The following are previews and betting tips for round 9 of the 2012 AFL season.
Season tally so far
Bets = 80.5 units
Won = 102.21 units
Profit/Loss = +21.71 units (27.0% profit)
CHEEKY WEEK 9 AFL MULTI
Andy’s bet: 1 unit on Hawthorn and Adelaide to win by 15 points or more @ 3.20 (TAB Sportsbet)
Western Bulldogs v Geelong Cats
Since losing their first three matches this season, the Dogs have bitten back to win four of their last five. The Cats are also on four wins but don’t have good recent form, coming off successive defeats. With both clubs sitting just outside the top 8 on four wins, this match promises to be keenly contested.
Despite a string of recent victories, the knock on the Bulldogs has been that Brendan McCartney’s men are yet to beat a quality opponent, which is supported by the Dogs losing to the teams currently ranked 1th, 2th, 5th and 9th, while only beating the clubs ranked 12th, 16th, 17th and 18th.
Geelong was very disappointing last Friday night against Collingwood. Playing a team they had beaten three times last season, the Cats trailed for most of the night and when the Magpies were injured and tiring in the last quarter, Geelong were not ruthless enough to take advantage, kicking a string a points when accurate kicking would have buried a wounded opponent.
Brilliant full-back Matthew Scarlett was a late withdrawal from the Cats team last Friday night and his inclusion will make life even tougher for the struggling pack of Doggies forwards. A weakness in attack for the Bulldogs has been offset by a solid midfield, led by Matthew Boyd, which ranks 2nd for contested possessions and 3rd for clearances. The return to form of key position defender Brian Lake has also contributed to the recent Bulldog wins, and it will be interesting to see how Lake fares in a tough match up against Geelong’s powerful forward line comprising James Podsiadly and Tom Hawkins.
I think the Cats will win, but I am not confident on selecting a margin and the head to head odds are not great. Given the Bulldogs have struggled to find goalkickers but have remained tight at the back, conceding the fewest points of any team outside the top 8, and Geelong have not been as potent as the Cats of recent years, I am starting my weekend by backing the unders in the Total Score Over/Under market.
I am also hopping on Matthew Boyd for most disposals in his group because he should be given a fair bit of latitude on Friday night as the Cats haven’t had a regular tagger since the retirement of Cameron Ling. Joel Selwood is one of the main dangers in Boyd’s group, however Doggies tagger Liam Picken should be able to reduce some of Selwood’s output.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Total Match score under 190.5 points @ @ 1.75 (TAB Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Matthew Boyd for most disposals in Group A @ 1.95 (Sportsbet)
Richmond v Hawthorn
Despite improving on their form from last year, as well as managing strong performances against the top sides, Richmond is slowly losing touch with the teams in the top 8. It was a now familiar story for Damien Hardwick’s men last weekend as they put in a spirited showing against the high-flying Bombers before succumbing to a 19 point defeat, making it the fourth time they have lost by less than 4 goals this season against quality opposition.
Hawthorn, meanwhile, has been ominously improving during May, winning each of its three matches during the month by 35 points or more, including impressive victories over solid opponents such as Fremantle and St Kilda.
The key to this match is how well Richmond’s defenders can contain Hawthorn’s potent forward line. Tiger backman Dylan Grimes has been very impressive this season but will miss the next few weeks with a hamstring injury, joining fellow key position defenders Luke McGuane, Kel Moore and David Astbury on the sidelines. That leaves Alex Rance with the big responsibility of dealing with Hawk big men Lance Franklin, Jarryd Roughead and David Hale. The flipside of worrying about the Hawks big men could be that Richmond allow too much space to dangerous crumbing forward Cyril Rioli.
Richmond is a developing team and has a collection of quality players as well as a game plan suited to the MCG, however this Saturday afternoon I think Hawthorn will show the Tigers there is still a big gap between a team which is almost the finished product and one which is still in the development phase.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Hawthorn to win by 23 points or more @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)
Gold Coast Suns v Port Adelaide
These teams only met the once last year and it was certainly memorable as a second half surge propelled Gold Coast to a first AFL win. I watched it at a pub in Melbourne and for the last 10 minutes the whole place watched in amazement and raucously cheered as the Suns made history. With no return meeting last year, Port Adelaide has had to wait patiently for revenge and a chance to overcome the embarrassment of being the first team to lose to the Gold Coast.
