AFL Round 1 Tips & Preview

I’ve got my scarf, old coat, I’ve got a footy game to go to.

Footy’s on.

Footy’s here again and our tips and preview are back to greet you like an old friend.

Richmond v Carlton
Richmond to win by 25+ @ $2.02

It’s set to be a special night at the MCG with it being the first AFL game the home of football has hosted with a crowd since the 2019 Grand Final, along with the feeling of a homecoming Richmond will also unveil not one but two premiership flags before the game.

Reigning Premiers Richmond go into this match as rightful $1.30 favourites in the head to head betting, facing the perfect selection dilemma as to who to include in the side and with reduced capacity at the ‘G the crowd will be very much packed with a rabid Tiger Army in full force.

Expectations are high for Carlton heading into this season, with many expecting the Blues to break into the finals for the first time since 2013.

Ironically, that was the last time the Blues beat Richmond in that infamous Elimination Final.

The Blues and Tigers have faced off in the season opening fixture every year since 2009, with the occasion tending to be more about the crowd (or lack of last year) than the match itself.

Season openers between these two old rivals tend to follow a familiar script in recent years.

Richmond will burst out of the gates and dominate early ensuring a big lead, before dropping their guard a bit and Carlton sneaking a few majors in early in the third quarter before the Tigers get the job done and win by about 4-5 goals.

Thursday night’s season opener should be fairly similar in that aspect and taking Richmond at 25+ points to win is pretty good value.

Collingwood v Western Bulldogs
Western Bulldogs to win by 1-39 @ $2.50

We’ve got a fair dinkum grudge match on our hands with this clash, as Collingwood, fresh from the off-season from hell take on the Western Bulldogs – featuring Adam Treloar, who played a major role in the Magpies off-season from hell.

If you like an omen bet or fancy a spite bet because that’s the kind of person you are why not consider the Western Bulldogs new recruit for 25+ disposals in your same game multi or if you barrack for the story – first goal kicker.

Granted, Treloar spends most of his time in the middle/down back and kicked only the 1 goal in season 2020, but wouldn’t that be something if he did jag the first sausage roll? You’d get a pretty decent price for it.

As for the game itself, the market can’t really split Collingwood ($1.87) or the Bulldogs ($1.95)

Both sides finished in the bottom half of the eight playing finals last season, and many have tipped the Magpies to drop out.

A win in the first round usually pipes a few critics down.

Picking a winner in this is a real toss of the coin.

It’s worth noting that the Pies have won their past 4 against the Doggies including an emphatic victory wayyyy back in Round 1 of 2020 before the season got put on hold for 12 weeks.

Stats aside, the coin has been tossed and it’s landed on heads – which represents the Bulldogs.

I’ll go for the 1-39 point option for a bit of value.

Melbourne v Fremantle
Either team to win by less than 15.5 points @ $2.75

It’ll be truly wonderful to have footy back at the MCG and there’s something really soothing about seeing a game being played at the Holy Temple of Aussie Rules on a Saturday arvo with a red Sherrin, it just feels right.

This contest between Dees and Freo is set to be a fascinating encounter.

Both teams will have expectations heading into this season that they can take the next step and be part of finals action, but you can never trust either of them.

When these two sides last met in Round 16 of 2020, Freo all but dashed Melbourne’s hopes of making the finals with a 14-point win in the wet over in Cairns.

Michael Walters kicked three in a low-scoring affair and young gun Adam Cerra kicked this awesome banana goal to seal the deal.

Melbourne will be under more pressure to perform in this game.

If they can’t beat Freo at the MCG, would a potential early loss come back to haunt them as they try to cement their spot in the final eight later in the season?

If you are to trust Melbourne, they need to be winning these games.

Unfortunately, like many a tipster, I don’t trust them.

I expect this game to be close and have gone the tri-bet option expecting the final margin to be decided by 15.5 points or less either way.

Adelaide v Geelong
Geelong 40+ @ $2.55

The Cats head to the City of Churches as the rightful $1.24 favourite over last year’s Wooden Spooners.

Saturday’s game will present a perfect opportunity for Geelong to show off their flashy new forward combo of Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron as they will pretty much destroy the lowly Crows.

Everyone knows the Crows are in a rebuild phase and Geelong are having a tilt at jagging a premiership, out for redemption after last years loss to the Tigers in the decider.

This game is pretty simple to tip.

Back Geelong by 40+ and take the good value $2.55 price, money for jam.

Essendon v Hawthorn
Essendon @ $2.15

Two famous old rivals now face a similar fate in 2021, and both the Bombers and Hawks would love nothing better than to start the season with a win as you can predict, there may be few and far between for both these sides.

