The Richmond Tigers and Fremantle Dockers battle at Optus Stadium on Sunday for a potential spot in the top eight.
Eight teams make the playoffs, and with a few weeks left of the regular season, winning has never been more important. The Tigers and Dockers are in desperate need of a win, so bettors should expect fireworks.
The online sportsbook has Richmond as the 9½ favorites, which isn’t surprising given the amount of AFL premierships they have won recently.
Tigers Seek Consistency
The Tigers have won only one of their last six games, which is unlike the normally consistent team. They are the defending champions but are playing like a tired team. However, there is a statement win bubbling underneath the surface.
It could come against Fremantle, which hasn’t been in good form. Richmond looked excellent when beating the Brisbane Lions 106-86 in Round 18, but failed to deliver when losing by 38 points to Geelong last week.
A chance to win three consecutive AFL premierships could slip away with a loss, so it’s a huge game for the premiers.
“Logic might say we just haven’t got the same players playing in the same manner, which goes back to what I always say – good players make good coaches,” AFL legend Leigh Matthews told AFL.com.
“Nevertheless, sometimes you kid yourself when you’re coaching a dynasty team and think, ‘geez, we’re fantastic at what we do, we do it our way’, then all of a sudden a few of those players don’t play so well or they get injured and all of a sudden you fall off the cliff.”
Richmond haven’t fallen off the cliff just yet, but the likes of Dusty Martin and Jack Riewoldt will need to get back to their best form.
AFL betting markets have Richmond as -9½ favorites, so they’re expecting the class to shine through.
Offense Concerns for Dockers
The Fremantle Dockers have scored totals of 64, 108, 31 and 58 points over the last four games, which isn’t good enough for this level of footy.
They were particularly disappointing when scoring only 31 points against the Geelong Cats in Round 18. Scoring only three goals isn’t good enough at the professional level and they weren’t much better when scoring 58 points against Sydney last week.
Fremantle is always a team that generates interest in betting markets but rarely delivers. It’s the case again this week, but playing at home should help their cause.
The Dockers also have notable wins on their record, including a Round 10 win over Sydney, but the wins have been far and few between. With eight wins and 10 losses, Fremantle needs to click into gear to have any chance of making the playoffs.
They are without captain Nat Fyfe for the rest of the season, which adds to their woes. He underwent shoulder surgery after dislocating his right shoulder in Round 12. He put off having surgery in the hopes of a playoff push, so his decision to operate is a telling sign.
“Hey Freo fam, shoulder op went well and I’m resting up ready for next season,” Fyfe said.
“Disappointed I can’t finish the year with my team but relieved I can start healing. Will be right behind the boys for the rest of the year.”
The biggest difference between Fremantle and Richmond is offense. The Dockers have scored 127 goals, and only the Crows and Kangaroos have fewer. Richmond owns 202 goals, which ranks them second behind the Cats.
That is a sizable difference and if the Dockers don’t up their offensive production, it could be a long night at Optus Stadium.
We can’t put our confidence in Fremantle to get the job done. It hasn’t done much to be proud of lately and the lack of offense could be exposed by the Richmond Tigers.
The favorites should score a win and get back into finals contention. They have a healthy roster, and despite playing poorly over the last few weeks, they have time to turn it around.
The current line of 9½ should push out to double figures on game day, so bettors should lock in the early value.