If you include the end of last season, the Suns have now lost 15 matches in a row and the development of Guy McKenna’s team has started to stall. Port Adelaide could easily be in Gold Coast’s winless position for 2012 as the Power has only won two games, both by less than a goal.
This is one of the few matches this season that both these clubs will think they have a realistic chance of winning. Since neither team has won by more than 15 points during the past year, I’m going for the unusual play of picking a margin of 24 points or under.
Gary Ablett returned from his knee-injury with a game-high 29 disposals last week. After an encouraging first game back, I’m going to back Ablett to dominate this match as well.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on either team winning by 24 points or less @ 2.00 (Sportingbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Gary Ablett for most disposals in Group A @ 1.50 approx. (odds not yet fixed)
St Kilda v Sydney Swans
This game is a replay of last year’s elimination final. That night Sydney caused the only upset of the whole finals series by beating their more fancied opponents. This time the bookies have changed their minds and the Swans are favourites.
The feel-good factor suggests St Kilda could be the team to pick as inspirational midfielder Lenny Hayes plays his 250th match in red, white and black, and surely his teammates will be desperate in their attempts to secure a win for him to mark the occasion.
The more considered opinion would be to pick the Swans as the Saints have been hit by injuries to their ruckmen, with Rhys Stanley now joining Ben McEvoy on the injury-list. This now means regular forward Justin Koschitzke will be required to play as a permanent ruckman, although that is less of a concern this week as Sydney’s Mike Pyke is not in the same class as the ruck combination Koschitzke faced last week, West Coast pairing Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui. I think the bigger problem with Koschitzke playing in the ruck is that it means St Kilda’s forward line has one less marking tall, meaning opponents can double team Nick Riewoldt.
These two teams possess strong and experienced midfields, and whichever team can win the clearances and contested possession count should win the game. I favour the Swans. Just.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Sydney to win by 1-24 points @ 3.70 (Centrebet)
GWS Giants v Essendon
It will be an historic night in the west of Sydney this Saturday as the AFL’s newest club, GWS, plays the first match at its home ground, Skoda Stadium. Essendon will be the glamour visitors on the night and the Bombers, with a win loss record of 7-1, are odds on to spoil the party.
Essendon is in form and has a core group of class players, so will comfortably win this game over their more inexperienced and lightly framed opponents. A couple of the better GWS rookies have been recalled as part of coach Kevin Sheedy’s rotation policy, so the margin shouldn’t reach the 100 point mark and the line of about 70 points seems reasonable.
I can’t find any value and will avoid this match from a betting perspective.
Andy’s Bet: None
Adelaide Crows v Collingwood
Being the Melbournian-dwelling football nerd that I am, I ventured to see both these sides live at the ground last weekend. What I saw from both teams indicates this will be an incredibly ferocious game. Collingwood’s desperation and attack on the ball was first class last Friday night against Geelong, clearly showing the Magpies are up for the challenge of fighting their way up the ladder after a succession of injuries to key players threatened the halt the momentum gained by a run of recent wins. Two days later Adelaide showed once again, after impressive wins over Sydney and Geelong, that they are the real deal in 2012. I was amazed at the ability of Adelaide’s midfielders, led by Scott Thompson and Paddy Dangerfield, to dominate the much vaunted Carlton on-ballers at the stoppages.
The odds are certainly stacked against the Pies as they are travelling interstate and the raucous Adelaide crowd will be a factor, while fresh injuries force two Magpie changes, with reigning Brownlow Medalist Dane Swan and last season’s All Australian defender Ben Reid missing due to hamstring and quad injuries respectively. Pacey little men Marley Williams and Jade Elliot have been promoted for their black and white debuts.
