The following are previews and betting tips for round 1 of the 2012 AFL season.
Richmond v Carlton
After the pomp and pageantry in Sydney last week, Round 1 continues this Thursday night with a more familiar feel as traditional rivals Richmond and Carlton clash at the home of football.
Richmond are my tip to be this season’s surprise packet, improving enough to challenge for a spot in the top 8. This tasty round 1 clash against an established finals side represents a great chance to measure the Tigers off-season improvement. For their part, Carlton enter this season underdone and out of sorts, worryingly winless from five pre-season matches. Still though, the Blues lineup looks menacing when you look at it on paper, containing an enviable ruck and midfield combo with dangerous small forwards to feast on any loose balls in attack.
I’ve got this match split at nearly line-ball, while the bookies have Carlton clear favourites. The Blues have a more experienced midfield, however they are vulnerable down back as Michael Jamison and Nick Duigan are both out injured and Jeremy Laidler is not 100% certain to start, even though he was selected. This means Lachie Henderson will get the big job on the Tigers’ gun goal kicker Jack Riewoldt. Henderson performed well as a defender late last season, however he will need Bret Thornton and Paul Bower to help block space in front of Riewoldt.
Ultimately, I’m going to pick the Blues for a nail-biting victory in a high scoring and exciting match. As much as Carlton are undermanned in defence, the Tigers are inexperienced, relying on the largely unproven Alex Rance, Jayden Post and Dylan Grimes to keep things tight.
Richmond with a 24.5 point head start stands out as a good bet to me, and for the risk takers I’d recommend Jack Riewoldt for most goals. The match score line will be interesting. It is usually not released until a few hours before the match and as I expect this match to top the 200 point mark in near perfect conditions, if the line is set around the 180 mark, it could be a good option too.
Andy’s Tip: Carlton by 5 points
Andy’s Bet: Jack Riewoldt most goals @ 3.50 (TAB Sportsbet)