AFL Round 4, AFL Round 15

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 17 Thursday Night 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 17: Port Adelaide v Melbourne

Every win is worth four points, but some games are far more important than others.

This is definitely one of them.

If you asked any Melbourne supporter whether they would take a 12-3 record going into Round 17, they probably couldn’t say yes quickly enough. Having lost two of their past three matches (against teams arguably inferior to Port Adelaide), hopefully the fans haven’t lost faith. They are right in this.

So much at stake here for both teams – only one game separates 1st to 5th, so beating another top four contender is critical for ladder position as much as confidence. Port have only beaten Sydney out of the current top eight teams. Melbourne’s loss to GWS last week was their first defeat to a potential finalist so far this year.

The real question is whether Melbourne have had their “slump” over winter. Their ability to score has dropped off, but their contested ball winning ability is still up there with the best in the competition. We can’t overreact to their slight drop in scoreboard output, especially as a lot of sides tend to lose a few goals in the middle of winter.

Are too many people ignoring the obvious? The Melbourne midfield aren’t as dominant as they have been (wonder if Petracca is carrying some sort of injury), which leads to issues moving the ball from defence, as well as winning stoppages and launching into an open forward line. Fix that, and the goals will come.

The Dees’ stoppage game hasn’t been at a level you’d expect from a side sitting second on the ladder. It has forced them to be ultra-efficient going forward, which is generally unsustainable. Top four at scores per inside 50 in the first twelve rounds, bottom for over the past three matches. Time for Gawn to hog the ruck duties and leave Jackson just to pinch-hit when he needs a rest? It’s been a pretty even split lately…

Ben Brown’s inclusion is an interesting one. His success will depend on the speed of ball movement from further up the ground. We can’t expect him to be a contested marking power forward, particularly in his first game back for a while, so can Melbourne get it to him fast enough on the lead?

For Port, the critical part will be winning the forward half game. Make it difficult for the Demons to move the ball out of defence (they will still take their fair share of intercept marks), pile on the pressure in their front half and grind away. As much as Melbourne’s stoppage game needs to improve, they still have nearly the best front-half turnover numbers in the competition. This is where it will be won and lost.

Expecting Port Adelaide to really lift for this one, particularly with Butters back (bloody love him as a player). And we have to expect Melbourne to resemble the team that has beaten the Bulldogs, Cats, Lions, Swans and Tigers already this year, not the one that has dropped games against Collingwood and GWS in recent weeks.

Ripping contest, with very little between them. Whichever team wins the turnover battle through the middle will win.

Pick Port Adelaide by 2
🍻 Pub bet
Full time tri-bet
Either team by less than 9.5
$1.90 with TopSport

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