AFL 2021 Finals Week 1 Predictions Odds, Previews & Tips

AFL 2021 Finals Week 1
AFL 2021 Finals Week 1

Wow. Round 23 of the AFL season must have been one of the most memorable in history, with incredible endings in almost half of the games and the finals matchups not being decided until the dying seconds of numerous games. The Bulldogs somehow missed the top four and will play the Bombers, who snuck into the eight, in an elimination final, while the Battle of the Bridge will take centre stage in Tasmania on Saturday afternoon. Elsewhere, Port Adelaide plays Geelong in a huge Friday night clash before Melbourne and Brisbane fight it out to be the second team into the preliminary finals on Saturday night. All four games could go either way, and we’ve reviewed each and every one of them.

Port Adelaide Power vs Geelong Cats

27 August, 7.50pm, Adelaide Oval

Heading into Round 23, both the Power and the Cats had already locked in their top four spots, but in which position they would each finish was still yet to be decided. They were both involved in a couple of thrillers on Friday and Saturday night, and though each of them was on the right side of the ledger when time expired, a Max Gawn goal after the siren saw the Cats sent from first spot to third spot in the space of a second and resigned to a tough match-up against Port in Adelaide. Most would have had Geelong ranked ahead of the Power throughout much of this season, but while they head into the finals having lost two of their last three, the home side is riding a wave of momentum having won six on the trot and nine of their last ten. That form combined with a home ground advantage will be enough for many to be tipping them to advance straight through to the preliminary final, but Geelong’s talent across the park remains undeniable despite their indifferent form, and on the big stage we think they can just sneak over the line.

Bet on the Cats to win @ $2.05

Sydney Swans vs GWS Giants

28 August, 3.20pm, University of Tasmania Stadium

The prospect of an elimination final between the two Sydney teams would likely have many AFL executives salivating, with its potential benefits to their endless quest to grow football in Australia’s most populous state plain to see, but unfortunately the COVID situation means it will be played in Tasmania in front of a crowd of passionate but predominantly neutral supporters. Nonetheless, it shapes as a thrilling game. Sydney have been the better Harbour City team all year and, in another season, their 15 wins could easily have seen them finish in the top four. Alas they could only manage sixth, and are far from guaranteed to advance past the first week of the finals. The Giants come into the finals as one of the form teams of the competition having won three in a row, including hugely impressive victories against Geelong in Geelong and the Tigers in Melbourne. That form is more than sufficient to give them a massive chance in this game, but the Swans have barely put a foot wrong all year and can grind out a tight win.

Bet on the Swans to win @ $1.61

Melbourne Demons vs Brisbane Lions

28 August, 7.30pm, Adelaide Oval

Both of these teams will enter Saturday night’s game with their tails wagging after each of them enjoyed incredible results last weekend. The Demons, of course, were on the right end of one of the most memorable finishes to a season in recent memory, with Gawn’s after-the-siren heroics seeing them secure top spot on the AFL ladder for the first time since they last won a Premiership in 1964. The Lions’ win, on paper, was less exciting, but a behind with 30 seconds to go and a goal after the siren saw their percentage just creep over that of the Dogs, and they earned a double chance as a result. A consistent presence in the upper echelons of the league for a few years now, they should theoretically be primed for a run deep into September, but the side they come up against on Saturday night has been incredibly impressive all season and can begin their finals campaign in style with a close win.

Bet on the Demons to win @ $1.67

Western Bulldogs vs Essendon Bombers

29 August, 3.20pm, University of Tasmania Stadium

The Bulldogs spent much of the season inside the top two and questions around where they would finished centred predominantly on whether it would be first or second, but a shock streak of three consecutive losses saw them drop outside the top four by the barest of margins. One of the teams they lost to during that streak was the Bombers, who snared the much-coveted last spot in the eight with three consecutive wins to finish the season. All year, the Dogs have been one of the best sides in it while the Bombers have been mid-tier at best, but the stark contrast in these teams’ respective form makes this game a lot more interesting than it may have been a few weeks ago. The Bombers have the tools and the form to make things difficult for their more highly fancied opponents, but surely the Bulldogs are good enough to turn things around and make it through to the semis.

Bet on the Bulldogs to win @ $1.55

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James is a sports writer from Melbourne, and has contributed to a variety of publications covering a range of sports including basketball, cricket, Australian Rules, golf and surfing to name a few. An avid fan of all of the above and more, James’ downtime is spent falling ungracefully off his surfboard, turning over footies and playing an out of tune guitar.

All Predictions by James Salmon

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