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 20 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 20: Western Bulldogs v Adelaide

Remarkably, the Dogs are still yet to play to of the bottom four teams this season. Facing the Crows in Melbourne should be an automatic four points given the absolute gulf between their recent form.

If we take out the 128-point flogging of North Melbourne when the Roos were basically starting from scratch early in the season, the Dogs definitely have a knack of taking the foot off the pedal against the “lesser” teams. As recently as two weeks ago they allowed the Suns to feel good about themselves with a four goal first term.

Fresh off the win against Melbourne, it would be good to see the Bulldogs go full throttle here. The Crows are unlikely to bring the type of pressure that can bring them undone, nor put up a score they will find much of a challenge. The loss of Alex Keath hurts a little – a bag from Tex Walker or Darcy Fogarty and there is hope for the Crows – but across the board the Dogs have far too much class, clearly.

Excited to see the Naughton, Bruce and Ugle-Hagan forward line in action again, even though the venue is a curious one. Did the Dogs get a choice? You would think playing at Marvel Stadium would be their first preference, or even the MCG to get another game under their belt there before the finals series. As much as they have invested in Ballarat, it doesn’t exactly play to their strengths.

A windy, wet Mars Stadium isn’t quite the perfect setup for a demolition job – 3rd vs 18th in forward 50 marks would be a scary proposition under a roof, not so much for a 12:20pm start in Ballarat in the middle of winter.

Pick Western Bulldogs by 34
🍻 Pub bet
Total under 142.5
$1.85 with

AFL Round 20: North Melbourne v Geelong

The Roos have won three of their past five matches to give them a glimmer of hope in avoiding the wooden spoon. They return to Blundstone Arena, where most would argue they play their best football. One win, a draw and two losses this year suggest that’s not exactly true, but given they’ve played Melbourne, GWS and the Lions down there it’s a tough question to answer.

The real fear in this setup is that North Melbourne have been softened up for a hammering here. The leap from a terrible defensive team in Carlton to arguably the best defence in the competition is immense. Against the Blues last week, the Roos piled on 8 goals from midfield turnovers – the best figure of the round. The Cats have conceded that figure only once this year – to the Demons way back in Round 4.

This is a completely different game compared to last week for North Melbourne. And they would have to do something completely different to win. Losing Zurhaar and Cunnington (thoughts with the North veteran after his latest news) makes it even harder.

You always have to be wary of developing sides like North Melbourne once they have been “up” for a while. Inevitably, they put in a flat one or just fail to execute as well as previous weeks. If it happens against a quality side, look out for the margin to balloon to a reasonably large figure.

Like a lot of teams, the Cats do have the ability to cruise through games for long periods when they know they have the other side covered. That’s probably the only question mark in this one. They have enough discipline to play the right way and enough depth to make it hard for North to compete for four quarters.

A case of how far Geelong, it seems…

Pick Geelong by 50
🍻 Pub bet
Geelong -36.5
$1.95 with

AFL Round 20: Gold Coast v Melbourne

A real test of the coaching and mentality of the playing group here. Even in Covid-affected times, not knowing where you are officially playing three days out from a match is absolutely wild. Clearly both teams are used to the uncertainty given the past two seasons, but some players will definitely deal with it better than others.

Get the feeling that Melbourne will relish the dryer conditions now that Queensland is the state of choice. It will give them an opportunity to keep honing their turnover game and go forward with speed when they win it back – under those scenarios you don’t need superstar forwards ahead of the ball to do something special, you just need them to work hard and be in the right spots to convert.

When Melbourne’s game style is working well, the goals are the easy part. It all depends on how well they can move the ball further up the ground, and how many times they can turn it over. The Suns have given up the second-most forward half turnovers in the last six weeks

In Round 19 against the Lions it was their own skill errors – you wouldn’t expect them to be as bad again but Melbourne are the exact team disciplined enough to continually force the Suns into giving the ball back. From there it’s a battle between the sticky Suns defenders and the Dees forwards who thrive on being constantly on the move.

