The following are previews with betting tips for Round 8 of the 2021 AFL season.
Friday, May 7
Richmond vs Geelong
7:50pm AEST, MCG
The Grand Final re-match comes at an almost perfect time, with the Tigers and the Cats sitting on four wins apiece after up-and-down starts to the new season. Things were looking shaky at Tigerland after the Demons demolished them a fortnight ago, but a huge second half effort against the Dogs on Friday night dispelled any worries about their 2021 credentials – they’re still the team to beat. They did it without some of their best players, but will be very happy to welcome Dustin Martin and Nick Vlastuin back into the side this week. Unfortunately, skipper Trent Cotchin will make way after tearing a hamstring late in the game against the Dogs. His body is a slight worry, but they’ve got more pressing issues this week against the Cats, who were disappointing last weekend after flexing their muscles against the Eagles.
Geelong never should’ve lost that game after leading by almost five goals at quarter time, but they let the Swans back in and then couldn’t quite come over the top of them in the second half. It was one the Cats will be ruing, particularly if they can’t beat the reigning champs on Friday night and are sent to an even 4-4. It’s going to be difficult for Geelong; despite Jeremy Cameron’s great start in the hoops, the Cats are still missing key players and their depth isn’t as good as Richmond’s. I think it’ll be a tight one but if Richmond bring the same pressure from Friday night then they should overpower the Cats.
Betting tip: Richmond to win @ $1.68 (Bet365)
Saturday, May 8
GWS Giants vs Essendon
1:45pm AEST, Giants Stadium
Despite not getting the four points, the Bombers were pretty impressive against the Blues on Sunday afternoon. They keep showing signs that they’ve got plenty of talent, now it’s just a matter of getting experience and allowing the team to gel together. They’ll have a tough assignment this week against the Giants, a team who have now won three of their past four and are once again looking like a finals contender.
Jesse Hogan’s first game for the club was a resounding success, with the big man slotting in and immediately kicking a bag of four goals. If he’s able to keep that sort of form rolling for the rest of the year it’s going to make GWS a very difficult team to defend. He’s probably more of an aerial threat than Jeremy Cameron was, and that’ll mean he takes the opposition’s number one key defender away from his teammates. I really think he’s going to be a massive recruit for GWS, but it’s only one game so far. The Bombers aren’t exactly loaded with key defenders, so this week presents a great opportunity for the Giants to kick it down his throat and ensure he continues building confidence. I do like the way Essendon are going about things at present, but I expect the Giants to be much too good for them this weekend.
Betting tip: GWS (-18.5) @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Gold Coast vs St Kilda
2:10pm AEST, Metricon Stadium
Unsurprisingly, the Saints looked like a much better team with Paddy Ryder back to share the ruck duties with Rowan Marshall. They only played Hawthorn, and to be fair the Hawks weren’t great, but it was an encouraging sign for Brett Ratten’s team. They’ll face a bigger test this weekend against an in-form Gold Coast, but it’s another winnable game that could help turn their season around. The Suns still don’t have a recognised ruckman, but they’re making do without. Brodie Grundy wasn’t able to capitalise on the situation, so maybe they’ll be okay against the Saints as well.
It looks like they’ve found a more than capable second string for Ben King, with Josh Corbett stepping up against the Pies, marking everything and kicking four goals in a massive performance. The Saints will have their work cut out defending against this determined Gold Coast outfit who are happy to take risks with their ball movement and transition quickly from defence. When it doesn’t work they might get cut up on the turnover, but it’s beginning to work more often than not and it makes them very difficult to defend against, something Collingwood found out first hand on Saturday afternoon. I expect this to be a good game of footy and while I think the Saints are a good chance, I’m backing in the Suns to continue their winning streak and really make a statement to the rest of the competition.
Betting tip: Gold Coast to win @ $1.80 (UniBet)
North Melbourne vs Collingwood
4:35pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
This is, strangely enough, one of the weekend’s most intriguing games of footy. North Melbourne are still yet to win a game, and on Saturday they host the Pies, the only other team to have won less than two games. Collingwood’s woes are well documented, and are only getting worse. No one really expected them to lose to the Suns last weekend, and now it’s conceivable that they could lose to the Kangaroos this weekend, which would send the pressure to a whole other level. The Kangaroos will be confident, too; they were really good against the Demons on Sunday, playing so well that there was a massive upset on the cards late in the third quarter. It wasn’t to be, but if they play that way again this weekend, they’ll really trouble Collingwood.
The Pies have decided to swing Darcy Moore back and really focus on their defence this week, which is great, but it once more begs the question: how are they going to kick a winning score? Perhaps against North it won’t matter too much; if the Pies are solid defensively then the Kangaroos will turn the ball over, and Collingwood should be able to score easily on the fast rebound. But that doesn’t work against the better teams, and they need to quickly uncover some more forward half options. I do think they’ll get the job done against North this weekend, mainly just because they absolutely have to, but it’s not going to be a pretty game of AFL footy. Collingwood to win a scrappy contest by three goals.
Betting tip: Collingwood to win @ $1.33 (Sportsbet)
Melbourne vs Sydney
7:25pm AEST, MCG
The Demons now sit alone as the only unbeaten team of the competition, despite a genuine scare from the Kangaroos on Sunday. With their fixture, there’s every chance they could be 10-0 in a couple of weeks, with this game against the Swans being the toughest ask of the upcoming bunch. It was great to watch Sydney turn their fortunes around from quarter time on Saturday night; after two poor performances it looked like the young Swans were running out of energy, and Saturday’s first quarter did nothing to dispel those worries. But after quarter time the Swans were relentless with their pressure, and fast and dangerous with their ball movement. It was a massive turnaround, one that has them back in the conversation as a finals contender for 2021. It wasn’t too long ago they towelled up the reigning premiers at this venue, so they’ll know exactly what they have to do to beat Melbourne.
