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 23 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 23: St Kilda v Fremantle

This game is impossible. The Saints are in better form than their recent 1-4 record suggests. The Dockers are 2-3 but would have the same record if they didn’t win a miracle contest against Richmond at home. They find themselves in Tassie of all places, which hosted the famous siren-gate game all those years ago. The memories!

Let’s not get seduced by Fremantle’s win over West Coast, who let them walk through 50 tackles and really only scored in a vicious five-goal burst either side of quarter time. The Dockers have been super brave given their injury list and lack of potency up forward. Just expecting them to find this a bit tougher.

The Dockers’ midfield combination of Darcy, Cerra, Serong and Brayshaw (returning from suspension) will always give them a chance. It’s a huge test for St Kilda’s midfield – they’ve won the clearance differential only once in the past six weeks, and have found it hard without both their star rucks on the park together.

A slim finals chance on the line for Fremantle, pride on the line for St Kilda. The Saints might go well with the pressure off a little, given they have been their own worst enemy for much of the year. Maybe with very little consequence they will kick straight, at least.

This probably comes down to whichever offence can fire down in Tassie. Max King v Matt Taberner would’ve been a highlight, but now King is missing through injury. Advantage Dockers? Tim Membrey and Rowan Marshall now shoulder more of the load up forward, which is less than ideal for the Saints. A pivotal head to head might be Jack Higgins v an underrated Lachie Schulz – a few goes from either of them will go a long way to helping their side get the four points. Ultimately, whoever makes the most of their opportunities will win, so it really is a coin flip here.

The Dockers have the edge through the middle, and with King out of the side it removes any advantage St Kilda may have had up forward. Hard to split them.

Pick Fremantle by 4

🍻 Pub bet
Full time tri-bet
Either team under 9.5 points
$3.65 with TopSport

AFL Round 23: Essendon v Collingwood

The Pies would love nothing more than to ruin Essendon’s finals chances. They just aren’t in any sort of form to make us believe it’s actually possible.

Collingwood have won only a single quarter in their past two games – the final term against Hawthorn where they trailed by 30 points at the last change. Brisbane basically did what they liked against them last weekend, even though the final margin probably flattered the Lions.

The Bombers offence doesn’t quite have the same calibre of Brisbane, but Collingwood will still find them tough to contain. The last time they met, Essendon put up 109 points. A repeat of that sort of scoreline and they win comfortably.

At least the Pies stay at the MCG for this one. Three of their six wins have been at this venue. The only time the Bombers have saluted at the G this season (in only four attempts, funnily enough), was against the Pies way back in Round 6.

Restricting Essendon’s scoring is their best chance. Can Collingwood lock down for long enough and take the pace out of the game? They’ve shown they can do it in patches, but rarely for four quarters.

The Bombers won’t mind plenty of stoppages. They have the best clearance differential of any side in the past six weeks, and double the amount of stoppage scores than their opposition. The evolution of Essendon from a free-flowing, turnover-based team to a stoppage beast has been interesting. It has worked against three of the bottom four sides recently (as well as the Bulldogs), and there’s no reason to suggest it will fail against the 16th-placed Magpies.

Denying the uncontested mark game of the opposition is the key for Essendon – they failed to do it against Sydney and GWS and paid the price (-49 and -43 in those matches), but then held traditional ball hogs like the Bulldogs and Suns to basically a break-even figure. Given the Pies have the second-highest uncontested mark differential over the past six weeks, it will be an interesting watch early to see who gets the game on their terms.

For the sake of the competition, hoping the Bombers salute and provide a bit of spark to this finals series.

Pick Essendon by 27

🍻 Pub bet
Essendon -22.5
$1.85 with TopSport

AFL Round 23: Adelaide v North Melbourne

What the hell do we do with this game? Two wins between these sides in the last month, with their scores of 100+ in Round 19 looking like an aberration. The Crows have won only a single second-half quarter in their past four games. The Roos have made the honourable loss an art form.

Clearly North Melbourne come into this one in better form – after comfortably dealing with Carlton they got within 20 points of Geelong, kept the Tigers to a 2-goal first half (before the floodgates opened) and stoically hung in there against Sydney last week. But relying on a four-win team to hold their form isn’t something you should do…

In some ways, the Crows getting themselves up for this one shouldn’t come as a surprise. Just as it wasn’t a shock when they put in a flat one the week after the Showdown. With that out of the way, we are expecting them to play with a bit of freedom here in their last game of the season with nothing on the line. Their performance against Melbourne was reasonably competitive if you look closely.

The only ones cheering harder for Adelaide than Crows fans will be the Giants. They hold Collingwood’s first pick, so if North fail to get the job done the Pies will fall to 17th (unless they somehow beat Essendon). Fair trade win that for GWS!

North are currently a better side than Adelaide. Just can’t trust either of them so go with your gut – or if you need one last correct selection to leapfrog your footy tipping leader, go with the Crows to cause the upset.

Pick Adelaide by 1

🍻 Pub bet
Full time tri-bet
Either team under 9.5 points
$3.75 with TopSport

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