AFL Round 15 Preview and Betting Tips

The following are previews and betting tips for round 15 of the 2012 AFL season.

Season tally so far

Bets = 133 units
Won = 132.24 units
Profit/Loss = -0.76 units (0.6% loss)


Andy’s bet: 1 unit on Collingwood, Essendon and Adelaide all to win by 25 points or more @ 6.75 (Sportsbet)

Friday Night

Collingwood v Carlton

7.50pm AEST

Less than three months ago these bitter rivals clashed on a warm April evening and Carlton thrashed a hapless Collingwood by 60 points. Since that Round 3 match the Magpies have won all 10 of their matches, while the Blues have fallen back to earth with a thud, winning only 3 games during the same period.

Carlton’s fall from grace has been due to a combination of injuries, a loss of confidence and perhaps even some failings from the coach’s box. On Friday night the Blues will be without star on-baller Marc Murphy, key forward Jarrad Waite and reliable defender Lachie Henderson, with all players sidelined through injury. Carlton coach Brett Ratten has not been able to come up with a game plan to adapt to the missing stars, with many of the fringe players coming in and out of the team without getting the time to build some form and cement a place in the side.

Collingwood has suffered a worse run with injuries than Carlton, but the Magpie youngsters promoted to the senior team have all done their bit and played with a rich enthusiasm that has helped provide the Pies with a really positive vibe, helping the club’s surge to the top of the ladder.

Carlton has been under the glaring media spotlight all week and I expect the Blues to start this game full of passion and intensity. Collingwood will need to be careful, because if they don’t match Carlton in this area, the Blues could find their missing confidence and be a tough opponent to chase down. Without their bookends of Waite and Henderson, I don’t think the Blues have the firepower to kick a big score, nor stop Travis Cloke, Collingwood’s chief aerial threat. After a tight first quarter and a bit, I expect the Pies to get on top and score a comfortable win.

Andy’s Bet: 1.5 units on Collingwood to win by 25 points or more @ 1.74 (Sportsbet)

Saturday Afternoon

North Melbourne v West Coast Eagles

Blundstone Arena
1.45pm AEST

North Melbourne has been a bit of a bogey-team for this column in 2012, losing the games they should win and winning the ones they should lose! The Kangaroos have now bounced into the top 8, displacing St Kilda in that position courtesy of a 33 point victory over the Saints last weekend. That victory was North Melbourne’s third of the season over a top 8 team. As well as St Kilda, North has also beaten Geelong and Adelaide. Previously noted as a team proficient at beating those sides around it on the ladder, North Melbourne is now developing into a team capable of mixing it with the competition’s big boys.

This weekend, West Coast make the trip down to chilly Tasmania to play North Melbourne at the neutral Blundstone Arena. The Eagles are certainly high-flyers this campaign, building on a solid season last year and occupying 3rd spot on the ladder heading into this match. West Coast hasn’t played in Australia’s southern-most state this season, but they have played twice here against Hawthorn (2009 and 2011) and managed credible close losses against the powerful Hawks. The last time the Roos played down in Tasmania, they were on the end of a Lance Franklin inspired 115 point thumping. That match was a month ago and North Melbourne has recovered amazingly well by winning three matches in a row since that mammoth defeat.

These teams met in Round 6 and the Eagles gradually overpowered the Kangaroos to win by 25 points, although that margin could have been much greater as West Coast had 15 more scoring shots. I think North Melbourne has improved since that encounter, however the discrepancy in goalkicking accuracy is unlikely to again be so far in North’s favour, so I am balancing out those two factors and expecting a similar margin.

Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on West Coast to win by 39 points or less @ 2.25 (Sportsbet, TAB Sportsbet)

Melbourne v Richmond

2.10pm AEST

Things at Tigerland seem to be unravelling just when Richmond were expected to make use of their easier end of season draw and start their charge to the top 8. This week, Richmond bad-boy Daniel Connors was sacked by the club after yet another off-field indiscretion, while young star Dustin Martin has been given a 2 week club imposed suspension. Richmond’s hierarchy chose the penalties after the players had a late night, took some sleeping tablets and missed the next morning’s training session. Connors was already on his last chance after a string of previous off-field incidents, so the decision to sack him was not a surprise.

