Season tally so far
Units Wagered = 20.5 units
Units Won = 31.74 units
Profit/Loss = +11.24 units (54.8% profit)
Cheeky Weekend Multi
St Kilda to win by 16 points or more @ 2.90
Lance Franklin to score the most goals in the Sydney v Collingwood game @ 3.50
1 unit @ combined odds of 10.15 (Sportsbet)
Friday 28 March
Essendon v Hawthorn
7:50 PM AEDT, Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
After a couple of lacklustre Friday night games in Round 1, this showdown between two old rivals should hit the mark as a high-class spectacle. All the off-season doom and gloom surrounding Essendon was quickly erased by the playing group as they dismantled a highly fancied opponent to open their season with a win, although the performance was perhaps more noteworthy than the result itself. The Bombers looked a class above North Melbourne, and I have quickly put them back on my top 4 radar.
Hawthorn were a little sluggish early in the piece against Brisbane, but got rolling in the last quarter to notch a 48 point win, however the scoreline didn’t really reflect the closeness of the contest. The Hawks have made one change to their team, with excitement machine Cyril Rioli returning after serving a suspension during the opening round. Rioli has been a bit of an x-factor player during his career, but if he can stay injury free and become more consistently involved in matches rather than flashing in and out, then this could be the year Cyril becomes one of the game’s elite.
I know there is a risk that I am reading too much into last week, but at their juicy odds I have been tempted into thinking Essendon can win this game. Looking at the team lists, Hawthorn seem horribly exposed for a lack of height down back, with Josh Gibson their only tall defender while Brian Lake still serves his grand final suspension and Ryan Schoenmakers recovers from a knee injury. The Bombers have plenty of tall marking targets in attack and that could be the difference in a game that I expect to be a shoot-out.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Essendon to win 39 points or less @ 3.60 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1.5 units on Total Match Score over 198.5 @ 1.91 (Bet365)
Saturday 29 March
St Kilda v Greater Western Sydney
1:40 PM AEDT, Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
Both clubs got off to a winning start in Round 1, which means that one of the pre-season wooden spoon favourites will win this game and sit pretty at 2-0 after Round 2. St Kilda went in as slight underdogs against Melbourne, but spurred on by the vintage performance of Nick Riewoldt and the sensational debut of teenager Luke Dunstan, the Saints got the job done. GWS’s scalp was more noteworthy though, with the young Giants taking down Premiership hopefuls Sydney in a pulsating local derby.
The team news heavily favours St Kilda in this game and that has made them my best bet of the weekend. The Saints have been able to recall club legends Lenny Hayes and Leigh Montagna from suspension, and their names on the team sheet make the midfield look a whole lot better. For GWS, three key players have been lost to injury, most notably Phil Davis who would have matched up against Riewoldt. Ball winning midfielder Dylan Shiel also misses through injury, as does run-with player Rhys Palmer. On the plus side for the Giants, number 2 draft pick Josh Kelly makes his debut and I am expecting big things from the endurance athlete.
Saints skipper Nick Riewoldt propelled his team to victory last weekend, and it would take a braver man than me to bet against him doing it again here.
Note that I am recommending Sportsbet as the bookmaker to use for head to head betting this weekend. This is because they are continuing their promotion from Round 1, which means you get your money back if your team leads at the end of any quarter but loses the match.
Andy’s Bet: 3 units on St Kilda to win @ 1.98 (Sportsbet)
Port Adelaide v Adelaide
4:45 PM AEDT, Adelaide Oval, Adelaide
The first ever home and away match between Port Adelaide and Adelaide at the newly refurbished Adelaide Oval will be the hottest ticket in town this Saturday. The Power continued their 2013 formline when they steamrolled Carlton in the last quarter to post an impressive first up win for 2014. Adelaide were competitive for three quarters against Geelong but got blown out of the water late in that match.
In good news for the Crows, Richard Douglas has recovered from injury and will join Patrick Dangerfield, Rory Sloane and Scott Thompson to form an excellent midfield quartet, while the Power have recalled Alipate Carlile to bolster their defence.
These ‘Showdowns’ are often hard to predict, but the winning form is with Port Adelaide so I will put my cash on the Power. I am also going to make a play on Adelaide’s Matthew Wright get the most disposals in the lesser tier group Sportsbet most disposals group. Wright is playing as a midfielder this year and had 31 touches in Round 1. Another performance like that should be enough for him to take out this market at very nice odds.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Port Adelaide to win @ 1.70 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Matthew Wright most disposals in his group @ 5.50 (Sportsbet)
Fremantle v Gold Coast
7:40 PM AEDT, Patersons Stadium, Perth
The Gary Ablett show rolls into Perth this Friday night, but the game’s premier ball-getting and goalkicking midfielder will line up against Fremantle’s Ryan Crowley – the best tagger in the business – in what shapes as one of the best individual battles of the season. Who will prevail, the play-maker or the play-wrecker? It is the classic hero versus villain scenario and it will be played out on the wide open spaces of Patersons Stadium this Saturday night.
The game itself seemingly takes on less significance, but its outcome promises to be very instructive as it will provide a good indication of how the young up-and-coming Gold Coast team measure up against one of the Premiership favourites. The Suns both surprised and impressed me with their run against Richmond a fortnight ago, with Guy Mckenna’s team finishing the stronger despite incurring injuries and losing rotations on their bench. Rory Thompson’s inclusion is another plus for the Suns, with the key defender returning in time to play on Fremantle spearhead Matthew Pavlich.
