The following are previews and betting tips for Round 7 of the 2012 AFL season.
Season tally so far
Bets = 60 units
Won = 76.7 units
Profit/Loss = +16.7 units (27.8% profit)
CHEEKY WEEK 7 AFL MULTI
Andy’s bet: Hawthorn and North Melbourne to win by 25 points or more, Fremantle to win by 40 points or more and Carlton to win by 16 points or more @ 10.30 (Sportingbet)
Melbourne v Hawthorn
Melbourne is still winless after 6 rounds but at least the Demons were competitive for two and a half quarters against Geelong last week, while Hawthorn snapped a two game losing streak to post an important win over St Kilda last Saturday night.
Hawthorn has a collection of stars players that can turn any match in the Hawks favour at any time. Forward line predators Cyril Rioli and Lance Franklin feasted for the Hawks last weekend and booted 11 goals between them as they terrorised the seemingly helpless Saints defenders. The brilliance of Rioli and Franklin perhaps overshadowed a worryingly leaky Hawthorn defence. In the absence of backline general Josh Gibson, the Hawks struggled to contain St Kilda’s tall forwards and were regularly outmarked with alarming ease by Justin Koschitzke and Nick Riewoldt.
In-form Melbourne spearhead Mitch Clark will look to expose Hawthorn’s defensive weakness on Friday night, although I don’t think he will get much joy as the Hawks should dominate in the midfield, meaning the ball will rarely end up in Clark’s part of the ground.
Hawthorn has not been in full flight so far in season 2012, but they’ve still got too much star power for a Melbourne team packed with mediocrity. The Hawks should win by at least 40 points.
Andy’s Bet: 1.5 units on Hawthorn to win by 40 points or more @ 1.55 (Sportsbet)
GWS Giants v Gold Coast Suns
He’s back! Gold Coast’s ball getting master Gary Ablett returns from a fortnight on the sidelines due to a knee injury and the little master takes his place just in time for the Suns biggest game of the season. This is the first meeting between last season’s new boys and the fresh faces of this year, and because the teams are so different from every other AFL club, they will be continually measured against each other and an intense rivalry will be bred. In time, the AFL administration may hope this fixture is played out on Grand Final day, but for now it is last versus second last.
I saw GWS live at the ground last week and was very impressed with the fierce attack on the ball by the young Giants. GWS were more than competitive for most of the game against Premiership favourite Carlton before the rookies tired and injuries to key players took a toll. Those injuries will also have an effect on the upcoming contest against the Gold Coast as GWS ruckman Dean Brogan and tall forward Setanta o’Hailpin both miss this week with injuries incurred against the Blues.
Freezing cold conditions have been forecast for Saturday in Canberra, but the heat will be turned up within the playing field as both sets of players compete fiercely for the red sherrin. GWS have been strong with their clearance work so Gold Coast code hopper Karmichael Hunt will need to intimidate the young Giants at the stoppages and, as a sign of his progress since switching from Rugby to AFL only two years ago, Hunt is now a key to his side’s success.
Both teams have played some good stuff recently and this match is definitely winnable for either side. I’m siding with Gold Coast due to the return of Ablett, although I think GWS can keep the margin down.
Adelaide Crows v Geelong Cats
Adelaide fans can genuinely look forward to watching their team play each weekend as Taylor Walker and Kurt Tippett are capable of kicking bags of goals, while Paddy Dangerfield has graduated from cameo player to midfield matchwinner. The Crows away victory over the previously unbeaten Swans last Saturday night made the rest of the football world sit up, take notice and conclude the Crows are the real deal in 2012.
Geelong have been the real deal since 2007 and even though the Cats haven’t been at their best so far this campaign, Chris Scott’s men have still amassed 4 wins with a minimum of fuss. Midfield warrior and club captain Joel Selwood was rested from the Geelong team that secured a routine 7 goal win over Melbourne last weekend. Selwood’s return this week will allow for a great match up between he and Adelaide midfield supremo Scott Thompson.
