The following are previews with betting tips for Round 11 of the 2021 AFL season.
Friday, May 28
Western Bulldogs vs Melbourne
7:50 PM AEST, Marvel Stadium
The top-of-the-table clash between the Dogs and the Dees will still go ahead so long as the Melbourne team all return negative COVID tests, but it’ll be without a crowd and without the build-up it otherwise would have had. Which is unfortunate, because this is a massive game; it’s not often two clubs face off nearing the midway point of a season with such impressive win-loss records. The Demons succumbed to the Crows last weekend to record their first loss of season 2021, and while there were a couple of questionable umpiring decisions late in the game that might have cost the Demons, it was, in hindsight, clear they were imminently in danger of dropping a game they were expected to win. Melbourne have been struggling a little for the past month, still winning, but not quite playing the same brand of football they had in the earlier parts of the season. That’s not necessarily a problem, but now that they’ve dropped one and have two tough games coming up they need to flick the switch and get back to being the hungry team that beat Geelong and Richmond.
But it won’t be easy against a team as strong through the middle as the Dogs. Even without Adam Treloar, the Dogs still have one of the best midfields in the competition, and that battle will be extremely fun to watch on Friday night. But the key to this contest will be attack versus defence. The Dogs are the best attacking side so far this year, and the Demons have the best defence. The Crows were the first side to get on top of Melbourne, and perhaps provided a blueprint of how to play them: lower the eyes, hit short targets, and whatever you do, don’t bomb it in long to Steven May and Jake Lever. If the Dogs can replicate that approach in some form I think they’ll be good enough to win, but that’s a big if. I’m going to stick with the home team just because they’re in better form at the minute, but it should be a ripping game of footy, even without the crowd.
Betting tip: Western Bulldogs to win @ $1.65 (Bet365)
Saturday, May 29
Collingwood vs Geelong
1:45 PM AEST, MCG
For the second week in a row, Collingwood started their game really well and then fell away, struggling to kick goals after quarter time. At least this time against Port they were good enough to stay in the game and nearly snatch it back right at the end, but regardless, it’s still a disappointing result. They were probably the better team for the majority of the afternoon, but their lack of scoring power meant they weren’t able to put it on the board. That’s not going to change any time soon, so wins are likely to be scarce for Collingwood in 2021.
They’ve got a tough game this week against the Cats, who sit in third place and are travelling beautifully. The only problem for Geelong from last week was minor injuries suffered by key midfield pair Cam Guthrie and Mitch Duncan. Duncan will miss this week due to concussion, while Guthrie is questionable because of a shoulder issue. If they both miss then that might just give Collingwood a sniff; the Cats midfield would be left threadbare. That said, Geelong should still be a much stronger team around the ground, particularly up forward, and would potentially still be good enough to get the four points. I think that’ll probably be the case; I’m not expecting a belting, but Geelong should get over the line by a couple of goals in this one.
Betting tip: Geelong to win @ $1.25 (Bet365)
Brisbane vs GWS Giants
2:10 PM AEST, The Gabba
After Friday night’s game between the Dogs and the Dees, this looms as the next best game of Round 11. The Lions are back to playing their best footy, having knocked off the reigning premiers at home on Friday night, and the Giants have found their spunk recently and are back to being a confident, aggressive footy team. It wasn’t just the win over the Eagles that was impressive, it was the duress under which it was achieved. The Giants are still severely undermanned, and to win a see-sawing game like that against a genuine premiership contender in West Coast was a mightily impressive effort. But this will require something else, to beat the Lions at the Gabba.
GWS probably don’t have quite enough depth around the ground to match a team like Brisbane, and I don’t think they’ll be able to stop a potent Brisbane attack from scoring heavily. The other major concern for GWS is the ruck; Shane Mumford has battled manfully, but he can’t do it all season. They were supposed to get recruit Braydon Preuss back from injury in the next week or two, but he’s now torn a pectoral muscle at training and will miss the entire season. That just about sums up GWS’s luck: they’re close to getting things right, but it just isn’t working out for them. I expect they’ll put in a solid performance against the Lions on Saturday but it won’t be enough for them to avoid a three or four goal defeat.
Betting tip: Brisbane (-27.5) @ $1.91 (Bet365)
St Kilda vs North Melbourne
4:35 PM AEST, Marvel Stadium
It says something about how bad St Kilda were last week that they’re currently under more pressure for a win than North Melbourne are. It wasn’t just a loss to the Dogs on Saturday night, it was a thrashing, the type of loss that can become psychological. They didn’t look competitive at all, and that’s the main issue, because they’re definitely not that bad. Fortunately, the fixture has worked out for them and they’ve got the hapless Kangaroos this week, a game that should help them regain some confidence and get themselves back on track.
That said, North will also be looking to make amends after a big loss to the Bombers on Sunday afternoon. They were nothing like the team that beat Hawthorn the week prior, and they won’t want to dish up another disappointing effort. But the Saints probably have more to play for, more to prove, and I can’t seriously imagine the possibility of them losing this game. The only way it could happen is if they play like they did last week, but surely they’ll come out with some sort of desperation after copping such a brutal loss and subsequent media examination. I’m expecting a fairly significant win for the Saints, one that will paper over some cracks until they face a better-equipped challenger in the coming weeks.
Betting tip: St Kilda (-25.5) @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Gold Coast vs Hawthorn
7:40 PM AEST, SCG
The Suns will be ruing their missed chances against the Cats; for the majority of the game they were the better team, they just couldn’t manage to be efficient enough going inside their forward fifty. They’ve now lost three in a row and their season is precariously balanced. If they can’t turn things around soon then they’re destined for another bottom four finish, would which be an absolute disaster. But they’ll like their chances this week against the Hawks in Sir Doug Nicholls round, in a game that was unfortunately moved away from Darwin to the SCG.
