The following are previews with betting tips for Round 21 of the 2021 AFL season.
Friday, August 6
Geelong vs GWS Giants
7:50pm AEST, GMHBA Stadium
The Cats took the foot off the pedal against North last weekend, probably playing their worst game in a month or two, but were still good enough to come away with the four points in a sloppy contest. They now finish the season off playing their last three games in Geelong, so you’d think they’re going to be very hard to beat. The Giants are a good team when they’re on, but have once again but cut down by injury and will potentially need to make up to six changes for this clash.
It makes things incredibly difficult to get consistency when your top line players are in and out of the team, and the Giants have been one of the teams that have suffered most in 2021. With a tough run home, they’re probably unlikely to be the team that grabs that eighth position, and they’re almost certainly not going to beat the Cats on Friday night. In good news for Geelong, Jeremy Cameron was almost cleared fit to play in this one; he’ll be a massive boost for them in the coming weeks as they look to mount another premiership challenge.
Betting tip: Geelong (-36.5) @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Saturday, August 7
Carlton vs Gold Coast
1:45pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
The Blues kept their finals chances alive last Friday night with a huge win over the Saints. It was important for multiple reasons, one being that it released some of the pressure on coach David Teague, but unfortunately he’s still a dead man walking if Alastair Clarkson is interested in the role. Nevertheless, the way the Blues played on Friday showed they have some sort of care for the coach and are willing to work hard when they need to. Why they haven’t been able to do that all year is the million dollar question, but if they can keep it up for the rest of the year they’re a legitimate chance of sneaking into the top eight.
They’re up against the Suns this week, who are coming off a horror loss to Melbourne on Sunday. They keep tricking us, the Suns. Just when you think they’ve turned the corner into becoming a consistent, reliable team who always give full effort and won’t get blown away, they go out and drop a game by 100 points. It’s going to be the end of Stuart Dew, despite the fact that I think he’s done a relatively good job up there with the resources he’s got. The problem is, their players don’t progress as much as they should, and that leaves them light on for match-winning talent. Some of the youngsters have had solid years, but they might be getting tired now, and for that reason I can’t see the Suns getting the win this weekend.
Betting tip: Carlton (-24.5) @ $1.91 (Bet365)
Richmond vs North Melbourne
4:35pm AEST, MCG
The Tigers have now lost four of their previous five, but are somehow still a good chance of making the top eight. They’re clearly a shadow of their former selves, but a soft last three games will see them head in as favourites or equal money chances in all three. They’ve got North this week, who will challenge them just as they did the Cats last weekend, but the Tigers should have the talent to get home.
It’s been an interesting season for the Kangaroos. After a month or two they were being talked about as one of the all-time worst teams in the AFL. Now, with a month to go, they’re being considered one of the most competitive wooden spooners in history, if that’s how it works out. They’ve definitely turned things around at North Melbourne, and their mix is quite good. They’ve still got those few older guns, and a nice blend of experience and youth coming through. There are plenty of things to look forward to for the Roos, but I don’t think one of those will be a win this weekend.
Betting tip: Richmond By 1-39 @ $2.00 (Sportsbet)
Adelaide vs Port Adelaide
7:40pm AEST, Adelaide Oval
Port have successfully manoeuvred their way through a tricky three week period to find themselves sitting in fourth position, a game clear of the Swans, with just three weeks to go. Their round 23 assignment against the Dogs will decide whether they secure that top four finish, but things are starting to look pretty good for a team that has had some rocky moments throughout of the course of the year.
They are edging closer to having their best 22 out on the field, and with Robbie Gray coming back in this week they are coming good at just the right time of year. I don’t think the Crows are going to give them much trouble this weekend, particularly not without Taylor Walker in the team. They battled manfully against the Dogs last Saturday, but they clearly couldn’t match it with the deep Western Bulldogs midfield. The effort was there, though, and if they bring that again this weekend they might be able to keep the margin below six or seven goals, but I fully expect this to be relatively boring and lacklustre showdown. Hopefully the Crows are back on their feet in the not too distant future so that these contests have some life about them again.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide By 40+ @ $2.07 (UniBet)
St Kilda vs Sydney
7:40pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
St Kilda’s horror season doesn’t appear to have a happy ending; after being completely belted by the Blues on Friday night, they’re now set to play the final three rounds without Paddy Ryder and Jack Billings, while Dougal Howard and Hunter Clark will also miss this one. That’s going to make it difficult to challenge a team playing as well as Sydney are right now; I think the Saints might have almost thrown the towel in for 2021 and we could potentially see some more big losses coming Brett Ratten’s way. He’ll want to avoid that, of course, but they’ve got nothing to play for and are now seriously lacking personnel.
The Swans are still playing great footy, though they did have some trouble stopping Essendon from scoring on Sunday afternoon. A tight defensive game has been the hallmark of their strong five week patch, so they’ll want to make sure they rectify that as the finals approach. I’m sure they will, and that leads to them being a beautifully balanced side; their array of forward line options will give most teams plenty of trouble. I expect a lift from the Saints this weekend, but it’s not going to be enough to see them overcome the in-form Swans. Sydney to win this by five goals.
