How good is it to have footy back for season 2021! Which teams will surprise us and who will disappoint? One thing is for sure, there’s plenty of value on offer. Here are The Wolf’s AFL tips for Round 1.
Richmond / Geelong / Brisbane / Port Adelaide / Fremantle (+12.5) = $4.47
Tigers to open season with a win…again
Once again the AFL season kicks off with Richmond and Carlton on a Thursday Night, an occasion which the Tigers have owned for a long time now.
Richmond has won the last 10 games against the Blues by an average of 26 points, with 9 of those 10 wins between 1-39. Carlton is certainly up against it, failing to win a Round 1 clash since 2012.
In last year’s clash, the Tigers jumped Carlton early leading by 31 points at quarter-time and 46 points at half-time, but the Blues showed a bit in the second half to bring the margin back to four goals.
There’s plenty of hype around David Teague’s men in 2021, but it’s an almighty task against Richmond looking to start their 2021 season strongly as they look to achieve their third consecutive flag.
In 2020 Carlton didn’t blow teams away, nor did they get blown away with 16 of their 17 matches decided between 1-39, and The Wolf is expecting another match decided by that margin with the Tigers too good.
For your Same Game Multi, Dustin Martin has averaged 28.6 disposals in his last five Round 1 clashes against the Blues, while Sam Walsh finished 2020 strong averaging 25.3 disposals in the last four games last year. Carlton’s Zac Fisher looked lively in their pre-season game and will play an important role as a small forward this season.
Same Game Multi: Richmond / Dustin Martin 25+ Disposals / Sam Walsh 25+ Disposals / Zac Fisher Any Time Goal Scorer ($6.25)
Scoring struggles to continue for Collingwood
The question lingers – can Collingwood kick a winning score? In 2020 the Pies were involved in the second-lowest scoring matches at 108.6 points per game, and with no significant changes to their forward line, The Wolf expects another low-scoring season.
The head-to-head odds are surprisingly close in their Friday Night clash, with the Bulldogs slight favourites and it’s probably due to Collingwood’s recent dominance over Luke Beveridge’s men. The Pies have won the last four of their clashes, with all four of those wins going under the total points.
The total points is currently set at 164.5 which hasn’t been cleared in their last four clashes – and as a guide in the pre-season, the Pies and Tigers total points came to just 154 in their practice match.
The Wolf is leaning toward the Dogs in this clash. The inclusion of Stefan Martin will be vital against Brodie Grundy, who has dominated Tim English in recent meetings, as well as star recruit Adam Treloar, who has plenty to play for against his old side. However, the more confident play is on a low-scoring contest with question marks over both team’s forward lines.
Marcus Bontempelli kicked a goal in six of his last eight games in 2020 while Jack Macrae has had 30+ disposals in his last three games against Collingwood when playing full-length quarters.
Same Game Multi: Under 164.5 Points / Marcus Bontempelli Any Time Goal Scorer / Jack Macrae 30+ Disposals ($6.00)
Danger for Demons
Melbourne and Fremantle have had some close contests over the last few years, with three of their last four clashes being decided by 15 points or less.
The Dockers really impressed in the back half of the 2020 season winning five of their last nine games including a 14-point win over Melbourne in Round 16, and despite being without Rory Lobb and Michael Walters for Round 1, the $2.73 appears overs based on their recent history against Melbourne. Although Melbourne won their most recent clash at the MCG in 2019, Fremantle won the previous three games against the Dees at the ‘G.
The Dockers were one of the better defensive teams in 2020 ranked 5th for points conceded, and at times last season Melbourne really struggled to hit the scoreboard – signing Ben Brown would have helped that in 2021, but he’ll be sitting on the sidelines alongside Sam Weidemann to start the season.
The Wolf think the Dockers can cause an upset and is happy to take the +13.5 head start. Put it in your Same Game Multi with Clayton Oliver 25+ disposals which he’s had every time he’s played Fremantle, Andrew Brayshaw to have 20+ disposals as one of Fremantle’s key midfielders, plus Bailey Fritsch as an Any Time Goal Scorer as Melbourne’s primary forward target.
