AFL Round 16 Preview and Betting Tips

The following are previews and betting tips for round 16 of the 2012 AFL season.

Season tally so far

Bets = 143.5 units
Won = 141.67 units
Profit/Loss = -1.83 units (1.3% loss)


Andy’s bet: 1 unit on Fremantle at the line (-16.5), St Kilda to win by 16 points or more and West Coast at the line (-8.5) @ 7.37 (Sportsbet)

Friday Night

North Melbourne v Carlton

Etihad Stadium
7.50pm AEST

Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s North Melbourne were the pioneers of Friday night football, however that timeslot has become the most sought after of the weekend and the Kangaroos now rarely get a look in, with this fixture being their only Friday night match all season. So this will be the Roos big chance to impress on the big stage against an opponent on the same number of wins, fighting for the same final place in the top 8.

Both these teams are on 7 wins and sit just outside the top 8 on percentage. St Kilda currently occupy 8th spot on the ladder and the Saints have plenty of winnable matches in their run home, so it is crucial for Carlton and North Melbourne to keep winning to stay in with a chance of overhauling St Kilda.

Carlton surprised the football world with an assured performance to easily defeat Collingwood last weekend, however a broken jaw to hard-running wingman Kade Simpson soured an otherwise fantastic night for the Navy Blues. Simpson’s loss will be offset by the return of gun midfielder Marc Murphy from a serious shoulder injury sustained earlier this season. North Melbourne will still be kicking themselves after last weekend’s capitulation against West Coast. The Kangaroos had complete control of the game before meekly surrendering a 6 goal lead for the second time this season. Those two fade-outs (the other was against Port Adelaide) are the difference between the Roos being comfortably in the top 8 and where they currently sit, in 11th spot.

The run and spread from Carlton was fantastic last weekend, so it will be interesting to see how they adapt to the narrower Etihad Stadium this week, a ground they have struggled at this year. Carlton go into this match with only one ruckman after Shaun Hampson injured his knee last weekend and Robbie Warnock was suspended in the VFL. Matthew Kreuzer was very impressive last week, carrying the load after Warnock went down and I think Kreuzer plays better as the lone ruckman, so this may boost Carlton around the ground. It might be a different story in attack though, with the Blues lacking a tall marking forward.

North Melbourne has Drew Petrie up forward and he could be the difference if he gets decent ball supply. Excluding their second half last weekend, North’s recent form is excellent, with wins over Adelaide and St Kilda at this ground during the past three weeks.

I think this will be a tight one, but I’m leaning to the Kangaroos because they have the better marking forward options and have the better form at this ground this season.

Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on North Melbourne to win by 39 points or less @ 2.75 (Sportsbet)

Saturday Afternoon

Melbourne v Fremantle Dockers

Etihad Stadium
1.45pm AEST

I bet the AFL administrators are happy they chose to schedule this match at Etihad Stadium, because nobody would have come if it was at the MCG. With possible thunderstorms and hail forecast for Melbourne on Saturday, thank goodness this game is being played under a closed roof!

Interestingly, the last 6 times these teams have played, the honours have gone to the home team. Melbourne has managed 3 wins during that sequence, although those successes were all at the MCG and there is no recent history to draw on between these clubs at Etihad Stadium.

Melbourne are struggling and have only managed two wins from their 14 games – an amazing win against Essendon and the routine GWS blitz. Melbourne’s 12 defeats have all been by 18 points or more, so with the line for this match set at 17.5 points, I’ll be having a piece of that action with Fremantle.

The Dockers are well and truly in the hunt for a place in the top 8, while the Demons have only pride to play for. Matthew Pavlich has been unstoppable for Fremantle lately, booting at least 3 goals in each of his last 5 games and kicking 23 majors during that period. If Pavlich fires again the margin could get out to 40 points or more.

Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Fremantle at the line (-17.5) @ 1.95 (TAB Sportsbet)

Port Adelaide v Essendon

AAMI Stadium
2.10pm AEST

This game is suddenly a lot more important for the Bombers after they suffered a shock 71 point hammering by the Saints last Saturday night, while the Power are currently on a wretched run of form. Essendon travel to Port Adelaide in 6th spot on the ladder and need a win to revive their fading hopes of a top 4 place, while their hosts look destined to finish the season in 15th spot and only ahead of the hapless trio of Melbourne, Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney.

