The following are previews and betting tips for round 6 of the 2012 AFL season.
Season tally so far
Bets = 50.5 units
Won = 60.14 units
Profit/Loss = +9.64 units (19.1% profit)
CHEEKY WEEK 6 AFL MULTI
Andy’s bet: 1 unit on Stewart Crameri most goals in Essendon v Brisbane match and Hawthorn to win by 39 points or less @ 8.25 (Sportsbet)
Western Bulldogs v Collingwood
A dramatic win over Essendon on ANZAC Day could be the springboard from which Collingwood leaps into its 2012 season after a disappointing start saw the Magpies occupying the lower reaches of the table early in the campaign. The Western Bulldogs have also re-energised their season through back to back wins, although the Doggies resurgence has largely been due to the quirks of the AFL fixture list, with successive matches against Melbourne and GWS providing the Dogs a couple of routine victories.
It was Collingwood’s gun midfield pairing of Dane Swan and Scott Pendlebury that lifted the Pies to victory last week. Swan was particularly impressive as he gathered 42 possessions and booted 3 goals to deservedly win the ANZAC Medal for best on ground. I always find Swan to be a difficult payer to judge as he plays with a no fuss style that at times appears to be care-free, but it is difficult to criticize the champ as he collects 30 possessions each match at the same regularity that night follows day. Travis Cloke was also a factor against Essendon, with the key Magpies forward booting 3 important goals on a difficult day for the marking players.
The Doggies were praising their own midfield double act last week as Ryan Griffen and Matthew Boyd dominated their GWS opponents at Manuka Oval. Griffen and Boyd both collected at least 35 touches and added to their good work with a goal each. With new Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley electing to play a tagger on Brent Stanton last week, something his predecessor Mick Malthouse rarely used to do, look for the Magpies to have someone running step for step with Griffen on Friday night.
During the past two weeks the Magpies defence has regained the selfless discipline which was a vital part of their dominant 2010 and 2011 seasons. Down on key players like Chris Tarrant, Ben Reid and Heath Shaw, the remaining defenders, led by skipper Nick Maxwell and Harry O’Brien, have performed admirably against bigger bodied opponents, while the return from a knee injury of Nathan Brown and continued improvement of youngster Lachie Keeffe have been unexpected bonuses.
With Shaw and Reid back in the Collingwood team this week, I can’t see how the Bulldogs will kick a winning score. Collingwood should win this comfortably and Travis Cloke should kick plenty of goals in perfect conditions under the roof.
Andy’s Bet: 1.5 units on Collingwood to win by 40 points or more @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Travis Cloke for most goals @ 2.40 (Sportsbet)
Essendon v Brisbane Lions
Essendon has had a week and a half to lick its wounds after a bruising ANZAC Day clash against Collingwood. After posting victories at this venue in the opening two rounds of the season, the Bombers will be pleased to return to Etihad Stadium for this match. The Dons will be further boosted by the inclusions of running trio Courtenay Dempsey, Nathan Lovett-Murray and Travis Colyer.. After a decent first month of the campaign, Brisbane were literally blown out of the water in the first half by Geelong last week and found themselves down 7 goals to nil at half time. I say literally blown out of the water because there was torrential rain at the Gabba last week and the ground was completely soaked. Those conditions may also have an impact on this match as the heavy track last week may have sapped the energy of the young Lions, which could be exploited by the quick Bombers when this game opens up in the second half.
A couple of Essendon’s most important midfielders were down on their usual outputs last weekend. Jobe Watson has been Essendon’s best player during the past few seasons and Brent Stanton has been supreme in the early rounds this year, however both could only manage a minimal impact on ANZAC Day. I expect both of them to bounce back this weekend, especially given Brisbane tagger Andrew Raines has been suspended.
Brisbane’s lack of attacking prowess is the reason the Lions currently sit outside the top 8. With a defence that is statistically ranked in the top 8 for least points conceded, the Lions offence ranks only better than winless trio Melbourne, Gold Coast and GWS.
Essendon have no trouble kicking a winning score, averaging over 100 points per game this season, and Stewart Crameri, another Bomber quiet on ANZAC Day, should return to goalscoring form. Crameri is an excellent mark and earns plenty of shots at the big sticks.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Stewart Crameri for most goals @ 3.75 (Sportsbet)
Geelong Cats v Melbourne
Those with good memories will recall this fixture last year when Geelong stormed to an incredible 186 point win! Melbourne fans will probably never forget it as the fallout was severe and resulted in the sacking of coach Dean Bailey, which effectively meant the Demons ended a 3 and a half year rebuilding period with nothing to show for their efforts.
