Rd 21 AFL Preview & Betting Tips
September comes early with some early finals in round 21 of the AFL
Essendon v St Kilda
Friday 7:50pm AEST
The Saints have put up some bad performances this year but their effort in the third quarter against the Bulldogs was the lowest point of a horrendous season.
They will have a few injury concerns to counter this week as well, with Tom Hickey out with a hamstring and Josh Battle with concussion.
The obvious replacements are Lewis Pierce, who hasn’t played a game in three years but has been the best performed ruckman at VFL level this year and Rohan Marshall, who can provide a target up forward and chip-in in the ruck.
It all points to a big Essendon victory, however, the Bombers’ trademark speed is sure to play havoc with a slow St Kilda side.
Last time these two teams played, the Saints were coming off knocking off the eventual premiers by 10 goals and the Bombers destroyed them.
We’re tipping the same result this week with a 10+ goals margin.
If you can find anywhere that will let you back the Saints to kick more behinds than goals get on - in the last two seasons, St Kilda has done that on 28 occasions, seven more than any other side.
Best Bet: Essendon -30.5
Value Bet: Essendon to win by 10 goals
Hawthorn v Geelong
The Geelong v Hawthorn rivalry would go close to the best in the league for quality of football and other than a few recent finals, there hasn’t been many games with more riding on it than this one.
Despite pushing the Tigers all the way last week and many Geelong fans being confident in their ability to beat the reigning premiers in September, they may never get that opportunity.
If the Cats lose here, two percentage boosting victories against Gold Coast and Fremantle in the final two weeks might not be enough to make the top eight.
With the addition of Gary Ablett, that will be a huge failure of a season for the Cats.
Hawthorn, meanwhile, could find themselves in the top four if they can get past Geelong.
The Hawks have been building very nicely over the past two months and Al Clarkson has them primed for another crack at a Premiership.
We’re tipping the Hawks to get home in another epic match with the under 24.5 result either way looking very appealing.
It’s hard to see this match not going down to the wire again.
Best Bet: Either side to win by under 24.5 points
Value Bet: Hawthorn 1-9 points
Gold Coast v Richmond
It will be interesting to see what Richmond does at the selection table for this match.
With a top two position locked in, the Tigers may look to rest a couple of stars and reward those in their VFL side which has also been dominating.
The ball magnet Anthony Miles is an obvious one and should he earn a recall, he could be good value in disposals exotics, with a haul of 30+ certainly not out of the question.
The Suns will be counting down the games to the end of a forgettable season.
We would recommend avoiding having a bet until the teams are announced, as the Suns might be a chance at the line if they include their best three players in Jarryd Lyons (who was amazingly dropped), Steven May and David Swallow.
If the Tigers rest a couple, the Suns might be a chance to get within eight goals. If they don’t, it could be another 100-point margin.
Best Bet: Gold Coast +67.5
Value Bet: Gold Coast to win the second half
Port Adelaide v West Coast
West Coast has an unbelievable record as an underdog at Adelaide Oval.
The Eagles have been the outsider on six occasions and won five of them.
The match they lost was this year, however, when they lost to the Crows.
They did lead that match by four goals late in the third quarter, so we still think the Eagles represent great value here against a Power side that might be coming off a big build-up in the Showdown.
Port Adelaide’s controversial loss in that match has put their top four aspirations in jeopardy and with Collingwood and Essendon still to come, even a finals spot in still not guaranteed.
The return of Jack Darling has really lifted West Coast back to the form we saw at the start of the season, though the loss of Andrew Gaff to suspension is going to hurt.
The top two position is so important to the Eagles and a win here would almost cement those potential two home finals, so we’re tipping the Eagles to win.
Look for Jack Redden to notch a big haul of possessions in the absence of Gaff.
Best Bet: West Coast to win
Value Bet: West Coast to lead at the end of each quarter
Collingwood v Brisbane
This is a big danger game for Collingwood after two consecutive losses and despite Magpies fans talking up their Premiership chances, they are still not assured of a finals position.
They will also not be happy about playing this match at Etihad Stadium and not the MCG.
Despite winning their last four at the venue, it is historically far from being a happy hunting ground.
The two sides met in round 7 with Brisbane pushing Collingwood all the way before a late goal helped the Magpies secure a 7-point victory.
