Round 5 of the 2021 AFL season saw margins widen, while the blowtorch is set to become stronger on Carlton, Collingwood and St Kilda.

Here’s how it looked for punters: 

Margins open up

Of the nine games across AFL Round 5, only two were decided by less than four goals. Just one (Sydney v GWS) was a single-figure margin, while blowouts were the norm. It meant that for the first eight games of the round, the winning side covered the pre-game line with Palmerbet. In the last game, Geelong v North Melbourne, traders had the Cats at -56.5 in an expected thumping. However, they could manage just a 30-point win against the AFL’s only winless side.

The question that needs to be asked, is whether the increase in scoring we’ve seen to date will make these margins even bigger as the season progresses. As clubs (particularly young ones) tire and realise their finals chances have faded, could blowouts become the norm? One to keep an eye on.

Blues fail test

After two (expected) wins in two weeks, Carlton’s clash against Port Adelaide at the MCG on Saturday night was seen as a real test of where the club is currently at. Against one of the 2021 AFL Premiership favourites, David Teague’s side were expected to push the Power all the way. And pre-match markets reflected that; Port $1.90 to Carlton’s $1.94. But David Teague’s side failed miserly. On the surface the 28-point loss doesn’t appear catastrophic, but his side were never in the contest. Carlton started the season as outside $23 flag hopes, and have already slipped out to $41.

Saints comeback a flash in the pan?

St Kilda’s incredible comeback against the Eagles last week was seen as some sort of re-start. After a 75-point mauling to the lowly Dons (in Round 3), some even forgave it as an anomaly not to be repeated. They were very wrong. The Saints were beaten up yet again in Round 5, this time to the tune of 86 points by Richmond. That’s defeats of 75 and 86 points in the space of just three weeks.

Before the 2021 AFL season kicked off, the Saints were seen as strong top four hopes. By extension, with some luck, they could feature late in September. But any confidence on that front is gone — the Saints already out from $12 flag hopes to $31 with Palmerbet.

Neale back in Brownlow frame

It had been a slow start to the season for reigning Brownlow Medalist Lachie Neale. The Brisbane star has had to deal with a back complaint that had hampered his ball-winning ability. But Round 5 marked a return to his best. Despite playing in the wet, Neale compiled 38 disposals and two goals in a best-on-ground performance. It’s seen him back in from $15 in the AFL Brownlow Medal market last week, into $10.