Season tally so far
Units Wagered = 35 units
Units Won = 49.41 units
Profit/Loss = +14.41 units (41.2% profit)
Cheeky Weekend Multi
Luke Shuey most disposals in Group 2 @ 4.50
Any Other Result in the Wire to Wire market of the North Melbourne v Port Adelaide game @ 1.90
1 unit @ combined odds of 8.55 (Sportsbet)
Friday 5 April
Hawthorn v Fremantle
7:50 PM AEDT, MCG, Melbourne
Last year’s Grand Finalists meet for the first time since Hawthorn won the cup. Their season decider was a bit of a dour struggle, but hopefully both teams will play with a bit more freedom and adventure in this home and away match, providing a better spectacle for the crowd.
Although both clubs are undefeated after the first two rounds, Fremantle enter this match in better form, having belted Collingwood and Gold Coast by over 40 points each, while Hawthorn took a few quarters to get going against Brisbane before sneaking past Essendon at the death last Friday night.
There is some massive selection news ahead of this match, with Hawthorn losing skipper Luke Hodge to a groin injury, although Hodge’s loss is offset by the return of former skipper and dominant midfielder Sam Mitchell. The news is all bad for the Dockers as gun midfielders Nat Fyfe and Michael Barlow have been ruled out, while Hawthorn full forward Jarryd Roughead will be smiling after the suspension of Docker defender Zac Dawson should allow more him more opportunities in attack.
One thing Fremantle were great at last year was restricting the scoring of their opponents, and they look to have continued that miserly approach this campaign, keeping Collingwood and Gold Coast to just 5 goals in their opening two fixtures. That will be tough to maintain against a free-scoring Hawthorn team, especially with Cyril Rioli in form after lighting it up last week.
Fremantle’s three big outs have swayed me to favour Hawthorn in what I expect to be a tight and reasonably low-scoring match. It is also worth noting that the Hawks have won the past 5 matches between the teams.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Hawthorn to win 39 points or less @ 2.25 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Total Match Score under 167.5 @ 1.91 (Bet365)
Saturday 6 April
Western Bulldogs v Richmond
1:45 PM AEDT, Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
The Western Bulldogs have performed below my expectations to start the season. The Dogs were thrashed by West Coast in Round 1, before being outlasted by North Melbourne in a low-standard match last Sunday. It is no shame to lose to the both those clubs, but the manner of the Bulldogs performances is likely to be concerning coach Brendan McCartney.
Richmond got out of jail against Carlton last week, as their opponents stormed home from a big deficit, frittering away many last quarter chances to let the Tigers off the hook. Despite post-match comments made by Richmond coach Damien Hardwick praising the ‘maturity’ of his side, I think his team was very fortunate to get the win because key midfielders and club leaders Trent Cotchin and Brett Deledio were very quiet in the last quarter.
The lack of run from Richmond late in their opening two matches is quite worrying. They were outrun by Gold Coast in Round 1 despite the Suns being down on bench rotations due to two injuries, and the Blues seemed to retrieve a 40 point deficit last week with relative ease. Meanwhile the Doggies have been struggling in the middle, failing to win clearance count in each of their games, which was a stat they led the league in last year.
Richmond have suffered two big blows at selection, losing Deledio to an ankle injury and ruckman Shaun Hampson to a knee injury. Hampson’s injury means that, with number 1 ruckman Ivan Maric already injured, the Tigers will have to turn to third-choice big man Orren Stephenson. That is an area of the ground the Dogs could look to exploit with last year’s All-Australian ruckman Will Minson prowling around the stoppages in red, white and blue.
Doggies tagger Mitch Wallis did a great job on Daniel Wells last week and will get first crack at Cotchin this week. If Cotchin is nullified, then I think the Dogs could pull off an upset at Etihad Stadium, potentially due to a second half comeback over the tiring Tigers.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Western Bulldogs to win @ 3.30 (Unibet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Richmond/Western Bulldogs to be the Halftime/Fulltime double @ 11.00 (Sportsbet)
Adelaide v Sydney
2:10 PM AEDT, Adelaide Oval, Adelaide
Adelaide will be hoping their second match at the newly refurbished Adelaide Oval will be better than their first, with the Crows ending up on the losing side in the showpiece clash against Port Adelaide last weekend that welcomed footy back to the famous ground. That was Adelaide’s second loss in as may weeks, leaving them winless for the season but surprisingly on an equal footing with their Sydney visitors this Saturday.
