Round 12 the 2021 AFL season kicks off with a heavyweight bout between two flag hopes, before a relocated Dreamtime clash is set for a sellout Perth crowd.

Melbourne v Brisbane Lions @ Giants Stadium

Friday 4th June, 19:50 (AEST)

Hibberd, May, LeverBPrior, Andrews, Starcevich
HBSalem, Petty, BrayshawHBRich, Adams, Birchall
CSparrow, Petracca, HuntCZorko, Neale, McCluggage
HFJordon, McDonald, SpargoHFAh Chee, Daniher, McCarthy
FFritsch, Jackson, Neal-BullenFMcStay, Hipwood, Cameron
FOLGawn, Oliver, PickettFOLMcInerney, Lyons, Robinson
I/CHarmes, Melksham, Rivers, WeidemanI/CRobertson, Coleman, Bailey, Lester

Played 47: Melbourne 25 v Brisbane 22

Last Meeting: AFL Round 8, 2020: Melbourne (49) def by Brisbane (53)

Final Thoughts: Could this be a preview to the Grand Final later this year? The markets certainly suggest it could be, with these two clubs the outright and (equal) second favourite for the 2021 Premiership. In the last month we’ve had four different flag favourites, the latest of which is Melbourne ($4.50) after their dominant win over the Western Bulldogs in Round 11.

Brisbane ($5.50 premiership hopes, alongside the Dogs) have now won seven on the trot but perhaps most impressively, these wins have been by a average of 45 points. Chris Fagan’s side are ruthless to another level in 2021. They’ve also won two of their last three against the Dees, and are starting to get some of their top-end talent back. Brownlow Medalist Lachie Neale is a chance to get up here, while Jarrod Berry is a few weeks away.  Melbourne will need to find a replacement for the hard-running Ed Langdon in this one, who was concussed last week.

Tip: Margin, Melbourne 1-39 @ $2.30

Sydney Swans v St Kilda @ SCG

Saturday 5th June, 13:45 (AEST)

SydneySt Kilda
Hewett, Rampe, FoxBClavarino, Howard, Webster
HBDawson, McCartin, LloydHBWilkie, Hill, Sinclair
CMcInerney, Mills, FlorentCGeary, Crouch, Billings
HFWicks, Heeney, HaywardHFButler, Ross, Higgins
FMcDonald, Franklin, PapleyFWood, King, Membrey
FOLHickey, Kennedy, WarnerFOLRyder, Steele, Dunstan
I/CCunningham, Parker, Rowbottom, AmarteyI/CCoffield, Clark, Battle Byrnes

Played 218: Sydney 137 v St Kilda 78 (3 draws)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 9, 2020: St Kilda (101) def Sydney (48)

Final Thoughts: Things are going swimmingly at the Bloods. At 7-4 and boasting a near full healthy list (ruckman Tom Hickey is due to return this week while Lance Franklin has avoided injury to his knee), coach John Longmire is a happy man. Now into $1.36 AFL Finals hopes with Palmerbet, the Swans got another boost this week when this clash was moved from Melbourne to Sydney, with the dual advantage of avoiding travel and playing in front of a home crowd for a second straight week. They start solid favourites in this one.

St Kilda beat the Swans last season but in truth, their recent record against Longmire’s men is poor. Before that, the Saints lost the previous 10 games. A win over lowly North Melbourne last week hasn’t done much to convince the AFL fraternity that Brett Ratten’s side are back. This Saturday afternoon, against a relentless pressure side, is the real test.

Tip: To score 3+ goals, Isaac Heeney (Syd) @ $3.60

Adelaide v Collingwood @ Adelaide Oval

Saturday 5th June, 16:35 (AEST)

Doedee, Butts, JonesBMayne, Roughead, Maynard
HBSmith, Kelly, BrownHBQuaynor, Moore, Murphy
CMcKay, Keays, SeedsmanCHoskin-Elliott, Sidebottom, Poulter
HFMcHenry, Walker, SchoenbergHFPendlebury, Cameron, Thomas
FRowe, Thilthorpe, FogartyFDe Goey, Mihocek, Elliott
FOLO’Brien, Laird, SloaneFOLLynch, Sier, Crisp
I/CMcAdam, Hammil, O’Connor, ShollI/CRantall, Daicos, Bianco, Madgen

Played 44: Adelaide 15 v Collingwood 28 (1 draw)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 11, 2020: Adelaide (38) def by Collingwood (62)

Final Thoughts: Not only are the Pies under the pump for their poor run of results (one win in their last nine), but their game style is now under the microscope. Nathan Buckley side have averaged under seven goals a game in their last three weeks in a damning portrayal of their inability going forward. While the Crows, like Collingwood, are a bottom-four side, the truth is there’s a stark difference between the two clubs’ current output. Not only have Matthew NIcks’ side won two more games, but their output, pressure and willingness to take the game on is far superior at present. As such they start as solid favourites at home. To make life tougher for the Pies, ruckman Brodie Grundy will miss his first game since 2017.

