The following are previews with betting tips for Round 12 of the 2021 AFL season.
Friday, June 4
Melbourne vs Brisbane
7:50 PM AEST, Giants Stadium
The Demons passed yet another serious test last weekend, taking on the Western Bulldogs under the Marvel Stadium roof and coming out clear victors in the battle of two premiership contenders. Not only did Melbourne win the game and get some confidence back after a few lacklustre weeks, they completely stopped the Dogs from playing their natural game. The pressure the Dees were able to exert around the ball was phenomenal and there wouldn’t be too many teams going around that would cope with it. The Lions could be one that can; they’re another of the best performed teams over the past five weeks, and that should mean this is a ripping contest.
It was meant to take place in Alice Springs but will now be played at Giants Stadium in Sydney. I’m not sure whether that change favours one side or the other, but if pushed I’d say perhaps the Lions would be suited – the ball might be less slippery and they’re a slick team who love to use it well and play with flair. That said, they do the hard stuff just as well as anyone, and that’ll be the deciding factor in this game. The Demons were outstanding in the middle against the Dogs, with Max Gawn and Clayton Oliver both dominant again. If the Lions can’t clamp down on them then the Demons will be in the box seat to win another game against a fellow challenger, and I reckon that’s what might play out on Friday night.
Saturday, June 5
Sydney vs St Kilda
1:45 PM AEST, SCG
St Kilda responded to their devastating loss to the Dogs with a win over North Melbourne last week, but it wasn’t a convincing performance. They were never really threatened, but they also didn’t play a particularly exciting brand of footy, and they still had some of their usual issues: inaccuracy in front of goal, an inability to get on top around the clearances, and young spearhead Max King still appears bereft of confidence. In some encouraging signs, one of their best players was the recalled Luke Dunstan, and ex-Roo Mason Wood played a role up forward slotting three goals against his former club. But as a team they’ll need to be better this week against the Swans, who currently sit two games ahead of the Saints on the ladder.
Last week Sydney got the better of Carlton in an arm-wrestle, getting on top in the third quarter thanks to the brilliance of Isaac Heeney, Lance Franklin, and Tom Papley. Heeney was everywhere, and Franklin and Papley patrolled the forward line and had too much class for the Carlton defence. I want to see signs of improvement from St Kilda this week, but unfortunately for them I think they’ll probably suffer the same fate; the Swans have young talent and experienced players who ooze class, while the Saints are battlers, workmanlike players who have, at present, lost their team connection.
Betting tip: Sydney to win @ $1.33 (Sportsbet)
Adelaide vs Collingwood
4:35 PM AEST, Adelaide Oval
The Crows weren’t able to repeat their heroics from the week prior against the Tigers, but they definitely gave the reigning premiers a scare or two. The got out to a 20 point quarter time lead, before the Tigers pinned them back and gained control. Then, kicking the opening four goals of the final term, the Crows pegged the margin back to less than two straight kicks, but the Tigers pulled away again. They ended up losing by nearly five goals, but it was an encouraging display from last year’s wooden spooners. They took it up to the champs, and then didn’t drop their bundle when things got tough. That’ll hold them in good stead going forward.
The Pies continue having the same issues, the main one being they can’t kick goals. As stated in prior weeks, not much is going to change in that regard in the short term. Still, they nearly got the better of Port and then were close to the Cats last week as well. It’s been a tough season, but I don’t think it’s going to take too long for the Pies to recover. They’ve brought some young talent in, and they need to continue to get games into those youngsters. That might cost them in the short term, and I think they’ll lose another game here this weekend against the Crows, but it’ll be the best thing for them a few years down the track.
Betting tip: Adelaide to win @ $1.49 (Sportsbet)
Essendon vs Richmond
7:40 PM AEST, Optus Stadium
It’s a shame that the annual Dreamtime game can’t take place at its usual home of the MCG, but Optus Stadium isn’t a bad alternative. It’s one of the best football stadiums in Australia, and there should be close to 50,000 fans there, which will give this game something close to its usual atmosphere. And it should be a ripping game of footy too; the Tigers scrapped their way to an important win last week against the Crows, led by the brilliance of Jack Riewoldt, while the Bombers upset the Eagles and now, having won their last three, sit just outside the top eight.
The Bombers, despite their recent good form, definitely still aren’t on the same level as the Tigers, but with Richmond continuing to be hit with injuries to key players, they might just be a chance on Saturday night. Toby Nankervis won’t be available, and there’s a chance skipper Trent Cotchin will miss due to family priorities. I said the same thing last week, but that will surely make it tough for the Tigers to continue winning games of footy. They do welcome Shane Edwards back, who will be a like-for-like Cotchin replacement, and there were some encouraging signs from their young players last week, particular Callum Coleman-Jones up forward and Hugo Ralphsmith. I’m very wary of the injury battles becoming all too much for the reigning champs, but until proven otherwise, in games like these it’s probably wise to continue backing them in.
Betting tip: Richmond By 1-39 @ $2.25 (Sportsbet)
Sunday, June 6
Carlton vs West Coast
3:20 PM AEST, SCG
The Eagles’ season is in the balance right now, having lost two consecutive games that they probably would have expected to win. They now sit only one game clear of the chasing pack of four clubs outside of the eight, and with the injuries mounting they desperately need to get some wins on the board. Tim Kelly will be out for a number of weeks with a knee issue, while both Oscar Allen and Josh Kennedy will miss this week, completely changing the look of their forward half. It’s not often the Eagles take the field with only one key forward threat, and that’ll test them this week against a Carlton team who have a very good one-on-one defender in Jacob Weitering.
You’d think that makes Carlton a real chance to win this – and it does – but the Blues have been terrible at grasping their opportunities for some time now. Not only do they squander chances of their own, but they continue to allow opposition teams to get a run on and kick four or five unanswered goals against them. That kind of lapse has cost them multiple games this year, and I reckon if this was played in Perth they’d be in trouble of the Eagles getting on their customary run in front of the Optus Stadium crowd, but being at the SCG I’m backing the Blues to make amends and get the points over a weakened West Coast team who always struggle to travel.
Betting tip: Carlton to win @ $1.58 (Sportsbet)
Fremantle vs Western Bulldogs
6:40 PM AEST, Optus Stadium
The Dogs failed a big test against the Demons last Friday night, but that result wasn’t the end of the world. The way they were dominated by Melbourne was disappointing, but they’re still a game clear in second position, and they were missing a number of key players that will return in the second half of the season and make them a much more formidable opponent. One of those important missing players was Stef Martin, who looks set to return to the team this week against the Dockers. His big body in the ruck enables the Dogs midfielders to be attacking and play to their strengths, and that should be a highlight of this week’s game: the young Dockers midfielders against the much-vaunted Dogs on-ball group.
Freo were fairly disappointing last weekend against Port, but they found it tough at either end without Matt Taberner and Griffin Logue, both of whom will return this week against the Dogs to strengthen their spine. The Dockers will no doubt be examining how Melbourne dismantled the Dogs, but I’m not sure they’re good enough to play the same high pressure game style for four quarters. The Dogs are a very good team, and if they get on top in the middle then they’re difficult to beat; looking to bounce back after a poor week, I can’t see Fremantle subduing them for long enough to get the four points. Dogs by a couple of goals.
Betting tip: Western Bulldogs (-16.5) @ $1.91 (bet365)
Best Bets of the Round
Carlton to win @ $1.58 (Sportsbet)