The following are previews with betting tips for Round 4 of the 2018 AFL season.
Friday, April 13
Adelaide vs Collingwood
7:50 pm AEST, Adelaide Oval
The Pies will be breathing a little easier this week after getting themselves on the board with a win against the Blues last Friday night. It wasn’t particularly pretty, but they were cleaner with the ball and more accurate in front of goal than Carlton, and that was the difference in the end. Steele Sidebottom and Brodie Grundy were enormous for Collingwood, but they had an even spread of contributors in the midfield, which is what they’ll need again this week to challenge the Crows. Unfortunately for the Pies, they lose Taylor Adams due to a hamstring strain, but in his place they welcome back suspended midfielder Jordan De Goey, who you’d think will have a lot to prove.
The Crows return home after winning comfortably against the Saints in what had the potential to be a danger game considering they were missing a few of their key midfielders. That will still be the case this week, but I don’t expect the Crows to get beaten at home too often regardless of who is missing. The Pies will have their confidence up after their win, but this is going to be a much bigger challenge. After a disappointing fade-out in the opening round, the Crows are looking incredibly strong, and you’d think they win this one by at least five goals.
Betting tip: Adelaide (-33.5) @ $1.93 (Bet365)
Saturday, April 14
GWS vs Fremantle
1:45 pm AEST, UNSW Canberra Oval
The Dockers will be thrilled to bits with the outcome of their bought ‘home’ game against the Suns last weekend, with the four points putting them in a nice position as they enter round 4 of the 2018 season. It’s going to be a tough one for them however as they’re up against the Giants in Canberra, and the Giants will be stinging from last weekend’s loss to NSW rivals the Swans. Nat Fyfe is back to playing somewhere near his best, and the Dockers seem to be gelling well as a team and playing cohesive footy. They should have beaten the Suns by more, but inaccuracy in front of goal early in the contest kept the Suns in the game.
The Giants have had a good start to the year, but they struggled to keep up with the Swans after some injury concerns hurt them. Rory Lobb going off in the second quarter wasn’t ideal but Jon Patton did a great job in his absence to keep the Giants competitive, however some Lance Franklin brilliance meant it wasn’t to be for the Giants. Lobb won’t be available this week, and neither will gun mid Josh Kelly, which is a big blow for GWS. Fortunately they have the luxury of bringing back Toby Greene and Ryan Griffen to replace him, while big Dawson Simpson will take the ruck reins for Lobb.
While the Dockers have been solid, I expect this will be too much of an ask for them. The Giants are very hard to beat in Canberra, and I expect we’ll seem them take care of Freo rather easily.
Betting tip: GWS By 40+ @ $2.20 (Ladbrokes)
Richmond vs Brisbane
2:10 pm AEST, MCG
In the end, the reigning premiers had to fight hard against a determined Hawks outfit, but they were the better side all day and managed to hold the Hawks off for a 13 point victory. It was a important win, and it came with an impressive debut from small forward Jack Higgins, who showed he has some goal nous by snagging two majors. As is the way with a premiership side, even though he played a decent game, this week he makes way for the returning regulars Josh Caddy and Dion Prestia. They will obviously bolster the Richmond side, but you wouldn’t think they will need all that much bolstering to beat the Lions at the MCG. Although to be fair, Brisbane were very good against the unbeaten Power last week, almost causing an upset even without skipper Dayne Beams. Beams returns this week to lead his team against the Tigers, but they’re probably going to struggle to get as close to Richmond as they did to Port. Young teams have their ups and downs, and after a strong performance last weekend where they fell just short, this week could be a let down where they really struggle. I’m expecting the Tigers to win by a very large margin.
Betting tip: Richmond By 40+ @ $1.82 (UniBet)
Western Bulldogs vs Sydney
4:35 pm AEST, Etihad Stadium
The Dogs outfit that beat the Bombers on Sunday afternoon was a totally different team to the one that turned up for the opening two rounds of the season. They were hungry, they chased and pressured, and they had some sort of structure when going forward. I’m not sure what changed during the week, but it’ll be interesting to see whether they can keep that up or if they revert back to the footy that saw them thumped by GWS and West Coast.
This week is going to be a real challenge which should give us a good indication of where they’re at. It is at Etihad, and the Dogs have matched up very well against the Swans in recent years, but Sydney are in good condition and with Buddy Franklin in top form it’s hard to imagine any of the Bulldogs’ defenders stopping him from being a match winner again. If the Dogs can bring the pressure from last week they might be able to keep it close, but the Swans should win this one regardless.
Betting tip: Sydney (-12.5) @ $1.68 (UniBet)
North Melbourne vs Carlton
7:25 pm AEST, Blundstone Arena
After the opening three rounds of the season, the Blues are one of only two clubs that haven’t yet won a game, and they’ll be very disappointed with that. They’ve had some opportunities, and on the surface this week presents itself as another winnable game. The Kangaroos have been solid without setting the world on fire so far this year, and will rightly enter this game as warm favourites, but the Blues will back themselves, even though they would probably much rather face the Roos at Etihad than at Blundstone Arena.
