Three rounds to go until finals. Yep, it’s that time of the year again. Late August is always such a contrast depending on your club’s fortunes. For followers of sides residing within the top eight it’s a time of great excitement and optimism, while for many others it can be a month of despair as their team’s coach get sacked, players start thinking about next year and the inevitable heavy losses ensue. This week the Western Bulldogs became the third club to part ways with their coach in 2011 as they sacked long serving boss Rodney Eade. An old school coach, Eade transformed the Doggies into an exciting football team and took them to the brink of greatness season after season. In his seven years at the helm, Eade’s side gradually built from cellar dweller to premiership contender, stumbling at the Preliminary Final stage the last three campaigns. It’s a cut-throat business.
Season Betting Tally (After Round 21)
Wagered = $2190 – $10 per suggested bet
Collected = $2645.40
Profit/Loss = + $455.40
% Profit/Loss = + 20.8%
Round 22 CHEEKY AFL MULTI
Adelaide -33.5 @ 1.92
West Coast -25.5 @ 1.92
Melbourne to win @ 2.08
Combined Odds @ 7.65 (Centrebet)
CARLTON v HAWTHORN – ETIHAD STADIUM (7.40pm AEST)
PREVIEW: For the second week in a row Friday night football plays host to the match of the round. This time it’s a battle for the top four. Carlton currently occupy fifth place on the ladder and, with a bye to come next week, need to win this match to have any chance of securing the finals double chance that comes with a top four spot at season’s end. Hawthorn are third in the table, half a win ahead of the Blues and with an extra game to play. So it is definitely advantage Hawthorn in the race for the top four. But who holds the aces for this Friday night showdown? The Hawks were awesome last weekend, whipping bottom side Port Adelaide by an amazing 165 points. The Lance Franklin and Cyril Rioli show was simply mesmerising to watch. Franklin, the big power forward, was a colossus, marking everything in the air and slotting goals from all angles. Cyril, his little mate, was sizzling when the ball hit the deck, both with his goalkicking feats and tackling workrate. Their big and little forward combination is as good as the game has ever seen. No wonder Carlton have recalled full back Michael Jamison from injury in time for this fixture. Jamision probably won’t have the match fitness to go with Franklin all game, so improving defender Lachie Henderson will likely get first crack at Franklin. Look for under-rated Navy Blues duo Jeremy Laidler and Nick Duigan to peel off their opponents and block the space in front of Franklin. It will be a really hot first few minutes and I can’t wait to see so many of the one-on-one battles around the ground. If Carlton coach Brett Ratten is ambitious he might give dashing defender Chris Yarran the role on Rioli, with instructions not just to worry about the Hawk, but to run and create play as the Blues attack. Two of the competitions outstanding midfield brigade will be thrilling to watch, with Carlton’s Chris Judd, Marc Murphy, Bryce Gibbs, Kade Simpson, Heath Scotland and Mitch Robinson going head to head with Sam Mitchell, Luke Hodge, Brad Sewell, Shaun Burgoyne, Jordan Lewis and Liam Shiels. Wow! It is a shame this match won’t be played at the MCG, unfortunately it has been scheduled for the artificial Etihad Stadium. A venue Carlton have played eight times already this season, while the Hawks have played just the once there. It is difficult to split these teams, but in recent times Hawthorn have just had that little bit too much firepower, winning each contest since 2005. Despite Carlton’s improvements in midfield depth and an unselfish defensive unit, I think the Hawks can extend that winning record. Carlton’s Bret Thornton has been playing a pseudo center half forward role in Jarrad Waite’s absence. He used to get his disposals with uncontested marks across half back, but playing as a key forward in a game like this, with very little space to be found, he will struggle to get over 15 possessions.
TIP: Hawthorn to win by 13 points
ANDY’S BET: Hawthorn to win by 1-39 points @ 2.44 (Centrebet)
ANDY’S BET: Bret Thornton 15 disposals or under @ 1.90 (Centrebet)
GOLD COAST v ADELAIDE – METRICON STADIUM (2.10pm AEST)
PREVIEW: I only had to look at the team news to make up my mind on the outcome of this match. Adelaide have four good inclusions to really strengthen their side, while the Gold Coast have brought in six players with limited AFL pedigree. As ever with a Gold Coast game, Gary Ablett will carry the hopes of his Suns side. The bald master dominated when these sides last played in Round 8. On that occasion Ablett had a massive 41 possessions and popped through 4 goals. Huge numbers from Ablett, but still not enough to prevent a 57 point defeat. Adelaide were very impressive last week against Geelong, the Crows third game under caretaker coach Mark Bickley. Adelaide forward Taylor Walker has flourished under Bickley, returning to the team and kicking 11 goals over the last 3 matches. He might fancy his chances of an even bigger haul against the Suns.
