The following are previews and betting tips for round 5 of the 2012 AFL season.
Season tally so far
Bets = 42 units
Won = 53.91 units
Profit/Loss = +11.91 units (28.4% profit)
CHEEKY WEEK 5 AFL MULTI
Andy’s bet: 1 unit on St Kilda to win by 25 points or more, Hawthorn to win 24 points or less and West Coast to win by 16 points or more @ 8.65 (Centrebet)
Fremantle Dockers v Carlton
News from the selection table dominates the preview for this match as both teams make big changes. Fremantle midfielder Nat Fyfe, a late withdrawal last week, and Carlton forward Andrew Walker are the key inclusions for each club, while the Dockers most important player, ruckman Aaron Sandilands, picked up an injury last weekend and will miss this clash. Carlton may not be losing a player of Sandilands stature, but three Carlton regulars, tagger Andrew Carrazzo, dashing rebounder Chris Yarran and selfless defender Jeremy Laidler all picked up injuries in the Blues’ last match and didn’t travel to Perth.
Without Sandilands, Freo’s midfielders won’t enjoy the armchair ride they normally receive and this will give Carlton’s damaging centre square players like Chris Judd and Marc Murphy a greater chance to get their hands on the football first, propelling the Blues into attack.
Fremantle utility player Adam McPhee did a good job on St Kilda’s Stephen Milne last week and McPhee will be hoping for similar success this week on another of the competition’s premier small forwards, Carlton’s long-shorted goalsneak Eddie Betts. McPhee was helped last Friday because Milne couldn’t find space at smaller and more congested Etihad Stadium, but this week I expect Betts to break free at least a couple of times at the more spacious Patersons Stadium.
Fremantle’s biggest problem this season has been in attack, with the club 6th on the ladder, but ranked only 13th for points scored. This is partly due to the defensive ethos of new coach Ross Lyon, but it also reflects a lack of major goalkickers. Lyon is using Matthew Pavlich, previously used more in the midfield, as a stay at a home forward and Pavlich is the Dockers go to guy when entering the forward 50. For a permanent full forward, Pavlich is still at sensational odds to be the game’s leading goalkicker, so I’m going to chuck a speculative few coins on him as a backup if the Blues don’t get home by 39 points or less.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Carlton to win by 39 points or less @ 2.55 (Sportingbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Matthew Pavlich for most goals @ 9.00 (TAB Sportsbet)
GWS Giants v Western Bulldogs
Last week was the best performance so far by the new boys from the west of Sydney. The Giants took the fight up to Adelaide for the first three quarters before surrendering in the last term to go down by 46 points. This match against the Bulldogs, who have only won once this season, is a great opportunity for the youngsters to show further improvement.
I have a good friend who saw a match involving the Bulldogs a couple of weeks ago and this friend said he could sum the Doggies up in 1 word, “Matthew Boyd.” My friend’s numeracy skills might have been lacking, but his analysis is generally accurate and this point was again spot on. With a list in transition, lots of old and young players, but not much in between, Boyd is the one player wearing red, white and blue that produces week after week. Along with Brownlow Medal winners Dane Swan and Gary Ablett, Boyd is the only player to have averaged over 30 possessions per game during both the 2010 and 2011 seasons. A hot start to 2012 has Boyd again averaging over 30 uses of the ball per game, and at better than even money you could do worse than putting some of your hard earned on the dependable Bulldog.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Matthew Boyd for most disposals in Group 1 @ 2.25 (TAB Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on GWS +65.5 @ 1.90 (TAB Sportsbet)
North Melbourne v Gold Coast Suns
Gold Coast’s nightmare scenario has been played out this week as the club’s only recognised star player, Gary Ablett, has injured a knee and looks set to miss at least the next fortnight. The Suns have suffered heavy defeats in three of their first four matches, and that has happened despite Ablett breaking all kinds of statistical records for his playing prowess, Gold Coast must dreading what will happen without him.
North Melbourne have previous for beating up on a competition new kid this season, with the Roos handing out a 129 point thrashing to GWS in Round 2. Despite losses against Essendon and Sydney, a win over Geelong in Round 3 has proven North can mix it with the best this season. Gold Coast are certainly not the best and should get hammered in this one. With the line set at 80 points, I am not prepared to make a play on the market. The junk time period can be quite risky, so I’m on the Roos to do the business early and jump out to a big lead by half time.
Melbourne v St Kilda
St Kilda, under new coach Scott Watters, have maintained the defensive discipline that was the Saints’ trademark during Ross Lyon’s long reign as coach. In four games this season the Saints haven’t conceded more than 92 points, with an average of only 67 points scored by their opposition.
The question for Melbourne is therefore simple; how can the red and blues penetrate one of the league’s stingiest defensive units? Unfortunately for them, the Demons will be without leading goalkicker Mitch Clark as the forward has been ruled out due to a concussion injury sustained in a nasty fall last weekend (check out the crazy footage here). Even with Clark, Melbourne has really struggled for goals, averaging only 68 points per game in their opening four rounds. Worryingly for the Demons, their opening quartet of games has included fixtures against Brisbane, Richmond and Western Bulldogs, teams regarded as easier to score against than this week’s opposition.
