AFL Round 1, topsport podcast episode 3

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 Sunday Double Preview.

North Melbourne v GWS

Good to see Tasmania letting the dirty Victorians into Hobart without having to jump too many hoops like a lot of other sides. North at least return to the same state as their only win so far this season. Can they make it two?

Probably not. The Giants will be desperate to keep in touch with a top eight spot threatening to drift away, and regain their best forward in Toby Greene to help them do it. Even if he is slightly underdone (only two weeks missed with his shoulder injury but can’t imagine he’s done a lot in that time), Greene should give North a matchup nightmare.

Through the middle, it’s Cunnington and Simpkin vs Kelly, Taranto, Green, Hopper, Ash, Ward… the Giants bat far deeper than North, so you’d have to think they have the clearance battle covered.

The bye probably came at a good time for GWS – they had been “up” for a while and got a deserved reality check in Round 11 when they were belted by Brisbane. Prior to that their form had been rock solid – three wins and an unlucky loss to Richmond away from home.

This is a significant step down from the likes of Richmond, Brisbane and West Coast so the Giants are well placed to pick up the four points here and keep their finals hopes alive…

Pick GWS by 36
GWS -24.5 at $1.90 with TopSport

West Coast v Richmond

Great to see this one slot into the Round 13 fixture to give us another intriguing matchup to cover. Another pretty tricky one to predict.

Really want to believe West Coast are a good side. Yet we have fallen into this trap before and seen them perform well below expectation. When the game is against them they can’t seem to wrestle back control – the Bulldogs in Round 2, St Kilda in Round 4, a disaster against Geelong in Round 6, the Giants’ final quarter in Round 10, and the Bombers second half in Round 11 (where two critical injuries didn’t help). It’s a bloody long list.

The Eagles come up against Richmond at a really interesting time. We know the Eagles have struggled to win contested possession against the good sides, or when momentum is against them at times. They face the Tigers who have never relied on contested ball to be successful – bottom six or seven in each of the past four seasons.

So with that kind of setup, ball control becomes the key. The Eagles love their kicking game – currently 9th in uncontested mark differential after not being out of the top four since 2016. How well can they control the footy against this Tigers defence?

Richmond seem to have evolved slightly as well. They had been ahead of the uncontested mark ledger in only one of their first nine matches this year, but have since broken even against Brisbane, enjoyed plenty of control against Adelaide (+93!) and beaten Essendon (+16) in that area last weekend. Is it merely Grimes and Vlastuin back together? A slight shift towards retaining possession a little more in the back half? Or something completely different?

We know West Coast are absolutely lethal once they do get it in there, yet this is easily their biggest test for quite some time. Only a single win against another top eight side (v Port in Round 3), playing the Tigers who will be happy to stay patient in order to beat them at their own game.

Definitely think West Coast have it in them. But can we trust them?

Pick Richmond by 10
Richmond H2H at $1.70 with TopSport

Click here for Pete’s previews of every AFL match this round.

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