Round 5 the 2021 AFL season should open up a log-jammed mid-ladder, with danger games for a host of clubs at 1-3.

St Kilda v Richmond @ Marvel Stadium

Thursday 15th April, 19:20 (AEST)

St KildaRichmond
D.Howard, J.Carlisle, J.WebsterBD.Astbury, N.Balta, D.Grimes
HBN.Coffield, C.Wilkie, J.SinclairHBR.Mansell, B.Houli, J.Short
CJ.Billings, S.Ross, B.HillCK.McIntosh, T.Cotchin, M.Pickett
HFJ.Lonie, J.Battle, J.HigginsHFJ.Aarts, K.Lambert, J.Castagna
FT.Membrey, M.King, D.ButlerFT.Lynch, D.Martin, J.Riewoldt
FOLR.Marshall, J.Steele, B.CrouchFOLT.Nankervis, S.Edwards, J.Graham
I/CH.Clark, D.McKenzie, Z.Jones, J.BytelI/CN.Broad, S.Bolton, D.Rioli, L.Baker

Played 188: St Kilda 72 v Richmond 113 (3 draws)

Last Meeting: AFL Semi-Final, 2020: Richmond (80) def St Kilda (49)

Final Thoughts: It’s not often Richmond lose two on the bounce, and despite coach Damien Hardwick’s quip that ‘premiership’s aren’t won in April’, his side will feel the pressure before this one. Thankfully for Tigers fans, they’ve been here (and other much tougher situations) before, and should bounce back with a win.

That’s not to underestimate the Saints, however, who are still in shock after an incredible comeback against the Eagles last week. It was a performance full of heart and skill under the Marvel roof. And given they’re back there this week — a venue they did a number on Richmond at last season, no less — they’ll back themselves for another upset. They’ll have their fingers crossed for big man Rowan Marshall, who must get through training to prove his fitness.

Tip: Line, St Kilda +14.5 @ $1.90

West Coast Eagles v Collingwood @ Optus Stadium

Friday 16th April, 20:10 (AEST)

West CoastCollingwood
B.Sheppard, T.Barrass, A.WitherdenBB.Maynard, J.Roughead, I.Quaynor
HBT.Cole, J.McGovern, J.NelsonHBM.Keane, D.Moore, J.Howe
CA.Gaff, T.Kelly, L.DugganCJ.Crisp, S.Pendlebury, J.Noble
HFJ.Cripps, J.Darling, J.BranderHFJ.Daicos, B.Mihocek, J.De Goey
FZ.Langdon, J.Kennedy, O.AllenFC.Brown, D.Cameron, J.Thomas
FOLN.Naitanui, D.Sheed, J.ReddenFOLB.Grundy, L.Greenwood, S.Sidebottom
I/CJ.Waterman, N.Vardy, X.O’Neill, J.RothamI/CF.Macrae, C.Mayne, B.McCreery, J.Madgen

Played 56: West Coast 29 v Collingwood 26 (1 draw)

Last Meeting: AFL Elimination Final, 2020: West Coast (75) def by Collingwood (76)

Final Thoughts: The Eagles are a strange one thus far in 2021; world beaters at home, yet vulnerable away. Sure, it doesn’t help with some keys outs at present, but it’s none more than many other clubs are facing. They face a beleaguered Pies outfit at a good time, and should get the chocolates as they did on Grand Final day in 2018.

It’s clear Collingwood has changes to make. And at 1-3, they need to make them fast. A directionless performance against the Giants showed their linkup play from midfield to forward is mediocre at best. Draftee Finlay Macrae (brother of Jack) is one of those changes, and will make his debut.

