What an absolute blockbuster we have in store in the AFL on Friday night! The reigning premier Tigers will host the top of the ladder Bulldogs in the opening game of Round 7 and as always, PuntingInDanger has you covered with his full preview and betting tips for the clash below.
MCG, Friday April 30th 7.50pm (AEST)
This game has been in the headlines for multiple reasons throughout the week, most notably, the fact that the Tigers will be without star midfielder Dustin Martin after he was granted leave to visit his father in New Zealand. Regardless, this should still be an enthralling clash.
How good have the Bulldogs been in season 2021 so far? They sit atop the AFL ladder with a 6-0 record and are coming off a solid win over the Giants on Friday night last week. They have a massive percentage of 175.3 after winning their six games by an average of 45.1 points so far.
Their win over the Giants came at a cost though, as star midfielder Josh Dunkley went down with a dislocated shoulder and will miss 12-16 weeks. Lin Jong will miss the same amount of time with a hamstring injury while Tim English, Toby McLean, Ed Richards and Bailey Williams also remain on the sidelines.
The Tigers will square off against the two undefeated teams two weeks in a row after they went down to the Demons in Round 6. The loss means they are now 3-3 on the season after losing games to Port Adelaide and Sydney earlier in the season. So far, they have only beaten the Blues, Saints and Hawks, who all sit outside of the top 12 on the ladder.
The clash against the Bulldogs will certainly be an interesting barometer for the Tigers, especially given the fact that they’ll be without their best player in Dustin Martin. They are also without Kane Lambert, Dion Prestia, Ivan Soldo and Nick Vlaustin.
You could count on one hand the number of times that the Tigers have been underdogs at the MCG over the past few years, but that will be the case on Friday night as the Dogs opened as slight favourites, a line which moved to 11.5 after the news that Martin was out. I’m not really a fan of either side of that line, but I do like the over in this game.
Of the 12 combined games that the Dogs and Tigers have been involved in this season, eight of them have cleared the 155.5 point mark with relative ease. With no Grimes and Vlaustin in the Tigers backline, it should become a bit easier for the Dogs to score and the last time these two teams played at the MCG, there was 193 total points scored.
No Martin, no Prestia and no Lambert, the Tigers are going to need some serious grunt in the middle of the ground if they want to compete with this star studded Bulldogs midfield. Jack Graham racked up 33 touches in the season opener against the Blues but has since been pretty quiet, accumulating between 15 and 17 touches in his next five games straight. Will likely get plenty more midfield run this week and could probably get the job running with Bontempelli. Back him to have another 25+ disposal game.
Josh Dunkley has been dominant in the accumulation game this season, racking up 30+ three times already and averaging 30.3 touches per game. That production will need to go somewhere and I think the most likely recipient could be Bailey Smith. Smith was a mainstay in the Bulldogs centre square contests last season but has spent the majority of his time out on the wing this season. With no Dunkley, Smith could be inserted a bit more in the middle of the ground and could be on for his first 25+ disposal game since Round 3.
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