Round 11 the 2021 AFL season kicks off with the most-anticipated game of the season on Friday night, before an intriguing harbour city clash on Sunday afternoon. 

Western Bulldogs v Melbourne @ Marvel Stadium

Friday 28th May, 19:50 (AEST)

Western BulldogsMelbourne
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Duryea, Keath, CrozierBHunt, May, Lever
HBWilliams, Cordy, DanielHBSalem, Petty, Hibberd
CDale, Liberatore, JohannisenCBrayshaw, Petracca, Langdon
HFHunter, Bruce, WeightmanHFJordon, McDonald, Melksham
FEnglish, Naughton, BontempelliFFritsch, Weideman, Spargo
FOLSweet, Macrae, B.SmithFOLGawn, Oliver, Pickett
I/CLipinski, McNeil, R.Smith, GarciaI/CHarmes, Jackson, Rivers, Neal-Bullen


History:
Played 167: Western Bulldogs 78 v Melbourne 88 (1 draw)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 13, 2020: Western Bulldogs (80) def Melbourne (52)

Final Thoughts: The AFL’s two best sides of 2021 finally face-off in what’s set to be a mouth-watering matchup. Melbourne’s slip-up against Adelaide in Round 10 ruined their faultless start to the year, but shouldn’t have a bearing on this one. This is a different Dees outfit to recent years, and they’re almost certain to come back hard. Christian Salem should return, while Jack Viney is a chance.

The Dogs are unquestionably playing the most attractive brand of footy this season and their dominance is reflected in the markets — a 111-point demolition of St Kilda in Round 10 has seen them into outright $4.50 flag favourites with Palmerbet. Luke Beveridge’s men have beaten the Dees on the last two occasions, and edge the favouritism here. While they’ll be without Adam Treloar, they have more midfield depth than any other club and should cover his absence.

Tip: Line, Western Bulldogs -6.5 @ $1.90

Collingwood v Geelong @ MCG

Saturday 29th May, 13:45 (AEST)

CollingwoodGeelong
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Mayne, Roughead, MaynardBHenderson, Blicavs, Henry
HBQuaynor, Moore, NobleHBBews, Stewart, Kolodjashnij
CHoskin-Elliott, Daicos, PoulterCSmith, Guthrie, Menegola
HFSidebottom, Cameron, PendleburyHFParfitt, Cameron, Atkins
FDe Goey, Mihocek, BiancoFHiggins, Hawkins, Rohan
FOLGrundy, Sier, CrispFOLRatugolea, Narkle, Selwood
I/CBrown, Madgen, Murphy, WilsonI/CTuohy, Holmes, Dalhaus, Close


History:
Played 236: Collingwood 134 v Geelong 101 (1 draw)

Last Meeting: AFL Semi-finals, 2020: Geelong (100) def Collingwood (32)

Final Thoughts: At times in the last 15 years, this was one of the game’s fiercest (and closest) rivalries. Now, however, the two clubs are at opposite ends of the spectrum. The Pies were an improved, competitive outfit against the Power in Round 10 but still fell at the final hurdle. At 2-8, they are firming weekly for a bottom-four finish in 2021.

The Cats simply got the job done in Round 10 over the Suns, something that’s become a feature of this side. That is, even when things aren’t completely on-song, they’ll walk away with four points. The last time these sides met, in last season’s semi-finals, the Cats walked away comfortable 68-point winners. Collingwood’s defence (despite their overall poor form) has held up relatively well in 2021, and punters might look to the 1-39 markets.

Tip: Margin, Geelong 1-39 @ $2.10

Brisbane Lions v GWS Giants @ Gabba

Saturday 29th May, 14:10 (AEST)

BrisbaneGWS
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Prior, Andrews, StarcevichBBuckley, Haynes, Idun
HBRich, Adams, BirchallHBBuntine, Cumming, Ash
CZorko, Bailey, McCluggageCKelly, Ward, Whitfield
HFAh Chee, Daniher, McCarthyHFHill, Finlayson, O’Halloran
FMcStay, Hipwood, CameronFFlynn, Sproule, Himmelberg
FOLMcInerney, Lyons, RobinsonFOLMumford, Taranto, Hopper
I/CRobertson, Coleman, Mathieson, MaddenI/CReid, Riccardi, Green, Lloyd


History:
Played 11: Brisbane 4 v GWS 7

Last Meeting: AFL Round 7, 2020: GWS Giants (68) def by Brisbane Lions (88)

Final Thoughts: The Lions had quietly notched five wins on the trot but there was nothing quiet about their sixth — a comprehensive outclassing of premiers Richmond in Round 10. The win has seen them shorten even further in the premiership market. At one stage Chris Fagan’s side were $15 to claim the 2021 flag, but they’re now into $5.50 second-favourites with Palmerbet. And while the Giants have shown promising recent form, winning three of their last four, the Lions start this one as strong $1.21 favourites.

The home side has lost six of the last seven outings between these two clubs. Could that be a good omen for Leon Cameron?

