AFL Round 3 Preview and Betting Tips

The following are previews and betting tips for Round 3 of the 2012 AFL season.

Season tally so far

Bets = 21 units
Won = 29.27 units
Profit/Loss = +8.27 units (39.4% profit)


Andy’s bet: 1 unit on Sydney to win, St Kilda -15.5 at full time and Geelong – 15.5 at half time @ 6.10 (Sportsbet)

Friday Night

Carlton v Collingwood

7.50pm AEST

The build-up to the clash between these traditional rivals has been monumental. As Carlton have gradually ascended the AFL ladder in recent seasons, this glamour fixture has taken on greater importance. The reason for the intrigue is that Carlton, Collingwood’s Grand Final tormenter of the 70’s and early 80’s, are now looking to muscle in on the Magpies position as a top 4 team.

The Blues have been impressive in the opening two rounds of the season and followed up a comfortable first-up win over Richmond with a smashing of Brisbane last Thursday. Collingwood have also enjoyed a win over the Tigers, however Nathan Buckley’s men were humbled by the Hawks in their season opener.

After selecting an unchanged team last week (a feat not managed for the whole of 2011), Carlton are bringing back two defenders for this game, with Michael Jamison and Nick Duigan back to full fitness. Collingwood are also swinging the changes and skipper Nick Maxwell will play his first game of the season. The captain is one of three inclusions for the Magpies as midfielder Sharrod Wellingham and back-up ruckman Cameron Wood are also elevated to the seniors.

These selections are really interesting. I suspect Carlton are going with defenders to counteract the dominance of Collingwood forward Travis Cloke, while Wood’s inclusion shows the Pies are obviously concerned about the Blues ruck prowess. But it is the midfield where this game will be won or lost, and what a battle it will be! Geelong and Hawthorn might object, but I reckon these clubs have the two best midfields and I can’t wait to see what will happen when Chris Judd and Marc Murphy in navy blue go head to head with Scott Pendlebury and Dane Swan wearing black and white. There are, of course, many others who will shape the game in the centre of the ground, however it is these four champions of the sport that I will be watching. I suggest you do the same.

Carlton seem to be going nicely at the moment and I think they’ll record a sweet victory over their arch enemy, who look a little off the pace. The Blues have also had an extra two days break than the Pies and that will become important as the second half progresses. In the first two rounds, Carlton’s highest scoring quarter has been the last, so I’ll have a small interest on that being the highest scoring quarter of this game.

Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Carlton to win by 1-39 points @ 2.60 (Sportingbet)

Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Q4 being the highest scoring quarter @ 3.70 (Sportsbet)

Saturday Afternoon

Richmond v Melbourne

1.45pm AEST

I’m not sure which philosopher came up with the phrase, ‘the more things change the more they stay the same,’ but I wouldn’t be surprised if he or she was a Richmond or Melbourne supporter. It seems that each season for these teams comes with fresh players, a fresh game and fresh optimism, although it only takes a few weeks before the hope disintegrates and tortured supporters can be seen slumping in seats wearing pained expressions as their team makes another basic error.

At least Richmond can take solace from two largely competitive showings against two top four contenders, while Melbourne were embarrassed at home by unfancied Brisbane, before copping a dreadful beating at the hands of West Coast last weekend.

Richmond seem to have more of a structure than Melbourne, with Brad Miller emerging as a decent forward option to partner Jack Riewoldt and Alex Rance becoming a leader of the Tiger backline, while Trent Cotchin, Brett Deledio and Dustin Martin provide the midfield polish. Melbourne will be pleased with the form of mature-age rookie James Magner, key forward Mitch Clark and defender James Frawley, but that’s it. Only 3 Melbourne players are showing any sort of form, meaning there are 19 players in red and blue that are being exploited by the opposition.

I’m going with the Tigers simply because the Demons start to the season has been so wretched.

Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Richmond to win by 1-39 points @ 2.30 (Sportsbet)

Port Adelaide v Sydney

AAMI Stadium
2.10pm AEST

This one won’t be for the football purists. Port Adelaide are not expected to achieve much in 2012 but have shown encouraging signs early this season, although, despite their impressive endeavour, the Power still made some dreadful errors in their close defeat to Essendon last week. Sydney have won both their matches to start the campaign and are again bringing the contested football game style that has served them so well in recent seasons. These Swans are effective, not pretty.

Port will be boosted by the return of dangerous flanker Robbie Gray for his first game of the season, while Sydney recall ruckman Shane Mumford from injury and the big beast should dominate Port’s inexperienced rucking combination of Jarrad Redden and Daniel Stewart.

Sydney are not the most skilled team and rarely beat the top teams, however the Swans never give their opposition an inch and you really have to play well to beat them and teams like Port Adelaide are rarely good enough to break Sydney down.

Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Sydney to win @ 1.51 (Centrebet)

Fremantle v Brisbane

Patersons Stadium
4.40pm AEST

Fremantle will be disappointed not to have built on their impressive opening round win over Geelong, following up the victory over the Cats with a loss to a Sydney side missing influential ruckman Shane Mumford. Brisbane are also on 1 win and 1 loss, however the Lions were given a reality check by Carlton last week and the 90 point defeat shows Michael Voss’s team exactly how large that gap is to the big hitters.