Dayne Zorko produced one of the games of the season that night, with 34 disposals and four goals and he will be one to keep in mind for most disposals markets.
Given Collingwood’s injury list that continues to build and the Lions’ solid form over the past two months, we’re backing Chris Fagan’s men to get over the line.
The $4.50 for a win is also pretty tasty – if there is going to be an upset this weekend, we reckon this could be the one.
Best Bet: Brisbane +25.5
Value Bet: Brisbane to win
GWS v Adelaide
The Giants are the most in form team in the competition and arguably the most important player during their run of form, which has yielded eight wins in the past nine games, has been a football journeyman.
Big 211-centimetre Giant (pun intended) Dawson Simpson, who has played 39 games in nine seasons, has been the architect of the Giants’ charge up the ladder.
Unfortunately for the Giants and the Premiership hopes, Simpson went down with an ankle injury last weekend and if he misses this game, it could give the Crows a glimmer of hope and at the very least, make their line attractive.
Adelaide’s season is teetering and they need a lot of results to go their way but with Carlton in the final round, if they could be alive in two weeks’ time, you wouldn’t put a 20-goal victory past them in that final game.
The Giants should still win this match but with numerous injuries out of the Carlton thrashing - they finished with 16 on the bench - keep an eye on the selected teams before deciding what to bet on.
Best Bet: Adelaide +14.5
Value Bet: Adelaide to win by 1-19 points
North Melbourne v Western Bulldogs
North, somehow, did what they had to do against Brisbane, just keep winning.
If they can beat the Bulldogs here and knock off the Crows in the city of churches, they will then just need to defeat St Kilda in the final round to secure an unlikely finals birth.
The Bulldogs found some touch against the Saints but it’s hard to see the Kangaroos letting arguably the most taggable player in the competition, Jason Johannisen, run free and rack-up 42 touches like St Kilda did last round.
These two sides met earlier this season, only seven weeks ago, and it is a game that the Bulldogs really should have won.
They led by four goals late in the first half before Ben Brown (5 goals) and Shaun Higgins (32 touches and 2 goals) instigated a North comeback that saw Jack Ziebell kick the winning goal with 20 seconds remaining.
All North fans will be sweating on any news about Higgins’ fitness, with the $34 Brownlow chance having minor surgery last week.
We can’t read too much into the Bulldogs victory last week, so we’re tipping a comfortable 1-39 victory for the Kangas.
Best Bet: North Melbourne to win by 1-39 points
Value Bet: North Melbourne to win by 30-39 points
Melbourne v Sydney
Believe it or not, Melbourne has it made it into the top four by not beating any of the current top eight sides.
They have been found out against quality opposition and also any time the pressure has really been applied.
Despite being fourth, the Demons still need to win one more game to make finals and with West Coast away in round 22 and GWS at home in the final round, this is going to be their best chance of securing that four points needed.
The Swans and just as importantly, Buddy Franklin, recaptured some form last week and we are tipping that will cause another upset and put Melbourne fans in for a nervous final fortnight.
We’re backing Sydney to win a close one with Melbourne to be leading at three quarter time.
There could be some great value in the half/full time doubles and to be leading at quarter breaks markets.
This week is also the week to back Melbourne to miss the finals. If they lose this one they will have to meet either the Eagles at Optus Stadium or the Giants at the MCG, and they still wouldn’t have beat a team in the top eight.
Best Bet: Sydney to win
Value Bet: Melbourne to be leading at three quarter time and lose
Fremantle v Carlton
All footy fans will be looking forward to this blockbuster to finish off the weekend. It’s fair to say that we will need to find some good bets to keep the interest up in this match.
The Dockers and Carlton both fielded 11 players each last weekend that had played under 50 games, so this will be a good exhibition of the young talent each team has.
Players of that age tend to tire as the season goes on and the Blues certainly appear to have hit the wall, albeit for an encouraging performance against Gold Coast a fortnight ago.
Losing to the Giants when they had 16 players on the field in the final quarter last week was a new low for a dismal season for the Bluebaggers.
The 2018 Carlton is one of the worst teams in the modern era and the Dockers should win this convincingly.
The line of -27.5 won’t last very long at all and the $5.50 for Fremantle to win by over 60 points looks one of the better bets of the round.
Best Bet: Fremantle -27.5
Value Bet: Fremantle to win by 60+