Betting tip: Sydney to win @ $1.44 (BlueBet)
Sunday, August 8
Hawthorn vs Collingwood
2:10pm AEST, UTAS Stadium
Hawthorn put on an absolute clinic in the first three quarters of their Sunday afternoon clash against Brisbane, making the Lions look second-rate. They fell away towards the end, but the margin was so great that it didn’t matter. It was an impressive performance by the Hawks, showcasing the talent still on the list and proving that incoming Sam Mitchell will have plenty to work with. It was also, of course, due to crafty coaching; the Hawks have regularly been able to cause an upset over the course of Alastair Clarkson’s coaching career.
Their opponent this week, Collingwood, managed to pull off a huge upset of their own last weekend, thumping the insipid Eagles to the tune of 45 points. It was a great win, similarly giving a glimpse of the future at Collingwood along with importantly taking them a few steps away from that dreaded wooden spoon. This one should be an interesting contest; these two clubs are probably at a similar standard right now, and they are both very proud clubs. It’s not going to be a great spectacle, but I can see it going right down to the wire. Collingwood probably have a few more experienced players that can genuinely impact the result so I’m going to back them in, but it should be a good battle.
Betting tip: Collingwood to win @ $1.75 (Bet365)
Western Bulldogs vs Essendon
3:20pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
That’s two weeks in a row the Bombers have come agonisingly close to getting win and putting themselves in finals contention, but both times they’ve just fallen short. They face another difficult task this week against the Dogs, who played a very clinical game of footy last week against the Crows. The Dogs never appeared to move out of second gear, just going through the motions and recording a lazy 49 point victory. That’s what good teams do at this time of year, but the Dogs will probably have a harder time of it against the Bombers. Unfortunately Essendon have been dealt a major blow with ex-skipper Dyson Heppell and midfielder Kyle Langford both set to miss with injury, significantly denting their hopes of causing an upset victory. Adam Treloar comes back for the Dogs, and he could be a massive finals wildcard for them if he can stay fit over the next three weeks.
The Bombers haven’t had a great run against the Dogs since Luke Beveridge took over; can they get one back this weekend? It’s probably unlikely, though they do match up slightly better now. The Dogs have always overpowered them in the midfield, but Darcy Parish’s emergence along with Jake Stringer’s move into the centre will help – will it be enough?
Betting tip: Western Bulldogs to win @ $1.26 (BlueBet)
Fremantle vs Brisbane
5:10pm AEST, Optus Stadium
The Dockers were brilliant in the final stages of their do-or-die clash against the Tigers last weekend, clawing back from almost two goals down to take the lead and hold on for dear life. It was an inspired victory, not least of all because it put them back inside the top eight. The problem for Fremantle now is staying there, because they’ve got a very tough final few games. That starts this weekend when they host the Brisbane Lions, a very good team who is struggling badly at present.
The Lions were one of the premiership favourites a month ago; now, having lost three of their past four, they are almost only considered an outside chance. A lot has gone wrong for the Lions, but the major problem is effort. There just wasn’t a great deal of intensity or urgency from Brisbane against the Hawks, not until it was way too late. If they play like that again they can just about kiss 2021 goodbye, but surely Chris Fagan is able to get them up for this week. Their top four chances are effectively over, but a strong finish to the year might have them confident of winning the flag from the bottom half of the eight. Let’s see what they’ve got.
Betting tip: Brisbane to win @ $1.65 (Bet365)
Monday, August 9
West Coast vs Melbourne
8:10pm AEST, Optus Stadium
It might not look all that tantalising on paper, but this is a massive game for these two clubs. The Eagles were back in the doldrums last weekend, failing to turn up against the Pies after what was a solid fortnight. They are going to play finals footy, but as with Brisbane, their form heading into that pending elimination final is all-important. And until this year you would’ve said they are a proud club and will want to bounce back from such a weak effort, particularly as it was the 300th game of a club legend. So, will they take it up to the Demons?
I’m expecting the Eagles to be much better this week, and that could cause some slight trouble for Melbourne. It’s been a really difficult fortnight for them – they flew to Queensland and back, played a game of footy, and then flew straight to Perth and will be in quarantine until this game. They would be forgiven for not being at their best this week, and I’m slightly concerned that might be the case. That said, they were absolutely brilliant against the Suns, back to their defensive best while managing to find plenty of avenues to hit the scoreboard. But their opponent was terrible; this will be a bigger test for them. Can the Dees rally themselves into another big effort before returning home? I think it’s going to be tough, and I do think Melbourne might be slightly off the boil, but with West Coast’s form this year it probably isn’t going to cost them the four points. I’m going with the Dees by two or three goals.
Best Bets of the Round
Port Adelaide By 40+ @ $2.07 (UniBet)