The off-field drama could not have come at a worse time for the Tigers as three other senior players are unavailable this weekend. Midfielder Daniel Jackson is suspended, small forward Jake King has a knee injury and key defender Dylan Grimes has a hamstring injury.

Fortunately for Richmond, their opponent this week is lowly Melbourne, a team the Tigers beat by 59 points earlier in the season. The Demons struggled against Brisbane last weekend and only managed 8 goals in the absence of key forward Mitch Clark. With Clark out for the season, I can’t see Melbourne managing to kick a score over 100 points too often. Richmond spearhead Jack Riewoldt is capable of kicking plenty of goals and his influence might well be the difference on Saturday afternoon.

Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Richmond to win by 25 points or more @ 1.59 (Multiple Sites)

Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Jack Riewoldt for most goals @ 1.90 (Sportsbet)

Sydney Swans v Brisbane Lions

4.40pm AEST

Before the AFL expanded during the last two years to add teams in Greater Western Sydney and the Gold Coast, Sydney and Brisbane were trying to build up a rivalry based on their locations as the two most northern clubs. Given they’ve both got two new crosstown enemies, the spice might have been removed from this particular rivalry.

Sydney has had a wonderful season to occupy 2nd place on the ladder and the Swans will surely be aiming to keep their spot in the top 4 and potentially earn a home final if they can remain in the top 2. Brisbane, meanwhile, has bulldozed its way past Western Bulldogs and Melbourne during the past fortnight to remain an outside chance of a top 8 finish.

Brisbane’s recent upswing in form has been due to an increased output from its midfield and a heap of rebounding dash from its backline, led by Irish half back flanker Pearce Hanley. The SCG is the scene of this fixture and its small confines will definitely suit Sydney’s contested style of footy, with the small field unlikely to allow the Lions to get their attractive running game operating at full speed.

Sydney is the better team and is playing at their home ground, so a Swans win seems to make sense!

Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Sydney to win by 39 points or less @ 2.30 (TAB Sportsbet)

Saturday Night

St Kilda v Essendon

Etihad Stadium
7.40pm AEST

This Saturday night clash should certainly make for an interesting spectacle! St Kilda, so long a disciplined and defensive unit under Ross Lyon, has been transformed into a free-wheeling attacking team under new coach Scott Watters, while Essendon also regularly posts 100-plus point scores.

These teams both rank in the league’s top 5 for offensive ability, the Bombers averaging just over 100 points per game and the Saints not far behind them. The difference between the two has been St Kilda’s inability to consistently keep their opposition’s score down as well. I feel the Saints might be too excited by their new game plan and have taken the attacking intent a little too far and need to remember to do the disciplined defensive tasks as well.

St Kilda has been dealt a few cruel blows at the selection table, with star player Brendan Goddard suspended, while defender Jason Blake and emerging ruck/forward utility Rhys Stanley are both sidelined through injury. Essendon’s powerful marking forward Stewart Crameri has been suspended, however Crameri’s forward partner Michael Hurley has been in excellent goalkicking form and will hope to continue his good form in Crameri’s absence.

This is the sort of game St Kilda needs to win to get back the advantage in the race for the top 8, but I just can’t see the Saints knocking off the high-flying Bombers, especially given Essendon has won the last 4 meetings between the clubs.

Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Essendon to win by 25 points or more @ 2.10 (Multiple Sites)

Port Adelaide v Adelaide Crows

AAMI Stadium
7.40pm AEST

After a 19 point win in the first ‘Showdown’ of the year, Adelaide has the chance to complete the double over its fierce rival for the first time since 2007. Ladder position is often irrelevant in these matches as the underdog has regularly been able to raise its game for the big clash. This year I expect the match to, almost surprisingly for a showdown, follow the script and result in a win to Adelaide.

The Crows are fighting for a spot in the top 4 and will be without goalkicking machine Taylor Walker after the spearhead received a second suspension of the year last weekend. Kurt Tippett will have to kick a few goals in Walker’s absence, while forward flanker Jason Porplyzia played his best game for the year last weekend and will be another likely to chime in with a few majors.

Port Adelaide were hit hard by injury in the lead up to last weekend’s match against Geelong and are only able to recall 2 players for this weekend’s clash. The rugged Jacob Surjan and the classy Travis Boak are both fit again and will offer a few different options for the Power’s midfield.

