It was a rough Round 3 for many tipsters, The Wolf included, but expect a strong recovery with a huge Round 4 of AFL action ahead of us.
The Cats managed to just survive once again against the Hawks – can the Demons make the most of their chances to start the season 4-0? Here are The Wolf’s best bets for Round 4.
West Coast / Carlton / Adelaide / Melbourne (+18.5) = $4.68
Buddy back to burn Bombers?
The Swans are the talk of the town off the back of a crushing win over the Tigers and they’re set to get stronger with Buddy Franklin likely to return for Thursday’s clash with Essendon. The Bombers were electric in their shock 75-point win over the Saints and have now set the stage for an exciting primetime clash between two young teams.
Essendon has won three of the last four against the Swans in tight contests, with the margin in their last three match-ups 10 points or less. It’s a different story at the SCG, however, with the Swans winning seven consecutive games against Essendon at the venue prior to the Bombers’ 6-point victory last year.
The Swans currently sit at $1.19 head-to-head, and given their stunning start to the season, they’re tough to tip against – so The Wolf is keen on the double market for some additional value.
Six of the last seven games Sydney has played at the SCG has gone over the total points line and this should be no different. John Longmire’s men have played in the highest scoring games in 2021 with the total points averaging 205, thanks to their 121 points per game average. The Bombers are third on this list, with the average total points from their games at 193 per game.
All six games these sides have played in 2021 have gone overs – the Swans clearing their average total points line of 170.5 by approximately 35 points this season, while Essendon has cleared their average 175 points line by 18 points each game.
Expect an exciting high-scoring clash which the Swans should win to go 4-0.
Buddy hasn’t played the last three games against the Bombers, but from the five games prior he averages 3 goals per game – this includes a game where he went goalless but kicked six behinds. Jake Lloyd is once again the Swans biggest ball-winner this season and averages 28 disposals in his last four games against the Bombers.
Same Game Multi: Swans / Over 177.5 Total Points / Lance Franklin 3+ Goals / Jake Lloyd 25+ Disposals ($4.20)
Beware the wounded Tiger
Two flag favourites face off at Adelaide Oval on Friday night and they both enter off big Round 3 losses.
Currently listed as $2.35 outsiders, there’s more concern around Richmond due to injuries to Dion Prestia and Kamdyn McIntosh. Skipper Trent Cotchin is no certainty to return either.
But entering Adelaide Oval as underdogs against the Power is not a bad spot for Richmond – they’ve won three of the last five against Port Adelaide at the venue despite being outsiders in all three. They’ve also got a great recent record as outsiders winning four of their last five by an average of 29 points.
Richmond has won four of the last six between these two sides, although the margin has been by 15 points or less in four of those six games.
The Tiges generally bounce back from a bad loss too, winning four of their last five games after being beaten by 45+ points the week prior. It won’t be easy with their injuries against this Port Adelaide team but expect a closer and much more competitive contest.
Travis Boak averages 28 disposals in his last four games against the Tigers and has recorded 30+ disposals in 10 of his last 12 games at Adelaide Oval. Dan Houston has had 25+ disposals in each game this season, while Tom Lynch averages 2.8 goals in his last four games against the Power.
Same Game Multi: Travis Boak 30+ Disposals / Dan Houston 25+ Disposals / Tom Lynch 2+ Goals ($5.75)
These two sides head to Ballarat coming off two big but very distinct wins, with the Lions pinching an after the siren victory against the Pies and the Dogs destroying North Melbourne to the tune of 125 points.
Brisbane has won the last two games against the Bulldogs but both were played at the Gabba, with the Doggies winning the five prior to that including a 16-point win at Mars Stadium in 2019.
Although the Dogs have won five of the last seven, it’s been close with the Lions covering the line in five of the last six and the margin in the last five being 24 points or less.
The total points line has trimmed down for this one at 168.5 due to the likelihood of a cold, showery day in Ballarat but three of the last four games at the venue have gone overs – and these two teams do enjoy a shootout. The last four between the Bulldogs and Lions have gone overs and from the last 13 games they’ve played it’s been overs in 11 of them.
Expect a big game from Jack Macrae – the midfielder averages 36 disposals per game at Mars Stadium whilst averaging 33 disposals in his 10 games against the Lions across his career; the most of any team he’s faced. In Macrae’s last four games against Brisbane, he’s had 40+ disposals on three occasions.
Both Marcus Bontempelli and Dayne Zorko hit the scoreboard when the Lions and Bulldogs clash, averaging 1.8 and 1.5 goals respectively in their past four encounters.