Tip: Total Points, Over 162.5 @ $1.88

Western Bulldogs v Gold Coast Suns @ Marvel Stadium

Saturday 17th April, 16:35 (AEST)

Western BulldogsGold Coast 
B.Williams, A.Keath, E.WoodBJ.Bowes, S.Collins, W.Powell
HBT.Duryea, Le.Young, B.DaleHBO.Markov, J.Farrar, J.Lukosius
CL.Vandermeer, B.Smith, L.HunterCB.Ellis, D.Swallow, N.Anderson
HFA.Treloar, A.Naughton, J.DunkleyHFN.Holman, C.Burgess, J.Corbett
FT.English, J.Bruce, M.BontempelliFI.Rankine, B.King, H.Greenwood
FOLJ.Sweet, J.Macrae, T.LiberatoreFOLC.Graham, B.Ainsworth, T.Miller
I/CA.Scott, J.Johannisen, L.McNeil, H.CrozierI/CA.Sexton, D.MacPherson, J.Harbrow, L.Weller

Played 12: Western Bulldogs 9 v Gold Coast 3

Last Meeting: AFL Round 8, 2020: Gold Coast (46) def by Western Bulldogs (51)

Final Thoughts: The Dogs are perhaps *the* form team of the competition, and have already come into $5.50 (from $9.50) for the flag. They’ve also come in from $3.75 into $1.67 to make the Top 4 after a 4-0 start. And in truth, it should become 5-0 this week up against a Suns outfit who have failed to impress thus far in 2021. They’ll have to do so without Caleb Daniel, however, who has accepted a one-game ban for a dangerous tackle.

Stuart Dew’s Suns side need a spark, particularly up forward. His defensive unit have conceded the third fewest points to date in 2021 (form they’ll need to maintain coming up against Aaron Naughton, Tim English and Josh Bruce), but it’s through the midfield and up forward he needs improvement.

Tip: Line, Gold Coast +36.5 @ $1.90

Sydney Swans v GWS Giants @ SCG

Saturday 17th April, 16:35 (AEST)

H.Cunningham, T.McCartin, B.CampbellBJ.Buckley, S.Taylor, L.Keeffe
HBJ.Dawson, L.Melican, J.LloydHBS.Reid, I.Cumming, L.Ash
CO.Florent, C.Mills, J.McInerneyCX.O’Halloran, J.Hopper, N.Haynes
HFL.Parker, L.McDonald, T.PapleyHFB.Hill, T.Greene, B.Daniels
FS.Reid, L.Franklin, S.WicksFJ.Kelly, J.Finlayson, H.Himmelberg
FOLT.Hickey, J.Kennedy, C.WarnerFOLS.Mumford, T.Taranto, C.Ward
I/CG.Hewett, E.Gulden, N.Blakey, W.HaywardI/CC.Idun, C.Stone, J.Riccardi, T.Green


History: Played 19: Sydney 12 v GWS 7

Last Meeting: AFL Round 12, 2020: Sydney (66) def GWS (25)

Final Thoughts: The win against Essendon came at a cost for the Swans, whose previously small injury list has expanded with two key outs. Both Issac Heeney and co-captain Dane Rampe will miss the next 3-4 weeks with hand and finger issues respectively. However James Rowbottom should return, as should Lewis Melican for Rampe.

Sydney hold the wood over their crosstown rivals with a 12-7 record, but ahead of Derby number 20 (or ‘XX’), the Giants enter with real optimism. Their upset win over the Pies in Round 4 showed heart, and importantly saw them avoid a 0-4 start. For them to win, however, much needs to go right — like Toby Greene bagging another five-goal haul. Phil Davis’ injury means Leon Cameron needs to find another matchup for Buddy Franklin.

Tip: Margin, Sydney 1-39 @ $2.25

Carlton Port Adelaide @ MCG

Saturday 17th April, 19:25 (AEST)

CarltonPort Adelaide
S.Docherty, L.Jones, S.Petrevski-SetonBR.Burton, T.Clurey, L.Jones
HBL.Plowman, J.Weitering, A.SaadHBA.Aliir, T.Jonas, D.Byrne-Jones
CM.Cottrell, P.Cripps, S.WalshCD.Houston, O.Wines, K.Amon
HFL.Fogarty, M.McGovern, M.MurphyHFO.Fantasia, M.Georgiades, S.Motlop
FM.Gibbons, H.McKay, L.CasboultFM.Bergman, C.Dixon, R.Gray
FOLM.Pittonet, E.Curnow, Z.WilliamsFOLS.Lycett, T.Boak, C.Rozee
I/CJ.Newnes, E.Betts, M.Kennedy, T.WilliamsonI/CH.Hartlett, T.Marshall, S.Mayes, B.Woodcock

Played 33: Carlton 12 v Port Adelaide 19 (1 draw)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 7, 2020: Carlton (61) def by Port Adelaide (64)

Final Thoughts: After a wobbly start to the season, Carlton are starting to hit their straps. But while wins against Fremantle and Gold Coast has given them much-needed confidence, they’ll be tested to a far greater level this week against the Power. Zac Williams should return in a big boost, while Mitch McGovern looks set for his first taste of senior footy in 2021.

