Every year at about this time of the AFL season I think two things. The first is wow, where did the first two thirds of the season go, while the second is perhaps a lot more useful and centers around the easier to read formlines of various matchups. Most of the patterns have emerged making it easier to place wagers with confidence. Put simply, there are fewer upsets. The downside to this is that bookies adjust the match odds accordingly and your payouts start to shrink unless you increase the value of your bets. If you’re a punter who likes to place only a few large wagers each weekend you should focus on the head to head markets, while smaller punters looking for a bit of value might be better served dipping into the margin, highest goalscorer or leading disposals markets. Me, I’m fairly conservative and will stick at trying to find value with margin and line bets, with the odd multi and exotic bet chucked in.
Season Betting Tally (After Round 16)
Wagered = $1610 – $10 per suggested bet
Collected = $1963.30
Profit/Loss = + $353.30
% Profit/Loss = + 21.9%
Round 17 CHEEKY AFL MULTI
Collingwood to win by 25 points or more @ 1.45
Melbourne to win by 16 points or more @ 1.52
Western Bulldogs to win by 25 points or more @ 2.20
Combined Odds @ 4.85 (Centrebet)
ADELAIDE v ESSENDON – AAMI STADIUM (8.40pm AEST)
PREVIEW: There are games you need to win and then there are games you must win. This sits in the latter category for the finals chasing Essendon. James Hird’s Bombers are currently residing in the top 8, but they lie precariously on the 8th rung of the ladder, one slip away from falling out. Some teams within striking distance of the Bombers also have an extra game in hand on the red and blacks. Adelaide are well out of the finals race and present as the sort of opposition Essendon must beat to earn a place in the 2011 finals series. Neil Craig’s Crows are coming off the bye which may have taken away some momentum after his team recorded a win last time out, their first victory since early May. Essendon have a woeful away record, just a single victory to show for their last nine trips out of Victoria, and even though I think they can win, I can’t back them at AAMI Stadium with any confidence. Thus I have turned my attention to the most disposals market and Group B is wide open, including only a handful of players who have a designated role as a midfield ball gatherer. Brent Prismall is the player whose odds look the juiciest to me. Prismall has often been out of favour during his Essendon career, but the midfielder has strung together four games in a row, collecting at least 20 possessions in each of his last three matches. He is not especially damaging by foot, so may be afforded some space to rack up the touches on the wide AAMI Stadium wings.
TIP: Essendon to win by 12 points
ANDY’S BET: Brent Prismall most disposals group B @ 7.00 (Sportingbet)
RICHMOND v GOLD COAST – CAZALY’S STADIUM (2.10pm AEST)
PREVIEW: The news headlines for this match have been dominated all week by one man. Gary Ablett. The bald superstar appeared to seriously injure his knee last weekend against Sydney and was subbed out of that contest early. The Gold Coast medical staff were left fearing the worst, however scans have cleared the little champ of major damage and he was back completing drills at training on Wednesday. Suns coach Guy McKenna has been open with the press this week saying Ablett will travel with the squad to Cairns, but no decision will be made to play him until matchday. I think Ablett will play and I think this match will be closer than many anticipate. The Gold Coast boys should cope with the warmer Cairns climate better than their Tiger counterparts travelling up from Melbourne. If Ablett does take the field the Suns will have close to their first choice list with their skipper joined by fellow experienced recruits Michael Rischitelli, Jarred Brennan, Nathan Bock, Campbell Brown, Jarred Harbrow and Josh Fraser, while the first and second picks in last year’s draft David Swallow and Harley Bennell will also be out there. Gold Coast haven’t won for 8 matches, but I’m tipping a close contest against a Richmond team out of sorts. I like the move by Gold Coast to play Josh Fraser forward and bring in big, strapping youngster Charlie Dixon to stretch an undersized Tigers defence. In saying all that, Richmond have players like Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin who have had an extra year or two to develop when compared with the Gold Coast youngsters and it should be enough for them to secure the four points.
TIP: Richmond to win by 25 points
ANDY’S BET: Gold Coast at the line (+40.5) @ 1.93 (Readbet)
CARLTON v COLLINGWOOD – MCG (2.10pm AEST)
PREVIEW: Saturday afternoon at the MCG, traditional rivals, a sell-out crowd and a top 4 showdown. This list goes on. Home and away matches just do not come any bigger this! The Blues and Pies will contest a battle as fierce in the coaches box as it will be on the field. I say that because the tactics employed by both clubs have been crucial to their respective successes this season. Both teams like to play with a manic forward press locking the football in their attacking half and then scoring from opposition turnovers. Injuries have hit Carlton’s big men hard in recent matches and they are without their two bookends for the next few weeks. Key forward Jarrad Waite injured his hip last weekend and will miss the next month, while full back Michael Jamison has been out for some time already with a knee injury. Fortunately for the Blues, Collingwood are also missing big bodies of their own, Chris Dawes is still out with a hand injury and Nathan Brown has not played all season due to a serious knee injury. Collingwood seem to have the better depth and are in supreme form, fresh from a 117 point thrashing of North Melbourne. The Navy Blues have blown hot and cold in recent weeks with a 103 point win over Richmond sandwiched between unexpected defeats to West Coast and the Western Bulldogs. Those two defeats were both at Etihad Stadium, so the Blues will be pleased to head back to the wide open spaces at the MCG. For Carlton to win their star studded midfield will have to fire, their forward line will need to place relentless pressure on Collingwood’s rebounding defenders and their undersized backline must find a way to negate the many black and white attacking threats. I can’t see all three happening and expect a passionate Carlton to provide a strong contest for at least a half before being overrun by a more powerful Collingwood unit. In the corresponding fixture earlier this year I recall both midfields almost cancelling each other out, with Scott Pendlebury tagged out of the game by Bryce Gibbs. I checked the stats before writing this column and found Dane Swan had 34 disposals, seven more than anybody else in that match. With Gibbs likely to get Pendlebury again, I see Swan being afforded the freedom to have another big day out.
