The following are previews with betting tips for Round 9 of the 2021 AFL season.
Friday, May 14
St Kilda vs Geelong
7:50pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
The Saints failed the test last time they played against good sides, losing consecutive games to Richmond and Port Adelaide by big margins. They’ve won two since then to keep in touch with the top eight, but this is a massive challenge. Friday night against the Cats, a team who look to be hitting their straps after a relatively slow start to the season.
Geelong were electric on Friday night against the Tigers, making the reigning premiers look decidedly average in the end. The Tigers made uncharacteristic mistakes, but much of that should be put down to Geelong’s pressure and ability to body and overpower their Richmond counterparts. The win puts Geelong in a very nice position ladder-wise, and with the way they’re going they look like being absolute locks for another top four finish. Jeremy Cameron’s addition is helping Gary Rohan get off the leash, and not to mention they’re doing all this without superstar Patrick Dangerfield. Mark Blicavs and Esava Ratugolea were great in the ruck, a position they’ve had their fair share of troubles with in the past. They’ll be tested there again against the Saints, who are playing much better footy now that Rowan Marshall and Paddy Ryder are both back in the team.
It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out; I think the Saints are a chance if they can get on top of Geelong in the midfield, but the Cats don’t need much of a chance to get things on their terms. If the Saints aren’t strong and clean for four quarters Geelong will make them pay. I reckon it’ll be a good game but can’t go past the Cats.
Betting tip: Geelong to win @ $1.40 (Bet365)
Saturday, May 15
Sydney vs Collingwood
1:45pm AEST, SCG
The Pies finally got their second win of the season against cellar-dwellers North Melbourne, but it wasn’t exactly convincing. To be fair, they led all game and never looked like losing, but they also struggled to put the Kangaroos away, even with two of their stars – Darcy Moore and Jordan De Goey – dominating at either end of the ground. I guess it shows where the Pies are at: they’ve got some good players, but right now lack the depth to be a seriously good team. They’ll face a big challenge this week when they head to the SCG to take on Sydney, though the Pies do have a decent record up there.
The Swans were gallant in defeat against the unbeaten Demons on Saturday, going down by just nine points and having plenty of chances in the final term to take the lead. It wasn’t to be, but they’ll take heart from the effort. Lance Franklin didn’t make much of an impact in his first game back but will only get better and should have an easier task this week against the Collingwood defence. Tom Hickey has been a revelation for the Swans this year and his battle with Brodie Grundy will be another one-on-one to watch in this contest.
The win last week will have relieved some of the pressure that was on Nathan Buckley, but I didn’t see anything that makes me think they’re capable of beating any of the better teams, not until they get some of their better players back from injury. I’m going with Sydney by four goals.
Betting tip: Sydney (-21.5) @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Hawthorn vs North Melbourne
2:10pm AEST, UTAS Stadium
North have had their chances over the past fortnight to secure that elusive first victory, but it hasn’t happened for them. They’ve got another decent chance this week against the Hawks, the team sitting immediately above them on the ladder, in the battle of the Tasmanian teams. The Roos will be desperate for a win because they’ve got a tough stretch of games following this. To put it simply, if they can’t beat the Hawks on Saturday it’s hard to see where their first win will come from. But the Hawks equally need to show something after being belted by the Saints and then toyed with by the Eagles. They play a dour, almost boring style of footy, and that’s mainly because they don’t have too much genuine star-power. Tom Mitchell, as good as he is, isn’t necessarily exciting to watch, and that goes for the majority of the Hawthorn team. They’ve lost their point of difference, their X-factor, and not only does it make them hard to watch, it makes them a predictable, easy to play against opponent.
That said, if they come to play on Saturday and work hard both ways they’ll probably be too strong for North Melbourne, who continue to make below AFL standard errors in their decision making and execution. I can’t imagine this game is going to be a great spectacle; I’m thinking it’ll be a fairly low-scoring slog that the Hawks win by a couple of goals.
Betting tip: Hawthorn to win @ $1.38 (BlueBet)
Gold Coast vs Brisbane
4:35pm AEST, Metricon Stadium
Last weekend, the Suns showed us that they’re still not quite there yet, losing to the Saints at home in a game that might almost define their season. The four points were there to be won, they led at the final break by 15 points, and yet they couldn’t get over the line. It’s bitterly disappointing for Stuart Dew and his team, as it probably means they’re yet again destined for a finish outside of the top eight. The Lions, on the other hand, have recovered from a challenging start to the season and now sit in fifth place with five wins from their eight matches. They’re in a very similar position to Geelong, actually. Both have had their troubles but are now well entrenched in the eight and playing good footy, despite both missing arguably their best players in Patrick Dangerfield and Lachie Neale.
Charlie Cameron is back to his dangerous best after moving back to being a permanent forward, while Harris Andrews is patrolling the backline as well as ever after a shaky start to the season. He’ll have his hands full with the tall Gold Coast attack this week, but I can’t see the Suns causing enough damage to seriously threaten the Lions in this one. The Suns will throw everything they’ve got at Brisbane, but I expect them to run out of gas and for Brisbane to run away with it in the second half.
Betting tip: Brisbane (-21.5) @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Richmond vs GWS Giants
7:25pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
The Tigers are in a slight bit of bother right now. They’ve lost four of their last six, and the injury concerns just keep on mounting. Now that Shane Edwards and Shai Bolton will be missing for a month, they’ve just about got a premiership starting midfield sitting on the sidelines. That makes things really difficult for them, particularly now that almost every game is a must win match. Generally, in order to make the top four you need 16 wins, which means the Tigers can only afford another two losses from their remaining 14 games. That’s a difficult equation when you’re missing so many of your key players, but if anyone can do it, it’s the Tigers.
