The following are previews with betting tips for Round 4 of the 2019 AFL season.
Thursday, April 11
Sydney vs Melbourne
7:20pm AEST, SCG
The Swans fought out their first win of 2019 on Saturday afternoon against a Carlton team that thought they were a chance of an upset. And in their Friday night clash against the Bombers, the Demons were the ones to allow an upset, continuing their sloppy start to the year to go down to the Bombers by three goals. They continue to look nothing like the team that stormed into last year’s finals series, despite having most of their key personnel available. They’ve got multiple players who are clearly not match-fit, and as a team, they’re mentally stale, or at least they look that way. You’d expect them to turn things around eventually, but time is fast becoming a factor — they need to start winning now, because it won’t matter if they string together some wins in the second half of the year if the top end of the ladder is already set.
All of that points to this being an interesting game of footy; the Demons will be desperate to atone for their loss to the Bombers, and the Swans need to change their SCG fortunes. I’m really not confident in either club overcoming their woes, but one of them will. Despite their terrible current form, at their best the Demons are the better team, so I’m backing them to get over the line. But if they come to play like they did against Essendon, it’s going to be another long night for Demons fans. I think the penny is just about ready to drop, and while that doesn’t mean their form is going to be brilliant straight away, I’m expecting a slow build up to their best to begin this week.
Betting tip: Melbourne to win @ $2.22 (Bet365)
Friday, April 12
Collingwood vs Western Bulldogs
7:50pm AEST, MCG
The Pies couldn’t quite exact any form of revenge for their grand final defeat at the hands of West Coast, going down to the reigning premiers by 22-points on Saturday night. They never really looked like heading the Eagles after half time, and they’ll be disappointed with that. This week they aim to bounce back against the Dogs on Friday, and the job should be fairly simple for them you’d think.
Despite a solid opening two rounds, the Dogs took their foot off the pedal against Gold Coast on Sunday and it cost them; they weren’t able to come back from a poor opening quarter that gave the Suns a substantial lead. The Dogs are still struggling with their forward entries, again being huge winners in the inside 50 differential but not being able to capitalise. They might not even win that stat in this one, with the Pies midfield brigade set to give the Dogs’ engine room it’s first major test this year. If the Dogs can win their fair share of the ball and actually be efficient going forward, they might make a game of it, but I’d suspect their sub-standard ball use and inefficiency will allow Collingwood to kill them on the turnover. The Pies should have plenty of opportunities to work with and I’d expect them to win this by plenty.
Betting tip: Collingwood By 25+ @ $1.77 (Bet365)
Saturday, April 13
Geelong vs GWS Giants
1:45pm AEST, GMHBA
The Cats are one of only two teams that remain undefeated, which is very impressive considering the calibre of their three opponents. They’ve got another tough one this week in GWS, but at GMHBA stadium you’d expect they’re every chance to chalk up another four points. The Giants were back to their best against a struggling Richmond team on Saturday afternoon, but this one will be a much bigger test for them. The Cats are absolutely flying, and you can’t say the same of the Tigers right now. Shane Mumford got his first game back out of the way and should be better from here on in, but I still wouldn’t expect great things from him this season. The Geelong ruckman will run him off his feet, so he’ll need to make the most of the one-on-one contest where he might be able to gain an edge.
Geelong’s backline has been superb so far this year, and they’ll have their hands full on Saturday without Lachie Henderson. If they can do another decent job on the GWS forwards that should be enough for Geelong to get over the line. As much as I think GWS should be good enough to challenge the Cats, and the addition of Callan Ward will make them even better, it’s way too risky to tip against the Cats in Geelong at the moment.
Betting tip: Geelong to win @ $1.44 (BetFair)
Essendon vs Brisbane
2:10pm AEST, MCG
The Bombers turned things around in a see-sawing game of Friday night footy at the MCG, defeating the Demons by three goals and avoiding another week of intense scrutiny. It was a strange game of footy; the Bombers were nearly four goals ahead early in the second term before the Demons kicked six unanswered goals. At that stage, most Essendon supporters would have been forgiven for throwing in the towel considering how their team performed in the opening two rounds. But to the Bombers’ credit, they slammed through the next eight goals of the game to regain the ascendency, and they never lost it. I wouldn’t necessarily say it was a convincing performance because there were aspects of it that were still dicey, but it was the win they needed to have.
They return to the MCG this week to host the undefeated Lions, who have surprised everyone so far in 2019. The victory over Port was probably their best so far; they were ahead all game before giving up a two-goal lead midway through the final quarter, and were composed enough to fight back with the last four goals. Eric Hipwood was great with six goals, but the Lions are playing a real team-oriented style of footy at the moment, and that will hold them in good stead against anyone. Playing at the MCG will be a challenge for them, but I think they’ll be good enough to beat the Bombers and keep the train rolling for another week.
Betting tip: Brisbane to win @ $2.14 (BetFair)
Port Adelaide vs Richmond
4:35pm AEST, Adelaide Oval
Port can’t be too disappointed with their start to 2019 despite going down to the Lions last weekend; they were good enough to seriously challenge the Lions at the Gabba, and they did that in the last quarter without the help of gun mid Tom Rockliff. Their chances of playing finals footy this year are looking good, and that will be helped by getting the Tigers at the absolute perfect moment: no Rance, no Riewoldt, no Cotchin, and no Martin. If you can’t beat a Richmond team without those four guys, you’re never going to beat them.
