it’s quite similar to their game against the Swans last week, but this one feels like it might be even more difficult. Brisbane will be desperate, and back at the Gabba it’s hard to see them slipping up in such a crucial game. I think this one could be tight for the most part before the Lions get on top and run away with it.
Betting tip: Brisbane (-18.5) @ $1.66 (UniBet)
Carlton vs Port Adelaide
7:25pm AEST, MCG
These two clubs will both be feeling pretty good about themselves heading into Round 5. The Blues have their season up and running following two straight wins, while Port have just knocked off the reigning premier and are sitting at 3-1. The only worry, for both clubs, is injury. Port lost a couple of their young stars last weekend, with Zak Butters and Xavier Duursma both set for long stints on the sidelines, while Carlton have lost Jack Silvagni and Zac Fisher for longer than expected.
How they cover those losses will determine how good they can be in 2021; for the Power, you’d suspect they’ll be good enough to keep the wins flowing, despite missing two of their brightest young stars. The Blues, on the other hand, need all hands on deck as they fight to secure a finals berth. But they’re going okay at the moment, led by Liam Jones, who has been a rock in defence, and Harry McKay, the spearhead of the forward line. If those two can keep up their current form then the Blues will be in most games, and I reckon they’re a sneaky chance this weekend. Port are as weakened as they’ve been for a while, and after the tough slog against the Tigers they might just be a little fatigued. I’m also not quite sure how they’ll fare at the MCG, so if they don’t come switched on the Blues will be a real chance. I’m not confident enough to back Carlton, but I do suspect that it’ll be a close game either way.
Betting tip: Tri-Bets 24.5 – Any Other Result (Final Margin less than 24.5) @ $1.72 (Sportsbet)
Sunday, April 18
Adelaide vs Fremantle
1:10pm AEST, Adelaide Oval
It’s pretty hard to fathom that the Crows head into this game as favourites to put themselves at 4-1 after the opening five rounds. They’ve been excellent so far this season, and were good enough to put the Kangaroos to the sword in the last quarter on Sunday despite going into the three quarter time break behind. It was a great sign from Adelaide; they’re not going to be easily rattled this year. They’ve still got plenty of young players in the team, but they’ve also got a nice blend of experience.
Their opponent this week is in a similar position; the Dockers have plenty of young guns supported by their older players, but the test for the Dockers is still to win away from Perth. They did what they had to against the Hawks last week, but this one will be a great test of where they’re at. It’s the perfect game for Fremantle fans to see where they’re headed: the Crows are a decent opponent, but not a club to be afraid of playing away from home. If the Dockers are good enough they’ll win, but I’m not confident. I think this has the potential to be one of the closest games of the round, and I’m not sure which way it’ll fall. On current form you’ve got to go with the Crows, but I’d like to see Fremantle show something this weekend.
Betting tip: Adelaide to win @ $1.73 (Sportsbet)
Hawthorn vs Melbourne
3:20pm AEST, MCG
Betting tip: Melbourne By 1-39 @ $2.10 (Sportsbet)
Geelong vs North Melbourne
4:40pm AEST, GMHBA Stadium
Betting tip: Geelong By 40+ @ $1.36 (Sportsbet)
Best Bets of the Round
Richmond (-13.5) @ $1.91 (bet365)
Brisbane (-18.5) @ $1.66 (UniBet)