The following are previews with betting tips for Round 2 of the 2020 AFL season.
Thursday, June 11
Collingwood vs Richmond
7:40 pm AEST, MCG
The AFL have scheduled some big games for the first round of post-lockdown footy, which kicks off with the Pies hosting the Tigers at the MCG. There still won’t be crowds, but after going without footy for 80 days there won’t be many complaints. It feels surreal knowing it’ll be back this weekend. It’s Round 2, apparently, but it feels like Round 1 again. Do we expect the customary opening round upsets, perhaps even more so in the circumstances? How will the players have coped with the enforced break? Surely many would have struggled to keep up a training schedule, and might even have ordered a few too many pizzas during the long weeks. I’m fascinated to see whether it’ll be easy to pick out those players who perhaps aren’t anywhere near their peak fitness. They’re professionals, of course, but some more so than others.
Anyway, onto the Pies and the Tigers — it should be the perfect game to rekindle excitement for the compromised 2020 season. The Tigers have made the brave move to let Ivan Soldo go one-out in the ruck against Brodie Grundy, opting for a smaller lineup. The Pies have omitted big Mason Cox who has struggled with a foot problem, and the Tigers wouldn’t mind that at all. Both sides performed admirably in Round 1, but that form probably doesn’t carry over, does it? I expect it’ll be a great game of footy — I’m going with the reigning premiers to get the win in a close one.
Betting tip: Richmond to win @ $1.62 (Sportsbet)
Friday, June 12
Geelong vs Hawthorn
7:50 pm AEST, GMHBA Stadium
Friday night sees the Hawks forced to travel down the highway to Geelong for the first time since 2006. These two clubs have come a bloody long way since then, sharing seven flags over the following 10 years, and there may just be another one on offer for one of them in 2020. The Cats are desperate for another tilt after three consecutive years of finals disappointment, while the Hawks are hopeful of rebounding after a tough year in 2019. The Round 1 win over the Lions was a huge confidence boost for Hawthorn, while for Geelong, their loss to GWS wasn’t ideal but isn’t going to bother them too much. The shortened season does make every win more important, so they’ll know how important this week is. Jaeger O’Meara will be missing for the Hawks after an unfortunate training accident, while Jack Steven won’t play for Geelong after being stabbed. Never thought I’d write that when summarising an AFL injury list.
The Cats are still searching for a ruckman, with Rhys Stanley in to have a crack this week, and the Hawks are pretty solid in that area with the reliable Jon Ceglar the main man. I’m starting to come around to this Hawthorn line-up; I don’t think they’ll be a genuine contender, but they’re every chance of being on that next rung down, and I think they’ll do plenty of damage in 2020—they might even beat the Cats in Geelong on Friday night.
Betting tip: Hawthorn to win @ $2.45 (Bet365)
Saturday, June 13
Brisbane vs Fremantle
1:45 pm AEST, Gabba
The Lions host Fremantle in the first of the ‘hub’ games in Queensland, with the home side heading in as warm favourites. The long break would’ve been tough for the Lions after a disappointing loss to the Hawks in the opening round; it’s been a long wait, but now they finally get the chance to make amends. The time off has also provided the chance for some to scrutinise the fact that Brisbane have lost their past four matches, but all things considered I don’t think that means much. They’re a really talented team, and I expect they’ll win plenty of games this year, enough to have another crack at the finals in 2020.
Fremantle, on the other hand, are probably going to struggle, particularly away from Perth for so long to start the season. They’ll be hoping they get a favourable run in the back half of the season, but their chances could be long gone by then. I expect the Lions to beat them easily on Saturday afternoon.
Betting tip: Brisbane to win @ $1.36 (BetEasy)
Carlton vs Melbourne
4:35 pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
This is a huge game for these two clubs. Prior to the interruption, 2020 shaped as a turning point season for both of them, and while things are now a bit different, they must still improve on last year. The Blues need to show they’re finally capable of lifting themselves from the doldrums, while the Demons need to show that their disastrous 2019 was a one-off blip.
I’m not confident that either club is going to set the world alight, but I’ve got slightly more faith in the Demons. They’ve got a better spread of high-level performers, while the Blues are still way too heavily reliant on Patrick Cripps. Max Gawn’s dominance in the ruck should subdue Cripps enough for the Demons to win the battle.
And there are a couple of much-needed feel-good news stories, with Harley Bennell is set to make a somewhat miraculous debut for the Demons. Let’s hope he gets through the whole game and manages to string a few together. Eddie Betts is up for his first game back in the navy blue, and young Luke Jackson will make his AFL debut. I reckon it’ll be a good game anyway, but those individual stories will add some extra interest.
