afl round 1, afl ladder, afl round 16, afl round 17

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 16 Preview.

🍻 Pub bets Watching a game and want an interest? We’ve thrown in the pub bet for that very reason… it might just be a smart way to play based on Pete’s excellent analysis!

Chaos. All 18 teams now in Victoria, nearly 12 months to the day since all 18 teams were out of the state and never returned until their seasons were over. Credit to the league for rolling with the punches, but you have to feel for those involved at how frustrating the changing landscape must be.

Surprised no one has unloaded on the various State Governments by now, even though we know why that can’t happen.

It’s hard enough trying to pick the winners without the additional element of hub life to deal with. We saw last year there were some teams who handled the uncertainty much better than others. Will anyone emerge from this strange period with more wins than we expected? Time will tell…

Best Matchup – Sydney v West Coast

Best Underdog – St Kilda

Team Under Pressure – West Coast

Player To Watch – Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti: we saw Charlie Cameron run riot last week against the Cats defence. Tippa needs to do the same for the Bombers to be any chance on Friday night…

AFL Round 16: Geelong v Essendon

The first clash between these two down at GMHBA Stadium in 28 years. Two contrasting styles – the speed and uncontested chains of the Bombers, the stoppage game and marking ability of the Cats.

The bigger bodies of Geelong give them a clear edge in this one. They are years ahead in their development compared to Essendon. One look at the teams last week says it all – Geelong with an average age of 28 years, 5 months against Brisbane, with a games average of 158. The Bombers had 24 years, 10 months and 76 games on average. Big difference, one that tends to show itself in a tough game against a premiership contender.

If it stays dry, the marking power of Geelong at either end should prove too much for Essendon. Stewart, Henry and Henderson down back can control the air, with Hawkins and Cameron causing trouble up forward. Only the threat of Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti and the other ground level players would make the Cats a little nervous. Tippa might have to play the game of his life to get them going.

Last week was a nice little reality check for Geelong – they were beaten for speed, couldn’t deal with the kicking game of Brisbane and gave up 17 marks inside 50 (their worst result for the year). The Bombers definitely have the speed, but do they have the kicking precision to match? Or the marking weapons up forward? Can’t be confident against this Cats defence.

Even though they’ve gone 4-2 in their past six weeks, the Bombers have definitely been “up” for a long while. In the back of your mind you have to consider that they might put in a flat one at some stage, which we have seen from even the best teams this season. This might be the game they drop, and then regroup for a relatively soft run home.

Expecting the Cats to win. Critical game for them to stay in the top four.

Pick: Geelong by 27
🍻 Pub bet
To score 2+ goals
Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti
$2.54 with TopSport

AFL Round 16: Melbourne v GWS

The Giants blew a golden opportunity to stay level with the Tigers on seven wins last week. The rejuvenated Hawks defence was able to keep their forwards quiet – only 72 points on a sunny Sunday afternoon at the G wasn’t nearly enough.

They face an even better defence here. Yet strangely, 72 points could be quite competitive given the Dees have struggled to score themselves over the past couple of weeks.

So this becomes a matter of which offence can find a way. On form, you still have to side with Melbourne – they are used to winning ugly, have built a lot of belief over the course of the season, and can grind their way to another win as long as they turn their midfield brilliance into scores.

Waiting on teams for this one – the inclusion of Mumford might not be enough to contain Max Gawn. That edge alone is worth a significant amount for Melbourne. The rest of the midfield is relatively evenly matched, so Gawn’s dominance should see the Dees able to at least break even at stoppage after losing clearance differential in three of their past four games.

Had the Giants put in a convincing performance against Hawthorn last week, you could suggest they were in the right sort of form to challenge Melbourne. They didn’t, so it would take a reasonable form reversal for them to cause the upset. We’ve seen it plenty of times before so it pays to be wary given Melbourne aren’t blowing teams away offensively, but we still have to side with the ladder leader here.

Pick: Melbourne by 18
🍻 Pub bet
GWS +29.5
$1.85 with TopSport

AFL Round 16: Adelaide v Brisbane

This is another example of having to be wary of a top team putting in a flat one. The Lions have won nine of their past ten matches, with only a poor second half against Melbourne letting them down. Are they due for a lack of intensity or commitment at some point soon? Does the uncertainty of their immediate future play any part in their performance?