TIP: Collinwood to win by 43 points
ANDY’S BET: Collingwood -29.5 @ 1.58 (Sportsbet)
ANDY’S BET: Dane Swan most disposals in Group A @ 2.50 (TAB Sportsbet)
ST KILDA v WEST COAST – ETIHAD STADIUM (7.10pm AEST)
PREVIEW: A season shaping match for both clubs. Win this and West Coast will be favourites for a top four spot at the end of the season, while a St Kilda victory could set the Saints up for a finals berth that seemed unlikely two months ago when they were languishing below the Gold Coast on the ladder. The reason for the St Kilda resurgence is the return to form and fitness of some experienced and key men. Their on field leaders like Brendan Goddard and Nick Riewoldt are impacting matches and supporting the likes of Nick Dal Santo who has been playing good footy for most of the year. West Coast have been dishing out the pain to all opponents recently, including wins over Carlton and Geelong in their last two games. As is their style, St Kilda will turn this into a dour struggle trying to sneak enough goals to win. If they can get the game played on these terms they will win. I think they can do it.
TIP: St Kilda to win by 10 points
ANDY’S BET: St Kilda to win by 1-39 points @ 2.49 (Centrebet)
MELBOURNE v PORT ADELAIDE – TIO STADIUM (8.40pm AEST)
PREVIEW: Port Adelaide are not for off being the new Gold Coast. The team you want to play for a percentage booster. The Power have tasted defeat 13 times in 15 matches this season, with 8 of those losses by 45 points or more. They know how to lose! Conversely, Melbourne may have only won 6 times this season, but 3 of those were by margins greater than 80 points, so the Demons certainly know how to put a side away. Melbourne look to have the edge across the ground and should do some heavy scoring on the fast, dry track in Darwin.
TIP: Melbourne to win by 58 points
ANDY’S BET: Melbourne to win by 40 points or more @ 2.73 (Centrebet)
SYDNEY v FREMANTLE – SCG (1.10pm AEST)
PREVIEW: The Sydney Swans post the Paul Roos and Brett Kirk era are playing exactly the same way they did when Roos was at the helm and Kirk was a fearless on-field leader. That is a great credit to new coach John Longmire who has transitioned nicely, and almost without fuss, into the role. Sydney know what their strengths are – close, contested, inside football – and they play to them with great discipline. They are looking solid for yet another finals series by sticking to their basic principles. Fremantle are much more erratic and will struggle on the postage stamp sized SCG. On such a small ground, and against a team who create a lot of stoppages, Fremantle need to be able to generate a lot of clearances. Unfortunately for them they are without rucking giant Aaron Sandilands and will be exposed in this area. Sydney generally play to the script and, on their home ground, are about a goal a quarter better side than Fremantle.
TIP: Sydney to win by 24 points
ANDY’S BET: Sydney to win by 1-39 points @ 2.20 (Readbet, TAB Sportsbet)
BRISBANE v GEELONG – GABBA (2.10pm AEST)
PREVIEW: Brisbane are similar to Port Adelaide and the Gold Coast. They lose lots. But they are also different. When those other teams lose, they get smashed, but when Brisbane are defeated, it is usually by only a small margin. They have been blown out of the water just three times this season and only one of those was at the Gabba. The Lions have mastered the art of the honourable loss. With Jonathan Brown looking dangerous in attack and some handy, experienced inclusions for this weekend, I am thinking Brisbane might give Geelong a bit of a fright. The Cats should still get the job done, especially with gun midfielder Joel Selwood back after a four week suspension, but I’ve got a funny feeling about Brisbane. The stats show the Lions are tough to blow away, hanging in the contest even if they’re not winning and I have this gut feeling they might produce something special on Sunday. If I’m wrong, then no gut feelings for a few weeks!
TIP: Geelong to win by 22 points
ANDY’S BET: Brisbane +39.5 @ 2.03 (Centrebet)
NORTH MELBOURNE v WESTERN BULLDOGS – ETIHAD STADIUM (4.40pm AEST)
PREVIEW: The whimpering we heard from the doggies up until a month ago has recently turned into a snarl and a bark. Another win this week and the dogs will likely be in the top 8. The amazing transformation has been largely due to a tinkering of the game plan by veteran coach Rodney Eade. Eade has moved some of the more skilled players into defence and used the defensive line as a springboard to set up lightning quick rebounds through the midfield and into attack. This was particularly evident against Carlton last week as the Blues continuously won the ball out of the middle, but that only served to ensure the ball was repelled back over the midfield and into an empty Bulldogs forward line. Barry Hall was menacing in that space and he will be very keen to perform well against North Melbourne and their defender Scott Thompson after the two had a fiery run in during a 2009 match. For North to beat the Bulldogs they can’t allow the doggie defenders to rebound without pressure. This may even require placing tight forward tags on players such as Lindsay Gilbee, Bob Murphy and Shaun Higgins. I can’t see North being able to do it.
TIP: Western Bulldogs to win by 29 points
ANDY’S BET: Western Bulldogs to win by 25 points or more @ 2.25 (Centrebet)