The following are previews and betting tips for round 11 of the 2012 AFL season.
Season tally so far
Bets = 101 units
Won = 108.52 units
Profit/Loss = +7.52 units (7.4% profit)
CHEEKY WEEK 11 AFL MULTI
Andy’s bet: 1 unit on St Kilda to win by 40 points or more, Essendon to win by 16 points or more and Melbourne +46.5 @ 7.20 (Centrebet)
Carlton v Geelong Cats
The top half of the AFL ladder is extremely congested after the first 10 weeks and only 3 wins separate the top 11 teams. Early season premiership fancies Carlton and Geelong have been sucked back into the pack and are now struggling to remain in the top 8. Both clubs have managed 6 victories and sit 2 wins plus percentage behind fourth placed Collingwood, which is significant as not once in the current finals system (in operation since 2000) has a team won the Premiership after finishing the home and away season lower than fourth on the ladder. Whichever team suffers defeat in this match is likely to lose touch with the top 4 and, in turn, a shot at the premiership. Friday night football rarely gets bigger than this.
Speaking of Premierships, Geelong has recalled four premiership stars for this match, with the big guns replacing a group of inexperienced rookies and giving a formidable look to the lineup. Carlton at least get to strengthen their team as key defenders Lachie Henderson and Nick Duigan return from injury, while the versatile Matthew Kreuzer also resumes his place in the side.
Looking at the team lists, Carlton are probably a midfielder or two short of Geelong, as well as a dominant tall forward. Geelong’s only real weakness appears to be in the ruck, so Carlton would do well to exploit that. Ultimately though, I can’t see the Blues forward line causing enough problems to the Cats experienced defenders and Geelong will have enough scoring bursts to break free and win a hard fought contest.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Geelong to win by 16 points or more @ 2.00 (TAB Sportsbet)
Richmond v Fremantle Dockers
On current form Richmond has to be considered a legitimate finals contender. The Tigers have turned on the style in recent weeks, disposing of Hawthorn a fortnight ago before outlasting the Saints last Friday night in the best game I have seen this season. It is refreshing to see a young and talented team playing with such effervescence and freedom, and I will freely admit that Richmond is now the team I most look forward to watching each weekend. Their opponent this Saturday is Fremantle and the contrast between the clubs couldn’t be greater as the Dockers focus on doing the disciplined and defensively minded tasks. Put simply, Richmond will entertain you and Fremantle won’t.
I can understand where Fremantle’s coach, Ross Lyon, is coming from with his defensive ethos as the best defensive side often wins the Premiership, however I think Lyon has skewed his team’s game plan a little too far in the negative direction this time. The Dockers average only 76 points per game this year, which is at least 20 points per game lower than any of the 10 teams above them on the ladder.
The big match up in this game will be in the ruck (pun intended). Sometimes I put too much weight on the influence of the ruckmen, which was shown last weekend when Brisbane won the clearance count against West Coast despite losing the hit outs 75-29. Nonetheless, I still believe ruckmen are crucial and this week’s big man battle between Tiger Ivan Maric and Docker Aaron Sandilands will be decisive. Maric has given the Tigers a big boost in their last two impressive wins, but surely will not be as dominant against the league’s tallest player. Still, Maric only needs to be competitive in the game because I can’t see Fremantle winning this match unless Sandilands plays a blinder.
Richmond’s midfield proficiency has been well documented this season and with Jack Riewoldt now looking supreme in attack, plus the defensive stability provided by Alex Rance and Chris Newman, the Tigers are close to becoming a complete football team. The bookies agree and have installed Richmond as a short priced favourite to win this one, so I have gone for a bit of value and am punting on Freo’s defensive game plan to keep the margin from blowing out.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Richmond to win by 39 points or less @ 2.25 (TAB Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Jack Riewoldt for most goals @ 1.77 (Sportsbet)
Gold Coast Suns v St Kilda
There is no ‘I’ in team and no ‘I’ in Gold Coast Suns, which is amazing, because from the top level of the Great Southern Stand last Sunday night there only appeared to be one man running around in a Gold Coast jumper. Suns skipper Gary Ablett popped up all over the field, picking up a record equaling 53 possessions and even when Ablett was in a worse position, his teammates would still continually pass the ball to him. It felt wrong to watch as Ablett’s talent was mostly wasted because he had no teammates working with him, rather they were working for him. Gold Coast’s talented youngsters need to take the game on themselves as this will enable Ablett to maximise the impact from his disposals. If Ablett has 25-30 ball uses and his teammates are also trying to make the play, the Suns will be better off than when Ablett has 50 touches with no helpers.
