The more things change the more they stay the same. Only four teams remain in contention to win the big prize and those four clubs have shared the last five premierships. This is a clear indication the AFL is not an even competition despite a salary cap on player payments and draft concessions providing weaker clubs first access to the best young talent.
Preliminary Final weekend has traditionally been known as the people’s weekend. It is the last chance for run of the mill club members to watch their team play before the corporate masses take over on Grand Final day. For this reason, Collingwood and Hawthorn’s Friday night match will be played in front of a passionate packed house. Since West Coast are a non-Victorian team, the MCG will not be as full for their match with Geelong.
With only 3 matches left in the season, the final betting tally will finish with a likely profit of between $400 and $500.
Season Betting Tally (After Finals Week 2)
Wagered = $2700 – $10 per suggested bet
Collected = $3158.20
Profit/Loss = + $458.20
% Profit/Loss = + 17.0%
Finals Week 3 CHEEKY AFL MULTI
Collingwood to win by 16 or over @ 1.63
Geelong at the line (-28.5) @ 1.91
Combined Odds @ 3.10 (Sportingbet)
COLLINGWOOD v HAWTHORN – MCG (7.45pm AEST)
PREVIEW: Collingwood and Hawthorn are morphing into similar beasts as the AFL season approaches its climax. Both teams are blessed with many matchwinners, a dangerous power forward and a perceived weakness in the ruck. I also contend both teams have the ability to play Jekyll and Hyde football. It is a strange thing to say about two teams that have barely lost all season, but both the Hawks and Pies have rarely put together a four quarter performance in 2011. The flip side to this, of course, is both can bury their opponents with a swift burst.
This match is very much a test of which team can sustain their brand of football for longer. Collingwood play an intense forward press, pressuring the ball carrier and hoping to turn the ball over in their attacking half. Hawthorn prefer using foot skills to pinpoint short passes down the ground in a game plan pinched from the lacrosse field. Collingwood rarely get beaten by a team trying to methodically chip through the Magpie press. The only way to beat the Pies is quick ball movement to bypass their press and then a long kick into a spacious attacking zone.
The big wildcard, as always, is Hawthorn’s gun forward Lance Franklin. Franklin is battling a knee injury and also visited hospital this week to receive treatment for a mystery illness, believed to be either gastro or food poisoning. The Hawthorn number 23 has generally enjoyed playing the Magpies, kicking 25 goals in 4 games against them between 2008 and 2010. Most of those goals were scored against smaller opponents like Harry O’Brien and Nick Maxwell, or the slower Nathan Brown. Collingwood recruited Chris Tarrant as a defender for this season and he is a much better match up for Franklin, which was demonstrated in the teams’ only previous match this season when Franklin was held to just one goal.
I firmly believe the best defensive team wins in the finals and I think Collingwood have a more dependable back six. The Pies should get the job done.
TIP: Collingwood to win by 22 points
ANDY’S BET: Sharrod Wellingham most disposals in Group 3 @ $4.00 (TAB Sportsbet)
GEELONG v WEST COAST – MCG (2.20pm AEST)
PREVIEW: West Coast were very lucky to progress to this stage of the finals series, scraping past an undermanned Carlton side by just 3 points last Saturday night. The Eagles were on the fortunate side of many contentious umpiring calls, including a free kick not paid to Carlton forward Andrew Walker in the final seconds. The contact on Walker was almost identical to a similar incident in the last minute of a 2009 final between Collingwood and Adelaide. On that occasion a free kick was paid and Jack Anthony kicked the matchwinning goal for the Pies. But West Coast are still here, although, with their ruck dominance, they would be a better chance of beating Collingwood or Hawthorn, not Geelong.
The Cats are purring loudly this September and even have the defensive talls to counteract West Coast’s marking forwards. Geelong have Matthew Scarlett, Harry Taylor and Tom Lonergan to nullify high flying Eagles Josh Kennedy, Quentin Lynch and Jack Darling. Geelong’s midfield depth looms as the key to this match. Cameron Ling is likely to quell the influence of West Coast’s clearance king Daniel Kerr and the Cats have premiership stars of their own in Joel Selwood, James Kelly, Jimmy Bartel, Joel Corey and Paul Chapman to gain control of the ball, and the game.
For an extra interest, I recommend chucking a few coins on Geelong’s reliable midfielder Jimmy Bartel to collect more disposals than any other in his group of 8. Bartel wins his own footy and is also adept at finding space to get a few uncontested possessions. He looks a good bet to top this group of second tier ball winners.
TIP: Geelong to win by 36 points
ANDY’S BET: Geelong to lead at the end of every quarter @ 1.80 (TAB Sportsbet)
ANDY’S BET: Jimmy Bartel most disposals in Group 2 @ 4.25 (TAB Sportsbet)