The following are previews with betting tips for Round 15 of the 2021 AFL season.
Thursday, June 24
Brisbane vs Geelong
7:20pm AEST, The Gabba
The first full round of footy after the bye weeks opens with a massive game: the Lions and the Cats at the Gabba. Not only will the result of this one have ramifications on the top four, it might be a preview of what’s to come later on in the year. Both teams are flying at the minute, with Geelong now hot on the heels of the top two after their epic win over the Dogs last Friday night. They’re probably the form team of the competition right now, but Brisbane were going pretty well themselves before they lost to the Demons, and they’ll be very hard to beat on their home deck. They didn’t necessarily put in their best performance against North last weekend, but that can be forgiven; they did the bare minimum to secure the four points, and sometimes that’s okay. It also suggests they might have already had one eye on this contest, and fair enough, too. If the Lions can get the better of Geelong they’ll be every chance of fighting for a top two finish, but lose and their chances diminish steeply.
As good as Geelong have been, I do like the Lions here. The Cats have just lost Mitch Duncan to a fairly serious injury, and I think they showed some signs of tiring against the Dogs on Friday night. The Lions will set themselves for this one, and with Lachie Neale getting back to some of his best form they’ll have the engine room to really test the Cats in that regard, who found it slightly difficult against the likes of Tom Liberatore and Marcus Bontempelli last week. Not only that, but Brisbane match up in defence fairly well on Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron, and they’ve got the big forwards to keep Tom Stewart and co. busy. I think it’ll be close, but I’m backing the Lions in this one.
Betting tip: Brisbane to win @ $1.72 (bet365)
Friday, June 25
Richmond vs St Kilda
7:50pm AEST, MCG
It’s been a tough couple of weeks for St Kilda – the bye week probably felt like it lasted forever – but they get a chance to let their footy do the talking on Friday night against the Tigers, who are also coming off the bye and looking to kick start the second half of their season. Finals is out of the equation for the Saints, but there’s plenty left to prove. Brett Ratten needs to get his troops firing, even if not back to their best footy then at least playing with the required effort and desire. Rowan Marshall’s return will be a big boost; let’s just hope he’s fully fit and can get through the remainder of the season.
The Saints will find it tough against a Richmond team who are regaining the cavalry and looking to climb up the ladder with a relatively easy run home. The Tigers are still without Tom Lynch and David Astbury, but other than that are starting to look quite strong. If they’re able to get their pressure game going, which they shouldn’t have any issues with back home at the MCG, then the Saints will find it almost impossible to match it with them. I’m expecting the Saints to respond to the stinging criticism they’ve copped in recent weeks, but I’d still be shocked if they got within a couple of goals of the Tigers on Friday.
Betting tip: Richmond (-26.5) @ $1.91 (bet365)
Saturday, June 26
North Melbourne vs Gold Coast
1:45pm AEST, Blundstone Arena
Gold Coast’s season has fallen away so badly that they’re the underdogs against North Melbourne this week, which says it all really. North have only won the single game all year, and while they’ve showed some improved form in the past month or two, they’re still quite clearly the worst team in the competition. But they could put that up for debate with a big win over the Suns in this one, a result which would surely put a dagger through the Suns’ season and have the football world questioning whether Stuart Dew is the right man to take them forward.
The problem for Gold Coast is they need everything to go right for them to be successful, and they haven’t had that dream run of luck yet. They started the season in promising fashion before injuries made life difficult and then things really fell apart. But that’s the problem: good sides find a way through hardship, but the Suns seem to continually collapse instead. This week they’ll be up against a hungry, desperate North Melbourne team playing at their second home, and I agree that the Suns are going to struggle. Hard as I try, I just can’t picture them winning.
Betting tip: North Melbourne to win @ $1.75 (bet365)
Collingwood vs Fremantle
4:35pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
It feels like forever ago that Nathan Buckley coached his last game, and I’m sure it’s felt that way for Robert Harvey as well. He finally gets his chance on Saturday against the Dockers, and while he’s said that he hasn’t made massive changes to the game plan, there will be some tweaks aimed at opening up the forward half and kicking more goals. Playing the Dockers at Marvel Stadium should help with that aim, as will the fact that Fremantle are still missing some very good defenders due to injury. Speaking of which, Harvey’s biggest challenge in the second half of the year might be finding someone to replace the injured Darcy Moore, and if the Pies can’t plug that hole then there’s every chance they’ll be quite easy to score against while also lacking bit of a rebound from the defensive half.
But there should be a positive vibe at Collingwood: it’s the beginning of a fresh start, not to mention that they’re actually on a two-game winning streak, with the very real possibility of extending that to three. The Dockers are never much good away from home, and with so many still on the injury list I think they’re going to find it difficult to beat a rejuvenated Collingwood on Saturday.
Betting tip: Collingwood to win @ $1.78 (bet365)
Essendon vs Melbourne
7:25pm AEST, MCG
After winning so many games this year, the Demons wouldn’t have enjoyed spending the week off with the lingering taste of defeat, but they deserved it after a poor effort against Collingwood. They face another big Melbourne based club this week when they take on the Bombers at the MCG, in what should be a ripping game of footy. Essendon have won four of their past five, and Bombers fans might just be thinking they’re a chance to sneak into the top eight and play some finals footy in 2021. That would be an impressive effort with their young team, and we’ll find out what their chances are in this contest against the top-of-the-table Demons.
