The following are previews with betting tips for Round 19 of the 2021 AFL season.
Friday, July 23
Port Adelaide vs Collingwood
7:10pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
Well, the pandemic has finally started to wreak havoc on the AFL competition after threatening to do so a few different times throughout the year. Not only do we have multiple games being moved each weekend, but there’s now the harder to swallow aspect of star players missing games of footy because they’re stuck in quarantine. If the AFL wasn’t so desperate to keep things rolling now might be a good time for a bye week, but the show will go on, beginning with a Port home game at Marvel Stadium against the Pies.
It’ll be an interesting match-up. Port are clearly the better team despite their intermittent struggles this year, but they’ve had a week full of uncertainty. They didn’t know who they were playing, and the venue was changed three times on them. They now know they’ll be back at the scene of their most recent victory, and it was a pretty important one, last Saturday against the Saints. St Kilda pushed them, but Port stood up late in the game when they needed to. I can’t imagine Collingwood being as difficult to overcome as the Saints were, particularly not with two debutants being thrown into the mix of what is already an inexperienced team. It’s Travis Boak’s 300th game so that’ll add some excitement to it, but I can’t see the actual game being too thrilling. Port should win fairly comfortably.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide (-24.5) @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Saturday, July 24
Carlton vs North Melbourne
1:45pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
I don’t think the Blues are a realistic chance of playing finals footy this year, but their past four weeks has given the optimists amongst the Carlton faithful something to dream about. There are still lapses, and it’s obviously not champagne football, but they’ve started to win games of footy and that’s all that matters. Sam Walsh continues to rise to the occasion, while Harry McKay is keeping those eyeing off his Coleman Medal at bay. They’ll have another good opportunity for a win this week when they take on North Melbourne, though North are still playing a decent brand of footy, despite the loss to the Bombers last week.
In fact, the game was close enough that one might suspect they could’ve stolen another win had Ben Cunnington been out there. He, along with perhaps Todd Goldstein, is clearly their best player, and his return this week should make things interesting for the Blues. I get the feeling North might also consider a tag on Sam Walsh, such has been his influence in recent weeks when allowed to roam free. The other Carlton midfielders will need to step up if that’s the case, but they’ve been playing some pretty good football recently and should be capable. I think it’ll be a tight game; both teams are playing with effort and energy at the present stage, but I expect it’ll be the Blues who come home with the four points in a close one.
Betting tip: Carlton to win @ $1.48 (Bet365)
Brisbane vs Gold Coast
3:10pm AEST, The Gabba
The Lions have faltered badly in the past fortnight, losing two games they should’ve won to drop outside the top four. They’ve had some bad luck on the injury front, but they still should’ve been good enough to win those games; now they’re in a battle to make the top four, and have probably missed the chance of a top two finish. It won’t be easy this week against the Suns either; Gold Coast are playing some good footy, having won their previous two before narrowly going down to the Dogs last weekend.
They gave the Dogs plenty to think about, and were probably just as good as their opponent but weren’t as clinical in front of goals. If they can bring that same intensity this week against the Lions they should be able to give themselves another red hot crack. That said, it’s now or never for the Lions, and they’re a very good team so I expect a big lift this week. They’re obviously not in the best form right now, and it’ll take them a while to find their best forward set up without Eric Hipwood, but I think they’ll do enough to get the four points in this one. It’ll be a battle, but the Lions should win by a couple of goals in the end.
Betting tip: Brisbane to win @ $1.23 (BlueBet)
West Coast vs St Kilda
4:35pm AEST, Optus Stadium
The Eagles snapped their three game losing streak with a much-needed 42 point win over the Crows last weekend, keeping them in the box seat for one of those last top eight positions. They’ll need to be good again this weekend to beat the Saints, who are one of the teams hot on their heels. But the Saints probably let their opportunity slip last week at home against Port, particularly now that they need to travel west to take on the Eagles without big man Rowan Marshall, who is another of the players forced to miss this week due to being in quarantine. As is much discussed, the Saints just aren’t the same team when they don’t have the double team of Marshall and Paddy Ryder, and against a ruckman as good as Nic Naitanui I expect that’ll prove costly for them.
Still, the Eagles aren’t exactly flying so it should be a fairly close game, but with Josh Kennedy due to come back into the side it’s hard to imagine the Saints coming home with the four points. They still need to clean up plenty of areas of their game, and they need to find some guys who will help out superstar skipper Jack Steele. He’s having an incredible year, but he hasn’t had enough help from his teammates. I think that’ll cost the Saints another four points in this one.
Betting tip: West Coast to win @ $1.42 (BlueBet)
Melbourne vs Western Bulldogs
7:25pm AEST, MCG
The second 1 vs 2 battle of the season involving these two clubs has been brought forward a week and will take place at the MCG on Saturday night. It’ll be an interesting spectacle and will largely determine who finishes on top of the ladder come season’s end, so both teams should be up for the challenge despite the lack of crowd. The Demons were able to completely stifle the Dogs in their previous encounter, so it’ll be interesting to see if the Dogs come in with a vastly different game style or whether they decide to stick to their guns.