We saw the Crows lift for a big one against Melbourne and knock them off at home, albeit in front of a nearly-full home crowd at night. This time they land in the afternoon spot with the prospect of an empty stadium (or at best half-full), so it will be interesting if the Crows can find their spark against another top side.

It is going to take a massive defensive effort from Adelaide to contain the Lions in this one, without their best defensive midfielder in Rory Sloane. We saw how important he was in the upset win over Melbourne, and again when the Crows overrun the Saints in Cairns. Without him here, the task becomes even harder.

Only the Kangaroos have conceded more forward 50 marks than the Crows this season – look out if the Lions aren’t flat, because all of their marking players could run amok here. They managed 17 against Geelong’s defence. What are they capable of here?

Just wary of Brisbane not being on their A-game. That said, they should still be too strong for the Crows.

Pick: Brisbane by 23
🍻 Pub bet
Total over 165.5
$1.90 with TopSport

AFL Round 16: Fremantle v Carlton

The Dockers playing a home game against Carlton at the MCG on the same day as the Demons take on the Giants at the same venue. 2021 is getting wild.

Absolutely no idea what to do with this game. Carlton have the offence to trouble an undermanned Fremantle, but their lack of willingness to lock down on defence means the Dockers should get enough opportunities of their own.

Fremantle were embarrassed last time they played Carlton – Round 3 Marvel Stadium, the Blues’ second-highest score for the year. In that game, Carlton dominated the clearance count – 43-29, leading to a 64-43 inside 50 tally. With their go-forward style, Carlton have the exact weapon that can cause Freo a lot of problems.

The confidence levels of both these teams have changed dramatically since that time, though. Carlton have been clouded by off-field reviews and significant pressure on their performances. Fremantle have progressed quietly and banked wins along the way despite their injury issues, to the point where only percentage is keeping them out of the eight.

Last week’s win over Collingwood showed they are in the right form and up for the fight. With the change in venue and the uncertainty about when they might return home, the game becomes another watch on how the team will cope. It’s a factor we wish we didn’t have to consider, but it’s necessary.

The Blues couldn’t be any more different than the Pies, so this is an entirely different challenge for the Dockers. Their midfield has the quality to win enough contests through the middle and generate supply for their forwards, so it might come down to taking their opportunities in front of goal. If Fyfe returns, he might become the most fascinating part of the match – likely to stay forward for longer periods due to his suspect shoulder, so can he ditch the yips and kick a few?

Wish we could just assess these two purely on their merits. But venue switches and the mental aspect of being away from home for an undetermined period force us to side with Carlton when it probably should be the other way around.

Pick: Carlton by 5
🍻 Pub bet
Full time tri bet
Either team under 12.5
$2.96 with TopSport

AFL Round 16: Hawthorn v Port Adelaide

One of the more interesting games of the weekend – a resurgent Hawthorn against a shaky Port Adelaide, potentially with an open roof at Marvel Stadium on a wintery, rainy night in Melbourne. Makes things tricky from a game analysis perspective, that’s for sure.

Charlie Dixon’s status complicates things even further. Some of the criticism of him this year has been grossly unfair, judging him only on goals to measure his output. Not the right approach for a player of his type. Without him, their forward line definitely lacks a bit of brute force and class. Georgiades and Marshall would have to fill the void, which is a worry.

Port Adelaide’s best approach is to use their speed of ball movement and ability to turn the ball over in their front half. They come up against the worst forward half turnover team in the competition. That factor alone becomes the tipping point in favour of Port.

The Hawks’ renewed defence seems to have helped generate higher scores up the other end, making them far more competitive than earlier in the season – scores of 89, 73 and 90 in their past three weeks. A similar output on Saturday night would put them right in the game. Big job for their forwards to keep finding a way, and for Port’s defence to lock down and deny them the opportunity.

Clearly Port are a better side, equipped with enough pace and a superior skill level to get the job done. The absence of Dixon brings them down a notch, particularly as they haven’t set the world on fire offensively for a little while. Still have to be on their side though, given Marvel Stadium is a turnover ground and they clearly have the edge in that area compared to the Hawks.

Pick: Port Adelaide by 20
🍻 Pub bet
Port Adelaide -17.5
$2.00 with TopSport

AFL Round 16: Sydney v West Coast

An absolute stroke of genius from the Swans, shifting this game to GMHBA Stadium (they were given a choice of Victorian venues) just to mess with West Coast’s heads.