Speaking of injuries, the Power were decimated after their sapping win over the Tigers last Friday — one of the games of the season to date. Young guns Xavier Duursma and Zak Butters are set for an extended period on the sidelines while Connor Rozee and also felt tweaks. The latter two, however, should prove their fitness.

Tip: Total Points, Over 170.5 @ $1.88

Brisbane Lions v Essendon @ Gabba

Saturday 17th April, 19:25 (AEST)

D.Rich, H.Andrews, C.Ah CheeBJ.Laverde, Z.Reid, A.Francis
HBD.Gardiner, M.Adams, G.BirchallHBM.Redman, J.Ridley, D.Heppell
CH.McCluggage, D.Zorko, M.RobinsonCZ.Merrett, K.Langford, D.Smith
HFZ.Bailey, J.Daniher, L.McCarthyHFA.Waterman, H.Jones, W.Snelling
FD.McStay, E.Hipwood, C.CameronFA.Perkins, C.Hooker, A.McDonald-Tipungwuti
FOLO.McInerney, J.Lyons, L.NealeFOLN.Cox, A.McGrath, B.Ham
I/C (from)J.Berry, J.Prior, R.Lester, B.StarcevichI/C (from)N.Hind, D.Parish, P.Wright, J.Stringer


History: Played 47: Brisbane 19 v Essendon 27 (1 draw)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 9, 2020: Essendon (28) def by Brisbane (91)

Final Thoughts: Sure, the Lions have had a tough draw to start the season, but they’ve been decidedly lacklustre when you compare with the level of footy they’ve produced in the past two seasons. And given they’ve slumped to 1-3, games like these (at home) are ones Chris Fagan simply must bank. Pleasingly for them, they remain one of the healthiest AFL lists at present, and Dan McStay may even return up forward.

The Dons were mighty impressive against the Swans in Round 4, especially given that (unlike the Lions) they’ve been decimated by injuries. While they couldn’t get over the line, they’ve displayed a level of competitiveness in recent weeks that suggests Ben Rutten’s men won’t be pushovers in 2021 as some might’ve expected.

Tip: Total Points: Under 175.5 @ $1.88

Adelaide v Fremantle @ Adelaide Oval

Sunday 18th April, 13:10 (AEST)

A.McPherson, J.Butts, L.BrownBE.Hughes, B.Cox, G.Logue
HBT.Doedee, B.Smith, W.HamillHBR.Conca, L.Ryan, N.Wilson
CL.Sholl, B.Keays, P.SeedsmanCB.Acres, A.Cerra, J.Aish
HFJ.Rowe, B.Frampton, N.McHenryHFT.Colyer, R.Lobb, M.Frederick
FS.McAdam, T.Walker, L.MurphyFL.Schultz, M.Taberner, M.Walters
FOLR.O’Brien, R.Laird, D.FogartyFOLS.Darcy, N.Fyfe, D.Mundy
I/C (from)T.Lynch, H.Schoenberg, S.Berry, J.KellyI/C (from)J.Treacy, A.Brayshaw, C.Serong, H.Chapman


History: Played 40: Adelaide 23 v Fremantle 17

Last Meeting: AFL Round 5, 2020: Adelaide (34) def by Fremantle (54)

Final Thoughts: Few had the Crows down for 3-1 to start the season, but Matthew Nicks’ side have displayed both goodwill use and brilliant pressure in the opening rounds of 2021. They face a Dockers outfit they’ll be well-matched against on Sunday; a win would even give them a chance of squeezing into the Top 4.

