The following are previews with betting tips for Round 22 of the 2021 AFL season.
Friday, August 13
GWS Giants vs Richmond
7:50pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
These two clubs may not have had great years, but a win on Friday night will put one of them in the box seat to make an unlikely finals appearance. The Giants kept their season alive with a gritty win over the Cats in Geelong last Friday night, and would thoroughly deserve to finish in the eight on the back of that effort. The Tigers weren’t so impressive in their win over North Melbourne last week, but it was still a solid showing that will have them confident heading into this crunch match.
The Giants are once again forced into wholesale changes due to injury and tribunal issues, and while losing Toby Greene and Brent Daniels will hurt, the inclusions aren’t too shabby: Jesse Hogan, Jacob Hopper, Josh Kelly, and Shane Mumford all return. The Tigers have the rare benefit of a settled 22, something that has eluded them for much of the year. Last time these two teams met was in round 9, when the Giants led all game only to go down to a gallant Richmond team by four points. This time around the Tigers are slightly stronger and the occasion is bigger, though the venue will stay the same. I reckon it’ll be a pretty good game of footy, but I’m not sure the Giants will be good enough to cause an upset without Greene in the side. I’m going with Richmond by two goals.
Betting tip: Richmond to win @ $1.73 (BlueBet)
Saturday, August 14
Hawthorn vs Western Bulldogs
1:45pm AEST, UTAS Stadium
The Hawks are finishing off the year in fine style, bursting out of the blocks in their previous two games to record two consecutive victories. Their first halves have been particularly impressive, blowing the Lions and the Pies away in the early stages. They have faded late in both of those contests, but whether that’s a fatigue issue or simply a case of being in front and taking the foot of the pedal remains to be seen. They’ll face a huge task this week against a wounded Western Bulldogs team who will be desperate to lock in a top two position.
The Dogs were dealt a cruel blow last weekend; not only did they drop a game they expected to win, but in the dying seconds when the game was already over they lost their leading goal kicker to a season-ending knee injury. He’s not their most talented player, but Josh Bruce has played a vital role for the Bulldogs this year and they’ll find it difficult to replace him. But, if anyone can re-jig a structure and find new and exciting ways to play, it’s Luke Beveridge. He’ll have his hands full, and it looks like, for this week at least, it’s up to Aaron Naughton to go it alone as a key forward. It should be good enough against the Hawks, but Naughton might need support when they come up against a defence like Melbourne’s.
Betting tip: Western Bulldogs By 1-39 @ $2.05 (Bet365)
Port Adelaide vs Carlton
4:35pm AEST, Adelaide Oval
The Blues, as is their habit, blew a golden opportunity last weekend to move within striking distance of the top eight. It was classic Carlton; follow up a really impressive win with a sub-par effort and lose to a struggling Gold Coast team. Any chance of a finals berth is now gone, and it could just about spell the end for David Teague as well. The review is over, and with a tough game this weekend against Port Adelaide, things could get ugly. If Carlton don’t show something this week then I’m almost certain the Blues are going to act swiftly.
And it’s not going to be easy for Carlton; Port weren’t great last week against the Crows, but they’ve now won four in a row and sit as one of the form teams of the competition. They’ve got their stars back at the right time of year and will only get stronger as those guys get more game time. On the other side of things, Carlton have lost spearhead Harry McKay and key defender Liam Jones, and that just about snuffs out any chance they might have had this weekend. I reckon this one could turn into a very big win for the home side.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide (-35.5) @ $1.90 (UniBet)
Geelong vs St Kilda
4:35pm AEST, GMHBA Stadium
The Cats weren’t their normal selves on Friday night, losing to the Giants in a rare slip-up at home. It shouldn’t cost them too dearly, though it does mean they’ll probably have to win both of their last two games to lock in a top two finish. I’m not actually sure a home final is going to mean much anymore, not for a Victorian team; it seems increasingly likely the finals are headed to Perth or South Australia at this stage, so all the Cats need to make sure of is finishing above Port Adelaide. They shouldn’t have too many issues against St Kilda this weekend, though the Saints did have a great game last week against Sydney. They were once again led by skipper Jack Steele, who continues his stellar season, while Jack Higgins, Dean Kent, and Tim Membrey combined nicely up forward.
They’ll be strengthened by the return of Dougal Howard and Dan Hannebery for this one, while the Cats lose Gary Rohan and Zac Tuohy, but are able to replace them with Isaac Smith and Jeremy Cameron so really don’t lose too much at all. Geelong are a proud side, and with so much still on the line, I can’t imagine an outcome where they lose two in a row on their home deck. There’s nothing surer than Geelong bouncing back and getting the four points in this one.
Betting tip: Geelong (-26.5) @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Brisbane vs Collingwood
7:25pm AEST, The Gabba
Brisbane ironed out a few kinks last week in a big win over Fremantle, and will want to build on that good effort this week against the Pies, though the four points probably doesn’t mean a lot to them now. They’re locked in for a home elimination final, so it’s all about preparing for that now. Lachie Neale returns to the team this week to take on a Collingwood team that showed some good signs last week while at the same time being slightly disappointing.
