Footy betting, line betting, afl analysis, AFL round 20. afl finals week 1

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 Finals Week 2 previews.

🍻 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!


Every single year the losing qualifying finalists tend to be underrated coming into the second week of the finals series. In some ways it’s understandable – one side coming off a loss, the other an elimination final win. But as we have said all season, there is much more to form than just looking a week behind.

The gap between Geelong and GWS has been pretty significant all season. The gap between the Lions and Bulldogs? Not nearly as large. Sets up for a very interesting couple of games here.

Best Matchup Tom Hawkins v Sam Taylor

Player Under Pressure Patrick Dangerfield – playing injured, but also looking like he’s trying to drag the whole team onto his shoulders. Expecting a big bounce back Friday night

Player To Watch Marcus Bontempelli – hard to see how he doesn’t hold the key to the Dogs chances. Averaging 120 ranking points per game against the other top eight sides, easily putting him in the top 10 players in the comp when playing the real contenders.

His teammate Jack Macrae sits on top with 129, but the Bont has the line-breaking ability to stamp himself as a serious finals player again. Berry to Bont? Can’t wait.

AFL Finals Week 2: Brisbane v Western Bulldogs

One side coming off a loss to the premiership favourites. The other beating up on an 11-win finalist after a pretty fortunate first half. Their opponent kicked one goal across three quarters, albeit in wet conditions.

Again we find the last-start loser perhaps a little underrated the following week. Can the Dogs build off the demolition of Essendon? Or will Brisbane’s superior form over the past month prove too strong?

It really does hammer home just how crucial that fourth ladder position really was. The Lions snuck in and find themselves with the rare luxury of a home final in front of a decent crowd. The Dogs come off a wet slog in Tasmania and some quarantine conditions that would be outrageous by any other standard than the one we’ve become used to in the past two seasons.

Team Selection

  • McStay out under concussion protocol for the Lions. Jack Payne is the interesting conclusion. Lions going to swing a defender forward? Or is Payne the man to just slot into McStay’s position? Hopefully someone in the commentary box can tell us when they line up for the centre bounce, so we don’t have to guess

  • The Dogs have changed…nothing. Interesting. Without naming names, there are some seriously lucky players in that line-up. Good to stick solid with the team that delivered last week though, at least

The Case for Brisbane

While everyone was rightfully singing the praises of Melbourne’s performance last weekend, there was a lot to like about Brisbane. They weren’t overwhelmed by the occasion away from home at all.

The Lions absorbed a 200+ pressure rating from Melbourne in the first term but still managed to kick four goals, posting +3 at clearance and +2 inside 50s. Even after half time they kept Melbourne goalless for the quarter and kicked two themselves. Brisbane were still operating at a reasonable level, but Melbourne’s even spread of contributors wore them down. The bottom six of most sides gets exposed in a finals series. The Lions need more from those players this weekend.

Losing McStay also didn’t help. He’s obviously not there again this weekend but at least they have a week to plan around him, and come up against a side not exactly flush with intercept marking defenders.

Considering Joe Daniher was held goalless, Harris Andrews and Marcus Adams weren’t their usual selves down back and the likes of Jarrod Berry, Zac Bailey and Nakia Cockatoo couldn’t get into the game, there is still plenty of improvement in them. A much more even spread of contributors and they have the ingredients to bounce back.

Brisbane’s 60 points last week was their lowest score since Round 4, ironically the last time they played the Bulldogs. This is a different scenario 21 weeks later – home ground advantage to the Lions, a crowd cheering them on, and an offence that has posted scores of over 110 in four of their past six matches.

Even in a tight final, their ability to play with speed and find goals from a number of different players spells trouble for the Dogs defence.

The Case for Western Bulldogs

Didn’t think we would say this only six weeks ago, but the Dogs might be best suited to turning this one into a scrap. After losing the last three clearance counts prior to their game against Essendon, they looked to thrive a little on the contest in their first final – a lot of clever knock ons, slick handballs (ahem, throws) and an ability for their midfielders to get from contest to contest better than most.

It’s the contest where this game will be won and lost. And the Dogs are still equipped to get it done in that area. Brisbane have led the contested possession only twice in nine games against the other eventual finalists, including a -21 figure against Melbourne. The Dogs have gone 6-4 in ten games over the same measurement. They seemed to enjoy the grind last week against the Bombers.

While it won’t be wet (right?), the Dogs can still try and recapture the kind of form that saw them dominate the forward half intercept numbers all season. Even when they dropped off slightly in the last month of the regular season, scoring from this area never dried up. The Lions are a perfect team to attack in your front half when they have the ball after being exploited many times this season.

The Dogs did it last week against an inferior Bombers outfit (41 points from forward half turnovers), can they do it against a stronger opponent here? The Dees went +7 in front half turnovers last week. That’s probably a minimum for the Dogs in this one.

And given Aaron Naughton has been the only one that looks like grabbing it inside 50 lately, winning it back and kicking straight back into density might not be the worst thing for them – let the mids and the dangerous small forwards like Cody Weightman and Mitch Hannan get to work.

The Verdict

Came into this one ready to declare the Lions in the same way we did with Geelong. But on closer inspection this isn’t as one-sided as it might seem. The two highest scoring offences of the season crash into each other here in a knockout final. Will it be a shootout? In that case it’s probably advantage Brisbane on current form. If it’s a scrap, however, the Dogs are right in it. Melbourne gave them the blueprint, it’s just a matter of whether they are up to it.