The Dockers showed a certain intensity and ferocity in their win over a gallant Hawks outfit on Sunday, and Justin Longmuir will be after a similarly unsociable output here. Fremantle and the Swans were seemingly on level pegging at the start of the season, both with a similarly young list. Sydney have pushed ahead and will likely play finals footy, and there’s no reason the Dockers can’t do the same. If they are to, however, four points in a game like this is non-negotiable.

Tip: Margin, Fremantle 1-39 @ $2.70

Hawthorn v Melbourne @ MCG

Sunday 18th April, 15:20 (AEST)

C.Jiath, K.Hartigan, B.HardwickBT.Rivers, H.Petty, A.Tomlinson
HBD.Howe, S.Frost, J.ImpeyHBC.Salem, J.Lever, J.Hunt
CJ.Scrimshaw, T.Mitchell, L.ShielsCA.Brayshaw, C.Oliver, E.Langdon
HFD.Moore, T.O’Brien, S.BurgoyneHFK.Pickett, T.McDonald, N.Jones
FL.Breust, J.Koschitzke, C.WingardFA.Neal-Bullen, L.Jackson, J.Melksham
FOLB.McEvoy, J.Worpel, J.O’MearaFOLM.Gawn, C.Petracca, J.Viney
I/C (from)H.Morrison, T.Phillips, C.Nash, O.HanrahanI/C (from)C.Spargo, M.Hibberd, J.Jordon, M.Brown


History: Played 165: Hawthorn 87 v Melbourne 78

Last Meeting: AFL Round 7, 2020: Hawthorn (48) def by Melbourne (91)

Final Thoughts: Melbourne face a Hawthorn outfit they comfortably disposed of last season, and are strong $1.27 favourites to repeat the dose. After racing to 4-0 for the first time since 1994, the Dees have a huge chance to secure a stronghold on their Top 8 spot early this season. Games against the league’s bottom two clubs in the next three rounds means they should, at a minimum, be sitting 6-1 after Round 7. They’ll have to play this week, however, without defender Steven May, who is out for the next 2-4.

The Hawks were again gallant in their Round 4 loss to the Dockers but, as we’ll likely see throughout 2021, simply won’t edge ahead of many sides when it comes to the crux. Mitch Lewis’ suspension will force Alastair Clarkson into at least one change for this MCG clash.

Tip: Total Points, Over 158.5 @ $1.88

Geelong v North Melbourne @ GMHBA Stadium

Sunday 18th April, 16:40 (AEST)

GeelongNorth Melbourne
L.Henderson, M.Blicavs, J.BewsBA.Bonar, B.McKay, S.Atley
HBT.Atkins, J.Kolodjashnij, T.StewartHBJ.Ziebell, J.Walker, A.Hall
CI.Smith, P.Dangerfield, Z.TuohyCC.Lazzaro, J.Simpkin, T.Powell
HFG.Miers, S.De Koning, J.HenryHFK.Turner, T.Campbell, T.Thomas
FG.Rohan, T.Hawkins, B.CloseFJ.Mahony, N.Larkey, J.Stephenson
FOLR.Stanley, C.Guthrie, J.SelwoodFOLT.Goldstein, B.Cunnington, W.Phillips
I/C (from)S.Menegola, M.Duncan, B.Parfitt, L.DahlhausI/C (from)B.Scott, A.Bosenavulagi, L.Young, K.Hayden


History: Played 165: Geelong 101 v North Melbourne 63 (1 draw)

Last Meeting: AFL Round 10, 2020: Geelong (90) def North Melbourne (57)

Final Thoughts: Perhaps unsurprisingly, this game has thrown up the longest head-to-head odds on any game in 2021 to date. North Melbourne (on Wednesday afternoon) are $14.40 to claim an upset win down the highway in Geelong, in a game the bookies suggest will be all one-way traffic (Geelong are currently $1.02). The Roos are certainly not helped by the Cats’ return players for this one; superstar Patrick Dangerfield, Gary Rohan and Brandan Parfitt among those. Thankfully for David Noble, Ben Cunnington got off his one-week charge for a high bump, although best and fairest winner is now set to miss 10-12 weeks after tearing his pectoral.

Tip: To score 2+ goals, Gryan Miers (Geelong) @ $2.25