The following are previews with betting tips for Round 5 of the 2017 AFL season.
Friday, April 21
Port Adelaide v Carlton
7:50PM AEST, Adelaide Oval
After a flying start to the year, the last two weeks have seen Port Adelaide dealt a reality check by two of the best teams in the competition. They haven’t been poor at all, but they’ve come up against the unbeaten Crows and the premiership favourites, GWS, and it’s evident they still have work to do to reach that level.
Carlton went down to an impressive Gold Coast outfit, but there was still plenty for the Blues to take out of the match. The kids keep on impressing, while skipper Marc Murphy continued his terrific start to the year.
This is a really tough assignment for the young Blues. Travelling anywhere is hard enough for a young side, but to play in front of an Adelaide Oval full of Port fans on a Friday night could spell disaster. Despite the two consecutive losses, Port are still in fairly good form and I expect they’ll be in for a very big win against the Blues. Carlton have been relatively good at slowing their opposition down and limiting scoring against them, but the floodgates might just burst on Friday night.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide By 40+ @ $1.78 (TopSport)
Saturday, April 22
Western Bulldogs v Brisbane
1:45PM AEST, Etihad Stadium
The Dogs were once again lucky to get the points after an average performance, but they did manage to do just enough to pip the Kangaroos. It came at a cost however, with new spearhead Travis Cloke out for six weeks with a couple of broken ribs. They are now seriously light on for key targets in the forward line; Tom Boyd is the only one left, but he will be required to spend plenty of time in the ruck. It means the Dogs will have a different approach going forward, which may actually work to their advantage. They had a smaller forward line most of the last season, and that worked pretty well for them. It might make them less predictable, but on the other hand, if they just bomb the ball inside 50 they will be outmarked every time.
The Lions were disappointing on Sunday. They were jumped by the Tigers from the opening bounce and didn’t recover from there. Their pressure in the second half was better, but they can’t afford to let the Dogs get off to a flying start or it could get ugly again. The Bulldogs haven’t exactly been motoring along, but they are a quality side and can pile goals on quickly if the opposition isn’t switched on. It’s also a special occasion for the club with favourite son Bob Murphy playing his 300th game. I don’t think that will have too much effect on the result as the Dogs should win by plenty regardless.
Betting tip: Western Bulldogs (-35.5) @ $1.61 (UniBet)
Gold Coast v Adelaide
4:35PM AEST, Metricon Stadium
The Crows continued their amazing form with an absolutely brutal display of strength and skill against the Bombers on Saturday night. They are rapidly closing on the Giants in the ‘flag favourites’ conversation, and that’s while dealing with a couple of injuries to key players. With the form they’re in at the moment, the Crows would be wishing it was nearly September but alas, there’s a long way to go yet. They’ve done everything asked of them so far, and it would take a huge upset to stop them from going to 5 – 0.
The Suns took the momentum from their colossal win over the Hawks and used it to topple the Blues, evening up their ledger to 2 – 2. They are looking a lot better than they were a few short weeks ago, but it would take an almighty effort to get close to the Crows this weekend. The fact they’ve lost their best defender and co-captain Steven May to a hamstring makes the mountain they’ve got to climb even steeper. The Suns might be playing at home, but in their current form the Crows wouldn’t feel out of place anywhere.
Betting tip: Adelaide (-26.5) @ $1.82 (Ladbrokes)
Sydney v GWS
7:25PM AEST, SCG
In a desperate attempt to kickstart their season, the Swans have rushed back all of Kurt Tippett, Isaac Heeney and Gary Rohan from injury layoffs. Maybe they are all fully fit and ready to play at AFL level, but I get the feeling that if the Swans weren’t struggling so much they wouldn’t have all come back in straight away. Which is fair enough, because the Swans are running out of time to save their season from disaster. I’m sure they are keenly looking forward to playing the Blues next weekend, but before that opportunity presents itself they’ll need to test themselves against the Giants.
The Giants have never won at the SCG. They have a 0 – 4 record there against the Swans, but that’s sure to change this weekend. The inclusions for the Swans might make them more competitive but I don’t think those guys are capable of totally changing the team’s form in their first games back from injury. I do expect the Swans will show steady improvement over the coming weeks, but the Giants should be too strong for them this weekend.
Betting tip: GWS (-11.5) @ $1.93 (Bet365)
Fremantle v North Melbourne
7:40PM AEST, Domain Stadium
In a stunning game at the MCG, the Dockers turned a 27-point deficit into a 22-point lead, let the Demons sneak back in front with a few minutes to spare, before a late Cam McCarthy goal gave them a two point victory and their second consecutive win. The most impressive part was that they didn’t drop their heads when the lead blew out to almost five goals. It was a very encouraging sign for the Dockers who have regrouped since their Round 2 loss to Port Adelaide and now have a very realistic chance of taking their win/loss ratio into the positive realm.