The new era for the Demons has started with 5 consecutive losses and shows all connected with the club just how much work is in front of them. New coach Mark Neeld is already under pressure, although improved performances in the last two weeks have earnt some respect from the footy public even though the better play didn’t bring the Demons a victory. Neeld has made the bold move of dropping former number 1 draft pick Jack Watts and I think this is a good decision that should be a wakeup call for the talented player
Two of Melbourne’s hard nuts, Brent Moloney and Colin Sylvia, are getting back to full fitness and showed patches of form against St Kilda last week. Sylvia came off the bench as a 3rd quarter substitute and got a bit of the footy, while Moloney improved greatly on his first two outings this campaign. With key forward Mitch Clark back, along with further improvements from Sylvia and Moloney, Melbourne fans have cause to be more optimistic.
Although I say Melbourne look to be improving, Geelong still have them covered in all areas of the ground and I can see another big blue and white win coming. The Cat’s defence is as tight as ever, while Tom Hawkins graduation from boy beast to man beast is now complete after the ‘Tomahawk’ terrorised Brisbane last week to boot 6 of the game’s 16 goals. Hawkins and fellow Gellong tall forward James Podsiadly are a lethal double act and should be too much for an over-worked Melbourne defence to handle.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units for Gelelong to win by 60 points or more @ 2.10 (Sportsbet)
Gold Coast Suns v Fremantle Dockers
Gold Coast and Fremantle don’t immediately come to mind when you think of AFL rivalries, however I would like to dub this matchup the ‘Social Media Rivalry’ after twitter comments made by Gold Coast players this season have inflamed tensions between the two clubs. Firstly, second year Suns midfielder Trent McKenzie took to Twitter and praised Geelong defender Matthew Scarlett for punching pesky Fremantle small forward Hayden Ballantyne, while Suns skipper Gary Ablett tweeted last week that Fremantle player Ryan Crowley’s negative tagging tactics against Chris Judd were a “joke”. Fremantle coach has Ross Lyon has been vocal in the press this week, describing Gold Coast as “disrespectful” to his club, and Lyon has warned the Suns that Fremantle “would have a really good go” at them this weekend.
With Ablett still out injured, I can’t see the Suns sneaking past Freo, who will be desperate to reclaim their place in the top 8 after a home loss to Carlton last week. The Suns were better last week and pushed North Melbourne for most of the game before ending up with a 34 point loss. On the face of it, that’s a good performance from the Suns, however they still gave up 42 scoring shots to their opponents and could have been beaten by much more.
Under Ross Lyon Fremantle have been much tighter defensively, but at some point the Dockers need to increase their scoring power and that was evident last week as they took ever so long to shift to a more attacking focus while trailing the Blues in the second half.
The final margin has never been greater than 29 points In any Freo’s 5 games this year, so I’m backing the Suns to cover the line.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Gold Coast +39.5 @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)
St Kilda v Hawthorn
A win for either team in this match will really set up their season. The Saints have won 3 matches to sit nicely placed in 6th position, although that ladder position needs to be cautioned as Scott Watters’ team is yet to beat anybody of note. Hawthorn, meanwhile, have played a string of matches against top quality opponents, but the former flag favourites have suffered defeats against Geelong, West Coast and Sydney.
The major selection news comes from the Hawks, with the brown and golds recalling under-rated defender Grant Birchall and pacey forward Isaac Smith. It’s not all good news for the Hawthorn as key defender Josh Gibson misses with an ankle injury. This is particularly noteworthy as Gibson has been immense early this season, largely holding Hawthorn’s defence together.
If you plan on watching this match, pay particular attention to the midfield contest between Hawthorn’s Brad Sewell and St Kilda’s Lenny Hayes. Fellow Hawk Sam Mitchell is another candidate to play on Hayes, however I think the Saints will send Clinton Jones to Mitchell, leaving the Sewell and Hayes matchup free to develop. Hayes suffered a serious knee injury in 2011 but has returned to be an inspiring figure in red, white and black so far in 2012, winning clearances, laying tackles and drving his team forward at every opportunity. Sewell plays his footy with a similar style and will be attacking the contests with just as much ferocity as his St Kilda counterpart.