This is arguably the best contest of the round – the pluck of Sydney up against a side full of stars without much pluck of their own lately. We get to see how much pride the Eagles possess – what should’ve been an 80-point loss (expected score 122-43) against the Bulldogs at home became a only a 55-point smashing in a game which strangely didn’t attract much post-match attention. The Eagles aren’t travelling well at all, particularly when it’s cold and wet and the chips are down.

Down at GMHBA Stadium on a skinny ground, where the uncontested mark game of the Eagles will have to take a back set to genuine contested footy, West Coast will have to find their inner beasts out of nowhere. They have shown it in brief glimpses across the year, but generally they have only won using their A strategy – not a lot of plan B about the Eagles at the moment.

Complicating matters is the form of Sydney though – they’ve lost three of their past five, should have been beaten by the Saints in Round 12 and only beat the Blues in time-on of Round 11. Hardly the kind of platform to be confident in them here, even though their game against Port Adelaide last week was full of merit and could’ve easily delivered the four points with a bit of luck.

Incredibly difficult, this one. West Coast a better side lacking in the ability to win ugly. Sydney with the blue-collar work ethic, lacking the kind of class the Eagles possess. Throw in GMHBA stadium and this is a genuine coin flip.

Maybe the Eagles’ inclusions from last week will be better for the run after a long absence. Their front six stacks up against anyone in the competition – time for them to deliver the kind of score that should have the Swans covered.

Pick: West Coast by 8
🍻 Pub bet
West Coast +1.5
$1.90 with TopSport

AFL Round 16: Collingwood v St Kilda

Not sure how the Saints have landed as outsiders in this one, particularly after last week. The usual recency bias hasn’t kicked in for some reason, so Collingwood head in favourites after a loss, a week into Robert Harvey’s head coaching career.

Another tricky matchup – both sides incredibly hard to trust, particularly when the Saints can look like giant killers one week and crumble in a heap the next. Not often you lose by 86 points in a season then win the return match by 40 against the same side.

Is there an angle which suggests the Saints are better suited to the MCG these days? It was surprisingly their first crack on the ground for the season last week and they wore down Richmond with their contest and aerial work on a slippery deck. Similar conditions this week against Collingwood, who are nowhere near as formidable as the Tigers.

Collingwood’s challenge will again be their ability to score, yet this game doesn’t look like the kind of match where you need a massive total to win. The Pies scores of 78, 80 and 79 would be super competitive here. At least they have found some consistency!

Usually in an arm wrestle like this one, winning the contested possession and clearance battle through the middle proves to be the difference. The Saints have a slightly better recent record, while the Pies have had a tougher fixture to contend with. Do we simply work off last week’s result as an indication that St Kilda have regained some of their edge?

A one-game sample size isn’t usually the way we would approach a matchup, but in a very closely matched contest it might be the way we lean towards the eventual winner. Would have liked to have seen Collingwood take care of Fremantle to have more confidence in them here. The Saints will give them something different again, and a week might not be long enough for the Pies to practice what Robert Harvey has tweaked since he took over.

Saints. Just.

Pick: St Kilda by 3
🍻 Pub bet
St Kilda H2H
$1.97 with TopSport

AFL Round 16: Western Bulldogs v North Melbourne

Buried in the Sunday graveyard slot is the biggest mismatch of the round. Fearful of what could happen to North Melbourne here if the Bulldogs get serious. But they probably won’t.

Is this the moment Luke Beveridge makes a few team changes to keep the squad fresh? Coming off a demolition job over in the West in a bit of a slog, you’d forgive him for thinking they might need some fresh legs to also inject a bit of enthusiasm into the side. Their next four matches are nearly certain wins if they maintain the rage, so it’s the perfect time to give a few sore players a week off at some stage in the next month.

The last time these two played, the Dogs won by 128 points, Josh Bruce kicked 10 goals and no one was really surprised. North Melbourne have improved. So have the Dogs. Can’t expect Bruce to kick 10 again, but between him and Aaron Naughton they could easily find a bag each.

Not much to say, other than it’s just a matter of how far – if the Dogs take this game seriously. North will probably get a few opportunities going back the other way, as often these types of mismatches end up resembling the old-school circle work at training, with not a lot of defence through the middle.

With the kicking skills of the Dogs, you have to wonder what they are capable of doing. The only question mark is whether they will get out of second gear.

Pick: Western Bulldogs by 46
🍻 Pub bet
Bulldogs by 40+
$1.52 with TopSport

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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