They face the Kangaroos, who are just about the unluckiest team in the AFL at the moment. They lost another game they should have won by less than a kick, due to a combination of poor execution and game awareness. They have been playing much better footy than a team deserving of going winless in the opening four games and will be desperate to take it up to the Dockers on Saturday night. If it were played at Etihad I’d be backing the Roos in, but over there I just can’t bring myself to do it. Nat Fyfe is starting to find some form, as are some of the other Fremantle midfielders. I don’t think it’ll be a blow out, but the Dockers should get home by a couple of goals.
Betting tip: Fremantle to win @ $1.56 (BetFair)
Sunday, April 23
St Kilda v Geelong
3:20PM AEST, Etihad Stadium
In what was probably their best performance of the year so far, the Saints consigned the Magpie army to further despair in an error riddled game under the Etihad Stadium roof. They kicked poorly for goal for the third week in a row and will be hoping their fortune takes a turn for the better before it costs them a close game.
Following a tight battle in the first half, the Cats smashed the Hawks in the second and turned the result into a percentage boosting win. I still don’t think the Cats are in the best form at the moment and rate the Saints as a real chance to beat them at Etihad. Without doing anything special, Sam Menegola has been important for them so far this year and they’ll miss his grunt work against the robust St Kilda midfield. The Saints lose David Armitage to a groin issue, but are set to welcome back key midfielder Jack Steven.
I think this is a coin toss of a contest. I expect the Saints to trouble Geelong under the roof and while they might not get the win, they should get within a few goals of the Cats so I’m going to back them at the line.
Betting tip: St Kilda (+16.5) @ $1.90 (TopSport)
Hawthorn v West Coast
4:40PM AEST, MCG
It’s all unravelling very quickly for the once mighty Hawks. Two 86-point beltings in a row is not something they would have dreamed of in their worst nightmares, but it just goes to show that the end of a dynasty comes quickly. So are they really that bad, or have they just had a couple of off weeks? The answer lies somewhere in the middle in my opinion. They’re bad at the moment, genuinely bad. They won’t be this bad all year, but it’s become apparent that they’re no longer a good team. Their form will ebb and flow like it will for every club and they’ll beat some decent teams, but they won’t be playing finals and they won’t challenge any of the very best clubs at any stage this year.
The Eagles do classify as one of the best clubs so far this year, but there is a caveat: they have proved themselves incapable of producing anything close to their best form when playing at the MCG. It’s a huge issue for them, and one they will hope to partially overcome against the Hawks on Sunday. It’s unfortunate that former Hawk star Sam Mitchell hasn’t been able to prove his fitness to add some interest to this clash, but the Eagles should be fine without him. If they can’t beat the Hawks in their current form then their MCG troubles will be a major talking point next week.
Betting tip: West Coast to win @ $1.50 (Marathon Bet)
Monday, April 24
Richmond v Melbourne
7:25PM AEST, MCG
A win over the Demons on Monday night would send the Tiger Army into further hysterics and set up a mouth watering clash for the following week, when the Tigers travel to Adelaide to play the Crows. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, the Demons at the MCG are no walkovers. They look set to bolster their attack with the return of Jesse Hogan from suspension, and there is some worry over Dustin Martin’s ankle for Richmond fans to be concerned about.
But rather than personnel, the outcome of this game is likely to come down to a willingness to work hard and apply immense pressure to the opposition, something the Tigers have been good at doing all year but the Demons only sometimes. The Dees will need to produce a four quarter effort if they expect to upset the Tigers on Monday night, because you can bet the Richmond intensity will be there. Those small forwards are working miracles for what was a stagnant and predictable Tigers’ attack for the majority of last season.
Richmond are riding a wave of energy and momentum at the moment and I don’t think the Demons are going to be the team to stop them. The Crows the week after is a different story, however.
Betting tip: Richmond (-5.5) @ $1.93 (Bet365)
Tuesday, April 25
Essendon v Collingwod
3:20PM AEST, MCG
With the skill levels of these clubs being what they are at present, and a 70% chance of rain forecast for Melbourne on Tuesday, this ANZAC day clash might not be the best advertisement for the game of AFL football. Still, ANZAC day is a special game no matter what and there’s heat on both clubs to perform on the big stage. The Pies have managed just the one win by the barest of margins, and the Bombers have been soundly beaten the last two weeks. John Worsfold publicly stated the Bombers may have hit the wall, which is concerning when you’ve only played four games.
The loser of this game will be under immense scrutiny, particular if it’s the Pies who go down. When you consider how poor the Bombers were against Carlton a few weeks ago when it was bucketing down, you’d expect Nathan Buckley and company to be at the ‘G early on Tuesday performing a rain dance of some sort.
I think the Pies will probably get the points, but I’m not all that confident. I expect the combination of poorly skilled teams, the high pressure environment of ANZAC day, and the high chance of rain to result in a scrappy, low scoring game, so I’m just going to go with the unders in this one.
Betting tip: Total Match Points Under 178.50 @ $1.93 (Marathon Bet)
Best Bets of the Round
GWS (-11.5) @ $1.93 (Bet365)
Richmond (-5.5) @ $1.93 (Bet365)
All Bets: -1.88 units
Best Bets: +1.61 units