TIP: Adelaide to win by 55 points
ANDY’S BET: Adelaide to win by 40 points or more @ 2.25 (TAB Sportsbet)
ANDY’S BET: Taylor Walker most goals @ 3.50 (TAB Sportsbet)
WEST COAST v ESSENDON – PATERSONS STADIUM (3.10pm AEST)
PREVIEW: Essendon notched up another win last weekend, beating the Western Bulldogs by 49 points at Etihad Stadium. They now travel west with the knowledge one more win should be enough to secure a finals berth. With bottom side Port Adelaide to play next week, the pressure is off the Bombers this week, and that has been further emphasised at the selection table, with a couple of Essendon’s key position players, Michael Hurley and Tayte Pears, resting their sore bodies. West Coast need to keep winning if they wish to ensure a top 4 position, and the Eagles have strengthened their lineup with recalls for full back Darren Glass and flanker Beau Waters. West Coast have won 9 of their last 10, and have not been beaten on home turf since early April. Expect the Eagles to win comfortably.
TIP: West Coast to win by 40 points
ANDY’S BET: West Coast at the line (-25.5) @ 1.92 (Centrebet)
NORTH MELBOURNE v FREMANTLE – ETIHAD STADIUM (7.10pm AEST)
PREVIEW: Last chance saloon, desperation stakes, season on the line, there are many cliches to describe this match between 10th placed North Melbourne and 9th placed Fremantle. A loss for either team and it is season over, and a win for one is still not likely to be enough. This game will be played the day before 8th placed Sydney take to the field against St Kilda. Fremantle have a great chance to pile the pressure on the Swans and can leapfrog the red and whites to 8th spot with an upset win in this one. With all this in mind I expect it to be a really tight and pressurised match that will be scrappy in patches. Being the home side, North are rightly favourites for the win, but I think Freo have a better shot at the top 8 and will be in the game all night, making their odds at the line fairly attractive.
TIP: North Melbourne to win by 7 points
ANDY’S BET: Fremantle at the line (+19.5) @ 1.92 (Centrebet)
COLLINGWOOD v BRISBANE – MCG (7.10pm AEST)
PREVIEW: With a dry and clear Saturday expected, the Pies will look to unleash their pace on a fast MCG track. There will be plenty of black and white goals. With Chris Dawes still out injured, Travis Cloke is the key forward for the Magpies. I expect Collingwood to have plenty of free ball running through the midfield and the lack of pressure should enable them to hit a leading Cloke. The big man has kicked 53 majors this campaign, more than double the amount of any teammate. He could easily kick 5 or 6 more on Saturday night.
TIP: Collingwood to win by 77 points
ANDY’S BET: Travis Cloke most goals @ 3.00 (TAB Sportsbet)
SYDNEY v ST KILDA – ANZ STADIUM (1.10pm AEST)
PREVIEW: This early Sunday kickoff is not one for the purists, but I’ll be tuning in to look for further improvement from a St Kilda side I am getting ever excited by. Sydney and St Kilda both like to play a contested game style that more closely resembles an arm wrestle than a football match. It might be a chore for the neutrals to sit through, but these games actually tell us a lot about their finals prospects. In the cauldron that is finals football, the players that can win the contested ball are those that have most influence. The Saints held their own in that space against Collingwood last weekend, and were only let down by some poor foot skills coming off half back and then when delivering to their leading forwards. St Kilda will be sharper for the battle last week and it should show this week.
TIP: St Kilda to win by 18 points
ANDY’S BET: St Kilda to win by 1-39 points @ 2.43 (Centrebet)
PORT ADELAIDE v WESTERN BULLDOGS – AAMI STADIUM (3.10pm AEST)
PREVIEW: For Port Adelaide they can take heart from the fact that come 3:10pm on Sunday, the scoreboard will start 0-0. The last two weeks they have lost by well over 100 points and the scoreboard was not worth looking at after quarter time. But it’s a new week and a new game for the men in teal. And this week they welcome an opponent in a similarly poor mental state. I mentioned at the top of this article the sacking of Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade. Assistant coach Paul Williams ascends to the senior position for the last three games of the season and he will have a tough task motivating the playing group. Williams has already made his presence felt at selection, dropping veteran ruckman Ben Hudson in favour of young up and comer Jordan Roughead. In defence, the Doggies lose the dependable Dale Morris to a devastating broken leg injury. His absence leaves the Bulldog backline looking very vulnerable. I anticipate Port will get off to a fast start unsettling the younger Dogs players, but ultimately the Bulldogs will show their class and steal the win.
TIP: Western Bulldogs to win by 15 points
ANDY’S BET: Port Adelaide first team to 15 points @ 3.40 (Sportingbet)
ANDY’S BET: Port Adelaide to lead at half time and Western Bulldogs to lead at full time @ 8.50 (Centrebet)
MELBOURNE v RICHMOND – MCG (4.40pm AEST)
PREVIEW: In one of the vagaries of the 2011 AFL fixture, these teams played less than two months ago at this very venue. Melbourne prevailed in that one by a comfortable 27 point margin and I expect more of the same this time around. The bookies have given Richmond favouritism for this match, but I believe Melbourne have the defence to cover Jack Riewoldt and a bit more grunt in midfield to overcome the Tiger cubs like Trent Cotchin and Dustin Martin. Brent Moloney was the star last time these teams met and he will be a major factor again. The most disposals market for this game won’t be released until after the final team lists are posted at 5pm Friday. If Moloney’s odds to win his most disposals group are anywhere over $3.00, I think it would be worth a nibble.
TIP: Melbourne to win by 23 points
ANDY’S BET: Melbourne to win by 16 points or more @ 3.25 (Sportingbet)