I think Essendon’s surprisingly poor showing last weekend was due to a combination of factors. Firstly, St Kilda played a very tactically smart game plan, stacking numbers in the corridor and forcing the Bombers away from their preferred attacking zone and out to the wings, meaning the attacking build ups were slower and St Kilda were able to set up effective defensive zones by the time the ball arrived in Essendon’s forward line. Secondly, Essendon were hampered by injuries to their two key forwards, with Stewart Crameri missing the game through injury and Michael Hurley tweaking his hamstring and making no impact on the match.

I strongly doubt Port Adelaide is well drilled enough to carry out the same game plan that St Kilda used against Essendon last week. However, Bomber ruckman Paddy Ryder has an injured calf and will join Crameri and Hurley on the sidelines, meaning the Power defenders will have a slightly easier job.

Given the injuries to Essendon, I think this game will be a lot closer than it otherwise would have been and I’m tipping a narrow Bomber win.

Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Essendon to win by 24 points or less @ 3.45 (Centrebet)

Richmond v Gold Coast Suns

Cazaly’s Stadium
4.40pm AEST

Gold Coast were much improved last week against the reigning Premiers, running Geelong right to the wire before going down by only 14 points. It was the 14th match in a row lost by the Suns this campaign, inching them one step closer to a dreaded winless season. There has been some improvement by the Suns this year as they have endured less thrashings and have actually led quite a few matches at half time. Richmond, meanwhile, comfortably overcame Melbourne last weekend to keep in touch with the top 8. The Tigers are one of 5 teams on 7 wins that are stuck in a gridlock between 8th and 12th on the ladder.

Even though Richmond won last weekend, their recent poor kicking in front of goal will have caused great concern for coach Damien Hardwick. Over the past four matches the Tigers have kicked 46 goals and 64 points, which is an awful conversion rate. I am pretty confident Richmond will win this match, so my betting play will be on the margin of the win and that will be dependent on how well the yellow and blacks kick for goal! I’m not confident on straight kicking, so I’ll back them only by 25 points or more.

Since Nathan Bock went down with a season ending injury, Gold Coast has really struggled to defend against key forwards this season and I’ll be having a play on Richmond full forward to bounce back from his poor return last week with a bag of goals in Cairns.

Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Richmond to win by 25 points or more @ 1.48 (Sportsbet)

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

Saturday Night

Geelong Catsvs. Collingwood

7.40pm AEST

Last year’s grand final combatants face off in what is sure to be a pulsating Saturday night contest. Geelong were champions last year, but have fallen a bit off the pace this season and this match is the start of a tough run for the Cats, who will have to keep winning if they are to remain in the top 8. Collingwood lost last weekend and slipped from first to fourth on the ladder due to a relatively poor percentage.

In a bold and exciting move, Geelong coach Chris Scott has named two debutants for this clash. Young full forward Josh Walker is promoted for his first game, while mature aged midfielder Jackson Sheringham will also play his first game at AFL level. Mercurial forward Steve Johnson and accomplished defender Harry Taylor head the other Cat inclusions, while last year’s Norm Smith Medallist Jimmy Bartel is a notable omission due to suspension. Collingwood has three impressive players returning, with sublime midfielder Scott Pendlebury back to full fitness after a fractured leg, while key position players Chris Tarrant and Nathan Brown are also recalled. With Brown to join Ben Reid in defence, look for Tarrant to play in attack this weekend.

Even though Geelong still possess many great players and matchwinners, Collingwood looks to have the better midfield depth and that is why I’m tipping the Magpies to record their second win over the Cats this campaign. Even with a more inexperienced team than normal this weekend, Geelong’s backline still looks resolute, so even if the Pies control the midfield this should be a tight match.

Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Collingwood to win by 39 points or less @ 2.40 (Centrebet, Sportingbet)

Brisbane Lions v St Kilda

7.40pm AEST

There are four teams immediately below St Kilda, and on the same number of wins, so the Saints will be under pressure to keep winning for the rest of the season to maintain their place within the top 8. Brisbane were done over by Sydney last weekend, ending the Lions recent run of good form and effectively ending the slim finals hopes of Michael Voss’s team.

Last weekend display by St Kilda was just about the performance of the year by any team. The red, white and blacks put in an essentially flawless performance to defeat the high flying Bombers by a mammoth 71 points. It shows just how good the Saints are when they put it all together, while rookie coach Scott Watters deserves significant credit for developing a masterful game plan for the night and also for delivering it to his players in such a manner that they were able to carry it out to perfection. As mentioned in the preview for the Essendon match this weekend, St Kilda stacked numbers in the corridor and forced the Bombers away from their preferred attacking zone and out to the wings, meaning the attacking build ups were slower and St Kilda were able to set up effective defensive zones by the time the ball arrived in Essendon’s forward line. I’ve noted that Brisbane have played a similarly free-flowing game in recent wins, so I doubt St Kilda will need to change from last week’s successful formula.

