The following are previews and betting tips for round 4 of the 2012 AFL season.
Season tally so far
Bets = 30.5 units
Won = 34.07 units
Profit/Loss = +3.57 units (11.7% profit)
CHEEKY WEEK 4 AFL MULTI
Andy’s bet: 1 unit on Brisbane to win by 16 points or more, West Coast to win by 39 points or less and Sydney to win @ 7.85 (Centrebet)
St Kilda v Fremantle Dockers
Villain, traitor, saviour. Ross Lyon, former Saints coach and now Dockers boss, is many things to many people and all of those emotions will come pouring out this Friday night. The man who guided St Kilda to within touching distance of Australian football’s biggest prize in 2009 and 2010 returns to Etihad Stadium clad in a purple polo shirt plotting the demise of those he used to lead.
The passion-o-meter will be turned up to the max as a raucous St Kilda crowd will openly jeer Lyon, while the Saints players will secretly want a win in this game more than any other home and away match this season. Fremantle whiz-kid Nat Fyfe popped out his shoulder last week and journalists and medical experts were falling over themselves to declare the gifted midfielder would be out for the rest of the season, needing a complete reconstruction. Almost inevitably after the media diagnosis, Fyfe has been selected and is expected to line-up tomorrow night. If he does, look for some of the Saints bigger bodied players to test Fyfe’s shoulder out with a few solid bumps.
It is hard to get a reading on the Dockers this season as they followed up a slashing Round 1 win over the reigning premiers with a disappointing defeat against Sydney and a sloppy home win over Brisbane. The Saints, meanwhile, have played themselves into great form, bouncing back from a tight loss against Port Adelaide with Etihad Stadium crushings of Gold Coast and the Bulldogs. Admittedly, those St Kilda victories were against unfancied opponents, however the Saints were so dominant I felt the need to sit up and take notice.
St Kilda’s main marking forward Nick Riewoldt will be in for a tough night against dependable Docker defender Luke McPharlin, so I don’t see a bag of Riewoldt goals propelling the Saints to another big win, but home ground advantage should be enough for the Saints to send Lyon home empty handed. Also, with Riewoldt likely to attract a tough match-up, Stephen ‘tip-rat’ Milne might be the man to step up and boot 4 or 5 goals for the Saints.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Stephen Milne for most goals @ 3.00 (TAB Sportsbet)
Carlton v Essendon
Life surely couldn’t get much better for Carlton fans right now. The Blues embarrassed bitter enemy Collingwood last Friday night and now have another chance to put one over an old foe. Essendon are that foe and despite being 3-0 to start the season, the Bombers will still have to improve if they are to trouble their rampant opponents.
Fittingly, the traditional rivals will clash in the traditional Saturday afternoon timeslot at the traditional venue. It’s enough to make this old fool nostalgic! Essendon have done well to scratch out three wins to start the year because the Windy Hill treatment room is stretched to near capacity with injured Bombers. As the saying goes, when one door closes another one opens, and 22 year-old small forward Cory Dell’Olio will make his AFL debut for the red and blacks.
Watching Carlton live at the ground last week I was left impressed by the navy blue centre square dominance. Kreuzer was particularly influential in the ruck and his midfielders were not only winning the clearances, they were maximising their take-aways with quick hands out to a runner who would bomb the ball to a dangerous area 20-30m out from goal. It was more than your standard quick kick forward from a scrimmage, Carlton were attacking with real purpose.
Essendon have an uncanny habit of lifting for matches against the Blues, however the Bombers midfield doesn’t run as deep and, with James Hird’s men having one eye on an Anzac Day showdown next Wednesday, Carlton should run out comfortable winners.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Carlton to win by 25 points or more @ 1.42 (Sportingbet)
Collingwood v Port Adelaide
One wonders just what new Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley did wrong over the summer to have been cursed with continual injuries to his playing list. The ‘Buckley curse’ has reached ridiculous levels during the last week as crucial inside midfielder Luke Ball suffered a serious knee injury, All-Australian pair Ben Reid and Dale Thomas incurred quad and hamstring injuries respectively, while the club’s best rebounding defender Heath Shaw also succumbed to hamstring strain. Those four join an injury list too long to fully go through!
With Reid joining Chris Tarrant and Nathan Brown as Magpie key position defenders not fit for selection, Port Adelaide go into this game looking to exploit a Collingwood backline weakness. Key forward John Butcher is recalled for the Power, joining Jay Schulz and Justin Westhoff as a dangerous forward trio. Young ruckman Jarred Redden has been rested, which allows former Hawk Brent Renouf to debut in the teal Port Adelaide colours.
As well as possessing some top quality players, Collingwood’s great strength in recent seasons has been getting contributions from the bottom 5 or 6 players each week. In short, everybody in black and white would invariably perform a role for the team. The next crop have been chucked in the deep end early this season and not many are swimming, perhaps some senior players can show them how. Unless Cloke, Pendlebury and Swan fire, this will be a boilover. The line is coming in all the time and at the time of writing the best I could find was at Sportingbet.
Andy’s bet: 1 unit on Port Adelaide +30.5 @ 1.91 (Sportingbet)
Adelaide Crows v GWS Giants
After steering clear of a bet on the Giants game last week, I’m back for a little interest for a match involving the AFL newcomers. GWS were both disappointing and impressive against West Coast last weekend. The Eagles stunned them with a ferocious opening term to lead by 58 points at the first break before GWS dug in and kept the margin to 81 points at full time. There are two ways of looking at this result, either West Coast eased up after securing a match winning lead or the Giants best is capable of providing a good contest with a top 4 opponent.