With Caleb Marchbank out of the side, the Blues may struggle to keep Ben Brown and Jarrad Waite under control. If the Kangaroos can get enough of the ball in deep to those two then that might be the difference in this game. I think it’s be a tight, low-scoring, scrappy game of footy, but I expect the Roos to win in the end.
Betting tip: Kangaroos to win @ $1.53 (Ladbrokes)
West Coast vs Gold Coast
8:10 pm AEST, Perth Stadium
In one of the more interesting travel arrangements the AFL has seen in recent times, the Suns decided to stay in Perth all week after going down to the Dockers last weekend. In a season that is already full of travelling for a team based on the Gold Coast, a full week is a long time to spend away from home. I’m interested to see how they perform this week, and while it might be hard to tell what effect their staying in Perth has on their performance, it’ll no doubt be a talking point, especially if they play poorly. In fairness, they’re probably going to struggle anyway, as they face the red-hot Eagles who are set to regain spearhead Josh Kennedy. The injury to live-wire small forward Liam Ryan does hurt though, as while he’s only played a handful of games, you can tell he is already important to their forward half pressure and structure.
The injury to Pearce Hanley is a tough blow for the Suns to handle, and they may struggle to win the midfield battle until they regain some experienced players into the team. In the opening rounds of the season the Eagles have proven they’re still a decent footy side in 2018, and they’re still not going to lose many games at home, as witnessed last week against the Cats. The Suns shouldn’t pose too much of an issue for them.
Betting tip: West Coast By 40+ @ $2.08 (UniBet)
Sunday, April 15
Essendon vs Port Adelaide
1:10 pm AEST, Etihad Stadium
As they have done far too often in recent times, the Bombers have let themselves and their supporters down after building some genuine hope for the season ahead. That hope was built with the post-season acquisition of Adam Saad, Jake Stringer and Devon Smith, and fuelled by the round 1 win over the Crows at Etihad Stadium. They could then be forgiven for losing to the Dockers in a close one over in Perth, but last week against the Dogs they were pitiful and showed that they’re not ready to be genuine premiership contenders yet. The Dogs exposed their biggest weakness, and that’s their ability to win the ball in the midfield. They don’t have the contested ball beasts that will force themselves onto the contest and win the ball when things aren’t going their way. They were totally outplayed and deserved to lose by much more than they did.
Things don’t get any easier this week when they host Port Adelaide, who are the only team in the competition yet to be beaten, although the Power did come close to a shock loss against the Lions last weekend. They were composed enough in the dying stages to hold steady and bank the four points, but they’ll want to make sure they’re better this week against the Bombers. Essendon are more than capable of notching up a winning score on their day, but who knows which Essendon will turn up. If the Bombers are switched on and raring to go, this could turn into a shootout, and if it does, the Bombers will be a genuine chance. But considering the form line of both clubs, you’ve got to back Port at this stage.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide By 1-39 @ $2.28 (MadBookie)
Hawthorn vs Melbourne
3:20 pm AEST, MCG
The Demons have had a relatively comfortably couple of weeks since their epic encounter with Geelong in the opening round of the season; this week against the Hawks should provide their first genuine test since then. The Hawks battled hard and never gave up against the Tigers last week, but in the end they just weren’t good enough. This week they welcome back James Sicily, who they definitely missed against the Tigers, while Will Langford has been dropped. The Demons will be missing Dom Tyson due to illness, but they have a couple of handy options to replace him in Angus Brayshaw, Mitch Hannan and Jayden Hunt.
It should be a really good game of footy; both teams are playing decent footy and both have some players in really good form. Jesse Hogan and Christian Petracca look like constantly being match winners for the Demons, while Tom Mitchell is just about unstoppable at the moment for the Hawks. I think it’ll be another close contest with ebbs and flows either way, but I feel like the Demons are a slightly better balanced team at present and they have a few more players who are capable of dragging them over the line.
Betting tip: Melbourne to win @ $1.74 (CrownBet)
Geelong vs St Kilda
4:40 pm AEST, GMHBA Stadium
The Cats were obviously unfortunate in their loss to the Eagles in regards to the injuries they picked up during the game, and while you can forgive them for dropping the game considering the circumstances, it leaves them in a perilous position going forward. They’re now 1-2 — which could quite easily be 0-3 if Max Gawn had’ve kicked straight in round 1 — and they face a St Kilda side that is under siege and ready to come out and prove a point to the football world. The Cats will be forced to do it without key midfielders Gary Ablett and Cam Guthrie, while Nakia Cockatoo will also be missing. It makes things tough for the Cats, but fortunately it’s not all doom and gloom: this week is their first home game for the season, and the Cats are always difficult to beat in Geelong. And even though Ablett is injured, they’ve still got Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood, a midfield combination that managed to get along pretty well for the majority of last season.
Both clubs are under pressure, and even though it’s still early days, the losing club is going to have a hard time turning their season around and getting enough wins on the board to ensure they play finals footy. So I’m expecting a heated battle with both clubs putting everything on the line but you’ve got to think the Cats win this one in Geelong, and once they get on top, the Saints might start to drop their heads and allow the margin to blow out a touch.
Betting tip: Geelong (-24.5) @ $1.67 (UniBet)
Best Bets of the Round
Adelaide (-33.5) @ $1.93 (Bet365)
All Bets: -9.30 units
Best Bets: +0.88 units