That shouldn’t have too much impact on the result: the Hawks are a very average side at the minute, and with Jaeger O’Meara to miss due to concussion they’re going to find things even more difficult. The combination of Sam Frost and Kyle Hartigan did a pretty good job of subduing Coleman medal leader Harry McKay, but will they be able to do another job on young Ben King? Frost is almost the perfect match-up athletically, but if the Suns have worked on their delivery and can help King out a little I reckon he’s a fair chance to kick a bag on the small dimensions of the SCG. I think it’ll be a relatively tight, scrappy game, but I’m backing the Suns to get the job done and record a much-needed win.
Betting tip: Gold Coast to win @ $1.47 (Bet365)
West Coast vs Essendon
7:40 PM AEST, Optus Stadium
The Eagles continue to sully their reputation by being unable to win well outside of Perth. They did it against Hawthorn at the MCG, but that’s hardly anything to write home about, and then failed in a close encounter with the Giants last weekend. They weren’t terrible against GWS, but they appear to lack that killer instinct they have in Perth whenever they’re playing elsewhere. It’s going to make being a genuine premiership contender in 2021 particularly difficult, because they’ll find it difficult to lock in a top four finish and will then need to travel, probably twice, in order to progress to the Grand Final. They will get some reinforcements at some point though, so I guess all they need to do now is win as many games as possible.
They’re back at home this week, and against the Bombers, that should mean they’re able to record a fairly comfortable win. Essendon have been impressive over the past fortnight, with their young guns putting their talents on full display. But some caution is probably needed; they’ve beaten the Kangaroos, and Fremantle (away from Perth). They’re playing a positive brand of footy, which is great, but they haven’t beaten anyone of note and I expect that when they do come up against a good team, like this week against the Eagles, they’re going to struggle to win the ball as easily. The Bombers are at the stage of their growth where they’ll beat up on the worst teams in the competition, but aren’t good enough to match the best, and I think that’ll show on Saturday night when the Eagles bring them back down to Earth.
Betting tip: West Coast (-22.5) @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Sunday, May 30
Richmond vs Adelaide
1:10 PM AEST, Giants Stadium
Could the Crows do it two weeks in a row? After knocking off the then-undefeated Demons, Adelaide now have a chance to make it two big upsets in a row when they take on the struggling reigning champs. Things just don’t seem to be going Richmond’s way so far in 2021: they’ve had more injuries this year than any other year of their recent reign, and they’ve had off-field distractions to deal with. Now, COVID adaptations mean that this game is moved away from their favourite venue, the MCG, and to Giants Stadium, which obviously suits the Crows. And furthermore, they can add Tom Lynch to the injury list, with the key forward set to miss multiple weeks due to a persistent knee issue.
That all adds up to Adelaide being a massive chance of causing an upset in this one, but how much do you trust the Crows? And how strong is Richmond’s resilience? They’ve proved to be the best team of the last four years because they’ve been able to do some extraordinary things with their backs against the wall, so you’ve got to give them the benefit of the doubt. But eventually even champion teams tire, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it all becomes a little bit too much for Richmond sometime in the very near future.
Betting tip: Adelaide (+21.5) @ $1.90 (BlueBet)
Sydney vs Carlton
3:20 PM AEST, SCG
The Swans, led by Buddy Franklin, did everything within their power to beat the Fremantle Dockers last Saturday night, but it wasn’t to be. It was a cracking game of football, but one that’ll leave a bitter taste in their mouth. Those sorts of close encounters are probably what will define Sydney’s season; the Swans are likely to make the top eight, but if they drop too many of those close ones then someone will jump up to take their place.
Carlton is one of the chasing clubs eager to do exactly that, and they’ll have some confidence following a much-needed win against the Hawks on Saturday. It wasn’t a pretty game of football, but sometimes you need to win ugly; particularly when you haven’t won a game in three weeks. And not only did they get the four points, but they found out a bit about their team: Zac Williams went back to the half-back line and finally looked like the player they recruited, which forced Sam Docherty to push to a wing where he looked equally comfortable and was able to roam free and do some damage. A few little tweaks like that should be all it takes for Carlton to step up a gear and become capable of challenging some of the competition’s stronger teams. The first test will come this week against the Swans, and while I’m expecting a strong showing from the Blues, I still think the Swans will be too good at home and will come away with the four points.
Betting tip: Sydney to win @ $1.50 (Sportsbet)
Port Adelaide vs Fremantle
4:40 PM AEST, Adelaide Oval
The final game of the round takes place at the Adelaide Oval, where Port will host Fremantle in an important game for both clubs. The Power, despite stealing the win away from Collingwood last weekend, haven’t been great in their previous two games, while Freo are searching for a win outside of Perth. Port still need to find some additional depth in their midfield, because they’ve struggled to cover the losses of Zak Butters and Xavier Duursma. They particularly miss Butters, because he makes a trio of really strong mids when he’s alongside Travis Boak and Ollie Wines, but they lack that extra quality when he’s not out there.
Fremantle have a nice supply of strong midfielders who are more than capable of matching Port in that area. The problem for the Dockers has been getting it done in other areas of the ground, and I expect their defence might struggle this week against a dangerous Port Adelaide front half. Port have struggled to put a decent score on the board in the past fortnight, but they’re too good in that area for that to continue. I expect the Power get things rolling once again this week and the Dockers might end up being the unlucky victims.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide (-24.5) @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Best Bets of the Round
West Coast (-22.5) @ $1.91 (Bet365)