Richmond’s season outlook is now grim; there’s plenty of time left, but Riewoldt and Cotchin are likely to miss at least another week each, and you’ve got to expect this will be another loss; even with the return of David Astbury, Bachar Houli, and Josh Caddy, it’s missing their ‘big four’ that is going to cost them. I’m backing Port to really punish a toothless Tigers outfit and win big at home.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide By 25+ @ $1.95 (Bet365)
North Melbourne vs Adelaide
7:25pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
North got off to an outstanding start against the Hawks on Sunday and looked every bit like getting their first win of 2019, but were completely outplayed in the second half by an undermanned Hawthorn team. Coach Brad Scott mentioned during the week that perhaps the Roos expected their new recruits would gel sooner, and that having so many new players in the team is what’s caused their slow start. Perhaps, but so have other clubs; Port and Geelong don’t seem to be having the same problem. It looks like North have tried to fix that issue this week by omitting three of their new players in Tom Campbell, Bailey Scott, and Dom Tyson.
They’ll look for their first win again this week when they host the Crows at Marvel Stadium. Despite their poor 2018, Adelaide were talked up as a team that were capable of contending for the premiership this year, but it seems many of us got them wrong: they’re just not all that good. And they’ve reacted to their disappointing loss to the Cats by swinging hard at the selection table, making a big statement with the omission of Bryce Gibbs. I didn’t think he was anywhere near their worst last week, but I guess they need to try something different.
This could easily go either way, but I’m going with the home team to get their first win of the season. The Roos generally play pretty good footy at home, and I think they’ll apply plenty of pressure to Adelaide to ensure the four points head to Arden St.
Betting tip: North Melbourne to win @ $2.15 (BetEasy)
West Coast vs Fremantle
8:10pm AEST, Optus Stadium
After Fremantle’s barnstorming round 1 victory over the Kangaroos, this was a game that stood out as one to look forward to. In the two weeks since, the Dockers haven’t been anywhere near as good, and with the severe concussion Nat Fyfe suffered last week ruling him out of this week, the Derby is looking like being yet another fizzer. The Eagles are back to their best after a hiccup in round 1, and the Dockers aren’t quite the team North made them out to be. Jesse Hogan has struggled in his first two games as a Docker, and the forward line hasn’t quite functioned.
The Eagles have no such problems, with the successful return of Andrew Gaff helping them once again defeat the Magpies at the MCG, and establishing them as still being the team to beat. They haven’t had many issues with the Dockers in recent years, and I’m fully expecting this to be another heavily one-sided Derby; the Eagles to win by 10 goals.
Betting tip: West Coast By 40+ @ $2.15 (TopBetta)
Sunday, April 14
Gold Coast vs Carlton
2:40pm AEST, Metricon Stadium
Remarkably, the Suns could have been heading into this week undefeated if not for a few missed chances against the Saints in the opening round. And considering the way they’re playing, you’d back them to continue their winning ways and beat the Blues at home. They stunned the lacklustre Dogs with a first quarter burst that ended up giving them a match-winning lead, and they did a pretty good job of holding on for dear life in the dying seconds of the game.
The Blues will fancy their chances however, having a decent record against the Suns over the past couple of years. If they can make the most of their opportunities early in the game they might be able to put the Suns under some pressure, something they weren’t able to do against the Swans; they missed easy shots on goal early in the game which would have put the Swans under the pump, and potentially changed the complexion of the game. If they can do that this week they might just challenge the young Suns, but I reckon the Suns have their tails up and should be able to handle whatever Carlton throw at them, even if it turns out to be another close contest.
Betting tip: Gold Coast to win @ $1.62 (UniBet)
St Kilda vs Hawthorn
3:20pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
The Saints were handed their first defeat of 2019 when they travelled to Perth to play the Dockers on Sunday afternoon, and they’ll be kicking themselves they didn’t get over the line. They were wasteful in front of goal, and should have been able to punish Fremantle in the last quarter when they were without skipper Nat Fyfe. Nevertheless, another close contest will give them confidence, and this week they return home to take on the Hawks, who were good again last weekend despite being undermanned, but could also be without Jaeger O’Meara this week. That might be one too many quality midfielders for them to lose without going under, especially since he’s had a brilliant start to the season and would be close to leading their best and fairest. He’s been named for now, but there’s every chance he’ll be a late out and if that’s the case, the Saints are a real chance.
The Hawks aren’t quite as good at Marvel as they are at the ‘G, and without so many of their key midfielders they might struggle in this one, though I’ve been saying that for the last few weeks and they keep finding a way. I reckon this one will be really close and if the Saints are polished enough the game should be theirs for the taking, but it’ll come down to their execution and decision making with the ball. The Hawks love punishing a turnover, so they’ll need to watch out for that.
If O’Meara plays, Hawks, if not, Saints, but only just.
Betting tip: St Kilda (+13.5) @ $2.00 (TopBetta)
Best Bets of the Round
Port Adelaide By 25+ @ $1.95 (Bet365)