Round 19 the 2021 AFL season features three genuine blockbusters, each of which have considerable Top 4 and Top 8 ramifications.

Port Adelaide v Collingwood @ Marvel Stadium

Friday 23rd July, 19:10 (AEST)

Port AdelaideCollingwood
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Burton, McKenzie, AliirBQuaynor, Roughead, Maynard
HBBergman, Jonas, Byrne-JonesHBCrisp, Madgen, Tohill
CDuursma, Wines, HoustonCPoulter, De Goey, Noble
HFAmon, Georgiades, ButtersHFBianco, Cameron, Ginnivan
FPowell-Pepper, Dixon, RozeeFSidebottom, Mihocek, Elliott
FOLLycett, Boak, DrewFOLGrundy, Pendlebury, Adams
I/CMarshall, Bonner, Woodcock, LadhamsI/CMurphy, Henry, Macrae, Ruscoe


History:
Played 33: Port Adelaide 17 v Collingwood 16

Last Meeting: AFL Round 10, 2021: Collingwood (58) def by Port Adelaide (59)

Final Thoughts: Since Robert Harvey took over as caretaker coach, the Pies have become one of the most unpredictable sides in the competition. After leading last week for much of the day, Collingwood were completely out of gas after the final break, hammered in the fourth term by Carlton. The two weeks prior to that (Rounds 16 and 17) however, they came home with a wet sail against both Richmond and St Kilda. Which version will turn up on Friday night is anyone’s guess.

Either way, Port Adelaide should prove too strong, and go in $1.34 head-to-head fancies. A significant carrot is dangling before them, too — win, and they maintain their four-point buffer inside the Top 4. It was just nine rounds ago, however, that the Power had to come from behind to edge the Pies by just a point at the MCG. They are again forced to play this one in Melbourne due to last-minute Covid changes. However Port are 4-0 in front of no crowds this season.

Tip: Margin, Port Adelaide 1-39 @ $2.00

Carlton v North Melbourne @ Marvel Stadium

Saturday 24th July, 13:45 (AEST)

CarltonNorth Melbourne
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Saad, Jones, NewmanBAtley, McKay, Turner
HBPlowman, Weitering, WilliamsHBZiebell, Walker, Hall
CE.Curnow, Cripps, WalshCDumont, Simpkin, McDonald
HFNewnes, Martin, SilvagniHFStephenson, Larkey, Thomas
FFisher, McKay, BettsFPhillips, Zurhaar, Taylor
FOLDe Koning, Dow, KennedyFOLGoldstein, Davies-Uniacke, Cunnington
I/CStocker, Petrevski-Seton, Williamson, CottrellI/CAnderson, Scott, Bosenavulagi, Xerri


History:
Played 157: Carlton 98 v North Melbourne 59

Last Meeting: AFL Round 8, 2020: North Melbourne (57) def by Carlton (64)

Final Thoughts: Carlton’s finals hopes remain intact by the merest of threads. In reality, David Teague likely needs five wins from his last five games to squeeze into the Top 8, a feat they’re currently $10 to achieve with Palmerbet. In theory, they should knock off North Melbourne on Saturday, but North have shown strong recent form and continue to cover the line almost on a weekly basis. Further, the Kangaroos have a strong recent record against the Blues. While they went down by just seven points last season, David Noble’s men had won the five encounters prior to that — four of which were at Marvel Stadium, where they’re due to face off on Saturday afternoon.

Carlton young gun Sam Walsh moved into single-figures in Palmebet’s Brownlow Medal market for the first time this week (read more here), and should be re-joined in the middle with skipper Patrick Cripps. North should regain the equally-important Ben Cunnington.