There might be a great matchup in the middle, but it is within the forward 50m arcs where this game will be won and lost. Walker and Tippett will need to be at their best to break free from Geelong’s tall defensive trio of Matthew Scarlett, Tom Lonergan and Harry Taylor, while Cats big men Tom Hawkins and James Podsiadly will have Crow stoppers Ben Rutten and Daniel Talia for company. All of those fantastic matchups look to be fairly even, so I’m going with the Crows to win as they appear to have the dominant ruckman and a more in-form midfield brigade including new stars Dangerfield and Rory Sloane.
Richmond v Sydney Swans
The Saturday twilight game is yet another match this round that involves the more seasoned team travelling interstate to face an up and coming challenger. Sydney probably exceeded expectations by winning their first 5 games of the season before they were finally humbled by Adelaide last week, while Richmond has managed a pair of comfortable wins against mediocre opposition balanced against four valiant defeats to the league’s top sides.
Sydney’s second half charge last weekend against Adelaide was inspired by the forward line dominance of Adam Goodes, but just when it appeared victory was within the Swans grasp, the champ was injured early in the final term halting Sydney’s momentum and the red and whites eventually lost by less than a goal. With Goodes on the sidelines this week, Sydney’s scoring power is significantly reduced and players like centre half-forward Sam Reid will need to increase their output. I’m not convinced Reid has enough confidence right now to step up and play that role.
Richmond’s win-loss ratio belies the improvement shown by the Tigers this season. Their performances against the top teams from last year have been ultra-competitive and only a lack of polish prevented them from taking a couple of big scalps. New recruit Ivan ‘the mullet’ Maric has been dominant in the ruck for Richmond, while Brett Deledio has relished a role that has seen the former number 1 draft pick spend more time roaming around the midfield. Dylan Grimes is another improver, with the youngster proving to be a reliable key defender. More consistency from full-forward Jack Riewoldt is the only cog missing from the Richmond machine.
This game will be a classic case of a team more suited to winning contested possessions against a side that prefers to use run and carry with uncontested possessions. Sydney lead the league in the contested possession count this season, while Richmond rank a lowly 17th in that statistic. Conversely, Richmond lead the uncontested possession count, with Sydney only 17th on that table. In 10 of the 13 matches at the MCG this year, the team that finished on top in the uncontested possession category won the match. The correlation between winning the contested possession count and the match has not been as strong with only 7 of 13 matches going in favour of the team that won the hard ball.
Given the above stats, I’m going to favour a Richmond win.
Essendon v West Coast Eagles
An early season epic is possible this Saturday night at Etihad Stadium as West Coast travel east with an unblemished record in 2012, while their hosts have stormed to 5 wins and a spot in the top 4. Following this match Essendon have a trio of very winnable games against Richmond, GWS and Melbourne, so a victory for the Bombers here would set up their season for an unexpected tilt at the top 4 come season’s end.
I am very excited about this game as I reckon it will be a full-on shootout! Despite a well-documented spate of injuries to forward line goalkickers, West Coast are still the league’s leading scorers, remarkably averaging over 120 points per game. Essendon has also been playing some enterprising footy, averaging a touch above 106 points during their games.
With a packed Etihad Stadium crowd roaring them on and further injury and suspension worries for the Eagles, I’m hopping on the red and black bandwagon and tipping a famous Bomber win over the league leaders.
Brisbane Lions v Collingwood
For fans of Brisbane and Collingwood, this is one of the most anticipated matches of the season. A rivalry that dates back to successive grand finals played between the clubs during the early 2000’s often gets the best out of the Lions. Since midway through 2007, Brisbane has won half of the 6 matches they’ve played against Collingwood, and that has been during an era in which Collingwood have been a consistent top 4 team and the Lions a regular non-finalist.
Despite good recent form against the Pies, a win for Brisbane would still be a big surprise as Michael Voss’s men have only beaten winless duo Melbourne and Gold Coast during 2012. In their other 4 matches this season, the Lions have averaged less than 7 goals per game, proving they haven’t been able to find a way to kick a respectable score against the better teams. Collingwood’s defence seems to be back on track after a rocky start to the year. The Magpies, aided by the return to form and fitness of Nick Maxwell, Ben Reid and Heath Shaw, have not conceded more than 80 points in any of their past three matches.
