The following are previews with betting tips for Round 6 of the 2021 AFL season.
Friday, April 23
GWS Giants vs Western Bulldogs
7:20pm AEST, Manuka Oval
The first round not to feature a Thursday night fixture kicks off with a bang on Friday when fierce rivals GWS and the Western Bulldogs face off in Canberra. One of the rare modern day rivalries, one that is actually felt fiercely by both clubs, should result in another entertaining clash. The Giants were able to physically overpower the Dogs in their 2019 Elimination Final, then tried it again last year but the Dogs were ready. The Giants went too far that time, forgetting to concentrate on playing footy first and foremost, and it cost them. This time, while it should still be a very hard-fought, physical game, I expect the Giants to be much more focused on the footy. They have to be, with the way the Dogs are going right now.
The Bulldogs midfield is humming, and that’s one area the Giants have improved over the past fortnight. That was in some part due to the inclusion of veteran Shane Mumford, who will be rested this week in favour of Matt Flynn. That should play into the Dogs’ hands, with Stefan Martin to return to the fold after himself having a rest week. There’s always the danger with a team who are travelling this well early in the year that they might lose focus and drop the intensity, but you’d suspect the Dogs will be ready, purely because it’s against the Giants. I think it’ll be another hugely entertaining game of footy, and while the Giants have improved over the past fortnight with plenty of dangerous avenues to goal, I can’t see them beating the Dogs in the middle of the ground for four quarters of footy. It’ll be a relatively tight contest, but the Dogs should win this by four goals or so.
Betting tip: Western Bulldogs (-20.5) @ $1.92 (PlayUp)
Saturday, April 24
Geelong vs West Coast
1:45pm AEST, GMHBA Stadium
The Eagles and the Cats both got the job done last weekend, but were still far from convincing. Both clubs were already struggling with injuries, and it didn’t get much better for them. The Eagles aren’t sure whether Josh Kennedy will be available to take on the Cats, while the Cats have lost Patrick Dangerfield for up to two months following an ankle injury. That makes things really interesting for Geelong. Not much is going right for them, but they’ve still managed to win three out of their five games. If they can keep the wins flowing while Danger is sidelined, no matter how ugly, they’ll be in a decent place for the second half of the season. The Eagles are in the same situation, which makes this a huge game.
The Cats have the big home ground advantage, and will finally unleash star recruit Jeremy Cameron on the competition. That should give their forward half a whole new dimension, but it might take a few weeks for him to properly gel with Tom Hawkins. If Josh Kennedy manages to play, this game could end up being the battle of the key forwards. Oscar Allen and Jack Darling are both flying for the Eagles, while Hawkins and Cameron will give Cats fans plenty to get excited about. But as always, the midfield battle is the most crucial aspect. Dom Sheed was massive for the Eagles against Collingwood, as were Jack Redden, Liam Duggan, and Andrew Gaff. It’s not the West Coast midfield we’re used to, but if they play like that again the Cats will find them difficult to stop. And I expect the Eagles to be every chance this weekend. It should be close, but the Cats seem really flat right now and I think the Eagles can get the better of them, even in Geelong.
Betting tip: West Coast to win @ $2.56 (PlayUp)
Gold Coast vs Sydney
1:45pm AEST, Metricon Stadium
The Swans suffered their first loss of the season last week, unable to hold off a fast-finishing GWS. They were probably lucky to still hold the lead in the dying minutes, with the Giants’ accuracy in front of goal really poor all afternoon. The Swans now need to re-group; they probably haven’t been at their best since the Round 3 win over the Tigers, but they need to get back to it because this is a danger game. The Suns aren’t going all that well, but they’re back at home and will be desperate to get their second win on the board.
And they’ll fancy themselves against a Sydney team missing Tom Hickey, Lance Franklin, and Tom Papley. The Hickey omission will even the ledger in the ruck battle, where the Suns have been struggling, while the other two drastically reduce how dangerous the Swans are forward of centre. If there’s one week the Suns should be optimistic about causing an upset, it’s this one. That said, the Swans are still the far better performed team so far in 2021, and it’s difficult to go against them here. I’m yet to be convinced that the Suns have the maturity to beat teams that are ‘better’ than them, and until they start doing so you just can’t tip them in an upset. Swans by three goals.
Betting tip: Sydney to win @ $1.68 (Sportsbet)
Carlton vs Brisbane
4:35pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
It’s interesting how quickly things can turn in footy. The Blues had won two in a row before their clash against Port, but that loss has the club once again being seriously questioned. And fair enough; they didn’t necessarily have to beat Port Adelaide, but they never even gave the Power a challenge. Port were cruising for most of the night, and had to deal with some injury troubles as well. That’s what Carlton fans are sick of: poor effort, resulting in dispiriting losses. They can’t continue on like that, and so this is a very important game in the context of their season. Lose to the Lions, and they’re heading down an all-too-familiar path.
The Lions are desperate too, eager to make up lost ground on the competition’s top four. They looked much better against the Bombers last weekend, led by Lachie Neale, who was, somewhat out of the blue, back to his very best. Whether that means his back issue is gone we’ll have to wait and see, but it was a promising sign, and I think it might just mark the return of the Lions as one of the better sides in the competition. How they travel this week will be a serious test, but I’m backing them to get the four points. They match up fairly well against the Blues, with Harris Andrews a good option for Harry McKay, while Joe Daniher and Eric Hipwood should keep the likes of Jacob Weitering and Liam Jones busy defensively. I’m expecting a better effort out of Carlton this week, but I think the Lions will be too strong.