Tip: Line, North Melbourne +14.5 @ $1.90

Brisbane Lions v Gold Coast Suns @ Gabba

Saturday 24th July, 15:10 (AEST)

BrisbaneGold Coast
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Madden, Andrews, StarcevichBPowell, Collins, Lemmens
HBBirchall, Lester, RichHBLukosius, Ballard, Bowes
CMcCluggage, Bailey, J.BerryCAtkins, Miller, Sharp
HFMcCarthy, McStay, ZorkoHFCorbett, Burgess, Sexton
FAh Chee, Daniher, CameronFRankine, King, Ainsworth
FOLMcInerney, Lyons, NealeFOLGraham, Anderson, Swallow
I/CRobertson, Robinson, Fullarton, PayneI/CFiorini, Flanders, Rowell, Markov


History:
Played 20: Brisbane 14 v Gold Coast 6

Last Meeting: AFL Round 9, 2021: Gold Coast (51) def by Brisbane (124)

Final Thoughts: Are the Lions wobbling? Back-to-back defeats, plus the loss of key forward Eric Hipwood, has seen them lengthen from $5.00 premiership hopes, out to $6.50 with Palmerbet. Thankfully for Chris Fagan, they should be back on the winners list this week. While the Q-clash is always a spicy affair, the fact is that the Lions have won the last five in a row, including 91 and 45-point wins at the Gabba, where they’ll face off on Saturday.

However the Suns have shown some fight in recent weeks, despite playing with the knowledge their season is over. Back-to-back wins was followed by honourable defeat against the Dogs last week. Brandon Ellis will miss, however the club is confident of a return from fellow former Tiger Oleg Markov.

Tip: Line, Gold Coast +27.5 @ $1.90

West Coast Eagles v St Kilda @ Optus Stadium

Saturday 24th July, 16:35 (AEST)

West CoastSt Kilda
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Hurn, H.Edwards, ColeBCoffield, Howard, Webster
HBDuggan, McGovern, SheppardHBWilkie, Sinclair, Hill
CWest, Kelly, SheedCBillings, Steele, Ross
HFLangdon, Darling, CrippsHFMembrey, Byrnes, Butler
FAllen, Kennedy, RyanFLong, King, Kent
FOLNaitanui, Yeo, GaffFOLRyder, Dunstan, Jones
I/CWaterman, O’Neill, Hutchings, RothamI/CConnolly, Crouch, Hunter, Clavarino

 

History: Played 51: West Coast 31 v St Kilda 19 (1 draw)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 4, 2021: St Kilda (102) def West Coast (82)

Final Thoughts: One of the most intriguing clashes of Round 19, with lots on the line for both clubs in their quest for Finals footy. At present, West Coast are $1.45 to finish inside the Top 8, while St Kilda are $6.50 with Palmerbet. However a win here for the Saints would leave them equal on 36 points and bridge that gap considerably. It would also set up a fascinating final month of the home-and-away season for a host of other clubs with remaining September aspirations.

The Saints go in with confidence after a promising month of footy. Further, one of their best performances of the year came against the Eagles when they came from behind to win by 20 points at Marvel Stadium in Round 4. Adam Simpson’s men snapped a three-game losing streak last week with victory over the Crows, but questions remain over their credentials in 2021. This should be a ripper.

Tip: H2H, St Kilda @ $2.85

Melbourne v Western Bulldogs @ MCG

Saturday 24th July, 19:25 (AEST)

MelbourneWestern Bulldogs
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Salem, May, PettyBRichards, Keath, Williams
HBHibberd, Lever, RiversHBDuryea, Cordy, Dale
CJordon, Petracca, LangdonCMacrae, Smith, Daniel
HFFritsch, McDonald, Neal-BullenHFGarcia, Naughton, Weightman
FSpargo, Brown, PickettFUgle-Hagan, Bruce, Hunter
FOLGawn, Oliver, VineyFOLEnglish, Liberatore, Bontempelli
I/CHarmes, Jackson, Brayshaw, HuntI/CSchache, Hannan, Smith, Johannisen


History:
Played 168: Melbourne 89 v Western Bulldogs 78 (1 draw)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 11, 2021: Western Bulldogs (59) lost to Melbourne (87)

Final Thoughts: For the second time in 2021, this clash — between the top two ranked clubs in the AFL — will be played in front of empty stands. A crying shame indeed. And it’s something the Dees aren’t particularly fond of. All four games this year where they’ve failed to take the four points on offer (three losses and one draw) has been in front of no crowds. However last time out against the Dogs, just eight rounds ago, it was a clinical affair, prevailing by 28 points.

