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!
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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