Defensively you’d have to back Melbourne to cover off the Suns forwards. With any sort of discipline they should limit Gold Coast’s opportunities – it wouldn’t surprise to see large periods of the game where the ball just lives in Melbourne’s forward half.

A strong clearance side could find an edge over Melbourne. The Suns just don’t seem to be that side in the absence of Hugh Greenwood and a recognised ruckman. No choice but to strongly favour the Demons here

Pick Melbourne by 26
🍻 Pub bet
Quarter-by-quarter leader
$1.79 with

AFL Round 20: Collingwood v West Coast

One of the most fascinating games of the weekend – if the Pies have any life left in them they should smell a kill in this one: a potentially wet MCG is the perfect setup to beat West Coast. Just not sure if Collingwood are the team to get it done.

The Pies have lost four of their past five games, only one of them against a current finalist. The weather might bring the Eagles back to their level a bit, but there’s a big question mark on whether Collingwood might have run out of gas.

Clearly this will be one and lost at the contest – these two are middle of the road in contested ball this season: Collingwood 9th, West Coast 10th. Even just taking their last five games, they are still next to each other in the rankings. Neither side have set the world on fire in that area, so it might just be a case of whoever is the least worst at it.

The loss of Pendlebury obviously makes a big difference to Collingwood. He’s impossible to replace, but we might find Robert Harvey using this as an opportunity to blood some others through the middle. Taylor Adams is clearly on one leg so they can’t expect him to carry his usual load. Expecting a lot of players to be tried through the middle this weekend.

So in some ways this is the perfect test for the Eagles. Have they progressed at all since they were shown up in the wet by a gallant North Melbourne side (a week after being obliterated by Sydney)? Is Elliot Yeo now completely match fit to give them the kind of midfield grunt they need here? Can the defenders bounce back after a poor showing last week and win the ball back in other ways, instead of just relying on intercept marks? Really interested to see how they play in this one.

We would be inclined to pick most other sides to upset the Eagles in this kind of setup. Just not sure if we can rely on the Pies to get it done

West Coast vulnerable, Collingwood shaky like a lot of sides waiting for the season to end. Incredibly difficult to predict this one.

Pick West Coast by 8
🍻 Pub bet
West Coast H2H
$1.70 with

AFL Round 20: Essendon v Sydney

Arguably the match of the round – the Bombers finals hopes are still alive, even though it might be in their best interests to miss out this year. The Swans are still everyone’s second favourite team and look to be incredibly dangerous they way they are playing.

There have been significant danger signs in Essendon’s last two weeks – bottom four in pressure, bottom two at conceding uncontested marks, only breaking even at midfield turnovers despite playing 18th and 12th at the time. The step up to the Swans will exploit their lack of defensive intent if they don’t improve – no one has a bigger midfield turnover score differential than the Swans.

Is there any sort of confidence that the Bombers can rise again after a flat couple of weeks? Unsure. Their window of opportunity might be turning the game into a stoppage battle, then finding enough marks up forward, but the Swans are so honest down there it will be incredibly difficult – only the Cats and Demons have conceded fewer forward 50 marks this season. Big statement from the Bombers dropping Cale Hooker – time for Wright, Stringer and Stewart to get it done.

If Essendon can lock down the contest and let their midfielders get to work, that’s their best chance of causing the upset. The Gabba does lend itself to favouring those who can win centre bounce, so in that respect the Bombers could find a way.

In a battle between the turnover game of the Swans and the stoppage threat of Essendon, we will always side with the more lethal turnover team. Sydney clearly fit that bill.

An Essendon win in a tight one wouldn’t shock, but loving what the Swans are doing at the moment. A happy team is a formidable team…

Pick Sydney by 17
🍻 Pub bet
Total over 164.5
$1.90 with 

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