Collingwood veteran Ben Johnson will miss most of the season after having shoulder surgery during the week and he joins fellow 2010 premiership players Luke Ball and Brent Macaffer on the long term injury list, with Andrew Krakouer, a grand final player last year, also out for the season.
Given the Magpies are without several key players, I can’t see this being a blowout and will tip the Pies in a fairly tight one. I also recommend chucking a few shekels on Collingwood ball magnet Dane Swan to top his most disposals group. Swan’s main competition will come from teammate Scott Pendlebury, however Pendlebury is likely to cop a tag from Brisbane’s Andrew Raines, making Swan a big chance to make use of a clearer path to the footy and find plenty of the footy.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Collingwood to win by 39 points or less @ 2.20 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Dane Swan for most disposals in Group A @ 2.25 estimate (Odds not fixed at time of writing)
North Melbourne v Western Bulldogs
This match pits the entertainers against the, well, not so entertainers. Fixtures involving the Kangaroos have averaged 218 total points this season, by far the most in the league, while the Doggies rank alongside Fremantle and Brisbane as clubs that are involved in the lowest scoring matches.
Even though they lost, the Bulldogs actually managed to control large parts of their match against Collingwood last week, but the Doggies couldn’t manage to convert that dominance onto the scoreboard. The ageing Daniel Giansiracusa was the Dogs main target inside 50 during that game, and even though he kicked 3 goals, Giansiracusa is most effective playing as a small forward alongside a tall marking option. For this match, youngsters Ayce Cordy and Jordan Roughead have been named at full-forward and centre half-forward respectively, although I don’t see how the Doggies will kick a winning score given that pairing has managed a combined 9 goals from 28 career games.
Through Drew Petrie, Hamish McIntosh and Aaron Edwards, North have a plethora of tall marking targets that are capable of taking the game away from their opponents. If they can match the Bulldogs impressive midfield intensity, I can see the Roos bounding away to a comfortable win.
Fremantle Dockers v Port Adelaide
Fremantle have quickly gotten used to the Ross Lyon way! The Dockers have clearly adapted to the defensively focused game plan brought across by their new coach and sit 7th on the ladder with the 5th best defence using the measure of least points conceded. Port Adelaide coach Matthew Primus has been given a pasting in the Adelaide press during the week as his side has struggled to only 1 win from their first 6 matches. I think the criticism is quite unfair as Primus inherited a decimated list during late 2010 and needs to be given at least a couple of full years to bring some stability to the club.
The Dockers have recalled influential ruckman Aaron Sandilands from injury and his inclusion should be the catalyst for Fremantle to finally record a large victory. Power ruckman Brent Renouf is nowhere near the player Sandilands is, so I expect Freo’s ruck dominance to translate into a bunch of clearances for their midfielders. It should be one-way traffic and, with a spread of multiple goalkickers, I expect Freo to go close to winning by 10 goals.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Fremantle to win by 40 points or more @ 2.40 (Sportingbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Port Adelaide to score 60 points or less @ 3.75 (TAB Sportsbet)
St Kilda v Carlton
The now traditional Monday night fixture after Mother’s Day returns for 2012. Even though they won by over 60 points, Carlton suffered a bit of a letdown last week against the GWS as they rested senior players and struggled to put away their inexperienced opponents until the last quarter. Across town at the MCG, St Kilda were brave in their match against Hawthorn, but the Saints never really looked like winning as their defenders struggled to contain Lance Franklin and Cyril Rioli.
St Kilda’s forward line towers Justin Koschitzke and Nick Riewoldt both looked incredibly dangerous in attack last weekend and Koschitzke’s form was particularly pleasing as the big man clunked marks in an aggressive manner not seen from him in a couple of years. The bad news for the Saints is that , with regular ruckman Ben McEvoy sidelined through injury, Koschitzke may now be required to do some around the ground ruckwork to help out fellow part-time ruckmen Rhys Stanley and Jason Blake.
The ruck is one part of the ground where Carlton are very strong, with Matthew Kreuzer a big presence and Shaun Hampson an ever-improving deputy. Chris Judd and Jarrad Waite are back from a week of rest and they should charge back in full of enthusiasm, bringing their teammates along with them for a relatively comfortable victory over a wounded opponent.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Carlton to win by 16 points or more @ 1.58 (TAB Sportsbet)