Same Game Multi: Fremantle (+12.5) / Clayton Oliver 25+ Disposals / Andrew Brayshaw 20+ Disposals / Bailey Fritsch Any Time Goal Scorer ($4.75)
Cats with too much class
The loser of the Grand Final doesn’t have a great record in Round 1 the following year, winning just one Round 1 clash in the last four years – but surely Geelong will buck the trend against Adelaide.
The Crows were easily the worst team in 2020 and their pre-season form emphasised they’re still a fair way off with a 71-point loss to the Power.
Geelong has won the last three against Adelaide, but certainly haven’t blown the Crows away with 24 and 27 point wins in 2019, and a 28 point win last year – the Crows surprisingly challenging the Cats for three quarters.
The line for this Round 1 clash is currently set at 25.5 which this Geelong team really should clear when up and running, but with this ageing list entering Round 1 off a short pre-season it may take the Cats some time to find their best.
Patrick Dangerfield does have a good record against his old team averaging 29.4 disposals and a goal against the Crows, while Tom Stewart was outstanding in 2020 collecting 20+ disposals in 10 of his last 13 games. As for Adelaide, keep an eye on lively small forward Shane McAdam who kicked a goal in seven of his last eight games last season.
The Cats will do enough to get the four points, but The Wolf’s not expecting a demolition job at Adelaide Oval.
Same Game Multi: Geelong / Patrick Dangerfield 25+ Disposals / Tom Stewart 20+ Disposals / Shane McAdam Any Time Goal Scorer ($4.75)
High scoring Hawks
A really intriguing Round 1 contest for Essendon and Hawthorn, with very little expected from either team in 2021.
The Hawks have started the season strong over the last few years, winning their last three Round 1 clashes – but the Bombers have won the last two games between these two teams, including a 16-point win last season.
In 2020, the Hawks were involved in the competition’s highest scoring matches averaging 129.3 points per match, while Essendon was ranked sixth. Both teams ranked in the bottom four for points conceded.
On top of this, six of the last seven matches between these two teams have gone over the total points and although both teams are missing key goal scorers from 2020, they’re also both extremely inexperienced in defence with the Hawks missing James Sicily and James Frawley from their 2020 campaign and the Bombers without Michael Hurley. Cale Hooker has also spent the summer in attack for the Dons.
Expect Zach Merrett and Tom Mitchell to amass plenty of footy, with the Bomber leading the AFL in disposals from Round 10 onwards last season with 29.2 disposals per game, while Mitchell has averaged 34.6 disposals in his last five games against Essendon. Coach Ben Rutten has also thrown the magnets around in 2021, so expect Devon Smith to play closer to goal predominantly as a half-forward with the $1.91 value as an Any Time Goal Scorer.
Same Game Multi: Tom Mitchell 30+ Disposals / Zach Merrett 30+ Disposals / Devon Smith Any Time Goal Scorer ($5.25)
Lions ready to launch into 2021
The Lions have won the last two matches against the Swans, but prior to 2019 it was Sydney that had won 18 of the last 20. But we know Brisbane was a basket case for a very long time, and this side led by Chris Fagan is a very different proposition to what we saw between 2010 and 2018.
But even when the Lions were not much chop dating back to 2015, they always brought some fight against the Swans, clearing the line in five of their last six. In 2015 they fell short by 21 points with the line set at six goals, while 2016 it was just a 3-point loss with the line set at 34.5. Once again in 2018 they went down by 18 points but managed to sneak under the line of 19.5.
Brisbane has not just won their last two against the Swans, but they cleared the line in both including a 32-point win last season in tricky conditions in Cairns.
With this at the Gabba, The Wolf believes the Lions will be too strong for this young Sydney outfit and should clear the line set at 23.5 – but it may not be because of Brownlow Medalist Lachie Neale. Swans tagger Ryan Clarke did a number on Neale in Round 17 last season keeping the Brownlow Medalist to just 15 disposals, so expect the next tier of Brisbane mids including Hugh McCluggage and Jarrod Berry to pick up the slack.