Adelaide’s Paddy Dangerfield was unstoppable in this fixture earlier in the year and I expect him to be joined by midfield teammates Scott Thompson, Rory Sloane, Nathan van Berlo and Bernie Vince in a midfield quintet too accomplished for Port Adelaide to better. The Crows should win an unusually one-sided showdown.

Andy’s Bet: 1.5 units on Adelaide to win by 40 points or more @ 2.65 (Centrebet, Sportingbet)

Sunday Afternoon

Hawthorn v GWS Giants

1.10pm AEST

Hmm…Hawthorn versus GWS…this one’s going to get ugly! Given Hawthorn beat North Melbourne by 115 points earlier this season and North Melbourne have beaten GWS by 129 points this campaign, just how much will the Hawks beat the Giants by?

The margin of Hawthorn’s win will probably come down to the availability of the league’s leading goalkicker, Lance Franklin. The Hawthorn full forward appeared to tweak a hamstring late in last weekend’s match against Carlton and was not expected to play this weekend, however the Hawks surprisingly named him in the squad on Thursday night. I can’t reason why the Hawks would risk their most prized asset in a match they will win easily, so I reckon Franklin will be a late out.

Franklin booted 13 goals in Hawthorn’s aforementioned 115 point win over North Melbourne, so without him, Hawthorn might struggle to cover the 92.5 point line. Wow, I can’t recall seeing such a big line!

Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on GWS at the line (+92.5) @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)

Gold Coast Suns v Geelong Cats

Metricon Stadium
3.15pm AEST

Given it’s more than a year and a half since he switched clubs, it’s interesting that Gary Ablett is the first person I think about when this fixture glares at me through my computer screen. The little master was a Premiership player and Brownlow Medallist at Geelong, as well as a darling of the club’s fans, so it will be mixed emotions all round when he takes to the field against his old teammates this Sunday. Of course, Ablett has already played against Geelong as a Gold Coast player, with the result a 66 point Cats victory in Round 10 last year. Geelong also belted Gold Coast by over 100 points late last year, but an injured Ablett didn’t play in that match.

Geelong were fairly underwhelming last weekend, recording an unconvincing win over lowly Port Adelaide. Geelong is in 7th spot on the ladder and the Cats have a worse percentage than all teams above them, so, with a tough draw to come after this match, Geelong really need to post a big win here. The big-bodied Paul Chapman returns to maraud across the half forward line for the Cats, while Gold Coast has named a trio of experienced players to return, with Michael Rischitelli, Jarrod Harbrow and Campbell Brown all likely to add a bit of oomph to the young Suns lineup.

The Cats have been struggling to dominate teams like they did last year and they lack a tagger after the retirement of Cameron Ling, so Ablett might be given a bit more latitude than usual. Backing up on my tip from the GWS game, I’ll put half a unit on the Suns at the line. Come on underdog Sunday!

Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Gold Coast at the line (+59.5) @ 1.91 (Centrebet, Sportingbet)

Fremantle Dockers v Western Bulldogs

Patersons Stadium
4.40pm AEST

The weekend rounds out with an old school match from the west. As a youngster growing up in Victoria, I have vivid memories of spending the end of my weekends shivering through a cold Sunday night while watching the Eagles, and from 1995 the Dockers, putting a Victorian team to the sword in the fading Perth sunlight. This matchup has brought of all of those memories flooding back as an un-fancied Bulldog team heads west to face off with finals chasing Fremantle.

After back to back defeats, the Bulldogs are no longer counted as a finals contender, while the Dockers, only one win ahead of their opponents, have a relatively easy set of fixtures to close the season and are a real chance to crack the top 8.

This preview was written on a Thursday night, so the teams were listed with the extended benches, however both teams have made numerous changes from last week’s squads. Afro-haired Zac Clarke is a notable omission for Fremantle, while the Doggies have lost big guns Adam Cooney and Robert Murphy to injury. It is going to be tough for the Bulldogs to win without Murphy’s creativity out of defence and Cooney’s nous through the midfield and half-forward line.

Fremantle’s weakness is the Bulldogs strength and vice-versa. I reckon the Dogs have the superior midfield, while the Dockers dependable backline should easily shut down a mostly impotent Bulldog forward line. If you put those two together, it makes for a low-scoring contest, and I’m going for Freo to win due to the home ground advantage and my suspicion that they’ll find goals easier to come by.

Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Fremantle to win by 1-39 points @ 2.25 (TAB Sportsbet)

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