The following are previews with betting tips for Round 17 of the 2021 AFL season.
Thursday, July 8
Port Adelaide vs Melbourne
7:40pm AEST, Adelaide Oval
It’s getting tight at the pointy end of the ladder. It was only a couple of weeks ago that Melbourne were certainties to finish in the top two; now, they’re battling to keep their top four spot. Port are one of the teams right below Melbourne, desperate to edge them out in the remaining part of the season, which makes this a classic ‘eight-point’ game.
Melbourne are beginning to look shaky, losing two of their past three, while Port, on the other hand, are building nicely, winning their previous three and finally welcoming young star Zac Butters back into the fold for this massive game.
The Demons have faltered this year against lower-placed sides, while convincingly beating the other contenders. It’ll be interesting to see if that trend continues now that their form seems to have dipped. Will the prospect of beating another premiership challenger have the Dees back to their best, or they are a little off the pace at the moment? Port have had the opposite problem, having lost most of their games against fellow challengers, so it’s a massive game for them as well.
Ben Brown is finally back in for the Demons, and he’ll need to make his presence felt if the Dees are to win. They’ve got a great defence, but their offensive work has broken down over the last month. If Brown straightens them up and allows the Demons to become a more dangerous team forward of centre then the Dees will be right back to premiership favourites. But if he struggles to make an impact and they still have trouble scoring, then not only will this lose this game, but they’re going to find it difficult to hold onto their top four spot.
I do expect the Demons to lift and think this will be a cracking game of footy, but I’m sticking with the home team to make a statement in a game that will have lasting implications on the 2021 season.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide to win @ $1.83 (BlueBet)
Friday, July 9
Essendon vs Adelaide
7:50pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
The Bombers continue to work hard and show glimpses of their talent, but they’re still a long way off the very best, as witnessed in their 41-point loss to the Cats last Friday evening. There’s a bright future building at Windy Hill, but they’re not going to be playing finals footy in 2021. They should, however, notch up another win this weekend when they host the Crows at Marvel Stadium. Adelaide have been gallant for much of the season, but like Essendon, they’re just not quite good enough to sustain it at this stage. They’ll be playing this weekend without spearhead Taylor Walker, who has been a clear standout for them over the course of the year. His absence will hurt, and I expect it will dry up the scoring for them, and allow the Bombers to defend with relative ease.
Essendon have the capability of rebounding quickly and scoring heavily themselves, so that is likely to be the difference in the game. Expect a free-flowing, fast moving game of footy. I think the Bombers win by four or five goals.
Betting tip: Essendon to win @ $1.31 (BlueBet)
Saturday, July 10
Hawthorn vs Fremantle
1:45pm AEST, UTAS Stadium
The Dockers blew a golden opportunity to put themselves into the box seat for a top eight finish when they lost to Carlton on Saturday night. They started slowly, lifted for the middle part of the game, and then went missing again in the last quarter when the game was on the line. You can’t expect to be a finals chance when you only turn up for two quarters. It was a disappointing night for Fremantle, and they’ve got another tough game this weekend when they travel to Tasmania to take on the Hawks. Again, it’s a game they should probably win, but they’ll need to be better than they were last week otherwise they’ll get the same result.
After a good month, the Hawks were humbled by Port Adelaide in Shaun Burgoyne’s 400th AFL game. It was a big occasion but Port were just too good, and it provided a good reminder of where the Hawks are at. They’re rebuilding, and they’ve now got a new senior coach-in-waiting, with Sam Mitchell set to take over from Alastair Clarkson in 2023. Whether Clarkson makes it that far remains to be seen, and how that works for the rest of this year and the next will be fascinating. I reckon for this weekend at least it might be another off-field distraction that means the Hawks could be slightly off the boil, so I’m going with the Dockers in a tight one.
Betting tip: Fremantle to win @ $1.72 (BlueBet)
Carlton vs Geelong
4:35pm AEST, MCG
The Blues have had a good couple of weeks since announcing the club review, with wins over Adelaide and Fremantle easing some of the pressure that was building externally. They face a much greater test this week when they take on the Cats at the MCG, but there are reasons for Carlton to be confident. The Blues are playing a slightly better brand of footy right now, though they’re still struggling to string four quarters together, and Geelong have had their issues when playing teams they expect to beat. Jeremy Cameron, one of Geelong’s biggest weapons, is out for a month due to a hamstring concern, and that should allow the Carlton defence to really clamp down on Tom Hawkins and make life difficult for the Cats when they go forward. Easier said than done, but it gives the Blues a chance.
The Cameron injury really hurts the Cats, as the next month and a bit is absolutely crucial considering how tight the battle for a top four spot is right now. Fortunately, this one at the very least is a game they should win with or without Cameron, so it might not cost them just yet. But they still need to make sure they’re switched on and ready to play. In better news, Patrick Dangerfield looks to be back to his best, and he could have another big day against a Carlton midfield that may or may not contain a sore Patrick Cripps. Geelong by four goals.
Betting tip: Geelong (-17.5) @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Brisbane vs St Kilda
7:25pm AEST, TBC
The Lions are in cruise mode right now, and with a pretty easy run home it’s hard to see them missing the top four. In fact, now that Melbourne have stumbled the Lions are probably in prime position to finish top two and secure a home final. They will need to be wary of the Saints however, who are playing better footy now that they’ve got a few players back from injury. They don’t look quite like the 2020 St Kilda, but there’s definite improvement and if the Lions were to turn up expecting an easy win the Saints could give them a fright.
