AFL Round 18 Preview and Betting Tips

The following are previews and betting tips for round 18 of the 2012 AFL season.

Season tally so far

Bets = 163.5 units
Won = 160.65 units
Profit/Loss = -2.85 units (1.7% loss)


Andy’s bet: 1 unit on North Melbourne and St Kilda to win by 40 points or more, and West Coast to win by 25 points or more @ 5.70 (Centrebet, Sportingbet)

Friday Night

Essendon v Hawthorn

Etihad Stadium
7.50pm AEST

Last weekend Hawthorn overwhelmed heavyweight rival Collingwood in a Saturday afternoon blockbuster, while Essendon played in a similarly high-profile fixture, but the Bombers were convincingly beaten by Geelong on Friday night. This match is a great way to kick off the weekend as 4th placed Hawthorn will hope to consolidate their top 4 spot with a victory, while 6th placed Essendon will be desperate for a win that would secure the Bombers a top 8 place and keep them in the race for the top 4 and a finals double chance.

Hawthorn is the form team of the competition, brushing aside their opposition with ease during the past two months. The Hawks have won their past 7 matches and, amazingly, all of those victories have been by 46 points or more. No one has been able to match it with Hawthorn lately! I saw the Hawks live at the ground last week and was blown away at their precise ball movement from defence to attack. Even though Collingwood’s key forwards have been misfiring lately, they’ve still been bringing the ball to ground for their small forwards. Last weekend this was not the case, with Hawthorn’s imperious brigade of running defenders winning the ball on the deck and then repeatedly storming through the middle of the ground, forcing the Magpie defenders to come at them, before the Hawks would pass the ball to an array of loose attackers close to goal. Very rarely do Collingwood get opened up like that and it was mightily impressive to watch the brown and gold in full flight.

Essendon would surely have noted how efficient Hawthorn were when given time and space to set up their attacks from the half back line, so I expect the Bombers to really hunt the Hawks early and attempt to pressure Hawthorn into mistakes when kicking out of defence. The performances of pacey small forwards like Leroy Jetta and Alwyn Davey will be crucial to Essendon achieving this.

Champion Hawthorn forward Lance Franklin has frequently tormented the Essendon defence in past clashes between these teams, however Franklin is still out injured, although Hawks skipper Luke Hodge returns after a lengthy injury layoff and his return is one of the final pieces of the Hawthorn puzzle to come together. Essendon lose two quality left footers, David Myers and Ricky Dyson, to injury and I think the Bombers are missing too many players to seriously challenge a Hawthorn team reveling in its weekly role of dishing out the pain.

Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Hawthorn to win by 25 points or more @ 1.68 (Centrebet, Sportingbet)

Saturday Afternoon

Geelong Cats v Adelaide Crows

Simonds Stadium
1.45pm AEST

Like Friday night’s encounter, this game is another contender for match of the round. Adelaide is second on the ladder and, on paper at least, this is the most difficult fixture for the Crows in the final six weeks of the home and away season. Adelaide is almost certain to start as favourite for the final 5 matches of the campaign, so a win here for the Crows could lead them to the minor premiership. Geelong, meanwhile, played their best game for a number of weeks last round and will head into this match hoping for a win to maintain their one game buffer inside the top 8.

Despite their lofty ladder position, I’m still not quite convinced about the Crows. Last weekend was a good victory over a decent opponent, albeit one dreadfully out of form, and prior to that win the Crows had not beaten a top 8 team since their crushing of Geelong in early May. They’ve done just about everything else right, so if Adelaide win this match, I’ll leap on the Crows’ bandwagon.

Even though they’ve not been at their best this season, Geelong has still maintained their supreme Simonds Stadium form. The Cats have won all four matches played at their home ground this season, taking their record at the venue to an incredible 33 wins from 34 matches since 2008.

Geelong lose full back Matthew Scarlett to a one game suspension, but there is good news for the Cats as gun midfielder Jimmy Bartel returns from his own suspension. Scarlett’s loss won’t be such bad news for the Cats as Adelaide enter the match having only key forward, with Taylor Walker’s return from suspension coinciding with another concussion enforced layoff for big Kurt Tippett.

Tom Lonergan and Harry Taylor are decent matchups for Walker, so the Crows midfielders will need to kick some goals, otherwise Adelaide will struggle to kick a winning score. With Geelong playing at home, it’s a bit like the Ian Chappell theory – 9 times out of 10 you back the Cats at win at home and the 10th time you think about backing the opposition, then back the Cats.

Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Geelong to win by 1-39 points @ 2.35 (Sportsbet)

North Melbourne v Melbourne

Etihad Stadium
2.10pm AEST

This match has massacre written all over it. I reckon the weather is the only thing that could help keep Melbourne in the contest, but even that might not help the Demons. Only a few showers have been forecast, meaning the game will be played in mostly dry conditions, with only sporadic bouts of moisture making the game a bit scrappier.

North Melbourne is playing some seriously good footy at the moment and held their nerve to secure a 4 point win over Richmond in an absorbing match played last Sunday afternoon. Big Drew Petrie was a forward-line colossus and booted 7 goals, including 5 majors in the last term, to help drag the Roos over the line. It was Petrie’s second consecutive 7 goal haul and ‘The Dish’ is closing in on the leaders for the Coleman Medal.

Melbourne is really struggling at the moment and lost to Port Adelaide by 28 points last weekend, which was the Demons fourth loss to a bottom 8 team in as many weeks. Given North Melbourne’s current great form, I don’t hold out much hope for Mark Neeld’s men in this contest either.

Brent Moloney is back for Melbourne and looms as a key player if the lower ranked Demons are to push the Kangaroos. Moloney won the club best and fairest last year, however he has been considerably poor this season and has only just won a recall to the seniors after a stint in the reserves. Perhaps he will return full of fire!

North Melbourne is just about the best team to watch right now and the free-scoring Roos should consolidate their spot in the top 8 with a hefty win over the hapless Demons.

Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on North Melbourne to win by 40 points or more @ 1.72 (Sportsbet)

Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Brent Moloney for most disposals in Group B @ 11.00 (TAB Sportsbet)

GWS Giants v Collingwood

Skoda Stadium
4.40pm AEST

This match may not be the four quarter procession most people are expecting. GWS has been dreadful during the past 5 weeks, losing their matches by margins of 78, 94, 162, 119 and 95 points. The young players have looked tired and the coaching group has fielded some new, even more inexperienced faces in recent weeks. I think coach Kevin Sheedy has identified this home match against Collingwood as an important match to do well in because of the extra exposure a match against the Magpies brings. If the Giants stay in the match for a half or so, they might just win themselves a few new fans.

After comprehensive losses to Carlton and Hawthorn during the past 3 weeks, Collingwood’s impressive season is threatening to grind to a halt. The Magpies had been covering injuries to key players quite well, however it now seems some players are running out of steam because of the extra work they have been doing. For this match, with a victory almost guaranteed, talented midfielder Steele Sidebottom, veteran Darren Jolly and versatile defender Harry O’Brien have all been rested.

The Giants recall leading goalkicker Jeremy Cameron as well as experienced utility Chad Cornes and exciting number 1 draft pick Jon Patton. With a better look about this week’s lineup, I reckon the Giants will keep the scoreboard close for the first half before the inevitable happens and Collingwood cruise to a big victory. Given I’m expecting an improved Giants performance this week, I’ll be taking the young lads at incredibly large line of about 90 points.

Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on GWS at the line (+90.5) @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)

Saturday Night

Carlton v Richmond

7.40pm AEST

Both these teams played mini Elimination Finals last week, matches each club needed to win to maintain their slim finals hopes. An injury-hit Carlton dug deep in the second to secure a valuable victory over the Western Bulldogs, while Richmond played well but ultimately fell short in their crucial match against North Melbourne. With Carlton 11th and Richmond 12th, this match is yet another mini Elimination final for these clubs, with the loser surely out of finals contention, while the winner will remain an outside finals chance.

For the Blues, Matthew Kreuzer returns from injury to carry the ruck, but no other big name absentees return. Jake King is back from injury for the Tigers and his presence should not be underestimated in the Richmond forward line.

Even though they didn’t get the win, I believe Richmond’s performance last weekend was better than Carlton’s, and with only one big name Blue returning, this strikes me as a game Richmond will win. Richmond has been wildly inconsistent this season, but they can score heavily in bursts, and given Carlton’s injury woes, it should only take a few Tiger bursts to win this one.

Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Richmond to win @ 1.70 (Sportsbet)

Gold Coast Suns v Sydney Swans

Metricon Stadium
7.40pm AEST

This match appears to be a classic mismatch, with second from bottom Gold Coast hosting league leading Sydney. However, the Suns have been much improved during recent weeks, close losses against Geelong and Brisbane sandwiching a sweet victory over Richmond. This improvement means Gold Coast is not to be underestimated, although the Swans are on a 7 game winning streak and should be able to handle anything an improved Suns team can produce.

I need to plead guilty for continuing to underestimate Sydney this season, so I’m going to pay them the respect a table topping team deserves and back them to clear the 50 point line against a wooden spoon contender.

Gold Coast follow this match with winnable clashes against Melbourne and GWS, so I think Guy McKenna’s team might be looking a bit further ahead and will be dreaming of better days while Sydney brush them aside.

Andy’s Bet: 0.5 units on Sydney at the line (-50.5) @ 1.92 (Sportsbet)

Sunday Afternoon

Port Adelaide v Fremantle Dockers

AAMI Stadium
1.10pm AEST

This intriguing little fixture headlines an important trio of Sunday matches. Port Adelaide is well out of finals contention, however Matthew Primus’s men can have a big say in the finals race. Fans of 4 or 5 Melbourne based clubs will be roaring at their tv screens in support of the Power as they hope Port Adelaide can deny 9th placed Fremantle a crucial win in the race for the final place in the top 8.

In an earlier preview I talked up the recent goalkicking exploits of Drew Petrie, so it’s only fair I do the same for Fremantle talisman Matthew Pavlich. The Pav has been in extraordinary touch lately and is leading Freo’s charge up the ladder. Pavlich has averaged nearly 5 goals a match during the past two months, an enduring standard that is rarely seen in the modern game.

Not noted as a good travelling team, Fremantle has won 2 of their past 3 matches against Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium, so this particular venue holds few fears. Port Adelaide managed a rare win last week and will enter this game with a bit of confidence, however they don’t possess a player of Matthew Pavlich’s quality and the Fremantle captain looks like he’ll be the match winner again.

Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on Fremantle to win by 39 points or less @ 2.20 (TAB Sportsbet)

St Kilda v Western Bulldogs

Etihad Stadium
3.15pm AEST

A 29 point loss doesn’t adequately capture just how competitive St Kilda were last week when the played away from home against the league leaders. A flurry of late goals won the game for the Swans just as the Saints looked likely winners as the game ticked towards its conclusion. That loss knocked St Kilda out of the top 8, which makes this match very important. The Western Bulldogs shouldn’t provide too many problems though, with the Doggies currently on a 5 game losing streak and limping to the finish of their season. The Dogs couldn’t get past Carlton last week even though the Blues were missing half of their first-choice team, so I reckon the Saints should win this contest comfortably.

Just a quick glance at the ins and outs for this match made my mind up that St Kilda will win by plenty. The Saints named a settled lineup, while the Doggies have at least 4 omissions, with potentially more to come once the squads are finalised tomorrow afternoon.

The Bulldogs just don’t have a forward line capable of kicking a winning score and I’d be surprised if they kick more than 10 goals against the St Kilda. With the Saints likely to win comfortably, perhaps the highlight of this clash could be the potential battle between St Kilda forward Nick Riewoldt and Western Bulldog defender Brian Lake. Hopefully these two will play on each other and reprise their famous finals battles of years past.

Andy’s Bet: 1.5 units on St Kilda to win by 40 points or more @ 2.15 (Centrebet, Sportingbet)

West Coast Eagles v Brisbane Lions

Patersons Stadium
4.40pm AEST

Question: Which of these has the best record during the past 10 weeks? Answer: Neither, they’ve both 5 won matches and lost 5 matches. It’s staggering to think that after winning their first 6 games to top the ladder, West Coast has fallen so dramatically and is now unlikely to finish in the top 4. While Brisbane, tipped to finish in the bottom 4, is level on wins with Richmond and only a game behind Carlton and St Kilda.

Less than 2 months ago Brisbane upset West Coast by 2 points at the Gabba, however the Eagles should be too strong at Patersons Stadium, a ground where they are rarely beaten. Sydney did beat the Eagles here 2 weeks ago, but even though West Coast are out of form, I reckon John Worsfold’s men will steel themselves to scratch out an important win.

Another reason why West Coast should win is their ruck prowess and I expect that Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui will dominate ageing Brisbane ruckman Ben Hudson and give the Eagles midfielders first use of the ball.

Andy’s Bet: 1 unit on West Coast to win by 25 points or more @ 1.55 (Multiple Sites)

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