Betting tip: Brisbane to win @ $1.73 (Sportsbet)
Melbourne vs Richmond
7:25pm AEST, MCG
The annual ANZAC Day Eve clash is set for its biggest instalment yet, with the undefeated Demons hosting the Tigers in the first real test of Melbourne’s premiership credentials. They’re yet to set a foot wrong, but this will tell us where they’re at. The Tigers have been the benchmark of the competition for four years now, and they’ll be relishing the chance to take an emerging challenger down a notch. They looked back to their scary best last week too, completely smothering an inept St Kilda. But the Demons will head in full of confidence, not only because they’ve won their first five games, but because this week they will add to the team Steven May and one of either Sam Weideman or Ben Brown. They don’t want to mess with a winning formula too much, so only one of those key forwards will return, and even then it’ll be fascinating to see if that changes the forward line dynamic. The Tigers are experts at whisking the ball quickly away from their back half, so the Demons definitely don’t want to go too tall and then lack the necessary forward half pressure.
If they’re any chance to beat the Tigers, they need to win the midfield and get the ball in quickly to their forwards. Max Gawn’s midfield is probably second only to the Western Bulldogs’ midfield at the minute, so they’ll be very confident, but it’s not just that; the Tigers can win games by allowing their opponents to win clearances and then preying on the turnovers. The Demons have, in the past, been susceptible to horror turnovers, so we’ll get a good indication of how far they’ve come. I’m backing the reigning champs to get the win, but I think it’ll be a ripping game.
Betting tip: Richmond to win @ $1.71 (Sportsbet)
Fremantle vs North Melbourne
8:10pm AEST, Optus Stadium
Fremantle’s season is looking good again, on the back of a big last quarter against the Crows on Sunday afternoon. Not to be over-dramatic, but it really was one of those games that they just had to win if they want to seriously progress this season. They did it, and now they have the fairly simple task of beating North Melbourne this week to go to 4-2, which would be a very nice result. They haven’t had a particularly tough draw, but nevertheless, four wins at this stage of the season would have them positioned nicely to make a tilt at the top eight.
And North, well, they were better against Geelong on Sunday. Still not great, but there were small signs of improvement and they managed to stick with the Cats for most of the game. Travelling over to Perth to take on Fremantle is a tough ask though, and the Dockers are going pretty well on their home deck at the moment. I’m not sure this will be the game the Kangaroos get their first win of the season, in fact, I’m almost certain it won’t be. Freo should win this by 10 goals.
Betting tip: Fremantle (-43.5) @ $1.91 (bet365)
Sunday, April 25
Hawthorn vs Adelaide
12:30pm AEST, UTAS Stadium
The Crows will be disappointed they let slip the opportunity to beat the Dockers and start their season at 4-1, but all is not lost; they have another good chance at a win this week against the Hawks. It won’t be quite the same golden opportunity, as it’s always difficult to play Hawthorn down in Tasmania, but the Hawks aren’t exactly setting the world alight – they sit second-last on the ladder following their 50-point loss to the Demons on Sunday. They weren’t terrible, but they couldn’t go with Melbourne when the Dees went to another gear in the second half.
Alastair Clarkson surely needs to soon go down the path of blooding more youngsters, just as the Crows have been doing. It might mean more unpredictability in weekly performance, but it’ll hold them in better stead for the future. And I think the young Crows might get them this week. Hawthorn are looking slightly jaded, like they’re missing some passion or fire, and this Adelaide team has plenty of that. Tex Walker could prove a handful for the Hawthorn defence, and I just think the Crows have a little more bounce and energy to their game right now. I’m going with them to win by under two goals.
Betting tip: Adelaide to win @ $2.45 (bet365)
Collingwood vs Essendon
3:20pm AEST, MCG
Generally when this game rolls around at least one of these two clubs is going pretty well, but not this year. The Pies and the Bombers have each won only one game so far this year, so while this will still be a spectacle, it might not be a highly skilled game of footy. The Pies were dealt a massive blow in their game against the Eagles on Friday night, with both Jeremy Howe and Jordan De Goey suffering injuries; two of the players they could least afford to lose. They’ve opted to send star defender Darcy Moore forward, and that’ll continue to be debated until he’s moved back – or kicks bags of goals. I like the move, but it leaves Collingwood’s defence depleted, particularly with Howe out.
The Bombers might just be able to capitalise on that; Cale Hooker is in great form, and they’ve got a range of other goal scoring options. But they’re still a very young, inexperienced team, and the Pies should get the better of them around the ground. I think that might be telling; this is one of the biggest days in the football calendar, and the experienced Pies are probably better placed to handle the pressure. The team who can limit their errors and make the opposition pay on the turnover should win, and I expect that’ll be Collingwood.
Betting tip: Collingwood to win @ $1.75 (Sportsbet)
Port Adelaide vs St Kilda
6:40pm AEST, Adelaide Oval
One week after an inspiring win over the Eagles, the Saints were back to their very worst. It was another demoralising display from a St Kilda team that hopes to challenge for finals, and while their opponent was admittedly very strong, that doesn’t excuse the poor effort. They seem to struggle without Rowan Marshall in the team, so his return this week will obviously help a lot, but they don’t appear to playing as a team right now. Their effort is lacking, and so is their self-belief.
It’s going to be tough to get it back this week against Port, who are going very nicely. They’ve had a few injuries lately, and they’ve got a few sore bodies that might struggle to get up for this game, but I suspect they’re going to be much too good for St Kilda regardless. The only thing the Saints will be taking confidence from is that they beat Port in the same fixture last year. It was probably one of their best performances for the year, right when they were up and running. But they’re not anywhere near that same form right now, and it’s likely to result in them being dealt a big loss this weekend.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide (-27.5) @ $1.91 (bet365)
Best Bet of the Round
Richmond to win @ $1.71 (Sportsbet)