Unsurprisingly, traders are finding it difficult to split these two pre-game, with the Dees ($1.85) only just edging the head-to-head market. A significant carrot is dangling in front of these two clubs; win, and they’ve gone a long way to securing a top two spot and with it, the guarantee of two home finals (*should Covid allow home finals, I should add).

Tip: Margin, Melbourne 1-39 @ $2.25

Adelaide v Hawthorn @ Marvel Stadium

Saturday 24th July, 19:40 (AEST)

AdelaideHawthorn
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Hamill, Butts, KellyBGrainger-Barras, Hartigan, Howe
HBSmith, Doedee, JonesHBHardwick, Frost, Scrimshaw
CSholl, Keays, SeedsmanCMoore, Worpel, Bramble
HFMcHenry, Fogarty, MurphyHFWingard, Breust, O’Meara
FLynch, Himmelberg, WalkerFKoschitzke, O’Brien, Lewis
FOLO’Brien, Laird, SloaneFOLMcEvoy, Mitchell, Shiels
I/C (from)Berry, Schoenberg, McPherson, FramptonI/C (from)Reeves, Cousins, Phillips, Brockman

 

History: Played 44: Adelaide 20 v Hawthorn 24

Last Meeting: AFL Round 6, 2021: Hawthorn (102) def Adelaide (99)

Final Thoughts: When these two faced off earlier in the season, it was one of 2021’s rare high-scoring thrillers. Young gun Riley Thilthorpe kicked five that day, and he’s a juicy $31 to repeat the dose should he return as expected this week. The Hawks were excellent last week despite off-field dramas surrounding a much-publicised succession plan, earning a draw against the ladder-leading Dees. It’s that performance that’s earned them favouritism in this one ($1.59 head-to-head), plus the fact the ‘away’ game will in fact be played in Melbourne.

For the Crows, on a four-game losing streak, a fifth straight loss would see them drop to 17th. Back-to-back wooden spoon aren’t necessarily out of the equation, in a season that started brightly.

Tip: Line, Hawthorn -8.5 @ $1.90

Sydney Swans v Fremantle @ Metricon Stadium

Sunday 25th July, 12:30pm (AEST)

SydneyFremantle
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Fox, Rampe, McInerneyBWilson, Pearce, Ryan
HBHewett, McCartin, LloydHBYoung, Logue, Tucker
CDawson, Florent, GuldenCAish, Fyfe, Cerra
HFWicks, Reid, PapleyHFColyer, Taberner, Walters
FHeeney, Franklin, HaywardFSchultz, Treacy, Henry
FOLHickey, Kennedy, ParkerFOLDarcy, Mundy, Brayshaw
I/C (from)Blakey, Stephens, Bell, McDonald, Rowbottom, Ronke, Taylor, McLeanI/C (from)Walker, Banfield, Serong, Meek, Hughes, O’Driscoll, Blakely, Crowden

 

History: Played 37: Sydney 19 v Fremantle 17 (1 draw)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 10, 2021: Fremantle (86) def Sydney (84)

Final Thoughts: After another hugely impressive win in Round 18 — coming back from 35 points behind to GWS — has seen the Swans move into premiership calculations for some. Matthew Lloyd, for instance, now has them inside his top four sides that can win the flag in 2021. And at $10 with Palmerbet, John Longmire’s side still represent some value for punters.

It was only nine rounds ago that the Bloods were outclassed by Fremantle in Perth but given their recent form (and different venue) they enter this one as strong favourites. While Callum Mills and Harry Cunningham remain out due to being Tier 1 Covid exposures, Sydney retains a fairly healthy list and have the cattle to cover that pair. Interestingly, the Dockers have won the last three clashes against the Swans, but have not beaten them outside of Perth since 2011. They will be without forward/ruck Rory Lobb (ankle), and are weighing up whether to bring back Matt Taberner and Sean Darcy.