Lions on their home deck and in better form. Will lean their way.

Pick Brisbane by 19

🍻 Pub bet
Brisbane -8.5
$1.85 with TopSport

AFL Finals Week 2: Geelong v GWS

The Giants need a miracle here. Not exactly going out on a limb, but it’s incredibly hard to see how the Cats don’t win comfortably, particularly now that Toby Greene has gone and done something regrettable. Again.

Many will point to the GWS heist against Geelong in Round 21 as proof they have a chance here. Let’s look a little more closely at that game:

  • Expected score was 78-73 in Geelong’s favour (actual score 65-84). Despite what you think of that measurement, the Cats just didn’t convert. If Jordan Clark doesn’t launch one out on the full from 20m out, do they win?

  • It was the typical upset game script: jump the favourite early, hit the scoreboard and build much-needed confidence – 4.3 to 1.3 at quarter time, which was basically the final margin

  • The Giants conceded 64 inside 50s that night, resulting in 25 scoring shots. Three of their four highest inside 50 totals against have come in the last month. Completely unsustainable.

  • They took only 5 marks inside 50, the lowest total of any winning side this season.

  • Toby Greene kicked four that night. He obviously won’t be a threat on Friday.

It was the type of game you could play 20 times and the Giants come out on top maybe twice. Credit to them for getting the job done. Very hard to see it happening again.

Team Selection

  • Toby has done it again, so he’s out. Last time he played he was suspended for an elbow on Patrick Dangerfield, so maybe they’re just bringing forward his penalty to save him from something worse

  • Tom Green and Sam Reid are also injured. In comes Bobby Hill and Conor Stone. Not exactly like for like in terms of body shape

  • Never thought we would see the day. Luke Dahlhaus has been dropped (along with Simpson and Higgins, with O’Connor injured again). He’s played 21 games this season but posted only 20 disposals once, and never kicked multiple goals. Shocked to see it actually happen though

  • In comes Ratugolea, Tuohy and Holmes. Tuohy is a huge inclusion. The other two definitely make the Cats super tall. Have to back in the Cats coaching staff to make the most of them. In the dry conditions it might stretch GWS, or it could also backfire

The Case for Geelong

Last week was definitely one of those games. They were exposed for speed the entire night, forced into some pretty uncharacteristic errors (Lachie Henderson would like his time over again), kept to their third-lowest uncontested mark total for the season, and torched at ground level in defence.

This is a completely different setup – the Giants don’t play with anywhere near the speed and skill level of Port Adelaide. They don’t apply pressure at nearly the same level either, particularly outside of stoppage situations. So the Cats get a clear opportunity to get back to what they do best.

On a dry deck at Optus Stadium with a fair bit of space compared to GMHBA Stadium, Geelong can go to battle with GWS at stoppages, then get their uncontested mark game going on the outside. With the second-best clearance differential of the entire season, the Cats have the exact game style suited to going head to head with the Giants and doing it better.

So that means GWS will be defending an avalanche of Inside 50s again – even with Sam Taylor in incredible form, the Cameron/Hawkins duo are unlikely to be kept to two goals again like last week. Cameron didn’t play the last time they met, and Hawkins was kept to only a single goal. It would be a shock if they don’t become an absolute handful for the GWS defenders.

Can they get a better contribution from their bottom six players? And find some goals from their small forwards? Some of them looked out of their depth last week but will be better for the harsh lesson they received. There are no top-level speedsters in the Giants’ forward line like they faced against Port, so defensively they should be far easier to contain.

The Case for GWS

The Giants have to follow the same blueprint as Round 21, and to some extent their final last week. Dominate contested ball early, force enough pressure on the opposition to turn the ball over, and hit the scoreboard to get reward for effort. For this side, feeling like you’re “in the game” early might be the most important key to their chances. Can they do it without their Captain?

Pressure is a real challenge, but it’s not like they are incapable. A lot of sides have had big spikes in their pressure ratings on important occasions. The Giants will need one here – only four games of 190+ this season (190 would be a minimum requirement for most finals), and none of them against a top eight side. They have to lift a cog to be any chance in this one, especially when the ball is on the outside to deny Geelong’s uncontested mark game.

The big selling point for GWS is their midfield. They have the weapons to go head to head with Geelong for long enough to win their fair share of the ball. Without Greene and up against a much more solid defence compared to Sydney, they face the problem of their midfielders needing to also hit the scoreboard at times.

Taranto, Ward, Kelly and Hopper have to steel themselves to get forward and score, challenging the Geelong mids on transition like Port did last week. Big task.

So their window of opportunity lies in their first quarter output – turning this game into a grind gives them hope, but also plays into Geelong’s hands a little as well. They are just going to have to beat them the old fashioned way – fighting fire with fire at the contest.

The Verdict

Would be genuinely shocked if Geelong lose here. The match review of the Port Adelaide game would’ve been a blessing in disguise – the perfect mix of reassurance (they couldn’t possibly commit as many errors this time, surely), a few critical things to work on and reminding their very mature group that they know how to win.

As plucky as the Giants have been, winning five of their last six, they have definitely overperformed. If they concede another 60+ inside 50s against this side, Geelong will score by accident. And then they will be relying solely on poor conversion to keep them in the game long enough to pinch it like last time.

Pick Geelong by 33

🍻 Pub bet
Geelong -16.5
$1.90 with TopSport

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