The Demons are a funny team; one week they convince me they’ve got what it takes, and then the next week they look shaky, like the untrustworthy Demons of old. They’ve got the wins on the scoreboard now, so they’re undoubtedly a very good side, but their biggest test will be this: how do they respond when things go against them? A rough patch will come at some stage, and they need to ensure they work through it, and don’t collapse like previous Melbourne teams have done. I suspect they’ve got something different about them this year, and I fully expect them to beat the Swans on Saturday. Ben Brown was a great addition, his inclusion allowing Tom McDonald to go back to his natural role as a defender. I like the way the Demons structure up and think they’ll be very hard for Sydney to beat; I’m going with the Demons by three goals.
Betting tip: Melbourne to win @ $1.31 (Sportsbet)
Port Adelaide vs Adelaide
7:40pm AEST, Adelaide Oval
These games used to generate so much interest, but now that the Crows aren’t much good they’re a little bit lacking in theatre. That’s not to say it’s not a huge game; the Crows have lost three in a row after a bright start to the year, and Port were embarrassed by the Lions last weekend, so both teams will be desperate to bounce back with a win over their crosstown rival. But unless Tex kicks another bag I just can’t see the Crows challenging Port Adelaide in this one.
Port love to play fast, attacking footy, and while the Crows have been good at the same style at times this year, I’m not sure they’re defensively equipped to deal with Port Adelaide in that regard. Port were beaten around the ball by the Lions and will be looking to address that area of the game; if they do get on top of Adelaide in the midfield then this could turn into an extremely lop-sided affair. The Crows had one of their worst performances of the year last week against the Giants, which could potentially be a sign that their strong run of form is coming to a close. I reckon this one could get ugly.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide (-30.5) @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Sunday, May 9
Hawthorn vs West Coast
1:10pm AEST, MCG
This weekend’s game against the Hawks is West Coast’s chance to finally end their win-loss record, and finally win a game convincingly away from Perth. If they can’t do against Hawthorn then they’re not good enough to contend this year, but surely they get the job done. The Hawks are a workman-like team, short on experienced top-end talent. The Eagles are the opposite of that; they’ve got all the talent in the world, they just can’t seem to put it together when they leave Optus Stadium. They’ve still got their injury concerns, but they can’t use that as an excuse any longer. If they can belt the Dockers, a team who prior to that game were 4-2, then they should be able to beat a team like Hawthorn, regardless of the venue.
The Hawks were always going to struggle against the Saints without key pair Jaeger O’Meara and Chad Wingard, and if those guys don’t make it up in time for Sunday’s game then the Eagles have absolutely no excuses. Alastair Clarkson will be looking for a response from his group, but I suspect he knows their limitations. If the Hawks can make a game of it and keep the Eagles honest he’ll be fairly content.
Betting tip: West Coast to win @ $1.51 (Sportsbet)
Western Bulldogs vs Carlton
3:20pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
The Blues played arguably their best game of the season on Sunday afternoon against the Bombers, winning out in a thrilling MCG shoot-out. They probably aren’t all that happy with how easily they allowed the Bombers to score, but their ability to keep their composure and answer when the Bombers hit the front showed that maybe this group has matured slightly. They face a difficult task stopping the Western Bulldogs this week, who are fresh off their first defeat of season 2021. The Dogs looked the goods at half time of their Friday night clash against Richmond, but a blistering second half from the Tigers left the Dogs searching for answers. They weren’t really able to control the play at all in that second half; it seemed as if the Richmond pressure really got to them.
The Blues have had a good record against the Dogs in recent times and will be confident of causing an upset in this one. Teague stated during the week that this could turn into another shoot-out, and I’m sure the Blues would like that; with dangerous options in attack, most notable Harry McKay, Carlton would love the ball coming into their forward fifty thick and fast. The Dogs don’t have a particularly great match-up for McKay, and after watching what Tom Lynch did to their defence he should be very much looking forward to running out on Sunday. That said, if the Blues can’t quell the Dogs in the midfield they’re no chance of winning this game, and I reckon the Dogs might have the edge there. They were down against the Tigers, but they’ve got too many good players not to bounce back.
Betting tip: Western Bulldogs to win @ $1.34 (BlueBet)
Fremantle vs Brisbane
4:40pm AEST, Optus Stadium
The Lions are beginning to look like the team they were last year, after a thumping win over Port Adelaide confirmed they’ve still got what it takes to beat the very best. They’ve now won three in a row, and four of their past five games. They’ve got Freo this week, then the Suns, before a massive Friday night clash against the Tigers. Win both of the next two and their season is right back where they want it, but both Fremantle and the Suns may prove to be tricky opponents.
The Dockers will be bitterly disappointed in their performance against the Eagles last weekend. It wasn’t at all like them, not based on what we’ve seen from Fremantle so far this year. They had one bad game against Carlton a month ago, but otherwise have been competitive every week. That went out the window in their most important game, the Derby against an Eagles side that weren’t travelling all that well. I guess it just tells us they’re not ready to challenge for the finals spot this year, despite on occasion playing some pretty good footy—when the pressure goes up a notch, the Dockers can’t seem to handle it. Based on that, the Lions in Brisbane will be much too difficult a task for the Dockers to overcome. With the way Brisbane are going now, I really can’t see Fremantle getting within six goals of them.
Betting tip: Brisbane (-29.5) @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Best Bets of the Round
GWS (-18.5) @ $1.91 (Bet365)
West Coast to win @ $1.51 (Sportsbet)