Same Game Multi: Jack Macrae 35+ Disposals / Marcus Bontempelli Any Time Goal Scorer / Dayne Zorko Any Time Goal Scorer ($4.50)
Where do we start with the Saints? Their season is quickly unravelling after a horrific performance against the Bombers and with a horror three weeks coming up beginning with the white-hot Eagles – a team they’ve got a shocking record against.
West Coast has won 11 of the last 12 against the Saints including the last three games, but they have played in some close games over the last five with the margin under 20 points each time.
The Eagles have covered the line in five of the last eight against the Saints, but regardless of this, the question beckons – what will St Kilda’s response be?
The Saints have won eight of their last 11 games when coming off a 9+ goal loss the week prior – but they only entered as outsiders in only two of those which will be the case again on Saturday afternoon. In the three losses of those 11, they came in as underdogs on each occasion.
West Coast is coming off a big win over the fancied Port Adelaide and have covered the line in their last five games at Marvel Stadium. We do expect the Saints more energy and effort than last week but The Wolf can’t back them in their current form.
Tim Kelly enjoys playing under the roof and averages 30 disposals and a goal across his career at Marvel, while Andrew Gaff found some form last week with 36 touches and has recorded 30+ disposals in 7 of his last 8 games against the Saints. Goal-sneak Jamie Cripps has kicked five goals from his last three games against his old team and should pop up to kick one after kicking a couple last week.
Same Game Multi: Eagles win / Andrew Gaff 30+ Disposals / Tim Kelly 25+ Disposals / Jamie Cripps Any Time Goal Scorer ($4.33)
Blues are back
The Suns will enter this clash with Carlton in the midst of a full-blown ruck crisis after Jarrod Witts blew out his ACL in their loss to Adelaide, leaving Stuart Dew’s side without a fit ruck on their list. There are no such concerns for Carlton, who were dominant in a 45-point win over the Dockers.
Carlton has won three of the last four against the Suns by an average of 30.7 points plus five of the last six games when they enter as favourite.
As for the Suns, they’ve struggled when entering as outsiders for a very long time now winning just one game from their last 31 when they enter as underdogs.
Unfortunately for the Suns, there’s no quick ruck fix to replace Witts – Zac Smith is out for another month, third-string option Matt Conroy is also out for the season and talls Sam Day and Rory Thompson are also injured. Chris Burgess (191cm), Caleb Graham (195cm) and Hugh Greenwood (191cm) are the likely fill-ins against 202cm Mark Pittonet.
The Blues have a good recent record over the Suns covering the line in four of the last six, and if they play like they did on the weekend they shouldn’t have any troubles against the depleted Suns.
The Wolf’s only concern: the last 12 occasions that Carlton enter the following week coming off a win by 40+ points they have lost. Records are made to be broken, and if they’re serious about their 2021 season they’ll get the job done when they head up north.
Coming off a career-high seven goals, Harry McKay has now kicked 22 goals from his last six games – he kicked 2.4 in last year’s clash with the Suns. Sam Walsh is the third highest ball-winner in 2021 averaging 32.3 touches per game, while Jack Bowes is the Suns’ leading ball-winner this season averaging 28.3 per game.
Same Game Multi: Sam Walsh 30+ Disposals / Jack Bowes 25+ Disposals / Harry McKay 3+ Goals ($5.00)
Giant effort needed
If things weren’t already bad for the Giants – they now lose captain Stephen Coniglio, Phil Davis and Matt De Boer for an extended chunk of the season. At 0-3 it appears Leon Cameron’s hand may be forced to blood some young talent.
They enter this as $4.25 outsiders against Collingwood, a team they’ve got a very good recent record against winning five of their last six including two of the last three played at the MCG. Of those six games, five have also been within a margin of 16 points.
Collingwood’s issues in front of goals reemerged in Round 3 scoring just 72 points after kicking 100 in Round 2. They’re ranked 13th in the competition for points scored averaging 77 per game but play in the third lowest scoring games of 2021. As for the Giants, they’re currently ranked 17th for points scored averaging 67.3 per game and failing to crack 80 this season.
Seven of the last eight Collingwood games at the MCG have gone unders, while 12 of the last 15 Giants games at the MCG have gone unders – with both teams struggling to kick a score up forward, The Wolf doesn’t expect this contest to be a high scoring affair.
Not willing to take the Pies at $1.23 with their recent record against the Giants, and although GWS is missing a heap of players they’ve still got enough talent between Taranto, Hopper, Greene and Kelly to make a game of this.