They’ll need to overcome a much-improved GWS outfit this weekend, a team who have won four of their last five and are looking dangerous. Jesse Hogan missed last week’s win over the Bombers due to some calf soreness but he should be available for this one, and that might just stretch the Richmond defence. We saw what Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron did to them, so watch out for Giants looking to exploit that. That said, a Richmond response is inevitable. Whether that response is good enough to get them over the line against GWS remains to be seen, but since it’s at the MCG I’m backing them in. I think they’re in trouble of missing out on the top four, but I’m backing them this week.
Betting tip: Richmond to win @ $1.54 (Bet365)
Port Adelaide vs Western Bulldogs
7:40pm AEST, Adelaide Oval
This is a big, big game for these two clubs, but particularly for the Western Bulldogs. We know Port are a good team and they’ve proved they can match it with the best over the past 12 months, but the Bulldogs are still somewhat unknown. Sure, they’ve only lost one game, but that was against Richmond, the only really tough game they’ve had so far. They beat the Lions in Ballarat back when Brisbane weren’t travelling all that well, and the Eagles at Marvel. Both solid wins, but not enough to prove they’re the real deal just yet. But a win against Port over in Adelaide would dispel any queries over their credentials.
They’ve had a tough week or two on the injury front, with their two first choice ruckman both missing the game against Carlton. Tim English may be right to return for this one against Port, but either way the Dogs will be aided by the suspension to Port ruck Scott Lycett. That definitely equals the playing field a little and should allow the Dogs midfield to do what they do best. But the Power are pretty handy in the clinches as well, led by Ollie Wines and Travis Boak. If those guys can at worst break even with the Dogs in the middle then Port should win the game. The Dogs obviously have a very strong midfield, but they’re reliant on it — they need midfield dominance to win most of the time. Their backs and forwards are decent, but if their midfield isn’t on top they seem to struggle for the most part. I’m expecting this to be a really tight game and think that both teams will have their periods of dominance, but I’m not sure the Dogs will be able to topple the Power on their home deck. Port by less than three goals.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide to win @ $1.68 (Bet365)
Sunday, May 16
Essendon vs Fremantle
1:10pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
The Bombers lost yet another close contest, now taking their tally to three losses by less than a kick. This one was a little different though; it wasn’t really a tight one until the Bombers piled on the last quarter goals to give the Giants the scare of a lifetime. So, despite another close loss, it was another encouraging effort from the young Bombers. But it’s time to get another win on the board, and this weekend is a perfect opportunity.
Fremantle’s effort was better against the Lions compared to the week prior against West Coast, but they still made too many unforced errors and allowed Brisbane to score easily off the turnover. They’ll need to be careful of that this week against Essendon, because the Bombers love to play a frenetic, high-scoring game and will be eager to make the Dockers pay for lapses in concentration. That will also open up the game for Fremantle going the other way: Essendon can be easy to score against, so if the Dockers make sure their defensive structures are solid they should be able to capitalize going the other way.
But really, who knows what might happen in this one. Neither team can be faulted for their effort, nor for the young talent they have coming through, but they’re both sloppy and error-prone at times. I’m yet to be convinced the Dockers are capable of playing their best footy in Melbourne, so I’m going to stick with the Bombers here.
Betting tip: Essendon to win @ $1.70 (BlueBet)
Melbourne vs Carlton
3:20pm AEST, MCG
Melbourne copped a scare from Sydney on Saturday night, but they were too good in the end and managed to stretch out their unbeaten streak another week. They didn’t play their best footy, but they did what the very best teams do and lifted when they needed to, making sure they got over the line. Tom McDonald starred, and his new mate Ben Brown wasn’t bad either. Luke Jackson’s unfortunate injury paves the way for Sam Weideman to finally make his way into the team, which will give Dees fans another look at one of their potential forward set-ups.
At the other end of the ground will be Harry McKay, the young Carlton spearhead currently marking everything and leading the Coleman Medal race. Jacob Weitering is starring for the Blues in defence, it’s just unfortunate they can’t seem to get the job done around those two key pillars. They did everything right for two and a half quarters against the Dogs on Sunday, but appeared to completely run out of legs late in the third quarter to allow the Dogs to come storming home. It was disappointing, particularly that none of the key Carlton leaders made a stand to halt the Dogs’ onslaught, but this week provides another opportunity against another of the competition’s best teams. The Blues need more from their fringe players, but that’s not going to happen overnight. The Demons are probably the most balanced team in the competition at present, and that should mean Carlton struggle to match them. I don’t think it’ll get ugly, but I can’t see Carlton being any chance of winning this one either.
Betting tip: Melbourne (-21.5) @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
West Coast vs Adelaide
4:40pm AEST, Optus Stadium
The Eagles were finally able to take a scalp outside of Perth last weekend, albeit only against the Hawks. It was a game they just had to win, and they did what was necessary. They return to Optus Stadium this week to take on the Crows, a team who have now lost four in a row and are starting to struggle a little. They’ll be without spearhead Taylor Walker this week, making it that much more difficult for them to turn their form around and record an upset win against the Eagles. The Crows need to be gallant and keep working hard, but it’s almost impossible to see them snapping their losing streak this week. The Eagles beat up on younger, inexperienced teams that travel to Optus Stadium, and that’s exactly what I expect to see happen on Sunday. I think the Eagles will win this one by a very large margin.
Betting tip: West Coast (-39.5) @ $1.90 (UniBet)
Best Bets of the Round
Essendon to win @ $1.70 (BlueBet)
West Coast (-39.5) @ $1.90 (UniBet)