Personally, I think West Coast were very lenient on Kevin Sheedy’s team and I expect Adelaide to really press for a big win to boost their percentage, which could be the difference between 8th and 9th at the end of the season for a mid-range team like the Crows.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Adelaide’s forward pairing of Kurt Tippett and Taylor Walker combine for 10 or more goals in this one. Adelaide by plenty!
Andy’s bet: 0.5 units on Adelaide to win by 89 points or more @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)
West Coast Eagles v Hawthorn
An early season epic is more than possible here as two premiership favourites will slug it out at Patersons Stadium, otherwise known as the house of pain.
This represents West Coast’s first real test of season 2012 after a trio of successive victories over low-ranked opponents has propelled John Worsfold’s men into top spot on the ladder. Hawthorn are already battle hardened and this Round 4 match will complete a start to the season which has seen them play the rest of last season’s top 4 in the first month. A few moments of madness against Geelong aside, the Hawks have been ultra-impressive, and scarily, their best is still yet to come as skipper Luke Hodge is being carefully managed back to full fitness after a calf injury.
Despite talking up Hawthorn’s start to the year, I’m going to back West Coast as I think they’ve got a greater running capacity, which suits the large Patersons Stadium playing surface. The Eagles also boast a quartet of capable tall marking players in attack and they should expose Hawthorn’s perceived aerial weakness in defence.
Brisbane Lions v Gold Coast Suns
The QClash may only be in its infancy as an AFL rivalry, but these two northern-most teams did the battle justice last year with two keenly fought contests resulting in a victory apiece.
Brisbane skipper Jonathan Brown was injured for both QClashes last season and the adopted Queenslander will be very keen to make his mark in this match. Gold Coast may be required to use Nathan Bock to play in defence on Brown, which would be a mini-win for the Lions as Bock can be a handy goalkicker when played in attack.
Simon Black was best on ground when Brisbane won this match last year and the ageless midfielder’s subtle yet sublime skills will be a brilliant contrast to the freakish ball-getting ability of Gold Coast’s Gary Ablett. AFL statisticians will be in danger of incurring a repetitive strain injury (RSI) from logging all of Ablett’s possessions!
Brisbane tightened up their defence last weekend against Fremantle and if they can be similarly frugal this Saturday night against the Suns then it should be a straightforward Lions victory.
Andy’s bet: 1.5 units on Brisbane to win by 16 points or more @ 1.72 (Sportsbet)
Geelong Cats v Richmond
The rest of the football world will be watching on with interest to see how Geelong fares in Sunday’s early match. The defending Premiers were surprisingly outplayed by North Melbourne last Sunday and we are all waiting to see what kind of reaction the Cats can give.
Like Geelong, Richmond have also won only one match out of three to start the season, however that win came last weekend and the Tigers will make the short trip out of Melbourne in good confidence. Richmond spearhead Jack Riewoldt has had a poor start to the year, booting just 5 goals in his three matches, although Riewoldt will be pleased to know that Geelong full back Matthew Scarlett is still suspended and won’t be able to assist fellow Cat defenders Tom Lonergan and Harry Taylor.
The Cats lose another top-liner this week as midfielder James Kelly misses with a groin injury, but I’m hoping the action will come in both forward 50’s as Riewoldt and Geelong’s James Podsiadly reprise an old-style full forward goalkicking shootout. Geelong have too many other supporting forward options and should get the win.
Sydney Swans v North Melbourne
Two of the league’s form teams will clash in this Sunday afternoon match at the SCG. Sydney remain unbeaten after three weeks, while the Roos are only an errant Hamish McIntosh round 1 kick away from three straight wins.
Sydney’s early season success is largely down to the midfield work by Josh Kennedy. Improving to a front-line midfielder for the Swans last year, Kennedy has further increased his output this season and could now rightly claim to be amongst the best 10 midfielders in the game. After a so-so start to the season giant Sydney ruckman Shane Mumford will need to recapture his best form if the Swans are going to win as North Melbourne’s rucking duo of Todd Goldstein and Hamish McIntosh have been effectively double teaming their opponents so far in 2012.
Much like many will be watching the earlier Sunday game to see how Geelong respond to last weekend’s loss, plenty will be tuning in for this one to see if the Kangas form last week was a flash in the pan. North have got a soft fixture list this season, lucking out by drawing to play both Gold Coast and GWS twice over the course of the season, making a finals berth a distinct possibility. All North have to do is sneak a few wins in matches like this and they’ll qualify to be back playing September finals football. I can sometimes be a tough man to please, so I’m looking to see more from North before I jump on their bandwagon.
Andy’s bet: 1 unit on Sydney to win @ 1.80 (Multiple Sites)
Melbourne v Western Bulldogs
Do you want the good news first or the bad news? Generally, I like to get the bad news out of the way first, so I’ll put it out there straight away, one of these teams will be winless come the final siren on Sunday night. The flip side is, of course, that one side will register their first win and have commenced the climb back up the ladder.
Just when it seemed it couldn’t get any worse, both teams got thumped last weekend in matches they were expected to be competitive in. I’m sure when Melbourne’s coaching staff sat down and planned for the year, they would have been aiming to win 2 of their first 3 games, given they had MCG clashes against Brisbane and Richmond. Should they lose another winnable game this weekend, it will be a very long year, as the fixtures are only going to get tougher for the Demons.
After two competitive showings to start the year the Bulldogs were destroyed by St Kilda last week, providing coach Brendan McCartney with a good reality check of how much work is required to turn around the club’s fortunes.
Brent Moloney is a good in for the Demons, while Brian Lake’s loss will be difficult to cover for an already stretched Bulldogs defence. Given the odds for two winless teams, I’m going to have a small interest on the Dees to complete a minor upset.