The following are previews with betting tips for Round 8 of the 2018 AFL season.
Friday, May 11
Hawthorn vs Sydney
7:50 pm AEST, MCG
After another poor showing by the Swans at the SCG on Saturday night, it’s now hard to ignore the fact that the Swans play much better away from home than they do at the SCG. The venue was once a fortress for the Swans, but now it seems as if they’ve completely forgotten how to play their brand of footy when they run out at home. Yes, they were still missing Lance Franklin and Sam Reid and therefore didn’t have much in the way of forward structure, but if they can overcome that against the Cats in Geelong, they should be able to do it at home against North Melbourne.
They don’t need to fret about their woes at the SCG until next weekend however, as this Friday night they travel to Melbourne to take on the Hawks at the MCG. Hawthorn are everything the Swans aren’t at present: they’re a settled team performing at a consistent level, getting an even contribution from their key players. All of which makes me lean towards the Hawks in this game, but the Swans are more than capable if they’re able to flick the switch and play their best footy. It should be a fascinating game to watch, but as with the previous few weeks, the Swans will be relying on someone to step up in the forward half and be a target, and if that doesn’t happen they’ll struggle. I do expect it to be relatively close but think the settled Hawks will be too strong for Sydney in the end.
Betting tip: Hawthorn to win @ $1.75 (William Hill)
Saturday, May 12
GWS vs West Coast
1:45 pm AEST, Spotless Stadium
The Giants were very disappointing against the Cats on Friday night, but without five of their absolute best players they were always going to struggle, as most clubs would in similar circumstances. This week they’ll regain Jeremy Cameron and Rory Lobb which should give them a much needed boost as they take on the in-form Eagles, although fellow big man Jon Patton has been omitted. West Coast are absolutely flying at the moment, but they haven’t come up against the strongest opposition so this week should be a good test for them, especially away from home.
The double-pronged forward line of Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling is working beautifully for them at present, better than it ever has. Their midfield has also performed exceptionally well, although this week the Giants will test them in that area as they’ll be without star ruckman Nic Naitanui following his controversial one week suspension for a rough tackle, as well as gun midfielder Luke Shuey. If the Eagles midfield can still function well without him they’ll be a chance against an undermanned GWS outfit, but I get the feeling they might just fall apart without Naitanui feeding the ball down their throat, not to mention playing like another midfielder when the ball hits the deck, so I’m going with Giants to win by 3-4 goals.
Betting tip: GWS (-10.5) @ $1.91 (UniBet)
Carlton vs Essendon
2:10 pm AEST, MCG
Considering the way these two clubs are travelling at the moment this could be a really ugly game of footy, but regardless of how ugly it is, one of them will walk away with the four points and that’s all that matters right now for the Bombers and the Blues. It’s not about playing pretty, easy-to-watch footy right now, it’s about grinding out a much needed win in whatever fashion necessary. The Blues are still searching for their first win of the season, and while some weeks they probably head into the game knowing they don’t have a chance, this week will be different. The Bombers are also struggling so the Blues will back themselves to get the job done if they can play their best footy.
Both clubs are under a lot of pressure right now, but I feel like the Bombers have much more to lose this weekend. Carlton aren’t expected to win many — if any — games this year, while the Bombers still have hopes for season 2018 despite their disappointing start. Their best footy is good enough to challenge the better teams in the competition, so it’d be a waste if they didn’t give themselves a chance to participate in September action. That being said, I don’t expect Saturday afternoon to be a thrilling contest. The Bombers should get home, but it’s going to be a scrap.
Betting tip: Essendon (-10.5) @ $1.60 (William Hill)
Gold Coast vs Melbourne
4:35 pm AEST, Gabba
The next Gold Coast home game at the Gabba sees the Suns ‘host’ the Demons in a very important clash for both clubs; after their narrow loss to the Dogs last weekend, the Suns now sit at 3-4, while the Demons have climbed to 4-3 following their easy win over the Saints. The Suns need to keep winning to convince superstar forward Tom Lynch they have a future, while the Demons need to atone for last year’s poor finish and the only way to do that is to make the final eight this year. This one looms as an ‘eight-point’ game; if the Demons win they put plenty of space between themselves and the Suns, while the Gold Coast can get back to an even ledger if they take the points.
The Suns are set to welcome the return of co-captain Steven May, and his inclusion comes as a timely addition to the side as he’ll be asked to take on the in-form Jesse Hogan this week. The Demons have looked pretty good the last few weeks and I feel like they’ve now found their groove in season 2018; I expect them to continue that on into this week and dispatch of the Suns fairly comfortably.
Betting tip: Melbourne (-17.5) @ $1.70 (UniBet)
Port Adelaide vs Adelaide
4:40 pm AEST, Adelaide Oval
While Port easily accounted for the Kangaroos a fortnight ago, they have gone to water against both the Cats and the Eagles in the past three weeks, so this week they’ll be looking to prove themselves against quality opposition in a huge Showdown clash against the Crows.