Even though they have entered both their games as hot favourites, the Swans have also suffered two defeats to leave them languishing in a lowly ladder position like the Crows. Adelaide coach Brenton Sanderson has swung the selection axe, making five changes to the team that lost the showdown last week. Although he has been unable to bring in any high-profile players, with the only notable inclusion being first-gamer Matt Crouch.
So far this season I have successfully bet against the Crows twice, but unsuccessfully bet for the Swans twice. Not knowing which way this one will swing, I am going to take either side to win by 24 points or less. There is also a lot of value to be had in Sportsbet’s Most Possessions Gr1 market, with all 8 players valued at $4.50 or better. Given how easily Scott Pendlebury found the pill against the Swans last week, perhaps this week we could see a Patrick Dangerfield masterclass. The explosive midfielder is due for a big game after being well held for the past fortnight.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on either team to win by 24 points or less @ 1.68 (Centrebet)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Patrick Dangerfield most disposals in his group @ 8.00 (Sportsbet)
Gold Coast v Brisbane Lions
4:40 PM AEDT, Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast
This is the 7th edition of the QClash and given their state rivalry, these teams face-off twice a season and one game each season has been decided by 11 points or less, while the margin of the other match has been north of 30 points. Based on that history, there is a 50/50 chance this match will be an absolute beauty!
Since Gold Coast stunned Brisbane to record their first ever AFL win in the inaugural QClash, the Lions have bounced back to win the past 5 meetings. However the Suns were impressive in their Round 1 in over Richmond at this venue and look to have continued their gradual progression as they embark on their fourth season in the big time. Early indications are that the Suns may finally overtake their northern neighbours this season to be the top-ranked Queensland club.
With Andrew Raines not picked in the Brisbane team, the Lions don’t have a recognised tagger, which means Gary Ablett could be in for a game. With the bald champion running riot, Gold Coast will be well on the road to victory.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Gold Coast to win by 39 points or less @ 2.25 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 2 units on Gary Ablett most disposals in his group @ 1.90 (Sportsbet)
West Coast v St Kilda
7:40 PM AEDT, Patersons Stadium, Perth
Given the dream fixtures both clubs have had to open the season, it isn’t that surprising both manged to record back to back wins to open 2014. But while the Saints scrapped to wins over Melbourne and GWS, West Coast completely dominated Western Bulldogs and Melbourne.
I was able to see the Saints from the stands last week and noted how shaky their defence was in the first half before improving during the last quarter to repel wave after wave of Giants attacking thrusts. One thing that stood out for the Saints was the lack of a sure foot coming out of defence, especially whenever Sam Gilbert was in possession of the football. Therefore the recall from injury of unheralded defender Jimmy Webster is actually a big boost for St Kilda. Webster has elite kicking skills and is an important cog in the Saints structure.
West Coast look big and mean at the moment and should have more than enough key position attacking options to post a big score against an under-sized St Kilda defensive unit. The margin could get ugly in the second half.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on West Coast at the line (-62.5) @ 1.93 (Bet365)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Josh Kennedy most goals @ 3.75 (Sportsbet)
Collingwood v Geelong
7:40 PM AEDT, MCG, Melbourne
With these clubs regular finals adversaries since 2007, matches between Collingwood and Geelong deservedly carry the blockbuster tag, and this fixture has produced some amazing football during recent seasons. Perhaps surprisingly given how the club has slowly slipped down the ladder during his tenure, the Magpies have enjoyed a 3-0 record in this fixture since Nathan Buckley began his coaching tenure. That stat is quite ironic given the Cats were the only team the Pies couldn’t beat in former coach Mick Malthouse’s final season.
Enough of the digression though, this match is heavily influenced by the team news that sees Collingwood lose experienced key position defender Nathan Brown to a shoulder injury. With fellow key position defender Ben Reid already sidelined, the Magpies will go into this match with Lachlan Keeffe and Jack Frost filling the key defensive posts despite combining for less than 30 games between them. Although it is worth noting that Frost played a standout game on Lance Franklin last week.
In the midfield Collingwood stopper Brent Macaffer will likely try and reprise his successful tagging job from last year on Cats skipper Joel Selwood. Steve Johnson and Matthew Stokes are in great touch for Geelong, while the same can be said of Collingwood duo Scott Pendlebury and Dayne Beams. This game is dripping with midfield talent!