With Taylor Walker still suspended, youngster Josh Jenkins gets another opportunity in the Crows forward line and Jenkins will be hoping to continue the good form he’s shown during his first two league games. Kurt Tippett kicked three last quarter goals for Adelaide last week and he will be keen to carry that form across to the early stages of this match, so look for him to make a fast start.
As far as I’m concerned, Adelaide are the best team in the AFL right now, so playing at home, against an opponent decimated by injury, I can’t see anything other than a convincing Crow conquest.
North Melbourne v Brisbane Lions
Many matches this week pit two teams with similar win loss records against each other, and this is another! Both North Melbourne and Brisbane sit at 3-5 and the loser of this match will lose contact with the top 8 and be in for a long stint in the bottom half of the table.
It could all be so different for Brad Scott’s North Melbourne as his side let slip a 5 goal last quarter lead to lose in heart-breaking last minute fashion last weekend. That loss to Port Adelaide followed a defeat against the Bulldogs, another game that North were firm favourites to win. Kangaroo midfielders Brent Harvey, Jack Ziebell and Ryan Bastinac have been kept quiet in those recent losses and need to increase their outputs if their club’s season is to get back on track.
Brisbane’s three wins have come against the bottom three sides and Michael Voss’s team has really struggled against the rest, losing their other five matches by margins of 91, 29, 39, 67 and 58 points. This indicates that when Brisbane lose, they lose heavily.
Even though North Melbourne will be down on confidence, I expect them to come out breathing fire as Scott labeled the players’ effort last week a “disgrace.” I expect a renewed work ethic to lift the Roos back into form and see them to a win over a Lions team that plays its best football when the heat is off.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on North Melbourne to win by 16 points or more @ 1.61 (Sportsbet)
Carlton v Melbourne
For an out of sorts Carlton side a matchup with hapless Melbourne should be the perfect tonic. As bad as Carlton were last week, Melbourne were so much worse, managing only 5 goals in their 101 point defeat. The sad thing is that was nothing new for the Demons this season, as the once proud club languishes winless at the foot of the ladder with statistically the worst defence and second worst attack.
Mitch Clark has been a rare shining light for the Dees, snaring 17 goals in his 7 games, which equates to almost a quarter of his team’s score this season. Carlton’s Lachie Henderson has been fantastic down back for the Blues this year and I expect him to get the job on Clark, and to keep the Melbourne man quiet.
With Marc Murphy out injured, opposition teams will add even more focus to Carlton skipper Chris Judd, meaning some of the Blues other midfielders must to do a little bit more to help share the load. Brock McLean and Kane Lucas have been recalled to the Carlton team and need to make the most of this opportunity as they have a great chance to secure a regular starting berth.
Carlton’s loss of form will be temporary, while Melbourne’s looks like it might be permanent for 2012. Also, Carlton play the MCG very well and will be glad to get away from Etihad Stadium, the scene of their two recent defeats.
West Coast Eagles v Fremantle Dockers
A fiery derby from Perth rounds out another weekend of great games. West Coast won both these matches last season and will be hoping the mental advantage gained from those victories inspires another triumph over their bitter enemy. 2012 has been a good year for the Western Australian teams, with West Coast occupying top spot on the ladder and Fremantle also making it into the top 8, so this game between two in-form teams should be a beauty!
This will be a game of contrasts as West Coast average the most points per game and Fremantle concede the second fewest point per game. Will West Coast be able to break through the Dockers’ defensive structures or will Freo get better success from their counter attacks?
Another feature will be the rucking duel. Fremantle’s 211cm giant Aaron Sandilands comes up against around the ground master Dean Cox and the dynamic Nic Naitanui. I think Sandilands is the best player of the three, but I believe West Coast’s ruckman might be able to wear him down over the four quarters and become dangerous when the game opens up in the second half.
I’ve got a feeling Freo will come out fired up to take down their more fancied opponents, before West Coast’s class will prevail during the second half. I’m going to try for a very ambitious half time/normal time bet.
Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Fremantle to lead at half time and West Coast to win at full time @ 7.00 (Sportsbet)