The Bombers play an attacking brand of footy, scoring heavily and being scored against almost equally as heavily. But the Demons have the best defence in the league, and if they’re able to shut the Bombers down and rebound hard and fast then Essendon might struggle. They’ve been able to turn the majority of their games this year into shoot-outs, which they’ve generally done quite well in. I can’t see Melbourne allowing that; I think the Demons will heap pressure on Essendon – just like they did in their wins against the Dogs and the Lions – and I don’t think the Bombers will stand up to it. I’m thinking the Demons will stifle Essendon and run out five or six goal winners.
Betting tip: Melbourne (-22.5) @ $1.91 (bet365)
Port Adelaide vs Sydney
7:40pm AEST, Adelaide Oval
The Swans have an incredibly tricky month ahead of them, starting off with Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval. This next few weeks is going to define their season following their shock loss to the Hawks a fortnight ago. There’s nothing they can do about that now, other than make sure they’re fully switched on and ready to go on Saturday afternoon, because it’s going to be a tough one.
Port are eying off a top four finish and will need to be at their best each week for that to eventuate, which will be made harder by the long-term injury to Robbie Gray. They’re still desperately missing Zak Butters, and until those guys return to the fold I find it difficult to see Port beating the top couple of sides. But Sydney aren’t in that echelon, and at home I expect Port Adelaide to get the job done. Ollie Wines is back to his very best footy, as is young gun Connor Rozee, while Aliir Aliir continues his stellar season. Port will probably have too many options for Sydney to contain, and I expect they’ll get the four points in this one.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide to win @ $1.33 (bet365)
Sunday, June 27
GWS Giants vs Hawthorn
1:10pm AEST, MCG
Hawthorn lost no fans during their loss to the Bombers last weekend; it was a thrilling game of footy that either side could have won, but in the end the Hawks just lacked some of the class and polish that Essendon found as the game wore on. They’re going to find it tough again this week against the Giants, though the switch from Giants Stadium to the MCG should help them. That said, the Giants played pretty well last time they took to the MCG, and with Toby Greene back in full flight they’re going to be hard to beat.
The Hawks were also unfortunately dealt a big blow at training during the week, with the in-form Jarmen Impey injuring an ankle which might see his 2021 season come to a premature close. He has something the Hawks lack: speed, excitement, X-factor, and his absence will make them a more predictable side, much more easily defendable. But regardless of that the Hawks were probably always going to falter against a Giants side who are travelling pretty well at the moment and have their eyes set on a finals berth. I expect they’ll get the win in this one to take them one step closer.
Betting tip: GWS to win @ $1.65 (UniBet)
West Coast vs Western Bulldogs
3:20pm AEST, Optus Stadium
West Coast could not have timed the mass return of their star players any better, with all of Jeremy McGovern, Luke Shuey, Tim Kelly, and Brad Sheppard set to return this week against the Western Bulldogs. They’ll need them, because the Dogs haven’t lowered their colours too often this season, and but for a kick after the siren would have beaten the Cats in Geelong last Friday evening, which means they’re in pretty good touch.
It’ll be interesting to see how the dynamic of the West Coast team is altered by the return of so many players. If the four of them are all fit then they obviously make the Eagles a much better team – potentially one of the best teams in the competition – but it’s always a danger to bring too many underdone players in at once, particularly against a strong team. The Eagles found that out last year in the finals against Collingwood, and they’ll be wary of making the same mistake. But this isn’t an elimination final, and they need to get those guys back playing footy together sooner rather than later. The return of Shuey and Kelly in particular means that the Dogs won’t have the ascendancy in the middle of the ground, something they usually rely on then they’re winning. Nic Naitanui was massive in the game these two teams played earlier in the year, and if he can replicate that effort with Shuey, Kelly, and Elliott Yeo at his feet, I can see the Eagles subjecting the Dogs to two losses in a row.
Betting tip: West Coast to win @ $1.80 (BlueBet)
Carlton vs Adelaide
4:40pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
Pressure continues mounting on Carlton and David Teague, so it’s fortunate that they’ve got a game this weekend that should allow them to bank four points with relative ease. But that’s only if they bring something close to their best footy; the Crows have shown on multiple occasions this year that they’re well and truly good enough to cause an upset if their opponent isn’t switched on. After a torrid 2020, belief is growing quickly at Adelaide; it seems Matthew Nicks has been able to tap into the playing group and allow them to play with confidence, something that their opponent this week is still battling with.
The Blues might play a good half of footy, but then it all seems to go pear-shaped. It appears they’re incapable of stringing together four quarters of good footy, and one of the many reasons for that is they’ve got too many players who are finding it hard to impact the game. Zac Williams has come under fire this week for being unfit, but I doubt he’s the only one. The Blues need more from all of their big name players, perhaps except for Sam Walsh and Harry McKay. They need to band together and finish the season off in good form, otherwise it’s hard to see where they’re headed. That starts this week against the Crows, and while I’m still hesitant to trust Carlton, I think they’ll get the job done.
Betting tip: Carlton to win @ $1.54 (UniBet)
Best Bets of the Round
GWS to win @ $1.65 (UniBet)