St Kilda suffered a painful defeat to Richmond last Friday night. In a cracking game, the Saints defensive structures went walkabout during the last 10 minutes allowing the Tigers to pinch a few easy goals that secured the win. The Saints must be a seriously tough bunch though, because the red, white and blacks often fall heartbreakingly short in the close matches, yet dust themselves down and return into battle with renewed vigour for the next match. I really admire that resilience about this St Kilda playing group and I’ll be looking out for players like Nick Riewoldt, Brendan Goddard and Lenny Hayes to will their side to victory this week.
St Kilda tagger Clinton Jones will almost certainly get the job on Ablett this week, reprising the famous battles the two have had during the past, most notably the 2009 Grand Final when Ablett was playing for Geelong. This personal duel will be worth watching all night.
The Saints have been more attacking this season under new coach Scott Waters and have proven themselves capable of posting big scores against the poorer teams. Earlier this season St Kilda beat Gold Coast by 92 points and not enough has changed for the Suns to get close in this one.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on St Kilda to win by 40 points or more @ 1.75 (Centrebet)
Essendon v Sydney Swans
After an MCG slip up against Melbourne last Saturday night the Bombers venture to Etihad Stadium this weekend and will be hoping for a better outcome at the indoor arena. Sydney thumped the Western Bulldogs last Sunday and will head into this match hunting for a victory to displace their hosts in the top 4.
The venue for this match is crucial as Essendon has won 4 from 4 on the slick Etihad surface this campaign, while Sydney failed dismally against St Kilda in their only appearance under the roof. The fleet footed Bombers were particularly damaging in a recent match here against West Coast, with rapid ball movement tearing through the previously unbeaten Eagles.
The continued absence of Sydney champion Adam Goodes will make life much easier for the Essendon coaching panel. The Bombers’ midweek planning sessions will have been much less stressful knowing that Goodes, so often their tormenter, won’t be taking to the field on Saturday night.
This match will be a nice contrast, with both teams playing slightly different game styles that have so far produced similar results. Essendon has a greater risk taking approach with their ball movement, while Sydney is more measured and calculating. Amazingly, both teams have very similar points scored and points conceded values this season. Which style will prevail on Saturday night? I think the Bombers pace suits Etihad Stadium the best.
Port Adelaide v Hawthorn
With this being the first of three bye rounds, fixtures are less congested across the weekend and this is the only Sunday match. Port Adelaide head into this game as the form team, winning three in a row, including last weekend’s thumping of Carlton. Hawthorn, meanwhile, is the AFL equivalent of the climate change debate and has been only dealing in the extremes. Last Saturday it was raining goals for the Hawks as Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin washed away his opposition with 13 sensational goals, while the week before Franklin and his pals were in the midst of a barren goal-scoring drought!
If you are willing to acknowledge Hawthorn’s recent loss to Richmond as temporary blip, then the Hawks form is very imposing, with the brown and gold’s really belting North Melbourne, Fremantle, Melbourne and St Kilda during the past month and a bit. Port Adelaide will need to maintain their own good run to ensure they don’t became Hawthorn’s latest victim. An amazing individual performance from Power whiz-kid Hamish Hartlett inspired his team last week and I expect Hawthorn to tightly mark Hartlett this week, especially given fellow Port midfielder Travis Boak will miss this match with a foot injury.
The line for this match is set at 26.5 points, so my bet of Hawthorn by 16 or more points is slightly conservative, but I have been impressed by Port’s recent form and I think they can really push their powerful opponent, although they probably don’t have enough class to win it.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Hawthorn to win by 16 points or more @ 1.55 (TAB Sportsbet)
Melbourne v Collingwood
Queen’s Birthday Monday at the MCG is always the most hyped home and away match of Melbourne’s season. Collingwood is the traditional rival for the day and with the Pies playing plenty of showcase games throughout a season, you get the sense this game means that little bit more for the Demons. Be sure that Melbourne will try to play on this emotion and attempt to knock the Magpies off their game in the early exchanges.
Collingwood’s ins and outs make for fascinating reading as Brownlow medallist Dane Swan returns from a hamstring injury while Norm Smith medallist Scott Pendlebury misses with a leg fracture. Both teams recall key defenders, with Chris Tarrant returning for the Magpies and James Frawley for the Demons.
Ex-Collingwood assistant coach Mark Neeld will have an intimate knowledge of the Magpie players’ strengths and weaknesses and this could also be a factor. For all the fuss made of Melbourne’s stirring win over Essendon last weekend, don’t forget that was the Demons first win of the year. Collingwood has won 7 in a row and should overcome a spirited Melbourne challenge to extend that winning run to 8.
Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Melbourne at the line (+46.5) @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)