afl round 13

Pete Roberts from Behind The Footy is sharing some of his great content with us for the 2021 AFL season. Pete spent fifteen years in AFL coaching boxes as an analyst. He now shares those insights with footy fans. Here’s his AFL Round 13 Preview.

Week two of the bye rounds, with seven games to preview thanks to West Coast and Richmond pushing forward their Round 14 clash. Clearly the headline act is Port Adelaide v Geelong in the return of Thursday night football. Most of the others aren’t anywhere near as enticing, so hopefully we can find some angles to nail the winners at least.

What we do have are several matchups that are incredibly difficult to assess. Huge injury lists, evenly matched teams and many that have mixed their form of late. Can’t recall a round recently where we have been less confident in how things will play out. But we will give it our best shot.

Best Matchup Port Adelaide v Geelong

Best Underdog Geelong, West Coast

Team Under Pressure St Kilda

Player To Watch Jack Higgins: expecting him to respond after kicking 1.6 against the Swans last week. He could easily have another seven shots at goal this weekend and help the decimated Saints get over the line.

AFL Round 13: Sydney v Hawthorn

The Swans were lucky to escape with a win against St Kilda last week. The Hawks are half as good as the Saints, so they’d be lucky to get that close.

It really is that simple. The only narrative that makes sense for a Hawthorn win is a Sydney side playing with one eye on the week off. The thought of a beach holiday is incredibly distracting right now, but as long as the Swans can concentrate for two hours of football they will get the job done here.

There should be no reason this Sydney offence can’t slice through the Hawks pretty easily, so the likes of Franklin, Heeney, Papley and Hayward will be excited at the prospect of kicking a bag.

Can’t see many scenarios where Sydney struggle in this one, unless they somehow beat themselves.

Pick Sydney by 38
Sydney -32.5 at $1.90 with TopSport

AFL Round 13: Fremantle v Gold Coast

After last week’s carnage, the Dockers could be tapping into the absolute bottom-end of their list to field a competitive team this weekend. They lose their ruckman (Darcy), mid/forward (Fyfe), full back (Cox), another key defender (Logue), half back (Wilson – suspended) and that might not be the end of it.

Somehow they are blessed with a matchup they can still win this week. Against most other sides you’d expect them to come up fierce underdogs, even at home. But facing a Suns team that can really mix their form it becomes very hard to split them.

No doubt Freo are well coached. They just seem incredibly cursed by injuries to an already limited list lacking genuine star power at the moment.

This becomes a battle of the key forwards – Fremantle welcome back Taberner, and surprisingly are still equal with Melbourne on the F50 Marks totals for the season. The Suns are 14th but come up against Fremantle’s undermanned defence, who have conceded the fourth-highest F50 mark total for the season.

Given all of that, Ben King becomes pivotal to the Suns fortunes. As do the other forwards to lighten the load a little. Rankine is coming off his best game of the season. Big test as to whether he can back it up again. Sexton beat up on the Hawks and managed three goals of his own – can he do it against a better side when the game is on the line?

Despite all their injuries, the Dockers ground-level midfield remains reasonably intact. They haven’t lost a clearance count since their -1 against the Lions in Round 8, while the Suns have lost five of their past seven, most of them by a double digit margin. For that reason Fremantle are still the pick, but it wouldn’t surprise to see the Suns salute if they can get enough supply up forward.

Pick Fremantle by 6
Fremantle H2H at $1.90 with TopSport

AFL Round 13: St Kilda v Adelaide

Another team battling to field a full side this weekend are the Saints. Two fit players returned home for personal reasons (Membrey and Ross), their skipper busted his shoulder, and Mason Wood pulled a hamstring when he was finally looking up to senior level.

With an already long injury list, St Kilda won’t have the luxury of bringing in players in-form to replace those clearly struggling. If you’re fit, you’ll probably play.

Luckily for the Saints, they come up against a team on their level. The Crows might have surprised a few this season but still only have four wins. Their only win away from home was a Round 4 victory over North Melbourne where they trailed at the last break. Not the kind of side you can be confident in, even on a neutral deck up in Cairns.

Could this extended break away be a good thing for St Kilda? They thrived last year in hub-life and have openly admitted that they needed to re-establish the kind of connections they made in 2020 on their way to the finals.

The change of scenery looked to have helped last week where they clearly should have beaten Sydney for some much-needed confidence. A repeat of that sort of performance and a slightly better level of execution forward of centre has them well in the frame to beat Adelaide.

The focus for the Crows should be limiting their turnovers through the middle. No one has been punished from midfield turnovers more than Adelaide. St Kilda haven’t exactly been polished with their ball movement lately, but even they will be able to capitalise given enough opportunity. The reverse also applies – we saw the Saints butcher some chances on turnover last week, then watched on as Sydney made them pay up the other end. It could easily come down to whoever is cleaner with their ball movement in this one.

Leaning to the Saints, strangely. Can’t be confident in either side though.

