After five wins in a row, the Brisbane Lions have almost halved their 2021 AFL Premiership odds. And one man is leading their charge. 

Chris Fagan would be lying if he said he wasn’t worried in the immediate aftermath of Round 4. A loss against the Western Bulldogs consigned the club to 1-3, and the Brisbane coach was searching for answers. After two straight seasons finishing runner-up (including a 2020 season in which they lost just three home-and-away games), the Lions were all of a sudden struggling. Despite starting the season as third-favourites for the AFL Premiership at $7, Fagan’s men were out to $15 with Palmerbet.

But something clicked. Five wins on the bounce has seen the Lions rebound strongly in the flag market. Back into $8.50, they are again seen as a real contender in 2021. So, what’s behind the resurgence?

Scoring power

The Lions’ scoring output has been huge in recent weeks. In the opening four rounds they averaged 75 points per game. Since then, however, they’ve averaged over 103 points per round. The resurgence has seen them shorten from $3.50 into $2 Top 4 hopes with Palmerbet.

One man who has led that scoring resurgence is Charlie Cameron. The dynamic small forward had a horror start to the year, kicking just five goals in his first five games. Yet he’s found form since, and booted 13 goals in the last four rounds. Cameron, who finished equal-third in the 2019 AFL Coleman Medal, could represent value for some punters, currently at $26.

Midfield beast

A player who has led the Brisbane charge this season, particularly in the absence of reigning Brownlow Medalist Lachie Neale, is Hugh McCluggage. The elite ball user and runner has spent more time on the inside this year, and is excelling with the new challenge. Starting the season as a distant $101 AFL Brownlow Medal hope with Palmerbet, McCluggage has screeched into a $13 sixth-favourite for the coveted prize. In addition to his ball-winning ability (he has averaged 29.2 disposals in the last five weeks), McCluggage has also consistently hit the scoreboard, kicking a goal in all but one game this season. Just like Jason Akermanis and Simon Black did in 2001 and 2002 for the Lions, could it be Neale and McCluggage back-to-back Brownlows in 2020 and 2021?

This week

A huge test under Friday night lights. The Lions face a Richmond side at the same venue they won last year’s AFL Qualifying Final (the Gabba). Brisbane’s electric recent form contrasts with the inconsistent output of the Tigers, and for that reason they start solid $1.39 favourites. Traders are expecting a lower-scoring clash with the Total Points line at 159.5, while Brisbane start -16.5 at the line.

(*Prices correct at 12pm Wednesday May 19)