The following are previews with betting tips for Round 3 of the 2018 AFL season.
Friday, April 6
Carlton vs Collingwood
7:50 pm AEST, MCG
The Blues let slip a perfect opportunity to get a win on the board last week at home against the Suns, but in the end they were completely outplayed and didn’t have an answer for Gold Coast spearhead Tom Lynch. The Blues had 17 more inside 50s than the Gold Coast, but the difference was in the execution. The Blues were sloppy going forward and their turnovers gave the Suns wide open space to work with. This week they have another chance to take home four points when they face the Magpies in a Friday night blockbuster. The Pies have been poor themselves, however last week against the Giants was an improvement on round 1. But they need a win, and they need it this week. If the Pies lose to Carlton all hell will break lose in the media, and Collingwood will be just as much under the pump as they were last season when the speculation surrounding Nathan Buckley’s contract situation was in full swing.
I expect this to be a error-riddled game of footy, with both sides kicking goals via uncommon avenues. The Blues probably have more talent in their forward line, but the Magpies should be stronger in the midfield. If they can lower their eyes going forward and hit a target they should be able to beat the Blues, but I don’t expect the margin to be all that great.
Betting tip: Carlton (+11.5) @ $1.92 (Ladbrokes)
Saturday, April 7
Port Adelaide vs Brisbane Lione
1:45 pm AEST, Adelaide Oval
Port proved they won’t be too troubled by Paddy Ryder’s absence when they stunned the Swans in Sydney on Sunday afternoon. It was the type of win a season can be built on, and now that they’ve got their tails up they can head back to Adelaide to host the Lions, a team they shouldn’t have too much trouble taking care of. Although, while they haven’t managed a win just yet, Brisbane have played some pretty solid footy in the opening two games of the season. They battled all day against the Saints at Etihad, and then fought back from 42 points down against the Demons to level the scores midway through the final term. It wasn’t enough to get the win, but it shows they have the ability to dig in and fight back when things are looking grim. And it means if other clubs take the Lions lightly, they might just be in for a surprise loss. I doubt that happens this week however; Port look to be in really good form, and they should be much too good for the Lions at home.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide By 40+ @ $1.56 (BlueBet)
Melbourne vs North Melbourne
2:10 pm AEST, MCG
After going down to the Suns in torrential rain in the opening round, the Kangaroos bounced back in much better conditions to upset the Saints by a whopping 52 points. It was a strange game to watch. The Kangaroos were clearly the better side in the opening quarter, but missed shots on goal meant they went into quarter time a few points behind. Their poor kicking for goal continued in the second quarter, but the Saints caught the same disease. The Roos then lifted in the second half and made it count on the scoreboard, leaving the Saints in their wake. It was an impressive display from a team expected to finish in the bottom part of the ladder.
This week they face the Demons at the MCG, which should be a much tougher assignment. The Dees have had a couple of poor patches in their two games so far, but overall they’ve been fairly impressive and shown that their best footy is good enough to match it with anyone. It’s still a little difficult to predict what they’ll produce week-in, week-out, but as long as they don’t take the Roos too lightly they should be too strong. Ben Brown and Jarrad Waite will no doubt be looking to continue making life tough for new Demon Jake Lever, but even if Brown and Waite do kick a handful of goals, the Demons have plenty of firepower of their own and they should be capable of winning this one by at least a couple of goals.
Betting tip: Melbourne (-16.5) @ $1.73 (Ladbrokes)
Gold Coast vs Fremantle
4:35 pm AEST, Perth Stadium
The Suns, led by new coach Stuart Dew, showed that they’re a totally different side in 2018 and that they don’t have any issues travelling outside of Queensland to win games of footy when they belted the Blues on Saturday afternoon. They’re now 2-0, and have every chance to make that 3-0 this week when they take on the Dockers at Optus Stadium. It’s technically a home game for the Suns, but they sold the game to the Dockers so it’ll be played in Perth, however that won’t worry the Suns too much as their opening two wins have both been away from home as well.
Tom Lynch was unstoppable against Carlton, so Freo will have to spend a lot of time and energy on him this week to make sure he doesn’t have the same impact, but the Dockers will be full of confidence after playing their first home game of the season and coming away with a 16 point win over the Bombers. It was a tight contest the whole way through, but the Dockers always looked dangerous. Nathan Wilson on the half back line complements them beautifully, and along with the Hill brothers running up and down the wings, he makes the Dockers ball movement fast and attacking. They had plenty of scoring options as well, with David Mundy providing a solid option up forward and Matt Taberner slotting four goals. If they can get that same contribution they’ll be hard to stop in Perth, but it should be a fascinating contest.
Betting tip: Fremantle (-15.5) @ $1.97 (BetFair)
Sydney vs GWS
7:25 pm AEST, SCG
The Giants took care of a determined Collingwood on Saturday at the MCG to start their season off with two wins, while the Swans let slip their opportunity to do the same by lowering their colours to Port Adelaide at the SCG. This game is always going to produce a heated contest, but with the Swans going down last weekend they’ll be doing everything in their power to avoid a 1-2 start to the season. The Giants aren’t going to take a backward step either, so we could be in for a classic encounter in this one.