Betting tip: Melbourne to win @ $1.62 (Unibet)
Port Adelaide vs Adelaide
7:40 pm AEST, Adelaide Oval
The two SA-based teams will sneak in a Showdown before heading to the Queensland hub, and there will even be a crowd of 2000 fans allowed to witness it, so let’s hope they put on a good show. Port will head in as favourites, as they should—their season looks decidedly promising, while the Crows seemingly don’t have a whole lot going for them after their end-of-2019 clear-out, though they are blooding three debutants this week.
Nevertheless, interesting things can happen in a Showdown, and with the build-up to this one being very different from any other, we might expect a surprise or two. The Crows have plenty of experience, while the Power are quite reliant on their talented youth. Younger players were probably more likely to struggle with their lockdown routine, so perhaps the Crows will be in better shape? That’s a fair bow to stretch, but that’s about all I can find in terms of advantages for the Crows. Port are the better team and should win this one with ease, particularly with big Charlie Dixon back in.
Betting tip: Port Adelaide to win @ $1.47 (bet365)
Gold Coast vs West Coast
7:40 pm AEST, Metricon Stadium
The Suns were probably fortunate the season was interrupted and all talk turned to if and when it would resume, because if it was business as usual they would’ve copped a lot more scrutiny for their eight goal loss to Port in Round 1. They can’t afford to regularly lose by that much at home again this year. Unfortunately, they’re up against a pretty strong West Coast side this weekend, and they’ve got a few tough games following that. They don’t necessarily need to win—though that’d be nice—they just need to be competitive, to show signs of improvement.
The Eagles will be happy with how things stand: they’ve got a win on the board, they should get another on Saturday, and then they’ll head into a patch of tougher games. That’s when they’ll really get to test themselves out, albeit away from home. If they can get through the ‘hub’ stage with more wins than losses, they’ll be perfectly placed to mount a charge up the ladder in the second half of the season.
Betting tip: West Coast (-31.5) @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Sunday, June 14
GWS vs North Melbourne
1:05 pm AEST, Giants Stadium
North Melbourne did well to come back from five goals down against the Saints in Round 1, but they won’t want to give the Giants the same head start this week. The Giants flexed their muscle in a ruthless opening round display against the Cats, proving that they’re one of the most dangerous teams in 2020. As long as they’re not haunted by their grand final capitulation—and it looks like they’re not—then they’ll continue to play the daring and free-flowing footy that makes them such a tough opponent, particularly on their home turf.
The Kangaroos always fight hard in the clinches and will give GWS everything they’ve got physically, but the Giants will hurt them with their skill and precision. They’ve got too many avenues to goal and that should see them put another big score on the board, as they did in Round 1 against the Cats. If North can keep this to a four goal loss then they’ll head back to Melbourne for three consecutive ‘home’ games in fairly good spirits.
Betting tip: GWS (-18.5) @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)
Sydney vs Essendon
3:35 pm AEST, SCG
For me, this is the toughest game to pick this weekend. These two clubs can both be temperamental, but at their best play good footy. They both had narrow victories in the opening round, with Sydney’s probably being more impressive than Essendon’s—mainly because the Bombers are expected to challenge for finals this year, while the Swans did well to beat the Crows in Adelaide considering their lower-than-usual prospects for 2020. The bad news for Sydney is that Lance Franklin has picked up another serious soft-tissue injury, sidelining him for a significant portion of the revamped season. If the Swans were any chance of surprising and charging back towards the top eight, they needed Franklin fit and firing.
They’ll now need others to carry the load, but I just think they lack the goal scoring options to win many games of footy. The Bombers are better off in that regard, and if they can manage to match the Swans in the midfield, they should be every chance of winning this one. I think it’ll be close, but I’m going with the Bombers to just sneak home.
Betting tip: Essendon to win @ $2.15 (Sportsbet)
St Kilda vs Western Bulldogs
6:05 pm AEST, Marvel Stadium
The Dogs were the biggest disappointment of the opening round, losing to a rampaging Collingwood by 52-points. There’s no shame in losing to a good side, but there had been plenty of pre-season excitement surrounding the Dogs and I think everyone expected them to put in a better performance than they did. They were made to look inept, more like a bottom four side than a team supposedly challenging for a premiership. We’ll see how they respond this week against the Saints, who are also coming off a painful Round 1 loss, one that probably should have been a win.
I think this might be another close one to round out the re-opening of the season, and with both teams having plenty to play for it should go right down to the wire. There seems to be pattern forming with the Dogs: shut down their midfield, and they struggle badly. I’m not sure the Saints will have the ability to do that, but you can be sure they’ll be trying. I’m going with the Dogs by a couple of goals.
Betting tip: Western Bulldogs to win @ $1.62 (bet365)
Best Bets of the Round
GWS (-18.5) @ $1.90 (Sportsbet)