Tip: Line, GWS Giants + 27.5 @ $1.90

St Kilda v North Melbourne @ Marvel Stadium

Saturday 29th May, 16:35 (AEST)

St KildaNorth Melbourne
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Wilkie, Howard, WebsterBZiebell, McKay, Atley
HBGeary, Highmore, SinclairHBHall, Walker, Turner
CBillings, Crouch, HillCDumont, Cunnington, La.Young
HFButler, Ross, HigginsHFTaylor, Garner, Davies-Uniacke
FBattle, King, MembreyFZurhaar, Larkey, Mahony
FOLRyder, Steele, DunstanFOLGoldstein, Thomas, Simpkin
I/CClavarino, Coffield, Wood, ByrnesI/CScott, Powell, Menadue, Campbell

 

History: Played 161: St Kilda 78 v North Melbourne 81 (2 draws)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 1, 2020: North Melbourne (56) def St Kilda (54)

Final Thoughts: What to say of the Saints? Top 4 fancies at the start of 2021, Brett Ratten’s side have been the undisputed disappointments of the season to date. An 111-point thrashing at the hands of the Western Bulldogs in Round 10 — their third 75+ point thumping this year — has further underlined the issues at Moorabbin. There’s whispers Ratten will take the axe to senior players this week to make a statement, which should make for an interesting Thursday night.

However poor the Saints have been, however, they should get the four points on Saturday afternoon. North Melbourne’s inadequacies were brutally exposed in Round 10 when they went down to a young Dons outfit by 12 goals. In short, this won’t be a blockbuster — but the Saints should return to the winners circle.

Tip: Total Points, Over 171.5 @ $1.88

Gold Coast Suns v Hawthorn @ SCG

Saturday 29th May, 19:40 (AEST)

Gold CoastHawthorn
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Powell, Collins, LemmensBHardwick, Frost, Impey
HBLukosius, Ballard, MarkovHBGreaves, Jiath, Howe
CEllis, Greenwood, AtkinsCMorrison, Cousins, Scrimshaw
HFSwallow, Burgess, HolmanHFWorpel, Breust, Wingard
FRankine, King, SextonFReeves, Lewis, Koschitzke
FOLSmith, Weller, MillerFOLMcEvoy, Mitchell, Burgoyne
I/CAnderson, Farrar, Flanders, RosasI/CPhilips, Morris, Moore, Shiels


History:
Played 13: Gold Coast 2 v Hawthorn 11

Last Meeting: AFL Round 18, 2020: Hawthorn (108) def Gold Coast (57)

Final Thoughts: If the Saints and Roos are two of the least trustworthy sides in the competition (that is, their weekly output wavers greatly) then these two clubs aren’t too far behind. The Suns have been especially disappointing in recent weeks. It was only three weeks ago that Stuart Dew’s side had backed up a dominant win over Sydney with an MCG victory over the Pies. Since then, however, it’s been three losses in a row. At 3-7 it would appear the Suns hopes of making their first ever AFL Finals series is over. If they’re any remote hope, however, a win over the Hawks (who themselves have lost four on the bounce) here is non-negotiable.

Tip: Tri bet 19.5, Gold Coast -19.5 @ $2.00

West Coast Eagles v Essendon @ Optus Stadium

Saturday 29th May, 19:40 (AEST)

West CoastEssendon
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Hurn, Barrass, SheppardBLaverde, Francis, Ridley
HBBrander, Rotham, ColeHBHeppell, Stewart, Hind
CGaff, Redden, CrippsCMcGrath, Merrett, Cox
HFAh Chee, Darling, SheedHFPerkins, Stringer, Snelling
FAllen, Kennedy, RyanFWaterman, Hooker, McDonald-Tipungwuti
FOLNaitanui, Yeo, KellyFOLPhillips, Parish, Zaharakis
I/C Petruccelle, Nelson, Jones, WilliamsI/C Redman, Guelfi, Langford, Wright

 

History: Played 55: West Coast 26 v Essendon 29

Last Meeting: AFL Round 15, 2020: West Coast (60) def Essendon (45)

Final Thoughts: The Eagles lost yet again on the road in Round 10 — a trend that’s become genuinely worrying in 2021. While their record at Optus Stadium is exemplary this season (5-0), outside of Perth Adam Simpson’s side are 1-4. And this is no new trend. Last season the Eagles were 7-0 at home, but just 5-5 away. Lucky for them, they’re back within home comforts this week, and looking to make a statement. Elliot Yeo could return, while the likes of Shuey, McGovern and Duggan are likely inside the next month.

The young Bombers have continued their impressive form with back-to-back wins. Both of those, however, were against clubs (currently) outside the Top 8, whereas this week they face one of the toughest assignments in footy. They’ve proven competitive for much of 2021, but this might be a step too far.

