Right, it’s here. After weeks of anticipation, the 2021 AFL season is finally here! The Richmond Tigers and Carlton Blues square off in the season opener on Thursday night and we couldn’t be more excited! The Before You Bet team will be bringing you a full preview and AFL tips for every single game in the 2021 AFL season and today, we kick things off with our look at the season opener.
Remember, you can check out our preview and tips for every game in Round 1 and beyond of the AFL season, just be sure to head to our AFL Betting Tips page for regular updates.
This season, we will be using a staking system to gauge our confidence on our match bets for each game. Bets will be given a 1-3 unit stake, with three units being the highest level of confidence.
2021 AFL Round 1 Richmond vs Carlton Tips
MCG, Thursday 18th March 7.25pm (AEDT)
As it has been for over a decade now, the Tigers and Blues will square off in the opening game of the season from the MCG. It will be much different to last season, however, as fans will be in attendance at the home of footy for the first time in over a year.
The Tigers start as strong favourites for the clash on the back of their 2021 Premiership and it’s no wonder given their absolute dominance of the Round 1 fixture against the Blues in recent history. The two teams have faced off in the Thursday night clash of Round 1 for the last 13 seasons in row. Carlton won five of the first six of those games but since then, Richmond has had an absolute stranglehold on the fixture, winning the last seven on the trot. Throw in games at other times throughout the year and the Tigers have won their last 10 straight against the Blues.
The Blues made some interesting moves in the off-season which should make them quicker off the half back line and through the middle of the ground. They acquired the services of Essendon speedster Adam Saad as well as Zac Williams from the Giants, however, the latter won’t be available until Round 2 due to suspension.
The Blues will also be without a number of key players through injury, with the likes of Charlie Curnow, Tom De Koning, Caleb Marchbank and Nic Newman already ruled out and Eddie Betts, Levi Casboult, Mitch McGovern, Harry McKay, Jack Newnes and Jacob Weitering all needing to pass fitness tests to play.
The Tigers look much more settled on the injury front. Only Bachar Houli and Ivan Soldo will be missing from their potential best 22 on Thursday night, with stars Tom Lynch and Dion Prestia both being ruled as available after recovering from toe and hamstring injuries respectively.
Incredibly hard to look past the Tigers here given their fitness coming into Round 1. Last season, they were a little slow out of the blocks, winning just one of their first four games, but with over 90% of their premiership side available for Round 1 and rampant Tiger fans set to be back in the stands, we think they win this one comfortably.
Across the Tigers 10 game winning streak over the Blues, the average winning margin has been 25.8 points. Back them to cover the 20.5 point spread here, but as it is the opening game of the season and we don't have a lot of form to go on, we will just have this as a 1 unit play.
Tigers -20.5 (1 Unit)
Tom Lynch had a really quiet game against the Blues in Round 1 last season, recording just 9 disposals with zero marks and zero goals. He’ll be desperate to bounce back against the Blues this season and have a performance more like the two he did against Carlton in 2019 when he booted five goals. With the quarters being back at a full 20 minutes this year, there should be more opportunity for the big forward to kick goals. Back him for 3+ on Thursday night.
Predictably with the shorter quarters, Ed Curnow had a quieter game against the Tigers last year, compiling just 16 touches. However, in the past season when the Blues faced the Tigers twice, Curnow racked up 25 touches in the first game and 34 in the second. Should be back to his accumulating best and should get a decent run in the midfield with some out injured.
Curnow 25+ Disposals