The Power looked so promising in those opening few rounds, but it hasn’t quite gone to plan for them since then. The injury to Paddy Ryder has probably had the biggest impact on them, so they’ll be over the moon to get him back and praying that he doesn’t have any further issues and can get back to his best. Chad Wingard and Tom Rockliff are also back for Port in a huge boost to their forward line, while skipper Taylor Walker returns for the Crows.
Even with the returning Port Adelaide stars, the Crows are still the better team, but if it turns into a free-flowing affair the Power have the ability to move the ball quickly and score heavily. I’m not sure they’ll get the chance though; the Crows seem to be settling nicely into the season and I expect their form from the past few weeks to continue on against the Power.
Betting tip: Adelaide to win @ $1.64 (BetFair)
Western Bulldogs vs Brisbane
7:25 pm AEST, Etihad Stadium
As with the Blues against the Bombers, the winless Lions will be thinking they’re a real chance to notch up their first win of the season when they take on the Dogs at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night. They came close again on Sunday when they fell agonisingly short of the Magpies at home, but their impressive effort all game just wasn’t quite enough to get them over the line. Will they take the next step this week against the young, inexperienced Dogs, or will they fall back into a pattern that seems to be emerging for them this year: they follow up a great effort where they fall just short by a lacklustre performance that results in a blow out. I wouldn’t be surprised with either case. The Dogs play some good footy under the roof but they only just beat both the Blues and the Suns, and if Marcus Bontempelli misses again they’ll struggle to win the midfield battle against the Lions. It could be a danger game.
Betting tip: Brisbane (+22.5) @ $1.68 (Ladbrokes)
Fremantle vs St Kilda
8:10 pm AEST, Perth Stadium
The Dockers weren’t the first side to be put to shame by the reigning premiers so far this year, but they’ll be frustrated they let the Tigers run all over them in the last quarter after being within touching distance at the final break. This week presents an easier task as they return home to take on the Saints, who are currently a bit of a shambles. The Saints tried hard against the Demons, but their wayward kicking — both in front of goal and in general play — cost them any chance they might’ve had. They’ll need to be much better against the Dockers or they’ll be in for another big loss.
They may consider sending someone to Nat Fyfe in an attempt to limit his influence, as the Brownlow medallist is on fire at the moment and could give them some real headaches if they’re not careful, but they’ve got bigger issues than that. They need to focus on their strengths in order to get some flow back into their game. If they don’t see any improvement this week they’re likely to face another eight goal loss, and I expect that’s exactly what they’re in for.
Betting tip: Fremantle By 25+ @ $1.84 (Ladbrokes)
Sunday, May 13
North Melbourne vs Richmond
1:10 pm AEST, Etihad Stadium
Despite the low pre-season expectations, the Kangaroos continue to surprise by playing tough, consistent footy and winning games they’re simply not expected to win. This time it was the Swans, and while Sydney weren’t exactly at full strength, it was a mighty impressive effort from the Roos. They were away from home and it was an arm-wrestle the whole night, so they would’ve been excused for falling away late and allowing the Swans to take over, but they held firm to record a courageous two point victory.
They can’t afford to celebrate the victory for too long though; this week the reigning premiers await, and they’re in a rich vein of form. Maybe the Tigers haven’t played many of the very best teams just yet, but they’ve done absolutely everything in their power so far to show that they’re still the team to beat in 2018. An off night against the Crows in round 2 is their only blemish so far, and with the way they’re going right now I can’t see a second loss coming this weekend. The Kangaroos have been great in 2018 but they’re not on Richmond’s level; I expect the Tigers to flex their muscles and see off a spirited North Melbourne effort by four or five goals.
Betting tip: Richmond By 25+ @ $1.86 (Ladbrokes)
Collingwood vs Geelong
3:20 pm AEST, MCG
While perhaps not being quite as impressive in their tight win over the Lions as they had been the previous few weeks, the Pies still managed to get the four points and that’s all that matters at this stage of the season. This week they return home to the MCG for a Sunday arvo blockbuster against the Cats, who are fresh off a big win against the Giants. That win didn’t tell us much about Geelong; yes, they played some decent footy and won by a fair margin, but their opposition were severely depleted and nowhere near their best. This week will give us a much better indication of where they’re at. Of where both clubs are at, really. The Pies have bounced back emphatically from a frustrating start to the year to be sitting at 4-3, while the Cats have managed to notch up four wins despite playing inconsistent football all season.
This is one of the most difficult matches to pick a winner for this week in my opinion. The Pies are probably playing better footy at the moment, but the Cats have some absolute superstars who are capable of tearing the game away from Collingwood at any moment. The return of Gary Ablett and Harry Taylor really strengthens their midfield and their spine, but they’ll have to cope without Tom Hawkins this week after his silly decision to touch an umpire against GWS. It’s poised to be a ripping contest and while I think it’ll be very, very close, I’m thinking the Pies get the win.
Betting tip: Collingwood to win @ $2.35 (Bet365)
Best Bets of the Round
Richmond By 25+ @ $1.86 (Ladbrokes)
All Bets: -8.50 units
Best Bets: -1.56 units