In unfortunate news for GWS, Tom Scully is set to spend an extended period on the sidelines after breaking his ankle against the Pies. For the Swans, Sam Reid will be welcomed back into the team to help Lance Franklin as another forward target.
It’s going to be very difficult to pick a winner in this contest, but I’ve been really impressed with how the Giants have started the season and can’t go against them at this stage. Either way, you’d expect it to be very, very close, so I’m going with the Giants to get home by two goals.
Betting tip: GWS to win @ $2.30 (Bet365)
St Kilda vs Adelaide
7:25 pm AEST, Etihad Stadium
The Saints have swung the axe after their shocking performance against the Kangaroos on the weekend, making three unforced changes for Saturday night’s massive clash against the Crows. Adelaide have themselves been forced into making a few changes, with gun midfielder Matt Crouch out with a hamstring injury. That blow is softened by the return of key duo Richard Douglas and Tom Lynch, who are two very important cogs in the Crows’ side. They were much improved last week against the Tigers, showing their class and scary scoring capabilities despite some injury concerns popping up during the game. Josh Jenkins played one of the best games of his career, treating Alex Rance like a rag doll, while Bryce Gibbs continued his seamless transition into the Adelaide midfield. He’ll be incredibly important for them now that both Crouch brothers are missing; the Crows will be needing him to continue his good form if they’re to beat the wounded Saints at Etihad.
St Kilda have typically been the type of club to bounce back hard from a shock loss, but it’ll take everything they’ve got to get the better of the Crows. I think it’ll be a close game with plenty of intensity — unlike their game last weekend — but I think the Crows will be just a touch too good for them in the end.
Betting tip: Adelaide By 1-39 @ $2.15 (UniBet)
Sunday, April 8
Richmond vs Hawthorn
1:10 pm AEST, MCG
Despite being up against the vaunted Geelong midfield trio of Dangerfield, Ablett and Selwood, the Hawks triumphed in an Easter Monday classic, showing they have plenty of tricks of their own. Tom Mitchell was massive yet again, while Jarman Impey impressed again in his second game as a Hawk. The less positive news to come out of the game was the hamstring injury to Shaun Burgoyne and the one game suspension handed to the fiery James Sicily. That will definitely make things tougher when they face the reigning premiers this week. The Tigers have also been dealt a blow by the Match Review Panel, with Josh Caddy set to miss as well. The good news for them, however, is that Dion Prestia will return, and they’ll also get a look at their first selection from last year’s draft, Jack Higgins, a small forward who will make his debut.
It should be an interesting game and I’m not 100% confident backing either side, but I have a feeling the Hawks might just continue their great start to the year and notch up another win in a highly contested, big game of footy at the MCG.
Betting tip: Hawthorn to win @ $2.41 (BetFair)
Western Bulldogs vs Essendon
3:20 pm AEST, Etihad Stadium
From their position as the premiers of 2016, the Dogs have become a rabble in a very short period of time. Their huge loss to the Giants in round 1 could have been put down as a poor performance against a quality side, but the thumping that the Eagles gave them last weekend left no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Dogs are really struggling. Things won’t get much easier for them this week when they take on the Bombers, who are fresh off a disappointing loss to Fremantle.
Essendon had their chances on Saturday night but never looked like they were fully switched on. They’ll definitely fancy their chances against the Dogs, and their potent forward line will be excited by their prospects considering the Dogs’ habit of leaking goals.
I don’t see things getting better for the Dogs any time soon; this could be another blow out. Essendon recruit Jake Stringer will have plenty to prove, and I expect his fellow forwards to all get in on the act and make life very difficult for an inexperienced Bulldogs’ defence.
Betting tip: Essendon By 25+ @ $2.20 (Ladbrokes)
West Coast vs Geelong
4:40 pm AEST, Perth Stadium
The Eagles proved two points in their impressive win over the Dogs on Sunday afternoon: that they’re capable of winning games of footy without superstar forward Josh Kennedy, and that they can win outside of Perth. Even if it was against lacklustre opposition, it’s a real positive sign moving forward. This week they return to Perth to host the Cats, and while they’re at home, it’s going to be a much more difficult assignment.
The Cats will be stinging following their close loss to the Hawks on Monday, and the new look midfield trio should feel slightly more comfortable playing together after getting the first game together out of the way. They were super impressive in the last quarter; all three of Ablett, Dangerfield and Selwood had moments where you thought they would drag Geelong over the line, but in the end they fell just short. I expect it will be a different story on Sunday. The Eagles have played some good footy so far, but the Cats midfield should be much too strong for the Eagles in the centre of the ground. If they can manage to break even in the clearances and contested possession they might be a chance, but I suspect the Cats will overpower them and create more than enough scoring opportunities to win with relative ease.
Betting tip: Geelong to win @ $1.86 (BetFair)
Best Bets of the Round
Hawthorn to win @ $2.41 (BetFair)
Essendon By 25+ @ $2.20 (Ladbrokes)
All Bets: -4.00 units
Best Bets: +2.88 units