I can’t see any one Melbourne player kicking a bag of goals in this match, so the Demons best hope is to have a spread of at least 10 goalkickers chipping in with one or two majors each. For me, the Saints are a lock for the victory as they are far superior in midfield and up forward.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on St Kilda to win by 25 points or more @ 1.45 (Centrebet)
Brisbane Lions v Geelong Cats
The Cats are certainly not purring this season as a topsy-turvy start to the year has seen them claw 2 wins from their first 4 matches. It was unfamiliar viewing last week as Geelong had to hold off a surging Richmond side to win at Simonds Stadium, a match that has been a routine victory for the Cats in past seasons. Brisbane has also secured two wins from its opening month of the season, although the Lions results have more closely followed the script, with wins against lowly Gold Coast and Melbourne offset by sizeable defeats to high flying Carlton and Fremantle.
Dependable full-back Matthew Scarlett returns to the blue and white hoops after a three game suspension for striking the pesky Hayden Ballentyne in Round 1. Given his prior conviction, Scarlett should be expecting a bit of lip from Lions opponents hoping to suck him in again. Scarlett’s return is very timely for the Cats as he will help fellow defenders Harry Taylor and Tom Lonergan to quell the influence of Brisbane spearhead Jonathan Brown. Keeping Brown quiet is the key to a Geelong victory.
Geelong full forward James Podsiadly kicked 8 goals in the corresponding fixture last year and I reckon the J-Pod will again prove to be the difference this Saturday night. The Cats midfield is still elite and will provide plenty of forward 50 entries for Podsiadly to feast on. Geelong should be at least a goal a quarter better than the Lions.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on James Podsiadly for most goals @ 4.00 (TAB Sportsbet)
Hawthorn v Sydney Swans
This is yet another tough game for Alastair Clarkson’s Hawks. In the first four weeks of the season Hawthorn played the other three teams from last year’s top 4. Those were all brutal encounters and would surely have knocked some of the stuffing out of the boys in brown and gold. Things don’t get much easier this weekend as an unbeaten Sydney side will bring their contested brand of football with them as they trek south for a date with the premiership favourites.
The good news for the Hawks is that skipper Luke Hodge has recovered from an early season calf injury and will play his first game of the campaign. Hodge will be a much needed reinforcement to Clarkson’s bruised battalion, while rebounding defender Grant Birchall is another gun Hawthorn player to return this weekend. Sydney superstar Adam Goodes returns to the red and whites after serving a 1 week suspension, while beastly ruckman Shane Mumford is still at least a month away from returning after being scheduled for surgery to remedy a back infection.
If this game was played at the MCG I would waste no time backing the Hawks, however the match is being played on neutral Tasmanian turf and I reckon the unbeaten Swans are full of confidence and will give the Hawks a big fright.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Sydney +24.5 @ 1.71 (Centrebet)
Richmond v West Coast Eagles
Richmond fans will fondly recall a June day in 2010 when they hosted West Coast at the MCG and won the match by 49 points as a rampant Jack Riewoldt kicked 10 scintillating goals. Fast forward 2 years and the Eagles are no longer the cellar dweller team, with a top 4 finish last season and an unbeaten start to this campaign elevating them to premiership contender.
This will be the fourth match the Tigers have played against teams from last year’s top 5 and represents another stern test for Damien Hardwick’s developing squad. A lack of consistency over the whole four quarters was the main reason Richmond failed to beat any of Carlton, Collingwood and Geelong. The Tigers competed strongly in all of those games, however slight lapses at crucial stages proved very costly.
Richmond have a good recent record when hosting interstate teams, however the Eagles have the look of a team that believes it can go all the way this season and that confidence will be intimidating for a Richmond team that hasn’t yet shown the self-belief required to break down a top-ranked opponent.
Adelaide Crows v Port Adelaide
In the helter-skelter chaos of a Showdown match between Adelaide and Port Adelaide form often becomes irrelevant, which makes life difficult for punters. This year it would be hard enough to assess the formlines anyway as the 2012 win-loss record doesn’t tell the full story for these teams.
Adelaide has opened the season with 3 wins and 1 loss, while their cross-town rival has started with the exact opposite ratio of 1 victory and 3 defeats. On that evidence it would seem Adelaide are travelling much better, but I would argue the Crows have had a softer draw thus far as their three wins have only come against a trio of unfancied opponents – Gold Coast, Western Bulldogs and GWS. Adelaide’s one match against quality opposition resulted in a heavy defeat to Hawthorn. Port, meanwhile, has played all its four matches against teams that made last year’s finals, managing a win against St Kilda and losses by 25 points or less against Essendon, Sydney and Collingwood.
Ball-winning midfielder Bernie Vince misses for the Crows with a hand injury, while Port’s talented forward flanker Robbie Gray is out for the rest of the season after he ruptured his ACL in the last 30 seconds of the match against Collingwood last weekend.
The Power enjoy a mental edge over their crosstown rivals and, despite generally being the lower-ranked team during the last few seasons, Port have won 5 of the last 7 matches between the two clubs. Given the recent history and the fact they’ve got the better odds, I’m going with the Power to win.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Port Adelaide to win by 39 points or less @ 3.20 (Multiple Sites)