Tip: Margin, Adelaide 1-39 @ $2.10

Essendon v Richmond @ Optus Stadium

Saturday 5th June, 19:40 (AEST)

Laverde, Francis, RidleyBVlastuin, Balta, Grimes
HBHeppell, Stewart, HindHBShort, Broad, Houli
CMcGrath, Merrett, CoxCMcIntosh, Cotchin, Caddy
HFPerkins, Stringer, JonesHFAarts, Edwards, Graham
FWaterman, Hooker, McDonald-TipungwutiFColeman-Jones, Martin, Riewoldt
FOLPhillips, Parish, LangfordFOLChol, Bolton, Prestia
I/CRedman, Guelfi, Waterman, HamI/CBaker, Pickett. Collier-Dawkins, Castgana


History: Played 204: Essendon 104 v Richmond 96 (4 draws)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 13, 2020: Essendon (61) def by Richmond (73)

Final Thoughts: While it’s hugely disappointing the Dreamtime clash can’t be played at the MCG, the AFL has arrived at the next-best thing. A now sold-out Optus Stadium should do justice to the annual game and, given Essendon’s brilliant run of form, is sure to be a beauty. After falling to 2-6 (and $17 finals outsiders), the Dons have won three on the bounce — including one of their most famous wins of the last decade against West Coast in Round 11 — to come into $3.40. The Tigers however have dominated recent encounters, winning their last 10 against Essendon. And while they start favourites in this one ($1.48 head-to-head), they’ll go in without ruckman Toby Nankervis, who is set to miss the next 4-6 weeks.

Tip: Line, Richmond -10.5 @ $1.90

Carlton v West Coast Eagles @ SCG

Sunday 6th June, 15:20 (AEST)

CarltonWest Coast
Stocker, Jones, NewmanBHurn, Barrass, Cole
HBSaad, Weitering, WilliamsHBSheppard, Edwards, Nelson
CDocherty, Cripps, CottrellCGaff, Sheed, Cripps
HFMartin, McKay, OwiesHFO‘Neill, Waterman, Edwards
FBetts, De Koning, SilvagniFPetruccelle, Darling, Ryan
FOLPittonet, Walsh, E.CurnowFOLNaitanui, Yeo, Redden
I/CMurphy, Dow, Fisher, CasboultI/CLangdon, Vardy, Trew, Foley

Played 46: Carlton 21 v West Coast 25

Last Meeting: AFL Round 11, 2020: West Coast (72) def Carlton (22)

Final Thoughts: The recurring story of Carlton’s 2021 — just as it was in 2020 — was the ability to be competitive for large patches in games, without getting over the line. Every defeat for David Teague’s side this season has been by less than 30 points. Carlton’s pressure and off-the-ball work isn’t in question, but their kicking very much is. In Round 11’s loss to the Swans they were poor again by foot, and without a rapid improvement there they will face an eighth-straight year without September action.

The Eagles were 5-0 at home heading into Round 11, but were overrun by a young Essendon outfit in what was a worrying sign for Adam Simpson. It’s two defeats in a row for West Coast, who undoubtedly are going through a mid-season slump and need a pre-bye win. They have, however, won their last six against Carlton, an undefeated streak dating back to 2014.

Tip: H2H, West Coast @ $2.00

Fremantle v Western Bulldogs @ Optus Stadium

Sunday 6th June, 18:40 (AEST)

FremantleWestern Bulldogs
Aish, Logue, RyanBDuryea, Keath, Crozier
HBWilson, Cox, TuckerHBWilliams, Cordy, Daniel
CAcres, Mundy, BrayshawCDale, Liberatore, Johannisen
HFColyer, Lobb, CrowdenHFHunter, Bruce, Weightman
FSchultz, Taberner, WaltersFHannan, Naughton, Bontempelli
FOLDarcy, Fyfe, CerraFOLEnglish, Macrae, B.Smith
I/C Treacy, Duman, Serong, WatsonI/C Martin, West, Butler, Lipinski


History: Played 33: Fremantle 16 v Western Bulldogs 17

Last Meeting: AFL Round 18, 2020: Fremantle (44) def by Western Bulldogs (74)

Final Thoughts: At 9-2, the Dogs have only gone down to premiers Richmond and premiership favourites Melbourne in 2021. At the halfway mark of the season they’re nicely poised for a premiership assault, and should make it 10-2 on Sunday night. Luke Beveridge has won his last two games against the Dockers, by 30 and 47 points respectively.

Luckily for Justin Longmuir, this clash is at home in Perth — and it’s likely the only thing keeping them in with a chance. Like counterparts the Eagles, Fremantle’ away record (1-5) is discernibly poor in 2021. Their hopes could hinge on the return of both Griffin Logue and Matt Taberner in this one.

Tip: Total Points, Over 166.5 @ $1.88