I think both sides will rise for this blockbuster and we could witness another epic match that goes right to the wire. I am going to be keeping my bets low and watching mostly for pleasure. Despite saying that I will have a very small interest on Geelong’s jack-of-all-trades and master-of-all-trades Jimmy Bartel to take out the second tier most disposals group at ridiculous odds for a player of his ability. I couldn’t resist!
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on either side to win by 15 points or less @ 2.65 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.25 units on Jimmy Bartel most disposals in his group @ 21.00 (Sportsbet)
Sunday 7 April
Greater Western Sydney v Melbourne
1:10 PM AEST, Spotless Stadium, Sydney
The AFL appears to have made a conscious effort to schedule the weaker performing teams against each other early in the season to try and give them an opportunity to get some wins and build momentum. After this fixture, the bottom 3 clubs from last year would have already played the other two clubs occupying those positions. The irregularities of the draw and the way the AFL have began trying to manipulate it in recent seasons has really annoyed me. But that’s enough whinging for now, I’ll get back on my Sunday night soapbox for the Essendon v Carlton preview.
I thought Melbourne’s embarrassing 93 point defeat against West Coast was a true reflection of where Paul Roos’ side is at with their three key forwards still unable to make it onto the park. Without Mitch Clark, Chris Dawes and Jesse Hogan, the Demons have no forward line threat, while their midfield lacks class and the defence is constantly under siege.
There are no such concerns at the Giants, with the club oozing a youthful confidence despite notching only a handful of wins in their two year existence. I saw GWS live last week against St Kilda and despite confidently backing the Saints, I was made to fret during the last quarter as the Giants finished full of running but couldn’t snag the crucial goal that would have put them in front during a tense last quarter.
With Melbourne still missing their key targets in the forward line, the young Giants deserve their warm favouritism.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on GWS to win by 16 points or more @ 1.68 (Bookmaker)
North Melbourne v Port Adelaide
4:10 PM AEST, MCG, Melbourne
In my pre-season preview I was forecasting very big years for both North Melbourne and Port Adelaide. It is only early days, but I am already lowering my expectations for the Kangaroos, but at least Port are living up to my hype and playing like a side with finals on their 2014 agenda.
Port Adelaide’s early season success has been built upon their tremendous fitness and running capacity, which was also a strength of the team last year. Both of the Power’s wins this season have been set up by second half surges. After their win over Carlton in Round 1, coach Ken Hinkley said in his post-match press conference, “If you come and play against Port Adelaide, you’re going to run and you’re going to have to run really hard for four quarters.” I love that quote because it shows just how confident Hinkley and his players are that they have an edge on their opposition in that area.
I have managed to find odds on Port Adelaide winning the last quarter at $1.78, which is better than their odds to win the match. Other markets have the Power as low as $1.60 to win the last quarter. Given their fast finishes are their strength, I think the last quarter market represents great value for Port.
Andy’s Bet: 2 units on Port Adelaide to win the last quarter at @ 1.78 (Centrebet)
Essendon v Carlton
7:10 PM AEDT, MCG, Melbourne
After dipping their toe in the water with two Sunday night fixtures in Round 1, the AFL are back to their insane fixture-scheduling worst with another Sunday night match in Round 3. To make matters worse, they have given the poor Blues fans their third successive night game before a work day. Outgoing AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou’s reign can’t finish soon enough as far as I’m concerned. Hopefully the next boss puts a stop to this unnecessary timeslot.
The Bombers were partly very good and partly very bad during their game last week, lacking the confidence to be ruthless against a clearly fragile Hawthorn team and ultimately losing a match that they had played well enough to win comfortably. Carlton also tasted defeat last week, which was due to a sluggish start and then some wasteful shots at goal during their last quarter comeback.
I haven’t trawled through the stats, but this fixture often produces a victory for the underdog, which should provide hope to Carlton, even most other indicators point to an Essendon win. The Blues have really struggled to contain the second-string tall forward this year. In Round 1 Justin Westhoff kicked four goals playing on Matt Watson, while Tyrone Vickery booted another four majors last week matched up against Sam Rowe who took the place of an injured Watson. Essendon have Jake Carlisle and Joe Daniher to take some big marks inside 50, which will stretch the shaky Blues backline, however the injury to ruckman Paddy Ryder might mean Carlisle and Daniher have to spend more time in the ruck, sparing Rowe from a difficult night.
The Bombers are in the better form and they should cover the line in this one.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Essendon to win by 15 points or more @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)