Tip: Margin, West Coast 40+ @ $2.80

Richmond v Adelaide @ GIANTS Stadium

Sunday 30th May, 14:10 (AEST)

RichmondAdelaide
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Vlastuin, Balta, GrimesBDoedee, Butts, Murray
HBShort, Broad, HouliHBSmith, Jones, Brown
CMcIntosh, Cotchin, CaddyCSholl, Keays, Seedsman
HFAarts, Bolton, CastagnaHFMcHenry, Walker, Berry
FColeman-Jones, Martin, RiewoldtFRowe, Thilthorpe, Fogarty
FOLNankervis, Baker, PrestiaFOLO’Brien, Laird, Sloane
I/C (from)Ralphsmith, Astbury, Collier-Dawkins, Chol, Dow, Martyn, Graham, RioliI/C (from)Schoenberg, Kelly, McAdam, Mackay, Hamill, O’Connor, Frampton, McPherson

 

History: Played 40: Richmond 15 v Adelaide 25

Last Meeting: AFL Round 18, 2020: Adelaide (33) def by Richmond (77)

Final Thoughts: In none of the three recent seasons following premiership success have Richmond started so poorly. At 5-5, and now with key forward Tom Lynch on the sidelines, is it time for genuine worry at Tigerland? Damien Hardwick’s side have combined slow starts with rollicking back-ends of the season in recent years, but this year seems like that hill might just be a bit steeper. Still, they start favourites in a game where they no longer have home advantage.

The Crows are still on a high following their incredible Round 10 win which saw them become the first cub to knock off Melbourne in 2021. Adelaide are one of the few AFL clubs to have a strong recent record against Richmond, having won five of the last eight. At 4-6, a win is crucial to keep any remaining finals hopes alive.

Tip: To come

Sydney v Carlton @ SCG

Sunday 30th May, 15:20 (AEST)

SydneyCarlton
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Dawson, McCartin, CunninghamBSaad, Jones, Newman
HBHewett, Rampe, LloydHBStocker, Weitering, Williams
CMills, Florent, RowbottomCDocherty, Cripps, Cottrell
HFWicks, McLean, HeeneyHFWalsh, Silvagni, Owies
FHayward, Franklin, PapleyFFogarty, McKay, Betts
FOLSinclair, Parker, KennedyFOLPittonet, Setterfield, E.Curnow
I/C (from)Brand, Warner, McInerney, Stephens, O’Riordan, Amartey, Bell, TaylorI/C (from)Parks, Murphy, De Koning, Gibbons, Honey, Newnes, Martin, Casboult

 

History: Played 230: Sydney 94 v Carlton 130 (6 draws)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 16, 2020: Carlton (57) def Sydney (52)

Final Thoughts: The Swans were agonisingly close to going 7-3 in Round 10. However now, just one game inside the Top 8, need to take advantage of favourable fixtures. With three games to come against sides outside the Top 8 (including this one) — before a difficult stretch of games — John Longmire’s men need to win these sort of clashes if they’re to squeeze inside the AFL Finals come season’s end. Defender Lewis Melican is likely to return if Robbie Fox (eye) can’t get up.

The Blues have a good recent record against the Swans, winning their last two clashes including the last fixture at the SCG. They match up well, and if the delivery into Harry McKay is on-song, the Bloods will struggle for a match-up. This should be a close one.

Tip: Line, Carlton +15.5 @ $1.90

Port Adelaide v Fremantle @ Adelaide Oval

Sunday 30th May, 17:20 (AEST)

Port AdelaideFremantle
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Burton, McKenzie, AliirBAish, Logue, Ryan
HBJones, Jonas, Byrne-JonesHBWilson, Cox, Tucker
CHouston, Wines, AmonCAcres, Mundy, Cerra
HFGeorgiades, Marshall, MotlopHFColyer, Lobb, Switkowski
FRozee, Dixon, GrayFSchultz, Treacy, Walters
FOLLadhams, Boak, Powell-PepperFOLDarcy, Fyfe, Serong
I/C (from)Bergman, Farrell, Drew, Lienert, Woodcock, Frederick, Fantasia, BonnerI/C (from)Brayshaw, Henry, Crowden, Watson, Duman, Blakely, Western, Meek

 

History: Played 38: Port Adelaide 21 v Fremantle 17

Last Meeting: AFL Round 3, 2020: Fremantle (41) def by Port Adelaide (70)

Final Thoughts: The Power remain in the premiership hunt at $8 with Palmerbet, but their inconsistency would be a major worry for Ken Hinkley. His side have not won consecutive games for five weeks and their latest win was a scrappy one-point affair against the lowly Pies. Pleasingly for Hinkley, they’ve won their last two clashes against the Dockers, by 29 and 43 points respectively. Interestingly, the home side has won 11 of the last 13 clashes between these two clubs.

The Dockers snapped a three-game losing streak with a heart-in-mouth two-point win over the Swans in Round 10, which has left them mere percentage points outside the Top 8. Matt Taberner (ankle) will be watched keenly this week, while Andrew Brayshaw is expected to return.

Tip: Margin, Port Adelaide 1-39 @ $2.10