Despite all the positive signs surrounding Gold Coast, Fremantle are a team that is talented and disciplined in equal measure, and I would be surprised with anything other than a comfortable Dockers win on their home deck.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Fremantle at the line (-41.5) @ 1.93 (Bet365)
Sydney v Collingwood
7:40 PM AEDT, ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Aretha Franklin famously belted out R-E-S-P-E-C-T, and after horror Round 1 showings, all Sydney coach John Longmire and Collingwood counterpart Nathan Buckley are asking for is a little respect from their Round 2 showdown. The clubs meet in their annual ANZ Stadium clash this Saturday night after the Swans were taught a lesson by little brother GWS in their Round 1 game, while the Magpies were thrashed by visiting Fremantle on the same opening weekend.
Sydney captain Kieren Jack, a late omission in Round 1 due to injury, has been named this week and will be a big boost for the Swans midfield that missed his tackling pressure in the midfield congestion last week. For Collingwood, former Sydney man Jesse White makes his debut in the black and white against his old teammates.
White was one of the men squeezed out of the Swans by the recruit of Lance Franklin and it will be an interesting subplot to compare the fortunes of those two men on the same field this Saturday night. For what it’s worth, Franklin could be in for a big night as he has really enjoyed playing against Collingwood in the past, booting more goals against Collingwood than any other opposition team. The opportunity is there again this Saturday as Collingwood do not have key defender Ben Reid available due to injury, meaning the Magpies will be fielding Jack Frost in just his fourth AFL game, who despite the obvious connotations of his name, is unlikely to be ice-cool if matched up against Franklin.
Even though the Magpies have enjoyed good success in this fixture in the past, the Swans look to have more depth across the field and should get their first win of the year.
Andy’s Bet: 2 units on Sydney to win 1.43 (Sportsbet)
Sunday 30 March
Brisbane Lions v Geelong
1:10 PM AEDT, Gabba, Brisbane
If this match is anything like the fare served up by these two last season, then this is a game not to be missed. In the corresponding fixture last year, Geelong led by as much as 52 points during the second half before Brisbane stormed home to win with the last kick of the game. Commentator Anthony Hudson referred to it as the miracle on grass and you can relive the frantic last two minutes with the video below.
Geelong are fresh from a handsome 38 point win over Adelaide to open their season, while Brisbane were surprisingly competitive for long periods last Saturday against Hawthorn despite going down by 48 points. The only notable selection news is for the Lions, who will be missing gun midfielder Tom Rockliff due to suspension.
Without Rockliff, Brisbane’s midfield looks to be out of its depth against the classy Cats. Geelong should be able to avoid a repeat of last year’s drama and score a comfortable win this time around.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Geelong at the line (-22.5) @ 1.92 (Luxbet)
Melbourne v West Coast
3:20 PM AEDT, MCG, Melbourne
After a disappointing Round 1 showing I fear 2014 is going to be another barren year for Melbourne. The Demons had a great opportunity to kick off their season with a win against an undermanned St Kilda, but missing a few key players of their own, Paul Roos’ new team could only muster 6 goals to limp to defeat against the Saints. West Coast had no such worries as they dominated their match against the Western Bulldogs en route to a 65 point victory.
Apart from a glaring weakness in attack due to some unavailable senior players, Melbourne’s biggest problem is in the ruck as Jake Spencer currently holds down that position despite playing a total of 24 games in his 5 years in the AFL system. West Coast are the worst team to be playing if you’ve got issues in the ruck because the Eagles contain the best rucking duo in the league. Eagles big men Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui proved their worth again last week as they dominated last year’s All Australian ruckman Will Minson.
Both teams have named fairly settled sides, so without much change to their composition from last week, I don’t see how Melbourne will improve too much against a West Coast team that continued their excellent pre-season form in their season-opener against the Bulldogs last week.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on West Coast at the line (-41.5) @ 1.93 (Bet365)
Western Bulldogs v North Melbourne
4:40 PM AEDT, Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
Another week, another crappy timeslot for the Bulldogs. This is unfortunately the norm for some of Melbourne’s smaller clubs, but it is particularly disappointing because this game deserves a larger audience with both teams eager to improve on ordinary Round 1 performances that came in contrast to bullish pre-season optimism.
North Melbourne were comprehensively outplayed by Essendon last Friday night and, in truth, the margin of defeat should have been more than 39 points. One thing in North’s favour this week is that the Western Bulldogs are backing up with two days less break from a trip to Perth where the Doggies played in temperatures well above 30 degrees.
The Bulldogs will be very happy to welcome new skipper Ryan Griffen into the team for his first game of the season after the star midfielder missed the Dogs first game of the campaign through injury. Griffen’s return may even tip the midfield battle the Doggies way on Sunday, although the Kangaroos have a very handy midfield brigade too.
North performed below my expectations last week, but I did predict they would make the top 4 in my season preview, so I am not going to jump off them after only one bad showing! This should be close, but I think the Roos have more firepower in attack and that promises to be the difference.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on North Melbourne to win by 39 points or less @ 2.25 (Sportsbet)