This is a tough game to call, but I have decided to back the Hawks as I expect power forward Lance Franklin to be too strong for an undersized St Kilda backline.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Lance Franklin for most goals @ an estimated 2.50 (Odds not available at time of writing)
Sydney Swans v Adelaide Crows
The Sydney Swans are this season’s early surprise packets, bounding out of the blacks to remain as one of only two undefeated teams after 5 rounds. Adelaide are Sydney’s opponents this week, and although the Crows have also started well, winning 4 from 5, Adelaide are yet to beat a quality opponent as those 4 wins have come against teams ranked 13th or lower on the ladder. Sydney vanquished opponents include the much fancied Hawthorn, as well as Fremantle and North Melbourne.
Adelaide’s early season success has been largely due to the goals kicked by dangerous forward duo Taylor Walker and Kurt Tippett, with the pair combining for 27 goals already this campaign. The SCG is the shortest AFL ground and that often makes for a more congested game style, meaning key forwards are less effective as they have less space to work in.
Given the small field, there are also lots of stoppages during matches at the SCG and the Swans excel in this area as they have honed their game style to focus on winning clearances and contested possessions. Sydney will have a real match in that area this week as, although the red and whites are ranked number 1 for contested possessions this season, Adelaide are ranked at number 2. Furthermore, the Swans are the 3rd best clearance team, while the Crows rank a very respectable 5th.
I still think Sydney are just going to be that bit harder at the crucial stages and should win a tough contest.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Sydney to win by 39 points or less @ 2.25 (TAB Sportsbet)
Carlton v GWS Giants
For punters, this match screams avoid! GWS are young, inexperienced and unpredictable, which means you never know to expect from them, while Carlton have shown their hand at selection and are taking this game relatively easy by resting skipper Chris Judd, ruckman Matthew Kreuzer and lead up forward Jarrad Waite. It’s a long season and the Blues will still win this match easily, so I agree with the decisions made by Carlton’s match committee.
There is not much more to add for this one, although it should be noted that GWS have only lost their last two games by 46 and 42 points, so the line, which is currently at the 85 point mark, could be seen as good value for the Giants. I am still not keen to touch it though.
Andy’s Bet: None
Port Adelaide v Richmond
This is a really intriguing matchup and I’m looking forward to it more than any other game this weekend. Can the young Tigers build on the form shown during their close recent losses to Geelong and West Coast to win this match? Or will Port Adelaide finally break through for a win after four consecutive losses by only 25 points or less?
There is no major selection news for this match other than Power forward, and former Tiger, Jay Schulz missing with an eye injury. The biggest guide for me is the recent form shown by Richmond when venturing across to AAMI Stadium. The Tigers have won 2 of the last 3 matches played by these clubs at this venue, with that single loss coming by only by 3 points.
I reckon Richmond have the better team and play the venue well, which partially neutralises Port Adelaide’s home ground advantage, so I think the bookies have it right setting the Tigers as favourites at around the $1.70 mark to Port’s $2.15. Given these teams have been playing tight matches recently, I’m going for the ambitious play of either team to win by 15 points or less.
West Coast Eagles v North Melbourne
West Coast sharpshooter Josh Kennedy has been ruled out for 3 months with a knee injury and he joins fellow Eagle goalkickers Mark LeCras, Mark Nicoski and Andrew Embley on the long-term injury list. With that collection of talent forced off the field, it is amazing how much potency West Coast still has inside attacking 50. Jack Darling is having another great season, Quentin Lynch is a man mountain and one of Dean Cox or Nic Naitanui can regularly be seen lurking near the goalsquare. Throw in Josh Hill, who has chipped in with 11 valuable goals already in 2012, as well as host of midfielders that push forward and it is no big surprise that West Coast have covered injuries to key players to remain undefeated and on top of the ladder.
Similarly to my comments for certain other teams, the ladder isn’t a true reflection of where North Melbourne are at in season 2012. The Roos currently occupy 7th spot on the table, however a pair of easy wins over Gold Coast and GWS has been a big help for North to get into the top 8. The Kangas have beaten Geelong, which was certainly impressive, however Brad Scott’s men were poor during large parts of their matches against Essendon and Syndey.
West Coast’s lengthy injury list has seen many punters hop on the Roos and bookies have adjusted their markets accordingly. As a big fan of West Coast, despite the injuries, I’m happy with the better odds I can now find for the Eagles to win by 16 points or more.