Pick St Kilda by 2
Tri-bet at $3.05 with TopSport
(Either team by under 12.5 points)

AFL Round 13: North Melbourne v GWS

Good to see Tasmania letting the dirty Victorians into Hobart without having to jump too many hoops like a lot of other sides. North at least return to the same state as their only win so far this season. Can they make it two?

Probably not. The Giants will be desperate to keep in touch with a top eight spot threatening to drift away, and regain their best forward in Toby Greene to help them do it. Even if he is slightly underdone (only two weeks missed with his shoulder injury but can’t imagine he’s done a lot in that time), Greene should give North a matchup nightmare.

Through the middle, it’s Cunnington and Simpkin vs Kelly, Taranto, Green, Hopper, Ash, Ward… the Giants bat far deeper than North, so you’d have to think they have the clearance battle covered.

The bye probably came at a good time for GWS – they had been “up” for a while and got a deserved reality check in Round 11 when they were belted by Brisbane. Prior to that their form had been rock solid – three wins and an unlucky loss to Richmond away from home.

This is a significant step down from the likes of Richmond, Brisbane and West Coast so the Giants are well placed to pick up the four points here and keep their finals hopes alive…

Pick GWS by 36
GWS -24.5 at $1.90 with TopSport

AFL Round 13: West Coast v Richmond

Great to see this one slot into the Round 13 fixture to give us another intriguing matchup to cover. Another pretty tricky one to predict.

Really want to believe West Coast are a good side. Yet we have fallen into this trap before and seen them perform well below expectation. When the game is against them they can’t seem to wrestle back control – the Bulldogs in Round 2, St Kilda in Round 4, a disaster against Geelong in Round 6, the Giants’ final quarter in Round 10, and the Bombers second half in Round 11 (where two critical injuries didn’t help). It’s a bloody long list.

The Eagles come up against Richmond at a really interesting time. We know the Eagles have struggled to win contested possession against the good sides, or when momentum is against them at times. They face the Tigers who have never relied on contested ball to be successful – bottom six or seven in each of the past four seasons.

So with that kind of setup, ball control becomes the key. The Eagles love their kicking game – currently 9th in uncontested mark differential after not being out of the top four since 2016. How well can they control the footy against this Tigers defence?

Richmond seem to have evolved slightly as well. They had been ahead of the uncontested mark ledger in only one of their first nine matches this year, but have since broken even against Brisbane, enjoyed plenty of control against Adelaide (+93!) and beaten Essendon (+16) in that area last weekend. Is it merely Grimes and Vlastuin back together? A slight shift towards retaining possession a little more in the back half? Or something completely different?

We know West Coast are absolutely lethal once they do get it in there, yet this is easily their biggest test for quite some time. Only a single win against another top eight side (v Port in Round 3), playing the Tigers who will be happy to stay patient in order to beat them at their own game.

Definitely think West Coast have it in them. But can we trust them?

Pick Richmond by 10
Richmond H2H at $1.70 with TopSport

AFL Round 13: Melbourne v Collingwood

As if the game hasn’t had enough twists and turns already, we get to see Nathan Buckley in charge of the Pies for the final time. The traditional Queen’s Birthday slot headlined by the Fight MND cause has moved to Sydney, with Melbourne starting favourite for the first time since 2018 – a game they subsequently lost by 42 points.

We haven’t seen such a strong favourite in this matchup since the Pies in 2015. This time it’s Melbourne’s turn to be the hunted, something they seem to be enjoying. Knocking off the Bulldogs and Lions in successive weeks is an impressive lead-up, so the only query on them might be a bit of a let down after two solid hitouts before the bye next weekend.

Do we read anything into the Buckley resignation that might lift the Pies to play with a bit more freedom? Quite possibly. But it still might not be enough against such an honest side with the best defence in the competition. We can’t forget Collingwood’s struggles up forward – it would take another six-goal haul from the likes of Elliott, De Goey or Mihocek to get close to pinching this one.

On the tighter SCG it arguably becomes even easier for the Demons to defend. And a shorter way home for their fitter, more organised midfielders and forwards. The SCG hasn’t seen this much footy traffic before, so it will be interesting to see the state of the surface after so many games in succession. Does that make it a little more scrappy than normal? Time will tell.

Melbourne to win. Pies’ only chance is to turn this into a low-scoring grind. But you get the feeling the shackles might be off for them and we see them throw caution to the wind and attack with a bit more flair. Against a lot of other sides that could work. Against this Melbourne defence it could easily backfire.

Pick Melbourne by 29
Tri-bet at $1.51 with TopSport
(Melbourne -19.5 points)

AFL Round 13 Burning Question

Who will coach Collingwood?

No idea, but those who will inevitably call for another “Chris Fagan type” don’t understand how hard they are to find. For every Chris Fagan there are about ten others who might look like they fit the bill but would be a total disaster. Also, the notion that it needs to be someone experienced who has coached at AFL level before is an absolute myth.

Pete Roberts from Behind The Footy is sharing some of his great content with us for the 2021 AFL season. Pete spent fifteen years in AFL coaching boxes as an analyst. He now shares those insights with footy fans.

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