Despite the Bombers’ attempts to move the game to the MCG to allow more to attend, it’s stuck at Marvel Stadium, however it’s an improvement on when these two met at 4:30 pm on a Thursday afternoon at Adelaide Oval last season.

In that game, Joe Daniher played a major role in helping the Bombers come back from six goals down to record a famous 16-point win over the Hawks.

That clearly won’t be happening this time.

Hawthorn will open as the betting favourites, and they looked impressive in their AAMI series match over North with forward duo Jacob Koschitzke and Tyler Brockman starring and you’d expect both to be in the side for the first game.

The Dons took it up to the Cats, only to fall short in their pre-season hit-out, but these are very hard to judge and get a read off for Round 1.

I’d expect both Hawthorn and Essendon to finish in a similar part of the ladder this season, but that ain’t the top 8.

There’s just something about having a big win in Round 1 that suits Essendon, and at the $2.15 head to head price I reckon it’s worth backing the Bombers for an on-brand win.

Brisbane Lions v Sydney
Brisbane Lions (-23.5) @ $2

The mighty Brisbane Lions (proudly sponsored by Neds) return to the Gabbitoir this Saturday night and go in as the red-hot favourites to get the job done over the Sydney Swans.

It may only be Round 1, but if the Lions are to ensure a top-two finish for the third year running and go one better than a Prelim, they need to start by winning these bankable games at the Gabba.

This Saturday night against the Swans presents a terrific opportunity for the Lions, who at times played some of the most exciting football in the entire AFL to really strut their stuff and start the season in style.

The ACL injury for Cam Rayner is a major blow for the Lions, but the team bats deep with Brownlow medalist Lachie Neale, Eric Hipwood, Harris Andrews and a young-gun recruit by the name of Joe Daniher set for big seasons.

For a team expected to finish up-top, playing against the Sydney Swans always presents a danger game, despite many expecting the Swans to be battling to stay off the bottom of the ladder.

They were highly competitive in their matches against top-teams Richmond, Port and the Cats last season and history shows they should never be underestimated.

The line has been set at -23.5 and the Lions should beat it, hopefully with Joey kicking a bag.

North Melbourne v Port Adelaide
Port Adelaide to win by 40+ @ $2.25

Looking at just about every crystal ball/season prediction this match will see the 2021 Premiers travel to Melbourne to take on the 2021 Wooden Spooners.

While crowds being allowed back at the footy in Victoria with capped capacities, there was never going to be a problem with social distancing at Marvel Stadium when North plays host to Port Adelaide.

Port has had a long summer ruing their missed opportunities after going down to Richmond by just one kick.

They will be ready to inflict some pain on whoever gets in their way next, which is unfortunate for North Melbourne.

With a new list, new coach, new look, the Kangaroos are very much at the beginning of a rebuild.

It’s all about “the learnings” at Arden Street in 2021 and what better “learnings” than to be belted by Port in the first round while I back them to win by 40+ at the solid $2.25 price.

GWS Giants v St Kilda
St Kilda @ $2.20

The pressure is very much on coach Leon Cameron and his GWS Giants team heading into season 2021 and they go in the $1.68 favourites against the Saints on Sunday.

It beats me as to why.

GWS was a major disappointment last year and I honestly can’t see them improving.

When these two sides met in Round 18 last year, St Kilda smashed the Giants by 52-points on a Friday night at the Gabba ensuring a finals berth.

In terms of improvement, St Kilda has ticked all the boxes last year, making the finals, winning a final and bowing out gallantly against the eventual premiers.

It was only pre-season, but the Saints looked mighty good against Carlton in that high-scoring affair and St Kilda have plenty to look forward to, whereas questions remain about the Giants.

The news that Max King will miss the opening game due to a concussion is a major blow for the Saints, and probably plays a major reason as to why the Giants open the game as favourites but there’s still plenty of depth for St Kilda.

The Saints are way too good a bet at the $2.20 head to head and should chalk up a big win on the road to kick-off season 2021.

West Coast Eagles v Gold Coast Suns
West Coast Eagles (-27.5) @ $2

There’s no game more fitting of the Sunday Twilight final game of the weekend quite like the Eagles hosting the Suns at Optus Stadium.

West Coast will win this game.

Gold Coast did beat them in Round 2 of last year and beat them convincingly, however, that game was at Metricon and the world of football was in truly a bizarre state of affairs.

The major positive for the Suns will be seeing Matt Rowell back in the side.

The line has been set -27.5, and the Eagles are very much five goals better off than the Gold Coast at Optus Stadium.

If Josh Kennedy’s bid to play in Round 1 is successful, he’ll kick them himself but Jack Darling and youngster Oscar Allen should be able to easily fill the void.