But the Lions are a professional outfit nowadays, and I think they’ve got a real hunger to go one step better in 2021. They’ve got talent all over the ground, and in particular their front half will be an area that the Saints are going to struggle with. Joe Daniher and Eric Hipwood are the obvious tall targets, but last week against the Crows it was Lincoln McCarthy, Zac Bailey, and Charlie Cameron who did the majority of the damage, teaming up for 11 goals between them. If the Lions get on top in the middle of the ground – and with Lachie Neale back they should have the ascendancy there – then the Saints are going to find it very tough to stop the Lions from kicking a big score.
Betting tip: Brisbane (-27.5) @ $1.90 (BlueBet)
Sunday, July 11
GWS Giants vs Gold Coast
1:10pm AEST, TBC
The Suns recorded one of the finest wins in their club’s short history last Thursday night when they took down the reigning premiers in a stunning contest at Marvel Stadium. Richmond weren’t great, it must be said, but the Suns were still challenged and they had to fight hard to secure the four points. Wins like those can define a footy club, but it’s only the beginning. The Suns have had important wins before and gone on to lose the momentum they gained, so it’s really important they put in a good effort this week against the Giants, who are fresh off their own big victory.
Beating the Demons at the MCG was not only huge for their belief, but it puts them back into the top eight and gives them a very real chance of playing finals footy again in 2021, something that was probably off the cards a month or two ago. It was again led by Toby Greene, but it was also their pressure and tackling, their intent to win the footy that got them over the line. That’s the type of footy the Giants were known for playing, and it seems they’re getting back to that, which might worry a few of the teams above them. I expect them to notch up another four points this week against the Suns, hopefully in front of some sort of crowd in the freezing Ballarat weather, to take one step closer to September action.
Betting tip: GWS to win @ $1.40 (UniBet)
Western Bulldogs vs Sydney
3:20pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
Thursday night between Port Adelaide and Melbourne is the most enticing game this weekend, but this one isn’t very far behind it. The Dogs are now top of the ladder and playing some really entertaining footy, while the Swans put a tough two games behind them with an emphatic thumping of the Eagles in Geelong. Sydney were back to their dangerous, free-flowing best, the type of footy that saw them beat the Tigers at the MCG back in Round 3. If they play like that they’re dangerous against anyone, and I think they’ll really lift for the challenge this week against a quality opposition.
The Dogs will be without young exciting forward Aaron Naughton after he was subbed off due to concussion against the Kangaroos, but they are fortunate enough to have the luxury of replacing him with another young exciting forward, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, last year’s number one draft pick, who will come in to make his AFL debut. His idol growing up was Buddy Franklin, so it’s a nice touch that he’ll line up against him in his debut. Speaking of Buddy, he enjoys playing against the Dogs, and I reckon under the Marvel Stadium roof he’s a fair chance to kick a few goals. I’m not sure it’ll be enough to get the Swans over the line, but it should be enough to give the Dogs a real fright. I’m going with the home team by a kick.
Betting tip: Western Bulldogs to win @ $1.32 (Unibet)
Richmond vs Collingwood
4:10pm AEST, MCG
The Tigers were already looking shaky, but losing to the Suns last weekend confirmed it: the 2021 version is not the same as the Tigers we’ve known over the past four years. They looked like a bottom four team against the Gold Coast, and it would’ve been much worse if Tom Lynch wasn’t back in the side to keep them in it. Unfortunately, they copped another couple of injuries, making the task of staying in the finals hunt all the more difficult. Nevertheless, with a relatively easy draw in the run home they’re still a very good chance of making the eight, but only if they can find another gear.
It starts this week against Collingwood, who were poor for three quarters against the Saints before exploding in the last quarter to nearly steal it. But it was too little, too late, and only makes you wonder where that effort was in the earlier stages of the game. The Pies are also hamstrung with injuries of their own, and that’s making life difficult for caretaker coach Robert Harvey. Regardless of how poor Richmond have been for the past few weeks, I struggle to see Collingwood doing enough to beat them. The Tigers are down and nearly out, but surely we get a response this week. I don’t expect them back to their best, but a decent performance would be enough to get the win over a battling team like Collingwood.
Betting tip: Richmond to win @ $1.65 (bet365)
Monday, July 12
West Coast vs North Melbourne
7:40pm AEST, Optus Stadium
I’m not sure what’s going on at the Eagles, but their season is hanging by a thread right now. You could even say it’s pretty much over, because genuine premiership contenders just don’t lose like that two weeks in a row, with close to their best team on the field. They weren’t just outplayed by Sydney, they were completely obliterated, and if that’s how far off the pace they are then they’re only making up numbers come September. They’ll still make it there, I suspect, with their games in Perth enough to get them through, but unless there’s major change then they’ll be out in the first week, just like last year.
This week against the Roos is one of those Perth games they should be able to pencil in, though North did keep up their improved form last week when they challenged the Dogs. If not for some poor kicking at goal in that final quarter who knows what might have happened, but the class difference won out in the end. North would have been encouraged by the dominant performance of their midfield against the Dogs, with Todd Goldstein and Ben Cunnington running riot. If those two can step up again against the Eagles they’ll keep their side within touching distance, but I don’t expect them to get much closer than that. The Eagles have been horrid two weeks running; just like the Tigers, I’m expecting a response this weekend.
Betting tip: West Coast (-26.5) @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Best Bets of the Round
GWS to win @ $1.40 (UniBet)