Expect Darcy Moore and Jeremy Howe to make life tough for the Giants, with the latter averaging 24 disposals in his last 7 games against GWS. Giant Tim Taranto enjoys playing at the MCG, averaging 29.8 disposals there from his five games in 2019, while teammate Isaac Cumming has been one of the Giants shining lights this season having 20+ disposals each game this year.
Same Game Multi: Tim Taranto 25+ Disposals / Jeremy Howe 20+ Disposals / Isaac Cumming 20+ Disposals / Toby Greene 2+ Goals ($4.50)
Ten for Tex?
The fortunes of these two sides that many predicted to be bottom two this season could not have been much more different so far in 2021 with the Crows sitting eighth on the ladder at 2-1 while North Melbourne are winless with an average losing margin is 80 points and a percentage of 37.4%.
Believe it or not, North Melbourne belted the Crows by 69 points last season in Round 9 – but they’re yet to record a win since losing their last 10. Adelaide on the other hand have managed to turn the tables after a dismal 2020, winning five of their last seven games.
North Melbourne has won three of their last four against the Crows, but how could you possibly back them here? When listed as $3.50+ outsiders they’ve only won one of their last 10 and they’ve failed to cover in four of the last five of those.
The Wolf doesn’t exactly have the utmost confidence in Adelaide either, but led by Tex Walker their scoring is way up currently ranked fifth in the AFL averaging 95.3 points. After seeing Josh Bruce snag 10 against the Roos last week, Tex’s eyes could light up very early in this one.
The Kangaroos concede 127.3 points per game so far this season – inflated by the Bulldogs blowout but the Suns even kicked 98 against them.
Not willing to touch the line in this, nor the total points with the unknown of what North Melbourne can score or will cough up – but The Wolf’s confident the Crows can crack the ton against this Kangaroos outfit.
Same Game Multi: Crows win / Ben Keays 20+ Disposals / Taylor Walker 4+ Goals / Shane McAdam 2+ Goals ($4.00)
How many lives left for Cats?
Another two minutes in Geelong’s Round 2 and 3 clashes with Brisbane and Hawthorn, and they probably enter this 0-3 – but to their credit, they managed to hang on and will enter this clash with Melbourne as $1.73 favourites.
Geelong has won six of the last seven games against the Demons, but three of those wins were by less than a kick. It’s a different tale when we look at their last three games at the MCG though, with Geelong winning two of them by just three points, and Melbourne winning the other by 29 points.
Although the Cats are 2-1, they’re yet to cover the line this season meaning they’ve now failed to do so in their last four games – as for Melbourne, they’ve cleared in all three games this year meaning they’ve done so in their last five games.
The Cats recent record at the MCG is concerning. They’ve cleared the line just once at the MCG from their last five games and although they enter this clash as favourite, the Dees are currently playing the better football with far fewer injury concerns.
Mark O’Connor continues to thrive as a tagger in 2021 doing a job on Tom Mitchell in Round 3, and after seeing what Matt De Boer did to Clayton Oliver before he got injured, it’s fair to assume he may receive some more attention in this one.
Tom Hawkins averages three goals against the Demons in their last four encounters, while Cam Guthrie is ranked equal-fifth in the competition for disposals averaging 31.3 per game.
Still have my concerns with the Cats, so happy to take the Demons with the 4.5 point head start.
Same Game Multi: Cam Guthrie 30+ Disposals / Tom Hawkins 3+ Goals / Christian Petracca Any Time Goal Scorer ($5.50)
The Longmuir Lockdown
It’s still unclear whether Nat Fyfe will be back for Fremantle this week but based off their performance in Round 3 they desperately need him.
The Dockers face a Hawthorn team that’s had their measure in recent times winning six of their last seven encounters, with Fremantle winning the most recent clash last year by 16 points.
The final score was just 48-32 last year between these two teams with the Dockers playing in the lowest-scoring games in 2020 and 10 of their last 14 games going unders.
Both Fremantle and Hawthorn feature in the bottom four for points scored this season both averaging less than 70 per game, while they’ve both done a solid job down back both conceding around 80 points per game.
With rain expected in Perth on Sunday, this will only add to the grind that we’re likely to see with both teams missing weapons up forward.
For our Same Game Multi, Andrew Brayshaw averages 25 disposals across his career against the Hawks, recording 33 in last season’s clash against them. For the Hawks, Tom Mitchell averages 34 disposals at Optus Stadium and will be determined to bounce back after Monday’s clash with Geelong while Hawk forward Luke Breust has kicked 2+ goals in each of his last five games against the Dockers.
Same Game Multi: Tom Mitchell 35+ Disposals / Andrew Brayshaw 25+ Disposals / Luke Breust 2+ Goals ($6.00)