Tip: Margin, Sydney 1-39 @ $2.00

Geelong v Richmond @ MCG

Sunday 25th July, 15:20 (AEST)

GeelongRichmond
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Atkins, Kolodjashnij, HenryBGarthwaite, Astbury, Grimes
HBStewart, Henderson, BlicavsHBShort, Mansell, Rioli
CMenegola, C.Guthrie, TuohyCEdwards, Cotchin, Pickett
HFDangerfield, Ratugolea, MiersHFCastagna, Baker, Aarts
FBews, Hawkins, SmithFLynch, Bolton, Riewoldt
FOLStanley, Selwood, ParfittFOLNankervis, Lambert, Parker
I/C (from)Higgins, Narkle, Dahlhaus, Holmes, Close, Z.Guthrie, Rohan, O’ConnorI/C (from)Stack, Chol, Ross, Graham, Ralphsmith, Caddy, Coleman-Jones, Collier-Dawkins

 

History: Played 199: Geelong 105 v Richmond 91 (3 draws)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 8, 2021: Richmond (63) def by Geelong (126)

Final Thoughts: In a packed field, this probably edges others as ‘match of the round’ status. And it’s a clash that has huge consequences for Richmond’s season. While still riding high from their underdog win in Round 18 (where they started $3.00+ outsiders against Brisbane), such is the precariousness of the Tigers’ season that should they lose here, they’ll likely need to win their remaining four games to secure a spot inside the AFL Top 8. Three-time Norm Smith medalist Dustin Martin’s season-ending injury puts their quest for a three peat from improbable to almost impossible. And it’s his absence that has contributed to Damien Hardwick’s men, for the second week in a row, going in at greater than $3 odds.

The Cats themselves have few worries, and could go a long way to securing a Top 4 spot with four points here (currently $1.05 Top 4 chances with Palmerbet). Earlier this season they hammered a stronger Tigers side than this (on paper), and will back themselves to repeat the dose here.

Tip: Line, Geelong -16.5 @ $1.90

Essendon v GWS Giants @ Metricon Stadium

Sunday 25th July, 18:10 (AEST)

EssendonGWS
PosPlayerPosPlayer
B
Laverde, Stewart, RedmanBTaylor, Davis, Cumming
HBHeppell, Ridley, HindHBPerryman, Haynes, Kennedy
CSmith, Merrett, CoxCKelly, Green, Whitfield
HFPerkins, Wright, SnellingHFDaniels, Himmelberg, Taranto
FStringer, Hooker, McDonald-TipungwutiFLloyd, Hogan, Bruhn
FOLDraper, Cutler, ParishFOLMumford, Coniglio, Hopper
I/C (from)Durham, Zaharakis, Guelfi, Ham, Bryan, Gleeson, Waterman, ShielI/C (from)O’Halloran, Ward, Reid, Idun, Sproule, Riccardi, Ash, Peatling

 

History: Played 12: Essendon 6 v GWS 6

Last Meeting: AFL Round 8, 2021: GWS Giants (107) def Essendon (105)

Final Thoughts: It’s an old fashioned eight-pointer, this one. Defeat for the Giants (currently $12 to make the Top 8) would all but end their outside hopes of September action in 2021, while a loss for Essendon (currently $2.10) would leave them with lots of work to do in the final month of the home-and-away season.

It’s hard to split these two sides. Historically, after 12 games they both have six wins apiece, while their encounter earlier this season saw the Giants prevail by just two points. Forgotten man Dylan Shiel (not forgotten for the Bombers faithful, I should add) returns for Ben Rutten, while Lachie Whitfield returns for Leon Cameron in what is a much-needed injection of class by foot.

Tip: H2H, GWS @ $2.20