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 18 Preview for Saturday’s games

🍻 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 18: St Kilda v Port Adelaide

One of the trickiest matchups of the week. Are we able to trust St Kilda, now?

Team news for Port throws up a red flag – Butters, Rozee and Motlop are all out injured, leaving them without a bit of speed and class that is crucial to their turnover game. It means they have to meet the Saints at their level – a much more contested grind than they would like.

The Ryder / Marshall v Lycett / Ladhams battle could be pivotal. On paper the Saints have the edge with that matchup, particularly if their ruckman can wander down to the forward line and hit the scoreboard. They kicked three between them against the Magpies two weeks ago. Need a similar output this weekend.

The key for Port will be their ability mark the ball up forward – Dixon, Georgiades and Marshall should stretch the undersized Saints defence. They have managed double-digit marks inside 50 in 11 of 16 matches, but haven’t posted more than 8 in their past three games. With some of their small forwards missing this weekend, it all comes down to whether their key forwards can clunk it and convert.

Leaning the Saints.

Pick St Kilda by 4

AFL Round 18: Gold Coast v Western Bulldogs

This is an enormous trap game for the Suns – fresh off two wins against average opposition, there is a real danger of overrating their form. They crash into a quality Bulldogs side on a dry deck. If the Dogs are switched on this could be a gap job.

The scoring profile of these two sides couldn’t be further apart – the 17th-ranked Suns offence has to face the highest scoring team of the year. Defensively the Dogs are only behind Melbourne in points conceded.

Even though the Suns have the 7th lowest points against column, you only have to check out their record against top four sides to see how big of a challenge this is – they leaked 118 the last time they played the Bulldogs, gave up 124 against the Lions at the same venue as this weekend’s game, and conceded 91 points to a Geelong side that never really got out of second gear at home.

The Suns have to find a way to keep the Dogs under 75 points. Good luck.

The loss of Greenwood is a huge blow against all those Bulldogs midfielders. With Sam Day injured, you wouldn’t think the key forward trio of King, Burgess and Corbett will give the Dogs defenders much trouble, even if the Suns can somehow generate enough forward 50 entries to threaten at all.

We can’t let the last two weeks cloud the reality that Gold Coast regularly post double-digit negative inside 50 differentials. The Dogs are +170 for the season – next best is Brisbane at +95. With all of their class through the middle and the weapons they have up forward (especially with Naughton returning), the Bulldogs should easily post the kind of score the Suns can’t match.

As usual in this type of mismatch, the only real danger to the favourites are themselves. We said as much in the preview of the last game these two played. The Dogs have a habit of playing like millionaires at times, but it never seems to stretch over more than a quarter or two.

Comfortable the Bulldogs get the job done here. Enjoying the way the Suns seem to be building a bit more of a competitive edge, but this is probably a bridge too far for them this year.

Pick Western Bulldogs by 45
🍻 Pub bet
Bulldogs -23.5
$1.90 with TopSport

AFL Round 18: Melbourne v Hawthorn

Speaking of mismatches, the Dees take on a Hawthorn side that might have run out of gas.

You would’ve thought the Hawks were suited to teams such as Fremantle and Melbourne, given their offence never really puts a team to the sword. But after conceding 100+ to Fremantle last week it’s hard to see how Melbourne can’t find a way through and put up at least 80+ themselves.

The Hawks have the worst inside 50 differential of any side this season. By a long way. The only way to stop the onslaught at the MCG is to win the clearance battle. Melbourne haven’t been super in that area lately but did look to turn the corner a little against Port last weekend. Stoppages are the small window of opportunity for the Hawks to pinch it. Do we think they can do it? Nope.

Another game where the favourite’s mental application will determine the margin. An empty stadium has been a blessing for the super-organised Demons before. No reason to think it won’t help their defence this weekend, where they could really clamp down on the 16th-ranked offence and just squeeze them to death.

The Dees to march on. Even a wet MCG plays into their favour – anyone not named Ben Brown should find the conditions really suitable to grinding a way to a win and banking another four points.

Pick Melbourne by 38
🍻 Pub bet
Melbourne -42.5
$1.84 with TopSport

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