St Kilda’s win was set up by a dominant centre-half forward display from skipper Nick Riewoldt and the forward crumbing work from goalsneak Stephen Milne. Those two men have been playing that particular double act for many years, so more pleasing for Watters would have been the number of defensive marks taken by ruckman Ben McEvoy and the continued return to form of defensive duo James Gwilt and Sam Fisher.

Brisbane has been a tough nut to crack at the Gabba during the past two months and are particularly damaging when rebounding from the half back flank, but if the Saints can provide lots of forward pressure this match will only go one way.

Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on St Kilda to win by 16 points or more @ 2.00 (Sportsbet, TAB Sportsbet)

Sunday Afternoon

GWS Giants v Adelaide Crows

Skoda Stadium
1.10pm AEST

After an impressive start to the season, the GWS youngsters are starting to tire and their mature opponents are showing no mercy. Since GWS beat Gold Coast in Round 7, the Giants have lost seven on the spin and six of those defeats have been by more than 60 points, including three recent consecutive thrashings by 78, 94 and 162 points against Melbourne, Sydney and Hawthorn respectively.

Adelaide is marching towards a top 4 place at season’s end and with the top four currently on the same number of wins, the Crows will be desperate for a big win to boost their percentage. Adelaide is still without the suspended Taylor Walker, however fellow big man Kurt Tippett appears to have recovered from a concussion injury and has been named at full forward for this match. Even without Tippett and Walker for most of last week, the Crows were sensational in the midfield and supplied plenty of chances to an unpredictable and effective forward line. Pleasingly for Crows fans, the prodigiously talented but injury prone half forward Jason Porplyzia has strung plenty of games together this season for Adelaide and is now coming into some excellent form.

Adelaide looks to be in a menacing mood and should be the latest team to record a ten goal win against the minnows from western Sydney.

Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Adelaide to win by 60 points or more @ 1.48 (Sportsbet)

Western Bulldogs v Hawthorn

Etihad Stadium
3.15pm AEST

Hawthorn has been the best performed team over the past month and a bit, winning their last 5 matches by an average margin of 88 points. That’s incredible, it really is! The Bulldogs have lost form during the past few weeks and are now well adrift from the finals race.

Champion Hawk forward Lance Franklin is out after aggravating a hamstring injury last week and with Franklin absent, part-time ruckman and part-time forward Jarryd Roughead will spend more time close to goals, while Jack Gunston gets a chance to impress. Gunston is a talented player and has shown a bit of form in his cameo roles this season, booting 10 goals in his limited game time. Roughead is likely to attract the best defender and small forward Cyril Rioli should receive a heavy tag from Liam Picken, Gunston could be a good outside bet for most goals.

In the midst of a disappointing season, Bulldogs fans will be heartened to see key defender Tom Williams return from injury for his first game of the season. If he gets his body right, Williams has the potential to be among the best handful of defenders in the league.

The Hawks are doing as they please at the moment and should brush aside an out of sorts Bulldog outfit.

Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Hawthorn to win by 40 points or more @ 1.58 (Centrebet, Sportingbet)

West Coast Eagles v Sydney Swans

Patersons Stadium
4.40pm AEST

When I’m eating a big dinner I often try and keep the best part of the meal to the end so I’ve got something to look forward to, and then something to savour. I’m a big fan of fish and chips, and when tucking into the best take away meal available, I always save a potato cake for the end. Well, this matchup between first and second is the giant, tasty potato cake to finish off another greasy weekend of football gluttony!

I’m sure regular football watchers would have West Coast pencilled in as a top 4 team at season’s end, however I’m not sure many believe Sydney will earn a finals double chance even though the Swans top the ladder with just 8 rounds remaining. Are we right not to rate Sydney as highly? We’ll know by 7:30pm AEST on Sunday night.

Sydney’s good form has been built on an even midfield group and a spread of goalkickers, which is sort of similar to West Coast. Although the Eagles prefer to get the ball out in the open and run, while the Swans are more suited to keeping the ball in close and winning the stoppages. This week will be a test for Sydney because it’s tough to win the stoppages against West Coast ruck pairing Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui!

The line for this match has been set at a 8.5 point Sydney head start, so I’ll be taking West Coast at the line. The Eagles are almost unstoppable at Patersons Stadium and only Hawthorn has come closer than 10 points, losing here by 5 points to West Coast in a rain-soaked early season match.

Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on West Coast at the line (-8.5) @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)

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