The Pies were blown away in the first half and a bit, but did manage to turn things around and finish strongly. Their young players continue to grow – Finlay Macrae and Oliver Henry both put in impressive performances – but it’s still Brodie Grundy, Taylor Adams, and Jordan De Goey that are doing most of the heavy lifting. They’ll have their work cut out against Brisbane this week, but it should make for a fairly entertaining game of footy. Both clubs now like to take the game on and play to their strengths, so it should be good to watch. I think the Lions will be much too strong at home and should get the better of Collingwood by at least five goals.
Betting tip: Brisbane (-37.5) @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
North Melbourne vs Sydney
7:40pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
Sydney’s great run of form came to a crashing halt last weekend when they stumbled into a red hot St Kilda. It’s hard to fault Sydney’s last month or two, but this hiccup came at the worst possible time; it’s effectively ruled them out of what was a very real possibility of a top four finish. They’ll lick their wounds and regroup this week against North Melbourne, though they will take the opportunity to give Lance Franklin a much needed rest to ensure he’s ready to go in their first final. It’s become more important to manage players now that the AFL are considering scrapping the pre-finals bye, and the Swans have the perfect opportunity to do it here.
That said, North aren’t easy beats anymore, and they’ll give the Swans a good challenge. It’ll be exciting to see young forward Charlie Comben come into the team for his first game. They’ve got big wraps on him at Arden street, so his debut should garner some excitement amongst the playing group. I do think the Swans will bounce back though; even without Franklin they’ve got more than enough dangerous forward options, and their midfield has enough depth and talent to stretch the bottom-placed Kangaroos.
Betting tip: Sydney to win @ $1.46 (Sportsbet)
Sunday, August 15
Melbourne vs Adelaide
2:10pm AEST, MCG
It didn’t take long for the Demons to return to the top of the ladder, but a strong Monday night showing against the Eagles was enough to do it after both the Cats and the Dogs stumbled earlier over the weekend. It just goes to show how even this season is, and how fickle we can be when judging teams: two weeks ago the Dees were struggling and the Cats and Dogs were the two clear premiership favourites, but now Melbourne have just about jumped back to the pole position.
Ben Brown’s form has been a key factor in that, proving that the Dees have the forward line to do enough damage in September and ensure they’re not simply the best defensive team, but one of the best all-round teams. He’s got more work to do but the signs are encouraging, and that’s all Melbourne can ask for. They’ve got fairly easy task this week against the Crows before a massive Round 23 game against the Cats. Unfortunately for Adelaide the wheels have fallen off their season, and I don’t think they’ll be repeating the heroics of their last game against Melbourne.
Betting tip: Melbourne (-41.5) @ $1.90 (BlueBet)
Gold Coast vs Essendon
3:20pm AEST, GMHBA Stadium
The Suns are still one of the strangest football clubs in the competition. One week they’re utterly embarrassed, and then they bounce back and play a great brand of footy to record an upset win. Them seem spineless at times, and brave at others. I really can’t get a read of where they’re headed, but they definitely have their work cut for them; at the same time, they’ve got the talent. If they can put it all together they’ll be a very good team, but that will be a problem for 2022. This weekend they ‘host’ the Bombers in Geelong, which will be another great test for them.
Essendon played a great game of footy last week against the Dogs to secure a hugely important victory, and are now a massive chance of playing finals footy. All they need to do is win their final two games, and they’ll start as favourites in both of those. The key for Essendon is making sure they don’t get ahead of themselves. Sure, Sunday was a great win that they thoroughly deserved, but it wasn’t perfect. They had 21 fewer inside 50s than their opponent, and won in part due to clinical efficiency that is hard to replicate. That’s not a negative at all, they just need to remember that there’s plenty more to work on. I expect Ben Rutten will have them well drilled enough to keep the focus on this week and make sure they get the four points they desperately need.
Betting tip: Essendon to win @ $1.29 (Sportsbet)
Fremantle vs West Coast
5:10pm AEST, Optus Stadium
Well, the Dockers can’t play finals anymore, but they can do the next best thing: knock the Eagles out. That’s the equation confronting West Coast now that they’ve limped through the past two months: win both of their last two games or risk missing the eight. It’s almost unfathomable considering where they were not that long ago, but it’s a very real scenario now. If they can’t get the win over Fremantle on Sunday they’ll almost certainly finish the round outside the eight and I don’t think they’d make it back in, so this week is crucial. A Derby is always a big game, but this one will carry that extra bit of zest.
The Eagles are bringing in the reinforcements, with Luke Shuey, Liam Ryan, and Tom Barrass all into the lineup. Unfortunately, good players returning hasn’t necessarily helped the Eagles at times this year, but you’d think they’ll be up for this battle. They’ve got a great recent record over their crosstown rivals, and with Fremantle’s injuries I think this might be game the Eagles are able to claim. I think they’ll struggle against the Lions next week, but they should be able to survive until then.
Betting tip: West Coast to win @ $1.46 (BlueBet)
Best Bets of the Round
Geelong (-26.5) @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)