And keep an eye on top Sydney draftee Logan McDonald too who looked great in the Swans’ pre-season clash.
Same Game Multi: Brisbane / Jarrod Berry 20+ Disposals / Hugh McCluggage 20+ Disposals / Logan McDonald Any Time Goal Scorer ($4.33)
Hinkley’s ridiculous Round 1 record
Ken Hinkley knows how to get his team ready for Round 1. Port Adelaide has won their last five Round 1 matches and seven of their eight under Hinkley.
They haven’t just won these games, they’ve been convincing victories by an average of 42 points with their lowest winning margin 26 points.
The Power face the rebuilding Roos having won six of their last seven head-to-head clashes. North Melbourne’s win came in 2019 and it was a monster by 86 points – but Ben Brown kicked 10 that day, while Shaun Higgins had 38 touches.
The Kangaroos were smashed in a practice matches against the Demons and Hawks, and it’s going to take some time before David Noble will have this young team competitive with sides like Port. But if the pre-season match against Hawthorn is anything to go by along with the last few games of 2020, keep an eye on Luke Davies-Uniacke who had 23 touches in their loss to the Power last season.
Ollie Wines finished 2020 incredibly strong averaging 25 disposals in his last six games, including 30 disposals and 2 goals against the Roos.
Same Game Multi: Port Adelaide (-30.5) / Luke Davies-Uniacke 20+ Disposals / Ollie Wines 25+ Disposals ($5.75)
Saints struck by injuries
The Wolf really likes the look of the Saints for season 2021, but they’re going to need to get some personnel back if they want to back-up on last season’s finals effort.
The Saints will be without star recruit Brad Crouch as well as Jarryn Geary, Dan Hannebery, Max King, Rowan Marshall, Ben Paton and Paddy Ryder from their best 22 when they take on the Giants in Sydney.
St Kilda were far too good for GWS in the last game of the 2020 season, capping off a horror year for the Giants. But the two matches prior to that were won by the Giants, with the Saints yet to record a win at Giants Stadium from two attempts.
With Jeremy Cameron, Zac Williams and Aiden Corr leaving the Giants they’re a bit of an unknown for 2021, but they still have a heap of talent on their list and should win the midfield battle against the depleted Saints. Up forward Harry Himmelberg has actually caused St Kilda a few issues in the last couple of meetings, kicking six goals and is capable of playing a greater role for the Giants in 2021.
The Saints will make a contest of it, but with so many key injuries the Giants should be too good on their home ground.
Same Game Multi: Giants / Harry Himmelberg 2+ Goals / Tim Taranto 25+ Disposals ($6.00)
Not easy for Eagles
A bit of a danger game for West Coast despite being played at Optus Stadium. Without key midfielders Elliot Yeo and Luke Shuey for Round 1, they’re up against a Gold Coast team that beat them by 40 points last season and have started strong the last few seasons.
But tip against the Eagles at Optus Stadium at your peril – they have an 80% win ratio at their home ground with a 28-7 win-loss record, with the Suns yet to record a win at the venue from three attempts.
In 2020 the Eagles won all seven of their home and away matches at Optus Stadium before tripping up against the Pies by a point in the Elimination Final. From those seven wins, only one was by 40+ though – ironically against Collingwood, with the other six wins by 32 points or less coming to a winning average margin of 28 points across the season.
Matt Rowell has his breakout game when they played last season with 26 disposals and 2 goals, and expect the Rising Star favourite to return to footy where he left off. For the Eagles, Andrew Gaff averages 32 disposals in his last three games against the Suns while Dom Sheed averages just over 30 disposals in his last three games against the Suns with full-length quarters.
The Wolf can’t go against West Coast at home, but it won’t be easy as the odds suggest with the +27.5 head start for the Suns appearing too long.
Same Game Multi: Andrew Gaff 30+ Disposals / Dom Sheed 25+ Disposals / Matt Rowell 20+ Disposals ($4.33)