From memory, last time the Dogs made multiple terrible skill errors when switching the ball from defence early on in the game that resulted in Melbourne goals, and from then onwards were too hesitant to switch, instead continually kicking it down the line and straight down the throat of the strong Melbourne defence. If they can find a way through the defence, like the Hawks and some other clubs have seemed to do in recent times, the Dogs will be a very good chance. But the Demons have consistently proven themselves capable of rising to the challenge of beating fellow premiership contenders, and I just can’t see the Dogs overcoming them. Not without the contested ball winning of Josh Dunkley and the run and carry of Adam Treloar. That third rematch will be something we’ll have to wait until September to witness.
Betting tip: Melbourne to win @ $1.85 (BlueBet)
Adelaide vs Hawthorn
7:40pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
The long season is beginning to take its toll on the Crows, their last three matches resulting in an average losing margin of 52 points. They’ll be looking for a spark to finish the season off strongly, but I think they’re just about cooked for 2021. It would have been nice for them to play at home this week against the Hawks instead of travelling to Ballarat to take on the second-placed Western Bulldogs, but the lockdown in SA put a stop to that and now they’re forced to come to Victoria anyway.
The Hawks might be a slightly easier opponent though, but the Crows will still head into this match as clear underdogs. That’s in part because of how impressive Hawthorn were last weekend against the Dees, forcing a draw in the dying stages against the best team in the competition. Not only did they play good footy, but they came with a plan to counter their opponent’s strengths, and it worked beautifully. That’s been a hallmark of Alastair Clarkson’s time in charge, tactical nous, and I’m sure it’ll carry on when Sam Mitchell takes over. The potential disharmony didn’t seem to cause any issues last weekend, so I can’t see why it would affect the Hawks in this one, despite the lingering rumours of discontent between Clarkson and Mitchell.
The Hawks should get the job done in this one, but I don’t think it’ll be one for the history books.
Betting tip: Hawthorn to win @ $1.62 (Bet365)
Sunday, July 25
Sydney vs Fremantle
12:30pm AEST, Metricon Stadium
The Swans continued their impressive run of recent form with a huge win over the Giants on Sunday afternoon. It was a herculean effort for many reasons; they had three players forced to withdraw just before the game and had to replace them with guys who had played a full game of footy the previous day, and were jumped out of the blocks to trail by almost seven goals early in the second quarter.
At that stage they would have been forgiven for throwing in the towel, but they fought back and completely dominated the Giants from that point on, storming home to a comfortable 26 point win. They’re beginning to look like a very real threat come September if they can keep this form up, and will be scary for any top four team to play in a semi-final. They should be able to notch up another win this week against a Dockers team that were incredibly disappointing in front of their home crowd last Thursday night. Sure, it was against a very good team in Geelong, but the fact they were unable to challenge the Cats at any stage throughout the night was pretty poor. That loss stamps Fremantle’s papers for 2021 in my view, and I can’t see them mustering up the fight to seriously challenge the Swans either; it should be a comfortable win for John Longmire’s men.
Betting tip: Sydney (-20.5) @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Geelong vs Richmond
3:20pm AEST, MCG
The second Grand Final rematch for the year won’t have quite the same build up as the previous, but it might very well lead to a similar result. Last time these teams met the Cats thrashed the Tigers to the surprise of most of the competition, but this time around the Cats are clearly the better team and should be looking to win this one comfortably. The Tigers put in a great performance for Jack Riewoldt’s 300th game last Friday night and were good enough to upset the Lions, but the fact they were able to do so was largely due to Riewoldt himself; Jack put in a huge performance, booting six of Richmond’s 16 goals and ensuring his team wouldn’t go down.
He’s not going to be able to do that every week, and now that Dustin Martin is out for the remainder of the year you suspect the energy and belief might just abandon the Tigers. They’ve been a great side for a long time now, but the Martin loss was the final sign that this is just not their year.
They might take some pride in being able to cause some damage anyway, and I reckon for that reason they’ll put in a good showing against the Cats this Sunday, but they’re not the Tigers of old and I fully expect Geelong to blow them away in the latter part of the game and run out four or five goal victors.
Betting tip: Geelong (-16.5) @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Essendon vs GWS Giants
6:10pm AEST, Metricon Stadium
The Bombers find themselves inside the top eight with only five rounds remaining despite having won just eight games this year, and are a very good chance of making that spot permanent if they can keep up their recent run of form. They weren’t perfect against North Melbourne last week, but they did what had to be done and secured the four points. They’ll have another decent opponent to overcome this week when they take on the Giants at Metricon Stadium, but all things considered they should go in expecting to win.
That’s in large part due to the current availability crisis at GWS. They’re still battling with injuries to key players, so they really didn’t need to lose more guys through isolation requirements. They probably didn’t deserve to make it anyway, but it’s destroyed any chance they had of making a surge towards the top eight. I reckon at full strength, or near to it, they’re a better side than the Bombers, but with what they’re able to put out on the park this weekend Essendon should be too good for them. A win would set up a huge clash next Friday night between the Bombers and the Swans, which would be a season-shaping contest for both clubs.
Betting tip: Essendon to win @ $1.70 (UniBet)
Best Bets of the Round
Sydney (-20.5) @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)