The Dockers will be spurred on by their frenzied fans as the purple army always crank up the volume in support of their boys. It will be an intimidating atmosphere for Brisbane skipper Jonathan Brown to make his return to AFL after a trio of sickening head clashes during the past 12 months. Brown has proven himself to be a fearless and courageous character during his playing career, but I suspect even the burly forward will have a few nerves as he approaches marking contests in this one.

Brisbane’s defence was breached with worrying ease last week and that makes me think Freo should score a big win.

Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Fremantle -49.5 @ 2.10 (Sportsbet)

Saturday Night

Gold Coast v Essendon

Metricon Stadium
7.40pm AEST

These teams played just the once last year during Gold Coast’s debut season and it was certainly memorable. The Bombers broke all sorts of records during a first quarter in which they piled on 15 goals without reply. It was the biggest first quarter score in VFL/AFL history and unlike anything this wide-eyed football fanatic had witnessed before! Essendon eventually cruised to a 138 point victory.

The Suns are now in year 2 and expectations are increasing even if performances are not! Guy McKenna’s new team lost 15 of 22 matches by 50 points or more in season 1 and have started season 2 with another pair of drubbings by greater than that margin.

Essendon lost five players to injury last week, which provides the smallest glimmer of hope to the Suns. Kyle Reimers heads the Bomber replacements and the man with the flashy boots will have fond memories of playing the Gold Coast after booting 8 goals when these sides met last year.

Gold Coast will be more competitive this week, however they still don’t possess the forward options to kick a winning score.

Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Gold Coast +56.5 @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)

Western Bulldogs v St Kilda

Etihad Stadium
7.40pm AEST

The team selections for this match show that both coaching panels are reasonably pleased with the way their sides are travelling. St Kilda have named an unchanged squad from the one that destroyed Gold Coast last week, while the Doggies have made only a single alteration to the team that fought strongly against Adelaide. Tall youngster Ayce Cordy is the Bulldogs inclusion and I suspect he’s been picked mainly to outsize St Kilda’s short defenders rather than for his rucking abilities.

In last week’s column I asked for a lift from a trio of St Kilda stars who were below their best during 2011 and had poor opening games in this season. Brendan Goddard was the player that impressed me most during a strong Saints showing last weekend. The utility player was in a class of his own and looking more like the dominating 2009-10 vintage than the flat 2011 imposter. Goddard is a great reader of the play and when in form continuously floats across the half back flanks and wings repelling opposition thrusts and launching St Kilda’s attacks. The Bulldogs don’t have a player able to nullify Goddard, so I’d like to see the Dogs use dangerous Ryan Griffen on a half forward flank to oppose him. This would make Goddard more accountable and perhaps draw him away from a few contests.

These teams have a history of playing dour, low scoring matches and that means players who can kick goals will be a precious commodity. St Kilda’s big and little pairing of Nick Riewoldt and Stephen Milne are two players that can hit the scoreboard and their goals might prove the difference.

Andy’s Bet: 1.5 units on St Kilda to win @ 1.55 (Sportsbet)

Sunday Afternoon

GWS v West Coast

Blacktown Park
1.10pm AEST

The team nicknamed the Giants plays host to the team containing the giants. There will be more than a touch of irony when West Coast’s big men Dean Cox, Nic Naitanui, Josh Kennedy and Quinten Lynch tower over their young and scrawny GWS opponents.

West Coast have brutally dealt with the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne to start the 2012 season and the Eagles will inflict more pain in this inaugural GWS home match in Blacktown. I had the Giants to get beaten by 100 points in their opening match, and when they only lost by 63 I got sucked into thinking they were going to be more competitive than I initially thought. However, a 129 point loss to North Melbourne last week has me going back to my original summation.

West Coast should knock up a cricket score, while GWS will probably only manage a rugby score.

Andy’s Bet: None

Hawthorn v Adelaide

3.15pm AEST

We’ll find out just how good Adelaide are this week when they travel to the home of football to take on flag favourites Hawthorn. The Crows have won both their matches to start the season, although those wins were against two teams nobody expects to push for the top 8 – Western Bulldogs and Gold Coast. A win or close defeat against Hawthorn will confirm the rumblings coming from the Adelaide fans that their team is good enough to make the finals this year.

Hawthorn received a tough early draw and performed well in back to back matches against last year’s two grand finalists, proving their status as premiership contender despite a close loss to Geelong last week.

The Hawks will bring a combination of ferocity and poise the Crows haven’t yet encountered this season and with Lance Franklin likely to enjoy his matchup against Daniel Talia, the Hawks should register a victory. A couple of extra sub-plots will be worth watching though. Who will win the midfield battle between ball magnets Sam Mitchell and Scott Thompson, and how will Hawthorn’s much maligned defenders cope against Adelaide’s dangerous duo of Kurt Tippett and Taylor Walker? This will be a good one.

Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Hawthorn to win by 1-39 @ 2.20 (Sportsbet)

North Melbourne v Geelong

Etihad Stadium
4.40pm AEST

These teams couldn’t have had more different lead-ups to this match. For North, Last week was essentially a training drill against the GWS witches hats, while Geelong’s players might have been victorious against Hawthorn but still finished bloodied and bruised.

Last week’s fierce MCG contest will definitely take a physical toll on the Cats during the second half of this match, however that disadvantage will be outweighed by Geelong’s experience at having to win the contested ball last week. I expect the Cats to open the game with a ferocity that will take their opponents some time to get used to, so by the time Geelong tire, they should be well out of site on the scoreboard.

Andy’s Bet: 1.5 units on Geelong -15.5 at half time @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)

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